Mongolia learning from Aus how to make most of mining boom

AS IT prepares to face the corporate hordes keen for its minerals, Mongolian government officials have headed for Australia to learn how to make the most of it.

The developing Asian nation, on the doorstep of a resource-hungry China, has an exploding industry funded in part by billions of dollars from multi-national mining firm Rio Tinto.

When the Oyu Tolgoi [corr]copper and gold project reaches peak production in 2018, it will supply one-third of the country's gross domestic product.

With this in mind, Mongolia must carefully choose its path because other developing nations have squandered opportunities of this scale, finding themselves poorer, not richer, once these minerals are exhausted.

Griffith University in Brisbane hosted a group from Mongolia's Ministry of Finance to teach them how best to tax mining and establish a fund for national development.

Course convenor Dr Tapan Sarker [corr]said it was a chance to work with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Mongolian Government.

He said Nigeria and Nauru both struggled to properly harness the mining industry whereas the tiny island nation of Kiribati still earns 30% of GDP from its national fund.

"It is to train up these high level government revenue officers who play an important role not just in revenue collection but in making policies that can help both now and in the future."

Mongolia Minister of Finance world fund director Khuyagtsogt Ognon said the group would learn from Australia's "long and rich history" in dealing with mine companies.

"We have a lot of attraction from foreign firms because of the natural wealth (in Mongolia)," Mr Ognon said.

"There are quite big challenges that policymakers have had - taxes on mining areas and revenue management from the mining sector.

"Learning from the past experience of the Australian Government and its taxation experience in the mining sector is very important to us."

Mr Ognon said it would not copy Australian practices directly.

It was the second year Griffith has hosted Mongolian delegates to provide policy advice.

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