Since 1990, following the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the beginning of Mongolia‟s period of economic transition, rapid growth of industrial outputs and exports has taken place within the mining sector. Gold mining industries in particular have expanded rapidly in the last fourteen years and now generates 70% of the country‟s total foreign currency. Although of great economic importance, it has created negative impacts that lead to destruction of the environment and consequently makes life more difficult for local people, especially herders who lose natural pasture land and water resources.
In the last seven years, the development of informal gold mining has become a new
phenomenon. The main factors of informal gold mining developments are caused due to economic collapse of state-owned industry and a bankrupt agricultural system, subsequently insecure social security and reduction of income sources for people. At approximately the same time rural herder families had lost livestock due to “dzud”, desertification, and land degradation resulting in the larger number of low income rural families that have joined the informal mining sector, and also includes students for the warmer months to obtain income for their tuition fees, accommodations, and living expenses for the forthcoming academic year of college. These unemployed people that have become informal gold mining workers are locally referred to as Ninjas.
Now there exist approximately 100,000 informal miners in Mongolia and twenty percent of them belong to the targeted case study area “Zaamar”. These miners ( called Ninja) live illegally, often times in dangerous locations with little access to health services or schools for children. Numerous human rights violations are incurred against the miners and their families. Children do not attend school and are forced to participate in labour intensive activities. The miners work with little regard for themselves or the environment; often using cyanide or mercury in unsafe ways. When a mine no longer produces, it is left open as a permanent scar upon the land. We made comprehensive social economic survey in Zaamar area. On the base of results of socio-economic survey, we have organized further activities.
The main gold mining area is the Zaamar region, situated in the Tuul River valley, where there are approximately twenty gold mining sites at present. In the case of Zaamar, informal gold mining is creating environmental destruction, consequently making life difficult for the local people, especially herders, who must compete for pastureland and water resources. The water supplies are becoming increasingly polluted while the land is being negatively affected by gold mining activities. The polluted water resulting from the practice of „gold washing‟ is being discharged as effluents into the land and water, causing severe localized environmental damage.
There is an overlap of regulations regarding land rights and usage that causes conflict between miners and the native community of herders. Although the Mongolian government has passed a number of different laws for controlling pollution in gold mining areas, the major enforcement agency (the State specialized inspection agency under the Prime Minister‟s office of Mongolia) has experienced difficulty in implementing the pollution control measures effectively. In addition, there are currently no mining-specific EIA procedures.
Considering these facts, an appropriate strategy is needed for sustainable mining development and behavior. Comprehensive gold mining development is an extensive economic and social undertaking. Poverty alleviation is a long term and arduous task. The governments at all levels should give priority to these two tasks and ensure their implementation through enhanced leadership and the introduction of a leading official responsibility system
Within development of training manual also prepared computer based training material or Database. Interactive training material or database consists from two parts. First one consists data base, research/report about unofficial miners, existing legislation for unofficial miners and its disadvantages and right use of mercury.
Second data base (environmental database) is consists six sections. The first section is Mongolian rare and endangered animal and plants. Second section is tree planting. These interactive materials cover a wide range of issues such as the forests of Mongolia and each of the 21 provinces and tree nursery planting methods both by stem and seeds. Third section of database is introduction of renewable energy. The program also discussed renewable energy and general introduction of renewable energy sources such as hydro, solar, wind and geothermal. Fourth section is medical plants and animals of Khar us Nuur National Park. Next section is general introduction of Mongolian Special Protected Areas. Last section including presentations of Altai Soyon Eco region.
Green channel In Zaamar
Mongolian Nature and Environment Consortium (c) 2011