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Carleton College

Publication Date

Fall 2007

Program Name

Mongolia: Culture and Development


The role of mercury and cyanide in gold mining has become a hot topic in Mongolia in the past few years. In the past few months, the government has launched a crackdown on the illegal use of these chemicals in response to the contamination of Khongor soum’s drinking water which resulted from an illegal mining operation. However, there are many more sites throughout the country that are in need of cleaning as a result of the illegal use of these chemicals by small companies as well as individual miners.

This paper examines the role of a variety of different views related to this issue. For example, the ability of the government to effectively regulate these chemicals is examined along with the use of these chemicals by legitimate companies such as Boroo Gold as well as the environmentally unfriendly use of these chemicals by operations such as Buman Trade and individual artisanal miners. Finally, the attempts to remedy this situation, ranging from the government’s crackdown to attempts by multiple NGOs to teach miners alternative methods are examined.

Before this issue can be effectively resolved, Mongolia needs to upgrade its technology as well as its general approach to this issue. Currently, the country lacks the technology for local areas to test for, and clean up contaminated sites, and local governments are dependent on the national government for help. Finally, the country needs to address the root causes that lead people to become miners and allow access to these illegal chemicals. Only by taking this multi-faceted approach can Mongolia hope to solve this problem.


Environmental Health and Protection | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Public Policy


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