Sundance gets FIRB nod as aircrash families take legal action

Sundance Resources has been given the go-ahead from the Foreign Investment Review board for a takeover from Chinese Hanlong Group as families of board members killed in the Congo plane crash take legal action.

Late last week the FIRB announced that it had no objection to a takeover from the Chinese company.

According to Sundance Hanlong also advised the miner that it will "work with China's National Development and Reform Commission to obtain the provisional approval also required…[with] the support shown by the FIRB assisting Hanlong in obtaining the requisite approvals in China".

George Jones, Sundance's chairman, said this latest approval is another significant step for the two companies in their acquisition agreement.

However not everything is looking bright for the company, as it faces legal action over the unfortunate death of the majority of its board in a plane crash in the Congo two years ago.

The company stated that legal "proceedings have been issued on behalf of the members of the Jones, Lewis, Wedlock, Carr-Gregg, Cassley, and Flason families" regarding the crash.

The aircraft carrying the entire board of Sundance Resources went down on a flight between Cameroon’s capital Yaound√© and Yangadou in The Congo (Brazzaville) in June 2010.

"The wreckage was found in Congo. Unfortunately there were no survivors," Cameroonian minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said at the time.

The plane was carrying the entire board of Australian iron ore miner Sundance Resources, including chairman Geoff Wedlock, director Ken Talbot, managing director Don Lewis, and fellow executives Jon Carr-Greg, Craig Oliver, and John Jones, as well as Talbot’s executive secretary Natasha Flason Brian.

According to Sundance the respondents of the respondents of the claim include Cam Iron S.A., which is a subsidiary of Sundance, and a number of the killed mens' wives.

Legal proceedings have been issued from Douala in Cameroon, as well as from Illinois, in the U.S.

Both proceedings are understood to be from the same claimants, who are seeking "unspecified damages".

Current Sundance chairman George Jones told Business Day that several of the wives of the former board members were involved.

"I personally am bitterly disappointed they are doing this," he said.

"The company has made a very substantial payment to the wives, and we do not believe the claim is justified.

"The draft report [of the investigation into the crash] that I've seen indicates that it was pilot error."

The miner stated that the claims against it "cannot be justified and [it] will defend any actions vigorously".

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