Updated Oyu Tolgoi Management Plans remain deeply flawed

On November 13, 2013, nine civil society organizations from Mongolia, Europe, US and Australia submitted their initial review of the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) project’s Operational Management Plans (OMPs) to the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors in anticipation of the Board’s November 19th technical briefing.

Men and women gather around a laptop

The Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold mine in the South Gobi aimag of Mongolia is one of the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) largest and most complex infrastructure investments. The IFC Executive Directors, management, and their client recognize that this huge mining project poses significant environmental and social risks to the local community of Khanbogd soum in the South Gobi, as well as to the country at large.

The same groups had informed the management prior to the Board approval in February 2013 of their collective findings on the Project’s ESIA, which they determined was incomplete and retroactive. This situation was partially remedied with the recent, but much delayed, publication of OMPs and the April 2013 audit report at the end of September 2013. However, the OMPs and the audit fail to address many of the key issues previously flagged to the IFC and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), including questionable stakeholder engagement and replacement of the Bor Ovoo spring. The groups also question the full engagement of the IFC and its client with the ongoing processes related to the complaints to the CAO and the EBRD Project Complaint Mechanism. Critical components of the OMPs that would ameliorate these concerns, such as the Biodiversity Monitoring and Evaluation Programme and Water Monitoring Plan, and other unreleased reports, such as the Aquaterra groundwater monitoring report, have still not been disclosed.

This review complements the concerns brought to the World Bank by L. Battsengel, a herder leader from the Khanbogd-based local grassroots organization Gobi Soil, during the Bank’s Annual Meetings in October 2013 (see photo above). During his visit to Washington, DC, he met with IFC and CAO staff as well as a number of Executive Directors to share photos and testimony of the impacts that he and the rest of herding community has experienced as a result of OT. Battsengel asked the Bank to withhold disbursement of the loan until it could guarantee access to clean water, clean air, and adequate pastureland for the herders so that they might preserve and continue their traditional livelihoods.

The groups that submitted their review and recommendations are OT Watch, Accountability Counsel, Bank Information Center, CEE Bankwatch Network, Jubilee Australia, London Mining Network, Sierra Club, Southwest Research and Information Center, and Urgewald.


Read the report:

CSO review of the OT OMPs, November 13, 2013