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LEADERS HOLD CLOSED MEETING TO DISCUSS MINING AGREEMENTS

On February 22, leaders of the parliament-seated political parties met with the President N.Enkhbayar over the draft amendments to the minerals law, redefinition of strategically significant mineral deposits, and their percentage of Government ownership. The meeting took place behind closed doors. The President opened the meeting attended by Speaker of Parliament, D.Lundeejantsan, leaders of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), the Democratic Party, the Civil Will Party, the Republican Party, the People’s Party, and the National New Party. The President defined the goal of the three-hour meeting was to narrow the views of the political parties and reach a common understanding over the Tavan Tolgoi, Oyu Tolgoi and Asgat mineral deposits, all awaiting final agreements.

The Prime Minister, S.Bayar, Chairman of the MPRP, stressed the importance of joint understanding over the strategically significant deposit and its redefinition by law. D.Dorligjav, General Secretary of the Democratic Party, said that the Parliament urgently needs to devise a final version regarding this issue. B.Jargalsaikhan, Chairman of the Republican Party, said that the windfall profits tax of 68 percent should be reviewed as it is making “big trouble” for potential foreign investors. L.Gundalai, leader of the People’s Party, expressed that more than 51 percent of large mining deposits should remain in government ownership. S.Oyun, leader of Civil Will Party, who is also Foreign Minister of Mongolia, expressed that strategic deposits may not need to fix numeral limitations.

The meeting concluded that all parties would work hard to make the pending draft amendments and the investment agreements be approved by the Parliament in a short period of time or before the election at the latest.
Last year, a working group was set up by the Parliament consisting of two main political forces, MPRP and Democratic Party, as well as government officials. Last week, the group stated that it reached some agreements on key principle issues of changes to the current minerals act. The proposed amendment is to replace the phrase “up to” with “a minimum” in the article about government entitlement to ownership in strategically important mineral deposits. This draft amendment gained support by all political parties except the Republican Party at the meeting.
At present, the Government has the right to acquire up to 50 percent of the share in a strategically important mineral deposit if exploration has been done with state funding, and up to 34 percent if exploration is done by private funding. According to local media reports on the meeting, all parties agreed the Government should own a minimum of 50 percent of its strategic deposit, and all types of taxes should be payable by both domestic and foreign investors.

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