The Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine is one of the world’s largest mining operations. It is located in the southern Gobi Desert, Mongolia and operated by Rio Tinto in partnership with the Government of Mongolia.
The mine is of considerable economic importance for Mongolia. It is estimated to account for more than 30% of Mongolia’s Gross Domestic Product upon completion, thus contributing significantly towards improving socio-economic conditions in this relatively poor country. However, the operation will have significant direct and indirect impacts on globally important biodiversity during it’s construction and operation, including threatened bird, ungulate and plant species that are protected under Mongolian law.
The Oyu Tolgoi project has committed to have a net positive impact on biodiversity of the southern Gobi region by mine closure. This is motivated by Rio Tinto’s corporate biodiversity strategy, as well as compliance the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 6/European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Performance Requirement 6.
In partnership with The Biodiversity Consultancy (TBC), Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and local partners, the Oyu Tolgoi project has developed a Net Positive Impact forecast, and detailed impact and mitigation plan, and biodiversity offset strategy, as per the Conservation Hierarchy framework.
The process has been supported by a regional conservation plan for the Mongolian Gobi: Identifying Conservation Priorities in the Face of Future Development. The plan applies The Nature Conservancy’s ‘Development by Design’ principles using systematic conservation planning, which balances commitments to protect natural habitats with planned development of mineral resources and related infrastructure, enabling smart development.