01/16/2013 23:26 EST | Updated 03/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Judge refuses to relent in Chinese miners case

A Federal Court judge isn't letting Ottawa off the hook when it comes to producing documents in the case involving the use of Chinese miners in a proposed British Columbia coal mine.

Two unions are challenging the government's decision to allow HD Mining to bring about 200 Chinese miners to work in northern B.C., rather than hire Canadian miners.

A judge ordered Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to turn over documents from HD Mining related to temporary foreign worker applications, but the government has said the company is refusing to provide the documents.

Federal government lawyers argued there was nothing they could do and asked the court to change the order to reflect that.

But Judge Michael Manson says the order stands, and he has ordered Human Resources Minister Diane Finley to reconsider whether she can do anything else to force HD Mining to turn over the documents.

The judgment, issued Tuesday, doesn't say just what the government needs to do, but it says whatever action it takes must happen by Jan. 21.

Judge Michael Manson ruled that the order still stands.

HD Mining couldn't immediately be reached to comment on the Federal Court decision.

The company has previously said the federal government has no power to compel it to turn over the documents. HD Mining also insists the documents aren't relevant and that the hundreds of pages it has already submitted to the court should be enough.

HD Mining is a partnership between China-based Huiyong Holding Group, which owns a 55 per cent stake, and Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc.

The project is currently in the exploration phase as it awaits an environmental review. Several dozen Chinese miners have already arrived for that exploration work.