Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc.'s controversial plan to staff a proposed underground coal mine in northeastern British Columbia with workers from China appears to have the support of the Campbell administration. This, according to records obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request.
Back in November, while attending the China Mining Congress and Exhibition, then Minister of State for Mining Bill Bennett met with officials from steel maker Shougang Group Corp. - which has partnered with Dehua to develop the mine.
Hadwritten notes of that meeting, which were taken by ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources geosciences director Dave Lefebure, indicate Minister Bennett told the officials the "BC Gov't thinks Gething Project a good project." And that the government wants to "show world that BC can develop underground coal mines - need this project to be successful."
Which may explain why Minister Bennett, "talked to Federal Minister (about Gething) and talked about bringing in workers for this project," also telling Shougang he would "do everything I can to help Gething Coal." Although he observed another provincial mine had "trained staff from local people."
A project description for Gething, filed with the province's environmental assessment office last year, states Dehua would "likely source skilled labour from China to meet (the mine's) staffing requirements" - which are estimated at 400 employees. The Globe and Mail's Wendy Stueck was the first to report on that filing. The ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources declined an opportunity to directly comment on Minister Bennett's meeting with Shougang.