August 29th, 2011
06:50 AM GMT
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(CNN) - On Oyu Tolgoi - "Turquoise Hill" - the biggest business venture in Mongolia is taking shape.

The copper resources aren't new to locals - after all, for thousands of years locals dug out copper to melt down into things like arrowheads, CNN's Stan Grant reports.

But the massive Gobi Desert copper and gold mine - a joint venture with foreign mining conglomerates Ivanhoe and Rio Tinto - is expected to account for one-third of the nation's total economic output by 2020 and boost the average earnings of Mongolia by 60%.

The numbers are staggering. The development phase runs to nearly $5 billion. The mine is projected to produce to 450,000 tons of copper and more than 300,000 ounces of gold. Developers claim there's enough here to mine for the next 50 years or more.

Yet it's placing stress on am ancient nomadic way of life.

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