Ulaanbaatar is one of the most air-polluted cities of the world. 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. In the light of the ban, the government has put 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. The government has ruled that a ton of coal briquettes would be cost MNT 150,000. However, the coal briquettes currently have been selling for MNT 165,000 per ton; this is due to value added tax. As a result, the Tavan Tolgoi Company has requested the cabinet to exempt coal briquettes from VAT. There is currently public dissatisfaction over the shortage of coal briquettes in Ulaanbaatar.
In March, the Mongolian government decided to totally ban the use of raw coal. Smoke from the shantytown ger districts, where over 220,000 families live, has long been identified as the main culprit of Ulaanbaatar’s chronic air-pollution. Domestic offenders of the ban have been fined 300,000 tugriks (USD 113), while enterprises have been fined 3 million tugriks (USD 1,134). As of today, a total of 36 violations of burning raw coal have been reported in the Mongolian capital.