Until the late 1960s, mining in Mongolia consisted primarily
of coal extraction. In the 1970s, however, joint exploitation of
mineral resources by the Soviet Union and other Comecon nations
commenced on a large scale. Comecon and joint Mongolian-Soviet
geological teams surveyed the country's natural resources and
discovered valuable mineral deposits, such as copper, molybdenum,
wolfram, fluorite, gold, and tin. Several joint stock companies,
such as Mongolsovtsvetmet, Mongolchekhoslovakmetall, and
Mongolbolgarmetall, were formed to develop and to exploit these
deposits. By the late 1980s, mining was an important sector of
the economy, and accounted for 42.6 percent of exports in 1985.
Little information was available on mining output.
In 1985 Mongolia mined 6.5 million tons of relatively lowgrade varieties of coal, of which only 225,200 tons, or 3
percent, was exported. Exploited lignite deposits were located at
Aduun Chuluu, near Choybalsan; Baga Nuur; Nalayh, near
Ulaanbaatar; and Sharin Gol, near Darhan. The Aduun Chuluu coal
mine's annual output was 300,000 tons. The Baga Nuur strip mine,
developed in the 1980s, produced 2 million tons annually by 1985.
The Nalayh coal mine, the country's oldest, produced 800,000 tons
annually in the 1980s. The Sharin Gol strip mine, developed in
the 1960s, had an annual output of 1.1 million tons in the 1980s.
The large Tavan Tolgoy deposit of coking coal remained
unexploited because of its remoteness from transportation and
industrial centers. The Eighth Plan called for raising coal
production to 9 million tons, labor productivity 22 to 24
percent, and the capacity of the Baga Nuur mine.
The copper and molybdenum deposit at Erdenetiyn-ovoo was
discovered by Mongolian and Czechoslovak geologists in the mid1960s and was developed with massive Soviet assistance in the
1970s. Erdenet's development required the construction of a
branch railroad line from Salhit, near Darhan to Erdenet; a
highway from Darhan to Erdenet; a water pipeline from the Selenge
Moron; an electric line from the Soviet Union; and factories,
housing, and other facilities. A Mongolian-Soviet construction
force numbering 14,000 built the Joint Mongolian-Soviet Erdenet
Mining and Concentrating Combine, which included a mine, a
concentrating plant, a material and technical supply base, a
mechanical repair plant, and a high-capacity thermal and electric
power plant. The first stage of the Erdenet combine went into
operation in 1978, with a planned output of 50,000 tons for 1979.
With the completion of the fourth stage in 1981, planned annual
production capacity was 16 million tons of concentrate. From 1979
to 1982, Erdenet's output of concentrates amounted to 250,000
tons of copper and 3,400 tons of molybdenum, with concentrates
containing 33 percent copper and 50 percent molybdenum. In 1983
the Erdenet combine was completed. During the Eighth Plan, annual
capacity was to reach 20 million tons. No information was
available on actual output or exports.
Other nonferrous metals exploited by Mongolsovtsvetmet and
other joint ventures were fluorite, wolfram, tin, and gold. The
Berh, Bor Ondor, Burentsogt, and Har-ayrag fluorite deposits had
an annual output of 786,700 tons; fluorite was exported to the
Soviet Union, but no figures were available. The Eighth Plan
called for expanding fluorite production capacity by an
unspecified amount. No figures were available on output or on
exports of wolfram, tin, and gold. In the late 1980s, plans to
open the Urandosh phosphate strip mine near Hatgal were delayed
by concerns for environmental pollution in Hovsgol Nuur.
Exploitation of the Burenhaan phosphate deposit still was
planned. Further development of Mongolia's other mineral
resources was also planned, and the Eighth Plan called for
continued cooperation with Comecon countries in geological
prospecting and mining.
Data as of June 1989