Gobi's Coal Truckers
2012. At Mongolia's border with China in the Gobi desert Han Chinese truck drivers carry coking coal from the Tavan Togloi basin to China for use in the Superpower's production of steel. Mongolia has a natural resource of coal estimated to be over 6 billion tonnes and has just recently agreed to export 1 billion tonnes of the fuel to China’s Shenhua Group over the next twenty years. Until new train lines have been completed, the only way the coal leaves Mongolia is by truck at a current rate of 18 million tonnes per year. The extraction is anticipated to triple Mongolia's national economy by 2020 and propel the living standards of the 2.6 million population into the global middle class, but nomads fear the cost will be irreparable, potentially devastating an already arid environment as the mega-mines drain scarce water resources, damage the grasslands and necessitate roads and electricity grids that will disrupt the migration patterns of indigenous species.