Thousands gather to protest foreign mining in Mongolia

Thousand of people rally in Mongolia to criticise foreign mining concessions

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Thousands rally in Mongolia over foreign mining concessions.

Thousands of people gathered in Mongolia's capital on Wednesday to protest against concessions given to foreign mining companies.

More than 2,000 demonstrators gathered in Ulan Bator's Freedom Square and demanded parliament be dissolved and a new government be formed. The protests come in the midst of a deep economic crisis.

The demonstrators claim that Mongolia's mineral wealth, which accounts for 94 percent of exports, has been exploited by foreign firms with few benefits going to the country's 3 million people.

One-third of Mongolia’s total polulation live in poverty.

"Our wealth is shipped outside of country. Where is that money going?" former wrestler and opposition lawmaker Battulga Khaltmaa asked the crowd assembled by an umbrella group of small political parties and civil society organisations known as Ethical Mongol.

Battulga Khaltma and other protesters also criticised Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto PLC which is developing the $5.4 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.

They also criticise efforts to revive the Tavan Tolgoi coal project, claiming that members of both the ruling Mongolian Democratic Party and opposition Mongolian People's Party have financial ties to the project.

"This business-political group ... has already swallowed its brother, democracy," said Erdenechimeg Luvsan, a Democratic Party lawmaker.

Protesters carried banners reading "Tavan Tolgoi is public property" and "Whatever happened to democracy?"

Protesters also criticised the arrests by Mongolia's anti-corruption body of several of Battulga's associates, saying they were politically motivated.

TRTWorld, AP