Mongolia wants to expand the area available to mining to a fifth of the country and so boost coal, shale gas and oil exploration, in an attempt to end its dependence on foreign oil by the end of the decade.
The mineral rich country, seeking to regain investors’ confidence by overturning last year’s cancellation of more than 100 mining licenses, is hoping to attract $1bn of investment this year, vice-minister for mining Erdenebulgan Oyun told Bloomberg this week.
As recently as 2011, the central Asian nation economy grew at a world-beating record of 17.5%. The figure moderated to 11.7% last year, amid a collapse in foreign investment that has extended into this year.
Mongolia is seen as one of the most interesting countries for mining exploration, combining good geology with a strategic location next to China, the world’s largest user of commodities. But investors have been losing confidence in the country amid a series of legal disputes and stalled developments.
The government last month embarked on a 100-day programme to improve economic performance through dozens of measures to boost investment and cut imports.
The path to prosperity for Mongolia, ranked 155th in the world according to GDP per capita, has always been a rocky one. The The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has bailed out the country no fewer than five times and its domestic bank sector seems to have a major fallout on average every 18 months.