SAVE THE SACRED NOYON MOUNTAIN OF MONGOLIA
What is the Noyon Mountain? The Noyon Mountain is one of the sacred mountains in Mongolia where the ancient burials are placed, the fresh water aquifers are sourced, and underground natural resources of gold and minerals are preserved.
The name of the mountain declares its significance, which Noyon Mountain means the Prime Mountain. Since the Hunnu Empire dating back over 2,200 years, the mountain stored the tombs of Mongolian nobles and other cultural findings to signify importance and protection. The archeological research shows that the artifacts found from the mountain are invaluable evidences of Mongolian history and culture, where the Hunnu Empire is the origin of the people.
It is one of the great watersheds of Mongolia consists of 6% of the country’s total territory. The mountain forest provides a scattered but diverse array of habitats as well as being the source of numerous rivers across the country. To date, twelve natural water aquifers sourced from the mountain form the primary river system of Mongolia.
The Noyon Mountain is also a home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which exist nowhere else in the world. There are over 360 types of medicinal herbs that are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List including top 5 endangered plants Tulipa Uniflora, Rhododendron Aureum Georgi, Vaccinium Myrtillus, and Amygdalus Mongolica growing on the mountain.
Furthermore, the Noyon Mountain encompasses a massive permafrost resources that are at risk of melting due to mining and climate change. The thawing of permafrost releases stored carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane, which are powerful heat-trapping gases. The affects from the melting includes disappearance of lakes, landslides, wildfires growth, extreme heat waves and droughts.
In addition, the mountain stores arsenic elements in its minerals which are toxic in large doses. The level of the toxicity is higher on the Noyon Mountain and if exposed during mining, it could result in contaminated water and soil.
The Noyon Mountain is an UNESCO World Heritage pre-approved site, which Mongolia became the member state in 1962. According to the UNESCO site requirements, the Noyon Mountain meets multiple selection criteria as world’s historical and natural treasures and to be an outstanding universal value.
Why it is crucial to preserve? Due to the cultural and global significance of the Noyon Mountain and the environmental impact of mining, we need to protect it from any destruction. Current mining activities includes erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by chemicals from mining processes. Besides creating environmental damage, the contamination resulting from leakage of chemicals also affect the health of the local population.
It is important to know that about 71% of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 97% of all Earth's water. That means, only 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh water. So if you can imagine that if the fresh water sources of Mongolia primary river systems are dwindled or disappeared due to the mining of Noyon Mountain, can you also imagine how many living things on earth could be affected? What will our children do without clean water and what would happen to the Mother Earth if its children are gone?
Why it should be a global concern? Globally, the fresh water sources are in danger putting at risk of many lives on Mother Nature. Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing roughly 20% of the world's unfrozen surface fresh water. The Baikal Lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The main reason Lake Baikal is linked to the Noyon Mountain is because 50% of Lake Baikal’s primary inflow comes from the Selenge River, which is the main river of Mongolian river system sourcing aquifers from the Noyon Mountain.
Following the river systems from Mongolia through Russian Federation territory, primary outflow of Lake Baikal is Angara River, which is the headwater tributary of the Yenisei River. The Yenisei is a member of a triumvirate of massive Siberian Rivers that discharge into the Arctic Ocean. The Yenisei River rises in Mongolia and flows northwards where it drains a large area in Siberia before finally flowing out into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean via the Yenisei Gulf.
Besides being the fresh water resource, the Noyon Mountain fulfills the UNESCO World Heritage site requirements and should be legally protected by international acts and treaties.
Another global concern related to the Noyon Mountain is the climate change matter around the world. A heartbreaking example of global warming issue is particularly in the Arctic where permafrost is melting, glaciers are receding, and sea ice is disappearing. The scientific study shows that if the trend continues, the Arctic Ocean will be virtually ice-free by 2040.
What can we do to be involved? We are joining our voices to raise awareness of this sacred mountain and its stake to ask everyone around the world to unite their voices against mining. We are aiming to show the Mongolian government and Centerra Gold, Co that Mother Earth is one home that we share and the Noyon Mountain is a landscape that needs to be preserved for our future generations. We need help from the international organizations to be the voice of Father Sky and Mother Earth. Please join us with your voices and letters of protest, petition signatures and pictures on social media. Please help save the Noyon Mountain!