This week the New York Times looked at the political tensions within and surrounding Mongolia over its vast reserves of coal and other mineral resources. Buried several paragraphs down in the piece is a tie between Mongolia and Missouri.
Caught between Russia, China, and a world hungrier than ever for energy, Mongolia finds itself in a delicate position, both domestically and internationally, as different global companies vie for its coal. One of those companies is St. Louis’s own Peabody Energy.
As the Times reports:
Fearing that China may gain undue political influence, the [Mongolian] government has spent years in a diplomatic tap dance over who will get to develop an estimated 900-million-ton portion of the deposit, much of it prized coking coal essential to making steel. The two main bidders are Shenhua Energy, a Chinese state-owned enterprise, and Peabody Energy, a multinational mining giant from St. Louis. Filling out the mix are a Russian-Mongolian consortium and companies from Japan and South Korea.
Long a major donor and prime diplomatic ally, the United States is pushing hard on behalf of Peabody, and observers say the future of Mongolian-American relations hinges in large part on what happens in the final deal. China, eyeing the maneuvering by the Obama administration, is increasing the diplomatic pressure as well.