Mongolia’s mining sector is a critical source of investment, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of government revenue, and local economic activity – and a key water user. The extraction, processing, and transportation of mineral resources could potentially bring significant changes to pastoral landscapes and communities. With the introduction—and potential growth—of new water use pressures, herders and rural town residents alike are understandably concerned about the future of their livelihoods and communities.
As a nomadic country, local communities have traditionally relied on animal husbandry and herders therefore need scarce water resources to sustain their livelihoods. The development of Oyu Tolgoi was thus met with public concerns about the cumulative social and environmental impacts of the growing mining sector.
Since 2013, IFC has been convening a collective action response from the mining sector, government authorities and local communities to improve water management practices at the catchment level. IFC began by undertaking a community perceptions survey of 1,400 local people which found: (1) communities had a negative perception of the mining sector and lacked trustworthy information; (2) mine company staff needed to improve technical skills to respond to community concerns about water; and (3) companies were being judged by their weakest link and a collective response was essential.