Sunday 20th September 2020

Resource Clips

Week in review

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B.C. company sends Chinese workers home

Sixteen mine workers have been sent back to China by their British Columbia-based employer, HD Mining International, the company announced on Monday. The group was the first of an exclusively Chinese workforce that would staff underground operations at the Murray River coal project in northeastern B.C. HD Mining blamed a court challenge by two unions, who argue that the jobs should go to Canadians. The company maintains that the mine could not be built and operated without Chinese skills and that Chinese “temporary” workers would be needed until about 2026.

In a news release HD Mining spokesperson Jody Shimkus said, “This was a difficult decision for us, but we are very concerned about the cost and disruption this litigation brought by the unions has caused to the planning of the project. We need reasonable certainty before initiating work on our underground bulk sample.” By press time Friday, no one at the company had responded to a ResourceClips inquiry asking what the underground workers had been doing since they arrived last fall.

Murray River is one of four B.C. coal projects proposed by Chinese interests that would employ thousands of Chinese workers. The B.C. government has known about the plan since at least 2007.

No one knows platinum like South Africans

Wesizwe Platinum Bakubung mine

Chinese investment combines with South African skills
to develop Wesizwe Platinum’s Bakubung mine.

HD Mining is hardly unique for its hiring policy. As a Friday story from Reuters points out, “The prevailing stereotype of Chinese investment in Africa is that its companies snap up the assets and then bring in their own skilled labour forces to get the stuff out of the ground.” But not in every case. Despite a Chinese consortium’s 45% interest in Wesizwe Platinum‘s Bakubung mine and the China Development Bank’s $650-million loan, local expertise will prevail.

“If you want to mine platinum, then it is best to have South African accents on your engineering team, as few other countries have experience in this area for obvious reasons,” Reuters stated. “This was driven home in Zimbabwe, where South Africa’s Impala Platinum acquired Zimplats and made a success out of platinum assets in the country after companies such as BHP Billiton were stymied by the geology.”

In Guyana, mining gets military support

Speaking to ResourceClips about his Guyana gold project, Eagle Mountain Gold TSXV:Z president/CEO Ioannis (Yannis) Tsitos described the country as “mining friendly with robust mining legislation based on British law.” The army intends to keep it that way, suggests a Monday Reuters dispatch.

Following reports that five renegade Guyanese soldiers raided several mining camps across the border in Brazil, the military vowed to court martial anyone found responsible for the “dastardly act.”

Reuters quoted an army statement saying, “The Guyana Defence Force is committed to making the mining community a safe zone so our citizens and international investors can ply their trade peacefully.”

The news agency added, “Officially, Guyana produced a record $700 million worth of gold last year. But the authorities say illegally mined gold is also smuggled abroad. Guyana has only 750,000 inhabitants in a territory larger than England that is mostly covered by jungle.”

Such is the state of Canadian public discourse

“In British Columbia, there is nothing illegal about staking an online mining claim on private property (and most public and First Nations land, for that matter), for $1.75/hectare, and then going on to develop a mine.”

On Wednesday western Canada’s biggest newspaper, the Vancouver Sun, actually ran an op-ed making that preposterous claim. The co-writers were Sierra Club B.C. interim executive director Sarah Cox and West Coast Environmental Law executive director/senior counsel Jessica Clogg.

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