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Offline mr anderson

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Mining executives onboard missing plane
« on: June 20, 2010, 01:28:55 am »
Mining executives onboard missing plane

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/1073350/mining-executives-onboard-missing-plane


Several Australian mining executives are onboard a plane that has gone missing in the African country of Cameroon.

The executives are from Australian-based iron ore company Sundance Resources and were travelling from Yaounde in the Republic of Cameroon to Yangadou in the Republic of Congo.

Mining investor Ken Talbot, worth an estimated $966 million, is one of six Australians onboard, his company Talbot Group confirmed. Another senior Talbot Group staff member is among the missing. Three others who aren't Australian are also onboard.

A statement from Sundance Resources said: "Sundance Resources regrets to advise that an aircraft chartered by the company has been reported missing after it failed to reach its destination on Saturday, June 19."

"Local authorities were immediately notified and the company’s emergency response procedures have been activated and have been operating around the clock.

"A comprehensive air and ground search coordinated by the Cameroon military will commence at first daylight local time [3.30pm AEST].

"A Congolese aircraft will also be involved in the search for the missing aircraft."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said every assistance was being made to Sundance Resources.

Ninemsn understands family members were told at 1am this morning the plane had not landed.

According to the company's website, Sundance was developing a project in the Republic of Cameroon that was due to start mining operations in 2012.

It is believed the Australians onboard include Sundance managing director and CEO Don Lewis, independent director Craig Oliver and non executive directors John Jones and Ken Talbot.

Non-executive chairman Geoff Wedlock is also believed to have been onboard.

Mr Talbot is due to face court in Australia on August 30 charged with 35 counts of paying secret commissions to former Queensland minister Gordon Nuttall between 2002 and 2005.

A report from Cameroon news station CRTV said Sundance officials had a meeting with the country's Minister of Mines, Industries and Technological Development on June 18.
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Offline mr anderson

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Re: Mining executives onboard missing plane
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2010, 02:28:08 am »
Not leaping to outlandish theories here but the Australian Government has proposed a 40% supperannuation profits tax that the minining industry strongly opposes.

In an 'off the record' dinner the PM was remarked as saying - "Can I say guys, we’ve got a long memory."

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/pms-clangers-charge-the-night-at-pollies-ballroom-blitz-20100617-yhhr.html

----------------------------------

The Resource Super Profits Tax - what is it?
GLENDA KWEK
May 11, 2010


http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-resource-super-profits-tax--what-is-it-20100511-usnu.html

The Resource Super Profits Tax is a 40 per cent tax on mining profits, which is in addition to the usual company income tax. It is planned to start on July 1, 2012.

How does it work?

Mining companies are allowed to subtract a tax-free allowance of 6 per cent from their existing earnings - called the RSPT allowance.

In the first five years of the scheme, they can also subtract an accelerated rate of depreciation.

The remaining amount is taxed at 40 per cent - the "super tax". The remaining amount is taxed again, at 28 per cent.

For example

Revenue = $100 and

Expenses = $50

Your profit = $50

You can then subtract depreciation, with the allowance - set at 6 per cent.

So if RSPT allowance = $3

You are left with $50 - $3 = $47

The $47 is taxed at 40 per cent (the super tax).

So $47 x 0.4 = $18.80 and you are left with $ 28.20

The $28.20 is taxed again at 28 per cent (the company tax).

So $21.20 x 0.28 = $7.90 and you are left with $20.30.

That adds up to about a total tax of about 57 per cent.

How does it differ from the old tax regime?

*The royalties that resource companies have to pay to states now will be refunded by the federal government. Miners could argue that the royalties introduced uncertainty into the market as they were subject to change without notice.

*Company tax will be lowered from 30 per cent to 28 per cent.

*Resource companies can claim accelerated depreciation before the super tax kicks in, on prior investments for the first five years.

All new investment will be subject to the normal depreciation. The 6 per cent rate is applied here.

So do other industries have a similar tax regime?

Yes. The petroleum industry is one example. It has been operating under such a regime since the 1990s.

The difference is that it has a higher allowance - 11 per cent.

So why are there points of contention with the RSPT?

*It's not a super profits tax

Miners argue that the government is not just taxing more when it's boom time, but taxing more all the time.

"At the moment, it doesn't appear that there is this premium that comes in and out depending on whether these companies are making super or normal profits," UBS chief economist Scott Haslem says.

"That's the issue. It just appears like we have a higher marginal tax rate on every dollar forever."

*6 per cent allowance is too low

Back to our earlier use of numbers. What's at issue is the $3 (6 per cent of $50).

This 6 per cent is too low, miners say. It's how much return you get on an ultra-safe investment. But their investments cost a lot and are highly risky. They say they should have a higher allowance (which means a lower amount of money is taxed after the allowance is subtracted).

Petroleum companies, as mentioned above, have an allowance of 11 per cent. The resources companies are not arguing for such a high rate - but they do want something between 6 and 11 per cent.

(Note: The 6 per cent is calculated from the government's long-term bond rate.)

*$9 billion tax take a year

The resource companies dispute the government's figures that it will get $9 billion a year in super tax on miners.

$9 billion "is not a steady state long-term growth estimate", Haslem says. It's a lower tax take calculated when accelerated depreciation is taken into account. That means that if today's profits are replicated in five years after the regime kicks in, mining companies would be playing even more tax.

**Background on the RSPT was complied with the help of Scott Haslem, chief economist at UBS.
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Offline mr anderson

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Re: Mining executives onboard missing plane
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2010, 04:13:31 am »
Six Australians from Sundance Resources missing in Cameroon

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/nine-australians-from-sundance-resources-missing-in-cameroon/story-e6frea6u-1225881939814

AAP
June 21, 2010




RESIDENTS in a Cameroonian town reported seeing a midair explosion that was possibly the breakup of a missing plane that was carrying mining executives to the Republic of Congo.

"Information from Cameroon military searchers says that the plane might have crashed around the town of Djoum. Residents in Djoum said they saw explosions in the air Saturday," said a Cameroon official affiliated to Cam Iron, the Cameroon subsidiary of Sundance Resources, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Two Cameroon military reconnaissance plane searches also indicated that the missing plane possibly crashed in the southern Cameroon town, located 200km southeast of the Yaounde airport where the plane took off, staff monitoring the incident and a military official connected with the search said.

The chartered aircraft was carrying six Australians, two French, an American and two Britons, most of whom were from Western Australia-based international mining company Sundance Resources Limited, when it disappeared over dense jungle on Saturday.

Among those on the flight was one of Australia's richest men, Ken Talbot, a non-executive director of Sundance and a renowned mining magnate worth about $1 billion.

Cameroon's Communications Minister Issa Thiroma Bakary said the CASA C-212 twin turboprop - owned by Congo-Brazzaville company Aero-Service and chartered by the subsidiary - disappeared during a Saturday flight from Cameroon's Yaounde-Nsimalen International Airport to Yangadou in Congo-Brazzaville.

Although Thiroma Bakary said the "very difficult" search of the densely-forested area was "stopped for the night," it is expected to resume at approximately 4pm.

"The search provided no conclusive evidence,'' Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told ABC Radio this morning.

"We remain very seriously concerned about the welfare of the six Australians.''

Mr Smith said the focus of the search was on the border region of Cameroon and Congo.

"There's a distinct possibility that the search effort will be complemented tomorrow with additional helicopters and possibly fixed-wing aircraft.''

Those on board the missing plane include Mr Talbot and the entire board of Sundance; the company's CEO Don Lewis; its chairman Geoff Wedlock; company secretary John Carr-Gregg - the brother of Melbourne psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg - and board members Craig Oliver and John Jones.

Dr Carr-Gregg said last night his brother had sent a text to say he was off before the flight took off, but that was the last he had heard from him.

"We haven't heard anything. We're playing an awful waiting game," Dr Carr-Gregg said.

"We're sitting by the phone just waiting for a call.

"It's just horrible, because you don't know what's going on."

Cameroonian President Paul Biya set up a crisis panel to coordinate the search.

Colonel Pomphile Akoli-Awaya of Brazzaville's Maya-Maya Airport said the search was also called off for the night on the Congolese side but would resume later today.

Mr Talbot's private investment company the Talbot Group named a seventh person known to have been on board the missing flight as Talbot Group executive assistant Natasha Flason, who is from France but who lives in Australia.

She had been in the job for only three months.

The others on board were three local employees of the miner and the plane's pilot.

A multinational air and ground search is expected to resume about 4pm, said Talbot Group CEO Shane Edwards. The company, Sundance's largest shareholder, had no further comment at this stage.

The CASA C-212 twin turboprop vanished just 25 minutes into a flight from the Cameroon capital Yaounde to Yangadou in the Republic of Congo.

“The search is very difficult, it is taking place in a dense forest," Cameroon Communications Minister Issa Thiroma Bakary said.

The aircraft was operated by a Congo-Brazzaville company, Aero-Service, and chartered by Cam Iron, the Cameroon subsidiary of Sundance Resources.

Cameroonian President Paul Biya has set up a crisis panel that is to coordinate the search.

Cameroon has assigned a C-130 Hercules and smaller Piper and Dornier aircraft to search for the plane, and has asked local officials, communities and logging firms along its flight path for any clues that might help.

Mr Smith said Australian officials on the ground in Cameroon were "very satisfied'' with the response so far of local authorities.

Sundance Resources said in a statement that most of those on board the flight were from the firm and were visiting the company's iron ore project in Cameroon and Congo.

Sundance said it had now halted its operations in Africa to focus on the search and would ask the Australian stock exchange to put the company's securities into a trading halt before the opening of trade this morning .

Mr Talbot has built a colossal mining and property empire after selling his 27 per cent stake in the company he founded in 1995, Macarthur Coal, for a cool $700 million.

Despite his unparalleled success, the 58-year-old is also at the centre of a major corruption inquiry where it is alleged he dished out $360,000 of bribes to disgraced former Queensland cabinet minister Gordon Nuttall.

Mr Talbot and his wife Amanda have four children - Alexandra, Claudia, Liam and Courtney.

It is believed Ms Talbot was in Paris staying in the couple's luxury apartment on the Champs Elysee when she was told of the missing plane.

Friends of the family said a highly distressed Ms Talbot had been asking for people to go to France to comfort her.

It is not known if any of her children were with her.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the High Commissioner designate to Abuja was in Cameroon and was "managing the Government's response on the ground".

Another official from Australia's High Commission in Abuja, plus a specialist consular officer based in the Middle East, will also go to Cameroon as soon as possible to support the Government's response.
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Offline mr anderson

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Re: Mining executives onboard missing plane
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2010, 07:51:56 am »
Sundance mining executives 'breached protocol' by being on same plane

http://www.news.com.au/national/grim-search-for-australian-mining-executive-missing-in-congo-jungle/story-e6frfkvr-1225882068091

By staff writers
June 21, 2010

    * "Explosions in the air"
    * Talbot: True to his roots
    * Distraught families hope for best
    * Tuckey links crash with mining tax

   
THE entire board of missing Sundance executives breached protocol by boarding the plane together only because circumstances forced them to, the company's former chairman says. The six Australian mining executives, including Queenslander Ken Talbot, one of the nation's richest men, are among 11 people feared dead after their plane went missing in West African jungle.

George Jones, who stepped down as Sundance chairman in 2009, said it was unusual for all the members of a board to be on the same flight, but they probably had no other choice.

"It actually breaches corporate governance and obviously relates to the fact they could only get on one plane," Mr Jones told Fairfax Radio today.

He said Mr Talbot had his own 19-seat executive jet in Cameroon, but the Yangadou airstrip they were heading for was not long enough for the plane.

"There's a dirt strip there the company had prepared for the small charter craft, but Ken Talbot's plane couldn't land there," Mr Jones said.

"So I think circumstances caused them to all get on the one plane."

The plane departed from the Cameroon capital of Yaounde in clear weather, but contact was lost after 38 minutes.

"It left Yaounde international airport on Saturday June 19 at 9.13am (6.13pm AEST) with an estimated arrival time of 10.20am (7.20pm AEST)... The last contact took place at 9.51am (6.51pm AEST)," a Cameroon official said.

The CASA C-212 twin turboprop, chartered by Western Australian-based mid-tier mining company Sundance Resources, was flying to the company's Mbalam iron ore project in southern Cameroon.

Other than Mr Talbot, 59, the Australians on the flight were: Sundance chairman Geoff Wedlock, chief executive Don Lewis, directors Craig Oliver and John Jones, and company secretary John Carr-Gregg. All of the men other than Mr Talbot are believed to be from Perth.

A seventh person on board the missing flight has been named as Talbot Group executive Natasha Flason Brian, who is from France but lives in Australia.

Mr Talbot's Talbot Group owns just under 18 per cent of Sundance.

As well as the six Australians, the aircraft had on board two French, an American and two Britons, Cameroon Communications Minister Issa Thiroma Bakary said.

The search for the missing plane was called off for the night and is expected to resume later today. Cameroon's military is at the forefront of the search. Sundance said it was also helping.

Sundance said it had halted its operations in Africa to focus on the search. The ASX put the company's securities into a trading halt today.

Australia's high commissioner to Nigeria travelled to Cameroon yesterday and a consular officer has been dispatched from the Middle East.

The family of Sundance executive John Carr-Greg say they are holding out hope.

His father, John Carr-Greg Sr, said he felt his son's toughness and character could help him survive the crash.

"He is the greatest guy I've ever known.

"My daughter-in-law has said if there's any chance of him getting out of a wreck he'll get out because he's a very tough guy," he told ABC Radio.

Situation 'not looking good'

A spokesman for the Talbot Group last night said hope was fading for the executives and the crew.

"The situation is not good. We don't have a lot of information, but it's been the best part of 20 hours since the plane was scheduled to land. It didn't report in and there has been no word," a spokesman said.

"We have our fingers crossed, but it's certainly not looking good. There's no signal, no distress beacon and no plane.

"It's a pretty sombre mood (in the Talbot Group) obviously. We're hoping for the best, but we just don't know. We don't want to jump the gun."

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described the accident as "deeply concerning to all of us" and said Australian authorities were working with locals to try to locate the plane.

"All of our diplomatic and consular resources are being dedicated to this... we will leave literally no stone unturned in our efforts to try and help what is a concerning set of developments for these Australians," he said.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) said a specialist consular officer would bring additional communications equipment to support the DFAT team on the ground.

Mr Talbot and his wife Amanda have four children, Alexandra, Claudia, Liam and Courtney. It is understood Mrs Talbot was staying at the couple's Paris apartment when she learned the plane was missing.

Mr Talbot built a huge mining and property empire after selling his 27 per cent stake in Macarthur Coal, which he founded in 1995, for $700 million. He is estimated to be worth $965 million, according to the BRW Rich List.

The Mbalam iron project is potentially worth billions of dollars over its lifetime, producing 35 million tonnes of iron ore a year for at least 25 years.

Sundance executives and advisers were in the midst of targeting steel mills and infrastructure providers to help finance, build and operate the mine, which just two weeks earlier had been upgraded to double its size.

Despite his success, Mr Talbot is at the centre of a major corruption inquiry. He is alleged to have dished out $360,000 in bribes to disgraced former Queensland cabinet minister Gordon Nuttall.

He was planning to plead not guilty to 35 charges.

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Offline mr anderson

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Re: Mining executives onboard missing plane
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2010, 07:57:35 pm »
Sundance plane found in Congo with no survivors

June 22, 2010

http://www.news.com.au/national/sundance-plane-found-in-congo-with-no-survivors/story-e6frfkvr-1225882528007




RESCUERS have found the wreckage of a missing plane carrying an Australian mining tycoon and 10 others in West Africa but there are no survivors.

The twin turboprop Casa C212 carrying the entire board of the Western Australian-based Sundance Resources mining company went missing over thick jungle on Saturday 38 minutes after departing from Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. The plane was headed for Yangadou in Congo-Brazzaville, near the company's Mbalam iron ore project.

Congolese civil aviation chief Michel Ambendet confirmed that the plane had been found at Dima, an area about 30km from Yangadou.

A statement from Sundance Resources said the wreckage of the chartered plane carrying their company's entire board was found about about midnight (AEST) Monday on the western ridge of the Avima Range in Congo, near the Gabonese border.

Queenslander Ken Talbot, 59, one of the richest men in Australia and a director of Sundance is dead, as is Sundance chairman Geoff Wedlock, chief executive Don Lewis, company secretary John Carr-Gregg and directors John Jones and Craig Oliver.

Jeff Duff, a US citizen and consultant to Sundance, and Talbot's personal assistance Natasha Flason, a French national, were also killed along with two Britons and another French national.

"The wreckage has been found. Unfortunately there were no survivors," Cameroon Information Minister Tchiroma Bakary said.

However the minister later backtracked, saying they had yet to recover all 11 bodies.

"Are there no survivors? We've already begun to recover the bodies. The number varies between nine and 11. It is preferable, as long as we've not identified the 11 remains, to make statements with some caution," Mr Bakary said.
 

It could take days to retrieve the bodies of the entire board of Sundance Resources and Mr Bakary said it was complicated by the fact the wreckage was in Congo.

"(It is) a very long walk to retrieve the bodies, to secure the bodies," he said.

"As you know, two countries are involved... Cameroon and Congo, and there is a diplomatic process.

"We have to get in touch with the leaders of Congo, they are the ones who will retrieve the bodies, get them ready to be flown to Cameroon."

Mr Bakary speculated the plane may have hit a mountain.

"The cause might be, either they hit the top of a hill or the top of the trees, I don't know exactly," he said.

"The area is very ... hilly."

A statement from Sundance Resources said the company had been informed  there were no survivors.

"The crash site has been secured, with two Sundance contractors and a representative of the French Military remaining with the bodies," the company said.

The French military had earlier joined the search in thick forest on the Cameroon-Congo border, while Congo-Brazzaville authorities had said they would call on pygmy tribesmen to join the hunt.

Fog over the jungle hampered efforts to locate the plane using two Cameroon government helicopters along with a French military C-160 transporter and Cougar helicopter.

Australian, American and Canadian officials were also helping.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia's High Commissioner to Nigeria had been sent to Cameroon along with two other officials.

Huge setback

Sundance's ex-chairman George Jones said the board had shared the flight as Talbot's private jet was unable to land on the airstrip at Yangadou, a remote mining town where only small planes can land.

Yesterday, Mr Jones told Fairfax Radio: "It's unusual for an entire board. It actually breaches corporate governance and obviously relates to the fact they could only get on one plane."

Sundance, an iron ore miner, halted its African operations and had ordered staff to help find the plane carrying the board members.

Late last night the Daily Telegraph reported Mr Jones was appointed to lead an interim board and vowed to press ahead with its Mbalam iron ore project on the border of Cameroon and Congo in honour of the executives.

He said the tragedy was a colossal setback but one that would not "mortally wound Sundance".

Mr Jones, who appointed the majority of the missing executives to their roles in his previous role as chairman, said the interim board would be seeking an urgent meeting with shareholders.

Self-made man

Reports said Talbot, a truck driver's son, first made his fortune through a network of pubs before founding mining company Macarthur Coal which he sold for $700 million.

His company Talbot Group owned just under 18 per cent of Sundance. Talbot's fortune was estimated at $965 million by BRW business magazine.

Despite his success, Talbot was at the centre of a major corruption inquiry. He was alleged to have dished out $360,000 in bribes to disgraced former Queensland cabinet minister Gordon Nuttall.

He was planning to plead not guilty to 35 charges in a trial in August.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said authorities would leave "no stone unturned" in helping the search for the executives.

"This is deeply concerning to all of us," he said.

"All of our diplomatic and consular resources are being dedicated to this . . . We will leave literally no stone unturned in our efforts to try and help what is a concerning set of developments for these Australians."

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