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Mongolia: Herders successfully reach tripartite settlement to remain on heritage land following lawsuit over impact of Oyu Tolgoi mine

Author: Rod Austin, Guardian (UK), Published on: 9 April 2019

"An example to all': the Mongolian herders who took on a corporate behemoth – and won", 8 Apr 2019

Just 10 years ago, the district of Khanbogd, in southern Mongolia’s Omnogovi province, was a barely known region of eastern Asia...

That changed with the discovery of gold and copper deposits below the seemingly endless Gobi desert, home to a community of herdsmen who had worked hard to make a living from this barren land. So when their government forged an agreement that threatened to deprive them of the land they had owned for generations, they fought back for their way of life, taking the mining giant Rio Tinto and others to court in order to safeguard their heritage...

“We hope the fight of the eight of us can serve as an example all over Mongolia, and for others who have the same problem with mining,” said Battsengel Lkhamdoorov, leader of Gobi Soil, the collective that took the mine owners to court.

The four-year fight resulted in a landmark victory, a tripartite settlement that allows for an equal, mutually sustainable coexistence between mine owners, the town of Khanbogd and herders...

The construction of the Oyu Tolgoi...gold and copper mine...was led by Rio Tinto Group, Ivanhoe Mines and the Mongolian government. Construction began in 2011, displacing the herdsmen, who claim they were reduced to collecting waste from the mine just to make a living. They soon decided they had to fight back...“Before the mine, we were living a traditional independent life, relying on ourselves. They made us go to other pastures, we felt like outsiders. From being a proud herder on my own pasture to rubbish collection for a foreign company … I felt so angry and frustrated,” says Lkhamdoorov (left), who, with eight others, led the struggle for herders’ rights...

Read the full post here

Related companies: Ivanhoe Mines (now Turquoise Hill Resources) Oyu Tolgoi LLC Rio Tinto Turquoise Hill Resources