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Mining boom in Mongolia

A nomadic herder who suffers from dust pollution from the Tayan Nuur iron ore mine.

With huge amounts of unexploited natural resources (gold, copper, coal and more) the Mongolian economy is estimated to grow massively in the years to come. But will it also benefit the people in Mongolia? Our work shows how mining operations lead to pollution and displacement for local herders and exacerbate water scarcity issues.

Dust, displacement and intimidation in the Gobi Altai mountains

Nomadic herders in the Gobi Altai mountains are facing pollution and displacement by the Tayan Nuur iron ore mine that receives financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. While the mining company Altain Khuder responds to criticism with intimidation, the EBRD is not doing enough to protect herders’ rights.

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A multimedia story about herders impacted by the Tayan Nuur mine

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Also available in Polish >>


Dust, displacement, intimidation - Mongolian herders are under pressure by iron ore mine
Blog post | December 9, 2014

Report: Impacts of the Tayan Nuur iron ore mine on nomadic herders' lives in Mongolia
Study | December 9, 2014

Case study on the impacts of the global iron ore sector: Altain Khuder in Mongolia
SOMO case study | December 17, 2014


Water scarcity in the South Gobi desert

In the South Gobi desert, the highly intensive mining industry with its immense need for water can pose precarious risks to the livelihoods of herders.

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Spirited away - Mongolia's mining boom and the people that development left behind (pdf)
Study | January 30, 2012


EBRD financing for mining in Mongolia

Online debate

Following a discussion in the European Parliament on the EBRD's mining operations, Bankwatch organised a live-streamed google hangout with Mongolian campaigner Sukhgerel Dugersuren.

Watch the recording here >>

By financing several mining projects over the last few years, the EBRD followed other investors' bias towards the natural resources sector in Mongolia. Instead, it should diversify its portfolio in the country to help Mongolia reduce its dependency on commodity exports.

Read more:
The EBRD in Mongolia: Economic diversity is something else >>
Blog post | September 18, 2012



Latest developments


Blog entry | May 3, 2017

A new law on air pollution recently adopted by the Mongolian government is in part the result of massive demonstrations that swept the streets of Ulaanbaatar during the winter months, when pollution in the capital is at its worst.

Central Asia
Press release | February 11, 2016

Prague; Khanbogd Soum, Mongolia - A large new copper mine in Mongolia could cause irreversible damage to terrain and deprive water from some of the world’s last remaining nomadic herding groups, finds a new report released today by Oyu Tolgoi Watch, the Bank Information Center, CEE Bankwatch Network and Accountability Counsel.

Press release | September 3, 2015

Updated September 10, 2015*

Amsterdam/Ulaanbaatar/Prague - Last week, the independent accountability mechanism of the EBRD announced it will investigate *the Bank's compliance with its environmental and social standards at a mine it finances and is operated by Altain Khuder in the Gobi-Altai region of Mongolia. The investigation comes in response to a complaint filed to the EBRD’s Project Complaint Mechanism (PCM) in December 2014 from herders affected by the project.

Bankwatch in the media | July 8, 2015

For years, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has been involved in the Kumtor mining project, which some experts say is contaminating ground and surface waters. Kyrgyz local communities have been complaining that the gold mine is causing negative environmental and social impacts on the nearby villages. Additionally, international NGOs and Kyrgyz environmentalists believe that the Canadian-operated Centerra Gold mine is triggering rapid glacier melt due to company’s mining practices. The EBRD has denied these claims.

Blog entry | January 21, 2015

Herders from the Gobi Altai mountains in western Mongolia have filed a complaint with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The complaint addresses the company Altain Khuder, which at its Tayan Nuur iron ore mine has allegedly caused significant environmental pollution and the displacement of herders in the Mongolian Gobi Altai mountains.


Briefing | May 5, 2017

Mongolia’s fragile economic situation, with its high deficit and increasing foreign debt, is putting the country on a risk map for foreign investment. Even so, the government and international financial institutions show no sign of adjusting their plans so that the country could move to a more sustainable path of development.

Study | May 3, 2017

This report is meant as a background document for civil society in Mongolia and international groups to advocate for increased transparency and participation in priority energy projects; improved forecasts of power demand and alternatives for the sustainable development of the energy sector to benefit people and the environment and meet Mongolia’s commitments towards climate change mitigation; and an increased share of renewable energy in the Mongolian energy mix along with removing fiscal and financial barriers for renewable projects.

Briefing | November 14, 2016

Coal is the single biggest contributor to global climate change. But governments and investors planning new coal capacities have a range of flimsy arguments why coal would be the best or the only alternative. This briefing busts a number of myths surrounding coal, such as "coal is cheap", "alleviates poverty" or "coal is clean".

Briefing | November 7, 2016

Mongolia’s plans to build a 600 megawatt (MW) coal power plant at Tavan Tolgoi in the South Gobi Desert appear at odds with international commitments on climate change and with local realities.

Study | February 11, 2016

This report summarises the mining activity proposed by Oyu Tolgoi in its Phase 2 development plan, describes the block caving underground mining technology planned for the large deep ore body to be mined in Phase 2, environmental impacts and reclamation potential of block cave mines, and issues and risks associated with future OT power supply, international metal market price uncertainties, and OT Phase 1 and 2 impacts on water resources and herders and their livelihood in the region surrounding the OT mine license area.