The controversy over HD Mining’s plan to bring in Chinese miners has overshadowed what otherwise would have been an entirely good news story. The mines being developed by HD Mining International Ltd. near Tumbler Ridge are bringing new investment and will create new wealth in this province to the benefit of the town, the province and the country.
By its own account, HD Mining has already spent more than $50 million on Canadian goods and services in the Murray River project and it will spend close to that again before it knows for certain that it has a mine that will return its investment.
The money spent so far includes $20 million on exploration, $15 million for surface work and another $15 million for a 92-unit development to house workers in Tumbler Ridge, which until the resurgence of interest in coal mining in the past decade was in danger of becoming a ghost town.
HD Mining is developing a coal deposit that is more than 500 metres underground. It is on a property that was previously owned by other companies that looked at the difficulties involved and gave it a pass.
HD has expertise its parent company uses in coal mines in China that it believes can be used profitably here. Part of it involves a process called long-wall mining, which is a technique commonly used in coal mines in the United States and elsewhere, but has so far never been used in Canada.
HD argues that the novelty of the technique in Canada and the dangers inherent in underground coal mining mean that the only way they can develop the Murray River project is with experienced miners from the company’s operation in China.
The first group of Chinese miners is already here, approved under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program, to mine a bulk sample of 100,000 tonnes. The bulk sample is needed to persuade potential customers that the metallurgical coal is suitable for their needs.
Once that phase is complete, and given the investment HD will have put into the project by then the company is betting it will be completed successfully, the rest of the infrastructure will be built to operate a mine that has a projected life expectancy of 30 years. The benefits would include an estimated $90 million annually in revenue for the government and 600 direct and 700 indirect jobs.
For the rest of this editorial, please go to the Vancouver Sun website: http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/editorials/Editorial+Coal+mine+benefit+Canada+regardless+imported/7875044/story.html