Mongolia to embrace illegal gold miners

The government of Mongolia, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, signed Monday a deal with the country’s gold producers association, which aims to reduce illegal extraction of the metal by reducing barriers for them to become formal miners, Xinhua reports.

The memorandum would allow also small miners to upgrade their equipment and raise funds, while forcing them to follow Mongolia’s regulations over its huge gold reserves, which were only discovered after the former Soviet satellite began democratic reforms in 1990.

Currently an estimated 100,000 Mongolians work as informal miners, producing more gold than the formal industrial sector, which alone contributes more than 20% of Mongolia’s gross domestic product.

This is one of the reasons why the government has for years turned a blind eye to the so-called “ninja miners,” as they are frequently spotted working at night, with their plastic gold-panning basins slung over their backs, resembling the characters of the TV cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

These miners are constantly shoved onto smaller pieces of land by mining giants, but today’s announcement may soon change their faith, as the government also announced it has set up a council that will oversee the implementation of the memorandum.

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