Australian mining company Highlands Pacific is involved in a war with Chinese state-owned Guangdong Rising Assets Management (GRAM), over the future of the Frieda River mine. Highlands Pacific owns 20% of the proposed Frieda River mine through the joint venture company, PanAust. The Chinese own 80%.
Highlands Pacific has accused the Chinese of failing to complete the Frieda River mine feasibility study to the required standard. GRAM has responded by trying to throw three Highlands Pacific executives off the PanAust board… none of which bodes well for the future of the mine or the people of the Sepik…
HPL members asked to resign
Post Courier | February 17, 2017
REQUESTS by PanAust to Highlands Pacific Limited(HPL) for the resignation of three of its board directors have not gone down well. PanAust made the demand, in a notice it issued to HPL also seeking a special meeting be convened. PanAust, is a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned-enterprise, Guangdong Rising Assets Management Co Ltd (GRAM). PanAust holds 13.9 percent of HPL, and is a joint venture partner in the proposed Frieda River project.
The appointees PanAust is seeking to remove are Highlands Pacific’s Ken MacDonald (chairman), Ron Douglas (director), Mike Carroll and Dan Wood (independent director) and they be replaced with three nominees from GRAM. However, HPL on Tuesday had urged its shareholders, no action, stating it to be the strong view of the company that the replacement of four of the existing five non-executive board members with the PanAust nominees would not be in the interests of the other shareholders, who number over 7,500.
HPL said the PanAust proposal effectively would amount to a takeover of HPL without offering to acquire any shares, let alone with an appropriate premium.
“It is clear that a PanAust-dominated board would be at risk of operating in the interests of GRAM, rather than in the interests of all of our shareholders,” Mr MacDonald said.
“It is important for shareholders to be aware that HPL is currently in dispute with PanAust regarding the funding and methods of progressing the Frieda River project.
“HPL remains of the view that the PanAust approach to the project is suboptimal, and we have been urging it to adopt a different course of development that would generate better returns and reduced risks for our 7,500 shareholders.
“It also is our view that PanAust has failed to complete the Frieda River feasibility study to the standard required under the joint venture agreement,” Mr MacDonald said.