• Some long-awaited amendments to the Mineral Law on 24 January, 2014 finally brought cheer to the gold sector. Royalty rates were reduced to 2.5 percent, the system of progressive royalties was withdrawn, and Mongolbank was made responsible for refining and exporting all gold mined in Mongolia. These amendments are to be in force until January next year, and it is now a good time to assess how beneficial they have been for the sector. On that evaluation will depend whether the amended regulations and practices should continue.
  • For Mongolia, 2017 ended as the year of Mr Coal. Economic growth surpassed expectations   mainly because coal exports earned revenue beyond projection, despite an unanticipated slowdown in the second half of the year. Given the total reliance of our economy on the mining sector, we need a positive minerals market to come out of the economic crisis fast. We were lucky in 2017, but what lies in store for us in the year that has begun?
  • The Mongolian extractive sector, in its modern avatar, completed 95 years in 2017. Archaeological relics indicate that Mongolians practised mining 5000 years ago, but scientific mining began in 1922, with the post-People’s Revolution government deciding to commence coal extraction work at Nalaikh. The date of that decision is celebrated annually as “miners’ holiday”.
  • Some basic features of the system of issuing mining licences, in force for the past 20 years, have now been changed. Allocation after application is out, replaced by a selection process. This is a major policy change, and was hurriedly included among amendments to the Minerals Law that were quickly discussed and passed when the State budget 2018 was approved.
  • The graph shows how coal export reached its peak volume in June, only to slide sharply in July, recovering but slightly in August and staying more or less the same in September. Reports so far this month do not promise much of a change.
  • The restrictions recently imposed on coal trucking in China’s eastern and northeastern provinces have had a negative impact on Mongolia’s coal exports, as that region is where much of the country’s coking coal imports are consumed. This issue came up time and again at the 7th Coal Mongolia conference earlier this month during discussions on how to make Mongolian coal more competitive.
  • The list above is of the main laws that govern the mineral sector. They will soon receive a thorough clean-up to remove contradictions and conflicts between them, and to make them more coherent and complementary. The work has been entrusted to a working group set up jointly by the Ministries of  Justice and Internal Affairs, and of Mining and Heavy Industry, in pursuance of the Government’s declared intention to make 2017 the year when the overall and total legal environment in the mineral sector would be streamlined.
  • The first five months of the year saw Mongolia exporting 15 million tonnes of coal and earning $1 billion from it, taking us back to the heady days of 2011 when more coal than ever before was exported. Then, as now, the export success gave a big boost to a national economy in crisis.
  • ALL eyes will be on the Presidential election until voting day on 26 June, and maybe for some time even after that. This is the seventh such direct election and the winner will be the fifth president of the country. Unfortunately, the billions of MNT that the contestants will spend on their campaign is unlikely to make voters forget that Kh. Battulga failed to retain his seat in the last Parliamentary elections, that S.Ganbaatar has been disowned by his own party, and that M.Enkhbold’s record as Mayor of Ulaanbaatar was not so clean. 
  • The map  shows the places where exploration licences will be allocated. They total up to 20.1 million hectares or 12.8% of Mongolia’s total territory.
    The mining ministry is following a policy of increasing national wealth by discovering new mineral deposits that can then be developed. Exploration is also the sector to attract the most foreign investment, which had earlier poured in, only to almost dry up in the past seven years, following the blanket ban on issue of new licences and cancellation of existing ones, leading to confusion among investors who preferred to step back. Domestic companies had carried on exploration work, however, as S.Bold-Erdene’s article in this issue details.
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