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T.Ganbold of Golden East Mongolia LLC a risk taker who turns challenges into opportunities

On 11 September 2011 a new page in the history of Golden East Mongolia (Altandornod Mongolia) LLC, a large gold miner based in Mongolia, was turned.

The day was a historic day because Golden East Mongolia LLC changed hands from the ownership of Paushok, a Russian individual, who from 1997 had been extracting gold from Mongolian soil, to Mongolians’ having 100% ownership.

The man who brought this history to fruition is Ganbold Tordai.       

The company, with over 90% of all employees being foreigners, was burdened with huge tax debts which had accrued since 2008, had taken out bad loans from numerous domestic and foreign banks, and encountered countless lawsuits in the Mongolian courts as well as disputes before international arbitration tribunals. The company had estimated liabilities totaling US$300M. It was responsible for a 3,000 ha-area where no reclamation whatsoever had been carried out. Mining equipment had been almost entirely ransacked or left to deteriorate, reaching obsolescence. Notwithstanding these matters, Ganbold T. decided he could turn around the fortunes of Golden East Mongolia LLC and retain the wealth of Mongolia in its native land. Taking major risks Ganbold T. turned the business into a large national company.

This is why Ganbold T. deserves the name “accomplished and skilled risk manager”.

When Ganbold T. took the perilous yet patriotic decision to acquire Golden East Mongolia LLC and keep it in Mongolia, he was warned by other businessmen against the high risks involved and advised to drop purchase negotiations.

However, a group of young people including Ganbold T., believed that with sound management and proper planning the company could be turned around, with resultant benefits to Mongolia, the homeland. Courageously it was decided to acquire Golden East Mongolia LLC together with all its domestic and foreign liabilities.

As it can be witnessed today, the decision to purchase was not a mistake. On the contrary, it was wise and correct. Since the company’s acquisition by Mongolians, MNT150B in tax debts to Mongolia, US$120M claimed by Itochu Corporation of Japan, US$57M owed to Gazprom Bank of Russia and over 100 billion togrogs owed to commercial banks in Mongolia have been settled and paid. This demonstrates how a company on the verge of bankruptcy can be transformed when it is managed and operated efficiently and skillfully.

During this time, gold sales to Mongolbank were only 3 tonnes. At his initiative, the Mongolian Gold Producers Association was established, leading to the legal reform of the gold mining industry. As a consequence domestic gold sales have reached 20 tonnes per year.

In 2006 Ganbold T. was also appointed as Director of the Darkhan Metallurgical Plant (a leading entity in Mongolia’s heavy industry) when the performance of that company had deteriorated and reached the point where it could not even pay its workers’ salaries. As a result of the hard work of Ganbold T., the number of jobs rose from 300 to 1,200, with average pay increasing from MNT280,000 to MNT1,000,000, and production reaching a record breaking 85% of maximum capacity for the first time in its history.

Most importantly, through his vision, initiative and policies, Darkhan Metallurgical Plant managed to acquire the Tumurtei, which has rights to exploit the largest iron ore deposit (450 million tonnes) in Mongolia from a Chinese company.

Acknowledging and highly valuing the achievements of Ganbold T., the government of Mongolia awarded him many medals.

His work at the Darkhan Metallurgical Plant, operating it profitably and creating substantial assets and reserves, gave him a golden opportunity to accumulate the necessary expertise and experience which can be used to successfully undertake mining projects.

His business career is testimony to his hard work, and a witness to courageous but wise risk-taking, lifting up fallen enterprises and restoring those which went bankrupt, in a way which is unprecedented.

His valuable contribution to Mongolian society continues with not only the successful development and operation of businesses including Darkhan Metallurgical Plant and Golden East Mongolia LLC, but also with Corporate Hotel chains, and Mongolia's first entertainment centre that meets international standards.

While accomplishing these, Ganbold T. has not only faced difficulties and obstacles, but he has had to endure libelous and slanderous attacks.

Ganbold Tordai is a nephew of Mr. Sambuu, a mileage-millionaire truck driver, and was raised by him. Ganbold T. is one of the few people to demonstrate in real life how a person having been brought up in the socialist era can persevere and grow from peddling a small trade during the transition period like many others to taking risks and succeeding through astute business in modern Mongolia. 

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