Stop listing GCM on the London Stock Exchange

The green envelop contained a letter of complaint about GCM’s fraudulent business, demanding London Stock Exchange must delist GCM Resources. It was submitted to London Stock Stock Exchange on 26 August 2020.

This is the Phulbari Solidarity coaltion letter which was read out together by representatives of six organisations who have cohosted a powerful green vigil outside of London Stock Exchange on 14th Phulbari Day on 26 August , 2020. Co-authored by the coalition cooridnators, this letter is an updated version of our 2019 memorandum – which was authored by Rumana Hashem, the coordinator of the Phulbari Solidarity Group and an eye-witness to GCM’s violence in Phulbari in 2006, and was signed by a coalition of 12 international organisations.  The below letter has been signed by 30 organisations including 13 Bangadesh based and Phulbari community organisations, and 17 international climate and human rights organisations.  As London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) security staff had rejected the letter, we have, as last year, posted the letter along with neccessary documentations by Royal Mail to David Schwimmer at London Stock Exchange Group. 

The letter is published below with a full list of signatories. We await written reponse from David Schwimmer. We will not be fooled by any hoax and whitewashing emails from the AIM Regulation office. We would like to hear directly from the LSE communication office and David Schwimmer. Failure to reply in full to this letter would mean that the coalition will take legal action against LSEG for supporting fradulent business of GCM Resoruces.

Memorandum of Green Vigil to London Stock Exchange

Consider De-listing of GCM Resources from London Stock Exchange Immidiately!

Phulbari Solidarity Coalition. London, UK. 26 August, 2020.

 

 

David Schwimmer

Chief Executive Officer

London Stock Exchange Group.

10 Paternoster Square

London EC4M 7LS.

 

We write to you in regard to an urgent investigation and overdue de-listing of a company on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The company is called the GCMResources plc. (GCM), formerly known as “Asia Energy”. GCM is listed as a mining company on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investors Market (AIM). They are selling shares in London’s share market in the name of a project called “Phulbari coal project”, which does not exist. The company does not hold any valid asset to operate in Phulbari and does not have permission for mining anywhere in the world.

We would like to draw your attention to fraudulent activities of GCM, and would like to hand over some key documentation about the company’s unethical business, thereby asking you to undertake an urgent enquiry into GCM’s business and to consider de-listing GCM from LSE.

Under the banner of Phulbari Solidarity Coalition we are campaigning alongside groups in Bangladesh to raise awareness about the human rights abuse, ecocide, and fraudulent business of GCM, who want to build a massive open-cast coal mine in Phulbari, the only flood protected location in northwest Bangladesh. Due to severe level of human rights violation by GCM’s Bangladesh subsidiary, Asia Energy, in Phulbari in 2006 the government in Bangladesh declined to renew the company’s licence. We have written about this to you twice in the past (on 19 August 2019, and 26 August 2016). Yet the company, currently listed on AIM, continues to grab money by selling deceitful shares on Phulbari coal project’s name in London’s share market.

The Bangladesh government reiterated that the Phulbari project is unlikely to go ahead and that GCM will never be given permission to return to Phulbari or northwest Bangladesh for coal extraction. The government has overturned GCM’s right to operate in Bangladesh more than a decade ago.  Speaking in August 2019 to the Prothom Alo newspaper, Nasrul Hamid, the Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh said:

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.”

Given the LSE’s remit in overseeing the conduct of the AIM-listed companies, we are asking that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) undertakes an impartial enquiry into GCM’s unethical business and establish that the company holds any valid license for mining in Phulbari or abroad with a view to review the company’s listing within the London Stock Exchange.

We ask you to kindly respond to our call for investigation immediately and expel GCM Resources from London Stock Exchange .

GCM 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. We note the failure of the Financial Conduct Authority and the London Stock Exchange to investigate or penalise any London listed mining company on these grounds is bringing the LSE into disrepute.

The LSE has the power to suspend or expel a company from AIM for breach of the AIM rules . Despite our repeated calls to investigate GCM’s rights to business, the LSE is reluctant to do so. We had been at LSE with black vigil in 2019 and red vigil in 2016. But we have not been heard by you.  From this green vigil and a wider coalition that stand with the people in Phulbari, we demand the London Stock Exchange must de-list GCM.

The 26th August marks 14th anniversary of the Phulbari killing when three young people were shot dead and more than two hundreds injured in a non-violent demonstration of 80,000 people who marched against plans by GCM in Phulbari. The day has nationally been called the Phulbari Day since. Powerful resistance in the aftermath of the shooting in Phulbari has put a decade long halt to the project. Following the killing of three young people in Asia Energy’s incited violence Bangladesh government has declined to renew the company’s contract to operate in Phulbari.  Despite lacking a valid contract for mining, GCM is selling shares and cheating on the UK’s share market.

We have previously written about this to you, David Warren – the Chief Financial Officer at LSEG,  and to Mr Xavier Rolet KBE – the former Chief Executive of London Stock Exchange. We have previously proposed for a meeting to discuss the matter in 2016. Nevertheless there was no response.

We hope that you will hear us this time. This is for the third time that we are writing to you. We ask you to stop listing GCM on the London Stock Exchange. Mining companies must be held to account and the London Stock Exchange is responsible to ensure that.

In support of our concerns we have separately mailed you with some key documentary evidence:

  1.   Published statement by the Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh.
  2.   OECD complaint about GCM-led human rights abuse and corruption in Bangladesh   submitted to and accepted by UK national Contact Point.
  3.     Report on the cancellation of contract with Bangladesh government.
  4.     Reports on GCM’s deceitful sales of their shares in the name of Phulbari Project.
  5.     Evidence of GCM’s continuous violence and harassment of opponents to the project (see  Annex 1 & 2).

If you need further information, please feel free to contact us (as per below contact details). We look forward to hearing from you in due course.

With regards,

The undersigned:

 

Alauddin, President, Phulbari Construction Workers Union.

Aminul Haque, Spokesperson, Phulbari Krishak Mukti Sangram [the Peasants Liberation Struggle in Phulbari)

Aminul Islam Bablu, Chairman (former), Phulbari Upazila.

Alejandra Piazzolla, Spokesperson, Extinction Rebellion Youth.

Alfredo Quarto, Director, Mangrove Action Project, US.

Angela Ditchfield, Director, Christian Climate Action.

Anne Haris, Coal Action Network, UK.

Hasan Mehedi, Chief Executive, CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network).

Hamidul Haque, President, Phulbari Kuli (day labourers) Workers Union, Phulbari.

Himel Mondal, National Democratic Workers Federation, Phulbari, Dinajpur.

Johan Frijns, Director, Bank Track.

Joy Prokash Gupta, President, Phulbari Kalimondir Committee, Dinajpur.

Kofi Mawuli Klu, External Co-ordinator, Extinction Rebellion Internationalist Solidarity Network.

Knud Voecking, Director, Urgewald e.V., Germany.

Manik Sarkar, Mayor of Municipal, Phulbari Municipality.

Md. Nurul Islam Fakir, General Secretary, Phulbari Rickshaw-Van Workers Union.

Nicholas Garica, Co-ordinator, Extinction Rebellion Slough.

Nick Bryer, Europe Campaign Manager, 350.org.

Nils Agger, Co-founder, Extinction Rebellion, UK.

Noga Levy-Rapoport, UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN).

Richard Roberts, Spokesperson, Reclaim the Power.

Richard Solly, Network Coordinator, London Mining Network.

Rumana Hashem, Co-ordinator, Phulbari Solidarity Group.

Samarendra Das, Chair, Foil Vedanta.

Sam Knights,  Spokesperson, Labour Campaign for Human Rights.

Sanjit Prasad Jitu, Spokesperson, Phulbari Chapter of National Committee of Bangladesh.

Sakhoyat Hossain, General Secretary, Phulbari Dokan Employees Union (Local Business and Entrepreneurs Association in Phulbari) .

Sara Cordovez Lopez, Spokesperson, Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity.

Shafiul Islam, President, Phulbari Upazila Decorator Workers Union.

SM Nuruzman, General Secretary, Trade Union Center of Dinajpur District, Dinajpur.

Syed Saiful Islam Jewel, Convener, National Committee for Protection of Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources and Power Ports. Phulbari.

 

 

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

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

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.

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

 

 

BLACK VIGIL for Phulbari Victims in London

What? Rage and Rally outside London Stock Exchange

When? On Friday, 23 August, at 9AM to1PM

Where?  10 Paternoster Square, London EC4M 7LS, UK. (nearest tube station: St Paul’s)

 

Hand-painted banner for victims of Phulbari shooting, 26 August 2016. Photocredit: Peter Marshall.

On 26 August in 2006 three people were shot dead and more than two hundreds injured in a non-violent demonstration of 80,000 people against a London-listed mining company, Global Coal Resources Management (GCM), who want to build a massive open cast coal mine by forcibly displacing 1,30000 people in Phulbari of northwest Bangladesh. The three killed were young people. The day has been marked as Phulbari Day ever since.

 

Although powerful resistance in the aftermath of the shooting against the coal mine has put a decade long halt to the project, the company continues its dodgy deals. GCM is aggressively moving ahead to build an open-cast coal mine in Phulbari. They have recently signed two new MOUs with two Chinese companies, and are lobbying with Bangladesh government for approval of the project.

 

GCM do not have a valid contract with Bangladesh. Following the unauthorised shooting and killings in violence inflicted by GCM’s Bangladesh subsidiary, Asia Energy, the government declined to renew the company’s license in 2010. But GCM’s CEO filed multiple cases against 26 community organisers in Phulbari and Dinajpur. They are also selling shares in the name of Phulbari project in the London Stock Exchange.

 

We have alerted London Stock Exchange about GCM’s fraudulent business. Phulbari Solidarity Group, Foil Vedanta, London Mining Network and the UK Committee to Protect Natural Resources in Bangladesh had previously asked London Stock Exchange to de-list GCM. But there was no response to our calls.

 

  • As Phulbari Day marks 13th anniversary this August, we will rally and rage outside the London Stock Exchange on Friday the 23rd August. Coordinated by Phulbari Solidarity Group, this year we will march together with climate activists at Christian Climate Action, Committee to Protect Natural Resources of Bangladesh, Extinction Rebellion, Foil Vedanta, and Reclaim the Power. While anxious people in Phulbari are paying tribute to victims in Phulbari memorial on 26 August, we stand in solidarity with the communities by rallying at London Stock Exchange. We will be commemorating the lost lives by rallying against GCM in London.

 

  • We will pay a creative tribute to Al-Amin (13), Salekin (16) and Tariqul (19). We will form a Vigil by wearing BLACK clothes. We will sing songs of loss and struggle.

 

We ask London Stock Exchange to De-list GCM NOW.

JOIN THE VIGIL on at 9AM on Friday 23 August!

Come along with your friends and families for a non-violent rally and creative action at London Stock Exchange.

  • Wear Black as symbol of grief, dirty coal and anguish!
  • Bring along musical instruments, own placards and ideas for creative actions:)

Please confirm your attendance here on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/219008188986792/

#PhulbariDayRally

Memorial of Al-Amin, Salekin and Tariqul in Phulbari. Photocredit: Nuruzzaman

PRESS RELEASE: London Protesters Disrupted GCM’s AGM

PRESS RELEASE: London Protesters Disrupted GCM’s AGM

  • Activists Blocked the Front Entrance of the AGM for Four Hours

  • Three Arrested as Protesters Glued Themselves to the Entrance of the Venue

  • GCM’s Chairman Michael Tang Failed to Attend the AGM

  • Protesters Successfully Disrupted AGM

London, 28 December 2018: Bangladeshi protesters and transnational campaigners against the development of coal mines in the Phulbari region of Bangladesh blocked the entrance to the venue of the London based company GCM Resources’ annual general meeting in central London. Activists disrupted the AGM by occupying the front entrance for four hours from 9am to 1pm on Friday, 28 December. All major shareholders including GCM’s Head of Corporate Affairs Brian Mooney were blocked out, they waited angrily outside, then gave up and went home.

Three “Friends of Phulbari Solidarity” blocked the foyer of 33 Cavendish Square at 9am on Friday, 28 December 2018. Copyright: Samarendra Das.

Three activists superglued themselves to the entrance turnstiles of the lavish building of 33 Cavendish Square where GCM had planned to hold their AGM. The activists self-identified as “Friends of Phulbari Solidarity” refused to move until specialist police used solvents to detach them, then make arrests. Outside the building 30 more obstructed the entrance holding banners, chanting slogans and singing Christmas carols against the bullying coal mining company.

If the mine is built, it would lead to forceddisplacement of up to 230, 000 people over the 36-year life cycle of the project. It will increase poverty, water pollution and will plunder 14,600 hecters of Bangladesh’s most fertile and productive agricultural land in the region, causing a crisis of food production. It will have a devastating impact on the people and the environment. In return Bangladesh government would gain nothing but economic exploitation, said activists at Phulbari Solidarity Group.

A placard displayed outside 33 Cavendish Square by the Bangladesh National Committee’s UK branch asked the Financial Conduct Authority of London Stock Exchange to de-list GCM.  On Friday, 28 December 2018. Copyright: Golam Rabbani/PSG.

Noisy and jolly protesters sang Christmas jingles “Phulbari says NO! GCM must GO! We won’t let you trade in England. Or pollute Bangladesh”! Friday, 28 December 2018. Copyright: Paul Dudman.

Construction of the plant is dependent on approval from the Bangladeshi government who previously shelved plans for the development following massive protests in 2006. The 80,000 people’s peaceful and powerful march was attacked by paramilitary forces resulting in the deaths of three protesters and injured 220 more. Abuse by the UK company was furthered by the recent arbitrary cases against community leaders by GCM’s CEO. Gary Lye, the CEO of the company, filed multiple arbitrary cases against 26 frontline local leaders for opposing the proposed coal mine in 2016.

Friday’s colourful and vibrant protest addressed these issues and more. On November 27, 2018 GCM Resources claimed to have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Power China to develop a giant coal mine in Phulbari and to build a 6000 MW power plant. This news has made protesters angry.

Rumana Hashem of CPRB and PSG read out a petition by 134 community leaders from Phulbari. Friday, 28 December 2018, 33 Cavendish Square, London. Copyright: Paul Dudman

An eye witness to the Phulbari shooting and the spokesperson of the Phulbari Solidarity Group, Rumana Hashem has conveyed a petition signed by 134 community leaders from Phulbari challenging GCM’s so called MoU with China Power. Dissident shareholders were to hand in the petition to GCM’s chairman Michael Tang. But Tang was not in attendance. Activists say that Tang was worried about the protest.

The protest was co-organised by the Committee to Protect Resources of Bangladesh – UK branch of the Bangladesh National Committee, the Phulbari Solidarity GroupReclaim the Power, and Extinction Rebellion. They were joined by Foil Vedanta, London Mining Network, Cambridge Zero Carbon Society, Christian Climate Action, 350.org South Asia, and Udichi Shilpi Gosthi, UK.

Three “Friends of Phulbari” who successfully blocked out GCM’s shareholders on Friday were released from the Police custody at 3:30am on Saturday, 29 December 2018. Courtesy: Ian J Bray.

Three arrestees who passionately glued themselves to the entrance were released before 24 hours. They were charged with GBP 4000 for so called criminal damages. But the activists are proud to have joined and supported the Phulbari people. Extinction Rebellion said that they will fight the charges and provide legal supports to defend the activists during trial.

Protesters, jeering “Free Our Friends”, occupied the car park & fire exit of 33 Cavendish Squire. They blocked the exit and stopped the police van for police wrongly arrested three creative protesters. Friday, 28 December, 2018. Courtesy: Land In Curiosity.

Currently Bangladesh produces very little of its electricity from coal and whilst many other countries in the world are looking to transitioning away from coal, the Bangladesh government is planning to massively expand energy production through coal. “ We have published an alternative plan for power generation that demonstrates there is no need to take disastrous path of coal mining and coal power plants to meet power demand in Bangladesh – said Akhter Sobhan Khan Masroor of the Committee to Protect Resources in Bangladesh.

Supporting the protest, Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Director of 350.org stated:

The construction of any new coal power plant is inconceivable given the findings of the IPCC report released in October 2018. Every ton of coal burned makes an immediate contribution to the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere causing long term and irreversible climate change. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground now to ensure that we stay below 1,5 degrees in order to avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown.

###

What is the status of the project now?

On November 27, Global Coal Management Resources signed a memorandum of understanding with Power Construction Corporation of China, Ltd (Power China), to develop the coal mine in Phulbari and to build a 4000 MW power plant in Northwest Bangladesh. The company states, “The MOU embodies the principles of a cooperative relationship between the two parties to develop the Company’s proposed coal mine as well as power plants generating up to 4,000 MW at the mine site, and sets out the steps towards a future Joint Development Agreement, obtaining approval from the Government of Bangladesh and subsequent development of both the mine and power plants generating 4000MW.”

GCM wanted to hold their AGM in London on Friday, 28 December 2018, but Bangladesh diaspora along with allies did disrupt the AGM. A powerful, jolly and incredibly noisy protest was held outside the venue and against GCM’s aggressive plans to start mining in Phulbari.

These snapshots are taken from Friday’s protest by PSG BD photographer Golam Rabbani. These are free to use for non-commercial purpose. Please give a credit to the photographer though.

 

A video of the protest can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79IV2TjqRTo&feature=youtu.be

For more photos and video foootage, feel free to contact: Golam Rabbani @rabbani.enpolicy@gmail.com

An online report of GCM’s AGM is available on London Mining Network’s website:  http://londonminingnetwork.org/2018/12/the-sound-and-the-fury-yet-another-gcm-agm/

 

Further reports can be accessed from below:

Morning Star – Environmental activists confront coal-mining executives at shareholders’ meeting in London https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/environmental-activists-confront-coal-mining-executives-at-shareholders%27-meeting-in-london
The Daily Prothom Alo: 29 December 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

Call out – JOIN Protest at Vedanta’s Last London AGM on 1st October!

Monday 1st October, 2-5 pm Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3ED

On 1st October Vedanta will hold their last AGM in London before de-listing from the London Stock Exchange, under pressure from MPs and activists following the Thoothukudi massacre in Tamil Nadu May.

 

At this final AGM, Foil Vedanta will be celebrating the notable victory of Vedanta’s de-listing (which seriously curtails their corporate ambitions), and the success of grassroots activism which has shut down Vedanta’s operations in Goa, Tuticorin and Niyamgiri, with a carnival theme.

 

Please join  kick Vedanta out of London protest once and for all!

 

Bring drums, whistles and colourful flags and clothes!

 

Monday 1st October, 2-5 pm Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3ED

 

Decry the complicity of the City of London in Vedanta’s corporate massacre of 13 environmental protesters at Thoothukudi in May, the latest in a long history of corporate murders and massacres of activists by London mining companies.

Vedanta’s exit from London is in fact a ‘divorce of convenience’ for the City, who have totally failed to regulate Vedanta, or any other criminal mining company to this day.

 

We will also be releasing our report ‘Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights’ – which gives a comprehensive account of the company’s crimes at all of its operations, and the City of London’s complicity, on Thursday 27th Septmber, before the AGM.

 

On 1st October the company will also sign contracts for 41 new oil and gas blocks in India, where their subsidiary Cairn India (part of Vedanta Ltd) have already been using unconventional extraction methods (fracking) in Rajasthan.

We must hold them to account before they run away!

 

Please join the facebook event if you are able to attend!

#KickVedanta #BanSterlite #BringAnilAgarwal2Justice 

 

For further information about Vedanta, read a latest report here: Vedanta’s Billions- Regulatory failure, environment and human rights

:http://www.foilvedanta.org/news/vedantas-billions-regulatory-failure-environment-and-human-rights-report-released/

PROTEST AGAINST GLOBAL COAL MANAGEMENT PLC. AT THEIR AGM

By Raaj Manik

 

Despite the cold weather, a loud and theatrical protest was again held outside the AGM of British mining company Global Coal Resources Management (GCM) at the Aeronautical Society in 4 Hamilton Place in London at 10am today. In solidarity with the communities in Phulbari, where three people were shot dead as paramilitary officers opened fire on a demonstration of 80,000 people in 2006, protesters reaffirmed that they will not sleep until GCM is ousted from Bangladesh. A parallel protest followed by a press conference was held in Phulbari against the plans by GCM, an AIM-listed company who want to build a massive open cast coal mine by forcibly displacing 130,000 people in Phulbari, northwest Bangladesh. Inside the AGM in London, dissident shareholders asked questions on behalf of the communities in Phulbari and Dinajpur by accusing the company of human rights abuses as the CEO of the company has filed multiple arbitrary charges against 26 frontline defenders, indigenous farmers, small entrepreneurs and local leaders who opposed the mine.

Please see a short video of today’s protest in London!

Watch accounts of activists from Bangladeshi community and eye witness to Phulbari shooting here: GCM Must Leave Bangladesh NOW!

Read minutes of GCM’s AGM 2017: Flogging a Dead Horse

Coal play outside the AGM. Photo credit: Keval Bharadia, South Asia Solidarity

Climate activists and community defenders under the banner of Committee to Protect Resources of Bangladesh and Phulbari Solidarity Group , calling for three-point demands, blocked  the pavement at the main entrance of the Aeronautical Society for two hours. They demanded that GCM’s Chief Operating Officer, Gary N Lye, must withdraw all cases against activists in Bangladesh with immediate effect, that GCM must stop selling shares in the name of Phulbari project in London’s Alternative Investors Market, and that GCM must Leave Bangladesh immediately. The demo ended with a comedy coal show where activists wearing masks of coal thieves, Gary N Lye (CEO of the company) and Michael Tang (the Executive Chairman of the company), attacked a Bangladeshi woman holding coal from Phulbari. Protesters forced the maskmen to leave the premises and sang Phulbari jingles against coal mine: “your home and my home, Phulbari Phulbari”.

 

Dissident shareholders inside the AGM poured scorn on GCM’s 2017 Annual Report which claims that the company “Continued to make progress with principle partner China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Co Limited [CGGC, ultimately owned by China Gen Engineering Ltd.]”and that they are “Working on proposal for mine mouth power plant to provide integrated power solution for government of Bangladesh.”  The company claims, overlooking the declining of share price over the last month from £43.00 on 14 November to £26.38 today, that “Last month [it] raised 2m pounds before costs enabling all shareholders to participate and to enable GCM to continue pursuing strategy of joint mine and power plant proposal.” The report concludes by acknowledging “There are significant challenges ahead”, not least achieving approval to go ahead. They still believe that they are “in the right direction and hopes to continue momentum into New Year.” Shareholders condemning the report say that it represents a poor attempt to cover up the fact that they lost credibility and market confidence. The company has been drowning in bank loans, but still borrowing money and facing continuous loss.  GCM was again found violating human rights and disregarding the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights  at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights Report 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights is the global platform for yearly stock-taking and lesson-sharing on efforts to move the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights from paper into practice. The Phulbari case was highlighted at the 6th UN conference held on 27-29 November 2017 in Geneva and GCM’s failure was noted in Annual Report of UNFBHR 2017. Shareholders also note the Bangladesh government has not given the company the go-ahead because of a lack of a “social licence to operate” in Phulbari and anywhere else in Bangladesh. There was also an OECD complaint about GCM failing to keep obligations. An internal review of the UK governments investigation affirmed that the OECD 2011 guidelines do apply to human rights abuses that would occur if the project went ahead. GCM’s Board of Directors failed to respond to shareholders scrutiny. Today’s meeting ended in a rush, lasting less than an hour, as the Board was exhausted by questions.

 

Today’s protest echoed the demands made by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Port-Power and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh . Activists from 12 grassroots organisations, including Foil Vedanta, Grow Heathrow, London Mining Network, K M Protectors (North-east England),  Communist Party of Bangladesh – UK branch, Bangladesh Socialist Party, UK branch, Reclaim the Power, Plane Stupid, South Asia Solidarity Group, and the Socialist Party of England and Wales, joined the protest outside or inside the AGM.

 

Global Coal Management, formerly known as Asia Energy, has been allegedly involved in abuse and harassment of opponents of the proposed Phulbari mine. Media reports on the brutal death of Nasrin Huq, the former executive director of Action Aid, revealed that Huq was killed brutally in her car park because of her strong opposition to the project.[i] Later in August 26 in 2006, three people were shot dead and two hundred injured in a demonstration of 80,000 people who marched against plans by the company. It has been 11 years since the powerful resistance in the aftermath of the shooting against an open-cast mine in Phulbari has put a decade long halt to the project. Government has cancelled the company’s license but the company has been pushing the government to give them a go ahead.

 

Rumana Hashem, the PSG spokesperson and an eye witness to the Phulbari outburst in 2006, said:

“the company is abusing our people and criminalising society in Bangladesh. We will hold them to account here. We will not give up until London Stock Exchange de-list GCM. We will ensure that this company could never go back to Bangladesh.’”

Akhter Sobhan Khan of Committee to Protect Resources of Bangladesh said that:

“The company does not have a valid contract with Bangladesh; nevertheless they are selling shares in the name of Phulbari project. London Stock Exchange must de-list GCM as they are doing deceitful marketing of the project”.

 

If the mine is built, it would not only displace 130,000 families of farmers in Phulbari but also would destroy 14,600 hectares of highly cultivable land, would pose threats to clean water resources and would leave devastative impact on one of the world’s largest mangrove forests and UNESCO heritage site, the Sunderbans. In February 2012, seven UN rapporteurs expressed grave concerns to the project, and at national and international level. The UK National Contact Point has acknowledged the strong opposition to the project in an assessment in 2015.

[i]               The mystery death of Nasrin Huq – a report to which the company was not able to respond, was derived from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/sep/03/bangladesh, last cited on 01. 01. 2013

 

For further information on GCM and Phulbari resistance:

Visit PSG Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/phulbarisolidaritygroup/

Watch accounts of activists from Bangladeshi community and eye witness to Phulbari shooting: GCM Must Leave Bangladesh NOW!

Check out the Facebook event page for updates and more photos

Read full report of GCM’s AGM 2017: Flogging a Dead Horse

Read the memorandum of Tuesday’s demo outside the AGM: GCM Must Leave Bangladesh Now

Read News about GCM’s paperless business in Bangladesh here

Read also how GCM’s CEO Gary Lye was evicted from Phulbari: Prothom Alo News

News about Bangladesh government’s latest position about is here: Asia Energy/GCM

Read also report of LMN about previous AGM of GCM here

Socialist Party’s London Youth Organiser Helen Pattison explains why GCM must be stopped here:  https://youtu.be/CzoXC4MNdx0

Watch a Bengali version, featuring statement by the member secretary of Committee to Protect Resources of Bangladesh, UK branch, of the demo 2017: https://youtu.be/v35x0Tr0bC0

Sun Has Shone On The Communities At The Vibrant Demo Against Vedanta Resources

By Rumana Hashem

Monday, the 14th August, was apparently a bright day for the communities oppressed by a notorious British mining company, called Vedanta Resources. Protests held by communities in Zambia, India and London while activist-shareholders, representing the communities, were interrogating the Vedanta board at their Annual General Meeting at the Lincoln Centre in Lincoln Inn Fields in London. Although residents of Lincoln Inn Fields have seen lousy weather with gusty wind and non-stop rain across London for weeks before Monday, the gorgeous sun has shown up to brighten the colourful and powerful protest of communities against Vedanta Resources last Monday.  Loud and theatrical protest was held outside the AGM of the British mining company, for three hours, accusing the company of major environmental and human rights abuses across its operations. I was one of the late comers though there were numerous protesters with noisy instruments and colourful banners and placards till late afternoon who greeted me in smiling face. They said, as were determined, that: “We wouldn’t leave the venue hitherto the miners are out of the block”.

 

Parallel protests and meetings were held by affected communities and their supporters at several locations in India and Zambia. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders in London asked questions on behalf of Zambian villagers who are suing Vedanta in the UK for twelve years of polluted water, and tribal inhabitants of the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, India, who accuse Vedanta of murdering and harassing them with state collusion. Organised by the Foil Vedanta, the protest in London was joined by many grassroots organisations and community activists from the global South.

 

The shareholders, representing communities, poured scorn on Vedanta’s 2017 Annual Report, which claims that the company ‘demonstrate world-class standards of governance, safety, sustainability and social responsibility’. They say it represents a poor attempt to don the “cloak of respectability” of a London listing noting that Vedanta was again excluded from the Norwegian Pension Fund’s investments this year following an investigation which found “numerous reports of Vedanta’s failure to comply with government requirements”1 at four subsidiaries in Odisha, Chhatisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Zambia. The report concludes that: “there continues to be an unacceptable risk that your company will cause or contribute to severe environmental damage and serious or systematic human rights violations.”

 

On Sunday, a day before the AGM, farming communities living downstream of copper mines run by Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Chingola, Zambia, held a meeting in Hippo Pool to renew their resolve in their twelve year struggle against the company for severe water pollution which has caused major health problems, and rendered land uncultivable. Police had refused them permission to hold a protest. Government officials visited their villages in Spring this year asking them to drop their London case against Vedanta and settle out of court with the company. The Headmen of Hippo Pool village submitted a statement to the Vedanta board and shareholders which was asked by Shoda Rackal from Women of Colour in Global Women’s Strike. The statement notes:

 

The people here are sick and tired of pollution which is killing us through illness and loss of our crops and fish. The pollution must end at all costs. Whether we receive compensation or not, we are asking you to stop polluting us now.”

 

Another dissident shareholder asked why Vedanta’s Annual Report makes no mention of its liabilities relating to the landmark legal case in which 1,826 of the farmers have been granted jurisdiction to sue Vedanta in London for gross pollution by KCM. At the July appeal hearing in the case, Vedanta’s lawyers claimed that the company’s sustainability and human rights reports are only produced for show as a requirement of London Stock Exchange rules. Instead they claimed Vedanta Resources has very little actual oversight or involvement with subsidiary operations such as Konkola Copper Mines.2

 

Meanwhile in Zambia debate rages over KCM’s secret finances as the company on Thursday announced it would retrench a further swathe of workers in favour of contract labour at its Nchanga underground mines. KCM have never filed Annual accounts in Zambia according to the recent London judgment.3 Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta says:

The UK Government and London Stock Exchange are directly responsible for failing to investigate Vedanta’s corporate crimes in India and Zambia since its London listing in 2003. The Zambian State’s threats to polluted farmers demonstrate the ongoing colonial power of this British corporation which acts more powerful than the Zambian State.”

“Britain is profiting from the financial transactions of non-domiciled family-run business houses like Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta, while appearing to provide them a service. The opaqueness of the British financial system is gaining directly from giving Anil Agarwal “a cloak of respectability” and in exchange Britain itself is gaining from appropriating the resources of the third world”, adds Das.

 

Anil Agarwal with polluted water at the Vedanta AGM 14 August 2017. Photo credit: Foil Vedanta

In Chattisgarh the organisation Adivasi Resurgence held a protest at Ambedkar Chowk in Raipur, decrying Vedanta’s suppression of the Bakshi Commission report into the death of between 40 and 100 workers when a chimney collapsed at their Korba power plant.4 The inquiry found Vedanta as guilty of negligence and using sub-standard materials and construction methods which caused the death of the workers.5

 

At the University of Hyderabad the group Odisha Scholars for Social Justice held a protest and meeting today in solidarity with communities affected by Vedanta’s operations worldwide. In Delhi, students from Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) held a solidarity demonstration at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) calling for an end to the displacement and repression of Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi communities across India by Vedanta.

 

While their Annual Report claims to respect the right to ‘Free Prior Informed Consent’, Vedanta has not given up its plans to mine the Niyamgiri hills, despite a unanimous referendum against it by tribal inhabitants in 2013. The Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) has filed a new plea with the National Green Tribunal to overturn the referendum, claiming it overstepped the provisions of the Forest Rights Act by allowing Palli Sabhas to decide on mining, rather than merely settling their claims.6 In September 2016 a group of Dongria Kond had burned down a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) camp, opposing construction of a road connecting Niyamgiri to Kalyansingpur, which they claim is to aid Vedanta’s mine plans, and opposing ongoing harassment by the force.7

 

Last Friday five villages around another Odisha bauxite mountain – Kodingamali – held a palli sabha (village council) opposing the proposed mining of the mountain by OMC to feed Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery.8 They passed a resolution “not to give any patta land, forest land and community land to any mining company” under the banner of Ganatantrik Adhikar Suraksha Sangathan.

 

The Dongria Konds also held a protest on Tuesday in Lakhpadar village on Niyamgiri mountain under the banner of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS). They demanded the dismantling the Lanjigarh refinery since Vedanta did not get permission to mine, and an end to its illegal expansion. They also demand an end to the militarisation of Niyamgiri, claiming that the anti-Maoist programs are in fact targeting the tribal activists. Ongoing abductions, false arrests and State sponsored murders of tribal activists against Vedanta’s mine have been highly publicised in recent months.An NSS spokesperson Lingaraj Azad said:

 

Vedanta didn’t get permission to mine so why are they keeping the Lanjigarh refinery? which continues to pollute our communities, affecting our ecology and water resources and making people and animals sick.”

In August 2016 Vedanta Head, Anil Agarwal, told a press conference that he had asked Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to deal with the ‘disruptive elements’ holding up bauxite mining in the State, suggesting he follow the Tamil Nadu government’s approach with protesters at Kudankulam, where widespread police brutality was reported.9 In February 2016 Vedanta employed the services of former Iraq war General Sir Richard Shirreff, and Lord Peter Hain, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in ‘handling local protest groups’.10

 

Vedanta Resources are again the subject of multiple major scams and several international arbitrations this year. An international arbitration is underway for Vedanta’s withholding of $100 million in dividends from Cairn Energy, owner of 9.8% shares in Vedanta controlled oil company Cairn India.11 In December 2016 London courts ordered Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines to pay $103 million in withheld dividends to Zambian State entity ZCCM-IH.12

 

The Rajasthani High Court has uncovered a Rs 600 crore ($96 million) tax evasion scam in which Vedanta subsidiary Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) benefitted from tax fraud at the hands of shamed IAS officer Ashok Singhvi in 2015.13 HZL is the subject of another major scam in which it closed its Visakhapatnam Zinc smelter on false grounds to enable the sale of the land for high value realty. HZL is also accused of major toxic pollution at the site.14

 

In Punjab, Vedanta subsidiary Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd is the subject of a major power purchase scam in which the Akali Dal government bought power at inflated prices from the private company over cheaper State owned companies.15 Former Rio Tinto CEO, Tom Albanese, will step down from Vedanta’s board at this year’s AGM along with executives Euan MacDonald and Aman Mehta. Vedanta’s CEO of Zambian operations Steven Din has recently been accused of offering bribes for the Simandou iron ore mine by the former Guinean mining minister, as part of a major corruption investigation. Din was head of Rio Tinto’s Guinean operation at the time the scandal unfolded, while Tom Albanese was CEO.16 Recent analyst reports highlight Vedanta’s high debt, lack of bauxite at Lanjigarh refinery, and operational issues in Zambia.

Reports have detailed how twelve years of pollution by KCM has turned the river Kafue into a ‘river of acid’19 20 and left the farmers with no access to clean water. As well as suing KCM and Vedanta in the UK for personal injury and loss of livelihood due to gross pollution, the villagers are demanding that KCM de-silt and remediate the contaminated areas so they can return to normal life.

An estimated 40,000 people in total are affected by contaminated water which also affects the municipal piped water system21. A number of scientific papers have documented the extent of contamination, with acid pH and heavy metal content regularly tens and even hundreds of times above legal limits.22 23 24

 

One villager Judith Kapumba appears in a youtube video testifying to how contamination has destroyed their livelihood and their lives, has claimed that many have ‘collapsed and died’ as a result of illnesses caused by drinking contaminated water, and that crops can no longer grow leading to starvation and extreme poverty. 25

 

 

For further details visit Foil Vedanta website:  www.foilvedanta.org

For photos and a short film of London demonstration, visit Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoilVedanta/