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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

Mining Companies Want a Piece of Mongolia

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: minerals, mining, pollution, Mongolia, activism, Asia, environment, Keith Goetzman,

Mongolian landscape 

Mongolia is famed for its vast, open spaces, but calling it “empty” would be a misnomer. Not only does the country host a rich and largely pristine environment, but beneath the steppes and desert lie mineral riches worth an estimated $1.3 trillion, reports Eurasianet.org. A host of global mining companies want a piece of this resource prize, writes Ulaanbataar-based correspondent Pearly Jacob:

The country has a nascent environmental movement that is bent on protecting it from harm, and tensions are already surfacing. Jacob reports that in early September, four rifle-bearing activists fired on gold-mining equipment owned by foreign firms.

While no one was hurt in the incident, Eurasianet points out that some conflicts are more serious, and one confrontation this year even turned fatal.

One of the accused mining-site shooters, Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, is a former herder turned conservationist and the recipient of a 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize. He could face up to five years in prison but defends his taking up arms, saying the mining companies’ actions threaten to pollute a rich forest and the headwaters of two important rivers.

He tells Jacob: “Exploiting everything is not development.”

Source: Eurasianet.org 

Image by tiarescott, licensed under Creative Commons. 

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