The 11th Mine Closure Mongolia forum was organized on September 7, under the theme of “Social License”, at Blue Sky Tower, to discuss social license issues that mining companies encounter, present best practices, and to identify and discuss issues that are confronting mining companies.
Deputy Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry Kh.Badamsuren opened this year’s forum and said, “Mine closure has always been understood as reclamation. Just as a mine has an opening day, a day will come when those mines will be closed. Discussing the importance of social license and of all sides coming to an agreement is a good thing.”
The Deputy Minister highlighted that when closing mines, it is vital to account for all of the sectors involved in mining. In the next four years, the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry plans to build petroleum, copper, and iron processing factories. The Ministry plans to set a market price for exported natural resources to prevent domestic mines from driving down prices in order to improve their competitiveness.
Head of the Mining Policy Department at the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry I.Bold stated that a working group has been assigned with drafting an independent legal document on the closure of mines. Drafting this document will set a precedent for Mongolia to plan and execute the closure of mines in a manner meeting international standards. I.Bold underlined that the current legislation on mine closures is insufficient.
Speaking at the forum, Head of the Natural Resource Department at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism D.Davaasamba reported that four hectares of land in 15 provinces and 56 soums has become eroded and damaged by mining. Eighty billion to 100 billion MNT is required to rehabilitate the land, compared to the 10.5 billion MNT currently in the government’s land reclamation fund.
There are 392 companies with reclamation licenses, 20 of which are operating currently. The Ministry of Mining and Tourism will start an inquiry into the licensing of these companies and revoke licenses that are not being used. The forum attendees claimed that some companies with reclamation licenses misuse them for the exploration of natural resources. Seven companies with reclamation licenses were found to have engaged in exploration activities that led to the pollution of the Orkhon River. In the afternoon session of the forum, public participation, professional inspection, environmental assessment, technical research, and reclamation were discussed.
At the end of the forum, recommendations drafted during the course of the forum were introduced for eventual submission to the Government of Mongolia.