Steelworkers suggest B.C. coal mines controlled by Chinese government – by Dirk Meissner (iPolitics – December 19, 2012)

 http://www.ipolitics.ca/

The Canadian Press – VICTORIA – The United Steelworkers says it has dug up what it calls close ties between the Chinese government and the reportedly privately-run coal mine in northeastern British Columbia embroiled in a foreign-worker controversy.

The union released a report Wednesday that suggests HD Mining International Ltd. — the firm developing the proposed Murray River mine near Tumbler Ridge — has ownership links to the government in China, where workers receive low wages in unsafe conditions.

A union report titled “Who Owns Huiyong Holdings and other Questions on Planned Chinese-Owned Coal Mines in B.C. ” examines the ownership of Huiyong Holdings Group, which owns Huiyong Holdings (BC) Ltd., and holds 55 per cent of HD Mining.

Steve Hunt, Western Canada director for the Steelworkers’ union, said Wednesday the union found little evidence of the company’s mining operations in China.

“We employed an investigator in China who has some knowledge of what goes on in China and we just searched the best we could possibly search and we couldn’t find very much detail on the company at all, other than some of the players,” he said. “We’re trying to find out something about the mines that they have. . .What are they experts in? It’s hard to do because we can’t find anything about them.”

Hunt said while the mines must operate according to Canadian safety standards, the union is concerned the Chinese miners may not be familiar with their rights should the mining company operate inappropriately. Hunt said the workers are essentially “indentured” to the company.

HD Mining issued a statement Wednesday saying it is a Canadian company owned by Huiyong Holdings (BC), which holds a 55 per cent interest, and Canadian Dehua Lvliang Ltd., which holds a 40 per cent minority stake.

The statement said Huiyong Holdings (BC) is a Canadian company, 100-per-cent owned by Huiyong Holdings China. The statement said Huiyong Holdings China is a private company that has nine operating mines in China and “all of these mines are safe and efficient mines.”

“HD Mining does not understand what these allegations have to do with the union’s challenge to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and will continue to defend that litigation,” the statement said.

The union has been embroiled in a court battle to overturn 201 temporary foreign work permits allowing Chinese miners to come to Canada on the grounds there aren’t Canadians qualified to do the work at the proposed Tumbler Ridge-area facility.

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