B.C. government investigating claims about Chinese recruiters looking for miners – by Jeremy Nuttall (Vancouver Sun – October 23, 2012)


Canadian Press – VANCOUVER – The provincial government is investigating after the B.C. Federation of Labour complained an employment agency has been advertising for Canadian jobs, offering miners in China a chance to work here in exchange for exorbitant recruitment fees.

The investigation was launched because it is against the Employment Standards Act to charge a foreign worker a fee for information about employment or help them find a job in the province. Workers also cannot be forced to pay back any costs associated with recruitment to the company or agency.

“It is a serious allegation,” said Jobs Minister Pat Bell of a news release issued by Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour. “I hope he has substance to it. If he does, we will get to the bottom of it.”

But that’s not good enough for the B.C. Federation of Labour, which has been a vocal critic of the decision earlier this month to allow foreign, temporary workers into B.C. coal mines. “The only sensible thing to do is to suspend the permits and conduct a full investigation,” Sinclair said in the release.

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In eastern Ohio, coal fuels discontent with Obama – by Patrick Martin (Globe and Mail – October 18, 2012)

Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

CADIZ, OHIO — The people of this eastern Ohio region believe they are at war – with the Obama administration. Which is odd, considering that about 75 per cent of the men and women in the area routinely vote Democrat, and they supported Barack Obama in 2008 in large numbers.

The war is over coal and the administration’s policies to curtail its use in heating and power generation. Those are fighting words to this blue-collar district whose men have mined coal for more than a century and all of whose citizens have a stake in the mining and related industries.

The issue is so worrisome that many of those life-long Democrats are casting their ballots this election against Mr. Obama – one of the factors that is putting into doubt a repeat of the President’s decisive 2008 victory in this key swing state.

“It made me change my vote,” said Democrat Hooty McKee, a 50-something miner at the Hopedale Mine, 10 kilometres north of Cadiz. Not surprisingly, some of the 170 workers at the mine are distributing lawns signs for people to display: “Stop the War on Coal – FIRE OBAMA,” they all read.

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B.C.’s low-wage migrant coal mining jobs send us back to the future – by Thomas Walkom (Toronto Star – October 13, 2012)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Early on in the 20th century, the silver and gold mines of Northern Ontario imported thousands of foreign workers. The mine owners said they were filling a labour shortage. But their real reason was to keep wages down.

So when native-born, anglophone miners went on strike in Cobalt or the Porcupine region, the owners shipped in French-Canadians. And when they went on strike, Finns were brought in and, after them, Ukrainians and Poles and Italians and Englishmen from Cornwall.

In every case, the point of the exercise was to bring in workers who were less likely to make common cause with those already there and who, therefore, would be willing to work for less.

It was an ugly time in our history and it gave rise to very ugly labour disputes. So it is depressing in the extreme to see employers, aided and abetted by the federal government, engage in the same discredited tactics.

The latest and most bizarre example comes from British Columbia where, as the Vancouver Sun has reported, four brand new coal mines in the province’s northeast are bringing in just under 2,000 temporary Chinese migrants to do most of the work.

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B.C. government knew for years of plan to import Chinese miners – by Craig McInnes (Vancouver Sun – October 11, 2012)


Young Canadian workers could have been trained for highly paid mining positions

How long does it take to train a coal miner? Granted, at least in Canada, it’s been a while since all that was required was a strong back, a desperate need of a job and a high tolerance for dangerous and dirty work.

But five years? That’s how long the provincial government has known that a company proposing an underground coal mine near Tumbler Ridge in northeastern B.C. wanted to bring in experienced miners from China as part of its operating plan because of a lack of skilled underground miners here.

As Vancouver Sun reporter Peter O’Neil noted Wednesday, Premier Christy Clark didn’t mention during her trade mission to China last November that most of the coal mining jobs created by a $1.4-billion Chinese investment in B.C. would be filled by Chinese workers. But at least her officials should have known that the rationale given in 2007 by the Canadian Dehua International Mines Group for bringing in miners from China appears to be essentially unchanged in 2012, despite her government’s focus on jobs for British Columbians.

As O’Neil reported, the first of a group of 200 temporary Chinese workers approved by the federal government will be arriving in B.C. in the coming weeks to start work on one of four projects that could provide employment for 1,600 to 2,000 Chinese miners and an estimated 480 to 800 jobs for Canadians.

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Global coalification – by Terence Corcoran (National Post – October 11, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Europe and Asia are massively expanding?

I’ve been looking into the coal industry, in a superficial way. And here’s the scoop. The coal industry is dead and dying, in the U.S. and elsewhere — if not right now, then pretty soon. Scientific American in May trumpeted the news: “The End of Coal Burning in the U.S.” The Wall Street Journal noted: “The Coal Age Nears its End.” And then there’s Canada’s in-house peakster: “Is Peak Coal Coming?” asks economist/author Jeff Rubin.

So there you have it, except that’s only the half of it. The other half is this: “Coal Era Beckons for Europe,” says BusinessWeek. Bloomberg reports that “Merkel’s Green Shift Forces Germany to Burn More Coal.” Another report, citing the World Resources Institute, said 1,231 new coal plants with total power capacity of 1.4 million megawatts are planned worldwide.

“Beyond the biggest users — China, India and the United States,” reports ClimateWire, “the assessment finds a heavy coal demand building in Russia, Vietnam, Turkey and South Africa. The United States, with 79 coal plants in the pipeline, ranks fourth in this category.”

These two contradictory views of coal cannot long coexist, and a gambler might be well advised to put his money on a coming coal boom. The idea that coal is dying seems to be mostly wishful thinking on the part of green activists, as well as some politicians and regulators in the United States and parts of Canada. Ontario aims to end dirty coal-fired power generation, at great cost to consumers who are now paying high prices for the putative clean alternatives, wind and solar.

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Chinese workers fill B.C. mining jobs – by Peter O’Neil (Vancouver Sun – October 10, 2012)


Canadians ‘just don’t have the experience’ to operate equipment to extract coal

The first of a group of 200 temporary Chinese workers approved by the federal government will start arriving in B.C. in coming weeks to work in the burgeoning northeast coal industry, a mine project spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

In total, anywhere from 1,600 to just under 2,000 Chinese nationals could find full-time work in four projects being proposed in coming years for the region, due to the shortage of underground mining skills in Canada, according to industry officials.

The four projects could create an estimated 480 to 800 full-time mining jobs for Canadians. Canadians “just don’t have the experience” operating the equipment needed to safely extract coal in underground mines, said John Cavanagh, chief executive of Vancouver-based Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc., a company founded by China-born Vancouver businessman Naishun Liu.

“Without the Chinese and the technology they’re bringing … these particular mines would not have been developed.” The necessity of foreign work ers wasn’t mentioned in B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s Nov. 9, 2011 news release from Beijing, in which she announced $1.4 billion in Chinese funding for two of the four coal projects.

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Revenge of the fossil fuels: Setbacks mount for renewable energy sector – by Yadullah Hussain (National Post – October 5, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

After a fantastic run spanning a few years, the renewable energy sector has taken a number of hits recently, which suggests its inevitable march as the energy source of the future is far from certain.

“It’s pretty bleak — there is no way to sugar coat it. But I wouldn’t call it a lost cause,” says Matt Horne, director of climate change at the Pembina Institute.

While all sectors have ups and downs, there is a fear that renewables’ weaknesses could lead to structural changes, as policymakers no longer have the luxury of supporting and extending subsidies at a time of fiscal austerity.

And much to the dismay of environmentalists, fossil fuels are clawing their way back into the public’s good books. Or at least they are offering a compelling economic case that few can resist at a time of slow economic growth.

A number of factors have turned the tide. Plentiful oil and abundance of cheap natural gas, especially in the United States and Canada, with its promise of high-paying jobs has been an irresistible lure for governments desperate to create employment.

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Ottawa unveils new coal-fired plant emission rules – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – September 6, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

OTTAWA – The federal government has released final regulations for coal-fired power plants that eases the expected burden on utilities by allowing them to run their plants longer before having to replace them with lower-emission alternatives, and to average emission reductions among their plants.

The new regulations may force the closing of at least two coal-fired plants in Alberta by 2020 and prevent construction of one planned by Maxim Power Corp., unless the provincial government can reach an agreement with Ottawa to impose its own regulations while meeting overall federal targets.

Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia are both working with Ottawa to reach such a deal. In Saskatoon Thursday, Environment Minister Peter Kent unveiled the long-anticipated regulations which the government describes as being among the most stringent in the world, but are significantly weakened from what was first proposed two years ago.

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Australia’s ambitious new coal frontier blown off track – Rebekah Kebede (Globe and Mail – September 4,2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

PERTH – Reuters – Tumbling coal prices and tough financing threaten to derail tens of billions of dollars of planned investment in Australia’s Galilee Basin, a so-far untapped reserve with the potential to make the country the world’s top thermal coal exporter.

Emboldened by record coal prices in recent years, Australian mining magnates have teamed up with Chinese and Indian groups such as GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd. and Adani Enterprises to develop huge mines in Galilee, a remote outback area in Queensland state.

They had big plans: five developments to ramp up production to more than 180 million tonnes by the end of the decade, double Australia’s current annual thermal coal exports. In addition, rail lines and ports to ship the coal, mostly to Asia.

But efforts to open up Galilee have been shaken by a 20-per-cent slide in Australian benchmark coal prices since the start of 2012 to just over $90 per tonne, as China’s demand has cooled.

Delays will mean Australia will miss out on overtaking Indonesia as the world’s No.1 thermal coal exporter and wipe out a big chunk of future coal supply.

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Media ignore German coal plants, tout propaganda film ‘Fuel’ – by Dr. Kelvin Kemm (Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow – August 28, 2012)

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) is a conservative Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization whose stated mission is to promote free market solutions to environmental problems.(Wiki) http://www.cfact.org/
Dr. Kelvin Kemm is a CFACT scientific advisor. He holds a PhD in nuclear physics, is currently CEO of Stratek and lives in Pretoria, South Africa.

While Germany builds 23 new coal plants, the media gush over “Fuel,” in which super rich celebrities tell the rest of us to turn the lights off and do without!

It is amazing how biased the international media is when it comes to reporting on energy generation, specifically electricity.
In mid-August, Germany opened a new 2200MW coal-fired power station near Cologne, and virtually not a word has been said about it. This dearth of reporting is even more surprising when one considers that Germany has said building new coal plants is necessary because electricity produced by wind and solar has turned out to be unaffordably expensive and unreliable.
In a deteriorating economic situation, Germany’s new environment minister, Peter Altmaier, who is as politically close to Chancellor Angela Merkel as it gets, has underlined time and again the importance of not further harming Europe’s – and Germany’s – economy by increasing the cost of electricity.

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Indian village fears being swallowed by underground coal fires – by Mark Magnier (Los Angeles Times/Toronto Star – August 18, 2012)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

JHARIA, India — For nearly a century now, fires have burned beneath the ground where Mohammad Riyaz Ansari stands. At night, ghostly blue flares shoot from glowing rocks, like a terrible hell on Earth.

The 55-year-old mechanic and his neighbours here, deep in eastern India’s coal country, live above underground coal fires that are eating away at their land, India’s precious natural resources and, say some, government credibility.

As the ground subsides, thousands of houses, including Ansari’s, have sagged, collapsed or fallen into chasms over the years, including 250 destroyed over two hours in 1995.

In this eerie landscape — the plumes of flame igniting periodically as combustible gas escapes from the subterranean fires — locals speak of neighbours swallowed in their sleep. In 2006, for instance, 14-year-old Mira Kumari vanished while cooking when her house fell 15 metres underground. Her body was never recovered.

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Renewed interest in High Arctic coal mining unearths angry opposition – by Randy Boswell (National Post/Postmedia News – July 9, 2012)


A proposed Arctic coal-mining project that was rejected by a Nunavut development regulator in 2010 but has been revived by another Canadian company has triggered renewed concern about the potential impact on wildlife, Inuit hunting grounds and world-renowned fossil sites on Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands.
Linking the rebirth of the planned coal dig on Canada’s northernmost landmasses with recent federal cuts to Arctic environmental monitoring, Green Party leader Elizabeth May said: “Is it a coincidence that one of the most polluting resource-extraction industries is now ready to exploit the area?”
The Arctic-coal controversy has re-emerged at a time when scientists across Canada are sounding alarms about the potential impact of budget cuts to Canadian environmental research and ecosystem monitoring capacity. On Tuesday, hundreds of scientists attending a conference in Ottawa, along with allied environmental advocates, are scheduled to take part in a mock funeral march to Parliament Hill — a so-called “Death of Evidence” protest.

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In Mongolia, a New, Penned-In [Mineral] Wealth – by Dan Levin (New York Times – June 27, 2012)


TAVAN TOLGOI, Mongolia — “All you need to mine here is a shovel,” said an awe-struck Indian investment manager as he stood behind a barrier, along with dozens of international mining industry executives and other eager investors, gazing at the immense coal pit gouged out of the rust-colored earth below.

Coal may have lured the foreigners to this stretch of the Gobi, but that is just part of the buried treasure to be found now that this nation of livestock herders has started digging in earnest. Mongolia has not only enough coal to fuel China’s huge demand for the next 50 years, but also vast troves of copper, gold, uranium and other minerals the world covets.

While Mongolia may be blessed by geology, it is cursed by geography. Landlocked between China and Russia, its three million people face a geopolitical quandary: Every path to prosperity leads through their mighty neighbors’ territory. And Moscow and Beijing intend to make Mongolia pay dearly for the privilege.

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Coal: The rising star of global energy production – by Neil Reynolds (Globe and Mail – June 20, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Coal has had a good run in the past five years – sweeping up the energy equivalent of the Academy Awards for best foreign film in four of them. (Though shot principally in China, these epic productions mostly starred American or Australian actors.) Notwithstanding its bad-boy reputation as a despoiler of the heavens and the Earth, coal has emerged as the fastest growing of all fossil fuel. It works hard (especially when pulverized into powder and burned super-hot). It’s relatively cheap.

And it has substantially cleaned up its environmental act. Honest. Energy expert Robert Bryce says, for example, that the cleanest U.S. coal-fired electricity plants now exceed all traditional Environmental Protection Agency pollution standards. Combine these advantages and you have blockbuster box office.

BP’s annual statistical review reports that global coal production increased 6 per cent last year, twice the celebrated rate of increase in global natural gas production. This most notorious of fuels now accounts for 30 per cent of global energy consumption – the highest percentage since 1969. It will almost certainly account for more in the years ahead. It is, after all, one of the cheapest primary sources of energy in the world. And its reserves are, for all practical purposes, inexhaustible.

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Coal is big business in B.C. – (Canadian Mining Journal – May 2012)

The Canadian Mining Journal is Canada’s first mining publication providing information on Canadian mining and exploration trends, technologies, operations, and industry events.

Coal is the second most important resource exported from British Columbia next to wood products. But ask someone in the province how well the forestry industry is doing and you’re likely to be faced with an icy stare. Coal is big business as the world­wide demand for coal grows and shows no sign of slowing, particularly in rapidly industrializing and developing economies. Asia in particular is hungry for B.C.’s hard coking coal, used in steelmaking, and almost four years of a soft economy have not slowed the demand.
This demand has led to greater interest in British Columbia’s resources from inter­national corporations, including the diver­sified mining giant, Xstrata Coal, which is located in Switzerland, and JX Nippon Oil & Gas (JX), based in Japan. Xstrata and JX recently announced a joint venture to acquire metallurgical coal properties in the Peace River region of northern Alberta. Xstrata Coal British Columbia will retain the significant share of the venture at 75% with JX purchasing a 25% for $435 million.
Xstrata and JX will be focusing their exploration and development efforts on three main deposits in the Peace River coal­fields. The 3,800-ha Lossan coal deposit has an estimated resource of 240 million tonnes that was acquired from Cline Mining in 2011. The Sukunka coal deposit, acquired from Calgary-based Talisman Energy in March 2012, is contiguous with the Lossan prop­erty, and has an estimated resource of 236 million tonnes. Finally, Xstrata also acquired First Coal Corporation’s assets, which rep­resented over 100,000 ha of contiguous coal licenses and applications.

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