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Jakarta Post

Mongolia: Caught between democratization and Rio Tinto

  • Ratih Hardjono

Jakarta   /   Thu, May 31 2012   /  08:54 am

Not much is heard about Mongolia, a country north of Indonesia, so far north that when I was a child I thought it was the closest place on earth to the abode of the heavenly Gods and a place where nomadic herdsmen rode on horses at lightning speed conquering the vast empty steppes.

Mongolians have recently evoked the spirit of their founder, Genghis Khan, who built the Mongolian empire in 1206. Everywhere you go, he is omnipresent, and for good reason. Having had to face giants such as the Soviet Union and China in the last few hundred years, Mongolia is now embarking on a new journey and taking on one of the world’s mining giants, Rio Tinto.

Mongolia is now reinforcing its economic sovereignty by developing its mining industry. The vast Gobi desert in the southern part of Mongolia is home to some of the most valuable minerals in the world, but has only recently begun to...