Global Business Reports


Lorena Stancu, Aya Turk, Felicia CouIter

Mongolia Mining 2024 - Digital Interactive

March 29, 2024

At the turn of the century, Mongolia had just transitioned into a free-market economy, had more horses than cars (or people, for that matter), while most of its income came from nomadic herding across its vast lands. But it was the underbelly of the steppe that would drive its future forward. The US$1 billion economy had US$1 trillion in mineral resources. 

This huge potential was punctuated by the Oyu Tolgoi discovery, which was to become one of the largest copper mines in the world. What happened between 2006-2013 in Mongolia has been compared to the Californian Gold Rush in the 19th century or the Australian commodity boom in the 1930s. The formerly little-known Soviet satellite country became a magnet for miners and investors, many from Canada and Australia. ‘Minegolia,’ a nickname that stayed prevalent in those boom years, was born. 

By 2014, everything changed. No one speaks about ‘Minegolia’ anymore, even though the country derives 90% of its exports and 25% of its GDP from minerals. What Mongolians do talk about is redeeming the mistakes made in the past. The country has adopted a more sober approach to mining, learning not to take investment for granted, while also understanding that Mongolia is much more than mining. Therefore, it must not solely depend on the industry. 

In 2023, the stars have started to align again, with the Oyu Tolgoi’s long-anticipated underground development finally complete and prepared for the ramp-up to over 500,000 t/y of copper.. Record exports of coal have also strengthened the country’s balance sheet, and a more pro-mining government elected in 2020 has worked to deliver a new mining code before the next elections this year. 

Investors once came to Mongolia for its geology yet stumbled upon its legislative framework. How competitive Mongolia has become today, we will leave our readers to judge, hoping that this report provides them with the resources to make an informed assessment.


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