Atlas

The Coal Mines of Nalaikh

The Coal Mines of Nalaikh

Location: Nalaikh

Year: 2015

The Coal Mines of Nalaikh was established in the 1920’s, and was the only mine in the country until the 1950’s. A methane gas explosion in 1990 killed 21 people, and forced the government to shut down the mine. Mongolia has gained a worldwide reputation as the next big thing in mining. Some people call it Minegolia, and companies from all over the globe have rushed in to tap its vast coal, copper and gold deposits. With investments for billions of dollars lining up, the country’s economy posted double-digit growth rates in each of the last three years. Yet it is Nalaikh’s “informal” coal that still heats up half of Ulaanbaatar during Mongolia’s frigid winter. Though only a handful of the hundreds of mine shafts active in Nalaikh are legally authorized, that has not stopped scores of local miners from coming back, winter after winter. In the video, an interview to a coal miner that explains the exploitation, threats and difficulties of surviving this working situation.