Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

An image from the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy's official website. (Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy)

A mining project in Yukon is hiring Chinese engineers.

Copper North Mining is planning for work in the Carmacks area. The company has announced a firm in Beijing will help design a process to help it recover copper, gold and silver.

The project is at the feasibility study stage but Chinese workers will help design the mine and ship equipment to Canada.

Copper North mining
Harlan Meade is President and CEO of Copper North Mining.

He says this approach could reduce costs by as much as 40 per cent.

"What (Copper North Mining) is doing is getting them to do the detailed design engineering. We oversee it here in Canada then we get the procured equipment in China. We have it delivered and then our Canadian engineering firm, JDS Energy and Mining Inc, does the construction management, mining, earth works, and the other parts of the project."

Meade says Chinese engineers would provide "about half" of the work at the feasibility stage with Canadian engineers hired to do the rest. 

The project would see also savings as it would obtain its equipment directly from Chinese suppliers.   

Map

A map from a 2012 feasibility study shows the project's location. (Copper North Mining Corp.)

Chinese firm is state-owned

The Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy is a state-owned enterprise. Its English web site is inactive but shows a large industrial complex that has been operating since 1956. 

Meade says the Chinese engineers would not visit Yukon as temporary foreign workers. Instead, they would be visiting the country with business visas. Workers at the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy would be hired as outsourced employees by Copper North while they work in China.

 "In most cases, it's quite unlikely through the immigration laws that Chinese engineers and workers would be allowed into Canada. And this arrangement does not provide for that. All the construction and all the work will be done by Canadians," Meade says.

'Without these kinds of adjustments and reductions in cost, these projects will not get built' - Harlan Meade, President and CEO, Copper North Mining

He adds that equipment design work is not usually found in Canada.

"Certainly if we weren't acquiring the equipment from China it would be US and some other country. We don't really fabricate a lot of mining equipment inside Canada," he says.

The Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

The Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy is a state-owned enterprise. It has been active since 1956. (Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurg)

CEO defends decision to hire Chinese engineers 

Meade defends the project's model which would split work between Chinese and Canadian engineers.

"I think it has to be a give-and-take. Yes, some engineering groups in Canada may wish they had that work but they have to understand these projects are competing against projects all over the world. A loss of a few engineering hours in the early part of our project is a pretty good trade-off if it allows you to build a mine and create 10 or 20 years of employment," he says.

"Without these kinds of adjustments and reductions in cost, these projects will not get built."