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

Vanderhoof commemorates Orange Shirt Day with beading workshop

Participants can learn a traditional Métis craft at CNC Sept. 26

College of New Caledonia offers new automotive glass technician program

The program is offered mainly online, allowing more students to take part from across the north

Local business wins snow removal award

K. Leigh Precision Earthworks picked up Rookie of the Year from Western Canadian company

Todd Doherty was recognized today for his life-saving actions during a flight home

Todd Doherty, Member of Parliament for Cariboo-Prince George, was recognized today for… Continue reading

Decision on Burns Lake’s workforce camp “pending very soon”: Coastal GasLink

Meetings to discuss new camp location postponed due to wildfire situation

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

‘Summer from hell’: vandals rob Fort St. James community garden following devastating wildfire season

The community rallied to keep the Health Minds Community Garden open in Fort St. James

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read