Informal mining in Mongolia: livelihood change and continuity in the rangelands

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt, Hishgee Dondov

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Change has been the leitmotif of Mongolia in recent years as the country rides on the back of a mining boom, but enormous upheavals tear apart Mongolian economic, political and social fabrics. Yet, Mongolian imagination continues to be imbued with the idea of nomadic herders, the quintessential pasture and rangeland dwellers of the steppes. The conflicting visions raise the question: "How is the livelihood of Mongolia's nomadic herders responding to the diverse changes ushered in by the post-socialist economic reforms?" This paper investigates this question in the context of the growing artisanal and small-scale mining, which is described as informal mining, and argues that the Mongolian nomads are continually (re)adjusting their livelihoods through informal mining to cope with the variety of transitions triggered off by processes put in place by state policies. It argues that the nomadic herders are not only responding to climate change or poverty, but are also stepping up to seek a share of the mineral resource wealth that the state is promising to the international investors. The aim of the paper is to offer an alternative interpretation of the commodity rush by erstwhile rural-based nomadic herders of Mongolia, and to link their involvement in informal mining with global debates of political economy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)126-139
    JournalLocal Environment
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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