Since the publication in May of his book, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming - The Missing Science, Ian Plimer has been the darling of conservative media commentators and the global network of climate change skeptics. Plimer, an Australian geologist, has been strongly criticized by climate scientists for errors in his book. More recently, he has been in the news over his challenge to British journalist, George Monbiot, for a debate over climate science. Monbiot agreed, subject to Plimer answering some questions in writing ahead of a debate, but Plimer retreated.
While a few news stories have made a passing mention that Plimer is a director of several mining companies, none have looked with any detail at which companies he is involved with, and how substantial his interest is. Recently, a volunteer editor on SourceWatch (hat-tip to Scribe), did some digging into Plimer's directorships with three mining companies, Ivanhoe Australia, CBH Resources and Kefi Minerals.
Annual reports for the three companies reveal that:
- CBH Resources paid Plimer $A125,000 in 2009 and $181,003 in 2008. As of June 2009, Plimer also had options on 3,569,633 CBH Resources shares. At the early November 2009 share price of .10, Plimer's options would be worth approximately $A356,963. However, CBH's annual report does not list details of what price, if any, the options would be available at, or the time limit under which they would have to be exercised.
- As part of his employment agreement with Ivanhoe Australia, Plimer can forgo annual directors fees of $65,000 in return for a total of 100,000 share options "for nil consideration." The options are available in four installments, on September 1 each year from 2008 through to 2011, subject to Plimer continuing in employment with the company.
Ivanhoe Australia, which has an interest in uranium exploration, stated in its 2008 prospectus (pdf) that "one of the arguments for nuclear energy is its substantially reduced level of carbon emissions." Hyping nuclear power as a "solution" to global warming is standard fare for uranium mining companies, but one wonders if it makes Plimer a little uncomfortable. After all, he claims that in his book he tested the hypothesis "that increased atmospheric CO2 creates global warming" and found it to "be invalid on all time scales and by a diversity of methods."
- Plimer is also non-executive Director and Deputy Chairman of Kefi Minerals, a U.K.-headquartered mineral exploration company with gold and copper exploration projects in Turkey and, via a joint venture, gold projects in Saudia Arabia. According to the company's 2009 annual report, Plimer has 250,000 shares in Kefi which, at the early November 2009 value of 2.25 British pence, would be worth over $A10,106. Plimer also has options on 2 million more shares which can be exercised at 3 pence prior to December 12, 2012. Kefi Minerals' 2009 annual report does not disclose what directors fees, if any, Plimer is paid.
All together, Plimer earns a very tidy sum as a director of the three mining companies.
Plimer has argued that the introduction of a cap-and-trade system in Australia could have a major impact on the mining industry, and even "probably destroy it totally."
He has also argued that his mining directorships don't affect his views on climate science. But it would still be better if media outlets covering his opinions at least disclosed the magnitude of his interests in the industry.