Head for the Steppes

Mongolia, man. That’s where it’s at. 
Big money movers predict that the land of yaks and Khans will turn serious cash in the next few years. In fact, it’s already begun. 

$1.3 trillion

Private firms estimate around $1.3 trillion worth of untapped precious earthen minerals lie below the tundra. Think: gold, oil, natural gas, and the world’s largest untapped copper deposit, near the Chinese border. All in a country about the size of Tampa, FL or Baltimore, MD. One report says there are 6,000 known deposits, but only 27 percent of that natural bounty has been surveyed. The International Monetary Fund predicts almost 12 percent growth in the GDP this year, on top of last year’s 12 percent bump. 
But it’s not all so rosy. There’s inflation, and corruption, to start – says investment bank ResCap . Then there’s the trouble with siphoning off water for mining in one of the world’s driest countries, not to mention the massive income inequality that comes from living in a country with volatile export pricing. 
So will Mongolia be the next international economic superstar, like Oman? 
Woman walking between tents towards the camera during the day
SOURCE: TOMOHIRO OHSUMI/BLOOMBERG/GETTY
The Tsankhi section of the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit in South Gobi, Mongolia
Further proof – can China, Armani, and KFC all be wrong? China buys 90 percent of Mongolian coal – and that appetite isn’t slowing anytime soon. Plus, deep-pocketed global retailers have been opening up shop in the capital city of UlanBaatar. With one of the lowest population densities in the world — one person for about every square mile, or 1.6 km — there’s room out there for the next big mineral rush. 
So will Mongolia be the next international economic superstar, like Oman? In the past decade there household incomes rose almost 84 percent, car ownership became almost universal and the government invested heavily in job creation and welfare programs. Of course, Mongolia doesn’t have a sultan, and only time will tell if the underground resources can be turned into an above-ground windfall for locals
Plus, it’s not an easy jaunt (22 hours from New York on a really, really good day). Chinese investors can saunter over faster than anyone. Ready, set…


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