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Mining Mongolia: resource access, climate change and vulnerability on the steppe

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(Thesis) M.Sc.
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Pastoralism, a sustainable enterprise appropriate to the fragile steppe ecosystem, accounts for 30% of Mongolia’s gross domestic product. The transition to a liberal market economy, which began in 1990, opened up pastoral lands to mining development. Subsequently, conditions began to change on the rangelands, affecting household ability to herd. Mining adversely affects ecosystem health, already vulnerable due to climate change, and household well-being by limiting access to water, pasture and mobility, with the requisite privatization of land. However, a paradox exists: the mines that deplete and pollute the lands and waters on which pastoralists depend provide income opportunities for herders attempting to cope with the effects of climate change. Employing an ecosystem health approach, this study examines the political, social, economic, and health impacts of mining development on rural herders in the context of broader environmental change.
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