Mongolia may share its Tavan Tolgoi coal mining project between a majority of the six bidders shortlisted by the government and ask them to work together, Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold said in an interview today.
“There are going to be about three or four of the major ones to create one consortium,” Batbold told Bloomberg Television in Beijing, concluding his three-day state visit to China. The final decision is “very close.”
Coal production in Mongolia doubled last year to become the nation’s top export earner, spurring the government to push through development of one of the world’s biggest unexploited deposits of the mineral. Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU), a Shenhua Group Corp.-Mitsui & Co. venture, Vale SA, a Russia-Japan-South Korea group, ArcelorMittal (MT), and Xstrata Plc (XTA) were all shortlisted.
Mongolia is trying to seek a “balance of interests” in its relations with neighbors like Russia and China and Western countries, he said. “This balance has to be kept not by squeezing somebody, but increasing” the opportunities from cooperation, he said.
“We would like to make this happen as soon as possible because quickly it can generate the revenue and it’s good for the country,” Batbold said.
Talks were underway on the contract for the central and western part of the site, Baterdene Ragchaa, a spokesman for Erdenes MGL LLC, the state-controlled owner of the deposit, said on March 31.