Most Mongolians wait for the revenue from mining to start coming in

Conversations with residents of Ulaanbaatar are full of references to Mongolia"s mining wealth, and the booming interest from international governments and multinational corporations, found a visiting journalist from Britain’s The Guardian. The common theory, or hope, expressed by those working in the mining industry and in government-related jobs was that through the tax income and the infrastructure investments made by these mining companies, the quality of life in Mongolia would improve for everyone. In Ulaanbaatar where upwards of 700,000 people have no running water, and use pit toilets outside their homes, it is an appealing promise – but will that revenue ever reach them?

As you wander around the capital city, you see the tinted windows and super-deluxe model vehicles of government representatives. Little flags flap in the wind between traffic jams: Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and so on. Often, it"s a fully equipped, brand new, shiny SUV with the big UN decal painted on the doors parked around the city centre. Pop into any of the beloved expat cafes and restaurants and you can"t ignore the loud conversations in American, British and Australian accents about who"s been working in what region and what deal is being finalized today. In many parts of the world these conversations might be considered private or too sensitive to be conducted in a public place, but for some reason in Ulaanbaatar there"s no shame in talking loud about how well your mining project is going.

Even now, as huge corporate entities such as Rio Tinto, Ivanhoe, and AngloGold run large-scale mining operations in the country, it still struggles to meet the most basic needs of its citizens.


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