Tugsbilegt spoke to Andre Xavier, Honorary Assistant Professor at the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia, about a recent study titled “Assessment of the Social and Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Women Artisanal Miners in Zaamar Soum of Tuv Province in Mongolia”. What was the context of the project?
There are over 40 million artisanal miners globally, and with most of them forming vulnerable communities, the World Bank has been working in this area for many decades.
On May 24, 2021, U.Khurelsukh (MPP), S. Erdene (DP) and D. Enkhbat (National Labour Party), candidates for the 8th Presidential Election of Mongolia, received their certification from the General Election Committee and officially started their election campaigns.
This election has several interesting features. First, according to the Election Law revised under the amended Constitution, the candidates will promote themselves to the public for only 14 days and stop the campaigning on the day prior to voting day (06.09). Never has such a short campaign taken place in Mongolia’s history. The previous shortest campaign, which was carried out within 15 days, took place in 1993. Of course, this period is too short for candidates who are not well-known and accepted in society, who have limited team support and financial resources. I think that it is clearly seen for whom the current Election Law is aimed at.
When policy makers said turnover in the gold sector would be between $1 billion and $2 billion, some felt this was being wildly optimistic, but last year’s figures have proved them wrong, with the total value of the gold trade reaching almost $2 billion. The question now is: can this continue? That will depend very much on the success of geological studies in discovering gold deposits and registering fresh resources, as well as on grant of new exploration licences for such discoveries in future.
Informal estimates put our total gold reserves at 2,000 tonnes, of which 1,000 tonnes is mixed with the copper in Oyu Tolgoi. According to information provided by the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry (MMHI), about 90 percent of the reserves of 489.5 tonnes outside the Oyu Tolgoi deposit, are in hard rock deposits, with placer gold deposits accounting for the rest. Much of the gold in hard rock deposits is mixed with other minerals such as copper, lead or zinc.
The national Gold 2 programme envisages two separate geological research projects for the western and eastern regions of Mongolia. BUM-Gold 2019, executed by Monpolymet, is responsible for thematic research on gold mineralization and prospects in the Western, Southwestern and Khangai regions -- covering the 12 aimags of Bayan-Ulgii, Uvs, Khovd, Zavkhan, Gobi-Altai, Bayankhongor, Uvurkhangai, Arkhangai, Khuvsgul, Bulgan, Dundgovi and Umnugovi. The project started in August, 2019 and covers an area that is 1/3 of the total territory of Mongolia, giving an idea of how large its scope is. It involves studying 5,000 to 6,000 individual sites in the region, such as primary and placer gold mining occurrences, scattering ranges, and geochemical anomalies.
While China barred the import of Australian coking coal, an interesting competition was on to fill the large space thus left vacant in the Chinese market, the world’s largest. Data from December, 2020 show China imported no coking coal at all from Australia, 1.5 million tonnes from Mongolia, and 1.1 million tonnes from Russia, some 700,000 tonnes more than the monthly average. A China-based coal news agency, Today Think Thank, has wondered if Australian coal entered China through a third country. Even with the year-end ban, figures for 2020 as a whole show that Australia was the major coking coal exporter to China, accounting for 35.5 million tonnes or more than half of China’s total import of this major component of steel manufacture. The ban is unlikely to be lifted in the first quarter of the year, though in January China did allow some ships carrying Australian coking coal that were stuck in ports to unload their cargo.