‘Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the energy ministry to wait for ‘new technology’ before going for coal extraction’

‘Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the energy ministry to wait for ‘new technology’ before going for coal extraction’

Wait for ‘new technology’: PM

Stressing the need to protect arable land, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the energy ministry to wait for ‘new technology’ before going for coal extraction.

She also outlined the ministry’s future challenges and ways to tackle them.

State Minister Nasrul Hamid Bipu briefed journalists on Thursday after her first visit to the ministry in two-and-a-half-years.

“The Prime Minister told ministry officials that new technology to extract coal may become available soon. We will wait for it,” he said quoting the Prime Minister.

Hasina’s directive comes amid controversies on whether Bangladesh should go for open-pit mining along with importing coal to meet increasing power demands.

Hamid was, however, silent on coal extraction issues. He also did not explain how thermal power production could be raised while waiting for ‘new technology’.

He said the Prime Minister wanted protection of farmers’ land first and coal extraction to be left to the future.

Hamid said Hasina, who also holds the energy portfolio, had ordered the stepping up of coal extraction research.

State-run oil, gas and mineral resources corporation Petrobangla claims Bangladesh has five coal mines with an estimated combined reserve of 3.1 billion tonnes.

Currently, an estimated 1.65 million tonnes of coal is produced annually from one of the mines through underground mining.

A group of experts, environmentalists, various Leftist fronts oppose open-pit mining which pollutes the environment, lays waste to arable land and displaces the habitants.

Despite a matter of high priority, the government has failed to formulate a coal policy in the past decade.

About 75 percent of Bangladesh’s power comes from gas while coal is used to produce less than 3 percent.

The government claims electricity generation increased nearly 5,000MW over the past five years. A ‘Festival of Light’ was held in Dhaka last year to mark the production of 10,000MW, hitting a new milestone in the country. It also plans to raise power production to 30,000MW by 2030, half of which would come from coal.

However, according to information presented in Parliament last June, around 40 percent people still do not have access to electricity.

Bipu said the Prime Minister had directed the setting up of a coal-fired power plant near the Paira Port in southern Patuakhali.

The government recently faced a wave of protests when it decided to go ahead with a 1,320MW thermal power plant at Rampal, near the Sunderbans.

Full article – bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2014/02/06/wait-for-new-technology-pm

 

PM’s strategy on coal: Asia Energy’s future with Phulbari bleak

Reported by: UNBconnect
Reported on: February 8th, 2014 12:02:55 am

Dhaka, Feb 7 (UNB) – The future of Phulbari coal mine project of UK-based Asia Energy, since renamed as Global Coal Management (GCM), has become bleak following the Prime Minister’s recent distinct statement on coal mining in the country.

 

While holding meeting with Power and Energy Ministry’s top officials on Thursday (February 6), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: “Right now, we want to leave the issue of coal extraction to the future technology as food security and protecting the land of the farmers is the first priority.”

 

The Asia Energy entered Bangladesh in 2003 buying a contract from Australian company BHP to explore coal in Phulbari of Dinajour district. But when Asia Energy moved to execute its project as an open-pit mining, it faced tremendous opposition from local community and environmentalists.

 

The major protests took place on August 30 in 2006, where six protesters were shot dead, allegedly by paramilitary forces, and 300 were injured when a crowd of 30,000 people stormed the local offices of Asia Energy in Dinajpur.

 

The incident forced the government to announce postponement of the operation of Asia Energy’s Phulbari project. The Asia Energy was renamed as Global Coal Management (GCM) in 2007.

 

Recently, different activities of Asia Energy or GCM have been suggesting that the company is planning to come back in a new way to implement its project. Particularly, the GCM, a listed company with London Stock Exchange showing Phulbari coal mine as its project, became active in the country’s northern region where it recently launched some campaigns to garner local public support in its favour.

 

The GCM’s campaign raised serious concern among the anti-Phulbari activists who also threaten to reactivate their protest to resist the UK-company’s move.

 

Meantime, GCM reconstituted its board of directors and brought major changes in its Dhaka as well as London office by putting some new directors and staffs which also suggests the company is really coming up with new enthusiasm.

 

Sources said the company also recast its strategy to win the deal for exploration of the proposed Phulbari coal mine.

 

As part of the new strategy, the company has inducted a young Malaysian tycoon as a Non-Executive Director, removing a Briton from the Board of Directors.

 

With the announcement, Malaysian tycoon Dato’ Md Wira Dani Bin Abdul Daim has replaced British entrepreneur Neil Lindsey Herbert from the board of directors of GCM.

 

“Under the leadership of Malaysian business tycoon, the GCM was eyeing to rearrange its strategy in winning a deal for commercial exploration of the proposed Phulbari coalmine district,” said a source.

 

The GCM appointed Mettiz, an investment company with significant corporate and financial experience in natural resources, power generation, manufacturing and real estate, a lobbyist in Bangladesh last year to get approval of the government for commercial exploration of the Phulbari coalmine.

 

But, energy industry insiders thought the Prime Minister’s statement has made it clear that the project is unlikely to be executed in near future.

 

Quoting the Prime Minister, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said she has given us a directive regarding coal extraction saying that “first of all we need” food security and land use.

 

“Only after ensuring food security and protecting farmers’ land, we’ll decide which technology we’ll use to extract coal,” he told reporters following the PM’s meeting.

 

Asia Energy Bangladesh’s CEO Gary Lye, however, said Phulbari Coal Project uses the land for mining temporarily. Land is immediately rehabilitated and returned to agriculture after extracting the coal which is a far greater benefit for the country.

 

He said Asia Energy is concerned to ensure food security and the company’s agriculture improvement plan will increase the food production from the area as well as allow coal extraction and jobs.

 

“We (will) welcome the opportunity to brief the Prime Minister on these plans and show how she can deliver for the people and country coal, major power and food security. People from the area want the coal mining and development benefits it’ll bring to them and their region which is one of the Bangladesh poorest regions.”   

 

Bangladesh has five coal fields with an estimated reserve of some 3.0 billion tonnes, industry insiders said. Of the five coal fields, only one in Barapukuria is now in operation.

– See more at: http://unbconnect.com/pm-coal-ld/#&panel1-2

PM’s strategy on coal: Asia Energy’s future with Phulbari bleak

Reported by: UNBconnect
Reported on: February 8th, 2014 12:02:55 am

Dhaka, Feb 7 (UNB) – The future of Phulbari coal mine project of UK-based Asia Energy, since renamed as Global Coal Management (GCM), has become bleak following the Prime Minister’s recent distinct statement on coal mining in the country.

 

While holding meeting with Power and Energy Ministry’s top officials on Thursday (February 6), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: “Right now, we want to leave the issue of coal extraction to the future technology as food security and protecting the land of the farmers is the first priority.”

 

The Asia Energy entered Bangladesh in 2003 buying a contract from Australian company BHP to explore coal in Phulbari of Dinajour district. But when Asia Energy moved to execute its project as an open-pit mining, it faced tremendous opposition from local community and environmentalists.

 

The major protests took place on August 30 in 2006, where six protesters were shot dead, allegedly by paramilitary forces, and 300 were injured when a crowd of 30,000 people stormed the local offices of Asia Energy in Dinajpur.

 

The incident forced the government to announce postponement of the operation of Asia Energy’s Phulbari project. The Asia Energy was renamed as Global Coal Management (GCM) in 2007.

 

Recently, different activities of Asia Energy or GCM have been suggesting that the company is planning to come back in a new way to implement its project. Particularly, the GCM, a listed company with London Stock Exchange showing Phulbari coal mine as its project, became active in the country’s northern region where it recently launched some campaigns to garner local public support in its favour.

 

The GCM’s campaign raised serious concern among the anti-Phulbari activists who also threaten to reactivate their protest to resist the UK-company’s move.

 

Meantime, GCM reconstituted its board of directors and brought major changes in its Dhaka as well as London office by putting some new directors and staffs which also suggests the company is really coming up with new enthusiasm.

 

Sources said the company also recast its strategy to win the deal for exploration of the proposed Phulbari coal mine.

 

As part of the new strategy, the company has inducted a young Malaysian tycoon as a Non-Executive Director, removing a Briton from the Board of Directors.

 

With the announcement, Malaysian tycoon Dato’ Md Wira Dani Bin Abdul Daim has replaced British entrepreneur Neil Lindsey Herbert from the board of directors of GCM.

 

“Under the leadership of Malaysian business tycoon, the GCM was eyeing to rearrange its strategy in winning a deal for commercial exploration of the proposed Phulbari coalmine district,” said a source.

 

The GCM appointed Mettiz, an investment company with significant corporate and financial experience in natural resources, power generation, manufacturing and real estate, a lobbyist in Bangladesh last year to get approval of the government for commercial exploration of the Phulbari coalmine.

 

But, energy industry insiders thought the Prime Minister’s statement has made it clear that the project is unlikely to be executed in near future.

 

Quoting the Prime Minister, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said she has given us a directive regarding coal extraction saying that “first of all we need” food security and land use.

 

“Only after ensuring food security and protecting farmers’ land, we’ll decide which technology we’ll use to extract coal,” he told reporters following the PM’s meeting.

 

Asia Energy Bangladesh’s CEO Gary Lye, however, said Phulbari Coal Project uses the land for mining temporarily. Land is immediately rehabilitated and returned to agriculture after extracting the coal which is a far greater benefit for the country.

 

He said Asia Energy is concerned to ensure food security and the company’s agriculture improvement plan will increase the food production from the area as well as allow coal extraction and jobs.

 

“We (will) welcome the opportunity to brief the Prime Minister on these plans and show how she can deliver for the people and country coal, major power and food security. People from the area want the coal mining and development benefits it’ll bring to them and their region which is one of the Bangladesh poorest regions.”   

 

Bangladesh has five coal fields with an estimated reserve of some 3.0 billion tonnes, industry insiders said. Of the five coal fields, only one in Barapukuria is now in operation.

– See more at: http://unbconnect.com/pm-coal-ld/#&panel1-2

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

Phulbari Demo at GCM AGM

Destroying Communities and Damaging Environment

NO MINE in PHULBARI

Call out for Action against GCM Resources plc.

Wednesday, 04 December 2013 at 10am-12pm
Venue: 4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ

Phulbari Demo FlyerGCM Resources plc, an AIM-listed UK-based multinational company, supported by major hedge funds and banks including UBS, Credit Suisse, LR Global, and Argos Greater Europe Fund, wants to implement a massive open-pit coal mine in Phulbari in the north-west of Bangladesh, displacing up to 130,000 people and threatening lives. If implemented, the project will destroy over 14,660 acres of fertile agricultural land that produce three food crops annually, threatening to increase hunger in a country in which nearly half 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, and forcibly evict an estimated 130,000 people.

On 26 August 2006, three people were killed and over 200 injured when paramilitary troops fired on a massive protest of some 80,000 demonstrators in Phulbari. The protesters were opposing the proposed open pit coal mine that the Bangladesh subsidiary of GCM Resources plc, Asia Energy, intends to implement. The situation in Phulbari has been tense and volatile since. The potential for violence has remained high in this project ever since August 2006.

The project has generated grave concern at national and international levels including the United Nations. This year the GCM Resources was dealt a serious blow as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agreed to consider complaints regarding severe human rights violations associated with the company’s planned coal mine in Bangladesh.

Last year, on 28 February, 2012, seven Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations issued a joint UN press release, calling for an immediate halt to the project on the grounds that it threatens the fundamental human rights of hundreds of thousands of people, including entire villages of indigenous people, and poses “an immediate threat to safety and standards of living.”
Yet, GCM is aggressively moving on to implement this immense open pit coal mine ignoring the human rights and environmental degradation the project would leave.

The UK branch of National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas-Mineral Resources and Port-Power of Bangladesh is campaigning in solidarity with the people of Phulbari to throw GCM Resources/Asia Energy out of Bangladesh. The Committee in UK, in conjunction with the Phulbari Solidarity Group, London Mining Network, and World Development Movement, is holding a demo on Wednesday the 4th of December 2013 outside the Annual General meeting of GCM.

Come and Join us in the protest – Stand with the people in Phulbari – Round up the coal miners on 4th December!

For further information contact the UK branch of National Committee nationalcommittee.uk@googlemail.com or phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com.

Visit:

http://protectbdresources.org.uk, https://phulbarisolidaritygroup.wordpress.com/,www.ncbd.org ; http://londonminingnetwork.org/

Protest against a Fraudulent news about GCM’s support In Phulbari

Protest against a Fraudulent news about GCM’s support In Phulbari

Some of you might have seen a ‘News Report’ in Prothom Alo (Bengali Daily) and a few English newspapers on increase of support for GCM’s project in Phulbari area. The local leaders have sent a press release (Translated by me) that protests against the one-sided story. This is part of the propaganda machine unleashed to get some gain amidst the heightened political crisis in Bangladesh.

One of the local UP Chairman who is mentioned in the news to be supporting GCM’s claims has contacted the National Committee and expressed his surprise as he was never contacted about the content of the ‘news’. Attached is the translation. This is also a very crucial time on the eve of their AGM. They will try to rip some gains from this news in the AGM too.

The following has been translated by Sumina Luthfa:

Protest against Prothom Alo’s Fraudulant news on Phulbari

It has come to our notice that a fraudulent news titled “Phulbari Coal Mine Development: GCM demands positive results from their new strategy” has been published in the Daily Prothom Alo on 24th November. It is to be noted that the name of the reporter is kept secret and they have used ‘Special Correspondent’ in the writer’s line. The way this news report ignores all other views without even checking the facts and presents the view of one side (which in most part is false), it seems that whoever wrote s/he must be one of the paid special correspondents of GCM.

Asia Energy, that is GCM, published a press release on the 31 October. In the release they claimed, “There has been a notable increase in the engagement of the company with the people of the mine footprint. Public support for the mining project is gradually increasing.” It is to be noted here that GCM has been thrown out of the Phulbari region in the 2006. Since then they have been making these sort of false claims to keep their share price in the London Stock Exchange afloat.  It is surprising that just because GCM claimed it, a leading daily like the Prothom Alo has treated it to have news value. How can it be news, when a month has already passed since the press release?  What is also very surprising is, in this ‘news’, the information and facts has not been checked, even people’s representatives or protestors against the Phulbari coal project has not been consulted. They just treated one –side’s claim as news. We see no way of justifying this as journalism!

This ‘news’, claimed that Dinajpur South East Development Front had already collected 50 thousand signature from local people which is allegedly supported by the Chairmen of Birampur, Parbatipur and Nawabganj in their press statement. However, the ‘special correspondent’ did not bother to contact the chairman of Phulbari sub-district where two-third of the mine lies. Moreover, it is because of the resistance from the people of Phulbari that the mine is still being halted. The truth is: due to the presence of the popular opposition in Phulabri the AEC cannot even show their presence there, let alone go and gather signatures. The Dinajpur South-Eastern Development Front have done some signature collection which however, is not about Phulbari mine instead about the upgrading of Birampur into a district.  Therefore, the signatures do not have anything to do with the Phulbari mine.

Moreover, a daily as esteemed as Prothom Alo should not be publishing stories without proper research and acknowledgement from all sides. We hereby, protest against such journalism where fraudulent facts become concocted into ‘news’. We expect that Prothom Alo will publish rejoinder after researching on the topic more and incorporating views from the local people.

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)

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.

City Diary: Santa visits GCM Resources, but investors are left wanting

News story on the GCM AGM published by The Daily Telegraph (UK) on the 3 January, 2013:

City Diary: Santa visits GCM Resources, but investors are left wanting

By Harriet Dennys

Environmental activist Ashley Feils was evicted from the GCM Resources AGM after presenting chairman Gerard Holden with a stocking full of coal

Environmental activist Ashley Feils was evicted from the GCM Resources AGM after presenting chairman Gerard Holden with a stocking full of coal.  Photo Credit: Anonymous.

Where now for GCM Resources’ controversial mining project in Bangladesh, after a protestor dressed as Santa Claus stormed the company’s pre-Christmas AGM and deposited a stocking full of coal in the lap of chairman Gerard Holden?

It seems the Aim-listed miner has already shrugged off the scenes of the St Nicholas imposter – 19-year-old grass-roots activist Ashley Feils of the Climate Justice Collective – being frogmarched out of the meeting at the Institute of Directors.

A spokesman says GCM Resources is still “very committed” to getting the project approved, and plans to meet Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina “as soon as possible” to discuss how the project can address the country’s energy needs.

The groups opposing the mine say the Phulbari Coal Project could displace 220,000 people. Not so, responds GCM, which claims 40,000 people will be resettled over 10 years, and that 17,000 new jobs will be created as the open-pit coal project develops.

“We welcome the opportunity to speak in a constructive dialogue with any group, but have not yet been taken up on this offer,” says GCM, which has reassured shareholders it is “aware” of their frustration.

Link to article.