Proposed B.C. coal mine to rely mostly on foreign workers, cost almost double

Proposed B.C. coal mine to rely mostly on foreign workers, cost almost double

HD Mining has previously discussed its plan to shift from a workforce that is mostly foreign to one that is mostly domestic.

HD Mining, the Vancouver-based company that sparked controversy in 2012 for planning to hire hundreds of Chinese miners at its proposed $300 million Murray River coal mine in British Columbia, is back in the news.

The Globe and Mail is reporting that recently submitted files — part of an environmental-assessment plan for the proposed mine— show that if Murray River goes ahead, more than half of its employees would be temporary foreign workers in 2018. In contrast, it would take almost 10 years for all the hourly jobs at the project to be filled by Canadians:

HD Mining has previously discussed its plan to shift from a workforce that is mostly foreign to one that is mostly domestic, saying in 2013 the mine would have a “full Canadian work force” after 10 years of production.

But documents recently filed as part of an environmental-assessment process provide more detail about that transition, and an updated estimate of the cost to build the mine of $554.9-million, compared with a previous estimate of $300-million.

The mine, located 12.5-kilometres southwest of Tumbler Ridge, in northern B.C., would produce 6 million tonnes of met coal per year and would be one of the few underground coal mines in Canada.

The company plans to extract the fossil fuel by longwall mining, a method that is not used in Canada but is common elsewhere, particularly China.

Coal is B.C.’s top export, and the province’s nine operating mines produced 31.4 million tonnes of it in 2013, representing more than half of total mining revenue in the province. Most of that — between 70% and 90%— is metallurgical coal. Thermal coal is mostly burned to produce electricity.

The public comment period for the project runs end Jan. 29 and will be the subject of an open house in Tumbler Ridge on January 14.

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