Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit

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This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Mongolia and coal
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The Tavan tolgoi coal deposit, which is located in the South Gobi desert near China's northern border, is ranked as the world's largest undeveloped coal deposit.

The Mongolian government company which owns the mining licences over the field, Erdenes MGL, states that the deposit comprises just over 6 billion tonnes of coal: 1,529 million metric tonnes of coking coal and 4,480 million tonnes of thermal coal.[1] Another Mongolian government presentation from around the same time states that the deposit has 6.4 billion tonnes of coal. The official also noted that the Bor tolgoi and Southwest and Eastern coalfields within the Tavan Tolgoi deposit "need to be studied more." The initial development of the coalfield has been flagged as being based on annual production of between 15 and 30 million tonnes over a 30 year mine life.[2]

Erdenes states that the deposit is in Umnugovi province and is located 90 km from Dalanzadgad city and 540 km from the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar. A November 2010 presentation by a Mongolian government official states that the deposit comprises six coalfields being Tsankhi, Ukhaa khudag, Bor tolgoi, Borteeg, and Southwest and the Eastern coalfields. "Tsankhi is the main coalfield and contains most of its coking coal resources," the presentation stated.[2]

In June 2011, Mongolia's prime minister said that the coal mine was on track to be completed in 2012. Mongolia is inviting foreign companies to bid to operate Tavan Tolgoi, which is estimated to hold 6 billion metric tons of steelmaking coal.[3]

Project plans

The development of the mine has been flagged as needing to tap into the Balgasiin Ulaan Nuur underground water deposit 70 km to the south of the Tavan Tolgoi deposit and require the construction of the Tavan Tolgoi power station, a 75-100 megawatt power station to support the mine and a proposed new town to house the 600 plus miners and support services. It is proposed that the coal be trucked 270 kilometres to Gashuun Sukhait near the Chinese border. The road is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2011.[2] In the longer term, railway connections to China or Russia will be necessary.

Jostling for the mine of the century

In the first half of 2010 it had been suggested that the deposit would be split with one half being developed by a consortium comprising Shenhua-Peabody and the other by a Russian-Korean consortium.[4]

In June 2010, Peabody Energy executives announced that Wyoming's Powder River Basin model for mining coal should be applied to nations around the world in order to "lift growing populations out of poverty." Fred Palmer, senior vice president of government relations for Peabody, spoke at the International Advanced Coal Technologies Conference in Laramie, WY. Palmer called coal "a matter of human rights" in that "cheap coal offers a higher standard of living for all." Peabody Energy - and other companies - are eyeing a coal field in Mongolia to apply the Powder River Basin model of cheap and abundant coal leasing. Peabody, which operates three coal mines in the Powder River Basin, has argued against climate change legislation at the national and international level, pushing instead for coal gasification and carbon sequestration technologies, under the name clean coal. Others believe the scenario of building Powder River Basin-sized coal fields would have a devastating impact in terms of climate change.[5]

Despite Peabody's optimism that it had the inside running, the Mongolian parliament decided in july 2010 that it would maintain a majority stake in the project. An Australian government trade agency reports that "a daughter company of the government owned Erdenes MGL, Erdenes TT, has been formed to control the project. Erdenes TT will maintain a 50 per cent stake in the project, 10 per cent of the shares will be issued to every citizen of Mongolia, 10 per cent will be listed on the MSE [Mongolian Stock Exchange] and 30 per cent open to foreign investment."[4]

In December 2010, bidders from Japan and South Korea expressed interest in developing the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit. Interest came after Mongolia's government abandoned a plan to use contract miners to develop the entire site. The government is now looking for outside investors to invest in and develop roughly half the deposit, in the western Tsankhi area. Under a contract-mining arrangement, the government is responsible for financing development of the deposit, including the cost of any related infrastructure such as roads, and retains most of the earnings from selling the extracted coal. Contract-mining companies typically work for fixed fees. The site has an estimated 6.4 billion metric tons of coal reserves, making it the world's second-largest coal deposit, after the Shengli field in China, according to data provider Raw Materials Group.[6]

Mongolia picks coal field developers

On July 4, 2011 it was announced that United States based Peabody Energy, China’s Shenhua Group (神華能源) and a Russian-led consortium were selected to develop the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit in Mongolia. Authorities in the country stated that they hoped its mining industry could help pull thousands of people out of poverty. The government announcement made no mention of Japan’s Mitsui and South Korea’s Korea Resources Co — originally on the shortlist of preferred bidders to develop Tavan Tolgoi.

Shenhua is to have a 40 percent share and Peabody 24 percent, while the remaining 36 percent is to be held by the Russian-led consortium. The draft agreement is subject to parliamentary approval and would be submitted to lawmakers. The selected companies will jointly develop the western part of the Tsenkhi block of Tavan Tolgoi, which contains mainly coking coal. State-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (ETT), set up to manage Mongolia’s coal mining interests, owns the rights to mine the block, and will do so with its foreign partners.[7]

Developers rejected

In mid-September 2011 Mongolia rejected plans for Peabody Energy, China's Shenhua Group and a Russian-Mongolian consortium to jointly develop the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit. Mongolian officials said they would hold new negotiations with various companies involved.[8]

Public offering

In September 2011 it was reported that Mongolia will be selling a stake in its Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi coal-mining company to the public in 2012, raising more than $3 billion. The sale would be the nation’s largest IPO.[9] The four investment banks currently selected to lead and arrange the share offering are Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs and Macquarie Group. Erdenes is expected to retain a stake in the Tavan mine with a consortium of US, Chinese and Russian companies developing the project in return for a share.[10]

World Bank flags coal development

In a 1995 review of the country's energy policy, the World Bank signalled its support for the development of a substantial export-oriented mine at Tavan Togloi. The bank noted that while there was a small mine producing coal for local heating plants, far greater operations could be possible with the development of infrastructure. The bank noted that "in a series [of] exploration activities and feasibility studies during 1945-1985, Russian specialists identified huge coal reserves with low stripping ratios in this area, with prospects for development of a 20 mtpy [million tonnes per annum] thermal and coking coal mining operation. The thermal coal seams are reported as exceptionally high quality (8,000 kcal/kg), as are the coking coal reserves, although the Russian determinations of coking properties are not easily comparable with international testing parameters and specifications. From a mining point of view, at least, there are very promising long-term prospects for development on a large scale through private sector financing."[11]

A mine developing the deposits, the report stated, "could both supply Mongolia's thermal coal requirements and provide exports of thermal and coking coal to Russia and/or China, or, through these countries, to other international markets. International experts should assist MEGM to undertake further review of the Russian evaluations completed in the past (including further sampling and testing of the thermal and coking coal qualities), and to complete a preliminary assessment of infrastructure (transport) needs, options, and costs."[12]

Details of the deposit

According to Erdenes MGL the Tavan Tolgoi deposit comprises:[1]

  • comprise five mining licences -- 11943À, 11953À, 11954A, 11955A, 11956A -- over a 68,522 hectare mining field. The licences are all owned by Erdenes MGL LLC;
  • the company states that the field has "poor infrastructure development" and an "improved dirt road from Tavan Tolgoi to Gashuun Sukhait border crossing";
  • the deposit comprises 1,529 million metric tonnes of coking coal and 4,480 million tonnes of thermal coal giving a total of 6,009 million tonnes;
  • Coking coal calorific value 6500-7500 Kcal/kg; Sulfur content 0.6%; ash: 10%; moisture content: 8.5%
  • Thermal coal calorific value 4900 Kcal/kg; Sulfur content 0.8%; ash content: 20.1-33.3%; moisture content: 8.5%.
  • The project is targeting 15 million tonnes of production annually.[13]

Timeline

  • 1990's: BHP Billiton held the rights to the Tavan Tolgoi deposit. However, they determined that the deposit was uneconomic and relinquished the rights to the project.[14][15]
  • August 2006: Energy Resources LLC was "granted with mining license MV-11952 for the Ukhaa Khudag coking coal deposit covering area of 2,960 hectares and mining at Ukhaa Khudag commenced in April, 2009."[16]
  • November 2007: The Mongolian government decided to establish a working group to renegotiate the ownership and investment rights for Tavan Tolgoi which were held by Energy Resources LLC, a consortium of Mongolian businessman. The then Mongolians prime minister, Bayar Sanjaa, flagged the possibility of nationalizing Tavan Tolgoi following public criticism of a draft investment agreement for the deposit. Under the draft agreement, Energy Resources were to hold a 14% stake, other investors 36% and the government 50%.[17]
  • December 2007: The Mongolian government takes control the the deposit. "Tavan Tolgoi has become an issue of national security and public interests," Sanjaa was reported as stating in his inaugural speech in parlaiment.[18]
  • January 2009: BHP Billiton withdraws its bid to hold a 49% stake in a company developing the Tavan Tolgoi deposit. Subsequently, Peabody Energy met with Mongolian government officials about the project.[19]
  • June 2010: Government announces plans to sell 30% of a company controlling the Tavan Tolgoi deposit to help fund the $1.5 billion of development cost with the government retaining a 40%;[20]
  • December 8, 2010: Erdenes MGL announces details of bidding process for seeking companies that "will invest and cooperate in tenements" for the western Tsankhi section of the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit". Erdenes states in the document that it is seeking "investors that will conduct negotiations on transit transportation, prerequisites, upfront payment, port utilization, and investment and product sales terms in relation to Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit development as set out in Resolution No. 39 of the Parliament of Mongolia dated 2010 on Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit development". The selected bidder, the company stated, "shall conduct operations by entering into a contract with Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi company on investment and cooperation in coal mining in the coking coal areas at the Tavan Tolgoi deposi".[21] The coal block is referred to as Tsankhi block 1, which is reported as having an estimated 1.2 billion tons of coal.[22]
  • December 27, 2010: Erdences MGL releases details of bidding process for contract miners seeking the development of the eastern Tsankhi deposits;[23]
  • January 17, 2011: Deadline for proposals for companies interested in investing in the company developing the western Tsankhi, comprising approximately half the Tavan Tolgoi deposits.[24]
  • January 27, 2011: Deadline for expressions of interest from contract-mining companies in developing the eastern Tsankhi section of Tavan Tolgoi;[24]
  • February 2011: Mongolian government cancels auction of stake for private companies in the the Tavan Tolgoi deposits;[25]
  • March 2011: The Mongolian government selected six selected preferred bidders for the development of Tsankhi block 1. The six, which began negotiations with the Mongolian government on March 15, are:[22]
  • June 2011: Mongolia's prime minister states that coal mine will be operational in 2012, but the country is still looking for outside bidders to manage the project.[3]
  • July 2011: Mongolia picks trio to develop mine, including United States based Peabody Energy.[7]

Articles and resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Erdenes MGL, "Erdenes MGL LLC", Erdenes MGL, October 2010, page 10.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 A.Erdenepurev, Director of Fuel Policy Department, Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mongolia, Brief Update on Tavan Tolgoi Coal Project, Mongolia", Presentation to the Government Business Dialogue-3 Moscow, Russian Federation, November 23, 2010. (Pdf)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Mongolia’s prime minister says development of giant copper-gold mine, coal mine on track" Associated Press, June 14, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Australian Trade Commission, "Mongolian Mining Projects Report 2011", January 2011, page 15. (This report is not available online).
  5. Dustin Bleizeffer, "Powder River Basin coal model goes global" trib.com, June 24, 2010.
  6. Peter Stein, "Mongolia Seeks Investors for Coal Deposit" The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29, 2010.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Mongolia picks trio to develop coal field" Ulan Bator, AFP, Taipei Times, July 4, 2011.
  8. "Mongolia rejects plans for US's Peabody, China's Shenhua, Russian-local group to develop mine" Associated Press, September 20, 2011.
  9. "Mongolia Says $3B Coal IPO Likely Next Year" Bloomberg, September 5, 2011.
  10. [http://www.carbontracker.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/01/CoalCapitalbriefingJan12.pdf "Coal occupying the London Stock Exchange," WWF, 2012 Report.
  11. Mongolia Energy Sector Review, World Bank, November 3, 1995, page 19.
  12. Mongolia Energy Sector Review, World Bank, November 3, 1995, pages 19-20.
  13. "Huge coking-coal mine to change the landscape" Paul Garvey, The Australian, November 11, 2011.
  14. Michael Sainsbury, "Mongolia heats up the market for coal exports", The Australian, September 09, 2010.
  15. John Garnaut, "Mongolia gears up for mining bonanza", Sydney Morning Herald, February 21, 2011.
  16. Energy Resources LLC, "About Us: Company Overview", Energy Resources LLC website, accessed March 2011.
  17. "Mongolia to Reconsider Plans for Tavan Tolgoi Coking Coal Project", Mining Top News, November 28th 2007. (This was an Associated Press story).
  18. Ariunbold Altankhuyag, "New Mongolian government announces seizure of Tavan Tolgoi coal site", Mongolia Web (blog), December 19, 2007.
  19. "Report: BHP Billiton withdraws offer to mine Tavan Tolgoi", Mongolia-Web, January 23, 2009.
  20. John Duce, 'Mongolia Plans to Offer 30% Tavan Tolgoi Company (Update1)", Bloomberg, July 8, 2010.
  21. Erdenes MGL, "Prequalification for Company/Consortium to Invest in and Cooperate at the Tavan Tolgoi Coal Deposit", December 10, 2010.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Mongolia Shortlists 6 Bidders For Tavan Tolgoi Mine", Dow Jones, March 7, 2011.
  23. Erdences MGL, "Open Bidding for Contract Miner for Tavan Tolgoi Coal Deposit", Media Release, December 27, 2010.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Peter Stein, "Mongolia Opens Coal Tract to Investors", Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2010.
  25. "Mongolia ends $2 bln Tavan Tolgoi stake sale-sources", Reuters, February 4, 2011.

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

  • A.Erdenepurev, Director of Fuel Policy Department, Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mongolia, Brief Update on Tavan Tolgoi Coal Project, Mongolia", Presentation to the Government Business Dialogue-3 Moscow, Russian Federation, November 23, 2010. (Pdf)

External articles