Apples to Apples: A Look at Mining Wages in Underground Occupations

Trent Ernst, Editor

BC Labour Unions have focused on the fact that HD Mining wages are lower than the current wages at other mines in the area. Brian Cochrane, business manager for IUOE 115, one of the unions currently taking HD Mining to court, says “For instance, HD Mining advertised for a certified heavy duty mechanic, working underground, at $25 to $32 an hour with no benefits indicated. That position pays over $42 an hour, with full benefits, at mines that are currently operating in Canada, including the Peace River Coal Mine at Tumbler Ridge.”
But the fact is, not all positions pay the same between different mines. While underground mining is considered more dangerous, underground miners tend to make less than their above-ground counterparts, at least when it comes to coal mining.
There are only two underground mines in Canada currently in operation. Grande Cache Coal, near Grande Cache, Alberta, and the Quinsam Mine on Vancouver Island. 
Grande Cache Coal is currently co-owned by two overseas firms: the Winsway Coking Coal Holdings Ltd. out of China and Marubeni Corp out of Japan. The United Mine Workers of America represent workers there.
Hillsborough Resources is a Vancouver-based company that owns Quinsam Coal on Vancouver Island. They are also actively investigating opening up the Echo Hill mine up near Tumbler Ridge, an open pit thermal coal mine that would ship coal to foreign markets. The workers at Quinsam are represented by the United Steelworkers, who represent the workers at Western Coal’s Wolverine Mine.  
Because the job descriptions are different between the three mines, it isn’t always possible to compare directly, but the following table lists a number of jobs and the pay rate for each.