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Pictures | Thu Apr 19, 2012 | 5:30pm EDT

Mongolia's gold rush

<p>An old Russian-made van sits in a yard in a small mining camp located around 250km (70 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. Mongolia remains the least densely populated country on the planet at 1.7 persons per square kilometer. The population of just 2.7 million people are spread across an area three times the size of France, with two-fifths of Mongolians living in rural areas. REUTERS/David Gray </p>

An old Russian-made van sits in a yard in a small mining camp located around 250km (70 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. Mongolia remains the least densely populated country on the planet at 1.7 persons per...more

An old Russian-made van sits in a yard in a small mining camp located around 250km (70 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. Mongolia remains the least densely populated country on the planet at 1.7 persons per square kilometer. The population of just 2.7 million people are spread across an area three times the size of France, with two-fifths of Mongolians living in rural areas. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>A small-scale miner rests next to a 15-feet (4.6-metre) deep hole he dug searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. In the last five years, dwindling legal gold supplies and a spike in black market demand from China have made work much more lucrative for Mongolia's "ninja miners" - so named because of the large green pans carried on their backs that look like turtle shells. For thousands of dirt-poor herders, the soaring prices alone are enough to justify years of harassment, abuse and hard labor. REUTERS/David Gray</p>

A small-scale miner rests next to a 15-feet (4.6-metre) deep hole he dug searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. In the last five...more

A small-scale miner rests next to a 15-feet (4.6-metre) deep hole he dug searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. In the last five years, dwindling legal gold supplies and a spike in black market demand from China have made work much more lucrative for Mongolia's "ninja miners" - so named because of the large green pans carried on their backs that look like turtle shells. For thousands of dirt-poor herders, the soaring prices alone are enough to justify years of harassment, abuse and hard labor. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>Small-scale miners dig holes searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012.  REUTERS/David Gray</p>

Small-scale miners dig holes searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

Small-scale miners dig holes searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>A small-scale miner digs a hole searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray</p>

A small-scale miner digs a hole searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

A small-scale miner digs a hole searching for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>A small-scale miner rests on his shovel next to equipment as he takes a break from digging for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator, April 4, 2012.  REUTERS/David Gray</p>

A small-scale miner rests on his shovel next to equipment as he takes a break from digging for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator, April 4, 2012. ...more

A small-scale miner rests on his shovel next to equipment as he takes a break from digging for gold on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator, April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>Small-scale miners remove mats placed to capture gold from a crushing machine at a processing plant located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray</p>

Small-scale miners remove mats placed to capture gold from a crushing machine at a processing plant located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

Small-scale miners remove mats placed to capture gold from a crushing machine at a processing plant located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>A mine worker sits in a traditional Mongolian tent located at a mining camp around 250km (70 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012.  REUTERS/David Gray </p>

A mine worker sits in a traditional Mongolian tent located at a mining camp around 250km (70 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

A mine worker sits in a traditional Mongolian tent located at a mining camp around 250km (70 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>Piles of minerals can be seen next to a sifting machine located on the outskirts of the Mongolian capital city of Ulan Bator April 6, 2012.  REUTERS/David Gray </p>

Piles of minerals can be seen next to a sifting machine located on the outskirts of the Mongolian capital city of Ulan Bator April 6, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

Piles of minerals can be seen next to a sifting machine located on the outskirts of the Mongolian capital city of Ulan Bator April 6, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>A small-scale miner pours water into a crushing machine in an attempt to siphon gold at a processing located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray</p>

A small-scale miner pours water into a crushing machine in an attempt to siphon gold at a processing located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

A small-scale miner pours water into a crushing machine in an attempt to siphon gold at a processing located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>A worker's tools sit on top of a small stove used to melt gold at a processing plant located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray</p>

A worker's tools sit on top of a small stove used to melt gold at a processing plant located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

A worker's tools sit on top of a small stove used to melt gold at a processing plant located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>A worker uses a blow-torch to melt a small-scale miner's gold in a small stove at a processing plant located around 100km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray </p>

A worker uses a blow-torch to melt a small-scale miner's gold in a small stove at a processing plant located around 100km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

A worker uses a blow-torch to melt a small-scale miner's gold in a small stove at a processing plant located around 100km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>A small-scale miner holds his gold that was melted together at a processing plant located around 100km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012.  REUTERS/David Gray </p>

A small-scale miner holds his gold that was melted together at a processing plant located around 100km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

A small-scale miner holds his gold that was melted together at a processing plant located around 100km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>Small-scale miners wait for their gold to be melted into one piece before being weighed and sold at a processing plant located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray</p>

Small-scale miners wait for their gold to be melted into one piece before being weighed and sold at a processing plant located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

Small-scale miners wait for their gold to be melted into one piece before being weighed and sold at a processing plant located around 100 km (62 miles) north of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 5, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>A small-scale miner shows the gold flakes he found at the bottom of his pan on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012.  REUTERS/David Gray</p>

A small-scale miner shows the gold flakes he found at the bottom of his pan on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

A small-scale miner shows the gold flakes he found at the bottom of his pan on a small hill overlooking grasslands located around 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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<p>Horses graze on grasslands located around 200km (62 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012.  REUTERS/David Gray </p>

Horses graze on grasslands located around 200km (62 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

Horses graze on grasslands located around 200km (62 miles) south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator April 4, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

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