If you build them…(mines)… they will come( workers) – from China.

Sarbjit touched on a very important point in his letter, which is posted directly below.

Sarbjit states:

“In the coming years, jobs will require more skills and training, particularly in this region in forestry and in mining.  We need more funding and a definitive plan for apprenticeship and skills training in the resource sector, especially with a call to open 8 new mines and expand 9 others. Who will be filling these positions?  HD Mining near Tumbler Ridge has already received permission from HRSDC to hire 92 foreign workers for their proposed coal mine.”

Shocking. Absolutely shocking when you think of the ramification of Christy Clark’s big non-vision for defending and creating jobs in B.C.

Sarbjit was wonderful to also send along the links to the mining companies site that talks about these foreign workers being shipped over to work in a BC mine.


Seven approvals for foreign workers

HD Mines International’s permission to employ 92 foreign workers for a prospective underground mine near Tumbler Ridge is a result of seven separate approvals from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).

Each of the seven positive labour market opinions (LMOs) was granted to Canadian Dehua International Mines Group (CDIMG) in mid-April, and each was evaluated on a case-by-case basis, “to ensure the employer is offering foreign nationals the prevailing wage rates, acceptable working conditions and that the entry of the temporary foreign worker will have a neutral or positive effect on the Canadian labour market,” said an HRSDC spokesperson.

Work permits are another matter, which will require permission from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Those permits are likely to be granted by a Canada Border Services Agency officer at the worker’s point of entry, allowing each of the temporary foreign workers to start working when they arrive in Canada.

HD Mines, the joint venture recently formed between CDIMG and the Huiyong Group of mines, has six months to bring the workers to Tumbler Ridge before the LMOs expire.

While in Canada, the foreign workers will have the same rights and protections as Canadian citizens and permanent residents under applicable federal and provincial employment standards and collective bargaining agreements. The province is responsible for the enforcement of labour standards and assistance to workers regarding fair pay, hours of work, rest periods and general working conditions.

Asked how CDIMG was able to show their intent to hire Canadian workers, HRSDC explained all employers must provide proof of advertisement and the results of the efforts to recruit Canadians or permanent residents before being allowed to hire temporary foreign workers.

For the past several months, CDIMG has been advertising on Service Canada’s Job Bank and on numerous mining employment websites to fill underground mining, geologist, construction, and drilling positions for the Murray River project, an underground metallurgical coal mine with a projected 50-year mine life.

The proof includes copies of advertisements, number of Canadian applicants and why they were rejected. Records of the employers’ efforts should be kept for a minimum of two years, in the event that a Service Canada Officer contacts the employer to verify the advertising efforts.”


Joint venture HD Mines to develop Murray River project

A major underground coal mine in Tumbler Ridge took a step closer to reality last Thursday (June 2), as China’s Huiyong Holdings Group announced a new joint venture with Canadian Dehua International Mines Group (CDIMG) to develop the Murray River project.

“The important thing about Huiyong is that we have extensive experiences in community integration,” explained Yan Penggui, who will chair the new company. Once the legal paperwork clears, it will be called HD Mines International.

Huiyong’s growth strategy in China “is that we acquire small mines, through integrating with communities,” said Penggui. “I have to be accepted by the community as an outsider – that was part of my experience in China, and I’m ready to use that knowledge and expertise in this place.”

HD is focused solely on the Murray River project, and plans to develop the underground mine with a 50-year lifespan, and a starting workforce of 92 Chinese miners.

Prior to his Tumbler Ridge News interview, Penggui met with mayor and council last Thursday, where plans for a major residential development across from Tumbler Ridge Secondary School were discussed.

“That piece of land was offered to us by the district,” said Penggui. ” It’s a hilly place, with nice topography, very good for building gardens, maybe for Chinese villas, that sort of thing,” he said. “We’ll be working under guidelines from the local community.”

“We are encouraged by council to produce our master plan for that part of the city, and we even talked about, in a candid way, building a Chinese cultural element,” he said. “A winding stream, a Chinese garden that is open to everybody.”

While that project is at least a year away from ground-breaking, a temporary foreign worker allowance granted by Service Canada in mid-April means the 92 employees are set to arrive in September.

Those employees are now being trained at Huiyong facilities in China by two Canadian instructors, in order to meet the B.C. standards for underground mining. They also began learning English 40 days ago, said Penggui.

“They hate it; they don’t like it,” he said with a grin. “But I said, ‘You have to become a neighbour, buy cigarettes, buy food – you’ll have to speak with people’,”.

Huiyong would hold a 55 per cent interest in the joint venture, while CDIMG would hold a 40 per cent stake, with the final five per cent now being negotiated with another partner. Huiyong would have four board members, Dehua would have two, and the third partner would have one.

Penggui first visited Tumbler Ridge last June, as has been discussing a joint venture with CDIMG since then. Huiyong would provide all the capital, and would build and operate the mine.

The project’s 100,000 tonne bulk sample is expected to occur in late July or early August, said Penggui. HD will present its detailed engineering plan to provincial government officials in Prince George on June 14, and will clarify timelines for the start of an environmental assessment application.

“According to my briefing from Dehua, the baseline study has almost been completed – what they need now is a project description,” he said. After that, the Environmental Assessment (EA) Office may start to compile experts and community members to comment on the project description.

Getting employees in place that far ahead of an approved EA certificate and Mines Act permit poses some financial risk, said Penggui, but it’s a process he believes will be successful due to synergies between drilling work and environmental data collection.

“There’s a time frame arrangement by which all the elements fit into the entire framework,” he said. “We have confidence in the law and transparency of this country.”

The full EA process will take about 18 months, a time span he said will allow for the completion of two shafts and a further refinement of the mine design.

Details of where the new employees would be housed upon arrival in Tumbler Ridge are yet to be disclosed. The planned subdivision is slated for an area currently zoned for residential multi-family (R3) and future development commercial (FDC), which means a re-zoning application would not necessarily be required.

HD’s long-term vision includes funding a visitor centre, geological museum, and an innovative closed-circuit television feed to provide people in Tumbler Ridge with a real-time view of the mining happening underground, said Penggui.


Still as outraged and angered as I was when I first read this? Which brings me back to Sarbjit’s multi-million dollar question.

Christy plans to open 8 more mines and expand 9 others, so who will fill those positions? The foreign students she’s planning on bringing in to our universities that she says will contribute skilled labour to our province ? 

More workers from China?

Or will it be the hometown boys that might really appreciate some comprehensive training so they can support their families and live a decent life ?

Christy Clark, selling BC one grand vision at a time. To China.

More about the impact of raw log exports.. from my hometown.

An edited version of this letter appeared recently in the Vancouver Sun online… here is the unedited version from  Bobby Deepak,  a reader of mine who is a lawyer in Prince George, as well as a concerned community member. Bobby poses some very hard questions for the still unelected Christy Clark, ones that I would ask Ms. Clark to respond to, and the opposition to ask on Bobby’s behalf while the Legislature is in session.

Dear Editor:

 The Christy Clark Liberals have been on a photo op spree lately touting their “jobs plan”, but how does it help the PG area?

We’ve been devastated with job losses.  Let’s look at some of the mill closures and the jobs that went with them:  Clear Lake sawmill/finger-joint plant, Upper Fraser sawmill, NCP (never rebuilt), Rustads, Winton Global, Northstar Lumber, and Abitibi-Bowater paper mill – all closed.  At the end of August 2011, our Northern neighbors in Dawson Creek were told of the indefinite closure of LP’s OSB operation.  Most mills that are still open are not running at full capacity and hundreds of employees are laid off or on call.

The “China Effect” is not all that it is hyped up to be by the Liberals.  Although China is keeping some mills open so far, it is not enough to open the mills that are already closed and China’s appetite for our raw logs is growing significantly.  It is a devastating indictment of the Liberals’ forest policy.  A more welcomed jobs plan for the PG area would have been one that keeps our jobs in BC by restricting raw log exports and one that promotes companies that create jobs in manufacturing, smelting, and processing.

In the coming years, jobs will require more skills and training, particularly in this region in forestry and in mining.  We need more funding and a definitive plan for apprenticeship and skills training in the resource sector, especially with a call to open 8 new mines and expand 9 others. Who will be filling these positions?  HD Mining near Tumbler Ridge has already received permission from HRSDC to hire 92 foreign workers for their proposed coal mine.

We need a plan that promotes our current forest products and diversifies products, not only markets. Although some work has been done in the past to promote pellet plants/bio-energy, which is welcomed, we would need approximately 10-15 pellet plants to make up one mill closure in terms of direct jobs.

The jury is still out on the Liberals’ jobs plan which I hope is successful because there are many people still hurting in the PG area.  But measuring success will be difficult because the jobs plan offers no specific targets. Lastly, why wasn’t the Wood Innovation and Design Centre included in the jobs plan and, more importantly, what is it?

Sarbjit (Bobby) Deepak

Prince George, BC