HD Mining’s contentious Murray River coal project put on hold – by Wendy Stueck (Globe and Mail – March 14, 2016)


VANCOUVER — A B.C. coal project that generated controversy over its plans to hire temporary foreign workers is being mothballed at least temporarily, with future operations hinging on test drilling results, environmental approvals and market conditions.

That means the 51 temporary foreign workers hired for HD Mining’s Murray River project over the past couple of years have left Tumbler Ridge and returned to China, marking the end of a journey that launched a federal court case and helped spur reforms to Canada’s temporary foreign worker program.

HD Mining has completed a bulk sample program and the extracted coal sample “is being tested for coal quality and marketability,” Jody Shimkus, HD Mining’s vice-president of environment and regulatory affairs, said Monday in an e-mail.

The mine site, about 12 kilometres south of Tumbler Ridge, is being put into “care and maintenance” until it receives required federal environmental approvals, provincial mine permits and market conditions improve, she said, adding that all foreign workers on the project have returned home.

Global prices for metallurgical coal, used in making steel, and thermal coal, used to generate electricity, have been in a slump in recent years, resulting in some B.C. mines scaling back operations and others closing permanently.

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