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Mogi: Mining Minister’s subsequent tweet here a few hours later (11:34am today) also says parties agreed that sales revenue will be placed at Mongolian and OT LLC registered bank accounts. Little vague but presumably meaning revenues will be kept at domestic, and perhaps even overseas bank accounts as long as it’s under OT LLC’s name but the language used in the tweet was unclear. The tweet attributed to shipments starting on July 9th is here (8:24am today).
Mongolia Says Rio Tinto Copper Mine Can Start Shipments to China
By Michael Kohn
July 7 (Bloomberg) Tensions between Mongolia’s government and Rio Tinto Group (RIO) over the $6.6 billion Oyu Tolgoi mine have eased sufficiently to start shipping copper concentrate this week, the country’s mining minister wrote in a post on Twitter today.
“There is no significant problem with the Oyu Tolgoi mineral export contract,” Davaajav Gankhuyag said. “The first shipments will start on July 9.”
Scheduled shipments to Chinese smelters were postponed twice, first on June 14 at the request of Rio Tinto, which owns 66 percent of the mine though its Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) unit. Then on June 21 at the request of the government, which holds 34 percent.
“It all depends on Rio,” said Oscar Mendoza, managing partner at Mongolia Asset Management, an investment advisory group based in Ulaanbaatar. “Maybe the government just wants to say the ball is in Oyu Tolgoi’s court.”
Oyu Tolgoi has produced more than 40,000 tons of copper concentrate, according to a June 28 press release issued by Turquoise Hill. The stockpiled concentrate is to be delivered by truck 80 kilometers (50 miles) south to the border post at Gashuunsuukhait, and then on to China.
Delays in shipments scheduled to start by the end of June are costing Mongolia $2 million in lost tax revenue every day, said Dale Choi, an Ulaanbaatar-based independent analyst.
“Every day of delay they are losing millions in lost investments because they are very cautious and they don’t want to be perceived as repeating past mistakes,” Choi said by phone today in Ulaanbaatar.
The two sides had yet to resolve a request by the government that Mongolian banks handle sales revenue from the mine, Gankhuyag told reporters at a press conference on June 28. Mongolia was also insisting that its representatives on Oyu Tolgoi’s board of directors see Rio Tinto’s sales contracts with Chinese buyers.
A start to copper concentrate shipments would be welcome news as Oyu Tolgoi, the largest mining project ever in the country, is expected to account for a third of Mongolia’s economy by 2020.
“I think it’s going to happen,” Choi said. “I would be very happy if exports and commercial production would start because every day Mongolia is losing its credibility with investors.”
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