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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Possible Kermode Bear spotted near Castlegar

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run on May 27

Pregnant Revelstoke woman catches COVID-19 days before giving birth

Michelle Hunter said it was like a horror movie when caught COVID-19

Golden local raises concern over water source at Dart Creek

Alex McLean has been using Dart Creek as a water source for over a decade with no issues until 2019

WildSafe Golden returns for 2020 season

Programming will be offered online and in compliance with health authorities recommendations

Golden’s Kicking Horse Gymnastics Club goes virtual during COVID-19

Head coach Hailey Boustead has spent hours putting together online classes for her athletes at home.

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Most Read