Boloroo, you are no longer in our living world, but we at the MMJ still think of you as our editor, and believe that you are still writing your incisive articles in your special style. You have gone to another world and will not return, but your presence at the office is still vivid and active.
November is when snow covers Ulaanbaatar and the Mongolian steppe, giving the country a pristinely beautiful look. The freezing temperature makes life harsh, but we are busy at work, the same when you were here with your encouraging smile. We report for work in the morning, spend a busy day, and at the end of it, take the unfinished work home.
The outside cold does not intrude into the busy warmth of our seventh floor office. The glaze of the sun on the snow is reflected there, making companionable the silence that is broken only by the tapping on the computer keyboards. Do you miss the rhythm of last-minute busy-ness as we faced the pressure of meeting deadlines? It is exactly the same even now, and as the sun comes into our room in the late afternoon and the contents are sent to the printer, the tension is lifted, and with the month’s work done, the silence is broken and everyone suddenly starts to talk. As we remember that it was the same when you were with us, we realize that it cannot ever really be the same again.
November is a special month for MMJ. Eight years ago, our first issue came out in November, and so every year this month reminds us of the challenges ahead, and of the need to face them without fear. The self-confidence you transferred to us keeps us going.
This was also the month when we began work on the Mining Journal Awards. For six years since 2010, this has been an event in the mining sector’s calendar that everybody looked forward to. It was your idea to institute the awards, to bring the people and the industry closer, and to highlight the positive achievements in the extractive industry, where the work is always against heavy odds. We have decided not to have the awards ceremony this year, as the sector is not doing well. Fighting for survival, companies cannot lay claim to any real achievement or accomplishment.
Not just the mining sector, the entire economy is passing through difficult days. As Mongolia gets ready to join an IMF Standby Programme, I remember that the cover story of our September 2010 issue was titled “Bye Bye, Standby”, to welcome Mongolia’s earlier than scheduled departure from the then IMF Standby Programme. Our entire team shared our editor’s hope that freed of restrictions and ready to implement projects, Mongolia was headed for a bright and prosperous future. Unfortunately, five years later a cruel irony of fate has put our country back to square one.
The Mongolian mining sector has not been just passive sufferers, complaining of policy failure on the part of the government. Carrying a heavy load, miners have been trying as much as they can to keep their head above the water until better times come. Their resilience has encouraged the entire country in its struggle against difficulties.
MMJ journalists have been covering mining conferences and seminars at home and abroad and reporting on them, as we have always done. In some of these, we have gone beyond reporting and acted as presenter or moderator. I give some of the most recent examples. Tugsbilegt made presentations on MEITI topics in two seminars held in Bangkok, both hosted by GIZ. Odjargal worked as moderator in a mining meeting in Bishkek, an area she had studied when writing an article on the TianShan mountains and Kyrgyzstan’s railway problem.
News of developments, on site or off, in our mines such as Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi, Erdenet, and Tsagaansuvarga has been regularly published in MMJ. Braving the cold, Iderkhangai was in the South Gobi mines to write his article for the present issue.
Just as you, Bolormaa, conceived and hoped, we are carrying on successfully with our projects beyond the immediate needs of MMJ. One of these is aimed at preparing local journalists to write competently on their area’s mining and economic issues. The Local Journalists’ Network project continues in cooperation with GIZ IMRI. The last of the three training sessions planned for 2016 was held in Ulaanbaatar just a few days ago. Domestic and foreign experts acted as trainers, sharing their knowledge and experience with the participants. Local journalists’ output shows how they have benefited from the project. Two journalists from Selenge and Gobi-Altai were selected to participate in a short term course in Australia, thanks to efforts by GIZ IMRI led by Stefan Hanselmann and O.Batbold. Our two organizations share the same goal and our close cooperation is a matter of pride for us.
This year has not been easy for us, and every MMJ journalist had to work like three people. But as we look back on 2016 drawing to a close, it was certainly worth it. We have not compromised on the quality of the contents of MMJ. Some notable achievement this year were our work on simplifying the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative’s reports on individual aimags, preparing newsletters on different aimags, making video programmes, and offering consultancy services. Our mission, as visualized by our founding editor, will take us beyond routine journalism into fresh pastures and we at MMJ are ready for the adventure.
We owe this to you, Boloroo. Your memory will keep us going. That is the most important thing we can do for a very special person in MMJ’s heritage.