Mongolia will hold a reality television style text message referendum on the future of Rio Tinto’s troubled Oyu Tolgoi copper mine project, the Financial Times reports.
The FT says Mongolian prime minister Saikhanbileg Chimed will ask voters whether their country should develop more of its mineral resources or resort to austerity to support the faltering economy.
Mongolian voters will have four days, beginning Saturday, to text their vote on the future of Rio Tinto’s plans for the $6 billion project.
Economists say the copper mine project, which is stalled because Rio Tinto has been unable to reach an agreement with Mongolia over project financing and revenue sharing could generate about a third of the country’s gross domestic product. The lack of an agreement, in concert with current instabilty on financial markets has sent Mongolia’s currency plunging.
Like Kitimat’s plebiscite on the Northern Gateway, the vote will be non-binding. The FT says the vote “could help Mr Saikhanbileg broker a consensus in favour of allowing OT to proceed, cutting through the arguments of critics who say Mongolia is not getting its fair share of the mine’s earnings.”
The FT reports: “The prime minister, who explained the referendum this week on television, was trying to appeal to the general public ‘over the heads of squabbling factions in parliament and break the logjam.'”
Full story at Mongolia holds text message vote on mining v austerity