Sun, Jun 28, 2015 - Page 13 News List

Mongolian PM touts Rio Tinto gold, copper mine

‘BACK FOR BUSINESS’:After resolving a dispute with Rio Tinto which saw foreign investment in Mongolia fall 74 percent, the PM traveled to the US to spur investment


Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg speaks to reporters in New York, the US, on Friday.

Photo: Bloomberg

Mining firm Rio Tinto Ltd has pledged to invest between US$250 million and US$300 million in the construction of the underground section of the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia this year, Mongolia’s prime minister said on Friday.

The second phase of construction at the mine is expected to begin this year, Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg told reporters in an interview, marking progress for the long-stalled US$5 billion mine that is expected to boost Mongolia’s economy by a third when it reaches full capacity in 2021.

Saikhanbileg’s comments came during a trip to meet US political and business leaders in a bid to revive foreign investment in Mongolia after it fell 74 percent last year as a dispute with Rio Tinto over taxes and cost overruns deterred investors.

In visits to New York and Washington this week, Saikhanbileg is touting the success of a deal reached with Rio Tinto last month to resume work on the mine.

“Mongolia is back for business,” he said. “This should be one of the hottest destinations for investors.”

During the trip, Saikhanbileg said he met with US Vice President Joe Biden; held an event at the US Chamber of Commerce that attracted more than 160 attendees; visited the New York Stock Exchange and held individual meetings with investment companies.

He added that 14 different international organizations and banks are involved in the financing of the next phase of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, including the World Bank’s International Finance Consortium and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

The mine, operated by Rio Tinto, is expected to produce an average of 430,000 tonnes of copper and 12.05 tonnes of gold annually, but still needs an additional US$4 billion in project financing.

Saikhanbileg added that he expects a resolution with the country’s parliament over the fate of the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine before a legislative recess on July 11.

The administration was close to an agreement with a consortium of foreign companies to invest US$4 billion in the 1.8 billion tonne coal mine before parliament halted the deal in April, saying it might breach Mongolian law.

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