Oyu Tolgoi Export Startup Back on Track
Oyu Tolgoi said first exports remain on track to begin by the end of Q2 2013. Start-up of the mine—the biggest in the country—is being closely watched by other companies and investors rattled over new regulations and concerns raised by the Ulanbataar government over Oyu Tolgoi.
The success of the project is vital for Mongolia, as revenue from the mine is expected to comprise 30% of Mongolia’s GDP by 2020. It is also a crucial growth source for operator Rio Tinto as it aims to ease its dependence on its iron ore business and cast-off small or unprofitable assets.
Rio plans to expand the underground mine, with a final decision pending in 2014. The expansion hinges on finalizing $4 billion in project financing, also expected soon. Rio Tinto’s majorityowned Turquoise Hill Resources owns 66% of the project, while the Mongolian government owns the remainder.
The exact nature of future investment in the country’s mining industry appeared to become more complicated later in June, when the nation’s incumbent president was re-elected. Mongolia’s share of income from mining was a topic of high interest during the pre-election campaign, with President Tsakhia Elbegdorj’s opponents claiming that the government should do a better job of distributing wealth derived from its natural resources to its people. The Elbegdorj administration itself has lately veered in the direction of increased resource nationalism, spooking potential investors.