Protests stop Bangladesh mine plan

A British mining company has stopped the construction of a giant open pit coal mine in Bangladesh following violent protests by local people.

    Six people were killed in widespread protests

    More than six people were killed and 120 injured in the increasingly violent demonstrations before the Bangladeshi government forced the company to stop work on the mine on Thursday.

    The mine was being developed by Asia Energy, a UK-based company, at Phulbari in Dinajpur district 350km (220 miles) northwest of the capital, Dhaka.

    Residents, rights groups and opposition parties feared the project would displace thousands of families and damage the environment.

    Asia Energy had said that the construction of the mine would displace 40,000 people over three decades but promised to compensate those affected.

    The company argued that the project would create thousands of jobs and ease Bangladeshi dependence on timber and imported oil and gas.

    Steve Bywater, Asia Energy's chief executive, said in a statement on Tuesday: "We are continuing to work positively with the government of Bangladesh to make this project a success. The government has assured us that it remains committed to the project."

    The company intended to spend $3 billion on the mine and a related power plant and $10.4 billion in operating costs over 30 years.

    It is unclear whether work on the mine has stopped for good or whether construction will someday resume on a smaller scale.

    "We have agreed to all the demands [of the protestors]," Asadul Habib Dulu, junior minister for food and relief, said.

    "The first demand was that the government will have to cancel all its existing agreements with Asia Energy and we have agreed to that," he said.

    "The second demand was that there will be no open-pit mining at Phulbari or elsewhere in the country."

    The government has agreed to compensate the families of people killed in clashes between demonstrators and the government, an official in northern Dinajpur district said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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