Guest Post: CIRDI Workshop Mongolian Young Professionals Shining

By Delgermaa B

Short reflection on the capacity building training organized on June 19-23, 2017, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Mongolian Young Professional are Shining

Just few weeks ago I had a chance to participate in the capacity building training organized by the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) representing my organization the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Mongolia. The training was focused on “The State’s Role in Resource Governance”. While the subject is clearly of importance for a resource-rich country like Mongolia, my expectation of the training was initially skeptical because sometimes we feel like a “vacuum class” in the mining sector – same faces, same room, same agenda and so forth. Interestingly, from the moment I entered the bus I felt a completely different atmosphere, because I didn’t recognize anyone of them except Tugs – the mining journalist – which left me feeling a little panicked! They were all young professionals that I hadn’t met yet from Mongolia, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. So at this moment, the journey started.


The bus drove off at 8:15am toward Nalaikh district which is located 40km from the capital city. I was thinking it is good that the training is going to be organized outside of the city, because usually many trainings failed due to poor attendance – namely most of participants leave the training earlier in the afternoon session especially if they are senior or mid-level government officials. So I quickly looked through the participants list in order to catch up who is in the bus. There were four officials from the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry and two from Ministry of Finance. Moreover, state owned enterprises Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi were represented. I was not surprised about the absence of civil society representatives because the subject was “The State Role”, however two promising young journalists in the mining sector, Tugs and Bayarjavkhlan, were in the room.

So we arrived at the “Nalaikh coal mine” which is becoming case-study hub by its new image “the most dangerous mine in the world” because of its illegal pits. The goal of this field trip was to see how political instability and a poor regulatory framework could contribute to negative socioeconomic and environmental impacts. “Nalaikh was one of the first mines – established in the early 1920’s – and contributed to develop an industrial sector and to form a new class “worker” from nomads. Unfortunately, we stepped back 50-60 years although there still remains 60 millions of tons coal which are sufficient to supply energy and heating sources for 10 years of the capital city where half of the population lives.” said Mr Damdinsuren.L, honoured senior miner of Nalaikh mine.

Tavan Tolgoi

The next morning the team drove toward to South Gobi region, in which mine magnates such as Oyu Tolgoi (Rio Tinto) operate. Participants visited state-owned “Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi” and privately owned “Energy Resources” mines on the way for comparison. Attendees’ reaction was obvious saying that “as for the state it is better to focus on strengthening the regulatory framework instead of competing with the private sector as a mining SOE.”

Oyu Tolgoi and New Afton Teaching Cases

Finally, we all arrived at the “Bayanburd” tourist camp near tDalanzadgad, the centre of Umnugobi province.  Professor Eric Werker and Dr D Byambajav shared experiences on how the Canadian and Mongolian governments deal with local content issues through community development agreements at Oyu Tolgoi and New Afton mines. Right after the fruitful case studies, we participated in a role-play exercise representing multi-stakeholders on the negotiation table for establishing new community development agreement.

The group work was tremendously active with energetic “young professionals”. After long debate, real representatives who were part of Oyu Tolgoi community development agreement were invited to the panel for discussion. They shared their experience what was lessons learnt such as only negotiation process took one and half year, stakeholders were lack of knowledge what is benefit agreement and with whom it should be established ‘in aimag/province level or soum/district level’ and so forth. The questions were non-stop and the facilitator needed to jump in to wrap up the session. “I hope today you experienced how long and huge process it takes in order to negotiate and establish benefit agreement at the local level, it is the only one aspect. What should be included in the contract is another aspect. So, does Mongolia need to establish the local benefit agreement with every single mine?” said Dr Byambajav on a final note.

Targeting of Young Generation Very Productive

In conclusion, I really noticed how effective training design – class lessons, field trip, group work and peer to peer learning – and sensitive targeting particularly “young generation” could work stronger together to be successful. Actually our young professionals were so vigorous like “shining diamond” and kept the training alive and dynamic for a whole continues four days. Participants were happy with the output of the training noting that they are going back to home with lots of ideas and questions. “Although I deal with macro statistics of the mining sector daily, until today I haven’t been in the mine site ever. Now I much more imagine the picture” said Ms Tsolmon, Officer of Ministry of Finance. I am really happy like other participants that this training gave young professionals (especially government people) the opportunity to think about and to understand mining complex issues at the ground root instead of planning from the desk. It helped to raise more meaningful questions from a different angle of view for journalists and it created new research ideas for researchers that should go through in deep in future. To be honest, I found my research idea from this training and following up here in a beautiful Vancouver!

Thank you CIRDI team.

About Delgermaa

Delgermaa Boldbaatar is a Communications officer for the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative Secretariat in Mongolia. She has been working in the extractive sector for seven years, specializing in promoting multi-stakeholders dialogue platform, increasing public awareness on extractive governance such as transparency on policy framework, licensing and contracting, revenue collection and re-allocation. She is a recipient of a CIRDI fellowship at UBC and conducting research on the strategic goal of integrated resource management and enabling community engagement. Mrs Delgermaa is an MPP Candidate at the School of International Relations and Public Administration of National University of Mongolia and holds a bachelors degree majoring in Business Administration.

About Julian Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a sociologist by training (PhD Princeton Univ) and a Mongolist by choice and passion since around 2005. He teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He toots
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