Elon Musk calls Mongolia's PM to discuss possible Tesla and Starlink investments

Elon Musk calls Mongolia's PM to discuss possible Tesla and Starlink investments
Musk is mulling a move into frontier market Mongolia. / Daniel Oberhaus, cc-by-sa 4.0
By Anand Tumurtogoo in Ulaanbataar June 8, 2023

US international business magnate and investor Elon Musk on June 5 held a video call with Mongolian prime minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai, during which they discussed the potential for siting a Tesla electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in the East Asian country.

“They discussed the possibility of welcoming Tesla to Mongolia for its electric vehicles battery factory, leveraging the country’s wide availability of copper and rare earth elements, which are essential components of electric cars’ batteries,” according to a statement released by Tesla, of which Musk is CEO.

A statement from the cabinet secretariat of Mongolia’s government added that the prime minister underscored his backing for the use of electric cars and urged Mongolian citizens to use such vehicles.

During the call, the possibility of bringing Starlink, the satellite communications terminals and services provider operated by the Musk-founded SpaceX company, to Mongolia was also discussed.

The conversation with Musk, also the owner of Twitter, gave an instant boost to the government's image in Mongolia, with Mongolians seeing contact with such world-famous entrepreneurs as a net positive for the country's ability to attract foreign investment. However, Mongolia still has a long way to go even in terms of supplying resources to Tesla car factories outside of Mongolia, with its rare earth element mining at only an early stage of development and seemingly going nowhere fast.

As regards Starlink, it was registered as a company in Mongolia in 2022 and it is set to launch regionally this year. A Starlink investment could play a crucial role in Mongolia broadening its communication interfacing. Some parts of the country lack cell reception. It is in fact challenging to build cell towers due to the vastness and ruggedness of the country.

Musk's meeting with Mongolia's leader comes after the tech titan met with Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang and other top officials in China last week. Beijing is seeking to portray a welcoming business environment for foreign firms amid ongoing tensions with the US.

Musk complimented China’s technological advances and visited the Tesla gigafactory in Shanghai.