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Case Study

Choosing Renewable Energy for an Industrial Park in Nalaikh, Mongolia

The Mongolian district of Nalaikh, one of nine districts which form the country’s capital Ulaanbaatar, was home to Mongolia’s very first coal mine. Nalaikh’s mining activities peaked in 1981, with around 1,500 people employed and 1 million tonnes of coal produced annually.

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Following a fatal methane explosion that killed 20 miners in 1990, the mine was closed, without any proper phase-out plan or support from the government. Nalaikh was left with a large number of unemployed miners, some of whom started illegal mining with minimal safety standards. Because of an absence of coordination between mining teams and a lack of safety measures, cave-ins became more frequent. For this reason, since the formal closure in 2017, a total of 735 people have been injured and 240 people have died in mining accidents in the region.

In recent years, Mongolian mining conglomerate Mongolyn Alt (MAK) LLC has begun developing its own industrial park near Nalaikh. Due to the need for additional energy sources to fuel the expansion of its industrial park, MAK began seeking alternative sources of energy that would meet its increasing demand. The company chose to invest in a solar power plant with a capacity of 1.6 megawatts to meet the anticipated additional energy usage until the end of 2024. This case study explores the challenges and lessons learned for a just energy transition in Mongolia.

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