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Ninja Mining in Mongolia's Far North

Posted on March 06, 2012
Illegal Gold Mining in Mongolia Photograph by Andrew Rowat

Mongolia’s illegal miners, many of them out-of-work herdsmen, are called “ninja miners.” Their nickname comes from the green bowls they carry on their backs, which resemble the shells of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For years, the lawless miners have worked in abandoned commercial mines and on the edges of active mines, using their green bowls to pan for gold. Here, a reindeer train makes the three-day journey to an illegal gold mining camp in the northern reaches of Mongolia. The reindeer belong to the Tsaatan, a nomatic people who ferry supplies into the camps for a profit.

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