Long-wall mining uses a rotary shear running on a track to cut metallurgical coal from the walls of a tunnel. The first such mine in Canada is proposed for northeast B.C.

Underground coal mine gets B.C. approval

HD Mining's proposal moves ahead after bitter battle over temporary foreign workers

A Chinese company’s underground metallurgical coal mine has received its B.C. environmental assessment certificate, with a plan to increase employment of B.C. workers over the 25-year life of the mine.

HD Mining International’s Murray River project near Tumbler Ridge would be the first in Canada to use “long-wall” mining, a highly automated process using rotary shears running along a track to extract coal from seams too deep for open-pit mining.

[See video here.]

The project was subject to a bitter court battle during its exploration phase, after HD brought in 200 temporary foreign workers to collect a bulk sample to test the viability of the deposit.

A Federal Court judge dismissed claims by two unions in 2013 that HD had not made sufficient efforts to recruit Canadians. At the time, HD chairman Penggui Yan called the lawsuit a “politically motivated attack by big labour” to make the foreign worker program a provincial and federal election issue.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said the mine still requires permits, but it has cleared the “biggest hurdle” and is working with the province’s newly established major mines permitting office.

Bennett said Murray River represents a chance to establish a new industry in B.C. Metallurgical coal would be sent by rail to Prince Rupert for export to Asia.

“If they decide to build their mine, and it looks like there’s a good chance that they’re going to, they will train Canadians to work in the mine and ultimately you’ll have over 700 Canadian people working in that underground coal mine operation,” Bennett said.

With metallurgical coal prices low and open-pit mines in the Tumbler Ridge region shut down, the pace of local hiring is a sensitive issue. HD signed an agreement with Northern Lights College to train miners in long-wall techniques, and its filings for environmental assessment suggest that while more than half the initial workforce would be foreign at startup, Canadians would make up most of the workforce in 10 years.

NDP energy and mines critic Norm Macdonald said the project is too reliant on foreign workers for too long.

“These should be projects that provide employment for Canadians first, and particularly for a community that has so many mines shut down,” Macdonald said.

Just Posted

Lack of security: why Vancouver Island food production is on the decline

Big Read: agriculture a big, expensive commitment as advocates push to make us more food secure

Earth Day 2018 focuses on ending plastic pollution

“Choose one easily changeable plastic item that you can work to eliminate from your day-to-day life.”

Tofino Shorebird Festival ready for flight

Annual event raises awareness of tiny travellers

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Trump says North Korea agreed to denuclearize. It hasn’t.

Trump is claiming that North Korea has agreed to “denuclearization” before his potential meeting with Kim, but that’s not the case.

Suspect in deadly Waffle House shooting still being sought

Police say Travis Reinking is the suspect in a shooting at a Waffle House restaurant Sunday in Nashville that left four people dead.

G7 warned of Russian threats to western democracy

Ukraine foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin warns G7 of Russian war against Western democracy

Royal baby: It’s a boy for Kate and William

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Most Read