Phulbari coal mine project, Bangladesh

Read the story of one of the most violent repressions in Bangladesh, which led to a ban on open-pit mining in the area and withdrawal of international funding

The Phulbari Coal Project was an open-pit coal mine project in Bangladesh proposed by Asia Energy Corporation, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based GCM Resources.
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Basic Data
NamePhulbari coal mine project, Bangladesh
ProvinceDinajpur District, Rangpur Division
SitePhulbari region
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Coal extraction and processing
Thermal power plants
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Phulbari open-pit coal project would include a mine and a 500 MW coal plant. The project was said to have a coal resource of 572 million metric tons and a proposed annual capacity to produce 15 metric tons per year. The coal would have provided support up to 4,000 MW of power generating capacity.
Project Area (in hectares)4,900
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationUp to 400,000
Start Date26/08/2006
End Date06/02/2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesBHP Minerals from Australia
GCM Resources from United Kingdom
Asia Energy Corporation Pty Ltd from Bangladesh
Relevant government actorsBangladesh Department of Environment
International and Financial InstitutionsAsian Development Bank (ADB) from Philippines - ADB initially backed the project but pulled out in 2008
Royal Bank of Scotland from United Kingdom - It withdrew after the 2006 repression and international pressure
Barclays Bank from United Kingdom - It withdrew after the 2006 repression and international pressure
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPhulbari Solidarity Group:

International Accountability Project:

Bangladesh National Indigenous Union (Jatiya Advasi Parishad - JAP)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
23 different tribal groups
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseDeaths
Violent targeting of activists
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
On August 26, 2006, Bangladesh Rifles fired upon a crowd of over 20,000 people as they staged a protest against the proposed open pit mine. Three people from Phulbari were killed in the shootings, one was paralyzed, and several hundreds were injured.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced on 6 February 2014 that the issue of coal extraction was to be left to “future technology as food security and protecting the land of the farmers is the first priority”. After almost eight years of protest, the people of Phulbari finally achieved their goal to stop the Phulbari open-pit coal mining project.
Sources and Materials

FONG-SAM, Yolanda (2014), 2012 Minerals Yearbook, Bangladesh (Advanced Release), U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey (USGS), November 2014,
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Global Nonviolent Action Database (2014), Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh Protest to Stop Open Pit Coal Mine 2006-2014, by Andrés Cordero and Ryan Leitner
[click to view]

Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) (2006), Energy Kills: Phulbari coal mine project of Bangladesh, ACHR Weekly Review 131/06
[click to view]

International Accountability Project, The Phulbari Coal Project, A Threat to People, Land, And Human Rights in Bangladesh, Fact Sheet
[click to view]

Phulbari Solidarity Group, Important Documents
[click to view]


Phulbari Coal Project, SourceWatch, 2012
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Asia Energy's future with Phulbari coal mine bleak, UNB, Business News 24, 7 February 2014
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Massive protest against Phulbari & Barapukuria coal mines in Bangladesh, by Kate Hoshour, International Accountability Project, 4 March 2011
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Phulbari Day in Photos: Remembering the August 26 Martyrs, BanglaPraxis, 2008
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[1] Bank Information centre on ADB's involvement
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Bangladesh: OMCT welcomes the Asian Development Bank’s suspension of support for the Phulbari coal mine project
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Forum on ADB - Phulbari project
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Media Links

The Blood-Soaked Banner of Phulbari – (Part 1), A Coal Mine against the People
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The Blood-Soaked Banner of Phulbari – (Part 2), A Coal Mine against the People,
[click to view]

Other Documents

March protest at Phulbari
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Meta Information
Last update08/05/2015