Rio Tinto continues to strengthen its presence in Mongolia by establishing a new office in Ulaanbaatar and planning to expand its number of national employees to around 80 through the course of 2018. The new Rio Tinto office will support the company’s exploration program and technology center and have a sharp focus on growing relationships with all partners in Mongolia, Rio Tinto said.

“Mongolia is one of Rio Tinto’s most strategically important markets and we are here to stay,” said Rio Tinto Chief Executive J-S Jacques. “We have invested more than $7 billion in Mongolia since 2010, including salaries, supplier payments, investment in the community, and $1.5 billion in taxes, royalties and other payments to the government of Mongolia.”

Munkhtushig Dul has been appointed as Rio Tinto’s country director and will lead the new Rio Tinto office. Munkhtushig will work in coordination with the Oyu Tolgoi LLC team, led by managing director Armando Torres. Dul has more than 20 years of experience in public service, mining and the commodities industry and has previously worked in senior roles within the Noble Group’s Mongolian operations.

“Today we are demonstrating the deepening of our commitment to Mongolia through the establishment of a new country office under new Mongolian leadership to support our exploration, global technology services efforts and relationships in country,” Jacques said.

The new office, which will be separate from Oyu Tolgoi LLC, will house Rio Tinto’s Exploration (RTX) team and the Mongolia Delivery Centre (MDC), the local branch of Rio Tinto’s Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) team. The MDC team will help service Rio Tinto’s global operations.

Mongolia and Rio Tinto have also set up a joint working group to explore whether funding costs can be reduced to improve benefits from the Oyu Tolgoi project for all shareholders; an accelerated path of development for a power solution in Mongolia; and an acceleration of Oyu Tolgoi’s strategy to enable private and public investments towards sustainable community development in Khanbogd, the town closest to the mine.

“We want to work with the government of Mongolia to create long-term sustainable solutions that benefit all stakeholders and the country while staying true to the established investment frameworks,” Jacques said. “We will continue to work together to solve outstanding issues as the joint working group progresses win-win solutions on matters such as power and community development.”