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SRI Part of Team Awarded Oyu Tolgoi Cultural Heritage Plan

Mongolia 1

Oyu Tolgoi, LLC, has awarded the design of the Oyu Tolgoi cultural heritage plan (CHP) to the Mongolian International Heritage Team (MIHT). The purpose of this study is to develop a CHP that allows Mongolia and Mongolians to define a process by which their heritage is not only preserved, but enhanced, at the same time that the country’s natural resources are appropriately developed. The objective of this study is to create a CHP specific to the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) project, and the goal is for the OT CHP to serve as a model for the country.

OT is the largest as-yet-undeveloped copper-gold ore deposit in the world. The project is located in Khanbogd county (soum), Ömnogovi (South Gobi) province (aimag) of southern Mongolia, and upon completion will represent investments of approximately 4 billion U.S. dollars. Due to the scale and nature of OT’s operations, the project will have a variety of direct and indirect impacts on communities and stakeholders, including both positive and negative influences. One set of concerns expressed repeatedly in community meetings in the South Gobi involves cultural heritage. Locals are concerned that objects and traditions may be lost, yet they remain cautiously optimistic that mining operations will provide better opportunities to support local museums, protect resources in situ, restore and conserve damaged cultural items, and encourage heritage tourism.

Mongolia 2

The design of the CHP will take place over the next year. It will cover both tangible heritage resources, such as archaeological and paleontological sites, and intangible resources, such as folklore, dances, and the Mongol way of life. We will design practical procedures to minimize the impacts of mining activities on historical sites as well as devise plans to enhance local museums and encourage cultural events to draw tourists. The OT CHP is as ambitious as it is unprecedented.

The MIHT is composed of four principal partners—Mongolian Academy of Sciences Institute of Archaeology (MASIA); Sustainability East Asia, LLC; Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI); and the University of Arizona (UA)—along with numerous cultural heritage scholars from around the world. We are led by Dr. B. Gunchinsuren (MASIA), Dr. John Olsen (UA), and Dr. Jeffrey Altschul (SRI). John Miragliotta (Sustainability) is the project manager. Team leaders are Dr. Ch. Amartuvshin (Tangible Resources, MASIA), Dr. J. Gerelbadrakh (Public Programs, Mongolian University of Education), and Dr. S. Chuluun (Intangible Resources, National University of Mongolia).

International specialists on the team include: Dr. A. Ochir (International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations), Dr. K. Tsogtbaatar (MAS Institute of Geology), Dr. Willem Willems (Leiden University), Dr. Hilary du Cross (Hong Kong Institute of Education), Dr. Chen Shen (Royal Ontario Museum), Dr. Michael Novacek (American Museum of Natural History), Dr. Jeffrey Homburg (SRI), Dr. Gerald Wait (Nexus Heritage), and Dr. Diane Douglas (SRI Foundation).

For more information on the OT CHP, please contact Dr. Jeffrey Altschul.

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