Environmental Rehabilitation: Learnings from Artisanal Miners in Mongolia

Magnus Arrevad
Publicado: 28 Marzo 2019
Última edición: 12 Noviembre 2020
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Artisanal mining can significantly degrade the environment. It is also a difficult sector to engage with given its informality and lack of institutional identity.


The Frugal Rehabilitation Methodology (FRM) is a practical approach that is economically affordable, socially acceptable and equally importantly, ecologically viable. FRM is comprised  of the following six steps:

1. Preparation and Planning;

2. Technical Rehabilitation;

3. Topsoils: identification, conservation/storage and use;

4. Biological rehabilitation;

5) Mitigation hierarchy/whole mine cycle approach;

6. Handover of completed rehabilitation site to relevant government administrations for approval/sign-off.


The technical and biological rehabilitation prescriptions are specifically designed for application at degraded and abandoned ASM sites as well as active ASM areas that are soon to be rehabilitated. The prescriptions are specifically designed for artisanal mining of alluvial and hard rock deposits.


Asia del Este
Escala de aplicación
Desierto frío
Ecosistemas del desierto
Ecosistemas forestales
Conocimientos tradicionales
Fragmentación del hábitat y degradación
Marco legal y normativo
Environmental Governance
Participatory Environmental Management Planning
Objectivos de Desarrollo Sostenible
ODS 3 - Salud y bienestar
ODS 4 - Educación de calidad
ODS 13 - Acción por el clima
ODS 15 - Vida de ecosistemas terrestres
Metas de Aichi
Meta 1: Aumento de la sensibilization sobre la biodiversidad
Meta 2: Valores de biodiversidad integrados
Meta 3: Incentivos reformados
Meta 5: Pérdida de hábitat reducida a la mitad o reducida
Meta 8: Reducción de la contaminación
Meta 9: Especies exóticas invasoras prevenidas y controladas
Meta 10: Ecosistemas vulnerables al cambio
Meta 11: Áreas protegidas y conservadas
Meta 12: Reducir el riesgo de extinción
Meta 13: Protección de la diversidad genética
Meta 14: Los servicios ecosistemicos
Meta 15: Restauración de ecosistemas y resiliencia
Meta 17: Estrategias y planes de acción para la biodiversidad
Meta 18: Conocimiento tradicional
Meta 19: Intercambio de información y conocimiento
Meta 20: Movilización de recursos de todas las fuentes




One of the key obstacles to stakeholder and acceptance to ASM communities is a negative reputation associated with poor environmental performance, land degradation and pollution. This was recognised in Mongolia as a primary obstacle to formalisation and social acceptance amongst impacted stakeholders; artisanal miners would need to demonstrate improved rehabilitation commitments and practices, but there would be challenges associated with economic affordability and the technical capacity of the sector. Therefore the concept of FRM was considered as a practical approach to rehabilitation that would be economically affordable, socially acceptable and equally importantly, ecologically viable. In every context, the FRM would need to balance these three considerations.


FRM has ensured that the formalised ASM sector operates to a higher standard of environmental responsibility, and addresses rehabilitation of degraded lands. Main beneficiaries are ASM and local communities, the Ministry of Mines and Environment.

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

The Frugal Rehabilitation Methodology (FRM) is an environmental tool that can be delivered through partnership at the national and local levels of government and through engagement with local stakeholders. Developing and cultivating consensus among parties on the value and efficacy of the FRM is important and this step is crucial. Participatory approaches to selecting, evaluating and learning from frugal rehabilitation demonstration establishes a platform for the methodology to be adopted, incorporated into legislation and integrated into local environmental management planning systems.  The following graphic indicates such a model:

Impactos positivos

The following positive impacts were observed after the study in Mongolia:

  • Successful siting, development, implementation and monitoring of 17 Frugal Rehabilitation Demonstration projects across 11 of Mongolia’s 16 ecological zones 
  • Development of a guide to apply FRM in other contexts
  • Improved rehabilitation commitments by ASM in Mongolia
  • Capacity-building of multi-stakeholder in inclusive approaches to environmental governance
  • FRM went through an exhaustive consultative process with national government and other stakeholder advisors, resulting in an approved attachment to a revised Regulation for Artisanal and Small-scale Mining to be passed by the government 


Artisanal and small-scale mining in Mongolia is driven by economic hardship and opportunity and yet causes a wide variety of environmental and social problems. In 2016, The Asia Foundation’s Mongolia team was running an Environmental Planning workshop in Gurvantes in the South Gobi. The workshop was attended by Protected Area administrators from the Ministry of Environment as well as government officials. After the workshop our party travelled north into the Nemegt Uul, a range of mountains within the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park,  where in recent years, illegal artisanal gold mining had penetrated these mountains, degrading the slopes and dry riverbeds and causing severe impacts on wildlife and livestock of nomadic herders. The presence of officials was important. The project’s commitment to supporting and implementing the FRM within a number of Protected Areas was key to maintaining the Ministry of Environment’s interest and faith in the project’s key goal. 


At the beginning of the project, the Environment Ministry was in conflict with the Ministry of Mining. Their response to the widespread impacts of illegal artisanal mining was to ban the sector completely. The project’s aim was to develop a rehabilitation methodology that could be used to achieve formalisation of the ASM sector, conditional upon effective rehabilitation and commitment to confirm PAs as no-go areas for ASM. Showing that artisanal miners could effectively rehabilitate damage caused in such Protected Areas was key to the relationship and such undertakings had been implemented at four Protected Areas in different ecosystems across the country.  The Nemegt site was one such demonstrated commitment.


I remember it was mid-afternoon in June when we walked onto the site. Rehab had been undertaken the previous year, when hundreds of pits and shafts had been infilled and reprofiled, demonstrating that rehabilitation was affordable and achievable at a challenging site. The previous summer (2015) had fortunately seen good rains, which had helped the biological rehabilitation.  We walked right into the middle of the rehabilitation area.  A leading official from the Protected Areas Administration asked, “Well, where is this mine site?” My response was “You are standing in the middle of it.”  For a moment, he and his colleagues were bewildered, and then they smiled, as they realised what has been achieved. Frugal rehabilitation works.

Contribuido por

Imagen de Blanca.Racionero-Gomez_37160

Jonathan Stacey

Contribuído por

Blanca Racionero Gomez
Levin Sources
Bolormaa Purevjav
The Asia Foundation
Erdenechimeg Regjiibuu
The Asia Foundation
Khandarmaa Ayush
The Asia Foundation
Undraa Nergui
The Asia Foundation
Anujin Baatarkhuu
The Asia Foundation
Tselmeg Erdenetogtokh
The Asia Foundation
Tsomorlig Tserenbat
The Asia Foundation
Orgil Batsukh
The Asia Foundation
Erdene Dorjsuren
The Asia Foundation
Sodnom Damba
The Asia Foundation
Oyumaa Jamsran
The Asia Foundation
Tungalag Sukhbaatar
The Asia Foundation
Danzan-Osor Avaadorj
The Asia Foundation
Mendbaatar Osorjin
The Asia Foundation
Batsukh Sharav
The Asia Foundation