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Churchill pushes on with $2 bln Indonesia mine fight despite office blaze

Mon 16th March, 2015 7:25am
By Michael Taylor 
    JAKARTA, March 16 (Reuters) - A small London-listed miner is 
pushing ahead and confident of victory in its $2 billion 
international arbitration battle with Indonesia, the company's 
chairman said on Monday, after a mysterious fire hit its Jakarta 
offices last week. 
    Churchill Mining's  CHLL.L  Indonesia subsidiary offices 
were among the top four floors at Wisma Kosgoro building which 
were damaged by a major fire last Monday. Police and 
firefighters are still investigating the cause of the blaze. 
    Churchill has been fighting an arbitration dispute with the 
Indonesian government over one of the world's biggest 
undeveloped coal reserves in East Kalimantan since 2012 and 
expects a decision sometime next year, company chairman David 
Quinlivan told Reuters on Monday. 
    Churchill's arbitration case is over the ownership of a 
350-square-km (135-square-mile) mine site in East Kutai that is 
estimated to contain 2.8 billion tonnes of coal reserves. 
    "It is still likely that it will be 2017," Quinlivan said 
about the international arbitration's conclusion. "We are 
supremely confident." 
    Quinlivan said the fire at the company's Jakarta office 
follows a police raid on the same office last year. 
    "It's our main office in Indonesia and all of a sudden there 
was a fire started and (the) reasons are unknown," Quinlivan 
said by telephone in Perth. "It was the main source of our 
Indonesian documents." 
    "This is another one of those coincidences that happens -- 
just like the police raid on the office last year (that) was 
timed when there was an (arbitration) document examination 
occurring in Singapore," he added. "Lots of coincidental things 
    Churchill's office was raided last September by police, who 
seized computers and hard copy documents while looking for 
evidence of alleged forgery of documents. No charges have 
followed the raid, Quinlivan said. 
    Indonesia, which is the world's top thermal coal exporter, 
is currently looking at ways to increase foreign investment at a 
time when the economy is growing at the slowest pace for five 
    The Churchill case is unlikely to help attract the large 
infrastructure project investments that president Joko Widodo 
has said is a key focus for his government. 
    "I hear from our Indonesian colleagues that the new 
president is somewhat annoyed that this case is here, running 
and a distraction to his foreign investment plans and ability to 
source capital for major infrastructure projects," Quinlivan 
    Indonesia's attorney general's office was unable to give an 
immediate comment on Monday.  
 (Additional reporting by Dennys Kapa; Reporting by Michael 
Taylor; Editing by Tom Hogue and Michael Perry) 
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