Chinese companies dig B.C.

Chinese interests are looking at opening three new underground coal mines in B.C.’s northeast that domestic companies don’t have the expertise to operate, said Jobs Minister Pat Bell.

  • Apr. 7, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Joe Fries

Prince George Free Press


Chinese interests are looking at opening three new underground coal mines in B.C.’s northeast that domestic companies don’t have the expertise to operate, said Jobs Minister Pat Bell.

He said two Chinese coal companies and one steelmaker have plans to lease the mine sites near Tumbler Ridge from another Chinese mining firm already active in B.C.

The mines, as Bell understands them, “are very large projects, measured literally in hundreds of millions of dollars,” and could result in up to 6,000 direct and indirect jobs. Meanwhile, their estimated eight million tonnes of annual coal production, double the current level in the Peace, would likely be used by steelmakers to fuel China’s growth.

The Quinsam mine near Comox is the only underground coal mine currently operating in B.C., and Bell, who is in China on a trade mission, told reporters on a conference call that the three new prospects may be too daunting for domestic miners.

“I think many B.C.-based mining companies have walked away from these projects over the years, because the notion of going underground would be intimidating for them,” Bell said. “They haven’t developed the technical expertise that the Chinese have.”

The president of the Mining Association of B.C. politely disagreed.

“Canadians are world leaders in mining, including undergound mining, so I can’t say I entirely agree with the minister,” said Pierre Gratton.

He did agree that open pit mining is more common in the province, “but that speaks more to the nature of the resource than expertise.”

Gratton pointed out there are at least three undergound mineral mines currently operating around B.C., and said the fact it’s Chinese interests now looking to go underground in the North likely speaks to the economics of the projects.

“They’ve got the capital, and now we’ve got the metallurgical coal prices that make it attractive.”

Underground mines’ safety records are “not quite as strong as for open pit,” Gratton added, “but there is still a very strong safety performance in B.C.’s underground mining sector.”

Bell said the three Chinese companies interested in the mines are privately owned and “have the fiscal resources already in place to do it and the connections, I think, to make it happen.”

He said officials he has met with in that country were interested in learning about B.C.’s streamlined regulatory approval process. The minister expects the companies could seek the necessary approvals by the end of 2011 and begin production possibly within two years.


Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read