Parliament will hold an ad hoc session next week to discuss draft amendments to the minerals law, which the government wants quickly approved. The Speaker of the parliament, D.Lundeejantsan, announced parliament will meet at 10 am on March 25, with pre-discussion meetings the day prior amongst related standing committees and party councils. According to the draft amendments, which appear set to have bi-partisan support, the Government will be entitled 51 ownership of strategically significant mineral deposits explored by state funding, or more than 34 percent if explored by private funding. The Government earlier withdrew a draft investment agreement with Canadian invested Ivanhoe Mines Mongolia Inc, in a bid to increase its share of a mining project. The agreement regarded Oyutolgoi, a large-scale copper and gold project. The new amendments will redefine strategically significant, and has changed the phrase “up-to” to “minimum” on ownership percentages.
Prime Minister S.Bayar, who is also Chairman of the ruling political force MPRP, made a statement with the opposition Democratic Party Chairman Ts.Elbegdorj that two major political forces will both support the amendments. Local media outlets suggested this indicated the legal changes would be approved with no hassle.
The amendments also limit the term of the investment agreement within the initial 15 years, with a possible extension. Ivanhoe Mines Mongolia has not released any official comment on the draft.
The Mongolian National Mining Association together with Mongol Coal Association, Drillers’ Association, and Mongolian Geology Association have all criticized the Mongolian Government for failing to get submissions from their organizations.
“The Mongolian National Mining Association profoundly regrets for the Mongolian Government’s and Parliament’s gross ignorance in their decision and law making practices of the views and opinions of the private sector, whose rights and benefits are at stake and are eventually to be regulated by the very laws and regulations, which are becoming increasingly unrealistic to enforce,” said the statement released on March 18.
The association said that the situation grossly violates the fundamental concept and principles of the market economic system and the Constitution of Mongolia and may pose a serious threat to the national security of Mongolia.