Case on the Burenkhaan phosphate deposit licenses (Resolution n.117 of the Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court)
Claim of local herders living in Tuya bag, Burenkhaan soum of Huvsgul province, against the mining of a phosphate deposit on their lands. Negative impact on environment and health, destruction of sacred mount in Tuya bag, and irreversible pollution of Huvsgul lake (the main source fresh water source in the country), if mining operations start.
The claimants on the case were representatives of local communities, herders living in Tuya bag, and the NGO “Owners of Huvsgul Lake”. The claim was submitted by CHRD’s lawyers, alleging that the mining licenses issued by the Geological and Cadastral Department were illegal, according to the article of 9.1. 7 of the Mongolian Administrative Act, and should be invalidated.
The Ulaanbaatar Capital City Administrative Court issued decision n. 36 early in 2013, refusing to accept the claim and to suspend the licenses. The Appellate Administrative Court affirmed decision n.36. The case was taken to the Administrative Review Chamber of the Supreme Court, which held trial on June 24, 2013, issuing Resolution n. 117. The latter Court established that he Cadastral Department of the Mineral Authority should consider illegal the issuing of two extraction licenses and six exploration licenses to “Talst margad” Ltd.
The Supreme Court decision was based on the constitutional right to live in a healthy and safe environment and to be protected from ecological unbalances.
CHRD has followed up on the implementation of the Supreme Court decision and it has received a response from the Cadastral Office, stating that the licenses had been canceled by the Office’s decision No 338 of August 12, 2013.
The Supreme Court also refused Talst margad Ltd’s requested to meet with the members of the Court.
Centre for Human Rights Development (CHRD)
“The Supreme Court decision protected for the first time in Mongolian history the constitutional right of local herders to live in a healthy and safe environment and to be protected from ecological unbalances. It assured local herders’ rights to their traditional ways of living; it provided new opportunities to prevent mining damages; it reduced the risks suffered by herders of forced evictions due to mining activities; it protected the Khuvsgul lake’s ecosystem; it stopped the irreversible damage that would come from the illegal act of the Mineral Authority; and it established a positive precedent, encouraging civil society organizations and local communities to fight for environmental justice to protect their culture, land and livelihood” (Urantsooj Gombosuren, CHRD’s Chairperson).
In regard to the strategies used in this case, Ms. Gombosuren also stressed that "after attending a training on the OP-ICESCR organized by CHRD and ESCR-Net in April 2013, a lawyer [working] on the Burenkhaan phosphate deposit highlighted at [the] hearing at the Supreme Court that this case had been discussed in the training and that international experts had assessed the possibility of taking this case to the Committee on ESCR under the OP procedure. The Court was influenced by the lawyer’s determination and issued [the] unprecedented decision which protected for the first time in Mongolian history the constitutional right of local herders to live in a healthy and safe environment."