Border authorities hasten to normalize border traffic

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Mongolia is in a pinch now that Chinese border authorities are tightening its control at the Gashuunsukhait-Gantsmod border checkpoint, the main port for mineral exports.

Mongolia’s coal export sank from 2.31 million tons in January to 1.89 million tons in February, according to reports. It had been recovering until the Chinese side started restrictive measures and demanding drivers to get tested for COVID-19 after a mining worker was confirmed to have been affected by the virus earlier this month. The num- ber of Mongolian coal trucks crossing over into Chinese territory is said to now range between 40 and 50 per day as compared to around 500 trucks per day in early-March. However, this is also a small feat for the Mongolian side after recording zero traffic at the Gashuunsukhait-Gantsmod checkpoint on March 17 last week.

The Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry recently requested Chinese Ambassador to Mongolia Chai Wenrui to assist in returning border traffic to normal. The ambassador responded positively, saying it’s possible to pay attention to this matter on the Chinese end and try to recover the number of Mongolian vehicles crossing the border.

Mongolia started administering COVID-19 vaccines to truck drivers on March 18 and mining workers two days later. Authorities said that 10,200 doses of vaccines were sent to Tavan Tolgoi and Nariinsukhait mines in Umnugovi Province to build mining workers’ immunity system against COVID-19.

“The Chinese side seems to be curtailing Mongolian exports to China following the resurge of COVID-19 cases in Mongolia. In relation to this, the number of vehicles passing through the border is fluctuating. However, it’s fully possible to return it to normal with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and restrictions,” Board Chair of Big Mogul Coal Energy B.Batmunkh told the press. “For this to happen, another two to three months is needed.”

He urged the government to pay special attention to normalizing coal exports as it has become the primary source of revenue for Mongolia. Otherwise, revenue to the state budget could cut off, he warned.

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan