Mongolia versus Rio Tinto continues over Oyu Tolgoi copper

The Mongolian government has urged Rio Tinto to speed up development at the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.

Bloomberg reported the Mongolian prime minister, Altankhuyag Norov, tried to shift blame for delays away from the government, saying there was “no single cause to blame the Mongolian government”.

“We are acting, and at the same time we are asking Rio Tinto why they are being slow to act,” he said.

“We very much hope Rio Tinto will act quickly.”

The project deadline for financing is September 30.

Last August Rio Tinto laid off 1700 workers at the mine after a decision to delay the expansion, and another 300 last May.

Disputes between Rio Tinto and Mongolia have been protracted, including accusations from the Mongolian Tax Authority that there were $130 million worth of unpaid taxes, penalties and disallowed entitlements associated with the Oyu Tolgoi project.

Project operator Turquoise Hill CEO Kay Priestly rejected the allegations, claiming the company has paid all taxes and charges as required.

“We strongly disagree with the claims in the audit report and are currently reviewing all options to resolve this matter,” she said.

“It is important that we protect our right of tax stabilisation provided by the investment agreement.”

Rio Tinto and Turquoise Hill said they were reviewing the detailed tax claim, but warned that any breaches of the Investment Agreement could lead to international arbitration.

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