Last summer, a small international prospector operating in the poorest of former Soviet republics released some sensational news: Tajikistan, it announced, is sitting on enough oil and gas to make everyone rich.
Many Mongolians were surprised when, one day in 2004, a corrugated-steel fence suddenly went up around Ulaanbaatar’s 35-acre Children’s Park. They were horrified six years later when only a tiny four-acre fraction of the park reopened to the public, and plans emerged for the construction of a luxury hotel and other private developments on the rest of the area.
This is the time of year when blasts of Arctic air start sweeping across Mongolia’s steppe, ushering in the long, hard winter. It’s when many, especially those who adhere to traditional nomadic rhythms of life, hunker down until spring.
Go looking for Wahidullah Shahrani and chances are you’ll find him at an investor conference promoting Afghanistan as an ideal opportunity for global mining companies. By most accounts the minister of mines is an effective salesman. Yet, as investor interest grows, there are doubts about whether Afghanistan has the capacity to make the most of an expected surge in mining-related revenue.
A recent arson attack on a mining compound in Kyrgyzstan’s Talas Province is shaking foreign-investor confidence in the beleaguered Central Asian nation. The incident could have important ramifications for Kyrgyzstan’s economic rejuvenation efforts, as the country remains dependent on outside help to develop its lucrative precious metals sector.
In early September at a small outpost 110 kilometers north of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, four environmental activists armed with hunting rifles opened fire on gold mining equipment owned by two foreign companies.