Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mining Deal Before Naadam

There was a committee meeting in parliament today to discuss issues surrounding whether to sign the stability agreement with Ivanhoe Mines. This appears to be the first public movement on the issue since rumors began circulating that an agreement might be reached before Naadam. Admittedly my Mongolian ability is not superb, but based on a few articles I have seen it looks like the editors of some news organizations are not particularly pleased with this rumor.

See here: УИХ Оюутолгойн гэрээний төслийг ямар ч байсан хэлэлцэхээр боллоо
And, here: Оюутолгойн гэрээг наадмаас ємнє батлахаар шуурхайлж байна

The tagline for the second article is rather telling. Let's see if I can interpret it with some accuracy. It is: Аливаа томоохон шийдвэрийг олон нийтийн анхаарал єєр тийшээ хандсан vед хулгайгаар хийдэг нь улстєрчдийн гэм биш зан болсон зvйл.

Interpretation: It is a case of politicians' predilection to take all serious decisions by theft when society is looking the other way.

Not a resounding endorsement of the decision to finalize things quickly. But, at the same time this is not surprising. It is a highly political issue. The fact the rumor is receiving a somewhat official airing in the media, though, may indicate that a deal is not only close but robust enough for everyone to feel it can be discussed freely. Maybe the hope is this gives the illusion of debate, even if cursory in nature, so as to allow the deflection of criticism post-signing. A plausible way to rush a decision is to catch someone off guard, pausing just long enough to suggest an opening to give comment, only to move quickly to resolution. In retrospect you can claim there was an opportunity to speak and the other person didn't take the opportunity, so the person has no right to complain. Can you do that with a multi-billion dollar mining deal and a whole society? As always, only time will tell.

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