Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Julian Dierkes; latest brilliancy

In the FT Dierkes, who apparently has close relations with teh GOM, writes:

But Rio Tinto may also have to embrace democracy more fully. Clearly, Oyu Tolgoi’s long-term viability depends on securing a social compact for the project with Mongolians. The strategy followed thus far of engaging only with decision-makers (inherited from Ivanhoe Mines and visible in Rio Tinto projects elsewhere) appears to make a foreign investor’s life more difficult in a democracy like Mongolia.

Mongolia is home to just over 700,000 households and literacy is high. This offers Oyu Tolgoi and its owners a rare opportunity to address the population directly. An information campaign to explain (not advertise) the revenue stream arrangements for a large project like Oyu Tolgoi would go a long way to giving citizens the information they need to hold their representatives accountable.

There is room for creative thinking about a country-wide citizens’ council that would advise or even oversee the government directors on the boards of Oyu Tolgoi and other big natural resource projects in the future. This would not be a parallel decision-making body, but a means to involve Mongolians more directly in the oversight and the evaluation of plans. Members would be selected in ways which keep them as far as possible from day-to-day party politics. Such a council could even help guide a future sovereign wealth fund that might be used to smooth out the impact of commodity price fluctuations on export revenues.

Quite hard to imagine a more counter-productive idea. Just what the managers at RIO-TRQ need, to be foreced to sit down in council meetings and receive endless complaints, suggestions and requests from 'citizens' as if dealing with politicans wasn't enough of a time and effort waster. This goes along with other comments made that RIO is failing to win over the minds of the general populace. In this post-modern age I suppose governments and large business concerns think an Orwellian media blitz can solve anything. The problem is that the GOM, and/or any other interest that perceives itself adverse to RIO can completely vitiate all of RIO's "citizien-friendly overtures" simply by invoking a knee-jerk xenophobic response -- which is not very hard to do in Mongolia. Let alone the fact that many of Mongolia's citizens simply don't like the idea of having foreign miners on their soil or large mining projects in general. No, Mr. Dierkes, RIO does not need to expose itself to the bantering of citizens councils, it needs the GOM to honor its agreements.

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