Tavan Tolgoi bidder selection delayed to 2010-execs

SHANGHAI, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Budget negotiations and a new prime minister mean that Mongolia will likely delay to early next year the selection of winning bidders for the giant Tavan Tolgoi coking coal deposit, industry executives said.

Mongolia had earlier planned to select the winners for the $2 billion stake sale by the end of this year, following quickly on the conclusion of negotiations over investment in the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold deposit which was considered a bellwether for mining investment in the landlocked country.

The nomination of a new prime minister, after the previous one fell ill, and negotiations over next year's budget could delay the selection, said Badamdamdin Ragchaa, chairman and chief executive of Mongolian state uranium firm MonAtom.

"I believe the issue will be solved early next year," said Badamdamdin.

Masa Igata, chief executive officer of Frontier Securities, also expected a slight delay in the selection process.

"The selection is likely to be made early next year, but it's not a big problem," said Igata.

Shortlisted bidders for Tavan Tolgoi include BHP Billiton (BHP.AX), India's Jindal, Brazil's Vale (VALE5.SA), U.S. coal miner Peabody (BTU.N), and China's Shenhua (1088.HK), as well as South Korea's COPEC consortium, a group of Japanese companies, and a Russian consortium including Gazprom (GAZP.MM) and Renova, according to an executive in Erdenes MGL, the state company that will own at least 51 percent of the project [ID:nPEK305507]. (Reporting by Rujun Shen and Lucy Hornby, Editing by Jacqueline Wong) ((lucy.hornby@thomsonreuters.com; +86 10 6627-1269; Reuters Messaging: lucy.hornby.reuters.com@reuters.net)) ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to news.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com))

Source:Reuters news agency

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