The Mongolian State Professional Inspection Agency confirmed that the quality of the processed coal briquettes meet international standards after being examined in laboratories in Russia, China and South Korea. In early October, Mongolia sent samples of the coal briquettes for independent foreign laboratory tests after several people died and dozens of others were hospitalized in Ulaanbaatar due to allegedly burning processed coal to keep warm. In total, eight people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar and 350 were hospitalized – 220 of them children.
The incorrect use of the briquettes or inappropriate stoves has been blamed for the loss of human life. Over 350 employees from the Tavan Tolgoi Fuel Company have worked in the ger districts to teach people how to burn the briquettes correctly and fix their stoves.
This year, the government introduced a ban on burning coal in the Mongolian capital where the winter temperature falls to as low as -40 Celsius. Ulaanbaatar is one of the most air-polluted cities of the world. Smoke from shantytown ger districts where over 220,000 families live, is the main culprit of Ulaanbaatar’s air-pollution.
In March, the Mongolian government decided to totally ban the use of raw coal. Household offenders will be fined 300,000 tugriks (USD 113), while large businesses will be fined 3 million tugriks (USD 1,134). As of today, a total of 36 violations of burning raw coal have been reported in Ulaanbaatar.
In the light of the ban, the government has but an alternative product on the market made from semi-coke, a by-product of coal. While more expensive, these fuel-efficient briquettes are said to burn twice as long and emit far fewer fumes.