Thousands Took Actions Against AGM of Miner GCM, Forcing Its Directors to Step Back

PRESS RELEASE: Phulbari Solidarity Coalition

21 March 2020, London

For immediate release

Three thousands climate justice campaigners from across the world have taken online action against the AGM of GCM Resources, as GCM planned meeting neglecting social distancing during London lockdown last Friday.

The four-fold online-action was launched on Wednesday 18th March to expose GCM, by a wide coalition of 13 organisations led by the Phulbari Solidarity Group, involving social media and mass-Emails which forced the company’s three directors and Executive Chairman Datuk Michael Tang to stand back from attending the AGM. Despite directors stood back, the company’s CEO Gary Lye who was appointed Alternate Director on the night before the AGM, has gone ahead with the meeting.

Climate activist of Stand Up To Racism held a handpainted placard as they protest online, on Friday 20 March 2019. Copyright: Phulbari Solidarity Coalition

GCM Resources, formerly Asia Energy plc, is one of the two London-listed mining companies that plan to build a massive open pit coal-mine by displacing upto 220, 000 people from Phulbari. Their 2019 AGM saw two postponements before it was held on 20th March 2020, at an imposing venue in the QEII Centre in Westminster. Bangladesh’s Deputy Energy Minister claims that GCM has no valid asset to operate in Phulbari, and that government will take legal action over GCM’s selling shares in London on Phulbari project’s name without permit.

In August 2019 the Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, made this statement to the daily Prothom Alo newspaper:

Even in the absence of an agreement, GCM or Asia Energy is trading shares in London by providing information that coal would be extracted from Phulbari, which is false. The government has taken this into notice. The government is proceeding to take legal action against them.”

The Phulbari Solidarity Coalition had organised loud picket at the AGM of GCM for what would have been the 11th consecutive year. As social distancing is key at this time of pandemic, the campaigners have changed the event into online to avoid in person picketing. They protested online as a cross-network action for resisting mining, colonisation, the protection of indigenous peoples, land and environmental justice, and public health.

Some 3,000 Facebook users have taken action by holding placards “GCM:Hands Off Phulbari”, while hundreds were tweeting and calling on instagram #ExposeGCM. Others have emailed GCM’s official email, by calling on GCM’s directors and CEO to withdraw all legal cases against the community leaders, and to stop selling shares and signing contracts with external corporations on the basis of Phulbari coal project.

Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, the Phulbari communities outraged. In a written press statement, Joy Prokash Gupta, the spokesperson of the Phulbari chapter of the National Committee of Bangladesh, stated:

GCM’s AGM in London is insane and unethical. Its fraudulent business must be stopped immediately. Government must implement the 6-point demands of Phulbari verdict 2006, and take legal action against the company by ensuring harassment of and false legal cases against community leaders will be withdrawn immediately.

Sanjit Prasad, a community organiser who participated in PSG’s online-action via Facebook last Friday, said:

Asia Energy plc, thereafter GCM, has been abusing us since mid 2000. This company inflicted violence that killed three of our young boys in August 2006. Al Amin, Saleqin and Tarikul were shot dead. My co-worker, Bablu Roy, who was a van driver, is now in wheelchair because of GCM.  It’s CEO, Gary Lye, filed false legal cases against me and 18 community leaders in Phulbari and Dinajpur. Our Mayor is also abused by GCM. Gary Lye claims 1Billion Bangladeshi Taka from us for so called damage of his business intentions.

The communities had planned a long-march from Phulbari to Dinajpur against continuous abuse of community leaders, which was scheduled on 30th March, and now been postponed until the pandemic is over.  

Dr Rumana Hashem, the Chair of Phulbari Solidarity Group who coordinated the Coalition’s online picket, said:

GCM’s forced AGM indicates that it has scant regard for its investors. The London Stock Exchange guidance asked all brokers to avoid business last Monday and London is in lockdown. GCM’s directors have heard our online calls and they stood back but its reckless CEO went ahead. How is this possible for a CEO to take over charges of directors before an AGM? I had never heard of any other London-listed company to appoint alternate director the night before the AGM. They are running scared because they do not have a valid license for business. London Stock Exchange now needs to investigate whether the company is in breach of the law. What does the company have to hide, postponing their AGM at peace time and holding meeting during emergency lockdown?

Richard Solly, the Coordinator of London Mining Network, said:

I attend lots of mining company AGMs and none is as pathetically badly organised as GCM’s. Every time GCM holds its AGM, I think ‘this must be the last GCM AGM’. The company seems to have no licence for its planned operations in Bangladesh and there is massive community opposition. Why would anyone trust them to organise a mining operation when they can’t even organise an AGM in usual business time? They’ve postponed their 2019 AGM twice because of ‘security concerns’ being expressed by the planned venues. Didn’t they tell the venues there would be a protest? There’s always a protest! Why has our protest come as a surprise? Would you trust these people to sell you a used car? I wouldn’t!

 

Despite no contract GCM have signed three Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chinese companies attempting at coal mining in Phulbari in 2019. Ahead of the GCM AGM on Friday, their share price indicated a significant decline from a high of around 28.25 GBX* in March 2019 to a lowly figure of 7.10 GBX* at close of trade. GCM’s share price hiked upto 2 GBX after the AGM.

Friday’s four-fold Online-Action was co-hosted by the Global Justice Rebellion, London Mining Network,  XR Universities, Environmental Justice Bloc, Labour Campaign for Human Rights, Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network, XR Youth, XR Slough, Extinction Rebellion London, XR Scotland, and Extinction Rebellion. The action was supported by 350.org, Stand Up To Racism, No Tar Sands,Christian Climate Action, and Urgewald.

 

 

 

Media contacts

Darren Gens, Phulbari Solidarity Group: phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com,  +44 (0) 753356963.

 

Notes to Editors

GCM Resources (then ‘Asia Energy’) is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in 2004, following the granting of a two year permit (license) from the Bangladesh Energy Department’s Bureau of Mineral Resource Development on 27 January 2004 for exploration and surveying of a 572 million tonnes open cast coal mine at Phulbari in Dinajpur, Northwest Bangladesh. A Scheme of Development was submitted to the Government of Bangladesh in 2005 but has never received approval. The original permit expired on 27 January 2006 and has not been renewed, yet the company has continued to sell shares and raise capital in London based on claims that a contract will be forthcoming. GCM Resources has no other assets or projects in its portfolio.3

On 26 August 2006 three young people – Al Amin (11 yo), Mohammad Salqin (13 yo) and Tarikul Islam (18 yo) were shot dead, and more than two hundred injured by paramilitary forces in a peaceful demonstration of 80,000 people against the mine.(4) Phulbari communities maintain that GCM is responsible for the murder of three young boys and 220 injured in a 2006 demonstration. Annual ‘Phulbari Day’ rallies have been held every year in Phulbari and across Bangladesh, commemorating the deaths and protesting the company’s continued plans. In December 2019 the communities in Phulbari have handed a memo to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (who is also Bangladesh’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources) via the UNO, asking her to take legal action against GCM immediately.

Earlier this month, on 9th March, Phulbari communities have demonstrated in the town centre opposing GCM’s London AGM, and demanding trial of its officials, to withdraw false cases against community organisers, and full implementation of their six-point agreement with the government. The two-hour demo also demanded that the government must take legal action against GCM immediately.

In support of the communities, last year activists had glued themselves to the entrance of the AGM preventing some shareholders from entering. This year the Phulbari Solidarity Coalition had organised loud picketing at the AGM of the AIM-listed GCM Resources. Protesters planned to demand that GCM is de-listed from the London Stock Exchange as it has no viable asset to its name, and has not held a license for coal exploration or mining in Bangladesh since 2006. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders would again dominate the meeting, accusing the company of misleading shareholders and the London Stock Exchange. The in person picket has transformed into online action as protesters, in their good conscience, would not risk Covid-19 pandemic.

[ii] Facebook solidarity action: https://www.facebook.com/events/207936613748475/

[iii] Sample letter to GCM’s directors: https://phulbarisolidaritygroup.blog/2020/03/20/call-on-gcms-directors-and-ceo-to-handsoff-phulbari/

[iv] See report of 2018 AGM protest here: https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/environmental-activists-confront-coal-mining-executives-at-shareholders%27-meeting-in-london

Call on GCM’s Directors and CEO to #HandsOffPhulbari

The below is a suggested format of the letter to GCM’s Directors and the CEO. To personalise and to flood the GCM’s directors, CEO and communication and media inboxes, please Feel Free to edit, amend and rephrase the letter.  Thanks.

 

20 March 2020, London.

Gary Norman Lye

Alternate Director and CEO

&

Datuk Michael Tang

Executive Chairman

GCM Resources plc.

Piccadilly Circus, London, UK.

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7290 1630

Email: info@gcmplc.com

GCM: HANDS OFF PHULBARI

Dear Mr Gary Norman Lye and Datuk Michael Tang,

I write as your company are selling shares in the London Stock Exchange on Phulbari coal mine’s name, for 14 years without permit to operate in Phulbari in Bangladesh.

The Global Coal Management (GCM) Resources plan to build a massive open cast coal mine by displacing upto 220, 000 people and polluting 14, 600 hectares of fertile land (1 hectare is equal to 2.471 acres or 10,000 square metres) from Bangladesh’s only flood protected area.  For the people in the region, this project would mean losing their livelihood and identities because the mining would disperse the communities. It would also impact upto 50,000 indigenous people from the area and the world’s largest mangrove forests, the Sundarbans.

GCM Resources, then ‘Asia Energy’, was listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in 2004, following the granting of a two-year permit (license) from the Bangladesh Energy Department’s Bureau of Mineral Resource Development on 27 January 2004 for exploration and surveying of a 572 millions tons open cast coal mine at Phulbari in Dinajpur, Northwest Bangladesh. A Scheme of Development was submitted to the Government of Bangladesh in 2005 but has never received approval. The original permit has expired on 27 January 2006 and has not been renewed, yet the company has continued to sell shares and raise capital in London share market, based on claims that a contract will be forthcoming. GCM Resources has no other assets or projects in its portfolio.

Phulbari communities maintain that GCM is responsible for the murder of three young boys and 200 injured in a 2006 demonstration in Phulbari, where 80,000 people marched against the company. They also say that you, Gary Lye as the CEO of the company, have filed false legal cases against community leaders, including the Mayor of Dinajpur, in Dinajpur judge court claiming 1 Billion Bangladeshi Taka from the community, because you were stopped from returning to Phulbari after the shooting and for damage to GCM’s fraudulent business intentions.  In December 2019 the communities in Phulbari have handed a memo to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, (who is also Bangladesh’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources) via the UNO, asking her to take legal action against your company, immediately.

Bangladesh government “is proceeding to take legal action against” your company. The Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, made this statement to the daily Prothom Alo newspaper on 23 August 2019.

In this context,  I would like to ask you to take your hands off Phulbari, withdraw all false cases against the community leaders in Phulbari and Dinajpur, compensate the victims in Phulbari shooting 2006, and stop selling shares in Phulbari coal project’s name, and stop signing Memorandum of Understanding with external corporations without permit, immediately.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Your Name

Cc.

1. Keith Fulton

Finance Director

GCM Resources plc.

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7290 1630

Email: info@gcmplc.com

2. Strand Hanson Limited,  Media and Communications agents for GCM

Stuart Faulkner: StuartFaulkner@strandhanson.co.uk

Rory Murphy: RoryMurphy@strandhanson.co.uk

James Dance: JamesDance@strandhanson.co.uk

PRESS RELEASE: GCM postpones AGM *again*, citing security concerns

9th March 2020,London, For Immediate Release

Phulbari Solidarity Coalition

 

  • Controversial London-listed mining company GCM have postponed Tuesday’s AGM again, with less than 24 hours notice, citing “security concerns”.
  • Communities in Phulbari have demonstrated in the town centre on Monday morning opposing GCM’s London AGM.
  • Due to sudden AGM postponement, angry transnational protesters in London will join the occupation of Imperial College London for Democratisation, Decarbonisation and Decolonisation from 11AM-12pm, and discuss how to respond.
  • Bangladesh Deputy Energy Minister confirms that GCM has no valid license or asset in the country, and claims that the government will be taking legal action against them.

 

GCM Resources have on Monday issued this statement postponing Tuesday’s AGM indefinitely again, citing “security concerns” of the venue. This is the second time that the London-listed company have cancelled their AGM in three months, citing security concerns. Last December’s meeting was cancelled 36 hours before it was due to take place, also citing security concerns1. In Phulbari and London, communities are angry because of GCM’s decision to postpone the AGM, which they say, is becoming an institutional habit. GCM’s last minute cancellations indicate that it has scant regard for its investors.

Dr Rumana Hashem, the Chair of Phulbari Solidarity Coalition and an organiser of the London protest said:

Never heard of any other London-listed company to adjourn AGM so abruptly and repeatedly. GCM failed their shareholders last December by postponing AGM with 36 hours notice. They did not hold their 2019 AGM. A second postponement in three months, and at such short notice, means that London Stock Exchange now needs to investigate whether GCM is in breach of the law. What does the company have to hide, postponing their AGM for a second time, with less than 24 hours notice and again citing “security concerns”?

Dramatic protest and picket have been organised by the Phulbari Solidarity Group (1) alongside a wide coalition of organisations at the AGM of the AIM-listed mining company GCM Resources Plc on Tuesday as it has no viable asset to its name, and has not held a license for coal exploration or mining in Bangladesh since 2006. Instead of picketing at GCM’s AGM, for what would have been the 11th consecutive year, campaigners will now meet at the Imperial College London to discuss how to respond to GCM’s latest move, and will join the occupation for Democratisation, Decarbonisation and Decolonisation of the University from 11AM to12pm.

Rally in Nimtola corner in Phulbari on Monday 9 March 2020. Photo: PSG.

In Bangladesh, angry Phulbari communities have demonstrated in the town centre on Monday morning opposing GCM’s London AGM, and demanding trial of its officials, to withdraw flase cases against Phulbari community organisers, and full implementation of their six-point agreement with the government. The demo lasted for two hours amid a huge police presence. Communities are now organising a long-march from Phulbari to Dinajpur to be held on 30th March under the banner of the National Committee of Bangladesh to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources and Power-Port. The long-march will demand an end of speculation about whether GCM can obtain a license, to remove the GCM Resources office from Phulbari, and to take legal action against the company for fraud and harassment of Phulbari residents(3).

Professor Anu Muhammad, the leader of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports of Bangladesh said:

“People’s resistance against GCM is still strong despite an environment of fear and surveillance. GCM’s fraudulent and illegal business must be stopped immediately by delisting it from the London Stock Exchange to stop its continuing manipulation and corrupt attempts at coal mining along with Chinese companies, its harassment of community leaders, and preparations for violent crimes against people and environment in the form of open cast coal mining and displacement.

On 26 August 2006 three boys were shot dead, and more than two hundred injured by paramilitary forces in a peaceful demonstration of 80,000 people against the mine.(4) Annual ‘Phulbari Day’ rallies have been held every year in Phulbari and across Bangladesh, commemorating the deaths and protesting the company’s continued plans. Recently, GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has filed multiple cases against 26 community organisers in Phulbari claiming he has felt ‘harassed’ when he visited the area in an attempt to continue coal mining plans in 2014. Lye demands $2.6million as his compensation from the community representatives who stopped him.

In August 2019 the Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, made this statement to the daily Prothom Alo newspaper:

Even in the absence of an agreement, GCM or Asia Energy is trading shares in London by providing information that coal would be extracted from Phulbari, which is false. The government has taken this into notice. The government is proceeding to take legal action against them .”

He stated that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s clear instructions are that the government has no plans to extract coal from Phulbari, and the future extraction of coal would only be considered if any advanced and environmental mining or coal burning technology emerged.

Media contacts

To organise statements or interviews with any of the host organisations or case studies, contact:

Lydia James, London Mining Network: 07928443248, lydia@londonminingnetwork.org
Darren Gens, Phulbari Solidarity Group: 07309 556334, phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com

Notes to Editors

GCM Resources (then ‘Asia Energy’) listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in 2004, following the granting of a two year permit (license) from the Bangladesh Energy Department’s Bureau of Mineral Resource Development on 27 January 2004 for exploration and surveying of a 572 million tonne open cast coal mine at Phulbari in Dinajpur, Northwest Bangladesh. A Scheme of Development was submitted to the Government of Bangladesh in 2005 but has never received approval. The permit expired on 27 January 2006 and has not been renewed, yet the company has continued to sell shares and raise capital in London based on claims that a contract will be forthcoming. GCM Resources has no other assets or projects in its portfolio.3

Phulbari communities maintain that GCM is responsible for the murder of three young boys and 200 injured in a 2006 demonstration. In December 2019 they handed a memo to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (who is also Bangladesh’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources) via the UNO, asking her to take legal action against GCM immediately.

Case studies and photos from protests in Bangladesh are available.

  1. Phulbari Solidarity Group (PSG) is a transnational activist network which exists to support and represent the communities located within the Phulbari region and across Bangladesh in opposing the plans for coal mine.
  2. The London demonstration was due to be co-hosted by London Mining Network, Reclaim the Power, Labour Campaign For Human Rights, Global Justice Rebellion, Committee to Protect the Resources of Bangladesh UK Branch, XR Youth, XR Internationalist Solidarity, Christian Climate Action.
  3. London Mining Network (LMN) is an alliance of solidarity, human rights, development and environmental groups. We work to support communities negatively affected by the operations of London-based and London-funded mining companies.
  4. See more information on the Phulbari massacre, challenging the invalid contract under Bangladesh’s energy policy, and facts about Phulbari coal project

Phulbari Resistance was made possible by Women’s Uprising against Coal Mining

Linking Climate Injustice to Women’s Struggle

By Rumana Hashem

This is a reporting from the frontline of climate activism in northwest Bangladesh, and an eyewitness to coal-led bloodshed, and women’s resistance against mining in a post-colonial location in South Asia.  The discussion tells us about the Truth – who should we save, on the one hand; and advocates for the need to change, and the need to prevent climate breakdown and environmental injustice, and killings by coal-mining and multinational corporations listed on London Stock Exchange.

 

Nurunnahar was leading the march after shooting in August 2006. Photo: Anonymous @Phulbari Solidarity Group.

The story is important on this International Women’s Day because it reminds us why and how women fight coal mining, at the same time how rarely women get recognised by the nation. Women in northwest Bangladesh know that coal doesn’t only damage environment but also kills humans. On 26 August in 2006 three young people were shot dead and over 200 injured in Phulabri when paramilitary forced opened fire on a demonstration of more than 80,000 people who marched against a coal-mine proposed to be built by a British mining company, Asia Energy, thereafter the toxic Global Coal Management (GCM) Resources Plc.

The Global Coal Management plans to extract 572millions tons coal from Phulbari  and wants to build a massive open cast coal mine by displacing upto 220, 000 people and polluting 14, 600 hectares of fertile land (1 hectare is equal to 2.471 acres or 10,000 square metres) from Bangladesh’s only flood protected area.  For the people in the region, this project would mean losing their livelihood and identities because the mining would disperse the communities. It would impact upto 50,000 indigenous people from the area.

The three killed in August 2006 were teenagers aged from 11 years to 18 years. I was present in the spot and saw innocent children dying and people getting badly injured, while running away from the town as gunshots, tear gas and arrests continued in the afternoon on a sunny Friday. When most people had run away, a group of women peasants turned around and started to chase paramilitary personnel and Rapid Action Battle (RAB) who were torturing men, women and children of all ages. The fighter women were swearing at the male soldiers, Police and RAB, and running with their home made sweep, cooking sticks and bamboo sticks. The fight went on for nearly two hours and the BDR gradually moved away from the main road as women told them that they had no right to enter the civilian’s space.

Women’s outburst after shooting in Phulbari in the evening on 26 August 2006. Photo: Anonymous @Phulbari Solidarity Group.

Police enforced section 144 and announced emergency leave so women were then forced to go home. The night came with darkness and silences everywhere, and police played a role of industrial security guards for the British mining company. They raided houses in the manless town from 1am to 3am in the morning of 27 August. Everyone except the women and their children left the town. The mothers, sisters, aunts and grandmas had stayed in the town to protect their children. The fight did not end until we won.

People in Phulbari, Barapukruia, and all six neighbouring chapters took strike actions for five days. It was women who took on the leading road for strikes. Four thousands women in Khoiyrbari took over the highway and roads on 29 August and cooked meal in their handmade oven right on the road and stayed there with their babies, as young as 4 months old.  Nurunnahar, a sex worker, who chased hundreds of RAB and Police alone in the morning of 27 August, was the leader of all of us in the town of Phulbari.  Nurunnahar taught everyone how to be brave and told us never to give up.

Nobody gave in. The men and children joined the women’s march, and continued strike actions till 31 August when government signed the six-point demand, ensuring that no mine will be built in Phulbari without public consent. People’s verdict won.

Families of the victims and women peasants protesters march towards Shahid Minar, the memorial of the three killed, in Phulbari to pay tribute. 26 August 2015. Photo: Anonymous @Phulbari Solidarity Group.

Government has cancelled the deal with the company. The controversial GCM is a London-based AIM-listed extractive company, who do not have any valid asset anywhere. They do not hold a valid contract with Bangladesh since September 2006. People have put a halt to the mine for more than 13 years. But GCM are selling shares on Phulbari coal project’s name. They are to hold their AGM again this Tuesday on 10th March. This will be resisted. Women and men in Phulbari town will be demonstrating against the AGM of GCM on Monday 9th March. In London, we will convey the message from Phulbari communities at the AGM of GCM, by holding a picket outside of the venue.

The Phulbari women know that coal mining is not about progression or development, it is about profit. Women continue to resist GCM and any plans for extractions in Barapukuria, and the neighbourhood of Phulbari. Nontheless, women’s contributions get rarely recognised by the male leadership in Bangladesh.

We should not forget the invaluable contributions of women in Phulbari resistance. The narrative of anti-coal mine struggle in the South Asian country illustrates the links between climate injustices, the power of anti-coal struggles, and women’s organising in the global South, in this case, Bangladesh. We must not undermine the resistance movement and women’s power to halt the massive open cast coal mine.

Women are marching against GCM’s proposed Phulbari coal project in Phulbari. 26 August 2016. Photo: Anonymous @Phulbari Solidarity Group.

We will be joining the picket against GCM’s AGM in London as our duty to stand with the women, men and children in Phulbari. Everyone is invited to join the demo and picket at 9am on Tuesday 10th March at Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London, SE1 9DD. Join us!

Further details is available on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/698989857304401/

PRESS RELEASE:Protesters in London and Bangladesh oppose AGM of GCM Resources Plc

                 For immediate release

6 March 2020, London.

  • Loud and dramatic protests will be held outside of GCM Resources’ rescheduled AGM on Tuesday 10th March between 9am-11.30am at Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London, SE1 9DD, after GCM Resources announces date with just 9 days notice.
  • The London-listed mining company has cancelled their last year’s meeting with 36 hours notice, citing ‘security’ concerns.
  • Communities in Phulbari, Bangladesh, are marching against the GCM’s AGM on Monday 9 March, demanding that the Bangladeshi government take immediate legal action against the AIM-listed company.
  • Bangladesh’s Deputy Energy Minister confirms that GCM has no valid license or asset in the country, and claims that the government will be taking legal action against them.

 

Copyright @Global Justice Rebellion, Phulbari Solidarity Coalition, XRY Internationlist Network.

Loud and dramatic protests are being organised by the Phulbari Solidarity Group and London Mining Network  alongside Global Justice Rebellion and a wide coalition of organisations at the AGM of the AIM-listed mining company GCM Resources Plc for the 11th consecutive year. Protesters will demand that GCM is delisted from the London Stock Exchange as it has no viable asset to its name, and has not held a license for coal exploration or mining in Bangladesh since 2006. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders will attend the meeting, accusing the company of misleading shareholders and the London Stock Exchange. During GCM’s 2018 AGM, some activists glued themselves to the entrance of the building, preventing some shareholders from entering.

In Bangladesh on Monday 9th March, the Phulbari communities are demonstrating, under the banner of the National Committee of Bangladesh to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources and Power-Port, demanding that the Bangladeshi government take immediate legal action against the AIM-listed company. Communities in northwest Bangladesh will also be organising a long-march from Phulbari to Dinajpur to be held on 30th March . The long-march is  to demand an end of speculation about whether GCM can obtain a license, to remove the GCM Resources office from Phulbari, to ban coal mining and to take legal action against the company for fraud and harassment of Phulbari residents.

They maintain that GCM is responsible for the murder of three young boys and 200 injured in a 2006 demonstration. They had in December 2019 handed a memo to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (who is also Bangladesh’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources) via the UNO, asking her to take legal action against GCM immediately. As GCM had postponed AGM by habit of changing things at the last minute, seemingly to frustrate the plans of dissident shareholders, communities raged in Phulbari and in London.

Professor Anu Muhammad, the leader of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports of Bangladesh said:

“People’s resistance against GCM is still strong despite an environment of fear and surveillance. GCM’s fraudulent and illegal business must be stopped immediately by delisting it from the London Stock Exchange to stop its continuing manipulation and corrupt attempts at coal mining along with Chinese companies, its harassment of community leaders, and preparations for violent crimes against people and environment in the form of open cast coal mining and displacement.

Dr Rumana Hashem, the Chair of Phulbari Solidarity Coaltion and an organiser of the London protest says:

London-listed companies are required to hold AGMs within 15 months of each other, 14 months was up by 28th February. GCM has only announced the AGM on the 28th February, which is a rare occurrence in the London Stock Exchange. The Stock Exchange needs to investigate whether GCM is in breach of the law for giving only 7 working days to their shareholders to prepare.”

Dr Hashem adds, “People in Phulbari have lived under the threat of displacement, and with the trauma of the Phulbari killings for more than 13 years. The London Stock Exchange has continued to list and generate capital for this company, despite its total lack of any viable mining asset in Bangladesh. We are calling on the Bangladeshi government to categorically end the speculation, remove GCM’s office from Phulbari, launch legal action against them, and pressure the London Stock Exchange to finally delist this criminal and fraudulent company. It is time to end the suffering for the residents of Phulbari.”

GCM Resources (then ‘Asia Energy’) listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in 2004, following the granting of a two year permit (license) from the Bangladesh Energy Department’s Bureau of Mineral Resource Development on 27 January 2004 for exploration and surveying of a 572 million tonne open cast coal mine at Phulbari in Dinajpur, Northwest Bangladesh. A Scheme of Development was submitted to the Government of Bangladesh in 2005 but has never received approval. The permit expired on 27 January 2006 and has not been renewed, yet the company has continued to sell shares and raise capital in London based on claims that a contract will be forthcoming. GCM Resources has no other assets or projects in its portfolio.

On 26 August 2006 three teenage boys were shot dead, and more than two hundred injured by paramilitary forces in a peaceful demonstration of 80,000 people against the mine.(5) Annual ‘Phulbari Day’ rallies have been held every year in the community and across Bangladesh, commemorating the deaths and protesting the company’s continued plans. Recently, GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has filed multiple cases against 26 community organisers in Phulbari and Dinajpur claiming he has felt ‘harassed’ when he visited the area in an attempt to continue coal mining plans in 2014. Lye demands 1billion$ as his compensation from the community representatives who stopped GCM.

In commenting on GCM’s contract, Bangladesh’s Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, stated to the daily Prothom Alo newspaper in August 2019 that:

Even in the absence of an agreement, GCM or Asia Energy is trading shares in London by providing information that coal would be extracted from Phulbari, which is false. The government has taken this into notice. The government is proceeding to take legal action against them .”

He asserted that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s clear instructions are that the government has no plans to extract coal from Phulbari, and the future extraction of coal would only be considered if any advanced and environmental mining or coal burning technology emerged.

According to GCM’s 2019 annual report and its Regulatory New Service submissions to the London Stock Exchange, the company signed an MOU with Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) in November 2018 to develop a 4,000MW power plant at Phulbari as part of the One Belt, One Road Initiative of the People’s Republic of China. In January 2019, the Power entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with the GCM for the first stage of development, leading to a hike in its share price, despite the lack of government approvals for the project.

This year on 3 February, the GCM Resources stated another RNS that it has secured a GBP1.2 million increase to its existing loan facility of GBP 2.3 million with Polo Resources Ltd, raising the total loan amount to GBP3.5 million. This announcement has helped increase GCM’s share sells on London Stock Exchange. Shares in GCM were trading 0.5% higher at 12.06p each in London after the RNS.7

Contact

To organise statements or interviews with any of the host organisations or case studies, contact:

Lydia James, London Mining Network: 07928443248, lydia@londonminingnetwork.org

Darren Gens, Phulbari Solidarity Group: 07309 556334, phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com

Case studies and photos from protests in Bangladesh are available.

An updated press release will be available after the picket on Tuesday afternoon.

Video clips and photos from the protest will be available from 1pm on Tuesday 10 March.

Our Children Have Already Died – Correct Your Policy!

A letter of support to the Bristol amendment on climate and in solidarity with the vigil opposing 2045 net zero carbon date for the Church of England.

By Rumana Hashem

Hand-painted banner for victims of Phulbari shooting. Photocredit: Peter Marshall.

Three young lives were lost on 26 August in 2006 in a protest opposing coal mining and carbon emissions in northwest Bangladesh.  The children who have died were teenagers aged from 11 years to 18 years.

They were the residents of a green and peaceful town, called the Phulbari, that has turned into a town of uproar because a London-listed mining company wants to build an open-cast coal mine there.  In the face of Britain’s wrong policies on emissions, coal-crime and climate crisis, more than 80,000 people took strike action and marched across Phulbari in the Dinajpur district. The teenagers, Al-Amin (11 yo), Mohammad Salekin (13 yo), and Tarikul Islam (18 yo) were amongst many other young people who joined the march and were striking with their families and communities for a green planet.

Amin, Salekin and Tarikul were shot dead when the protest had nearly ended and people were to return home.  It was the paramilitary force who opened fire in favour of a British mining company, Asia Energy – thereafter, the Global Coal Management (GCM) Resources Plc.

The Global Coal Management plans to extract 572millions tons coal from Phulbari  and wants to build the project by immediately displacing 130, 000 people and polluting 14, 600 hectares of fertile land (1 hectare is equal to 2.471 acres or 10,000 square metres)  from a location that is Bangladesh’s only flood protected area.  For the people in the region, this project would mean losing their livelihood and identities because the mining would disperse the communities. It would impact upto 50,000 indigenous people from the area.

The families of the murdered youths search for peace in appreciation that the Bangladesh government will not let this project happen. The families and injured people in Phulbari bear the burns of the UK’s emissions and the climate crisis, though they do not know that it is the British government’s poor policy that enabled such killings in Phulbari.

Amin, Salekin and Tarikul’s families have not got a clue that England still allows similar projects, causing emissions across the UK and elsewhere. Their grief for and pain of losing loved ones are yet to heal.  Amin’s sister Hanifa told, recalling the memory of her little brother, that it was just before her wedding time that Hanifa has heard the news of young Amin’s death. Amin had never been to a strike before the UK Company, GCM, entered the town for mining. The grief, the emptiness, and disbelief remain in Hanifa’s voice as does the tears and pain in Salekin’s mum for 13 years. We hope that the Church of England can hear the cry of Amin’s and Salekin’s families.

In her tears, Salekin’s mum supports the cause of her lost child’s strike action. Salekin went to the protest with his uncle and took part in the strike because it was urgent to oppose GCM’s plans. Everyone has gone to protest in Phulbari. We stand in solidarity with them.

The deaths of Amin, Salekin and Tarikul are heart breaking.  The ballad of Phulbari is one of cruel climate injustice. My heart weeps as I write this letter of cruel murders of innocent children which I have witnessed in Phulbari. The children wanted to save their earth, to live, and play in their green play ground. They were taking strike action as coal mining would release carbon and would destroy their green land.

13 years on, despite the killings and brutal causalities, the UK government continues to make poor policies on emissions. The UK government let their mining companies, as GCM, to move ahead, to expand corrupt business and  sell shares for this coal-mining project on the London Stock Exchange. People on the ground have been led to believe that the project has been halt, though in reality the company operates with green signal from the UK’s National Contact Point. Britain let carbon emissions that would kill many more people across Britain and overseas.

Synod should make timely amendment to their net zero bill as necessary.

Please DON’T let more children die – End UK’s Wrong Policy on Emissions.

PRESS RELEASE : GCM AGM Postponed Due To Risk Of Protests

Tuesday, 17 December 2019, London, UK.

  • British mining company GCM Resources has postponed tomorrow’s London AGM due to security risk from protests.
  • In Phulbari, Bangladesh, protests today blocked roads demanding the Bangladesh government take immediate legal action against the company.
  • Phulbari UNO joined rally with community leaders and stated that the resistance movement in Phulbari is democratic and peaceful which demands attention of the government.
  • Bangladesh Deputy Energy Minister confirms that GCM has no valid license or asset in the country, and claims government will be taking legal action against them.

Phulbari Rally outside of UNO’s office in Phulbari on 17 Dec 2019. Photocredit: Biplob River Down

GCM Resources yesterday issued this statement postponing Wednesday’s AGM indefinitely due to the risk of protests threatening the security of the venue:

“The decision to seek to adjourn the AGM follows consultation with the venue over access and security issues, which has resulted in the venue being withdrawn as the location for the AGM.”

Loud protests had been organised by Phulbari Solidarity Group alongside a wide coalition of seven organisations at the AGM of the AIM listed British mining company GCM Resources Plc for the 10th consecutive year. Protesters planned to demand that GCM is de-listed from the London Stock Exchange as it has no viable asset to its name, and has not held a license for coal exploration or mining in Bangladesh since 2006. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders would again dominate the meeting, accusing the company of misleading shareholders and the London Stock Exchange. Last year activists had glued themselves to the entrance of the AGM preventing some shareholders from entering.

Phulbari Rally outside of UNO’s office is joined by the UNO who came out of office and accepted the memorandum from the community leaders to be delivered to prime minister and energy minister of Bangladesh on 17 Dec 2019 . Photocredit: Biplob River Down

 

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, communities from Phulbari, Barapukuria and Dinajpur, many of whom are threatened with displacement by the planned mine, today demonstrated outside of the UNO (Phulbari District Office) and blocked the Nimtoli roundabout demanding that the Bangladesh government categorically end speculation on whether GCM can obtain a license, remove the GCM Resources office from Phulbari, and take legal action against the company for fraud and harassment of Phulbari residents.  Community leaders have handed a memorandum to Phulbari UNO, who has joined the rally himself and stated that “the protesters are peaceful and the movement is justified and democratic”.

The community memo also demands an immediate withdrawal of all arbitrary cases against 19 community leaders, which Gary Lye has filed in 2014 by claiming that the community leaders must pay him 100 crore Taka, Bangladeshi money (GBP 1 billion), as he felt insulted and faced reputational damage when community activists stopped him from re-entering the township. Protesters maintain that GCM is responsible for the murder of three young boys and 220 injured in a 2006 demonstration. They have handed a memorandum to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (who is also Bangladesh’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources) via the UNO, asking her to take legal action against GCM immediately.

Professor Anu Muhammad, the leader of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports of Bangladesh said:

“People’s resistance against GCM is still strong despite an environment of fear and surveillance. GCM’s fraud and illegal business must be stopped immediately by de-listing it from the London Stock Exchange to stop its continuing manipulation and corrupt attempts at coal mining along with Chinese companies, its harassment of community leaders, and preparations for violent crimes against people and environment in the form of open cast coal mining and displacement.”

Dr Rumana Hashem, Chair of Phulbari Solidarity Group, who organised the London protests says:

“GCM’s postponement of their AGM shows that they are running scared from activists and academics who would expose the fraudulent nature of their London listing and trading on the LSE. People in Phulbari have lived under the threat of displacement, and with the trauma of the Phulbari killings for more than 13 years. Yet the London Stock Exchange has continued to list and generate capital for this company despite its total lack of any viable mining asset in Bangladesh. We are calling on the Bangladeshi government to categorically end the speculation, remove GCM’s office from Phulbari, launch legal action against them, and pressure the London Stock Exchange to finally de-list this criminal and fraudulent company. It is time to end the suffering for the residents of Phulbari.”

 

Phulbari Rally against GCM attended by Phulbari Labours and Indigenous Workers’ leader, Hamidul, on 17 Dec 2019.  Hamidul is a victim of two arbitrary cases filed by Gary Lye in 2016. One of these charges claim that Hamidul must pay 1 billion$ for Lye’s reputational damage in 2014.  Photocredit: Sanjit Prasad Gupta.

 

GCM Resources (then ‘Asia Energy’) listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in 2004, following the granting of a two year permit (license) from the Bangladesh Energy Department’s Bureau of Mineral Resource Development on 27 January 2004 for exploration and surveying of a 572 million tonne open cast coal mine at Phulbari in Dinajpur, Northwest Bangladesh. A Scheme of Development was submitted to the Government of Bangladesh in 2005 but has never received approval. The permit expired on 27 January 2006 and has not been renewed, yet the company has continued to sell shares and raise capital in London based on claims that a contract will be forthcoming. GCM Resources has no other assets or projects in its portfolio.

 

On 26 August 2006 three teenage boys were shot dead, and more than two hundred injured by paramilitary forces in a peaceful demonstration of 80,000 people against the mine. Annual ‘Phulbari Day’ rallies have been held every year in the community and across Bangladesh, commemorating the deaths and protesting the company’s continued plans. Recently, GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has filed multiple cases against 19 community organisers in Phulbari and Dinajpur claiming he has felt ‘harassed’ when he visited the area in an attempt to continue coal mining plans in 2014.

In August 2019 the Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, made this statement to the daily Prothom Alo newspaper:

“Even in the absence of an agreement, GCM or Asia Energy is trading shares in London by providing information that coal would be extracted from Phulbari, which is false. The government has taken this into notice. The government is proceeding to take legal action against them .”

He stated that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s clear instructions are that the government has no plans to extract coal from Phulbari, and the future extraction of coal would only be considered if any advanced and environmental mining or coal burning technology emerged.

According to GCM’s 2019 annual report and its Regulatory New Service submissions to the London Stock Exchange, the company signed an MOU with Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) in November 2018 to develop a 4,000MW power plant at Phulbari as part of the One Belt, One Road Initiative of the People’s Republic of China. In January 2019, the Power entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with the GCM for the first stage of development, leading to a hike in its share price, despite the lack of government approvals for the project.

      Phulbari Rally outside of UNO’s office on 17 Dec 2019. Photocredit: Sanjit Prasad Gupta.

GCM is not only selling shares on Phulbari’s name in London, the company is one of a string of London listed mining companies linked to the murder and ‘massacre’ of protesters, including Lonmin, Glencore, Kazakhmys, ENRC, Essar, Vedanta, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Barrick Gold and Monterrico Metals. They have recently announced three new strategic partnerships with two Chinese firms – China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Company (NFC) and Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina), and a Bangladesh based company DG Infratech Pte Ltd. to develop the mine and conspiring in Bangladesh.

Wednesday’s London protests were to be co-hosted by the UK Committee to Protect the Natural Resources of Bangladesh, Foil Vedanta, London Mining Network, Global Justice Rebellion, Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network, Christian Climate Action and Reclaim the Power.

 

For further information, contact:

Lydia James: <contact@londonminingnetwork.org>

Phulbari Rally outside of UNO’s office on 17 Dec 2019. Photocredit: Sanjit Prasad Gupta

#ExposeGCM  #ProtestCoalMining  #PhulbariResistance