From this article at Globalissues I just learned that the United States abstained on the recent decision at the World Bank to go ahead with funding the Oyu Tolgoi project. Thanks for this very interesting link to this tweet by Enkhbat Dangaasuren.
And the American government published a short position paper giving the reasons for their decision.
That makes some very interesting points. For one, on the power plant:
With respect to the domestic power plant, follow through on the commitment for an expanded alternatives analysis of power supply options and consideration of renewable energy in the energy supply mix, and an additional commitment to consider broader measures to reduce emissions, either globally by the company, or by Mongolia through energy reforms.
Reading that I learn that Oyu Tolgoi has committed to consider alternatives, especially renewable energy options. That is exactly what I have been calling for on this blog. Of course, it is also very nice to hear that the government of the United States of America shares that position.
Second, the ESIA does not provide a sufficiently detailed analysis of associated facilities and cumulative impacts, notably concerning a coal-fired power plant that will likely be needed to provide reliable power for the project. Also, the planned expansion in the project’s mining capacity is covered only lightly in the cumulative impact assessment.
With this development, the Oyu Tolgoi project is clearly on notice that coal power plants are not welcome when receiving World Bank funding. For the very least they need to fairly and thoroughly consider the alternatives before falling back on that option.
I would recommend that someone from Newcom talk to them about that point. I recall that Newcom and Softbank want to build the first Gobi desert 300 MW wind power site for around $626 million.
Under the circumstances, it might make a lot of sense to build that site close to Oyu Tolgoi, and include them in the discussions about such a project from an early stage on. And, while building wind in Mongolia is more difficult than in Denmark because of a lack of infrastructure, it should be possible to get it done faster than building a new coal power plant.
Update: Enkhbat kindly linked to this article with this tweet:
Мөн энд зарим нэг ажиглагчийн тайлбар бгаа
Which may mean “Also, there is some comment from one observer” (don’t take my word for it).
Related post: My book “Energy from the Mongolian Gobi desert”