Steelworkers suggest B.C. coal mines controlled by Chinese government

VICTORIA – The Steelworkers union says it’s dug up what it calls close ties between the Chinese government and the reportedly privately-run coal mine in northeastern British Columbia embroiled in a foreign-worker controversy.

The union released a report today that suggests HD Mining International Ltd. — the firm developing the proposed Murray River mine near Tumbler Ridge — has ownership links to the government in China, where workers receive low wages in unsafe conditions.

Steelworkers’ Western Canada Director Steve Hunt says the government has refused to make public the details of the Chinese mining deals, which came after Asian economic missions by Jobs Minister Pat Bell and Premier Christy Clark.

Earlier this month, a federal court judge rejected a bid by two unions to stop HD Mining from bringing more miners from China to work in Tumbler Ridge.

Bell was not immediately available for comment, but officials in his office say they are preparing to release a statement later.