From Paper to Progress

Tracking agreements between nomadic herders and Mongolia's largest copper mine

Download Report
Video Credit: Abhi Singh
Video Credit: Abhi Singh

Traditional livestock herding has been the main economic activity in Mongolia’s South Gobi for countless generations. Always a precarious livelihood in this harsh desert landscape, herding became even harder when the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine began building its vast network of infrastructure on one of the world’s largest copper deposits. Suddenly in competition for pasture and water resources, in a rapidly changing economic and physical landscape, herders quickly began to feel the impacts on their traditional livelihoods.

The Story

In 2012 and 2013, herders in Khanbogd Soum filed complaints to an accountability office tied to the World Bank Group, which invested in the Oyu Tolgoi mine. The accountability office facilitated a mediation process, which led to the establishment of the Tripartite Council (TPC), a freestanding body of representatives from the mine, herders and the local government to resolve issues related to herders, water and pasture.

We walked tall on our land. We were proud herders.

In May 2017, after years of negotiation, the TPC reached two final agreements to resolve herders’ complaints. Together, these agreements contain 60 separate commitments to address issues related to pasture and water resources, monitoring of impacts and community relations, compensation for lost livelihoods, and the mine’s disruption of the Undai River and sacred Bor Ovoo spring.

The agreements were an important achievement, but unless they are carried out effectively, they are little more than words on paper. Turning the agreements into a reality will require dedicated work by all parties, and that work is far from over.

In February 2019, Accountability Counsel published a report analyzing progress in the first 18 months of agreement implementation. This website provides an interactive summary of the report’s findings and recommendations and charts the TPC’s progress on fulfilling the agreement commitments.

Implementation Progress

Some say progress is “not good enough”

The parties have made some notable progress towards implementation, but some TPC representatives believe that it is still “not good enough,” noting that only a small number of commitments are fully implemented and have started to provide benefits for local herders. These sentiments match our overall findings, which show that progress has been varied and many commitments are seriously delayed. Some of the most important commitments still require significant work, with successful implementation far from guaranteed.

61%

Detailed Plan Developed

60%

Funding Approved

58%

Implementation Started

29%

Completed

Commitments

Category
Detailed Plan
Approved Funding
Begun Implementation
Complete
Pasture
67%
50%
44%
11%
1
Re-establish a grazing system to adjust for lost pasture
  • Pasture use plan prepared
  • not yet adopted by citizens representatives khural
Yes
N/A
No
No
2
Reduce herder actions to lock wells / limit pasture access (signed user contracts)
  • Contracts developed and approved by citizens representatives khural
Yes
N/A
No
No
3
Open additional pasture use through well building program (#12); clarify herder rights to possession
  • No progress on clarifying herder rights to possession
  • see #12 for status of well building
No
N/A
No
No
4
Support local government on pasture management (technical trainings, provision of experts)
  • 5 soum government staff trained in pasture mapping
  • unclear what further steps will be taken
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
5
TPC to actively support herders, existing institutions, and traditional ways to resolve herding conflicts
  • TPC should support enforcement of: Governor’s decree on open access to water points and prohibition on use of winter pastures during summer months
No
N/A
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
7
Detailed analysis of increased livestock numbers and absentee livestock ownership
  • Counting of livestock in process
  • no detailed plan for this analysis
No
No
Yes
No
9
Rehabilitate pasture in sites disturbed by past OT activities
  • Reclamation plan is underway with some sites prioritized before others
  • will take years to complete
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
10
Continue to implement 2015 protocol allowing temporary livestock grazing within OT fence
  • OT received no requests to graze in the fenced area in 2018
Yes
N/A
Yes
Yes
Water
57%
83%
29%
29%
Yes
Yes
No
No
13
Establish well maintenance team to build, repair and monitor condition of wells
  • 200 million MNT (US $78,100) approved beginning in 2019
  • independent NGO hired to look into program design options
No
Yes
No
No
14
Gradually stop OT water delivery after resolving new well creation needs
  • Planned to happen after new wells are built (#12)
No
N/A
No
No
16
Provide 12 boreholes, equipped for herder water use, to KB Government
  • Completed
  • certificate of acceptance has been issued
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
17
Hydrogeological study (study of water reserves under pasture)
  • Contractor bidding underway in June 2018
Yes
Yes
No
No
Monitoring, reporting and community relations
60%
75%
60%
0%
18
Replace outsourced environmental monitoring with local monitoring; include paid positions for herders
  • 240 million MNT (US $93,590) provided to newly created herder-run NGO
  • Detailed monitoring plan is under development
No
Yes
No
No
19
OT reports on progress of retrospective compensation arrangements
  • OT reporting quarterly to TPC
  • many affected herders are not receiving regular updates
Yes
N/A
Yes
No
21
Expand ОТ community relations work (i.e. household visits, attend bagh meetings)
  • OT reports progress in team capacity and community-centered approach
  • some herders still report issues like poor communication or unresponsiveness
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
22
Improve ОТ's grievance mechanism, clarify options for recourse to outside body
  • OT released updated grievance procedure in September 2017
  • herders say they are being told to take their concerns to the TPC
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Individual compensation
67%
43%
89%
45%
23
OT formally acknowledges problems with 2004 resettlement
  • Included in March 2017 TPC joint statement
N/A
N/A
N/A
Yes
24
Establish Compensation Claims Committee (CCC)
  • CCC established in May 2017
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
25
Adopt CCC Operational Guidelines
  • Completed in May 2017
Yes
N/A
Yes
Yes
26
2004 resettlement- discuss newly eligible claims & compensate
  • Delayed
  • some claims not yet decided
  • compensation still needs to be provided for some claims
Yes
Partial
Yes
No
27
For the 2004 resettled households without a fulltime job at OT: engage in 1-year training program with stipends
  • The 2 qualifying households without an OT job were included in a 1-year training program starting in 2017
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
28
For all 2004 resettled households: engage in the Sustainable Livelihoods Program (#36-42)
  • Still working to include all 2004 households in these benefits
No
N/A
Yes
No
29
2011 economic displacement - discuss newly eligible claims & compensate
  • Delayed
  • some claims not yet decided
  • compensation still needs to be provided for some claims
Yes
Partial
Yes
No
30
Conduct Outcome Evaluation & implementation audit of 2011 compensation program
  • Outcome Evaluation completed in July 2018
  • OT has no plans to conduct a separate implementation audit
Partial
Partial
Yes
No
31
Decide and implement any additional actions for households that received 2011 compensation, based on Outcome Evaluation findings
  • OT is creating household-specific development plans for 16 households found to have unrestored or unsustainable livelihoods
No
No
No
No
32
CCC to resolve claims of incomplete provision of compensation
  • CCC has reviewed these claims
  • eligible households will receive business support packages
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
33
Cancel confidentiality clauses of 2004 and 2011 compensation agreements
  • As of March 2017, each herder is free to share their own compensation agreement, at their own discretion
N/A
N/A
N/A
Yes
Collective compensation
42%
50%
33%
17%
34
Implement Khanbogd Soum Animal Husbandry Sector Development Program through 2024
  • Initial projects underway or complete (i.e. animal laboratory constructed Spring 2018.)
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
35
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Sustainable Livelihoods Program
No
Partial
No
No
37
SLP Project 2: Well, fence and shelter maintenance team + artificial pond and water collection points
  • Initial funding approved
  • NGO consultant advised on design options
  • TPC to make final decision
No
Yes
No
No
38
SLP Project 3: Establish herders' market and supply chain for livestock raw materials
  • Feasibility study developed
  • TPC developing business plan
No
No
No
No
39
SLP Project 4: Improve herder health services
  • 32 million MNT (US $12,147) approved
  • will be implemented in 2019
Yes
Yes
No
No
40
SLP Project 5: Livestock fodder planting program
  • Feasibility study identified challenges
  • project temporarily halted, and TPC is considering other options
No
No
No
No
41
SLP Project 6: Connect deep wells to renewable (solar) energy
  • 150 million MNT (US $58,500) approved
  • first 10 wells received solar connections in September 2018
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
42
SLP Project 7: Build livestock slaughter line
  • Feasibility study developed
  • TPC developing a business plan
No
No
No
No
43
Support (training and micro loans) for SME businesses
  • Merged with a broader project to be implemented by IFC, GIZ and Gobi Oyu Fund
  • 5.9 billion MNT (US $2.3 M) financing approved for first 3 years
  • center built at Dalanzadgad
  • at least 4 Khanbogd residents have received support
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
44
Refer to KB Development Committee requests for road paving, clean water and sewage hook-ups
  • Funds provided for road paving
  • drinking water and sewage system to be negotiated
No
Partial
No
No
Undai river diversion
73%
67%
80%
47%
Yes
N/A
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
48
Vegetation plan for new Bor Ovoo Spring
  • Little to no progress made
No
No
No
No
49
Information board about original Bor Ovoo Spring placed at new spring
  • A monument was erected to memorialize the original Bor Ovoo spring
  • A ceremony was scheduled for December 2018
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
N/A
Yes
Yes
51
Gobi Grove-tree planting project implementation
  • Partially complete but may be re-designed after completion of environmental impact assessment
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
52
Measures to release blocked Undai river flow at 3 locations within Mine License Area
  • Measures completed during 2017 rainy season have proven ineffective
  • TPC looking into new measures
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
53
Improve integrity of Khaliv-Dugat diversion channel to reduce erosion
  • TPC still deciding which actions are needed
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
55
OT Independent Technical Review Board to report on Tailings Storage Facility seepage & design changes
  • ITRB provided a 2-page summary report to TPC in August 2018
  • parties disagree on need to provide a full report
No
No
Yes
No
56
Creation of artificial pond & vegetation in Ust Bag Mod Quarry area
  • Further rehabilitation works needed
  • long-term implementation
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
59
Implement project on cascading elderly herders’ knowledge of traditional livestock breeding practices to younger herders
  • Initial funding of 36 million MNT (US $14,060) approved
  • Soum elderly association began implementation in Q4 2018
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
60
Explore opportunities for on-the-job vocational training by OT
  • OT has organized additional professional training programs
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Totals
61%
60%
58%
29%

Updated January 30, 2019

The question is, in 50 years, whether we will have water at all in this area. And whether we will have herds in this area.

As implementation progresses, we reflect on what is working, what is not, and what can be improved. The TPC’s work has begun to sow real benefits, yet vulnerable herders are still struggling to feed their families and keep their herds alive. It remains far from clear whether the agreements will fulfill their promise of supporting herders to continue their traditional way of life while living next to a world class mine. One thing is clear: rapid and effective progress is needed.

Recommendations

There is no other way for us. We are herders and we will herd. Our children will be herders. There is no other way. But it is a very hard living now.

To achieve meaningful and complete implementation, the Tripartite Council must:

For More Information

Video coming soon

Sign Up for Updates

Enter your email address below to be informed of any implementation updates or milestones. We never share your information with third parties.