Why would 400 Chinese immigrants come to British Columbia to work in a coal mine?
A Vancouver-based company, CANADIAN DEHUA INTERNATIONAL MINES GROUP, has proposed exactly that as part of its development plan for the Gething coal project 25 km west of Hudsons Hope in the coalfields of northeast British Columbia.
Canadian Dehua is a private company established by Taylor Wu and Beijing Shuailing Corp. Shuailing is owned and operated by Naishun Liu, who interestingly enough is also president of Canadian Dehua. Dehua is proposing to build a mine and wash plant capable of producing 2.0 million t of clean coal annually, with production to begin as early as 2009.
Dehua has already filed a project description with the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office. In it the company proposes sourcing longwall equipment from China and employing Chinese immigrants.
So why import skilled coal miners?
Dehua insists that the lack of underground coal mines in Canada means that it can only find qualified miners in China. The company needs to be told that there are many qualified coal miners in North America. The plan to staff a mine with immigrant labour is contrary to the goal of sustainable development for the local community.
Part of the answer, maybe a large part, can be found in the desire to keep production costs low. If Dehua succeeds in employing Chinese nationals at its mine, it may be able to vastly undercut labour costs compared with unionized collieries elsewhere in Canada.
Sadly, the thought of a remote mining camp populated by immigrants raises problems of racial stereotyping, isolation, insularity and the inevitable backlash from intolerant Canadians. I cannot think of a single reason to plan a mine development that is so loaded with inherent social problems.
Im not saying we shouldnt welcome 400 Chinese miners to Canadas shores. Im just saying that to put them all in one place at one time is unwise. Canadian Dehua needs to rethink its employment strategy.
Interested readers might want to visit www.Dehua.ca or read the companys project description at http://www.EAO.gov.bc.ca/epic/output/html/deploy/epic_project_home_287.html.