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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, August 20, 2018

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Is Mongolia's mining boom causing Ulan Bator to run out of water?

Mongolia's economy has been expanding rapidly

Share on Facebook September 9, 2014, Reporter : DW/BNN, Reader : 671

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Water is already scarce in Ulan Bator. But with the mining industry competing with energy facilities, agriculture and urban residents for water resources, the problem will intensify, as analyst Qingfeng Zhang tells DW.

Mongolia's economy has been expanding rapidly. After experiencing a GDP growth rate of 17.5 percent in 2011, the economy grew by 11.7 percent in 2013, easing from 12.4 percent in 2012. The massive development of mineral and coal mining has been largely the driving force behind the swift economic rise of the Central Asian nation. Mongolia - nearly the size of Western Europe - sits on a virtual treasure trove of natural resources estimated at around 1.3 trillion USD.

However, according to a recently released report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) titled "Demand in the Desert: Mongolia's Water-Energy-Mining Nexus," the development of the mining industry is leading to an increase in the demand for water and energy; scarce resources especially in Mongolia's capital and largest city, Ulan Bator.

Qingfeng Zhang, Lead Water Resources Specialist at ADB who oversaw the report says in a DW interview that water shortages in the capital city are expected as early as 2015 as existing groundwater supplies become fully utilized. Ulan Bator will then be forced to draw on additional groundwater resources, but these may only last until 2021.

DW: Given the rapid development of the mining industry, does Mongolia face the possibility of water shortages in the near future?

Qingfeng Zhang: Rapid development of the mining industry is driving the urbanization and economic development of Ulan Bator with increases in demand for water and energy.> more...

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