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

Nature Wise: How are Canada’s birds doing and do we even care?

Columnist Bob Handfield, president of the South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club

Mix of sun and cloud for the Okanagan-Shuswap-Similkameen region

Environment Canada is forecasting a chance of showers with a risk of thunderstorms for the region

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Gusty winds and scattered clouds.

Temperatures are expected to reach the high 20s under cloudy skies.

South Okanagan real estate market continues to stabilize, millennials eager to become homeowners

SOREB President Dori Lionello said millenials are carefully watching the market

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Sun, chances of showers continue through weekend

Environment Canada forecasts mixes of sun, clouds and rain to start the weekend

VIDEO: Okanagan Valley weekday weather update

Environment Canada says it’s going to be a rainy week

Okanagan man rides bike 654km to Alberta for mental health, pipeline awareness

Cycle 2 Change 2019 was made to open up conversation about mental health and Trans-Mountain Pipeline

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Dump truck lifts power lines causing fire near South Okanagan school

Emergency responders dealt with two incidents at the same time near KVR Middle School

Car thief to be sentenced in Kelowna B.C. Supreme Court

Stanley Nickason is set to plead guilty on multiple charges

UPDATED: Lane closed after fatal collision on Highway 97 east of Falkland

A man in his 60s is dead after a single vehicle crash on July 15

Health Canada revokes licences of B.C.-based pot producer Agrima Botanicals

The agency said it notified the company of a suspension in November due to non-compliance with regulations

Deals, protests during Amazon Prime Day

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth says it is offering more than a million deals

Most Read