1. Overall background
Mongolia is located between Russia and China, two large powers. The
territory of Mongolia is 1.5 million km2 and is populated by 2.9
million inhabitants. Mongolia possesses tremendous mineral resources.
There are approximately 1170 deposits of a total of 80 types of
minerals registered in Mongolia. The mineral resources of the country
are estimated by international economists to be worth USD1.3 trillion.
Coal deposits alone are estimated to be 175 billion tons, which ranks
Mongolia 15th in the world for coal resources. In addition, there are
rich deposits of gold and silver, ores of the elements copper, iron,
phosphorus, zinc, and uranium, as well as schist. Minerals make up 94
percent of the total exports of Mongolia.
2. Uranium resources of Mongolia
The uranium deposits are generally concentrated in the east of the
country (see map below). Currently, 70 percent of the entire territory
of Mongolia has been explored for uranium. Preliminary estimates
suggest that Mongolia holds 1.5 million tons of uranium resources,
which would rank as the 10th largest uranium resources in the world.
3. Policy of the government of Mongolia on uranium extraction
The Mongolian parliament approved the Law on Nuclear Energy, which
governs uranium extraction and utilization of nuclear energy, on 16th
July 2009. The adoption of this law legally guaranteed the extraction
of uranium and the nuclear energy policy.
The government, named the “Democratic Renovation Government” was
established in 2012, and included the extraction of uranium together
with the production and export of uranium trioxide in its action plan
According to recent information, 13 foreign-based companies, such as
those in France, the Netherlands, UK, the Virgin Islands, the People’s
Republic of China, US, Canada, the Russia Federation and Japan hold 58
special licenses for the mining of radioactive minerals in Mongolia.
The largest number, 25 special licenses, is held by the Areva Company
5. Foreign companies implementing projects with a view to uranium extraction
Uranium extraction is not new to Mongolia. In 1988-1995, during the
socialist period, the Soviets extracted uranium from an underground
mine at the Mardai deposit in eastern Mongolia. Although the Soviets
have left the area, high levels of radiation are still being emitted
from the abandoned mine tailings (see figure).
NGOs have established that the radiation level in the area is 50 times
the normal level. The local inhabitants pick up construction materials
from the ruins of the apartment blocks in the high radiation area,
where Soviet personnel used to live, to use in the construction of
houses and even a kindergarten. However, there are still no experts or
laboratories in the area to take regular measurements of the radiation
level around the abandoned mine or investigate the health impacts on
the local community.
Currently, Russian, Chinese, US and French government-owned companies
have been working to implement projects in Mongolia. Of these, the
French Areva Group is now ready to commence extraction.
The Areva Group first arrived in Mongolia in 1996. As mentioned above,
it holds the largest number of licenses. The total area under their
licenses is 9,124 km2. Areva extracted uranium in Nigeria for 50 years,
ceasing in October 2013. In exactly that same month, In October 2013,
the French Foreign Affairs minister paid an official visit to Mongolia.
France, Mongolia and Japan concluded a share-holding agreement and the
preparations for uranium extraction got underway.
6. Public awareness on uranium.
For the extraction of uranium in Mongolia, Areva is using deep ground
soaking technology. While described as the most reliable, this
technology has shown itself to be unsuitable to the conditions of
Mongolia. The Mongolians are nomadic pastoralists. In the areas where
uranium is extracted under the Areva technology, a massive drop in the
numbers of livestock, with changes in livestock liver, lungs and other
internal organs, is experienced together with generally defective young
animals born and the local population suffering health impacts. These
phenomena were never experienced before.
The government of Mongolia had so-called professional organizations
conduct tests in those areas, but these have failed to establish the
exact cause of the incidents. The specimens were then sent abroad for
laboratory testing, but the results are still being awaited two years
later. The Prime Minister reported to the public that a substance
caused the incidents. However, he has no
information about where the selenium emerged from to damage the health
of animals and humans, and is seemingly unwilling to report on this
even if the information is available. The Department for Nuclear Energy
also fails to give correct explanations. According to his university
major, the Prime Minister is a schoolteacher of physics, as is the
Director of the Department for Nuclear Energy.
7. Civil society organizations
There is another issue, which may now seem to be obsolete, but which
has metamorphosed and is hiding in a dormant phase. The foreign press
and media published information in 2011 that the government of Mongolia
had agreed to receive nuclear waste from foreign powers for burial in
the Gobi zone, in the South of Mongolia, intriguing the passions of all
powers that exploit nuclear energy.
In the first plan, the nuclear waste from nuclear power stations in
Japan, Korea, and Taiwan was to be received, and then the issue of
burying nuclear waste in the Mongolian Gobi was to be considered.
As soon as this information leaked, the Mongolian Green Party expressed
strong opposition and the media publicized our protests daily. The
result was that the Mongolian public became comparatively well aware of
what nuclear waste is and of its harmful effects, leading to civil
society organizations and individuals joining the protests. All these
resulted in a Decree of the President of Mongolia, which was sufficient
to calm the anger that had been inflamed by the issue.
Our politicians are sly, the President is one of them and might
be the most devious of all. That is because he is in his second term of
presidency. Within a week, the President reported to the UN General
Assembly session that he had issued the decree. This raised the
President’s popularity both overseas and at home.
Nonetheless, intense activity has been taking place regarding the
uranium extraction and nuclear power policies of the government.
Another ironic point is that the President, Prime Minister and 90
percent of the MPs think that foreign nuclear waste is harmful, but
that the nuclear waste that results when Mongolia begins to produce
nuclear energy will be harmless, that there is no harm in uranium
extraction, and even that it is permissible to contaminate some portion
of the territory with radiation, because Mongolia has a vast territory
8. The attitude of the press and media on the uranium issue
According to the latest data, there are 166 TV stations, 84 radio
stations, and 135 newspapers active in Mongolia. (This must wrong;
there are only three million of us. If it is true, then Mongolia is
undergoing a media boom along with the mining boom. Is this a good sign
or an evil sign?)
At the beginning of the nuclear waste scandal mentioned above, the
press and media reported our meetings and statements daily. However,
the situation is quite the opposite now. All the numerous TV stations
except one are private. The closet owners of these countless media
outlets are the oligarchs. (Because of the small size of the
population, we know very well which oligarch is the owner of which TV
In the beginning, they would naively transmit what we said. However,
because a lot of money is considered to be behind the uranium issue,
their tactics have become more refined. The Department for Nuclear
Energy spent a huge amount of the public budget on transporting
journalists to resorts where they were brainwashed under the pretext of
training, even to the extent of taking them to France and Kazakhstan.
Those journalists would then praise uranium extraction and atomic
energy until their throats became sore.
They also never forget to blame civil society organizations. They call
us racketeers; accusing us of accepting bribes from foreign
institutions. They also describe us as non-professionals without
literacy on the uranium issue, not even knowing a single physics
equation. (Maybe radiation will disappear if we learn equations by
There is another innovation in the Mongolian press and media. This is
called the “agreement of closure.” We have no idea whether such
agreements are practiced in other countries. In Mongolia, large-scale
companies pay huge amounts of money to TV stations, radio stations, and
websites not to publish any negative information about them. If money
was given directly it would be identified as corruption, so the
contract is concluded for one year and named an “agreement of closure.”
The Department of Nuclear Energy aims to get the public used to the
terminology of “nuclear technology” by publishing daily news items in
the press and media about “… the installation of radiation therapy
equipment at the cancer hospital, application of nuclear technology for
the improvement of livestock health” and, even further, “because
nuclear reactions are constantly underway in the sun, we are always
naturally exposed to radiation in the environment. Thus we shouldn’t be
wary of radiation; having a uranium mine is the dream of all nations.
Therefore, we are lucky to have uranium so that we have the opportunity
to have the mine make our dream come true,” as the Director of the
Department of Nuclear Energy says. Thus, the issue of uranium
extraction in Mongolia is progressing under a strategy of brainwashing.
This is the actual situation in Mongolia as the country prepares for uranium extraction.
1) Selenium is a trace element
required by living organisms, but compared with other elements it has
the characteristic that the concentration at which it becomes toxic and
the concentration at which it becomes deficient are extremely close.
Excessive intake can lead to severe gastrointestinal distress, nervous
disorders, respiratory insufficiency syndrome, cardiac infarction, and
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