Mongolian trilateral agreement aimed at easing mining-stakeholder conflicts

Mongolian officials, unions and employers groups have developed an agreement they hope will help peacefully resolve conflicts involving mining operations.

Author: Dorothy Kosich

The Mongolian Government announced Monday that it has developed a "trilateral memorandum" with trade unions and the employers' union that will "become an important document in solving any conflicts, complaints and matters on exploitation of the mining resources."

The official state news agency Montsame said the document was authored by the head of the Cabinet Secretariat, the chairman of Mongolia's Trade Unions (MTU), and the president of Mongolia's Union of Employers (MUE).

The memorandum calls for the formation of a training program for local governments, businessmen and state officials to promote citizens' participation and relations "in gaining benefits from the mining revenue, consulting at national and local levels, arranging opportunities, and tackling conflicts in the mining sector."

MTU's Chairman S. Ganbaatar hopes the memorandum will improve the capability of resolving conflicts on the national and rural levels regarding exploration and mining of Mongolia's mineral resources, which have an estimated US$1.3 trillion value.

Noting that mining investments will play a major role in the country's socio-economic development, Mongolian Cabinet Secretariat chief Ch. Khruelbaatar said he believes the memorandum will become "an important document in solving any conflicts, complaints and matters on exploitation of the mining resources."

As of deadline early Tuesday, Mineweb was unable to access a copy of the memorandum to determine its contents.

Early last year, the Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions and the Mongolia Employers Federation held seminars aimed at educating stakeholders about mining issues, the development of skills for clear communication of the expectations of all parties, "as well as processes and institutions for a tripartite dialogue among government, civil society and [the mining] industry."

"The growing presence, activities, and actions of mining in local communities can often trigger local community or herder complaints and grievances that can potentially escalate into conflicts," the confederation noted. "On the threshold of a burgeoning mining sector, Mongolia has an opportunity to benefit from best global practices by educating stakeholders and setting processes and institutions that mitigate the costs of unresolved grievances, complaints and conflicts."

In early September of last year, four environmental activists opened fire on gold mining equipment owned by two companies, Toronto's Centerra Gold and Chinese miner Puraam. The two companies have operations located near Mongolia's largest river, which feeds the world's largest freshwater lake.

In an interview with a freelance journalist, Rena Guenduez, senior mining adviser at the USAID-sponsored Economic Policy Reform and Competitiveness Project, said the shooting incident is part of a trend. She noted mining conflicts and confrontations have increased dramatically in Mongolia in the last two years.

"This will increase and escalate, if there is no mechanism for participation and no mechanism to resolve conflict," Guenduez stressed. She advised that frequently changing laws, myths about mining, and a lack of informed decision making in Mongolia frustrate both mining companies and the public.

Last August financial analysts from the Mongolian Government, the Mongolian Parliament and state-owned Mongolian mining companies participated in seminars to strengthen the ability of Mongolian analysts who deal with the mining sector to develop financial models, performs analyses, develop policy scenarios, negotiate investment agreements, and oversee their implementation.

Source:www.mineweb.com

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