UK government lobbied for Phulbari Coal Project

World Development Movement, May 2008

The UK government has been actively supporting plans by a British company to build an open-cast mine in Bangladesh. The mine in Phulbari, proposed by UK company Global Coal Management, would destroy the homes of more than 40,000 people and threaten the water supplies of a further 100,000.

In response to a question asked in the UK parliament, the Department for Business has disclosed that it has lobbied the Bangladesh government for the mine to go ahead.

Gareth Thomas MP, UK Trade Minister, has now admitted that the British government “have lobbied to ensure that the Government of Bangladesh take the company’s interests into consideration and do not prohibit opencast mining. The British high commission will continue to remain in touch with the company and will represent their interests as appropriate.”

Tim Jones from the World Development Movement said:

“It is scandalous that the UK government has been actively supporting plans for this potentially disastrous mine. If implemented, it would destroy the livelihoods of thousands of people.

“The British government are putting the profits of British business ahead of the welfare of thousands of people in one of the poorest countries in the world.

“Gareth Thomas is both a Minister for Business and for International Development. Phulbari is a test case for whose side he is really on – the only development the mine will promote is that of a British company.”

Community leaders from Phulbari said earlier this year that the mine “will increase the poverty of the local population as well as cause environmental disaster.”

Global Coal Management’s investors include British bank Barclays and Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse. In April 2008, the Asian Development Bank announced it was pulling out of funding the scheme.

Take Action: www.wdm.org.uk/bangladeshmine

Further information: 

Kate Blagojevic 
Press officer, World Development Movement 
0207 820 4900/4913, 07711 875 345, Email: kate.blagojevic@wdm.org.uk

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