Media war between Energy Resources and others on railroad from Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit

Media war between Energy Resources, consortium of powerful Mongolian companies and Ministry of Urban Planning and Infrastructure Development over railroad from Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit is continuing.
Last Sunday, Mongolian media representatives and journalists accompanied pro-Sainshand (meaning supporters of building of railroad from Tavan Tolgoi to Sainshand,capital of Dornogobi)legislators and "Genco" Battulga Khaltmaa, Minister of Urban Planning and Infrastructure Development to Sainshand by rail. There in Sainshand, the media was received by Gankhuyag, Governor of Dornogobi aimag and taken to proposed site to build heavy industrial complex.

On the other hand, executives and shareholders of Energy Resources and officials of pro-mining groups constantly appeared on TV and Radio giving interviews about importance of building direct rail to China from Tavan Tolgoi. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former board chairman of Energy Resources and current board chairman of World Growth, pro-mining lobby group, Gombosuren said during his interview with the Mongolian National TV (MNB) "building of direct rail to China can not threaten national security of Mongolia. Government already gave special permit to Energy Resources to build the rail. Reputable organizations like World Bank and European Bank of Reconstruction and Development is supporting this Ukhaa Khudagt Project and have become shareholders. I don't understand where this nonsense of stopping this rail is coming from? Deutche Bahn, German Railway and Leighton Asia of Australlia is building this railroad. Maybe some individuals want to stop this project out of pure jealousy?".

Some sources claim Battulga is acting for interests of powerful Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska, owner of Basic Element group which are bidding for Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit.
In interview with Mongolian Newspaper "Zuunii Medee" (Century News), Battulga said he is not attempting to halt the direct rail project because of the Russian interest but because of national interest of Mongolia."If direct rail to China is built, plan of creating heavy industrial zone in Sainshand will be in serious trouble" he emphasized.

Trade Union of Mongolian Railway workers sided with the Minister in opposing the building of direct rail by Energy Resources. The Union claimed if narrow gauge rail like Chinese rail is built in Mongolia and integrated with giant Chinese railway network, Mongolian mineral wealth will be sucked easily to China.The direct rail project by Energy Resources is direct threat to Mongolian railway workers which may eventually lose their jobs to Chinese railway workers who knows how operate narrow gauge rail, according to the Munkbayar, chairman of the Union.

Mongolia railway is wide gauge system built by Soviet political exiles and Vlasov army soldiers during 1940s and 1950s.

According to Energy Resources, Government of Mongolia already permitted building the direct rail line to China and the company spent about 160 billion Tugrig so far in the project. If project is halted, Government of Mongolia may have to reimburse the cost to the Energy Resources.
Shareholders of the Energy Resources include some of the most powerful Mongolian businesses such as MCS Group, Shunkhai Group and Petrovis.

By Ganbat, editor of MonInfo News Service

Sources:www.energyresources.mn, Mongolian National TV (MNB)
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