Ian Plimer's Mining Connections

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.


<a href="http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/12/plimer_exposed_as_a_fraud.php">Plimer exposed as a fraud</a> "Ian Plimer's performance in his debate with Monbiot has to be seen to be believed. Rather than admit to making any error at all, Plimer ducks, weaves, obfuscates, recites his favourite catch phrase, tries to change the subject and fabricates some more."

It puzzles me, why climate change deniers always insist - of the many methods humans have to resolve differences - debate is the only one that should be used. Why not mediation? Consensus? Scientific discussion? No - for them it always has to be debate. Here's why Debate is a highly specialised skill. It has its own rules and conventions, and it's possible to develop a high degree of skill in these, same as some martial arts people develop skill in one branch of tai-kwondo, or another person becomes a skilled watercolour artist. The deniers' requeist then is this: asking to meet others, always on the deniers home ground, at a game of the deniers choice, with a supporting crowd. In short, they have already stacked the odds. Resolving issues by debate, is only useful in limited circumstances - where there are several ideas/views, and not much to choose between them, but one has to be chose. However, issues tackled with science dont fit this model. it is possible to choose, get broad agreement on what is chosen, and why. Theories can be tested against what is actualy going on in the real world. In this way choices are made, and some ideas do turn out superior, as they encompass more,. What is going on with world climate turns on science, not debate or rhetoric. Monbiot came not well out of a 'debate' - so what? That's like arguing you are the world champion at soccer - because you challenged your opponent to trivial pursuit and you beat them.

I would find the innuendo and suggestions about Ian Plimer and his connections to mining companies more compelling if at least one respondent attacked his science with credibility and not his capitalistic leanings.

You want one person to attack Plimer's science? I presume you are trying to distract us from the issue that Plimer is a company director - and that is relevant. In Australia, company directors are required by law, to maximise returns for their shareholders, as part of their duties. This duty sometimes conflicts with duties as scientists, particularly scientists holding professiroal chairs at publically funded universities, and with a role as public conscience, and to promote public understanding of science. Say the real world the climate is actualy doing Z. Plimer can on the one hand, purshe his academic values, and explain that clearly and unambiguously to his students, and the public. What if what the climate is doing is likely to cause CBH's share price to fall - then Plimer cna on the other hand follow his duties as director, to say nothing. Which is he going to do? Speak out? Keep silent? Tell people half the truth. If the public get it wrong - does Plimer have a duty to set them straight as academic - or to keep quiet as director? This is why Plimer's commercial role is important and significant to whatever scientific prose he writes. I was once a company director myself, so have some understanding of these things. And of teh conflicts of interest that arise. And of how unsatisfactory, are the current mechanisms, for dealing with these conflicts. Nevertheless you want an attack on his science? Realclimate alreaedy considered this, you should look at that. You want more? I am a senior lecturer at an Australian university - in medical science - , and I used to teach postgraduates skills of scientific writing. I am no expert in climate science, but that does not matter as we dont need to get down to details, to see the book has problems. . All Science has the same broad method. When authors make elementary errors and omisions, it's straightforward to spot them. In the same way , as you would know a car with only three wheels, had something wrong. Part of the training to science students is to look at all sides of an argument - gather all available evidence - treat it equivalently - come up with a view or theory that takes account of it all. If a student doesnt do this, the fault is one of bias, or selectivity. That - selectivity - is one problem with the science. Plimer's book claims, evidence supports a certain theory on climate . Plimer is a competent enough scientist, to know evidence is seldom 100.00% one way. Whatever theory one accepts, there will be some evidence apparently against it. How well one handles contrary evidence, is an important part of science. Where I work, we teach postgraduate students to give contrary evidence, very serious consideration . They are not allowed to dismiss it - they have to mention it, strive to find out about it, to understand it. They must deal with it in as much depth, as the "pro" evidence. They must modify their ideas to take account of it. If possible they must accommodate it in their theory. Whatever theory of climate chagne Plimer takes, there will be some evidence that appears to contradict it - and in science Plimer ought to take fair account of that. He doesnt. In the section supposedly on contrary evidence - titled "What if I am wrong" - very little evidence gets considered. The section is short - a few pages. It appears to deal with the counter point, but it does not in fact deal with it scientifically. This differs completely from the rest where he cites large numbers of obsrvations , with footnotes in their hundreds. The section dealing with supposedly contrary evidence = "What if I am wrong" is not Plimer giving his own analysis of data - it is a quote from Christopher Monckton, several pages long. The quote is verbatim, - elsewhere Plimer gives no such extensive quotes to others, even though he could. He instead prefers to paraphrase and summarise, . In short, he treated pro-evidence and anti-evidence in different ways. A third problem with the science, is the pro-evidence is mostly facts quoted from papers. There are plenty of papers with facts that go against this - Plimer chooses not to cite them. This perhaps gives to readers a distorting impression of the true state of things - namey the existence of plenty of evidence consistent with AGW theory. A fourth problem with the science - Monckton seems short on facts. My memory is most of his words, tend to be questions. Hardly scientific treatment, to treat one theory in terms of facts - the other in terms of questions. One gives positive information. The other merely raises doubts. Hardly fair and even handed. A fifth problem with science are Plimer's figures. I teach postgraduates including writing theses and papers, and I ooked briefly at Plimer's figures the same way as I look at sudent drafts. Do all the axes have titles? Does the key, show what all the symbols mean? Is the scale clear? Are there any lines on the graph, we dont know what they stand for? Any of these are elementary errors. Many of Plimer's figures had them. Some other folk have commented in detail on this also. A sixth problem is with attribution . It is a rule in science, anything you say is understood as your own observation or opinion. If it is not yours - you must reference it, ie say who made the observations, or whose idea it is. This is partly to give credit where due, partly to provide an audit trail of data back to original observations - and partly so you can avoid blame if it turns out wrong. From memory, at least one of Plimer's figures, the data was well outside Plimer's area of expertise so it is unlikely to be his own personal work. However the data is not attributed. The usual name for this, will be well known. I guess you were hoping to bog me down in detailed criticism of the facts Plimer cites - no such luck. In order to see the overall science as dodgy, one doesnt need to engage : the book would still be unscientific - if its view of what's going on in the real world, was not accurate, or did not take account of all the evidence. My apologies for not giving page references: I am currently at work, relying on memory, as my copy of Plimers book is at home.

Denialist vs realists Appears to be a conflict of the Mongolian Stakeholders and a Board member. Value from Mongolian mine versus value of whatever his claims. Shareholders should decide. Mongolian Cabinet holds meeting in Gobi desert "Aug. 29, 2010 6:34 AM ET Mongolian Cabinet holds meeting in Gobi desert GANBAT NAMJILSANGARAV, Associated Press Writer GASHUUNII KHOOLOI, Mongolia (AP) — Top Mongolian officials donned dark green baseball caps reading "Save our planet" and set up chairs and tables in the sands of the Gobi desert for a Cabinet meeting aimed at drawing attention to climate change. The meeting of 12 government ministers was held in scorching heat Friday in Gashuunii Khooloi, a sandy valley in South Gobi province, about 415 miles (670 kilometers) south of Ulan-Bator, the country's capital. The ministers, dressed in suits and ties, arrived in the desert in jeeps after a 15-hour journey. Officials planted a Mongolian flag in the ground, set up long tables and chairs in the fine, golden sand and discussed climate change against the backdrop of a vast expanse of desert and a bright blue sky. "Mongolia is feeling the impact of global climate change," Prime Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar said at the one-hour meeting. Batbold pointed to the recent winter as an example of problems Mongolia faces. The winter was the harshest in decades and a fifth of the country's livestock died. The government blames global warming for a decrease in rainfall and says that rising average temperatures have caused many rivers and springs to dry up and snow cover to melt. It also says the frequency of natural disasters and drought has jumped. The site for the meeting was chosen because parts of it used to be arable land, said Badarch, head of social policy for South Gobi province, who like some Mongolians uses only one name. "Five years ago, there used to grow many edible plants in this valley and there were fewer sand dunes. Now look here," he said. "The valley is completely covered with sand. The sand dunes are moving and taking more space each year." Minister of Natural Environment and Tourism Gansukh Luumed said Mongolian herders' traditional way of life is under threat. "Global climate change accelerates the desertification process in Mongolia. Currently, 70 percent of Mongolian land is affected by desertification." In December, Nepalese officials held a Cabinet meeting at Mount Everest to highlight the danger global warming poses to glaciers. It followed an underwater Cabinet meeting in the Maldives in October to underline the threat of rising sea levels. The government said it hoped that delegates attending global climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, in November would reach a decision that is "favorable for landlocked, developing countries ... very much affected by climate change and desertification." http://hosted2.ap.org/MOSTP/6c4f1c9b30804a70bc4ae998df74d877/Article_2010-08-29-AS-Mongolia-Cabinet-in-Desert/id-ccbb1af8d6a74a6d9d3809398f2adaf2 Obviously Plimer thinks otherwise. Do shareholders want an out of touch board member or a mine?

Yes. The directors of another company of concern, Generation Investment Management LLP (UK) have a six billion dollar hedge fund for so-called green investments. These include investing in General Electric's Energy Division, which, wait for it, includes safe nuclear power. Now about these directors, there is one Al Gore, and another David Blood, formerly from Goldman Sachs...yes the same Goldman Sachs that invested in the now defunct Chicago Climate Exchange. You will have to Google hard to find any reference to the collapse of that exchange this year (2010), but 'tis there. A certain Barrack Obama directed some money from what appears to a charity to help set it up, and a Mister Santor made 100 million dollars out of it before it collapsed. But its twin, the Chicago Futures Climate Exchange did not collapse, and as the number of futures that can theoretically be created is infinite, that bubble is still growing. But gee, I guess we should talk about big oil. I think it was Shell OIL that wanted to give twenty thousand dollars to the guys at the Climate Research Unit in East Anglia for some propsed number crunching, according to those emails that were stolen by criminals - don't say whistleblowers - at the end on 2009. Or have you had enough of "disclosing the magnitude of interests"...?

Hold on just a minute... Dr Ian Plimer is a leading geologist - I hardly think it's a deep dark gasp-worthy conspiracy that he'd therefore work with mining companies. In fact if you actually research any of the companies listed above you'll see the are involved in the mining and exploration of zinc, copper, silver and gold (minerals used extensively in solar panels) and uranium (another zero emission energy source). If fact as far as I can see not one of these mining companies is involved in gas or coal mining??? If anything, his position within these companies would therefore bias Dr Plimmer toward advocating CO2 emission reductions. Clearly, it hasn't, which to me says his motivation is uncovering the truth behind the Global Warming debate rather than with financial incentives.

Having substantial interest in, in the form of stock options, according to the article. And you wouldn't really need to have an opinion on global warming one way or the other to argue against it if you felt 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" by whatever means, as the article claims.