2010 Heritage Management research in Mongolia
Dean Prof. Willem J.H. Willems will be travelling to Mongolia in september 2010, as participant of the Mongolian International Heritage Team (MIHT). Prof. Willems is co-president and expert member of ICAHM, the ICOMOS International Committee of Archaeological Heritage Management and will serve as evaluator for the Oyu Tolgoi cultural heritage plan (CHP).
The company Oyu Tolgoi LLC, has awarded the design of the Oyu Tolgoi cultural heritage plan (CHP) to the 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 project, and the goal is for the CHP to serve as a model for the country.
Oyu Tolgoi is the largest as-yet-undeveloped copper-gold ore deposit in the world. The project is located in Khanbogd county (soum), 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 Oyu Tolgoi’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.
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. It is intended to 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 Oyu Tolgoi CHP is as ambitious as it is unprecedented.
The MIHT is composed of four principal partners: the Mongolian Academy of Sciences Institute of Archaeology (Dr. B. Gunchinsuren); Sustainability East Asia, LLC; Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI) headed by Jeff Altschul and also an expert member of ICAHM; and the University of Arizona (Dr. John Olsen)—along with experts such as Prof. Willems and Prof. Hilary du Cross (Hong Kong Institute of Education).