Mongolia’s Ninja Miners

In the last five years, dwindling legal gold supplies and a spike in black market demand from China have made work much more lucrative for Mongolia’s “ninja miners” – so named because of the large green pans carried on their backs that look like turtle shells. For thousands of dirt-poor herders, the soaring prices alone are enough to justify years of harassment, abuse and hard labour. [19 photos total]

Pixtale is updated with new interesting photo stories nearly every day, checkout the our Archives.

Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to updates with RSS

Use key shortcuts: Use J/K keys or / to navigate

1
Horses graze on grasslands located south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
2
Old Russian-made van sits in a yard in a small-scale mining camp located south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
3
Small-scale miners dig holes as they search for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
4
Small-scale miner rests next to a deep hole he dug searching for gold south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
5
Small-scale miner removes rocks from a hole he dug to search for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands south-west of Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
6
Small-scale miner rests next to a hole he dug while searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands south-west of Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
7
Small-scale miner rests on his shovel next to equipment as he takes a break from digging for gold on a small hill overlooking grassland south-west of Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
8
Small-scale miner digs a hole searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
9
Small-scale miners dig holes searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
10
Small-scale miner digs a hole searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
11
Small-scale miner shows the gold flakes he found at the bottom of his pan on a small hill overlooking grasslands south-west of Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
12
Small-scale miners remove mats placed to capture gold from a crushing machine at a processing plant north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
13
Worker's tools sit on top of a small stove used to melt gold at a processing plant north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
14
Small-scale miners wait for their gold to be melted into one piece before being weighed and sold at a processing plant north of Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
15
Small-scale miner watches his gold being weighed at a processing plant north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
16
Woman performs a water displacement test to determine the purity of some gold that was brought in by small-scale miners at a processing plant north of Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
17
Small-scale miners work on digging holes as they search for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands south-west of Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
18
Small-scale miner pours water into a crushing machine in an attempt to siphon gold at a processing plant north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #
19
Small-scale miner holds his gold that was melted together at a processing plant north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS) #

Most Popular Stories on Pixtale