N.Tserenbat: The future of Oyu Tolgoi depends on well educated and skilled Mongolians
G.Iderkhangai, editor for The Mongolian Mining Journal, spoke with N.Tserenbat, CEO of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC.
The members of the working group shared their views on many issues, and some progress is being made
You were appointed by the Board of Directors of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC (1 October 2021) as the CEO of the company. In the subsequent eight months, shareholders have made a number of major decisions. As a result of the agreement reached between the government working group and the Temporary Committee on one side and the investors on the other side, the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine finally began production after 26 months. As the CEO of a state company that owns 34% of the Oyu Tolgoi project, how would you assess the work you have done in this short period?
The State Austerity Law hits the centenary of the mining industry
The Standing Committee on State Structure of the Parliament (15 June 2022) approved a resolution to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of State Control in Mongolia. The anniversary this year will be celebrated in accordance with the Austerity Law, which was approved by the Parliament on 29 April and officially became effective on 16 May. However, this historic anniversary could be “suppressed” by the Austerity Law, and nothing special will happen until the autumn. It appears that the government treats such events as an additional economic burden although these sectors carry the country’s economy on their back.
B. Tsengel: It’s time to reform state-owned companies
G.Iderkhangai of The Mongolian Mining Journal, spoke to B. Tsengel, Director of the Government Agency for Policy Coordination on State Property and Regulation (PCSP), about current issues facing state-owned companies.
We will establish a unified reporting mechanism for state-owned and partial state-owned legal entities
No major changes have been made to the Law on State Property since its enactment in 1996. The law is expected to be changed. What principal changes will be made?
First of all, my greetings to the readers of your magazine. Since 1990, Mongolia has moved from a centrally planned to a market economy, allowing many forms of ownership. Subsequently,
What can Mongolia learn from Zambia?
A recent study compared the investment climate between Mongolia, Zambia. Chile and Australia. It is not surprising that the latter two mining giant countries are far ahead of us in terms of mining investment and other related indicators. But don’t be surprised if Zambia stands higher than us.
It is very difficult to compare Zambia and Mongolia generally. The average person may imagine that Zambia is about a herd of elephants grazing on the African plain, while Mongolia is thought of as full of horses on the bitter cold steppe. Both are great scenery, but very different.
‘Revenge’ of Oil
Oil’s position is getting stronger despite the green transition. We thought that cheap oil would gradually work itself out of the global energy market through green policies, and decreased revenue for oil producers would follow. But the reverse is currently the case. Oil is regarded as a dirty fuel, and the enemy of nature due to its impact on climate change. But now, its positioning looks very attractive. All countries are eager for oil. It is quite certain that only sufficient oil will ease global inflation. Major oil producers are now key global actors.
The EU’s determination to reverse dependence on Russian fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) is only exacerbating these circumstances. Currently, the EU is discussing its sixth package of economic sanctions against Russia. However, they are divided on whether a total embargo on oil will happen despite announcing the ‘RepowerEU’ plan to entirely cut Russian energy imports within five years. i.e. by 2027.
A. BILGUUN: BUILDING AN INDUSTRIAL-SCALE GOLD SECTOR WITH MINIMUM ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT BY USING HARD-ROCK DEPOSITS
Gold exports have risen sharply in the last two years and reached more than a billion dollars. Gold exports are expected to get a big share in total exports again this year, offsetting the inevitable decline in exports of coal and other minerals. B. Tugsbilegt, reporter of MMJ, talked to A.Bilguun, Vice President for Business Development of Erdene Resource Development Corporation, about what Mongolia should pay attention to support the gold sector in the future.
Global gold prices are rising. Do you think the high prices would have a positive effect on the Mongolian economy? What can a country like Mongolia, seeking economic recovery, do to take full advantage of favorable market conditions?
The recent rise in gold prices is unlikely to have a positive effect on Mongolia. First, the rising gold prices mean high inflation around the world. For Mongolia, which imports most of its consumer goods, this is affecting costs.
STATE-OWNED COMPANIES WILL COMPLETELY CHANGE
The Ministry of Finance and the Government Agency for Policy Coordination on State Property and Regulation (GAPCSP) are very busy with frequent visits to Erdenet and Darkhan. After the Khutul’s “Cement and Lime” plant was taken over by the state, the government renewed the charter of Erdenes Mongol company and terminated the concession agreement with QMC of the Darkhan Metallurgical Plant.
The new management team of Khutul’s “Cement and Lime” State Joint Stock Company promised to launch an IPO in 2023 and turn the company into a listed, publicly controlled and open joint stock company. Before that, the company needs to finish paying all taxes to the government. However, the Darkhan Metallurgical Plant, which wasn’t able to build a mining and metallurgical complex for eight years, is now owned by the state, along with the strategically important Tumurtei, Tumurt-Ovoo and Khustai deposits.
J.Zoljargal: Rising energy prices will expand Mongolia’s coal potential
Even though the price of coal is reaching its peak in the international market and drives the growth of our country’s exports, there are still delays to process shipments at the border due to the pandemic. At the same time, a number of Mongolia’s commodity export railways are being finished. Journalist from MMJ, B.Tugsbilegt, spoke with J. Zoljargal, the Executive Director of the Mongolian Coal Association.
Rising coal prices show that there is great opportunity, but Mongolia’s coal exports are still declining. In the first two months of the year, coal exports were 3 million tonnes less than in the same period last year.
At the time of the mining boom, there was speculation that our country would reach the level of Canada and Australia. The difference is that they have a market with multiple direct access routes to the sea, whereas our market is very small and has a very poor logistics system.
Joint ‘starving game’
The West is set to refuse Russian cheap, high quality commodities. And Russia thirsts for western materials. This is a game of ‘let’s starve together’. When a small economy is hit by sanctions from a big economy, the small economy is usually expected to compromise. But when there are sanctions between bigger economies, mutual retaliation aggravates the situation. There is no sign of any joint compromise between our northern neighbor and western parties. These hard days are indicating the bleak outlook for this and coming years.
An independent law is needed for developing the extractive industry report
The Mongolia’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) 2020 report has been released. Due to the pandemic in 2020, the report was based only on 60 companies engaged in gold, copper and coal production. This is the 15th report prepared by Mongolia since joining the initiative. Grant Thornton Audit LLC was appointed as the Independent Administrator for the report. The company prepared a reconciliation report of the material payments made by companies to the Government in 2020 and the revenue stream received by the Government in accordance with the EITI 2020 standards between 6 August 2021 and 25 November 2021.
“We will be working to promote Canadian Green Mining solutions and initiatives in Mongolia”
The global mining sector feels that it has to make ‘green transition’ more rapidly despite the world economy is suffering difficulties due to the pandemic. Canada is regarded as one of the best players in terms of sustainable mining. MMJ’s B. Tugsbilegt talks to Catherine E. Ivkoff, Ambassador of Canada to Mongolia, about the two countries’ cooperation opportunities in the green mining field and other issues.
Could you please introduce yourself briefly to our readers at the beginning of our interview?
Thank you for inviting me to this interview. I am pleased to talk with you. I arrived in Mongolia in December 2019 to begin my assignment as Ambassador of Canada.
G.Yondon: Mining license holders will bear greater responsibility
Interview with G.Yondon, Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry, on the development of the mining sector, changes in legislation, mining industry outlook, transportation and logistics issues in 2022.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the mining industry in Mongolia, with a lot of associated work. The mining sector has a big goal to move from just mining to also processing. Discussion on draft laws to create a new legal framework have been continuing for a long time. If the draft laws are approved, what changes will take place in this sector?
The transition to a new social and economic system was not easy, but as a result of successful implementation of long- and short-term programs to develop the geological and mining sector, this now generates more than 20% of GDP, 70% of industrial output, more than 90% of export earnings, about 80% of foreign direct investment, and about 30% of state budget revenue.
Further development of mining depends on exploration
Any changes related to the issuance of mineral licenses has a positive or negative impact on the development of the mining sector. Under the 1997 Minerals Law, whoever applied first obtained a license. In addition, the license was revoked on only three grounds, and there were no restrictions on transferring or using licenses as collateral. Some industry experts argued that the 1997 law on licensing was the most liberal, transparent, and well-protected in terms of ownership rights.
Between 1997 and 2004 when this law was effective, about 6,000 exploration licenses were issued for 40% of Mongolia’s territory, and exploration activities took off.
AT WHAT STAGE IS THE “BILLION TREE” NATIONAL MOVEMENT?
Mongolia has announced a national campaign to plant “Billion Trees” as part of a global green revolution to combat global warming and reduce the impact of climate change. President U.Khurelsukh announced at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in September last year to the heads of state and government of 83 countries that “Mongolia launched a movement to plant billion trees by 2030 to address global climate change”. This statement by the President was received by Mongolians in two ways. Some people supported it by saying “It’s a timely decision because about 80% of our land is affected by desertification.” Some criticized: “it’s impossible to achieve it, there is no research, no analysis”.
Mongolian mining poised for big changes as it enters its second century
The mining sector is preparing to celebrate its centenary this year, as it was on 25th December 1922 that the People’s Government had decided to nationalize the Nalaikh coal mine.
The last thirty of these 100 years have been epoch-shaping. This followed Mongolia’s transition to a market economy which led to the privatization of state property and emergence of private companies. However, Mongolia did not have sufficient domestic resources to invest in this capital-intensive industry. So, it had no choice but to create an investment-friendly environment, and seek foreign investment. Most of Mongolia’s foreign investment has been made in the mining sector.
As N. Algaa wrote in his book “Will Mongolian Mining Sector Retreat or Move Forward”, geological expeditions, and a few wolfram and tin mines owned by the state were privatized. However, gold mines were excluded from the privatization list.
Establishing a wealth fund with Erdenes Mongol’s dividends
Erdenes Mongol is officially en route to becoming a wealth fund, as the Government seeks to get the Parliament to approve its draft Law on the National Wealth Fund. While the full draft law has not yet been made public, the main issues that it covers were presented. In the past, there have been questions around how Erdenes Mongol could be transformed into a wealth fund and whether this would increase the financial burden in the mining sector. It has become clear from the statement of O.Batnairamdal, Deputy Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry, that the creation of this new wealth fund will not put additional financial burdens on the mining sector. Under the draft law, Erdenes Mongol will also undergo a structural change.
Negotiations succeed to agree the railway border crossing point
For a landlocked country, railways are a most important strategic infrastructure to export minerals. At the Cabinet meeting on 17 November 2021, the point of intersection of Gashuunsukhait-Gantsmod railway was determined. MMJ spoke to N. Udaanjargal, CEO of Tavan Tolgoi Railway LLC on the long-awaited agreement and the construction of the railway.