After years of explorations, large copper reserves are discovered at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia’s Gobi desert. While multiple companies have been involved over the years, the Oyu Tolgoi mine today is jointly owned by the Mongolian government which holds 34% ownership while Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) owns 66%, with Rio Tinto owning 51% of TRQ. Rio Tinto also manages the operation.
While the discovery has been celebrated for its economic potential as it is one of the biggest copper and gold reserves in the world, the mine has threatened pastoralist communities’ traditional lifestyle. Additionally, the mine’s extensive water needs have raised serious concerns about water availability in this arid desert region. The company has failed to demonstrate that there is sufficient water available for production and infrastructure, as well as the project’s social needs.