The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia has commissioned the Institute for Policy Innovation, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, to conduct "Human rights impact assessment on coal mining and transportation of Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit". The multilateral forum for presentation of the results of the human rights impact assessment was held on October 18 in Umnugobi province center, and the presentation and training were held on October 19, 2018 in Tsogttsetsii soum. The Discussion was organized by the working group headed by Byambadorj Jamsran, Chief Commissioner of the Commission. There was a lack of participation from therelevant government agencies, except the Ministry of Mining and Ministry of Health. The Governors of Umnugovi province and Tsogttsetsii soum, representatives from local government bodies, civil society and mining companies including "Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi" JSC, "Tavan Tolgoi” LLC, "Energy Resource” LLC participated in the discussion.
The NHRCM has presented its preliminary report on the human rights impact assessment on mining exploration and transportation of Tavan Tolgoi deposit coal mining in Tsogttsetsii soum, Umnugobi province in June 2017. For this time, our findings of the assessment revealed that the situation has exacerbated than last year.
"I had no choice but to raise my voice for the interest and well-being of my communities who were living in a mess and exposed to high level of dust caused by mining activities. I asked many places to conduct human rights impact assessment for the mining operation and transportation. I made a request upon Chief Commissioner Byambadorj Jamsran to conduct the human rights impact assessment during his field mission for human rights campaign in our province. I thank National Human Rights Commission for conducting and completing the human rights impact assessment in our province. I hope that many issues will be addressed based on the findings of this assessment” said Badarch O., Governor of Umnugovi province.
Chief Commissioner Byambadorj Jamsran highlighted that "State duties and roles are vital in ensuring the human rights. It has been ten years since we claimed that we should pay attention to surrounding environments of Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit. Unfortunately, no substantial efforts were made since then. We approached UN regarding this human rights impact assessment and now we completed this assessment with financial support of UNDP and Swedish Government. All stakeholders agreed that the situation reached a severe level. Now it is time to eliminate the adverse impacts and improve the situation by ending the bottlenecks and enhancing the coordination between the stakeholders. In the meantime, we would like to have your suggestions and recommendations for the assessment and to create a working group.”
In response to his remarks, the multi-stakeholders have agreed to establish a working group consisting of representatives from relevant ministries, government organizations, local authorities, civil society and private entities. They also agreed to develop and adopt a comprehensive recommendation based on this assessment.
The volume of coal export from Tavan-Tolgoi coal deposit to China has been dramatically increasing since 2010, leading to increased numbers of heavy trucks to carry the coal. Over the past years, local communities, local authorities, international and national organizations, and researchers have raised their concerns, based on research and evidences, about adverse impacts on environment and well-being and health of locals due to mining extraction and transportation. However, their concerns and warnings were overlooked and the situation is getting worse since 2016. For example, over 1500 road accidents took place between Tavantolgoi and Gashuunsukhait from 2016 to 2017, many severely injured, and more than 10 people were killed. It means four to five accidents happen every day and one person is killed every month. Discussion participants emphasized that construction companies that have undertook the road construction need to hasten their work.
The assessment researchers concluded that mining activities carried out by the government agencies and private companies at Tavantolgoi coal deposit have been continued to violate the human rights of local communities. These rights include: the right to live in a healthy and safe environment; right to medical care; right to life; right to just and favourable conditions of work; right to information; and right to a fair trial.