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Mongolia: Provisions on Ninja Mining

(Dec. 23, 2010) It was reported on December 10, 2010, that Mongolia's Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy has been instructed to implement the government's order to regulate artisanal or “ninja” mining. Ninja mining is wildcat or unauthorized small-scale mining, typically by hand, so called because the miners wear their green plastic pans on their backs, which is said to make them resemble Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of comic book, film, and television fame. (Government Steps to Regulate “Ninja” Mining, MONGOLIA-WEB (Dec. 10, 2010),
; Grainger David, The Great Mongolian Gold Rush: The Land of Genghis Khan Has the Biggest Mining Find in a Very Long Time. A Visit to the Core of a Frenzy in the Middle of Nowhere, FORTUNE (Dec. 22, 2003),
; Sam Knight, Ninja Miners Carve Out a New Nation, THE SUNDAY TIMES (London) (July 21, 2007),

The State Professional Monitoring Agency and heads of provinces and districts will be responsible for enforcing the order, which comprises 11 chapters and 36 provisions. The aim of the order is to restrict the scope of ninja mining activities by imposing a total ban on mining in bodies of water and to more tightly control the mining of ores containing radioactive elements and of oil and natural gas. (MONGOLIA-WEB, supra.)

The ninja miners are obligated, under the order, to form cooperatives of at least five members and to work under legal agreements that govern the areas and means of mining ore, especially gold, and the ore's subsequent processing and sale. A cooperative will be given at most five hectares (about 12.36 acres) to mine. No member of one cooperative can be included as the member of another. The order prescribes that an agreement can be cancelled, even after having been duly signed, if an inspection reveals that the mining activities have caused damage to the environment. It also stipulates that members of a cooperative who fail to conduct proper post-mining reclamation work will be prohibited from joining a new cooperative. (Id.)