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Sunridge CEO: 99% Of Eritreans Support Our Operations

It has always been the mission of Awate.com to work hard to inform its readers on everything the government of Eritrea and its collaborators hide from the people. Awate.com was established for that reason.

We monitor the mining sector seriously simply because of its corrupt nature, undisclosed dealings, the long lasting environmental disaster it brings with it, and the slave labor it depends on to show unjustified profits to its shareholders.

In addressing these specialized issues, we are fortunate to have financial and subject matter experts in awate team who tirelessly work to help explain to our readers the intricacies of how mining operations are conducted and financed as well to offer a context for the subjects we raise.

Over the years, we have monitored mining activist in Eritrea and developed considerable subject matter expertise in so far as mining is considered. The researches and interviews we conducted with former employees of Bisha Mining Company, ENAMCO, NEVSUN, Eritrean Ministry of Mining, national service conscripts and others, along with our sources in Eritrea, have provided us a vantage point to share our findings with our readers.

When approached by human rights group, law firms, investors, and international organizations, and mining community, and the media, we do not shy from providing our considered views and analysis on mining activities and its implication in Eritrea. We bring a viewpoint to the discussion as we articulate our vision of the future of mining in Eritrea. We are bound by non-disclosure agreements not to publish documents that could shed light to the corrupt nature of mining in Eritrea. We also honor our promise to protect our sources everywhere. Despite all these constrain, we remain true to our mission of reporting factual, accurate, and timely development we deem relevant to the Eritrean people.

With such information we hope to raise the awareness and encourage debate of major issues that concern the people. But such information also attract spoilers, mostly government operatives who mimic a few terminologies associated with the stock market and especially with financing and cast doubt on the veracity of the information. Knowing a few terminologies is not enough to engage in a specialized debate; that is why we decided to write this article to help inform those who are concerned about the well-being of their people and country.

For obvious reasons, neither awate.com nor Gedab News offers investment advice or insight. We can only suggest that investors, whether they invest in Eritrea or elsewhere, to be ethical investors and at the same time warn them of the volatile nature of investment in Eritrea, which is ruled by an unelected rogue regime.

After the financial crisis of 2008, more people are choosing to invest in socially responsible companies. This is not only because there is a strong business case urging investors to do the right thing, but in the long run, these ethical companies outperform the market. With the development of social media, it is difficult for companies to get away by utterly disregarding the environment, and issues of human rights and labor law. In the long run, it is simply not a sustainable business strategy for a company to do well by employing children, polluting the environment, or using forced labor such as in the case of Nevsun, which allowed its top five executives to take home $5 million dollars last year. More and more enlightened investors are demanding accountability and transparency in the corporate governance and management of the firm they invest in. That should be debated by all stakeholders and victims of irresponsible corporations.

Africa Rising. So will post-PFDJ Eritrea

In a continuation of the 50 years old struggle against colonial rule and exploitation, a new grassroots movement, often described as resource nationalism, is taking root in emerging economies such as South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, and Vietnam and others to take assertive stance to regulate the mining activities of multinational corporations. The aim of the initiative is to secure greater financial, regulatory, and operational control over mining activities by strengthening policies and laws that give them greater say in how their natural resources are managed. They are demanding higher taxes and royalties, greater state equity and indigenous participation, favorable contract renegotiation, technology transfer, and value-added processing of natural resources before exporting it to other countries.

Ernst and Young, the global management consultancy firm, in its report “Business Risks in Mining and Metals of 2012/13”, states that “resource nationalism” is the biggest risk facing foreign firms in Africa with governments “going beyond taxation in seeking a greater stake from the sector, with a wave of requirements introduced around mandated beneficiation, export levies and limits on foreign ownership.” (i)

ernst&youngSimilarly, for the past 50 years, the Eritrean people have been at the forefront of national liberation movements to liberate themselves from the yoke of colonialism. However, instead of controlling their destiny and having a say in how their country is governed, they found themselves living under an oppressive regime. They don’t have a say on the nonexistent basic human rights, let alone on how their natural resource is managed.

Much of the Eritrean resistance to the ruling party is composed of open minded citizens who have the best interest of their country at heart. They believe the natural wealth of their country should be developed in an ethical and environment friendly manner and in a way that benefits the people, particularly the inhabitants of the regions that are being most impacted by the development activities. Only then can the mining sector fuel the development of their cash-strapped underdeveloped country and catch up with the rest of Africa.

In light of the corrupt nature of mining in Eritrea, we therefore unreservedly believe that the resource nationalism movement is rightly justified in asserting people’s right to have a say in how their natural resources is developed.

No Honor Among Swindlers

Given the fact that Isaias is known to make all important decisions with little input from those who supposedly advise him, it is not surprising to see how the Eritrean regime was swindled by Nevsun when it overpaid twice the amount of money to acquire 30% equity in Nevsun.

We have seen how a law firm in New York successfully sued Nevsun in US courts on behalf of stockholders by alleging that it misled investors by overstating the Bisha mine’s potential reserve and manipulated production schedule to show unrealistic quarterly earnings.

Nevsun quickly settled out of court to avoid  the disclosure of evidence concerning its corrupt dealings with the dictator in Asmara from becoming public in an open court proceeding. Nevsun had inflated the value of the Bisha mine in order to have an upper hand in the arbitration process to resolve the dispute of how much the Eritrean ruling party (PFDJ) owned ENAMCO had to pay for the 30% equity.

Two months after an agreement was reached, Nevsun unceremoniously revised down its estimates of the Bisha gold reserve as the earning it was reporting was no longer sustainable. As a result, Nevsun’s stock value tumbled by 50% and a class action lawsuit on behalf of shareholder ensued.

Nevsun reported that taxes, customs, and concession fees that would otherwise have been paid by Nevsun to the Eritrean treasury were used to offset the payment of US $253.5 million that ENAMCO would have paid to acquire the 30% equity in Nevsun.

We do not believe the regime is that incompetent to be duped by Nevsun, especially when it comes to extorting money as it does from its own citizens. Rather, we believe the regime, facing UN and EU sanction and international isolation, had no choice and was (and still is) desperate for hard currency to equip its security apparatus to crush its own people and prolong its rule. To avoid the repeat of such a fiasco, last week the regime signed a shareholder agreement with Sunridge (another Canadian corporation) that specifies the exact amount of money ENAMCO needs to pay to acquire the 30% equity. Further, to help keep Sunridge afloat, ENAMCO also agreed to pay 33% of the development cost.

Center Vs Periphery

Throughout the history of Eritrea, people who live in the peripheries have suffered more than their compatriots who live around cities where foreign eyes are present, and where the largest portion of the benefits are reaped. This has been happening during the struggle era when the peripheries went through untold miseries while city dwellers had a relatively easier life. Once the troubles extended and reached to the city, the whole attitude of the people went through a drastic shift, bad news for oppressors and unscrupulous businesses.

That has been the case with the mining industry. Almost a decade after Nevsun started its operation in the remote Bisha area, the inhabitants had to be uprooted with the pretext that the region is uninhabited. The truth is, the inhabitants of the area were exiled beginning in 1967 when the Ethiopian government of the time started its scorched earth policies torching villages, farms and killing cattle and people. Tens of thousands of people from the surroundings of Bisha escaped to Sudan and settled in makeshift camps where they are still living 23 years after the independence of Eritrea, almost half a century since they were first driven out of their homes.

In Bisha, the graves of the region were exhumed unceremoniously by getting a pretend consent of the people who would not dare oppose any move sanctioned by the Eritrean government. The water level is depleted and now the nomads who roam in that area have to depend on brackish water that is suitable neither for cattle nor for humans. The job opportunities are given to select PFDJ security operatives while the inhabitants are neglected, not given any training to cope up with the demand of the mining industry and be part of the operation, and they are culturally devastated.

As we have reported in Gedab news, a group of Eritreans from the Afar region accused the regime of systematically targeting the Afar people in order to remove them from potash and other precious metals rich area of Colluli.

Colluli Mining Share Company (CMSC), a joint venture between the Australian South Boulder Mines Ltd. and the Eritrean National Mining Company (ENAMCO), was awarded an exploration concession area that spans 400 sq. km within the Danakil Depression, an area South Boulder Mines describes as “flat, arid desert with sparse population and minimal environmental / social issues.”(ii)

South Boulder Mines was able to convince investors that the UN sanction on Eritrea will not impact its exploration and stock traded as high as $5.8 in March 04, 2011. Today it is trading at $0.16, or, 2% of its all-time high.

Sunridge Will Repeat Nevsun’s Damages

From our research we have learned that Nevsun secured a waiver from president Isaias not to abide or worry by the environmental safeguards. As a result, Nevsun has done huge human and environmental damage in Bisha rendering the region a waste. In a gesture to remedy the damage, when Nevsun attempted to compensate the people of Bisha, the PFDJ party boss blocked their efforts.

Now Sunridge is taking the devastation to the surroundings of the capital city, Asmara. Though Sunridge takes false pride and makes unsubstantiated claim for being an environmentally responsible company, the situation is explained by the following excerpt of an interview that Eric Coffin had with Mike Hopley, an executive of Sunridge.

Eric Coffin: Do you have any concerns about Asmara – the project that is – being too close for comfort to the capital city region? I mean, obviously, your situation is great in terms of infrastructure since it’s relatively close to the city of Asmara. Are the locals ok with you being on the outskirts, or are there people freaking out where you might be digging a big hole?

Mike Hopley: That is a good question. It is true that there are a lot of inhabitants within a few kilometers from the operation but surprisingly, the actual number of people disturbed by our proposed mining operation is quite small. The operation will be four separate mines and one centralized operating facility mill and despite this, it is really minimal disruption to people. We are not moving graveyards and dozens of houses; there is probably something in the order of 15 houses that would be impacted down in the south in one operation, but really it’s pretty minimal. Also, there is an interesting philosophy in the country that is sort of unusual to American or Canadian thinking. The people of Eritrea are very supportive of their government.

That means what the government is supporting – and they are obviously supporting our operation – is assumed to be good for the country and so therefore, there is very minimal opposition to our project. There will always be some opposition to any large industrial operation but, generally speaking, 99% of the people are supporting our operation. (iii)

So, Mr. Hopley believes that 99% of the people support the government. He seems to have forgotten to account for the victims of the government who are being exposed to all sorts of risks all over the world. We are not sure if Mr. Hopely added the refugees in Sudan, Lampedusa and Israel, for example, to the 99% who support the government. Obviously Mr. Hopely’s “scientific sample” must include the 4,000 Eritreans, who according UN reports, flee the country every month to escape ruthless repression, including unlimited forced labor for the government projects that include the mining sector!

The investment community attracts savvy people who always do due diligence before investing in anything. We do not know in which world Mr. Hopely lives, but we wonder if he knows that his incredulous statement can be easily challenged by potential investors by simply googling “human rights Eritrea.” The search yields millions of results, something that he or the regime supporters will never be able to erase or explain away. If they search further, they will find out that the Eritrean people live under a dictatorship that uses forced labor to build the Bisha mine run by Nevsun.

The regime, in partnership with Sunridge, is poised to do the same in the densely populated outskirts of Asmara. But this is not going to be easy, research Eritrean history of 1975 and you will know what happens when disaster reaches the capital city. For the moment, what needs to be understood is that Sunridge’s mining operation is located in the vicinity of Asmara, in a densely populated region around the villages of Emba- Derho, Adi-Nefas, Gupo Gold and Debarwa, 12 to 20 kilometers from Asmara. Unlike Bisha which is located in the semi-deserts of Western Eritrea, over 100 miles from Asmara, it is “out of sight out of mind” to many who do not follow mining activities in Eritrea.

Regulation Vs Anarchy

We understand that engaging in such debates, particularly its specialized part, requires basic knowledge of how firms are financed, from start up to going public, and enough knowledge to distinguish between a regulator and an exchange.

Canada has two main exchanges and so does the US, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and many other countries. But companies do not file financial statements like 10 Q or 10 K with the exchange, but rather to their regulators; many countries, including Canada, do not have strong regulators like the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

In order to be listed and be publicly traded in any exchange, an entity has to be approved by the authority that regulates the securities market. In the US, this is the responsibility of the SEC.

A simple explanation states (iv): “Canadian securities regulation is managed through laws and agencies established by Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial governments. Each province and territory has a securities commission or equivalent authority and its own piece of provincial or territorial legislation.

…. concerns with the provincial system of securities regulation has led to repeated calls for a national securities system in Canada. Currently, the Government of Canada is working towards establishing national securities regulatory system that it says will provide:

  • better and more consistent protection for investors across Canada;
  • improved regulatory and criminal enforcement to better fight securities-related crime;
  • new tools to better support the stability of the Canadian financial system;
  • faster policy responses to emerging market trends;
  • simpler processes for businesses, resulting in lower costs for investors; and
  • more effective international representation and influence for Canada.

Until Canada established a SEC-like federal regulator, rouge and unscrupulous Canadian firms, especially mining companies like Nevsun and Sunridge, will continue dealing with tyrants and dictators to make money without any concerns for the environment, labor, and issues of human right.

Canadian companies have relatively weak disclosure and reporting requirements: officers and directors are not obliged to disclose inside trading (the purchase or sale of the securities or how much option they hold) in the company they manage. If Sunridge was registered with the SEC, it would have been required to disclose the names of interested buyers , and its relationship with Wanbao (A Chinese company) which was asked by the Eritrean government (basically  by Hagos Keisha, the financial chief of the ruling party) to consider purchasing Sunridge, but Wanbao backed out for many reasons, geo-political consideration being one. Wanbao held stakes in Myanmar and was embroiled in a land acquisition dispute with 26 villages whose protests halted the development of the mine.

In a Wall street Journal interview, Wanbao chairman Chen Defang stated that he was “humbled by admitting error in previously ignoring community opinion.” The mine has since resumed operation after the company shifted tactics and started working with Aung San Suu Kyi, the celebrated leader of the Myanmar opposition.

Mr. Defang pledged that Wanbao will create local jobs, support small businesses and  raise the amount of compensation for land acquisition from $600 per acre to $700–1200 per acre, depending on the use of the land. If Wanbao’s change of conduct is any indication, we would like to believe that Wanbao has learned a lesson form its shift and would focus on fostering community relation rather than its previous dealings with the military junta in Myanmar. We also would like to believe that its withdrawal from Eritrea was motivated by similar considerations.

Rescuing Sunridge

In recognizing Sunridge’s challenges in securing financing and its inability to go to production on its own, Eric Coffin, the editor of HRA Advisories, thinks the next best thing for Sunridge is to position itself as an attractive target for takeover, which is what Sunridge is doing.

According to its 2013 annual report, Sunridge retained a Canadian investment banker on May 2013 to act as an advisor for a potential sale of its asset in Eritrea, or possibly the company. To attract Chinese investors, Sunridge translated its investment brochure into Chinese. We believe the potential buyer was Wanbao. If not, since Sunridge is a Canadian company, it would have at least translated its brochure into French if it were seeking Canadian investors. Also, being aware of SEC regulations, Sunridge avoids dissemination of investment solicitation materials in the US.

At the writing of this article, Sunridge stock (SGC.V) is trading at $0.20 with a 52 week high and low of $0.12 and $0.31, respectively. Its market capitalization is about $US 51 million, or about 2.5 times its book value with a reported price to book of $2.48. Its exploration and evaluation assets is 91% of its total assets or $18.6 million and $20.4 million, respectively.

Incidentally, Nevsun was successfully sued in NY because Nevsun is dually listed in the Toronto and NY securities exchange. Nevsun met SEC requirements to be listed in the NYSE to access the US capital market for equity and debt financing

Since Sunridge is shutout even from the Canadian capital market, its only option was to borrow at a very high interest rate. Sunridge has to give up substantial equity in terms of ownership, for $5 million finance, one could at least suspect who was doing the placing. The financing did not come from a reputable or well-known investment banks. Some people are enamored with the word “private placement” without knowing what it really means, but google proves the financer of Sunridge on the above deal is a one-man company listed as Tempest Capital that secured the loan. In return, Sunridge paid a hefty price to the secure the financing of about $5 million. As mentioned by Gedab, Sunridge issued 4 million shares of broker warrants (v) as the share capitalization page of Sunridge shows.

So far, UN and EU sanctions do not apply to mining companies in Eritrea. However, the fact that a country is under UN and EU simply does not attract new potential investors. Those already invested usually cut their losses and flee just like what Chief Executive Officer Doug Jones of Chalice Gold Mines Ltd. (CHN) (v) said during the forced sale of Zara mine to China’s SFECO clarifies: “The main reason for the sale is the difficulty in raising development funds in the current market,” he said. It’s “a problem exacerbated by the UN sanctions against Eritrea.” (vi)

As we have reported previously, SAFECO has not reported in its website any mining activities in Eritrea as it is reluctant to invest the needed capital expenditure to develop the Zara mine.

Related Links:

Sunridge’s Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cashflow
Sunridge’s Financial Ratios

References:

(i)    Business risk facing mining and metals (last accessed on July3, 2014)
(ii)   South Boulder Mines Ltd. (last accessed on July 3, 2014)
(iii)   Interview with Mr. Hopley (last accessed on July 3, 2014)
(iv)   Canadian Securities (last accessed on July 3, 2014)
(v)    Sunridge issued 4 million shares of broker warrants (last accessed on July 3, 2014)
(vi)   Bloomberg: …UN sanctions against Eritrea (last accessed on July 3, 2014)

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  • haileTG

    Selamat Awatista,

    Commissioner Amelia Frascaroli of the city of Bologna has duly acknowledged the terrible mistake of allowing HGDEF in their city. She acknowledged the hurt this must have caused to the Eritrean people in particular and Italians in general. She promised such gaff wouldn’t happen again and thanked all concerned for quickly withdrawing support and isolating HGDEF.

    Here is HGDEF horribly insulted in the center of the city by the person who runs the city. ሓመድ ድበ ክበሃል ከምዚ፡ ትፋኡ ከልሕስዎ ነዚ ጉዳም ዓማጺ!!!

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=798869736799003&fref=nf

    • danny

      Dear Haile,
      First, I thank you for your impeccable resources that keep us not only informed but that uplift us and grace us with the occasional priceless humor.
      Gettig back to your comment above, I am at a loss why PFDJ brought Bologna unto themselves this time around. I understand that they have become desensitized to shame a long time ago but I never thought they would go as far as blowing millions of dollars to invite and buy shame. As the Amharic proverb goes “yebesebese zinab ayferam” but no besbis would in his right mind would pray for a killer tornado like PFDJ does. PFDJ never ceases to amaze as with weird surprises. If it were not for the deadly outcome of their actions, I think they would have earned the craziest clowns of the quarter century award.

  • Hope

    Dear Michael Solomon,
    Can you comment on Danny’s post?It sounds real,credible and serious.
    Can you justify and/or refute what he said vs what you said.?
    Have you been to Eritrea? If so, have you ever visited the prisons there? Have you ever interviewed the families of the victims?
    Do you have any relatives in prison in Eritrea?If so, have you ever visited them and talked to them?
    Have ever visited the poor EDF members at Badme, Tsorona, Tio/Aseb Fronts? if so , please tell us your experience of their experience.
    Have you ever visited the families(wives,kids–etc) of the EDF members? And if so, please tell us their stories,feelings,experiences,living conditions,etc…
    Since I did so–visited and interviewed som eof the EDF members, families of the victims of arbitrary arrests,kidnapping,—I can give you my input.Then we can debate.
    Hawikha,and a concerned Citizen

  • haileTG

    Selamat Awatista,

    ERiTV serving the truth, as usual! Hade libi Hade Hizbi Muslim sporting crucifixion necklace:-)

    • Omer Osman

      xxxx good observaton Haile TG, may be the PFDJ-loyalists were trying to show the participation of different religions in their party. But they were stupid enough to portray this guy in a muslim traditional costume, and forgot to cover or remove the cross??

      • Tesfabirhan WR

        Haw haile TG,

        What an eagle eye you have. You brougt the spot of PFDJ fake Identity. PFDJites did not represent all Eritreans and all they tried to make such fake identity is to betray the virtual unity that they declare under the theme of “One heart, one people”

        Eritreans are Eritreans. No need to make such fake identity except when the so called propaganda is used to do so. PFDJ are experts on this. They faked our identity for the last 20 years.

        “Fo’E Higdef”

        Gena we will expose them till their underwear even their sex. I say this because even the participants need to be scrutinized as the women’s question is never represented.

        hawka
        tes

  • danny

    On September 18, 2011 approximately half the number of Eritrean parlamentarians were disappeared by the current leader. This is not a bogus claim; we are talking about prominent and high ranking officials that everyone who pays little attention to Eritrean politics, whether a supporter of the dictator or an opposition, knows very well about. Ever since then, your HEGDEF has disappeared thousands of famous and non famous citizens with impunity. Could you please tell us where all these people are because their families are looking for them. If disappearing of citizens from all walks of life does not constitute “human rights abuses” in your dictionary, I think the part of your brain that is responsible for assessing empathy is closer to that of a serial killer than to a normal person’s hence please spare us ur cruelty on this forum.

    • haileTG

      haha…danny if you go to edaga derho (chicken market) in Asmara’s shuq district, those hassling to sell chickens would usually let you hold it and try to quickly pull its legs down while it is on your hand. This is supposed to give you the impression that the particular chicken on offer weighs more than it actually does! Why would you think Eritreans in diaspora shunned PFDJ festival otherwise? Lol … :-)

  • Rodab

    I am hoping AT is compiling information on the cost of Bologna. This event is one example of corruption and power abuse to squander Eritrea’s meager resources and must be exposed, where information is available. Why is the event outright corruption? Because there is no official budget allocated to it under known law for known purpose and channeled through specific ministry or department. There is no such thing called audit. All we have is individuals like Hagos Kisha and the two Yemanes playing with the money of the Eritrean people. My guess is even these corrupt** officials don’t eve know how much the other is wasting. Its monkey business all around.

    So what could be the price tag?
    Looking at event videos, it appears 3/4 of PFDJ leadership is currently in Bologna. Add to that all the various guests, artists and their equipment. Add to that live media coverage around the clock. Add to that security personnel expenses. Add to that property and service charges. Add to that other expenses…The cost is hefty. We are talking about tens of millions of dollars! Eritrea’s scarce resources are being robbed by unaccounted, opaque regime while Asmara City lives in dark nights!

    ** I called them corrupt not because I know specific cases of their involvement but the fact that senior government officials operate under complete secrecy and without declared budget are grounds for them be labelled as such.

    • Papillon

      Dearest Rodab,

      It is good and timely question but again we are coming back to the same misconception where a mafia group is not expected to be accountable of anything. In fact, the much hoopla of Bologna is not about the high priests of PFDJ (Monkey or Kisha) anymore rather it is about the people who are draped in clever traditional attires and hit the floor dancing all night long enmeshed in a moral decadence. Forty years ago, the theme in Bologna was “ዝመጸ ይምጻእ ወራሪ ኣብ ባርዕ ሰውራ ሓራሪ” and now it is mass suicide as in “ዝመጸ ይምጻእ ኢሳያስ ሒዙና ይጥፋእ.”

      Haft’kha.

  • haileTG

    Selamat Awatista,

    HGDEF is meeting its fate in Bologna

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=706715236054181&fref=nf

    and brave Eritreans are facing the beast down…

    • Hope

      Are u wishing or advocating ” then Pappi”s style of civil war?
      The strugglke should be peaceful ,specially in the democratic world.
      If u need to fight a real fight,you have to go to the field.
      This pic should make you feel sad, rather than “Happy”,
      I heard there was a related car accident and injuries in front of the Entrance Door at th efestival Site.
      Do you believe that it is necessary? if so, it sounds like you might have sent those intruders then.
      Get it real,man!!Waht a cheap propaganda!

      • haileTG

        why r u so eager to see a conflict????

        • Hope

          Dear Hailt TG,
          I thought you are the ONE to do so or to wish so?
          I am challenging and questioning your rationale of posting an injured man and considering this as a success against the PFDJ Guard.
          Did I read you wrong? If so, my apology then.
          I am reading what is written,Brother Haile TG!

  • Michael Solomon

    Most Eritreans will ageee for the development of their country!! regardless of their political inclinations. The 99% supporting Sundridge Gold sounds pretty accurate – if one subtracts the less tha 1% die-hard opposition to every thing Eritrean!! or what we call the Eritrea born uionists —
    People are not suggesting HEGDEF is perfect or clost to – but this article sounds lioke it was copied from the master plan of the handlers ! Fabricatring “human rights abuses, implementing baseless sanctions, instigating an sponsoring massive human traficking, openly advocating for “regime change”, all of these on behalf of others – people tend to lose creibility – no matter what issues they raise…
    Hawkum Michael

  • unedited11

    Dear awate, this was a very poorly written article. Long on
    fluffy rhetoric, over analysis and short on actual, factual information.

    Your sources, as per usual are shadowy and secretive
    characters, whom you will not identify for privacy and security reason …
    “but dont worry, just trust us”. No thanks! This website has an open
    anti-Eritrean government (and many argue that it has an open anti-Eritrean)
    political agenda. You constantly spew propaganda that is similar to what comes
    out of Ethiopia’s foreign affairs office (de-contextualized, deceitful and
    deceptive tactics). We, the 99% of Eritreans do NOT trust you. And yes, even
    those who opt to leave the Country for greener pasture are included in that
    99%!

    I found it entertaining that you have attempted to portray
    yourself as some sort of champion or spokes-person for social justice, in order
    to claim the PFDJ was purposely swindled by the mining companies and that not
    enough work was done to keep more of the profits. For one, I would agree with
    part of this point, I think the government of Eritrea should have done more to
    keep profits from the Bisha. At the same time, the government did a good job
    considering this was the Country’s first foray into the mining sector. Mistakes
    happen and I am sure they have learned from this experience. But for you to
    attempt to make this into a larger conspiracy is a joke! No evidence, just your
    own personal suspicions. I guess in your books, dissemination of deceitful
    propaganda this is considered journalism.

    You also attempt to deceive your reader into thinking there
    are secret, shadowy, scary, shady deals between PFDJ and Nevsun, by stating the
    top five executives took home $5 million dollars (which may be true) and
    claiming there is a myriad of social catastrophes in an around the mines as a
    result of mining activities (without a shred of evidence). One would have to be
    willfully blind if they could not see your shallow attempt at connecting one
    assumption with another. Regarding the top executive pay, you did not bother to
    contextualize the information and compare it to other successful mining
    companies. And since most compensation is based on performance, it is not a
    surprise the executives took home a lot of money, Bisha was producing lots of
    income during that time. For further insights, here is a link about mining
    executive compensation in Canada. You will see that $5 million is actually
    small compared to other CEOs:
    http://www.canadianbusiness.com/lists-and-rankings/ceo-salary-vs-average-salary/

    I can go on … but its getting boring.

    Awate.com -> You are everything you claim your adversary
    to be. A wolf in sheep cloth … trying to look like you are fighting for the
    best interest of the Eritrean people. Instead, you are proving to simply be a
    propaganda mouth piece for Eritrea’s worst enemies.

    • Papillon

      እንታይ ኢኹም ህግደፍ?

      ድሁላት
      ሓሰውቲ
      መታለልቲ
      ቀጠፍቲ
      ለኽባጣት
      ፈኮስቲ
      ጃጀውቲ
      ሓመይቲ
      መጣቓዕቲ
      ሎቕመጽቲ
      መቃጠርቲ
      የሕሊፎም ወሃብቲ
      ጻሕጻሕቲ
      ናይ ፖለቲካ ሸራሙጥ
      ሉቕሉቓት መቓብር

      • haileTG

        haha…ውሒዱ ውሒዱ ፓፒ!

        • Semere Andom

          አይተስ ተዋሕዶ ሃይላት

          እዚ እካ እንተኺ ኢሎም

          እቶም በሃማት

          እማንካ አፍኪሳትሎም

          ጥንቃቀ ኢዪ ክይፍጽሞ ርእሰ ቅትለት

          ጭሊጦም ነት አቺዶ.
          እወ እቲ አቺዶ ክጭልጦ ነቲ አቺዶ

          እምበይታይ ፓፒ ክምዚ መዓስ ምሊሉኒ፣

          አይተፍለጥንን እቲ ግኒ እዪዓሲሉኒ

          ጓል እረ እንትኾንኪ ክም ድዸን ዓንደ

          እቕረ በልልይ ስጋ ኢሱ ገዲፍ

          ስጋ ወዲ ዓሊ ክርዕም፡

          ስኒ አልቦ መሲልክኒ

          ግን ምስ ነኽስኪ
          ተስቒረኒ አስናንኪ ክም ዝሓርቕምኪ

      • Nitricc

        If PFDJ is all that you have said then what is to say about you and your side? You are owned ; controlled; ordered; humiliated and taking to schoolby the PFDJ
        I think you should reverse; instead of Higdef; say the toothless oppositions. Then what you have said it will make sense.
        Just giving honest advice.

        • Papillon

          Nitricc,

          Dejen Ande-Hishel is the face of the Opposition. Do you see any of what describes PFDJ in him? To the contrary to say the least. These are PFDJ and what I said is what exactly I see in this people.

          http://www.madote.com/2014/07/eritrea-commemorating-40th-anniversary.html

          • Nitricc

            Thanks you

            Pappi I could have told you the real deal but I am shay so,
            you lucky -J

            Anyway Dejen means not the toothless, grudge driven; good for
            nothing; outdated and you everything else that they are.

            Dejen is; however; the face; the body and the soul of what
            Eritrea means. He is the face of forgiveness; the face of fresh start; the face
            of anything is possible; the face of hope; the face humanity; the face humility
            and benevolence. So, don’t even go there!

            You had a jack-pot with Dejen to make your case,
            yet, as usual, failed miserably

    • saay7

      Selamat unedited11:

      Welcome to aware.com.

      I see a trend here: those who come to criticize our pieces on the mining industry follow that of the famous monkey made popular in Tigrayit folklore. A monkey tries real hard to reach some ripe bananas; tries and fails and she, rather than admit failure, says: “well, they were over-ripe anyway.” Similarly, those who come her to criticize our piece try and then say, “I could go on but, it is getting boring.” It is so formulaic it appears that we are being trolled.

      But, on the assumption that we are not (we are so full of goodwill to all, Unedited 11…)

      1. Your first paragraph about how we are the enemies of the Eritrean government, and maybe the State of Eritrea (and maybe humanity at large?) is standard diatribe of the supporters of all incumbent regimes throughout the world who very humbly equate themselves with the State. The circumstantial evidence is all against you–the metrics used by the world: migration rate, asylum application cases, creation of police state–but you will happily dismiss them all. I could show you even crude measures like crowd sizes in Bologna (a State-TV promoted event is a bust) and the opposition is boisterous, but you will dismiss the opposition as all Weyane and you will inflate the number of the government supporters (overwhelmingly elderly women).

      2. You attempted to describe the mistakes the Eritrean regime has made as inevitable for a new government, and one you are “sure they have learned from this experience.” A number of points to be made here. First, the whole point about being a new government is to learn from the mistakes of those who came before you. Mining industry is new in Eritrea but old in Africa. Just when Africans were beginning to own more of their resources, the Eritrean regime negotiated a deal to give up more. (And please don’t blame this on the usual sanctions rationale: the terms of the Nevsun agreement were negotiated long before the sanctions.) Second, we say in our piece that the regime has likely learned from this mistake: at least the money-grabbing part; it sure has not learned (or prioritized) anything about environmentalism. Finally, whatever mistakes you are conceding, you didn’t learn about them from Eri-TV, or from Isaias speeches. You are welcome. The Isaias regime is stuck: it can’t speak candidly about the mining sector: if it is successful, its rightful owners, the people of Eritrea, will demand dividends that it is not willing to dole out; if it is a failure, the rightful owners, the people of Eritrea, will demand accountability, which it is not willing to be. So, it is stuck by choice.

      3. It’s not just Nevsun: every deal the PFDJ enters into is “secret, shadowy, scary, shady” to use your words. It is not like there is a National Assembly that debates issues; it is not like there is an independent civil society, a Chamber of Commerce that will debate issues; it is not like there is an opposition party that will point out mistakes. Everything is a secret. Even the peace agreement that Eritrea entered with Djibouti (mediated by Qatar) is a secret. You don’t know Eritrea’s indebtedness, you don’t know if tomorrow morning war will break out with Yemen or Ethiopia or Sudan or Djibouti because everything is a secret.

      Of the thousands of Eritreans that are leaving the country, some used to be employed in the mining sector. Don’t take our word for it, talk to them. You see, Unedited 11, if we are wrong, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. But if you are wrong, you will not forgive yourself because it is not just money exchanging hands between corrupt people (which has been going on as long as the globe has been spinning) but environmental devastation in Western Eritrea: poisoned water that will haunt our people for a very long time.

      saay

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam Unedited11,

      Don’t you think that you are “a shadwy character” yourself behind a pen-name? A man who support the regime and who has no fear of retribution from the power of the day, for what he might say, shouldn’t communicate with a pen-name. You see Unedited11, the source of AT’s info might be from inside the country and they don’t want to expose them to the beasts in the state of Eritrea. It is as common sense. At least don’t be a shallow hypocrite.

      But, aside your shallow hypocracy, if you have the knowledge about the mining sector in Eritrea, come out from your shadwy virtual world, and bring the facts that contrast to the team’s report. Otherwise, take it as a lesson indirectly if your conscience couldn’t dictate you to admit directly. The good thing of this website is, unlike the government’s mass media outlet, it is open to everyone who wants to educate and learn. And here you go, you could make unfounded and founded criticism in this website, something you couldn’t do against the government. So my unknown brother behind the curtain, my advice to you is, just take your lesson by a constant visiting this website.

      Amanuel Hidrat

  • Truth

    Many contradictions in this report but I’ll limit it to this particular one:

    Here you state: “If Sunridge was registered with the SEC, it would have been required to disclose the names of interested buyers , and its relationship with Wanbao (A Chinese company) which was asked by the Eritrean government (basically by Hagos Keisha, the financial chief of the ruling party) to consider purchasing Sunridge, but Wanbao backed out for many reasons, geo-political consideration being one.”

    But then you state: “To attract Chinese investors, Sunridge translated its investment brochure into Chinese. We believe the potential buyer was Wanbao.”

    You believe Wanbao was the buyer. You had two articles detailing Wanbao’s dealing and made the claim in the first paragraph I posted but then you finish it off with doubt. If you’re not confident, then what was the point of these articles. So much for providing us with accurate information.

    And it’s quite offensive you dismiss those who countered all of your initial claims with this statement: “But such information also attract spoilers, mostly government operatives who mimic a few terminologies associated with the stock market and especially with financing and cast doubt on the veracity of the information, Knowing a few terminologies is not enough to engage in a specialized debate”.

    It seems you, the financial and subject matter experts at awate, are afraid of debate because quite frankly you don’t like to be challenged on things that clearly show instead of providing factual information, you’re bordering on the side of a vendetta you have with the government. This is no way to present information that should be fair, objective and credible. Not impressed awate.

    • saay7

      Selamat Truth:

      It appears that you are troubled by the word “believe” in the phrase “We believe the potential buyer was Wanbao” because using it, according to you, casts doubt. This is the definition of “believe”

      believe
        Use Believe in a sentence
      be·lieve
      [bih-leev] Show IPA
      verb (used without object), be·lieved, be·liev·ing.
      1. to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.

      Example: I believe Mr. Truth is nitpicking and his claim that there are “many contradictions in this report but I’ll limit it to this particular one” is empty boasting. That is called a challenge (bring it!) because, remember, we said we want to encourage debate:) I believe the phrase directed to those who know a few terminologies was not an insult but a challenge to bring it.

      saay

      • Truth

        This is key statement within your definition of “believe”: “although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so”. Combined with the world “potential” you’ve now indicated doubt in what you’ve initially reported. So what’s the point in writing two articles on Wanbao’s interest if you don’t have absolute proof? At this point, it’s hearsay and not backed up by any concrete evidence. The truth is Sundridge has expressed on numerous publications that numerous Chinese firms have expressed interest in purchasing the firm. This is a more reliable reason as to why they would generate a brochure in a Chinese language. You cater to those who have an interest. This was not limited to Wanbao who we’ve never heard of operating in Eritrea. All we ask is for credible information and the fact we’re being attacked for asking for that, makes you no different than government regulated mass media. You’re exactly the same.

  • Kokhob Selam

    4th July is going to end. do we all know that it is a freedom day? did we end slavery?

    http://ed.ted.com/lessons/what-you-might-not-know-about-the-declaration-of-independence-kenneth-c-davis

  • Kokhob Selam

    do you visit Jebena today?
    እዚ ናትና ህግደፍ ዘይብሉ ኣእምሮ :-
    እንታይ ኣፍሊጥዎ በጀካ ከበሮ :-
    ሓብቲ ሓፋሽ ህዝቢ ዘፍቅድ ክዝሮ :-
    ባሕጊጉ ከይወደኦ ቀልጥፍና ንእሰሮ ::

  • Omer Osman

    When I first heard of mining developments in Eritrea; I was really shocked, considering the current situation of the country. It is very obvious what a corrupt regime like that of Isayas’ PFDJ would do with this business. It would, of course, exploit it to the maximum, this is just God-given gift for the dictator so that he could strengthen his grip of power on the Eritrean people. I don’t think the resources are vast enough, but they are, of course, big enough to keep the PFDJ-repression machinery going for years to come.

    I think it is time for the UN Security Council to draft a resolution banning any Investment in the mining sector of the PFDJ. Because the corrupt regime is using this sector to prolong its life, and thereby, prolonging the suffrering of the Eritrean people under its inhumane treatment!

    • Truth

      What kind of Eritrean would call for the banning of investment in his/her country? Unless you’re not Eritrean which would make more sense. At the end of the day, the people will be the only ones who suffer if Eritrea does not develop. With more development, a middle class is established which allows/calls for the opening of the political space.

      • Serray

        Truth,

        According to your logic, since Bisha went into production more people became better off and became middle class. Nothing could be further from the truth; since the regime started receiving mining revenue, electricity, running water and other basic necessities started to disappear and, at the same time more people started to flee the country reaching four thousand a month today. So in shaebia run eritrea, addition mining revenue to the regime means more misery to the people. Logic dictates that Omar is right and the most patriotic thing to do is to ask the UN to make investment in mining part of the sanctions.

        • Truth

          One mine does not equate to a better future. The idea that this would lift millions out of poverty is ridiculous. However, Eritrea needs to continue to develop in order to build that middle class I’m referring to. Currently, there is no middle class. I think we can all agree on that. And the idea that sanctions only impact the ruling party has been proven wrong over the years. Sanctions hurt the people and only the people and is used as a catalyst for those parties in power to blame others for their failures/misfortunes. So you’re only strengthening PFDJ with these calls. As for people fleeing, most flee for what they deem are “greener pastures”. I recently came from Eritrea and the level of delusion amongst the youth is deplorable. They think jobs are readily available and the fact they see their peers sending money back only further entices them to do the same for their families.

          If you think calling for sanctions is patriotic, you might want to look up the definition once again. That’s the last thing I would call someone who does that. Traitor is a more suitable word.

          This video does a great job in explaining the link between political rights and development:

          https://www.ted.com/talks/dambisa_moyo_is_china_the_new_idol_for_emerging_economies

      • Omer Osman

        Truth; it’s because I care for the development of my country Eritrea that I’m seeking to increase the pressure on the main cause of underdevelopment in the country-Isayas’ PFDJ. I think facts on the ground speak the truth about the ‘development’ you are claiming. Eritreans inside the country are facing all time hardships, just struggling to survive. How much of revenues have the mining activities generated? And at what cost and under what circumstanses have these revenues been generated? Have the Eritreans living in the mining areas been compensated for loss of land and livelihood? And this is in addition to those Eritreans whose labour has been exploited in a slavery-like situation, who have found themselves serving the dictator for unlimited time without compensation. And what kind of projects have been implemented out of these revenues to help the Eritrean people. The answer to this is no body except the dictator and his close aides know about these dealing as there is nothing of transparency in the PFDJ.

        Eritreans at home are witnesing their lives going from worse to worst for everyday that goes under the rule of the PFDJ. Out of desparation, thausands of Eritrean youth are abandoning their homeland and seeking refuge overseas.

        If you are expecting any kind of developnment to come in Eritrea under Isayas and PFDJ, you must really be wildly naive. A country cannot simply develop when it is ruled by a regime which is bent on destroying it. A country devoid of rule of law and its youth cannot develop.

        • Truth

          Sanctions don’t impact governments, they hurt the people. Do the research and you’ll come to the same conclusion. 500K Iraqi children died during the sanctions of the Saddam Hussein government. He ate well while the children suffered. The US Secretary of State at the time said it was worth it. How sadistic is that? Iran’s medical facilities are suffering now even though they were never the intended target. As for the revenues, most has been re-invested in future projects and also let’s not forget the subsidized food, healthcare, education, etc. Personally I think the government should do away with this because it’s unstainable especially for such a poor nation. As for projects, countless schools, hospitals, dams, roads, etc are being built throughout the nation. You might not see skyscrapers but before you can progress to that, you must first master the basics. A house with shaky roots is destined to fall. Nations such as South Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore, etc all started with authoratarian governments and look at them now. As for those living near the mining areas, I can attest to their lives improving with the close relationship they have with the mining companies because they pay relatively well. I have family that lives near there and have a cousin who works there.

          • Omer Osman

            If you’re telling me that it is ok that Eritrea has an authoritarian regime, because Sounth Korea and the like also had, it is simply ridiculous. This shows me how ignorant you are about the Eritrean people. In case you don’t know, the Eritrean people have spent 50+++years to fight against oppression and maladministration and at last they gained their Independence. It was not for an authoritarian regime that thausands of Eritreans gave their lives for. It was for a country of rule of law and democracy and respect of all human rights.
            And who told you about what the revenues from the mining were spent? Do you have an insider information from the inner circle of dictator Isayas or ? And if it is like what you are saying that there are lots of projects going on, do you see any change in the living standards of the people? You don’t need to be expert in economics to see the worsening living situation of Eritreans today under PFDJ. Facts on the ground say it all, the country is being emptied for its human resources due to the repressive policies of the PFDJ. Every thing that can weaken the PFDJ and end its grip of power in Eritrea should be done. Exerting targetted economic sanctions is one of these means to help, eventually the Eritrean people rise up against the Isayas dictatorship, and continue on the path of rebuilding that has been halted after the Independence.

  • Kokhob Selam

    I am kindly inviting you to read my last poem after 5mnts in Jebana.

  • Kokhob Selam

    Awate team,

    Honestly speaking, it was not an easy article for me. it took me time to understand everything. most of the people sure will not have enough information and this was very informative article. The best thing I learn from this article is that I should not ignore such important information as I use to do. the reason that makes me ignore such crimes was, the group is full of crime in first place for not having any accountability. I thought it is in one legal and real government that we should make correct fallow ups in every sector, not in such type of (PFDJ) “government”. it is when you want to correct and criticize that you should make deep study of each movement I thought. yet, I learn today we should also make good investigation of all movements and expose it.

    awate team, you are the eye of the mass , keep it up.

  • ቢሻ

    እንዳ ዓዋተ በቃ ንሳ እያ ዓቅምኹም ምክፋእ ጥራሕ

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Awate team,
    Thank you for a well researched financial report Of the Eritrean mining centers. In a nutshell this report exposed the corruption of the mining companies and the scandalous regime we have, the institution of slave labor, and the cause/effect of mining to the environmental disaster. I will see how Daniel (who categorized us the have’s and haven’t) will react to this report. May be he will say “that is what I know.” Again thank you AT, you make us enlightened about the mining scandals in our country.

    Amanuel; Hidrat

  • Papillon

    Happy 4th of July everyone!

    • Abe the minewale

      not to my native indian friends

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