Tuesday, February 21, 2012


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Polish miner wins B.C.'s Quadra FNX

WARSAW - Quadra FNX Mining Ltd. shareholders have approved a $2.87-billion takeover by KGHM Polska Miedz SA, in Poland's biggest bid abroad, designed to deepen the Polish copper producer's global reach.
Quadra shareholders cast 78.58% of shares in favour of the deal, the Canadian company said Monday at an extraordinary meeting in Vancouver.
The takeover by the Lubin, Poland-based company, with Europe's largest mine output, is "attractive," Quadra chief executive Paul Blythe told Polish daily Rzeczpospolita on Feb. 16. Institutional Shareholders Services, which advises pension and mutual funds on proposals in shareholder meetings, backed the bid, Quadra said on Feb.6.
"This is the first spectacular takeover deal by a Polish company and it's being noticed," said Leszek Iwaszko, a Warsaw-based analyst at Societe Generale SA. "KGHM still has a long way to go to join the world's premier league, but this purchase will help it become a global player."
Companies from Poland, the biggest post-Communist country in the European Union, have stepped up expansion plans in the last decade, fighting for supremacy in central Europe.
Vancouver-based Quadra is KGHM's second Canadian transaction since 2010 after the company bought a stake in a joint venture with Abacus Mining & Exploration Corp. for $37-million. KGHM, which is buying miners outside Poland to cut production costs and raise output, will pay cash for Quadra as it is set to report a record 11.2-billion zloty ($3.5-billion) in net income for 2011. 
KGHM shares climbed 0.7% Monday in Warsaw, extending their advance to 13.3% since Quadra's deal was announced on Dec. 6 and valuing the Polish company at 27.7-billion zloty.
"It's a huge deal for KGHM," Tomasz Krukowski, a Warsaw-based analyst at Deutsche Bank AG said by phone. "We won't probably see more transactions of this size as KGHM now needs to focus on efficient management of its purchased assets."
KGHM may seek further purchases outside Poland, chief executive Herbert Wirth told "Dziennik Gazeta Prawna on Dec. 27. It is looking for companies in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana and does not rule out the purchase of copper reserves in Canada, the newspaper reported.
Quadra was created in 2010 when Quadra Mining Ltd. acquired FNX Mining Co. for about $1-bilion. The company owns the Robinson mine in Nevada, Carlota in Arizona, Franke in Chile and the Morrison and Podolsky operations in Canada's Sudbury basin.
Bloomberg News (NATIONAL POST, Tuesday, February 21, 2012).


KRAKOW A portrait of composer Frederic Chopin which once hung in Auschwitz has resurfaced at the home of a Polish university professor nearly seven decades later. Painted in 1943 by Auschwitz prisoner and artist Mieczyslaw Koscielniak, the portrait was one of a series of pictures created as part of a public relations campaign to obscure the treatment of inmates at the Second World War-era death camp. - REUTERS (24H, Tuesday, February 21, 2012).

Ex-attorney-general joins call for legalization of pot
Geoff Plant adds his voice to Stop the Violence, a campaign seeking to end gang-related violence associated with the drug trade

Geoff Plant has felt for years that the prohibition of marijuana is wrong. Now that the former B.C. attorney-general is out of government, he has joined the chorus of officials and former politicians pushing for the legalization of the drug.
"I have always had a problem with the idea that the state should criminalize an act which is essentially no more complex than putting a couple of seeds in your back yard, waiting a while and then, when something grows, you put it in your pocket, you chew it or you smoke it," Mr. Plant said.
Last week, Mr. Plant joined with three former NDP attorneys-general to support a campaign against federal legislation that would impose mandatory minimum sentences for minor, non-violent marijuana-related offences.
The campaign, backed by police officers, B.C. public health officers and the current and four former Vancouver mayors, calls for the federal government to regulate and tax marijuana, rather than prohibit it.
Mr. Plant was not a stranger to controversy when he was attorney-general from 2001 to 2005 in the Liberal government of Gordon Campbell.
He had a reputation as a moderate in the Campbell caucus. But the B.C. Law Society censured him after he closed court-houses and cut legal aid by 40 per cent in 2002. First nations leaders didn't trust him after he led the debate on the province's referendum on treaty rights.
However, when he was asked about the thorny issue of legalization after a Senate committee in 2002 had recommended that the drug be sold like tobacco or liquor, Mr. Plant sidestepped the controversy.
"This is a matter for the federal government. It is not a matter on which the government of British Columbia has a position and not a matter on which I have an opinion," he told a Vancouver newspaper.
Times have changed, Mr. Plant was asked in November by Evan Wood, director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, to lend his voice to the trug campaign organized by a coalition called Stop the Violence. The coalition was set up in response to gang-related violence associated with the drug trade.
Dr. Wood has an international reputation based on his ground-breaking research related to HIV and drug addicts. He was one of the founders of Insite, the supervised injection site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Dr. Wood is also associated with St. Paul's Hospital, and Mr. Plant is chair of the board of directors of Providence Health Care, which runs the hospital. Dr. Wood said he came into contact with Mr. Plant through his work at St. Paul's. "I said to him, 'What do you think about this?' He said he totally agreed, and he would be willing to go on the record," Dr. Wood said.
Mr. Plant was so enthusiastic about efforts to reform marijuana laws that he made the suggestion that other attorneys-general should be contacted to see of they would add their voices to the call for reform. He thought the voices of four former attorneys-general would maximize the impact of his endorsement.
"What has happened, in my view, is that increasingly the prohibition of cannabis is not just an ineffective policy," he said, "but is having the effect of increasing certain harms, as organized crime increasingly relies on the cannabis trade to support its activities, to make huge profits and to fight with each other with guns increasingly in public over their market share."
The problems have gotten worse over the past decade, which is why the campaign is timely, he said. "And that's why when they approached me and asked me if I would agree to lend my name in support of [the campaign], I was happy to do so, Mr. Plant said.
He was impressed with the Stop the Violence campaign. "They're organized, they have built a research base, they are taking the time and trouble to try to mobilize public opinion," he said. "I was flattered they would ask me, they would think my voice would matter."
Despite Mr. Plant's role in the right-leaning B.C. Liberal government, his response did not surprise Dr. Wood. "I am more surprised when I hear people say they think the current system is working," he said. "In Victoria, what politicians will tell you off the record, in terms of their beliefs and understanding of issues, and what they say on the record are two very, very different things," Dr. Wood said.
Around 12,000 people in B.C. were charged annually with possession of marijuana while Mr. Plant was attorney-general. The number has increased since he was replaced in 2005. In 2010, 15,638 people in B.C. were charged, Statistics Canada has reported (THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Monday, February 20, 2012).

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