Rio Tinto, Mongolian Government secure lawsuit win

The Mongolian Parliament has reinstated investment agreements relating to the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project between Rio Tinto and the national government.

The passing of the resolution by the Mongolian Parliament re-confirms all validity of agreements between the Mongolian Government and Rio Tinto concerning Oyu Tolgoi.

This brings an 18-month review by the parliamentary working group of Oyu Tolgoi to a close.

Non-governmental organisation Darkhan Mongol Nogoon Negdel initiated a lawsuit regarding the UDP in late November, claiming that the Mongolian government did not follow due process when finalising it.

The Mongolian Parliament has, however, unanimously approved a resolution instructing the government to look for ways to improve Oyu Tolgoi’s 2015 underground mine development and financing plan (UDP), 2011 restated shareholder agreement and 2009 investment agreement.

Additional clauses in the resolution include exploring options to look into the Mongolian Government’s equity share in Oyu Tolgoi, a re-definition of the updated feasibility report, a renewal of the environment and water assessments as well as further capability development.

Rio Tinto acknowledged the Mongolian Parliament’s resolution and confirmed the validity of all Oyu Tolgoi investment agreements.

“Adherence to these agreements by all parties has underpinned a total in-country spend of around $US10 billion ($14.56 billion) since 2010, which has delivered significant benefits to the people of Mongolia and will continue to do so for decades to come,” Rio Tinto chief executive copper and diamonds Arnaud Soirat said.

“There is a lot of work to do to ensure Oyu Tolgoi reaches full potential and we remain committed to exploring ways to deliver even great benefits from Oyu Tolgoi to all shareholders.”

There has been strain between Rio Tinto and the Mongolian Government regarding the Oyu Tolgoi project for nearly a decade.

Prior to the legal accusations, the Mongolian Government has been lamenting Rio Tinto’s constructional and financial setbacks delaying the project’s completion.

In April 2018, the project hit another snag when a Mongolian finance minister was arrested as part of a corruption probe concerning the mine.

Things are looking up for Oyu Tolgoi this year, however, as it completed shaft two and accelerated work in the underground mine.

Rio Tinto expects Oyu Tolgoi to come into production between May 2022 and June 2023.

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