ULAANBAATAR – Mongolia’s prime minister has asked Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto to step up the pace of construction at the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, part of efforts to revive the country’s debt-ridden economy.
Jargaltulga Erdenebat assured Rio Tinto’s copper chief Arnaud Soirat that Mongolia would honor its past agreements with Rio Tinto, and called on the company to do the same. “For Oyu Tolgoi, the Mongolian policy to work together with Rio Tinto is already set,” he was quoted as saying in a statement posted on Mongolia’s official government website <zasag.mn/news/view/14686>.
“You need to comply with contract obligations and speed up the momentum of work,” he told Soirat, adding that Oyu Tolgoi should procure construction materials like cement from Mongolian service providers only.
The launch of Oyu Tolgoi in 2009 helped kickstart a mining-driven economic boom in Mongolia, but it quickly sparked concerns that the country’s resources were being sold off on the cheap, and legislators repeatedly tried to renegotiate the terms of the original agreement in a bid to raise Mongolia’s stake.
Rio Tinto’s majority-owned Turquoise Hill Resources has a 66 percent stake in the mine, with the Mongolian government holding the remainder.
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