ULAANBAATAR Dec 1 A major border crossing
between China and Mongolia has imposed new fees on commodity
shipments between the two countries, amid a diplomatic row
sparked by the visit to Ulaanbaatar of the Tibetan spiritual
leader the Dalai Lama last week.
The crossing at Gashuun Sukhait is used to export copper
from the giant Oyu Tolgoi mine run by Rio Tinto ,
as well as coal from the Tavan Tolgoi mine, which China's
state-owned Shenhua Group is currently in the running to
The crossing in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia would
charge vehicles a transit fee of 10 yuan ($1.45) each time they
pass through the border, and would also impose an additional
charge of 8 yuan per tonne for any goods they are delivering,
according to a notice issued by local authorities and published
by the Mongolian Mining Journal on Wednesday.
For precious metals and copper concentrate worth more than
10,000 yuan per tonne, exporters would be charged 0.2 percent of
the total value of the cargo, the notice said, adding that the
new charges would come into effect on Dec 1.
Dale Choi, an independent mining analyst in Ulaanbaatar,
said 900 trucks pass through Gashuun Sukhait every day, adding
that around 133,000 tonnes of copper concentrate is delivered
into China every month via the crossing.
Local government officials contacted by Reuters on Thursday
could not confirm the veracity of the announcement, but a senior
industry representative in Ulaanbaatar who is familiar with the
matter said the new charges were now in effect.
Though the Dalai Lama is cherished as a spiritual leader in
the predominantly Buddhist Mongolia, China regards him as a
dangerous separatist and warned the visit could damage bilateral
China's foreign ministry was not immediately available for
comment on Thursday, but spokesman Geng Shuang said in a
statement last month that Mongolia needed to "adopt effective
measures to eliminate the negative effects of the Dalai Lama's
The diplomatic repercussions could hit Mongolia hard, with
the crisis-hit government desperate to boost economic ties with
its powerful southern neighbour and use Chinese investment and
knowhow to kickstart key mining and infrastructure projects.
China has already postponed a Nov. 28 meeting between the
two sides, government spokesman G. Otgonbayar said via Twitter
Mongolian government officials are due to hold talks on
Friday with international partners, including the International
Monetary Fund and the Development Bank of China, to discuss
Mongolia's currency and balance of payments crisis.
($1 = 6.8935 yuan)
(Reporting by Terrence Edwards in ULAANBAATAR and David Stanway
in SHANGHAI, Additional Reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING)