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Erdeneburen hydropower plant project, Mongolia

A BRI-funded hydropower plan threatens the livelihoods and water sources of pastoralist people in name of energy independence from Russia and China and of the energy transition.


The Erdeneburen hydropower plant is planned on the Khovd River in western Mongolia, in an ecologically sensitive area of the Tsambagarav Uul National Park, a Ramsar protected area. The dam is included in the much larger Blue Horse program for Mongolia, a nationwide masterplan for water infrastructure development aimed at enabling further mining, cement production, and industrial activities in the country, in particular in the Gobi desert [2]. Its construction was due to start in April 2022 by state-owned Chinese engineering company PowerChina and financed through a USD 1 billion soft loan given by China in 2014. A joint venture between PowerChina, the Eleventh Hydropower Bureau and the Chengdu Institute, led by PowerChina, will carry out the construction of the project. The dam, which is Mongolia’s largest hydropower plant to date with a designed installed capacity of 90 MW and capacity to generate 366 million kWh a year, is expected to supply power to five provinces [1]. According to the government, it aims to reduce Mongolia’s dependence on expensive imported energy from China and Russia (currently accounting for the 72% of energy import in the Western Region) [4], and promote economic development by enabling the mining of minerals and oil in the Great Lakes Depression of western Mongolia.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Erdeneburen hydropower plant project, Mongolia
State or province:Western Mongolia
Location of conflict:Uliast Bagh
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The dam, which is Mongolia’s largest hydropower plant to date with a designed installed capacity of 90 MW and the capacity to generate 366 million kWh a year, is expected to supply power to five provinces [1].

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Project area:28,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:500
Start of the conflict:2021
Company names or state enterprises: Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) from China
Relevant government actors:Government of Mongolia
International and Finance InstitutionsChina Eximbank from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Oyu Tolgoi Watch (OT Watch)
Rivers without Boundaries Coalition in Mongolia
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The conflict is going on in 2022.
Sources & Materials

[1] Erdeneburen project's official website
[click to view]

[2] The Third Pole. Still time to rethink Mongolia’s biggest dam to date

by Sukhgerel Dugersuren. June 3, 2022
[click to view]

[4] Erdeneburen project's official website.

The project coordinator answered the questions of the people who came to the project implementation unit.

[click to view]

[6] Front Line Defenders 9 August 2022. Woman Human Rights Defender Sukhgerel Dugersuren Facing Imminent Arrest
[click to view]

[7] China-Financed Hydroelectric Power Plant Faces Popular Opposition in Mongolia. Critics say the Erdeneburen hydroelectric power plant, which will be Mongolia’s largest, risks devastating crucial wetlands. Bolor Lkhaajav. August 24, 2022. The Diplomat.
[click to view]

[9] Rivers Without Boundaries

Local people stopped Chinese drilling machinery at the site of Erdeneburen HPP construction

October 9, 2022, 7:41 am
[click to view]

The Third Pole - Analysis: Mongolia plans ruinous water infrastructure glut

Eugene Simonov, Sukhgerel Dugersuren

June 7, 2021
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[3] Facebook page of opposition campaign
[click to view]

[5] Tweet of Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs


UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
[click to view]

[8] Mongolia: Stop reprisals against human rights defender Sukhgerel Dugersuren. 18/08/2022OPEN LETTERHuman Rights Defenders
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJAtlas team members
Last update10/10/2022
Conflict ID:6124
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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