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Phulbari Coal Project: A problem waiting to happen


Date of Construction: 2007

Location: Bangladesh

Total Cost: $100 million Private Sector Loan; $200 million ADB

Project Type: LOAN

The Phulbari Coal Project would have been an open-pit coal mine in Bangladesh proposed by Asia Energy Corporation (the Bangladeshi subsidiary of GCM Resources, a company with coal interests in Bangladesh, South Africa, and China, as well as "uranium interests in West Africa, Sweden, and Australia) and will be partly funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The project was said to include a 500-megawatt (MW) coal plant.

Last 2007 a press conference hosted by ADB, with then country director Hua Du, expressed the ADB's eagerness for the quick decisions in favour of big Indian corporate giant; Tata's proposals related to gas and coal, and the British-based company Asia Energy's (AEC) Phulbari Coal Project (PCP).

After the news went public, 70,000 people gathered in Phulbari on August 26, 2006, to express their protest against the proposed open-pit mining project. The event caused three persons to be killed and hundreds wounded because law enforcers opened fire on them as they were returning home from the protest rally.

No open pit mining will be allowed anywhere in the country”Despite what happened more people took to the streets their protest regarding the possibilities of an open-pit coal mine. The violent actions of the law enforcers left twenty people wounded was the tipping point for the Bangalee, Adivasi (indigenous), women, men, senior and children who walked the streets and expressed their disagreement towards the ADB-financed projects due to historic social contract that stated that “ and that “Steps will be taken for development and utilisation of coal only after proper consultation with the people keeping national interest intact”.

The mass uprising causes the government to enter into an agreement with the protestors represented by National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas Mineral Resources, Port and Power. The result was the cancellation of the Phulbari project because of environmental, economic and legal grounds.


​​After the fierce resistance in 2007, a 2010 WikiLeaks cable revealed US diplomats were

secretly pushing the Bangladeshi government to re-open plans for the mine since Asia Energy, the company behind the Phulbari project, has sixty percent U.S. investment. And upon checking the GCM Website back in 2011, the company stated that it is awaiting approval of the project.

Is the Phulbari Coal Project really over? Or is it a dormant problem waiting to happen?


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