Traditional herders from Khanbogd, Mongolia, held a demonstration at the gates of the Rio-Tinto controlled Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine on Tuesday 11 January, 2022.
The herders are demanding that the International Finance Corporation (the private finance arm of the World Bank) stop its financing until Oyu Tolgoi takes measures to bring the much-touted Tripartite Council (TPC) into compliance with its Charter. The TPC is supposed to ensure that members of communities affected by the mine, as well as the company and government bodies, get a say in how mining operations are run. In 2019 when Oyu Tolgoi chaired the TPC, the election of herders to the Elected Herder Team (EHT) in the TPC was rigged to bring in business and local government members, pushing out representatives of those who had brought complaints against the mine. Because of this the key programmes to support affected herders that were agreed in the Complaint Resolution Agreement have not been implemented to date.
Below is an unofficial translation made by Oyu Tolgoi Watch of the herders’ demands and links to live reports from the demonstration. Herders had to travel many miles to reach the gates of the mine to hold the protest but those who were able to attend spoke for many of their fellow community members who were unable to make the journey.
INTERNATIONAL FINANCE CORPORATION STOP FINANCING!
January 10, 2022
Herders of Khanbogd affected by the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) involuntary resettlement and economic displacement have filed complaints in 2012 and 2013 to the IFC’s Ombudsman after five years and three independent expert reviews damages were established. As a result in May 2017 members of the Tripartite Council signed the Complaint Resolution Agreement consisting of 60 items under Agreements 1 and 2. Based on the promise of Oyu Tolgoi LLC to implement these Agreements within two years, the Ombudsman’s office closed the complaint in 2019. However, by making it possible to elect representatives of OT’s subcontractors and suppliers, members of businesses and public servants to the Elected Herder Team, the TPC became a team of associated parties, which resulted in all the complaint resolution measures being stalled for the past four years. During this period we have sent five sets of correspondence to the Rio Tinto leadership attempting to reach solutions.
The lack of implementation of promises to provide livelihood support projects for herders who have lost access to water and pastures, and to provide jobs, and the continued harm caused by the attitude of retaliation and manipulation, have exhausted herders’ patience.
THEREFORE, we demand that the lenders led by the International Financial Corporation stop their financing until Rio Tinto implements the demands below.
We demand the following from Oyu Tolgoi LLC and Rio Tinto:
ONE. To elect Elected Herder Representatives in the Tripartite Council, a body responsible for the implementation of the Complaint Resolution Agreements, in accordance with its Charter, from among the herders and complainants, to ensure that the decisions of the TPC are in the interests of the herders. Eliminate the deficiencies in the work of the TPC, i.e. urgently implement the agreed activities stalled for over two years due to not taking action on restoring hijacked herder representation in the TPC.
TWO. Bring Oyu Tolgoi LLC’s subcontractors and suppliers in compliance with law in carrying out impact assessments, negotiate labour contracts, pay adequate wages and implement workplace standards in accordance with the IFC Performance Standards.
THREE. Oyu Tolgoi LLC to hold accountable the personnel of the Community Relations Office for poor performance and resisting implementation of the Complaint Resolution Agreement in retaliation for the local community protecting pasture and water access rights and demanding justice; stop retaliation against human rights defenders and implement commitments under the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
The following are three priority demands within the above three areas:
1. Immediately correct the inaction resulting in the TPC losing its ability to perform independently due to hijacking of herder representation in the TPC Elected Herder Team.
2. Urgently implement the sustainable livelihood projects as agreed in 2018 for implementation in cooperation with Oyu Tolgoi LLC.
3. Use the opportunities presented by the approval of UGM financing and work-rest 14/14 roster under the new amended labour law of Mongolia to create more jobs at OT to employ the unemployed residents of Khanbogd soum as well as bring the wages paid by subcontractors and suppliers in line with those paid by Oyu Tolgoi LLC to its workforce.
Herders affected by the negative impacts of Oyu Tolgoi.