ULAANBAATAR/LONDON (Reuters) – Mongolia is working with overseas investigators to look into claims of corruption at its giant Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, the country’s anti-graft body said on Tuesday, after the re-arrest of a former minister suspected of “abuse of power”.
Bayartsogt Sangajav was first arrested last April and released in June in a probe into 2009 negotiations over the development of the mine, then owned by Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines and now managed by Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto. Bayartsogt, a former finance minister, was among the signatories to the investment agreement, approved by Mongolia’s parliament.
Munkhtungalag Tumur, a spokeswoman with the country’s Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC), told Reuters it was now conducting a thorough financial investigation into the allegations that would be international in scope. She did not identify with which other countries the IAAC was collaborating.
The mine, run by Rio Tinto since 2010, is central to the firm’s push to reduce its reliance on iron ore sales. But the miner has faced a series of wrangles with the Mongolian government over tax payments and cost overruns.
Expansion plans will make Oyu Tolgoi, located near the southern border with China, one of the world’s biggest copper mines early in the next decade.