Mongolia - land of opportunity

By John Miller, Editor

There is much being said and written about the amazing mining opportunities being presented by Mongolia and after attending the eighth annual Discover Mongolia mining investment forum last week it is easy to see why.

There were almost 100 exhibitors from Mongolia, Australia, Canada, Germany and other countries representing mining companies, equipment companies, service providers, financial institutions and advisory bodies.

There were also hundreds of delegates from throughout Asia and around the world educating themselves about what Mongolia has to offer.

It was not that long ago that Mongolia was considered an isolated, remote backwater, sandwiched between two world giants, China and Russia, and with little to interest foreign investors.

All this has changed with a progressive, democratic government, which has introduced many measures to encourage exploration and mining in one of the world’s resource treasure houses.

There have been some errors made along the way, such as the proposed windfall profits tax and the length of time taken to come to an arrangement regarding foreign investment and involvement in nationally significant deposits, and there is still some way to go, but for now it’s full steam ahead for the mining industry and for the almost 3 million inhabitants.

In his keynote address on the opening day of the conference Behre Dolbear Group president Bernard Guarnera provided delegates with evidence of how Mongolia is traveling.

He stated that Behre Dolbear’s annual survey which ranks countries based on a number of aspects, including economic system, political system, degree of social issues, permitting, process, degree of corruption, stability of currency and tax regime, this year lists Mongolia as number seven and a major mover, with Australia and China also well placed, although Australia is set for a fall owing to the impact of a new mineral tax.

It is rich in resources with about 10,000 identified mineral deposits and 8000 of these being in key minerals. There are 15 strategic deposits and, at this stage, two world-class projects, Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold and Tavan Tolgoi coal, which are being developed.

The country is also well placed to serve China’s huge and growing demand for all resources, in particular coal and copper, and is also well positioned to supply the strong markets of South Korea and Japan.

There are some issues that need to be resolved such as lack of infrastructure, tenure uncertainty owing to the government not issuing new licenses, some corruption and a degree of uncertainty.

These issues can be overcome, particularly with the government, the people and the mining companies and providers all determined for Mongolia’s mining industry to continue its upward growth path.

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