Russian Railways Ready to Invest $1.5 Billion in Mongolia

OAO Russian Railways, the country’s rail monopoly, is ready to invest $1.5 billion in Mongolia’s train network to help the country exploit its natural resources, Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin said.

Mongolia is expected to name the partner that will help it expand the country’s rail network in June or July, Yakunin told reporters today in Moscow. The country needs about 6,000 kilometers (3,730 miles) of tracks as it seeks to develop deposits such as those in the Tavan Tolgoi coal basin.

Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj met with Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev today at the Kremlin and will hold talks with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin later today. Russia seeks to help Mongolia tap reserves of copper, coal, iron ore and uranium to boost trade, which rose to $1 billion last year.

“We need large locomotive projects,” Medvedev said today at a news conference. “If large projects are created, including the Tavan Tolgoi deposit and others, as well as cooperation in the nuclear sphere, they will, like locomotives, draw in mid-level cooperation.”

Located in the Gobi desert, Tavan Tolgoi contains 6.5 billion tons of the coal used in steelmaking and may be the world’s biggest untapped deposit of its kind, according to the Business Council of Mongolia.

Russia and Mongolia today signed an agreement to boost the capital of their 50-50 joint venture, AO UlanBator Railways, by $250 million, Yakunin said. Talks to increase Mongolia’s share to 51 percent will continue, he said.

There has been little progress on Rosatom Corp.’s venture with Mongolia’s MonAtom to develop the Dornod uranium deposit, Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy holding company, said today.

“Unfortunately, it is moving very slowly,” Kiriyenko said, declining to elaborate.

Medvedev said he and Elbegdorj today agreed to speed up joint projects.

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