Dec 17, 2012 Murray River Project reaches environmental assessment milestone

Murray River Project Reaches Environmental Assessment Milestone

December 17, 2012 — Vancouver — The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office has issued an order under Section 11 of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act, establishing the scope, procedures and methods for how the environmental assessment for the Murray River Project will be undertaken.

With this order, HD Mining will continue its project planning and development, including environmental, engineering and socio-economic studies, as well as engagement with communities, stakeholders, regulators and First Nations.

For more information about the B.C. environmental assessment process, including the Section 11 order for the Murray River Project, please visit

Background Information

On December 14, 2012, the Hon. Justice Russell issued a decision to refuse to grant an injunction sought by two unions seeking to challenge the right of HD Mining's workers to enter Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

With this decision, HD Mining will continue its work extracting a core sample to investigate the extent of the coal seam as well as continue to pursue environmental certification for the Murray River Project. It will also allow HD Mining to continue investment in local goods, services and contractors. To-date, HD Mining has invested over $50 million in the Tumbler Ridge area and surrounding communities.

About HD Mining and the Murray River Project

HD Mining is proposing to develop the Murray River Project, located 12.5 kilometres south of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. If approved to proceed, the Murray River Project would be an underground coal mine with an annual production of six million tonnes of metallurgical (steelmaking) coal over 30 years. HD Mining has an approved 100,000 tonne bulk sample permit, which consists of the removal of coal samples representative of the targeted coal seams. The purpose of this is to confirm the mining conditions, coal quality and the viability of a full mine.

To construct underground access to the coal seam to mine for the 100,000 tonne bulk sample, HD Mining made a significant effort to recruit qualified Canadians. HD Mining advertised for various underground mining positions paying between $25 and $40 an hour, including mining engineers, industrial electricians and underground coal miners. When combined with benefits, housing and food costs, this would amount to annual compensation in the range of $84,852 to $113,652 per worker.

There is a lack of skilled underground coal mining workers in Canada. This shortage is further compounded by the fact that HD Mining's approved bulk sample work that prepares for the proposed full mine operation uses the long-wall mining method, which is different from conventional tunneling and is not currently used in Canada. Therefore, underground miners with long-wall mining experience are needed for this particular project. There is only one operating underground coal mine in B.C., and it utilizes a different method, called room-and-pillar.

Following HD Mining's recruitment effort, HD Mining applied to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and received approval in April 2012 to hire 201 workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for the Murray River Project. HD Mining has met and/or exceeded all HRSDC requirements.

The temporary foreign workers are employees of Huiyong Holdings Group China, the parent company of HD Mining, which is a respected international leader in coal mining safety and efficiency. All of these workers have experience in underground long-wall coal mining through employment at Huiyong's underground coal mines in China. These workers will be on a two year rotation to work in Canada and will return to China once their rotation is complete.

If HD Mining could find qualified Canadian underground miners for this particular project, it would prefer to hire Canadian workers rather than temporary foreign workers. It would be more efficient and less costly to hire Canadian workers, but so far through its recruitment efforts, HD Mining has been unable to find any who are qualified for underground long-wall mining.

As a Canadian employer, HD Mining is working to transition long-wall mining skills and jobs to Canadian workers. HD Mining is proposing a multi-year training plan, where following the start of production, every year, 10% of the underground workforce will be transitioned to Canadians workers. It must be noted that since the very beginning of the Murray River Project, all surface jobs have been filled by Canadians. This will continue through ground preparation, bulk sampling and full mine operations. Temporary foreign workers are being used only for underground work, and these jobs will be gradually transitioned to Canadians under HD Mining's training and transition plan.

HD Mining recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Northern Lights College to train workers in long-wall mining operations. Under the scope of activities outlined in the MOU, Northern Lights College and HD Mining will:
  • Develop a relevant curriculum;
  • Develop relevant simulation modules; and
  • Identify partners for program infrastructure.

  • As part of the MOU, Northern Lights College and HD Mining will work to deliver long-wall mining training in Tumbler Ridge and include key community partners in the organization and delivery of this training.

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