Age isn't stopping these miners from engaging in Mongolia's lucrative gold rush to support the black market demand for gold in China. Young adults, middle-aged men and women, and seniors alike are taking advantage of the surging gold demand in Asia.
About 250km south-west of Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital, miners set up simple Mongolian tents while they work in the nearby mines. Essentially, these traditional tents are humble little concrete huts filled with little more than dangerous acetylene fumes and scarce resources.
Hungry for wealth, the miners are more than happy to brave the tough labor, harsh living conditions, and the inevitable harassment.
One fortunate lady, Khorloo (a 65-year-old woman), recently stumbled across a big find with her sons. The efforts of their tedious labor paid off when they found 123 grams of pure gold. Khorloo's family could earn as much as $6,000 from that bit of gold alone.
"It took us a week to dig this out," Khorloo said, holding the nugget. "But we dug for three years to reach the vein."
Her family is part of a newly developed horde of 60,000 laborers, farmers, and otherwise unemployed individuals searching for hidden treasure in the pits of the mines in Mongolia.
These people are commonly referred to as “ninja turtles” because of the large green pans they carry on their backs giving them the illusion of looking like turtles.
The ninja miners have their work cut out for them as the mining business has becoming increasingly lucrative due to depleting legal gold supplies and a surging black market demand for gold in China.
Gold supply rates simply can't keep up with the demand spikes in Asia amidst the ten-year-bull-run gold cycle.
Miners do all the work, then changer smuggle the goods over to China. Due to an array of legal hindrances, the black market is the more favored option for most involved in the transactions. Generally, the black markets also pays higher prices.
Mongolia's overall trading volume with China has soared in recent years, primarily in bulk shipments like coal and copper. Mining company officials in Ulan Bator said it was easy - and virtually untraceable - to smuggle a few ounces of gold in one of the thousands of coal trucks heading south.
"For buyers, gold is gold," said Patience Singo of the Sustainable Artisanal Mining Project run by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which is trying to help the ninjas clean up their production methods and get organized.
As this lucrative business is gaining momentum, some mining engineers are attempting to organize the ninja miners in order to provide a safer channel for them to sell their gold findings. Although it has not been completely successful, the black market is thriving more than ever in these tubulent financial times.
For the time being, the ninja turtles are persevering and competing well against some more formal organizations, despite the extreme hardships they endure to make a living.
Gold is back. With global investments delivering little returns, the eyes of many investors have turned to the old favourite. But the new gold rush has come with a big rise in scams and confidence tricks. They now represent a major threat for companies and individuals and many of them take place in Africa.
Gold remains popular, despite the doubts of economists.
GOLD is the most difficult asset class to analyse. For a start, it divides opinion so sharply. Its supporters have a quasi-religious fervour, regarding the metal as the one true source of value. Its detractors (a group that includes many economists) treat it, in John Maynard Keynes’s phrase, as a “barbarous relic” that has no place in serious discussions of monetary policy.
Readers of the usual perma-bull gold and silver sites most certainly know by now that the perma-bulls have often talked about how China is always at the ready to swoop up as much gold and silver as they can get their hands on.
FINANCIAL MARKETS are dominated by large funds that behave like lemmings—follow the herd and suffer the consequences. Investors should not fall for the commonly held myth that all professionals have an edge over smaller institutional and individual investors.
When considering whether gold is a value investment, one needs to first recognise that gold does not have a balance sheet, management team, price-earnings ratio or any of the other things one needs to analyse before making an investment. Also, gold does not generate any cash flow, so it does not pay a dividend.
Last week was the 41st anniversary of one of the most disastrous days in world history. The 15th of August 1971 was a fatal day for the world economy and is likely to lead to more human misery than any world war.