A moratorium on new mining exploration licences in Mongolia could be lifted during the spring session of parliament, Mongolia's mines minister said, as it works to lure back foreign investment after a slump last year.
A ban on the issuing and processing of licences has been in place since June 2010, leaving many projects in the mineral-rich country in limbo.
But that could change for some if parliament addressed "many discrepancies" in previous mining laws next month, Mines Minister Gankhuyag Davaajav said on Tuesday.
"I do believe that ... in the spring session we should be able to have this resolved," Davaajav said following a Mongolia business conference held in Toronto, Canada.
Foreign direct investment in Mongolia has dropped for the past two years, coinciding with a string of moves by the government that discouraged stakes in copper and coal.
In an about-turn, the parliament passed an investment law in November that gives equal treatment to foreign and local investors to try to tempt back investors.
Davaajav said Mongolia had made mistakes in the past but that it would "never repeat" them. He did not, however, directly address the issue of 106 exploration licences that were annulled last year as part of an investigation into mining sector corruption.
Canadian mining company Centerra Gold said in January that it was "quite optimistic" it would be able to get back to work soon on its Gatsuurt exploration project in Mongolia, which has been suspended since 2010.
Gatsuurt has been included on a list of mineral deposits of "strategic importance" for the Mongolian government to consider. Centerra is hopeful that parliament will approve the list this year, opening the door for it to resume exploration on the property.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Mongolia may lift ban on new mining permits