The Mongolian Gold Rush Has Pitted 'Ninja' Miners Against Some Of The Biggest Companies In The World

mongolia ninja mining

Photo: AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel

Mongolia is arguably experiencing the biggest gold rush of the 21st century—yet  large swaths of its population remain extremely poor.Unemployed herdsmen are among those who have turned to gold mining in an effort to eke out a living. And soaring demand for gold from neighbouring China has got many locals thinking they could make a fortune.

These miners, referred to as ninja miners because they often work at night, and because they carry green pans that resemble the shells of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, dig with the most rudimentary tools. They also aren’t given a licence because the government says they destroy the environment.

Some 100,000 people are said to work in the unregulated mines and earn as little as $8 a day, according to the BBC.

Ninja miners are constantly shoved onto smaller pieces of land by mining giants. Most recently locals have been protesting Oyu Tolgoi, a copper-and-gold mine that is the biggest foreign-investment project in the country.

Mongolia is experiencing what is arguably the biggest gold rush of the 21st century.

Unemployed herdsmen have taken to mining in an effort to make ends meet.

They are called Ninja miners because of the green pans they carry that resemble turtle shells and because they work into the night.

Source: Reuters

Ninja miners often use basic tools like pickaxes to dig for gold.

Source: Reuters

Some use just sticks and their hands and earn as little as $8 - $10 a day

They have tainted the water supply with untreated mercury and destroyed agricultural land, prompting the government to ban mining near rivers and forests and revoking licenses.

Source: Reuters

Ninja miners told Al Jazeera English even if rehabilitation efforts are made they turn up the soil looking for gold.

Chinese demand for gold, and lower legal gold supplies in recent years has made ninja mining more lucrative.

Source: Reuters



They are expected to sell everything they find to the central bank.

Source: Reuters

Source: Reuters

Bars and shops spring up around where ninja miners dig.

Mining companies continue to try and limit the land that ninja miners can dig on.

Source: NPR

Now look at the lives of India's illegal coal miners...

NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.