A Strategic Discovery: Rare Earth Elements Bonanza in the DPRK

Pacific Prospective features the research of graduate students.

Memo #258

By Marie-Pier Baril – mariepier.baril [at] gmail.com

Earlier this month, MiningWeekly announced the world’s largest known single reserve of rare earth elements (REE) was discovered in Jongju, North Pyongan province, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea). The DPRK’s mineral resources have always… Continue reading

Tertiary Education in Mongolia: Tackling Mongolia’s Labor Deficit Problem

The Mongolian economy is booming and continues to enjoy an extremely high GDP growth rate. Economic opportunities for citizens in urban and rural settings abound. Mining is a major portion of the economy, with the massive Oyu Tolgoi mining project accounting for a third of Mongolia’s GDP. While World Bank development projects focus on infrastructure development, economic governance and institutional strengthening of the mining sector, the demand for a sufficiently educated Mongolian workforce remains unmet. Continue reading

The Politics of Mining in Mongolia and Burma/Myanmar

Protests against mining projects reveal contrasts in the political impact of resource extraction in Mongolia, an established 23 year-old democracy, and Burma/Myanmar, a liberalizing authoritarian state. Two similarities are apparent in the domestic tensions surrounding Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoi and Burma’s Letpadaung copper mines: both governments and populations are keen to balance Chinese influence in their economies; and both struggle to balance development goals with local grievances. Yet, the differing role of the countries’ politicians means that the protests have different outcomes. Continue reading

Why are Foreign Mining Companies Retreating from China?

In the 1990s, China opened up the country’s vast mineral resources to international investment. Over the past decade, it has reformulated its mining legislation to attract foreign companies into the Chinese mining sector with the hope of speeding up its modernization. Between 2001 and 2004 the number of foreign mining projects quickly increased from 150 to 279. But by 2010, this number had declined to 92. International firms continue to feel stymied by an inconsistent and convoluted mining policy and their inability to create relationships of trust with local mining stakeholders. Continue reading

Change in Democratic Mongolia (Video Interview with Dr. Julian Dierkes)

Memo #181 – In this interview, Dr. Julian Dierkes introduces the edited volume “Change in Democratic Mongolia: Social Relations, Health, Mobile Pastoralism, and Mining.” By tracing rapid change in Mongolia in four broad fields of contemporary social relations, the chapters in this volume will elucidate the state of contemporary Mongolia and help us understand Mongolia ten or 20 years from now. Continue reading

Why No Anti-Mining Party in Mongolia? Why No Pro-Mining Movement?

Memo #106 – Next week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to address the Mongolian parliament. Her visit will come during a tumultuous period as Mongolian politicians prepare for parliamentary elections in summer 2012. Recently, 20 MPs petitioned the government to revisit the 2009 Investment Agreement signed with Ivanhoe Mines and Rio Tinto for the giant Oyu Tolgoi (OT) gold and copper project. The petition sent shares and Mongolia’s credibility as a natural resource investment destination momentarily tumbling. No enduring anti-mining coalition is behind this petition, nor has a pro-mining, single-issue party emerged. Continue reading

Livelihood Clashes in Inner Mongolia and Mongolia

Memo #87 – The Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center, a U.S.-based group, has been reporting on protests in cities along the central-northeastern border between the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) in China and Mongolia. These reports raise the spectre of ethnic conflict between Han Chinese and Mongolians. In fact, the origins of conflict are less ethnic in nature and more of a clash between traditional pastoral livelihoods and mining operations. Continue reading

China’s Next Revolution: Fracking in the East

Memo #76 – Will Sichuan’s landscape one day resemble northeastern British Columbia’s Horn River Basin, one of North America’s most promising shale gas plays? The least contentious answer is ‘it won’t anytime soon,’ but there are many who would like to think so, especially in China. With the socialist revolution under their belt, Beijing is taking on another one – the shale gas revolution of North America. What the shale gas revolution lacks in cadres, it makes up in energy; coincidentally, the type most favoured by Beijing – the potential energy stored in hydrocarbon molecules of methane gas. Continue reading

Canadian Mining and Human Rights in Asia: Building an Advantage or Dismantling Competitiveness?

Memo #16 – On September 20, 2010, Canada’s House of Commons will give third reading to the Private Members Bill, C-300. If passed, it will have significant implications for the Canadian extractive industry’s nearly $9 billion worth of mining assets throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It is expected to draw fierce opposition from the Conservative side of the House. Although the proposed law has sparked a much-needed debate on mining and human rights, it is deeply flawed. Continue reading