Diversified miner Rio Tinto has appointed Keith Marshall as MD of Ivanhoe Mines Mongolia, the company that owns the Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold project in the country.
Marshall is currently MD of copper-miner Palabora Mining, in South Africa, in which Rio Tinto is the majority shareholder.
The Oyu Tolgoi deposit, in the South Gobi region of Mongolia, has been touted by Rio Tinto as the world's largest undeveloped copper/gold project.
Marshall will be responsible for developing the project and will take a leading role in ongoing negotiations with the Mongolian government on an investment agreement, Rio Tinto said.
"Keith Marshall’s experience in both copper and in developing countries will be invaluable as the project moves through the negotiations with the Mongolian government and the finalisation of community and training and employment programmes," the company said.
After five years of negotiations, the Mongolian cabinet last year approved a draft investment agreement, which would give the government a 34% interest in the property.
The agreement was then being reviewed by a working group comprised of Members of Parliament from the parliamentary Standing Committee on the Economy, which was to report to Parliament.
However, Bayar, who was elected in November last year, has withdrawn the document and wants the agreement to be reviewed by his new cabinet.
It remains unclear whether this will have a negative effect on the project's schedule, as Bayar has not provided details of the proposed review.
However, he has indicated that he wants the process to be completed before the next elections, which are scheduled for June.
In a letter to Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines on December 26, Bayar said that he intended to meet in January with the project's owners to discuss the review of the agreement.
However, Mining Weekly Online understands that there has not yet been any progress made in this regard.