Some 400 delegates, including MPs, Government officials, ambassadors, and representatives of mining companies attended a conference on Friday jointly organized by the Ministry for Minerals and Energy, and the Mongolian National Mining Association. Several mining representatives had complaints about recent legislation, especially about the law restricting mining near rivers and forests.
Implementation of the law would entail cancellation of 1,128 mining licenses. It would also mean MNT314 billion less in the State budget and about USD2 million to be paid as compensation. Taken together this may well set the economy back by years. A survey has also shown that more than 50,000 jobs are related to the licenses that stand to be canceled. Those who developed the law, such as MP B.Bat-Erdene, have however refused to budge, saying protecting the environment had more long-term value than immediate economic considerations.
The terms of the Oyutolgoi investment agreement also came in for criticism. A mining expert, S.Avirmed, said the feasibility study should not have been approved even after the clarifications issued by the investors. Another expert, I.Ryentsenkhand, however, felt too much time is being lost on details and work on the mine should start now, and all uncertainty resolved gradually.
There was near unanimity that the 68 percent windfall tax had done no good and had held back development of mining, particularly that of gold. MP S.Oyun feared that more such bad laws will be proposed to meet the irresponsible election promises that would certainly be made in the 2012 Parliamentary election. She called for “a political consensus to reject short-term benefits at the cost of sustainable development”.