Investigation on World Bank support for Mongolia mining project deferred

5 April 2016

In February 2015, community representatives and local organisations in Mongolia and Russia filed a complaint with the World Bank’s accountability mechanism, the Inspection Panel (IPN), regarding the World Bank’s $25 million Mining Infrastructure Investment Support project (MINIS), providing technical assistance aimed at facilitating infrastructure investments to support mining operations in Mongolia.

MINIS finances sub-project assessment studies, including for the Shuren hydropower plant (see Update 83). The complaint raised concerns regarding potential irreversible environmental, social and economic impacts on the Selenga river basin and Lake Baikal, a World Heritage site, related to the project. Quoting “multiple engagements” with World Bank staff over two years, the complainants noted “we do not find that their responses have resulted in acceptable resolutions to our procedural and substantive issues with the project including the lack of disclosure of project documents, poor quality of design and practices of stakeholder consultations, weak assessment of risks, questionable criteria for sub-project selection, and lack of assessment of viable alternatives.”They concluded: “we are deeply concerned that the Bank’s involvement in these preparatory studies will serve as the launching pad for investments in the actual physical infrastructure in the future.”

In a July 2015 statement, the IPN admitted that project-related activities could violate Bank policies , but deferred a decision on a potential investigation, concluding that “the next stages in project implementation provide ample opportunities to address the requesters’ concerns and to introduce the necessary corrective measures.” It stated that it will revisit the case in a years’ time after assessing the progress of the environmental and social impact assessment “as well as a determination regarding the quality of the consultation process at that time.”