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Churchill Mining says Indonesia still alleges fraud in coal dispute

Fri 5th June, 2015 10:01am
By Michael Taylor 
    JAKARTA, June 5 (Reuters) - London-listed coal miner 
Churchill Mining  CHLL.L  said on Friday that Indonesia had 
dropped fraud charges against it over licensing of one of the 
world's biggest coal reserves, but Jakarta still believed 
forgery was involved in the coal asset.     
    Churchill has been embroiled in an international arbitration 
battle since 2012 with Indonesia over the East Kalimantan coal 
project, which the British miner says is worth around $1.5 
    The case revolves around the ownership of the 350-square-km 
(135-square-mile) mine site in East Kutai that is estimated by 
Churchill to contain 2.73 billion tonnes of coal reserves.   
    "They are now no longer alleging that Churchill was part of 
any fraud. They haven't withdrawn their allegations that there 
was somebody else involved in this fraud," company chairman 
David Quinlivan told Reuters, citing legal documents.  
    Churchill's shares jumped as much as 145 percent on Thursday 
during trading in London after the company issued a statement 
saying Indonesia was no longer alleging it was involved in 
    Indonesia's attorney general's office said the official 
responsible for the case was not immediately available on Friday 
to comment on fraud charges. 
    From late 2007 until early 2008, Churchill bought a 75 
percent stake in Indonesian firm PT Ridlatama, which it says 
received four mining licences from the East Kutai government, 
and then spent about $50 million on the project. 
    But weeks after Churchill announced in May 2008 that the 
project could yield substantial coal, Nusantara Group, which 
originally held six licences in the area, was awarded extensions 
to these licences, which Churchill believed had lapsed. 
    The Nusantara Group was unable to give an immediate comment 
on Churchill's statement.       
    Quinlan said there was no fraud involved in the issuing of 
licences and permits for the coal asset. 
    He said Indonesia lodged an application to have Churchill's 
arbitration case dismissed on the basis of forgery and that 
without such a charge its case was weakened.  
    "It severely dents the Indonesian case that there was any 
valid reason for revoking the licences that Churchill had an 
interest in," he said. 
    The arbitration tribunal in Washington has ordered a 
document authenticity hearing scheduled to start in the first 
week of August, the company said. 
    Churchill has spent more than $10 million on its legal bid 
and a verdict was previously expected in 2016.  ID:nL3N0WI28L  
 (Additional reporting by Klara Virencia and Fergus Jensen; 
Editing by Ed Davies) 
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