Energy Resources (ER) needed an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to be completed to develop Mongolia’s most advanced coking coal operations. In order to develop the mine and build essential infrastructure, ER needed to obtain international financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and other international financial institutions. The assessment needed to be completed within a tight timeframe and meet the company’s financing needs.
The proposed mine and railway was planned for an area of the Mongolian Gobi Desert where nomadic herders still live and which is a migratory path for several endangered species. Against this backdrop the Project had an ambitious schedule which relied upon the ESIA being completed in time to take environmental impact assessment off the ‘critical path’ for the Project.
ERM led the preparation of the ESIA and Environmental and Social Action Plan (ESAP) for the Ukhaa Khudag (UHG) Project. The Project comprises:
- Expansion of the existing UHG coal mine and related infrastructure (pipelines, internal roads, fencing, workshops, ancillaries);
- A Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP);
- Coal Transport Infrastructure;
- A coal-fired power generation facility;
- A ground water extraction field;
- An airstrip; and
- Expansion of worker accommodation facilities.
ERM mobilized a large in-country field team supported by staff across the world to carry out activities including:
- Preparation of ESIA for Phase II of UHG Mine and Coal Transport Infrastructure Project.
- Preparation of Environmental and Social Action Plan for Phases I & II.
- Public Consultation, Resettlement Action Planning and Monitoring & Evaluation processes.
- Provision of corporate level advice on , best practice in resettlement and railway legislation.
On-going support involves the monitoring and evaluation of environmental and social performance as the Project is being implemented.
ERM’s team worked closely with the client to provide ‘real-time’ inputs into the planning and decision making process for the Project, so that impacts could be avoided or investigated in the design stages.
Resettlement was a key impact from the Project, which needed to be managed carefully from a risk perspective. These risks were managed through a combination of early engagement with herders as well as through a strategic approach to public consultation and disclosure.
Benefits and Value
The project location and deadlines were challenging. To meet these challenge ERM formed a core-team which was dedicated to the ESIA delivery with designated technical leads for specific aspects of the Project. This included an environment lead, ecological expert, social impact and stakeholder engagement team and community health, safety and security advisor.
By mobilizing the right team, and focusing on the client’s needs, ERM delivered the ESIA ahead of schedule, and to a quality that was judged by the EBRD to be ‘world class’.
The success of key project features such as hosting a ‘mitigations workshop’ early-on in the ESIA process worked so well that they have now been integrated as a best practice in ERM’s Impact Assessment and Planning practice.
It was also decided to publish the SIA report as an annex to the permit application file using it as a communication tool to a non technical audience and which should support the authorities in their decision process around the operating permit.