US, Asian Firms to Develop Massive Mongolian Coal Field

Posted July 5th, 2011 at 5:15 am (UTC-5)
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Companies from China, Russia and the United States have emerged as the big winners in the competition to develop one of the world’s biggest deposits of coking coal, used for steel-making.

Mongolian officials Tuesday announced their decision, which will be submitted to parliament for approval on Wednesday. The companies and consortiums, which include Japanese and South Korean interests, will pay an initial $1 billion for the long-sought right to begin tapping the Tavan Tolgoi deposit in the southern Gobi Desert.

The companies are expected to spend billions more on development costs, including a 600-megawatt power station and north and southbound railways. The projects will provide a huge boost to the Mongolian economy, which could become one of the world’s fastest-growing over the next decade.

According to the Mongolian cabinet decision Monday, a joint venture led by China Shenhua Energy Company will receive a 40 percent stake in the so-called Tsenkhi block in the western portion of the Tavan coal field. Shenhua will share the stake with its Japanese joint venture partner, Mitsui and Company.

Another 36 percent of the block will go to a Russian-led consortium which includes Japanese and South Korean companies. The final 24 percent goes to U.S.-based Peabody Energy Corporation.

The companies will pay a 5 percent royalty on coal they extract as well as other fees. The Tavan Tolgoi deposit is believed to hold more than 6 billion tons of coal.