In Mongolia, winter is known as a time of suffering. Coal is necessary for survival in the winter months because electricity is often too expensive. With temperatures dipping below minus 40 degrees Celsius, coal-powered stoves are a inexpensive and effective way to warm homes and cook meals.
On the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, a small town, Nalaikh, provides the city with seventy-five percent of the coal burned in homes.
With the introduction of a new bill, there is a chance that the 97 year-old-tradition of mining in this area will cease to exist.
In the 1990s, the Soviet Union ran the country. Tat that time, the Soviets stopped paying the miners and mining came to a halt.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union at that time, miners returned to the mines so they could provide for their families.
Now, years later, there are about two hundred active mines, of which only 26 are authorized by the government. Media reports indicate about a hundred miners die every year. Miners believe that number is much higher.
“Miners die easily in the mountain, accidents occur often in the mine,” an anonymous miner said.
That coal is usually very low quality and causes high air pollution. A thirty-pound bag will cost a little more than two U.S. dollars.
Every day in winter exceeds what is considered safe breathing conditions by the World Health Organization.
When Mongolians are faced with either freezing or burning coal they know is unsafe, many are left with no option other than coal.