International Development Planning Review

Informal gold mining and national development: The case of Mongolia

International Development Planning Review (2003), 25, (2), 111–128.


Informal gold mining is being increasingly recognised internationally as a major phenomenon, with an estimated 13 million active participants worldwide. It is a recent activity in modern Mongolia1 and this paper discusses its development and prospects in relation to some of the major forces that have affected society since transition to a market economy began in 1990: namely the privatisation of pastoral and arable agriculture; privatisation of industries and services; ever widening and deepening poverty; emergence of the informal sector; and government attempts to develop a modern mining industry. The paper illustrates some of the limitations to planning, particularly in transitional economies; but also the potential benefits of quickly identifying unanticipated changes and then planning for them. It also illustrates the large and sometimes unrecognised impacts, both socio-economic and environmental, that such changes can have on countries with small populations.

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Author details

Murray, William