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Mongolia: Death Stalks Country’s Oldest Mine

With little government oversight, hundreds of informal miners continue digging for coal in the dangerous mines near Nalaikh. (Photo: Pearly Jacob)

Mongolia’s mining sector may be thriving, but Nalaikh, a town once famed as the country’s industrial hub and the site of its first coal mine, has become synonymous with mining disasters.

Since the collapse of Communism and the end of Soviet subsidies in the early 1990s, the eponymous Nalaikh mine has emerged as perhaps the most dangerous place in Mongolia. Yet, with little government oversight, hundreds of informal miners continue to excavate coal there. The former state-run site has claimed 47 lives since 2009, according to an official count. The victims are mostly young men between the ages of 23 and 35.

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Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.

Mongolia: Death Stalks Country’s Oldest Mine

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