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

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

Victoria tattoo shops respond to sex assault allegations against male artists

Carne Tattoo and Painted Lotus Studios respond to allegations

Sooke Crisis Centre closes doors

Services previously offered to be dispersed throughout community support groups

‘I love my animals very dearly,’ says man at centre of Saanich park allegations

Man accused of assault after being approached for allegedly mistreating his dog

Turned over truck impedes traffic in Langford

Truck at the side of Millstream Road near Western Speedway

VIDEO: Langford cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read