Exports from landlocked Mongolia rose 52.3 percent in the first half of 2011 to a total value of $2 billion, with 90 percent of the total delivered to its dominant southern neighbour China, according to official data.
Mineral resources accounted for the bulk of the increase, rising 71.8 percent from a year ago and making up about 85 percent of the total volume, Mongolia’s National Statistics Committee said late on Monday.
Over the six months, imports into Mongolia reached $2.7 billion, more than double the same period of last year, the committee said.
Remote Mongolia is in the middle of a programme aimed at bringing in billions of dollars of foreign investment to help develop its massive but mostly untapped mineral reserves, including coal, copper, gold and uranium.
Financing for the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold deposit in the southern Gobi region, currently being developed by Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines, is expected to reach $6 billion, more than the country’s entire gross domestic product last year.
The Tavan Tolgoi coal project, also in the southern Gobi region, has estimated reserves of 6 billion tonnes and is expected to transform the country’s tiny economy, with a billion-dollar IPO expected to be launched early next year.
The government said earlier this month that Peabody Energy, Shenhua and a Russian-Mongolian consortium had been selected to develop the western block of the project.
Poor infrastructure has made it difficult for Mongolia, sandwiched between China and Russia, to make the most of its resources, and it remains dependent on Chinese traders buying minerals at considerable discounts before trucking them south. Official data showed that Mongolian coal was being sold to China at around $40 per tonne lower than the average price.
Mongolia is currently building a new railway network aimed at easing its reliance on China and gaining access to the Pacific coast via Russia.
Mongolia’s total exports amounted to $1.7 billion over the whole of 2010, with 84 percent going to China. Canada was in second place with just 5.4 percent.