Save the Sundarbans Save Our Mangrove Forest: Join the Global Movement

By Rumana Hashem

The Sundarbans mangrove forest is struggling to survive a 350,000 liter oil spill. On 9 December 2014, the oil tanker carrying more than 350,000 liters (92,500 gallons) of bunker oil sank on a major river, called Shela, flowing through the Sundarbans after being hit by a cargo vessel. Its been nearly two months and the threats are yet to be over.

Rare animals and wild bird died by oil spill in the Sundarbans. Photo by Anup Kundus 28 Jan 2015.

Rare animals and wild bird died by oil spill in the Sundarbans. Photo by Anup Kundus 28 Jan 2015.

Sundarbans, a UNESCO-projected World Heritage site that is the largest remaining mangrove forest in the world, has saved millions of Bangladeshi lives by offering critical protection against devastating cyclones. It provides a vital habitat for many rare and endangered species, sequester carbon, and serve as a life-saving buffer against the devastating tropical storms that are increasing in frequency and intensity with global warming. But the massive oil spill from a tanker accident has spelled disaster for its delicate ecology. Officials said that the slick had spread over up to 70 kilometers (45 miles) of the Shela river, a major sanctuary for aquatic animals in the Sundarbans. At least 20 canals connected with the Shela as well as another major river, Pashur, have also been affected.

To make it worse, Indian corporations are pushing the government in Bangladesh for other commercial projects like the Rampal coal plant which, they call, a Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company (BIFPC),which pose further huge threats to the Sundarbans. The proposed coal-fired power plant at Rampal, just 14 km, from the Sundarbans Reserve Forest, would destroy a vital habitat for many rare and endangered species, and million of Bangladeshi people.Thus the next accident is right around the corner unless we are able to form a global movement, joining the hands of national and local struggles against this corporate grabbing in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government is relentlessly pursuing major industrial projects like the 1320 megawatt Rampal coal plant that will generate enormous volumes of toxic waste and leave the forest waterways vulnerable to future hazardous spills.

Common people in Bangladesh are deeply concerned to the threats, and the majority of Bangladeshis are desperate to save the Sundarbans. On 6 February, the Bangladesh National Committee is holding a convention in Dhaka to address the gravity of the concerns and associated threats to the Sundarbans. The National Committee has declared a 5-day nationwide long march from Dhaka to Sundarbans which will be held in mid-March to re-mobilise peoples voices against this devastating project.

We call upon every concerned citizen of the world to take action, to join our campaign and fight against this devastating coal based power plant in Bangladesh. We express full solidarity to the 6th February Dhaka Convention to Save the Sundarbans, organised by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh. We extend our support to and call upon every Bangladeshi to join the long march from Dhaka to the Sundarbans. We support also the petition of Avaaz https://secure.avaaz.org/en/protect_sundarbans_r2/?bzrstbb&v=52337

As our friends at Avaaz points out, UNESCO is concerned about the situation, and if enough of us raise our voices now, we can persuade them to officially declare the Sundarbans as a “World Heritage in Danger” and force the Bangladesh government to protect the forest.  Let’s sign the petition of Avaaz.org. whilst sharing news of protests in Bangladesh and beyond.

For further Information read:

Oil Spill in Bangladesh Threatens Aquatic Animals (NYTimes)
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2014/12/12/world/asia/ap-as-bangladesh-oil-spill.html?_r=0

Sundarbans Threatened (The Daily Star)
http://archive.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/sundarbans-threatened/

Rampal power plant: A project of deception and mass destruction (BDNews24)
http://opinion.bdnews24.com/2013/09/19/rampal-power-plant-a-project-of-deception-and-mass-destructio…

Threat to Sundarbans Concerns UNESCO (The Financial Express)
http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/12/14/70905

Wake-up Call: Save Forests in Bangladesh (Asia News Network)
http://www.asianewsnet.net/news-69888.html

List of World Heritage in Danger (UNESCO)
http://whc.unesco.org/en/danger/

Report of Oil Spill in the river Shela: http://ncbd.org/?p=1338

Preliminary Research Outcome of the impact of Oil Spill (by Dr. Abdullah Harun)          http://ncbd.org/wp-co

ntent/uploads/2014/12/Impact-of-oil-spills-on-the-Sundarbans_AHC.pdf

In defence of national and environmental interest

By Samina Luthfa, 18 January 2015

Phulbari is not a controversy. It is the name and symbol of a successful resistance by community people threatened with displacement by a proposed open-pit coal mine by GCM Resources in 5,600 hectares of land (including arable land with high cropping intensity) in four thanas of Dinajpur. Open mining requires stripping off the soil over the deposit that lies at least 150 meter or deeper (upto270 meters) under the earth. The mining company has changed its names twice after a community protest rally against the Phulbari project was attacked and protestors shot at, killing three young protestors in 2006.

Grand rally  of locals in Phulbari town on 27 December. Photo credit: Kallol Mustafa

Grand rally of locals in Phulbari town on 27 December. Photo credit: Kallol Mustafa

Although the company’s revised documents say that the stripping will be done in phases, two highly placed government-led expert committees were not convinced in favour of the mine that will directly affect the lives and livelihoods of at least 1,00,000 people (2006). Foreign environmental experts extensively criticised the company’s Environmental Impact Assessment for being incomplete and vague. The human displacement and environmental costs are so high that United Nations’ rapporteurs also made statements expressing opposition to the proposed mine.

‘Self-proclaimed’ or not, local communities and environmental justice platforms like the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port must have had logical objections against the proposed project; why else would international financiers like the Asian Development Bank and Barclays Capital feel compelled to withdraw their financial support from the project since 2008? Long before the incident of November 24, 2014, the project based in London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market had been termed ‘risky’ by industry experts like Rosie Carr in 2006 (Identify the Risks, The Investors’ Chronicle, the Financial Times).

My own doctoral research from the University of Oxford quantitatively compared incidences of community-based protests against 398 open-pit mines in South Asia. Factors like density of population, proportion of area under forest cover, and ownership by a multinational company predicted the highest probability of protest in the proposed Phulbari deposit. This research result was formally conveyed to the shareholders of GCM in their Annual General Meeting of 2011. This means that the investors are well aware of the financial risks they are taking by investing in the Phulbari project.

When such a volatile project with a high degree of environmental, political and social risks and very strong local-national-transnational opposition is supported by a quarter, what I see is unfettered greed of profiteering by some people with no environmental, social and cultural conscience at all. No matter how strongly the locals protest it, or how persuasively the experts explain that the mine would be devastating for the water aquifers, for example, they will not stop. Because they do not care about Bangladesh or its FDI rates; they are only worried about their profit, with every pence increasing their share value in the AIM. The ranting of these ‘investors’ about our country and our politicians in their discussion forums clearly show that all they care about is profiteering through stock manipulation in London that is independent of what the marginalised protestors at Phulbari do or do not do.

Placard used in a protest against the exploitative British company. Photo: Golam Rabbani

Placard used in a protest against the exploitative British company. Photo: Golam Rabbani

The company, as erroneously suggested by some, does NOT have a ‘permission for mining’ yet from the government. A letter from the government that is often used as an evidence of contract clearly states that the permission to mine is dependent on the following: “on receipt of the Feasibility Study Report, the technical aspects of the project will be examined and evaluated by experts and on the basis of this government will take final decision regarding real mining operation…Within this time, the lessee will not conduct any commercial activities of the mine.” On one hand, the expert committee formed after this letter expressed opposition to the project, and on the other, the Phulbari Chukti that said ‘no open mine anywhere in the country’ was signed by the BNP-led government representatives in 2006 and was supported by the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina. It is an obligation for any incumbent politician to uphold these.

The local resistance started in 2005, gathered momentum and peaked in 2006. National committee joined the locals later to support their resistance. The locals successfully showed how the mine was not only threatening for them but also for our national interest. It wouldonly benefit the company as it would have owned all the coal, giving a small amount of royalty to Bangladesh (much lower than the convention) and some supply of coal for our power generation. 80% of the coal produced was earmarked for export to India through a very vulnerable eco-system in Southern Bangladesh — the Sundarbans. The far-reaching probable effect of this on the mangrove forest is probably clearer now after the oil tanker spill in Shela river in December 2014.

There exist several doctoral and post-graduate dissertation-based research from well-reputed western universities like Chicago, Sussex, Amsterdam, and faculty and NGO level research in Bangladesh, UK and USA, that show how strong the opposition against the mining project is and why it is the case: too costly for communities due to huge displacement, high environmental risk in a riverine area like Bangladesh where any seepage or extraction of water table has a far reaching environmental impact and increase in food insecurity with the loss of highly active arable land to the mine. All these for whose benefit: to produce electricity to export to India! Farewell to national interest, eh?

Last but not the least, FDI inflow increased 98% over the last fiscal year according to the Board of

Bangladeshi activist protests against the company outside the AGM. Photo: Paul V Dudman

Bangladeshi activist protests against the company outside the AGM. Photo: Paul V Dudman

Investments’ own records, which proves that although Phulbari is in stalemate for the last 8 years, the national investment scenario looks pretty good. I am no economist but my common sense suggests that first, foreign investment depends on global trends and is therefore dependent more on global crises than one single project. Second, GCM’s investment is not that big given the country’s whole investment scenario. Third, there are other more profitable sectors in the country where foreign investment is less risky and better-suited for investors who care for long-term returns rather than the short term return required by GCM’s short-sighted investors, whom I closely observed for one year in 2010-11. Finally, increase in FDI in power sector without a concern for sustainable growth often is responsible for creating a ‘resource curse.’ Experiences of countries like Nigeria, Sudan, Columbia and Afghanistan tell us how an increase in FDI in the energy sector negatively trapped the countries into poverty and dependence. Are we to welcome any investment that intends to export our resources at high financial, environmental and social cost and benefit only a few investors and some corrupt government officials? Or are we to bid farewell to the bad investments and welcome those that propose to extract responsibly keeping in mind the prospect of future generations to come?

**The above article is reproduced, with thanks to the Daily Star

The writer is Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Dhaka. She earned her doctorate from the University of Oxford, UK, in 2013 on the Phulbari Resistance. The research was funded by the Commonwealth Commission.

Challenging the Invisible and Invalid Contract

Response to ‘Farewell to FDI?’ Reproduced op-ed from the Daily Star  

By Kallol Mustafa, 20 January, 2015

The op-ed piece (‘Farewell to FDI?’,The Daily Star, Jan 13, 2015) is based on some misleading and partial information regarding Asia Energy’s (GCM) Phulbari Coal Project and the peoples’ protest against it. The writer termed the peoples’ protest against Asia Energy chief’s visit to Phulbari as ‘vandalism’ but did not mention how, for a long time, Asia Energy has been trying to bribe the local youth, provide them with drugs and destabilise the local situation. He blamed the government and local administration for not taking action against the protesters and warned that this might harm foreign investment, without even mentioning the responsibility of the government to implement the Phulbari agreement signed with the local people and honour expert opinion against open pit mining on different occasions.

The writer declared the government official’s denial of existence of mining contract with Asia Energy as “erroneous,” as he completely relied on Asia Energy propaganda published in Energy & Power, but failed to present the correct picture based on original documents and experts’ opinion already submitted to the government.

Based on the article ‘Records Need making Straight’, published in Energy & Power, widely known as lobbyist of Asia Energy, the writer states that Asia Energy has valid contract for mining with the government of Bangladesh and it obtained ‘mining lease’ in April 2004.  But the April 2004 letter, which the Energy & Power article referred to as evidence of Asia Energy’s mining contract, was indeed issued “…in the interest of preparing feasibility report and submitting to the government” and in no way can be used as a valid contract for mining operation. It was very clear in its following statement:

“(c) On receipt of the Feasibility Study Report, the technical aspects of the project will be examined and evaluated by experts and on the basis of this government will take final decision regarding real mining operation.

(d) Within this time, the lessee will not conduct any commercial activities of the mine.” (Emphasis added)

He also missed the evaluation and recommendation of the expert committee (formed by the government and headed by Prof. Nurul Islam) on the development plan submitted by Asia Energy. The expert committee in its report rejected the development plan of Asia Energy saying that:

According to the Mines and Minerals Rules prepared in 1968 under East Pakistan Mines & Minerals act 1967 (Regulation & Development) and amended in 1987 and 1989, royalty rate was fixed at 20% of the price of produced coal at the mine mouth. Accordingly, the Bureau of Mineral Development (BMD) signed an agreement for Boropukuria coalmine on 10/07/1994 at 20% royalty rate. Yet, on 20/08/1994, only a month and ten days after having signed this agreement, the BMD signed another agreement with BHP for coal mining in Dinajpur and Rangpur areas at only 6% royalty rate. This agreement with BHP is illegal as per the then existing mining law. In this situation, this illegal contract may be declared invalid and steps should be taken against concerned persons according to Article 5 of Mines and Mineral Act 1992.

According to Article 32 of Mines and Mineral rules 1968, which was in effect during the signing of the contract, as 3 years had already passed after first issuance of the license, the authorities did not have any right to extend the license period beyond 15/01/1998. For that reason the license renewal order on 26/01/98 for Area ‘B’ was illegal. During handover of the license for Area ‘B’ under the Assignment Contract [the transfer of contract from BHP to Asia Energy], BHP did not have any valid license to transfer as the license was already expired. That’s why all actions taken by the Asia Energy in that block are illegal. BHP lost permission for all kind of activities in Block ‘B’ on 15/01/98 in consequence of which Asia Energy did not have any valid permission to work in that block. So Asia Energy never had any right to apply for mining lease.

For the above two reasons, the Assignment contract signed with Asia Energy on 11/02/1998 has no legal basis. Alternatively, if it is considered that the application for the mining lease will be operated under Mining Rules amended in 1995, the government still cannot consider the Mining Lease Application because 3% of the estimated cost of the scheme has not been deposited with the application as Bank Guaranty as required by the Rules. It is to be noted that 3% of the total estimated cost — $12,460 million (capital cost $2090 million + operating cost $10,370) is $373.8 million, i.e Tk. 2, 616 crore.

(Source: Article 5.2, Report of the Expert Committee (REC) to Evaluate Feasibility Study Report and Scheme of Development of the Phulbari Coal Project, submitted by Messieurs Asia Energy Corporation, (Bangladesh) Pvt. Ltd. (AEC), 20 September 2006 [Author’s translation])

In brief, according to the expert committee, the contract and exploration license which Asia Energy received from BHP have no legal basis and the so-called mining lease (without permission of mining!) granted to Asia Energy under this contract is also legally invalid. That’s why there was nothing wrong or erroneous when Energy and Mineral Resources Division Secretary Abu Bakar Siddique said: “Asia Energy has no valid licenses to develop Phulbari coal mine” (Daily Sun, 8 Dec 2014).

Therefore, the government of Bangladesh (GOB) has no legally binding obligation to allow Asia Energy to do open pit mining and mining related activities in Phulbari, and there is no question of damage payment to Asia Energy for scrapping the Phulbari project as feared by Mr. Syed Mansur Hashim. Rather, the GOB can easily reject its Feasibility Study and Mine Development Scheme for open pit mining following the recommendations of the expert committee.

In fact, the GOB has legal and moral obligation to scrap Phulbari coal project according to the agreement signed between the government of Bangladesh and the people (National Committee to Protect Oil Gas Mineral Resources Port and Power represented the people) on August 30, 2006. The agreement was fully supported by the then opposition leader and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The main point of the agreement was: “Phulbari coal project will be scrapped and Asia energy will be ousted from the country.” It is now the duty of the GOB to implement its legal and moral obligation to the people by taking action against illegal activities of Asia Energy.

Read this article on the Daily Star (20/01/15): Response to ‘Farewell to FDI?’

Protests at GCM Resources AGM over Phulbari coal mine

Reporting from the Noise-demo held on 4 December

By Raaj Manik, 5 December 2013

A noisy and powerful protest was held outside the AGM of London-listed mining company GCM Resources, on 4 December, over the company’s proposed Phulbari coal mine in Bangladesh, which if it goes ahead will immidiately displace an estimated 130,000 people and plunder 94 percent water resources in the region. It will pose threats to the Sundarbans, one of the world’s largest remaining mangrove forests and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

demo5

The British mining company GCM Resources is currently under investigation by the UK government following a complaint by the World Development Movement and the International Accountability Project. The complaint claims the mine would breach OECD rules by violating the human rights of the people who would be forcibly displaced and impoverished by the project.

The project will destroy over 14,660 hectares of fertile agricultural land that produce three food crops annually, threatening to increase hunger in a country in which nearly one third of all people currently live below the nutrition poverty line. The project threatens to destroy the homes, lands, and water sources of as many as 220,000 people over the course of 30 years mining, and forcibly evict an estimated 130,000 people immidiately. The mine would violate the rights of 50 thousands indigenous people living in the area.

The Phulbari coal project has been on hold since 2006 due to intense local and national opposition. Three young people were killed and many more injured when paramilitary officers opened fire on a protest against the mine in August 2006.The project has generated grave concern at national and international levels including the United Nations and the UK government’s National Contact Point.

The UK government’s investigation will evaluate whether GCM Resources has breached obligations to ensure meaningful and adequate consultation about the project, or to carry out appropriate due diligence to ensure that its project does not violate people’s human rights.

demo

The company has admitted that most of the people living in the area affected by the mine “will become landless”. Yet the company wants to move forward with its plans of forced – displacement and destruction in north – west of Bangladesh. Yesterday, the company has reassured the shareholder that it has plans to persuade the future government of Bangladesh to approve the destructive project soon after the election. Gary Lye, the company’s unwanted CEO, who had to leave Phulbari amidst protests by villagers earlier this year, told the shareholders that he is keeping contacts with government of Bangladesh through his confidential sources.

But the protesters told this correspondent that GCM will never go Demo2back to Bangladesh.This company had to leave Phulbari on people’s verdict in 2006.

Yesterday’s protest was held by members of the UK Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Port and Power in Bangladesh, the Phulbari Solidarity Group, the World Development Movement and the London Mining Network and other Bangladeshi activist groups.

See further details at:


London protest held at GCM Resources AGM over Open Pit Mining in  Phulbari


Protests at GCM Resources AGM over Bangladesh coal mine


Chairman of GCM Resources offered Jobseeker’s Allowance claim form by concerned shareholder

Protests prevent British mining company GCM visiting mine site in Bangladesh – director resigns

Article reproduced from the World Development Movement website:

Protests prevent British mining company GCM visiting mine site in Bangladesh – director resigns

By Miriam Ross, 4 February 2013

DSC07961Massive protests against British mining company GCM Resources prevented the company’s CEO visiting the site of its proposed open-pit coal mine in Bangladesh last week. One of the company’s directors resigned the following day.

CEO Gary Lye was due to visit Phulbari on 29 January, where GCM wants to open a mine that would displace up to 220,000 people. Mr Lye had planned to distribute blankets to people living in the area, according to the local press. Thousands of people joined protests against the mine, and Lye abandoned his visit on official advice.

One of GCM’s directors, Graham Taggart, resigned on Wednesday. The company’s largest shareholder, Polo Resources, has announced that it is considering selling its 29.77 per cent stake in the company.

A Bangladeshi parliamentary committee has also spoken out against GCM, claiming that that the company does not have a valid agreement with the Bangladeshi government to proceed with the mine.

The British mining company has faced sustained opposition to its planned mine. Three people were killed and around 200 injured when paramilitary officers opened fire on protestors in 2006.
The mine in the northwest of Bangladesh is projected to extract 572 million tons of coal over at least 36 years. Eighty per cent of the coal would be exported. As well as displacing up to 220,000 people, it threatens to destroy a major food-producing agricultural region, and pollute of the world’s largest remaining mangrove forest, the Sundarban Reserve Forest, a UNESCO-protected World Heritage site.

GCM’s London AGM ended in chaos in December when a protestor dressed as Santa Claus presented chairman Gerard Holden with a Christmas stocking full of coal.

World Development Movement campaigner Christine Haigh said today:

The Phulbari mine would devastate hundreds of thousands of lives, destroying valuable agricultural land and causing irreparable environmental damage. It’s high time GCM listened to the massive sustained opposition in Bangladesh and abandoned the project.

Further Links:

London Mining Network (06/02/2013): Protests prevent British mining company GCM visiting mine site in Bangladesh – director resigns

World Development Movement (04/02/2013): Protests prevent British mining company GCM visiting mine site in Bangladesh – director resigns

Coal Guru (05/02/2013):  Future of the Phulbari coal project of GCM in Bangladesh in doubt

The Manufacturer (04/02/2013): Mining CEO resigns after Bangladeshi protests

The Daily Star (30/01/2013): Top Asia Energy official’s visit sparks protest in Dinajpur

The Daily Telegraph (30/01/2013): Tough at the Polo coalface (scroll down)

News: Bangladesh’s climate refugees: ‘it’s a question of life’ – audio slideshow

Disappearing world … a project for climate refugees near Cox’s Bazar, as people have been forced from islands such as Kutubdia in the Bay of Bengal. Photograph: Salman Saeed. The Guardian Online – Sea change: the Bay of Bengal’s vanishing islands.

The Guardian Online has recently published an interesting audio slideshow detailing the impact of climate change on refugees and Bangladesh.  The article is entitled, `Bangladesh’s climate refugees: ‘it’s a question of life’ – audio slideshow’ and the introduction to the article states:

Many Bangladeshis have relocated from the vanishing island of Kutubdia in the Bay of Bengal to Cox’s Bazaar. But they are being asked to move once again as sea levels rise and people’s livelihoods are put at risk by climate change. John Vidal interviews Kutubdia island administrator Firoza Ahmed, who defends the government’s attempts to protect people but recognises that food production is being hampered, and Aminul Hashim, who has been displaced and says: ‘I have lost all of my land, my house. It’s very hard here’

The full link to the audio slideshow is here:  www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/interactive/2013/jan/29/bangladesh-climate-refugees-audio-slideshow

The Guardian Online has published a number of related articles which are detailed below:

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh’s climate refugees: ‘it’s a question of life’ – audio slideshow

The Guardian Online – Sea change: the Bay of Bengal’s vanishing islands

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh: after the floods comes the hunger – in pictures

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh’s once welcome floods are now harbingers of disaster

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh farmers caught in vicious cycle of flood and debt

The Guardian Online – The threat posed by climate change in Bangladesh – in pictures

The Guardian Online – ‘We have seen the enemy’: Bangladesh’s war against climate change

 

Santa evicted after dumping coal at GCM’s boss’s desk – Updated Videos from GCM demo in December 2012

A surprised Father Christmas was thrown out of a multinational corporation’s AGM in London today after presenting the Chairman with a stocking full of coal.

Santa Claus was frogmarched out by irate security at the prestigious meeting of GCM Resources, a controversial multinational corporation whose coal mine plans suffered angry condemnation by UN Special Rapporteurs this February. UN experts warned of “irreversible damage” to ecosystems and 50,000 evictions of indigenous people at the coal mine site in Phulbari, Bangladesh.

St Nicholas, dressed in red and white, entered the elite Insitute of Directors in Pall Mall and dumped a Christmas stocking stuffed with coal on the desk Gerard Holden, GCM’s Chairman, in front of shareholders. Father Christmas said “Ho, ho, ho, you’ve been naughty this year. You threatened to evict 130,000 people so you could profit from polluting the climate. Your stocking’s full of coal; next year maybe you should be a good little boy!”

Livid security pulled Santa from the stage and threw him out of the Insitute of Directors. Santa was last seen looking flustered with his beard at an angle, running haphazardly away from the AGM to a bicycle to make his getaway. It is not known whether Father Christmas will recover in time for the yearly gift-giving on Christmas Eve.

For more information on how to save Phulbari, seehttp://londonminingnetwork.org/

See Video:

See also:

Bangladesh mine activists dump coal outside GCM meeting in London

News – Polo Resources Limited: Update on GCM Holding

Source: Business Wire

Polo Resources Limited: Update on GCM Holding

TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Polo Resources Limited (AIM and TSX: POL) (“Polo” or the “Company”), announces that it has held discussions with interested parties over the last year regarding the sale of its 29.77 per cent stake in GCM Resources plc (“GCM”). Discussions are ongoing and at a very early stage and there can be no certainty that an offer for some or all of its interest will be forthcoming.

As at today’s date, Polo holds 15,220,985 ordinary shares in GCM, representing approximately 29.77 per cent of the issued ordinary share capital of GCM.

About the Company
Polo Resources is a natural resources investment company focused on investing in undervalued companies and projects with strong fundamentals and attractive growth prospects. For further details on Polo Resources please see our website: www.poloresources.com.

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT

The AIM Market of London Stock Exchange plc does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. No stock exchange, securities commission or other regulatory authority has approved or disapproved the information contained herein. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, in this news release are forward-looking statements that involve various risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, statements regarding potential values, the future plans and objectives of Polo Resources Limited. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, achievable or recognizable in the near term.

Actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. These and all subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements are based on the estimates and opinions of management on the dates they are made and are expressly qualified in their entirety by this notice. Polo Resources Limited assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements should circumstances or management’s estimates or opinions change.

Source: Reuters

BRIEF-Polo Resources says held talks about sale of GCM stake

Jan 22 (Reuters) – Polo Resources Ltd : * Has held discussions with interested parties regarding the sale of its 29.77

per cent stake in GCM Resources Plc * Talks are ongoing and at a very early stage and can be no certainty that an

offer will be forthcoming.

 

Deal with Asia Energy on Phulbari coalmine invalid

Reproduced from the London Mining Network news story:

London-listed GCM Resources’ subsidiary Asia Energy has been accused by a Bangladesh parliamentary committee of having no valid deal since 2006 with the government for any exploration or mining in Phulbari.

The parliamentary standing committee on power, energy and mineral resources ministry has recommended that the Government’s Energy and Mineral Resources Division take action against GCM Resources Plc, the mother company of the AEC, for doing business on the London Stock Exchange showing the Phulbari coalfield project as its own resources.

See http://www.daily-sun.com/index.php?view=details&archiev=yes&arch_date=21-01-2013&type=Deal-with-Asia-Energy-on-Phulbari-coalmine-invalid&pub_no=386&cat_id=1&menu_id=2&news_type_id=1&index=2.

The original article from the Daily Sun:

Asia Energy Corporation (Bangladesh) Pty Ltd has no valid deal since 2006 with the government for any exploration or mining in Phulbari coalmine in Dinajpur.

The parliamentary standing committee on power, energy and mineral resources ministry has recommended that Energy and Mineral Resources Division take action against GCM Resources, Plc, the mother company of the AEC, for doing business on London stock market showing Phulbari coalfield project as its own resources.

Asia Energy got an exploration licence, but it expired on January 27, 2006 as the then government allowed the British company to conduct only feasibility study for two years from January 28, 2004.

In March 2004, Asia Energy also received approval from then state minister for power and energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain to get an exploration licence for ten years.

Later, the Prime Minister’s Office asked the energy and mineral resources division to take action against those who granted exploration licence to Asia Energy for 10 years. But the investigation findings have not yet come to light.

EMRD is now investigating why the then government asked for depositing only two percent royalty for Phulbari coal project, although it fixed six percent royalty for the project.

While visiting the GCM, Plc website, this correspondent found that Asia Energy got exploration licence for 30 years and it is now doing business with the coalfield project.

According to the mines and minerals act of Bangladesh, any company is allowed for open-pit mining for ten years while for underground mining for 20 years subject to approval from the prime minister.

Late last year, the parliamentary watchdog recommended taking action against the GCM for continuing their business on London Stock Exchange showing Phulbari Coalfield project.

“We have recommended that EMRD take action against the GCM as it has claimed that Phulbari Coalfield project is its own resources,” Subid Ali Bhuiyan, chairman of the standing committee on power, energy and mineral resources ministry, told daily sun on Sunday.

He said the committee members at a meeting on January 6, 2013 expressed satisfaction after the GCM had removed its claims on Phulbari coal project from its website. “We have advised the EMRD to be alert as no one can illegally claim the country’s mineral resources as its own,” he said.

Prof Anu Muhammad said the government should claim compensation from GCM Plc. “The government will have to force the company out of the country by March 29. If it fails, the national committee will stage huge demonstrations at Phulbari on March 30.”

In reply to a query about recent controversy over the activities of Asia Energy at Phulbari coalmine, Prime Minister’s Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said the company had received a licence only to conduct a survey.

He said Asia Energy is yet to get a coal-mining licence for Phulbari. The government would not sign any mining deal without determining underground water in the country’s northern region, he added.

In an official letter on October 14 last year, the home ministry informed the local administration that the company (Asia Energy) is keen to carry out survey in Nawabganj, Parbatipur, Birampur and Phulbari areas for possible coalmine developments.

The officials concerned were disappointed at the decision as energy division is the legal authority to allow any company to do such work.

Asia Energy Corporation (Bangladesh), a subsidiary of GCM plc, had earlier proposed implementing Phulbari coal project with an estimated investment of $2 billion.

 

Fascinating Story of Resistance: RDC personnel imprisoned by villagers in Phulbari

Resistance to open pit mine, forced-displacement and environmental disaster is strengthening everyday in Phulbari.  Yesterday, our colleagues from Phulbari reported an exciting development.  Shahriar Sunny, a forefront activist of National Committee in Phulbari, states that villagers opposing the proposed Phulbari Coal Project imprisoned two personnel of Research and Development Centre (RDC) believing that they are agents and spies of Asia Energy.

Tow imprisoned RDC members in Phulbari 10 Jan 2013. Photo Credit: Anonymous.

Tow imprisoned RDC members in Phulbari 10 Jan 2013. Photo Credit: Ashraf Ali.

In a written message to Phulbari_Action Group, a virtual forum to share information about resistance to the proposed Phulbari Coal Project in Bangladesh, Sunny states,

‘Some intruders from RDC entered in the village of Poragram (Birampur Upazila) on  January 10 2013 . They entered on a disguise of voter ID corrector. Almost always they only enlist woman on their category. Villagers captured 2 of them. After capturing the villagers imprisoned them for 5 hours. We rescued them from enraged villagers, and handed over
them to police intact’.

When contacted, the co-ordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group , Rumana Hashem, says, ‘ this incident symbolises the power of the resistance and the passion of people to halt the long-disputed Phulbari Coal Project’ .

She said, ‘GCM and their lobbyists are yet to recognise the power of community resistance to the proposed open-pit mine in Phulbari. But they will soon’, she added.

Angry villagers burn Dan Mowzena's effigy during general strike in Phulbari on 24 Nov 2012 . Photo credit: Mizanur Rahman

Angry villagers burn Dan Mowzena’s effigy during general strike in Phulbari on 24 Nov 2012 . Photo credit: Mizanur Rahman

Asia Energy is known to be the Bangladesh subsidiary of Global Coal Resources PLC, who proposed to build a destructive and immense open pit mine in the North-west of Bangladesh. The project would forcibly evict an estimated 130, 000 people immediately and would pollute water resources and agricultural land by which an estimated 220, 000 people would be gradually removed from the region. The Home Ministry in Bangladesh issued a circular on 14 Oct 2012 instructing the RDC and local officials in Phulbari to cooperate with GCM in carrying out surveys in the area.   Leaders and activists of National Committee in Bangladesh also complained that the Home Ministry has issued two letters one of which has been kept confidential.

Shahriar Sunny from Phulbari said, ‘Senior deputy secretary Md. Faruk Uj Zaman issued the two letters as confidential. On a letter they ordered police super of Dinajrur district and Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Phulbari, Parbotipur, Birampur and Nababganj to help and facilitate all activities of RDC ‘.  The situation in Phulbari is volatile since.

Earlier on this month, villagers and indigenous communities led by National Committee of Bangladesh and Peshajibi Sangathan (Association of the Phulbari Entrepreneurs) gave an ultimatum to remove Asia Energy’s local offices by March 30, 2013. Leaders of the above organisations asked the London-based and AIM-listed mining company, GCM Resources Plc to withdraw their two offices from Phulbari by 30th of March.

Angry villagers burnt Dan Mowzena's effigy during general strike in Phulbari on 24 Nov 2012 . Photo credit: Mizanur Rahman

Angry villagers burnt Dan Mowzena’s effigy during general strike in Phulbari on 24 Nov 2012 . Photo credit: Mizanur Rahman

They warned that if the company fails to heed to the demand of people by March 30, all offices of GCM and Asia Energy will be removed without doubt by villagers and farmers in Phulbari. The community declared that failure of the government to remove Asia Energy from Phulbari would imply that the villagers take up the lead to remove Asia Energy’s offices on behalf of GOB.