Rio Tinto bought in to the Oyu Tolgoi [or Turquoise Hill] copper-gold and coal project at the time when the first herders were moved out of their traditional pastures, with only money compensation offered, with the result that 50% of those evicted effectively had their traditional livelihoods ended.
The company are negotiating large-scale loan finance from a clutch of banks including the World Bank’s IFC, the EBRD * and Standard Chartered for an opencast and underground block-cave mine. After signing an Investment Agreement in 2009 with the Mongolian government, they have finally released the project’s Environmental and Social impacts Assessment [ESIA]*.
With Rio Tinto wanting to begin mining as soon as early 2013 or when they expect the loan finance to be released, the ESIA is retrospective on mine “construction”- stated to be 97% complete- and deficient on detail on the operational “life” of the mine, with nothing on its closure phase or “legacy” . *
Herders and local NGOs working with them in the South Gobi fear for immediate loss of seasonal pasture ranges, in a huge area which envelops land taken for surface mining and the ore processing plant and two massive mining toxic waste or “tailings” confinement “facilities” or dams, and other features not included and transparently assessed in the loan negotiation documents: a 450MW coal-burning power plant, an international airport, a water desalination plant, and other components still in negotiation.*
In a wider area than in the immediate land-take, herders fear for the loss of their well- and seasonal stream flow –waters, which Rio Tinto have suggested could be over a 160 km2 area but which independent reviewers have said would likely be far larger.
So herders want to know – What is the basis of the company’s figures for displacement of their households? Rio Tinto/Oyu Tolgoi are holding a public consultation in Mongolia on their ESIA. Will Rio Tinto commit to making public on their website, the herders’ “comments” about the project’s impacts?
* project’s background:
* see Rio Tinto profile: http://londonminingnetwork.org/2012/08/rio-tinto-a-record-fit-for-the-olympics/
* the ESIA: http://www.ot.mn/?q=en/node/2679
* ESIA criticisms: see press release: http://www.bicusa.org/en/Article.12695.aspx
Critical Independent Reviews are soon to be released.
* the herders’ World Bank CAO complaint http://www.bicusa.org/en/Article.12703.aspx
* on EBRD involvement: