Deadly Safety Record Should Disqualify Chinese Coal Companies From B.C., say Steelworkers

BURNABY, BC, Oct. 9, 2012 /CNW/ – Highlighting the dismal and deadly health and safety record of the Chinese coal mine industry, the United Steelworkers (USW) is urging B.C.’s Jobs Minister to abandon plans for Chinese-operated coal mines in British Columbia. 

 The USW has repeatedly sought assurances from Minister Pat Bell and Premier Christy Clark that the province would not give the green light to plans by Chinese mining companies to operate two new coal mines in northeast B.C. The union wrote the Premier and Minister on Dec. 20, 2011March 26, 2012 and July 16, 2012 to raise its concerns.

 Given the lack of response from the government, the Steelworkers are now warning the public of the risk that Chinese-operated coal mines present to workers, local communities and the environment. 

 “We’ve thoroughly reviewed the health and safety record of China’s coal mining industry and to put it simply: their record is damning.  In 2011 alone, 1,973 workers died in coal mine accidents in ChinaStephen Hunt, USW Director for Western Canada.

 According to the U.S. Mine Rescue Association, which maintains a web site tracking Chinese mine disasters, 85 people were killed and 32 missing in August 2012 alone; from the start of 2012 to Sept. 1, 359 miners were killed and another 94 remained missing. 

 Accidents happen on an almost weekly basis and range from cave-ins, explosions, gas leaks, equipment malfunctions, floods and other horrible, but preventable disasters. 

 On March 31, 2011, Bell was quoted in the Prince George Free Press, claiming that “domestic mines don’t have the expertise” to run underground mines. 

 “Do these sound like the actions of an industry that has anything to teach Canadians about how to manage coal mines?” asked Hunt. 

 “Canadians are world leaders in mining, including underground mining.  We have the expertise and the people to operate these mines safely, and without the involvement of foreign companies that have such disastrous records.”

Brad West
United Steelworkers Communications
300-3920 Norland Ave, Burnaby BC V5G 4K7