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Mongolia restarts bidding for giant coal project

World Coal,

Mongolia has relaunched ah international tender to develop its giant Tavan Tolgoi coal project, as it attempts to boost a flagging economy hit by falling commodity prices and a decline in foreign investment.

According to Reuters, the latest attempt has drawn interest from Mongolia Mining Corp. (MMC), Peabody Energy Corp. and Japan’s Itochu Corp., despite weak global coal prices.

Tavan Tolgoi holds around 7.5 billion t of metallurgical coal, however, Mongolia has struggled to finance its development and little progress has been made at the project site since international bidding collapsed in 2011.

MMC said it had formed a consortium “with certain independent parties” to submit a bid for the project, which lies around 300 km from the Chinese border.

In 2011, the western block of the project was awarded to a consortium consisting of Peabody, a team of Russian and Mongolian firms, and the Shenhua Group, China's biggest coal producer, but the result was annulled after rival bidders from Japan and South Korea branded the decision unfair.

Peabody spokesman, Chris Curran, said the firm would be "an active participant" in the current tender.

Itochu, which submitted a joint bid with Sumitomo, Marubeni and Sojitz in 2011, said it had also notified Mongolia that it was interested in getting involved.

South Korea's Daewoo International and LG International, both part of a consortium bid in 2011, said they would not participate.

China’s Shenhua, meanwhile, has not yet indicated whether it will be involved in the new round of bidding or not.

Mongolia's new prime minister Chimed Saikhanbileg has identified Tavan Tolgoi as a priority to energise the country's flagging economy. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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