PEI Principle

That would be “positive environmental impact” principle. Right now there is no match in Google for “positive environmental impact principle”, a situation which is about to change.

I got this idea by thinking some more about Gunii Holoi. As I blogged the other day, that is the name of the 6.8 billion cubic meters water aquifer, the fossil water resource that the Oyu Tolgoi mining project will use to get their copper and gold out of the ground.

Again, it is remarkable that there is a lot of fossil water to be found in the Gobi if you dig deep enough and know where to look. That will come in handy if the Gobi desert energy project ever should want to use the energy for making hydrogen as car fuel or to start a forest project.

But with this post, I would like to highlight again the environmental impact assessment that the Oyu Tolgoi project did for their water use.

The goal of this document is to show that local water resources won’t deteriorate because of the mining project.

I think this goal is not ambitious enough. They should be able to show that the water resources will actually improve. And the “positive environment impact principle” requires exactly this. Don’t show that your project is neutral to the environment. Show that it actually improves the situation.

The Oyu Tolgoi project will use 60,134,400 liters of water a day from the Gunii Holoi aquifer. Would it be too much to ask that they provide one percent (601,344 liters) for use as an entirely new water resource? Why don’t they get some of Sundrop Farm’s concentrated solar power desalinating capacity and treat that water?

Oyu Tolgoi should not be aiming for “our project doesn’t make things worse”. They should, and could easily aim for “our project is making the environment better”.

Getting some new water previously not available to local herders and starting a couple of tomato growing greenhouses as well as planting some trees with that newly available water would do wonders for the support of the project in the Mongolian public. The project can’t exist without such support.

In exactly the same way, any project of large scale renewable energy from the Gobi desert would need to show that it improves the environmental situation right at the site.

That “positive environmental impact principle” is a general idea not confined to the Oyu Tolgoi project. I just happened to get that idea thinking about the fossil water in the Gunii Holoi aquifer.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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