The President of the Republic of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh and his wife, Luvsandorj Bolortsetseg paid an official visit to France.
The content of the diplomatic, political and economic exchanges developed during this official visit of the President of Mongolia to France concern, in particular, the environmental transition, the extraction of uranium as well as mining prospecting by satellite for the search for lithium.
Mongolia a rich country
Paris announced that it wanted to “loosen the constraints placed on Russia’s neighbors and open up to them the choice of their options”. Because Mongolia is landlocked between Russia and China and remains dependent in terms of exports, 86% land in China, all goods combined.
Since the war in Ukraine, France has sought to break away from Russia to supply itself with uranium by diversifying its imports between several countries (Kazakhstan, Niger, Australia, etc.). Mongolia is on the list of next suppliers.
The French nuclear group Orano (formerly Areva) has been there since 1997 with several natural uranium mining projects. Uranium exports to France are still insignificant but Orano plays an important role in Mongolia where the group collaborates with public companies to exploit deposits in the Gobi desert in the south-east of the country.
The two heads of state committed to accelerating the establishment of the exploitation of two uranium deposits: Dulaan Uul and Zoovch Ovoo, whose resources are estimated at 64,000 tonnes. France consumes around 7,000 tonnes of natural uranium per year to produce 40% of its energy.
In return, Paris is committed to facilitating the financing of Mongolia’s ecological transition with cooperation on renewable energies and nuclear power. This semi-desert country, subject to extreme temperatures, is particularly vulnerable to climate change. What’s more, we explain on the French side, it is 90% dependent on coal for its electricity and therefore needs to decarbonize its economy.
This project is part of “the strategy of diversifying the group’s mining activities”, welcomed in a press release Claude Imauven, chairman of the board of directors of Orano, whose subsidiary Somaïr had to cease its production of mineral concentrate. uranium in Niger after the military coup at the end of July.
Another agreement concluded on Thursday: the French Geological and Mining Research Bureau (BRGM) signed a letter of intent for the “LiMongolia” project.
“It is a preliminary pre-exploration agreement over a period of six months, for the creation by next spring of mining predictivity maps from satellite images, in the field of lithium,” explained Jean- Claude Guillaneau, head of international partnerships at BRGM, mentioning “a basin of several thousand square kilometers south of Ulan Bator”. A first step, according to the Elysée, towards possible joint exploitation.
The French presidency assures that it wants to “strengthen” its partnership to give Mongolia “the means to benefit from greater strategic sovereignty” in the face of its “two extremely powerful neighbors”, led by authoritarian governments.
“Mongolia considers France as its third neighbor and a reliable partner in Europe,” Ukhnaa Khurelsukh said on Thursday, in reference to the name of its strategy aimed at establishing close ties with capitals other than Beijing and Moscow.
In Mongolia, investments by foreign companies Cameco, Areva and Denison Mines made it possible to actively implement uranium exploration projects and programs. The Orano group has invested more than $250 million in projects to explore and determine uranium resources. The Dulaan-Uul deposit, with reserves of around 6,000 tonnes, and the Zoowch-owoo deposit, with confirmed reserves of 57,000 tonnes, were discovered.
The second agreement concerns cooperation in the field of rescue services. Thanks to a €58 million loan received from France in 2019, Mongolia implemented the first part of a project to improve the skills of rescue service personnel and purchase software and emergency trucks. firefighters. During the current visit, it is planned to sign a financial agreement on the implementation of the second part of the project aimed at improving the skills of pilots, doctors and engineers who serve the helicopters of the rescue services of Mongolia . They will also receive updated software for these purposes.
Cooperation between France and Mongolia in the field of space technologies should be developed through the training and practice of Mongolian students and engineers in French universities and companies. The Mongolian space agency will also collaborate with its French counterparts to launch national satellites.
During the days of the visit the Franco-Mongolian economic forum took place, where numerous cooperation agreements were signed between businesses and the two countries. More than 60 large French companies have registered to participate in the forum. Therefore, the delegation of the President of Mongolia included representatives of business structures and several deputies of the State Great Khural and the Mongolian Parliament.
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