Эрдсийг эрдэнэст
Ирээдүйг өндөр хөгжилд
Mining The Resources
Minding the future



The “Mongolian Economic Forum - 2023” was held in Ulaanbaatar on 9-10 July. The investment conference was attended by more than 500 guests and representatives, including heads of well-known international investment organizations, economists, experts, and journalists from foreign media. It was organized on the occasion of the Year of Visiting Mongolia, just before the national holiday Naadam, to promote Mongolia and its culture and heritage.

Business meetings and discussions on specific topics continued for two days, attended by about 2,000 people representating the Government of Mongolia, government agencies, and business owners.

At Rio Tinto’s invitation, more than 100 representatives from 45 of the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, CITI, Barclays, and HSBC, travelled to Mongolia to participate in the economic conference and express their opinions.

invited their long-term investors and business partners to Mongolia and presented the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine to them with strict safety requirements.

invited their long-term investors and business partners to Mongolia and presented the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine to them with strict safety requirements.

The Mongolian Economic Conference held four joint and 15 sectoral sessions, resulting in the collection and publication of more than 400 proposals and recommendations.

The Prime Minister of Mongolia, L. Oyun Erdene, opened the Economic Forum by welcoming investors. He said that our country’s economic growth, which was -4.7% during the pandemic, increased to 4.8% in 2022 and 7.9% in the first quarter of 2023, while GDP per capita reached $5,000 for the first time. The Government of Mongolia has established itself internationally as a responsible and reliable borrower by fully repaying its $1.5 billion Chinggis bond debt in December 2022 and $800 million Gerege bond debt in May 2023 ,and maintaining its “B stable” credit rating.

The Prime Minister expressed interest in diversifying the economy, as 90% of Mongolia’s exports are dependent on the mining sector, and in working with investors to develop non-mining sectors such as tourism, culture, agriculture such as meat and cashmere production, and renewable energy.

The government has already realized that the country cannot develop without foreign investment and is actively working to restore and improve the investment environment. It has been more than a year since the government began receiving and investigating complaints from citizens and businesses that have invested and suffered losses in Mongolia.

“Mongolia is committed to long-term policy and development planning. The government has developed and is implementing a long-term program called Vision 2050, which has been approved by Parliament. This is a big step towards gradually reducing and completely eliminating risks such as the loss of continuity of government policy depending on election results and the difficulties faced by private investors. With the creation of the Ministry of Economy and Development and the Foreign Investment Agency, we are moving to a system where investors are protected, and receive all information from a single window,” the Prime Minister said.

The government is also implementing a comprehensive anti-corruption program, creating the E-Mongolia platform, which has digitized 839 services of 71 state organizations, and reducing human involvement in the provision of public services. Thus, the Prime Minister made clear that phenomena such as corruption and abuse of power by public servants will be eradicated.

There was another interesting angle reflected in the speech of Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene. The Prime Minister took part in the “summer Davos”, or World Economic Forum, which was held in late June 2023 in the Chinese city of Tianjin. During a meeting with the Forum’s founder Prof. Klaus Schwab, he proposed to specifically discuss the infrastructure and logistics of landlocked countries at the World Economic Forum.

According to the Prime Minister, the cost of maritime transportation is 1/100 of air transportation, 1/10 of rail, and 1/3 of road transportation. Therefore, the biggest challenge for landlocked countries is the ability to offer competitive prices for transportation and logistics, as well as global economic integration. Being landlocked reduces our competitiveness.

“You must provide equal opportunities to all of us. At present, countries are pursuing green development policies and promoting the progressive trend that the mother earth is not only the property of people but also home to wildlife”Accordingly, the Prime Minister emphasized the idea that the sea is also a common property of all countries of the world.

Mark Stewart, CNN’s international correspondent, moderated the session “New Future - New Opportunities”. He asked one of the panelists, the Minister of Economy and Development, Ch. Khurelbaatar, about “landlocked Mongolia”.

CNN International Correspondent Mark Stewart:

“Mongolia has set out to reduce its dependence on mining and diversify its economy, but its

landlocked location is becoming a disadvantage. How confident are you about the country’s future development?”.

Minister Ch. Khurelbaatar responded: “Although Mongolia is landlocked, it has two major markets, in the south and in the north. Countries are looking to reach foreign markets and expand their economies through maritime transportation. It is important for Mongolia to fully operate in these two major markets first and foremost. Therefore, there are great opportunities for Mongolians”.

Simon McKeown, an independent member of the Rio Tinto Group Board of Directors, shared his opinion on the issue of foreign direct investment and policy changes at the Investment Environment session on the second day of the Economic Conference.

He noted, “Investors have become more cautious and prudent. Businesses are now assessing whether their investments are compatible with the environment, society, governance and global well-being. In addition, carbon

reduction and green development goals are important for investment and decision-making. On the other hand, investors do not want to remain outside of global processes that are developing at an ever-faster pace. They do not want to invest in projects that lag behind any development process. Therefore, they are interested in future oriented investments. They pay attention to whether the products and services created as a result of these investments can be really useful and necessary for development. Mongolia can be part of this interesting process.”


Dominic Barton, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Rio Tinto Group, made another interesting presentation at the conference. He has been an economist, journalist and diplomat and spoke on “The main factors determining the direction of world development and their impact on Mongolia”.

“In our time, the world is undergoing tremendous rapid change. The energy transition is one of those changes. Rio Tinto Group is looking for the mineral products the world needs. According to McKenzie research, we will need the following types of materials.

By 2030, nickel production should increase 19 times compared to 2020. And lithium production should increase 42 times compared to 2020. As for copper, according to research by the International Energy Agency, over the past 100,000 years, mankind has mined and processed 700 million tons of copper. However, in the next 25 years, the world will need more than 700 million tons of copper to ensure GDP growth of 3.5% and reduce carbon emissions to zero.

If Mongolia’s copper and natural resources are properly combined with modern technology, it is possible to reap high benefits at a time when the energy transition is taking place at a rapid pace.” said Mr Barton.

Mr. Barton confirmed that Oyu Tolgoi, which began underground mining in March 2023, is set to become the fourth-largest copper mine in the world by 2030.


The Minister of Economy and Development, Ch. Khurelbaatar, spoke on Mongolia’s investment opportunities “Investments can be made in Mongolia’s banking, mining, renewable energy, and agricultural sectors. Domestic commercial banks have become joint stock companies and issued shares. There is a full opportunity to create a new bank by buying shares and investing capital.

To attract investors and create favorable conditions for doing business, the government has submitted a draft law on investment for discussion at the autumn session of Parliament.

The draft law contains a number of amendments protecting the rights of investors. Previously, a deposit of $100,000 was required in advance to make an investment in Mongolia. This requirement is no longer applicable. In addition, investor problems and complaints are now discussed at a Cabinet meeting once a quarter. For example, complaints from 32 and then 43 companies were first considered and the relevant officials were instructed to resolve them. The law determines the number of inspections carried out by the state during a year in relation to investor activities. Government organizations at all levels have been instructed to support investors.”

Despite the Government’s policy on economic diversification, the mining sector will remain the main driver of the economy. Mongolia is rich in natural resources such as copper, iron, coal, rare earth elements, and uranium, which are in growing demand in the global market.

The Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry, J. Ganbaatar, provided investors with specific information on mineral reserves and accelerating exploration. According to the Minister, Mongolia has proven reserves of 73 million tons of copper, 33 billion tons of coal, 1.8 billion tons of iron ore, 448 billion tons of gold, 34.2 million tons of fluorspar, 192,000 tons of uranium, and 332 million tons of oil.

Minister Ch. Khurelbaatar informed about the focus on primary processing in addition to the extraction of natural resources and establishment a processing plant. Heinvited stakeholders to invest in this sector.

Mongolia has abundant renewable energy resources. As noted by Mr. Dominic Barton, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank, there is potential to generate 5.4 TWh of solar and wind energy. China, a major energy consumer, has announced that it will switch to green energy in 2050 and demand will inevitably increase. Minister C. Khurelbaatar invited the gathered investors to invest in this sector, produce renewable energy, and export it to China.

Mongolia has abundant renewable energy resources. As noted by Mr. Dominic Barton, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank, there is potential to generate 5.4 TWh of solar and wind energy. China, a major energy consumer, has announced that it will switch to green energy in 2050 and demand will inevitably increase. Minister C. Khurelbaatar invited the gathered investors to invest in this sector, produce renewable energy, and export it to China.

Not only in terms of investment, but also in terms of human resources. But diversification is very important. It is obvious that in the medium and long term, the demand for coal will decrease. Perhaps even in the next 10 years. That will be a big blow to Mongolia’s exports

“Economic diversification and fiscal stability are very important for Mongolia. Another risk factor is Mongolia’s significant external debt. Although Mongolia’s agricultural sector has great potential and resources, due to climate change, soil erosion is increasing, weakening this potential, which worries me as someone working in Mongolia”. Therefore, the importance of reducing dependence on one sector and accelerating economic diversification policies was emphasized by Mr. Sanchez.


Finance Minister B. Javkhlan said, “Our country’s balance of payments has improved in a short time as a result of improved macro indicators. In the international market, prices of our major raw materials have been strong and exports have increased. However, the underlying key risk remains.

In general, stability will be achieved if the economy is based on domestic production and exports cover imports. 80-90% of our economy is based on trade. This situation is expected to deepen in the future. Therefore, the six points proposed by the government under the New Revival Policy are aimed at completely eliminating this risk. The domestic energy system is only able to meet 80% of the growing demand. The main regulatory system depends on the Russian Federation. We are in dire need of renewable energy sources. We are in dire need of hydropower, solar and wind energy.

Special attention will be paid to the industrial sector. Revitalization and development of border crossing points is very important for increasing exports. This is a short-term goal for stabilizing the economy.”

“In 2019, our country’s GDP was 36 trillion MNT and in 2023, it will approach 60 trillion MNT. However, the national income per capita has not been able to grow in this way. The reason is that investment is directed to only one sector, which reduces the conditions for economic diversification, thereby limiting sustainable and inclusive growth and preventing equal access to benefits for all people.

Therefore, under the New Revival Policy, we are working with the private sector to improve infrastructure and increase government productivity to support foreign investment.

Asia House Executive Director Michael Lawrence: “According to our latest research, Mongolia’s economy has been growing over the past two years. However, factors such as inflation, the policy interest rate, the US dollar exchange rate and geopolitical instability need to be taken into account.

Corruption is a serious problem in Mongolia. Corruption creates the risk of increasing the cost of doing business and complicating the business environment. It is therefore good that the Parliament and the Government are taking concrete steps to digitize public services and make the relationship between the government and the private sector clearer and simpler.”

The Minister of Justice and Home Affairs, Kh. Nyambaatar, said: “The government has declared 2023 as the Year of Fighting Corruption. Corruption slows down the development and economic growth of the country. That is why the country is implementing the Five “W” operation, which has been yielding some results since the beginning. As a result of this policy measure, Mongolia’s assessment by international banks and financial institutions and the corruption perception index will improve, and the inflow of foreign investment will increase”.

Simon McKeon, Chair of the Australian Industry and Energy Transition Initiative Steering Group and Non-Executive Director, National Australia Bank Limited, said: “The Mongolian government is taking a very bold step in attracting foreign investment. Organizing an economic forum and sending out messages to investors is noteworthy. As an outside observer, I can say that the investment environment in Mongolia has really changed. Minister Ch. Khurelbaatar clearly explained the updated investment legislation and what positive amendments have been made. There is a favorable investment policy and a clear legal framework, and it is clear how to resolve any misunderstandings. Investors only trust this system.

There is no way that companies and countries that have been in a market economy for 20-30 years always followed the right path and never made mistakes. But it is important to learn from your mistakes and determine the right direction for the future. Therefore, investors will not attach much importance to previous mistakes”

Investors expressed satisfaction that Mongolia organized an economic conference after the pandemic and presented a new development model. However, there are foreign investors who are wary of jumping to conclusions. There are still questions about how parliamentary democracy will work in the future and whether there will be real results from the fight against corruption. Will the ruling parties be able to set aside their personal interests and truly create a favorable ground for investors? There is no denying that such doubts exist among investors.

All over the world, countries develop if foreign investment comes in. At a time when it is generally recognized that there is no better option for development, the Mongolian government has presented its policies and real opportunities to the world. It would be naive to expect an influx of foreign investment as a result of just one conference, and the government’s next steps should consolidate the positive impression investors have received in Ulaanbaatar.

Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene stated: “The government will persistently pursue the policy of improving the investment environment step by step. The Government of Mongolia attaches greater importance to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and plans to participate in that event in January 2024. I would like to meet you again at that meeting.”

Having said this, the government has indeed set the stage for further strengthening its policies and activities, making more progress and seeking to meet investors with a sense of accomplishment.