Gold mining increases violence against women and poverty
Herder B. Uyanga, Tsenkher soum, Arkhangai province:
I have 3 children. My husband mines gold manually (artesanal mining). In recent years, he started driking with the money he earned and beat me up. Our land is also being destroyed. Recently our rivers and water are polluted. It is common that the cattle have eye infections from time to time and fall into ubiquitous mining pits dug everywhere and die; when cooking meat, it usually gets red which is abnormal. I hear the words ‘women’s rights’ for the first time. Now I have information and I understand that I need to work together with other women like me.
Tsenkher soum of Arkhangai province is a beautiful landscape in Mongolia, home to prominent springs and mineral resources. The land is also rich with gold reserves. Out of 17 special licenses for gold mining approved for Arkhangai province, 16 of them are in Orkhon bag of Tsenkher soum. Besides the above-mentioned mining sites with licenses, there are over 30 artisanal mines operating. As the goldmines use vast amount of water in order to purify gold, not only amount of drinking water for bag citizens decreased, but also is polluted, resulting in a shortage of clean drinking water for the citizens. In addition, herders do not have clean water for their cattle and lack the pastureland for cattle due to the mining operation on the majority of the land, emerging issues of which the soum administrative authorities have not paid attention.
Five women’s NGOs of Arkhangai province conducted a joint study on the water pollution and its effects in Orkhon bag. The research found out that the water and soil pollution increased. The project team also proved that the amount of a pollutant substance weighed in drinking water was 1-1.5 times higher than the permitted level.
Over 70 households living in this area get drinking water through water trucks of ULZ River Co Ltd, which does not use standardized containers and special vehicles. As water transport service stops in winter, the citizens of the area consume river, snow and ice water, suffering from a shortage of water, as well as a high risk of negative effects on their health due to drinking contaminated water. These women’s NGOs raised this issue to the soum authorities, mining cooperative members and citizens as a whole and further established local community groups to mobilize them to defend their rights.