February 4, 2015 / 4:16 AM / 4 years ago

Mongolian "text referendum" backs Oyu Tolgoi copper mine expansion

ULAN BATOR, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Mongolians have voted in a “text message referendum” to back a multi-billion dollar expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine instead of introducing budget cuts to boost the cash-strapped nation’s ailing economy.

Mongolia’s new prime minister, Chimed Saikhanbileg, called for the unprecedented vote via mobile phone text message on whether to step up austerity measures or do whatever it takes to get the country’s huge mining sector growing again.

Out of 302,008 votes, 56.1 percent supported further development of Oyu Tolgoi, while 43.9 percent were in favour of “strengthening economic discipline,” the prime minister’s spokesman said in a statement. The mine, which is being developed by Rio Tinto , has suffered repeated delays. (Reporting by Terrence Edwards; Editing by Ed Davies)

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