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[SLIDESHOW] Gold Rush: The 'Ninja' Miners of Mongolia

Mongolia is currently experiencing the largest gold rush of the 21st century. Rich in natural resources, Mongolia is a haven for rich deposits of coal, ...

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|Feb 3|magazine9 min read

Mongolia is currently experiencing the largest gold rush of the 21st century.  

Rich in natural resources, Mongolia is a haven for rich deposits of coal, copper, gold, and other metals. The country, which is one of the most remote and desolate places on earth, has been overcome with gold fever with an estimated 100,000 Mongolians working as informal miners, many of which are herders, leaving their flocks behind.

These miners, referred to as ninja miners because they carry green pans that resemble the shells of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, do not possess the necessary mining licenses. Therefore, they operate illegally, often digging at night with rudimentary tools.

"If I don't find anything, I'll have nothing to eat," says Dondog Tumurchudur, a herder-turned-miner. "I can't make enough money from herding."

"I spend sleepless nights thinking about where to dig to find gold," adds another miner named Nergui.

"And if we don't find any, we're depressed, depressed enough to die."

According to Wired, the ninjas pulled as much as five tons of gold from the ground in 2013 alone, earning as little as $8 a day for their efforts.

Although the government recently acknowledged the ninjas’ contributions to society and their needs as a migratory and unformulated workforce, they remain at the bottom of the heap due to their unorthodox methods and associated risks. 

(source:BusinessInsider)

(source: Wired)

(source: Wired)

(source: Wired)

(source:BusinessInsider)

(source:BusinessInsider)

(source:BusinessInsider)

(source: Wired)

(source: Wired)

(source: Wired)