February 19, 2013
Op-Ed by Chairman Penggui Yan at Vancouver Sun

Big Labour unfairly targets private company in politically-motivated attacks


Over the last few months, our company has been the subject of a highly orchestrated attack by Big Labour. What we thought was a genuine but misguided court challenge to our use of temporary foreign workers for a two-year period has become a much larger and dirtier political campaign. This campaign threatens hundreds of Canadian jobs and represents all that is wrong with Big Labour. Let me state the facts:


• Our company has been clear about our need to employ some temporary foreign workers for a two-year period of Bulk Sampling to determine if we have a viable mine. We have also made it publicly known that for safety and efficiency reasons, long-wall mining method must be used for coal seams more than 500 metres below the ground surface. This method, which our parent company uses in China, is not currently used in Canada. We have also publicly committed that we will train Canadians in this technique of mining, create hundreds of jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars in annual government revenue from a mine that no one else was prepared to develop.

• We followed all applicable government processes and received approval to employ 201 temporary foreign workers over a two-year period. Federal officials, untainted by political nonsense, approved our applications because of the overall benefits we would provide to the Canadian labour market. These approvals have a positive overall effect, and in any case, are a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of thousands of temporary foreign workers presently working in Canada.

• We have put our faith in the regulatory approvals and have purchased approximately $50 million in Canadian goods and services since July 2011. Some 300 Canadians have found jobs with our project. We are welcomed by the local community. Senior citizens have knitted scarves for our workers and the mayor supports our project. What else do we need to say?

• Big Labour challenges our project because they believe they can make this a federal and provincial election issue. We are pawns in a larger political game. If we lose, so does the community and businesses that support us. And so does the international reputation of British Columbia as a place to invest.

• We have also been treated poorly by Minister Finley, who made a public statement on November 8, 2012, after litigation had commenced, and which unmistakably influenced a federal court judge. And her comments were inconsistent with prior statements of her own staff and government lawyers in court.

• We have publicly invited the unions to discuss and explore ways of working together, even though we are very upset with how they have treated us. Most recently, a union representative agreed to meet with us, but cancelled the meeting at the last minute.


We have seen the ugly underbelly of the unions’ conduct. We have seen them continue to disregard facts that have been clarified time and time again. We have heard radio advertisements that contain absolute falsehoods about Chinese temporary foreign workers not being protected under Canadian laws. We have seen the federal NDP leader dressing himself in ornamental Chinese clothing to participate in Chinese New Year ceremonies in Vancouver, only to go on that same day to comment on whether Mandarin is an official language of Canada.


We completely understand that British Columbians want to build and protect jobs for British Columbians. We completely support building the economic engine of this province. And we completely support efforts to ensure there is public confidence in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. But we cannot support unfairness, adulteration of the truth and jingoism.


Our company is the victim of one of the most offensive assaults since Chinese foreign workers were denied rights and sent home after building Canada's railroads. We understand that we are nearing a provincial election, and that federal politics has become extremely polarized. But that is no excuse to treat a company like ours, which has followed the existing rules, in such an unfair manner. The facts must be understood, hard questions must be asked of the unions, and reasonable parties must find a way to work together. There is no other option.


Penggui Yan is Chair of HD Mining International Ltd. HD Mining International Ltd. is a Canadian incorporated company committed to the Murray River Project, an underground coal mine 12.5 kilometres southeast of Tumbler Ridge. HD Mining recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Northern Lights College to train local workers in long-wall mining operations.