Miner Toughest Place to be a...


Miner

Safety conscious Staffordshire mine worker Craig Notman travels to Mongolia to dig for gold in a precarious and dangerous network of tunnels deep in the Mongolian steppe.


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Transcript


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This programme contains strong language

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Three British workers have all accepted the challenge to do their job

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under the most stressful and dangerous conditions on the planet.

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'They must be a really, hard, hard people here'

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to be able to cope with this.

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'At home, we'd shut the department, you know.'

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People wouldn't come to work.

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This is gung ho mining, this is.

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It's really dangerous, really dangerous.

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Craig Notman is leaving his home and his job in British mining

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to join the gold rush in the Mongolian wilderness.

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He'll be working in some of the most dangerous mines on Earth...

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It really is awful. It's really bad. That's really bad.

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..he'll experience a traditional nomadic lifestyle under threat...

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As a coal miner, we don't get to milk many yaks!

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..and meet a desperate people,

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forced to dig up a land they hold sacred...

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It's really difficult to take in, this is.

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..before discovering first-hand the depths some will go to survive.

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He's been shafted by one, two, three families.

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My father's a miner, my granddad was a miner

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and his granddad before him was a coal miner.

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37-year-old Craig Notman

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has been working in British mines for 15 years.

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I love it, I love this job, I love what I do.

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Mining is definitely in the blood,

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and I don't think it's easy for anybody to step into mining.

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Britain still extracts more than 200 million tonnes of minerals a year.

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Nature - she's given it to us, and we need to take it.

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It's all what we use, and it's mined by men and machines.

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People think that mining's done with shovel and pecs,

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but nine times out of ten it's with machines that are controlled by little computers.

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It's not so much in the arm now as in the brain.

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Big boys' toys, innit?

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It's not all dirty, not dusty, not smoky.

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There's things that we put in place, ventilation, extraction.

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British mining is the safest environment that we can make it.

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That's confirmed, Captain, I'm the last man through.

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The last man through.

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Disasters still strike, even in British mines.

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Last year, Craig joined Mines Rescue,

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an emergency response team dedicated to saving lives underground.

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Receiving, over.

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Can you proceed now to try and find the missing person? Over.

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Mining is dangerous, there's no two ways about it.

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THE MEN SHOUT

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'We've got explosions, we've got fires, we've got gas,

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'we've got falls of ground.

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'If all the ducks line up, we've got a bad day out, for all of us.'

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At Mines Rescue Training Centre, in the Midlands,

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safety is a way of life.

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If we see our colleagues, or even a stranger doing something wrong, we're going to stop them

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because we want to go home to our families at the end of the night.

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We're brought up as, like, watching each other's backs, aren't we?

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It's not just watching your backs down the mine,

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you talk about it in the pub, don't you?

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Or when you're socialising out, wherever it is.

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Imagine meerkats, when you see them all sitting up looking around,

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it's exactly the same as miners.

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We're always watching, looking out, listening for something to happen.

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Ooh! Ooh, it's hurting!

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The lads here will do owt for you

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and that's how it'll always be in mining.

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-Cake for you!

-Oh, mate.

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'It's like blood, like family. That's what we are, a brotherhood. We look after each other.'

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I think it'd be the same wherever you go in the world

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because it's such a bad place, you know?

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You've got to look after each other.

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See you all later.

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THEY ALL CHEER

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'I'm going to a foreign country,'

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but I'll be damn sure that I make sure it's going to be right,

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and I'm going to be safe, and I'm going to get back home to my family.

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Craig lives in Staffordshire.

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He's been married to Angela for 17 years and they have three children.

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'Craig is the family man, through and through.'

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He's a hard worker, he'll work hard for his family.

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'I guess I've always worried about him being in the mine,'

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but he just loves it and he's really proud,

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and we're proud that that's what he does.

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It's time to find out just where Craig is heading.

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Don't know where we're going. We need to know, don't we?

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-Scotland.

-Scotland?

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-South America?

-South America. That's close to Scotland, isn't it?

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In a few days, Craig will be travelling over 4,000 miles -

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to Mongolia.

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You're joking?!

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Do they even mine there?

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Oh, my gosh!

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Mongolia.

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God, my head's bubbling up here! Bloomin 'eck!

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Craig has never been this far away from home

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and has rarely spent time away from his family.

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Mongolia, one of the most remote and desolate places on Earth.

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Once home to a nomadic people,

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now it's a country in the midst of a huge mining boom.

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Billions of dollars of minerals flooding over the border to neighbouring China

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have created a new class of super rich,

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but 40% of all Mongolians are locked in poverty.

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For thousands of families, the only way to survive

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is to risk their lives in these deadly, unregulated mines,

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carving out a meagre existence from a land where they once roamed free.

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'It's amazing. It's such a beautiful place. Beautiful place.'

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Vast, vast country of just emptiness and nothingness.

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From the capital, it's an 11-hour drive across the Mongolian steppe

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to the remote mining settlement where Craig will be staying.

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It's just amazing.

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Just opens up from nothingness to a massive community.

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Wow!

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15 years ago, this was a small market town.

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Today, Uyanga is home to around 1,500 people

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who make their living from mining.

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Craig will be spending the next 12 days living and working

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with a local miner, Sukhbaatar, and his family.

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THEY TALK IN DIALECT

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My name's Craig.

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CRAIG GREETS IN MONGOLIAN

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Simba, Simba.

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Simba. Good dog? Friendly dog?

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Craig will be staying in the yard in a traditional Mongolian tent,

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called a ger.

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Wow...

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This is beautiful.

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Sukhbaatar's wife Gansuvd has put the kettle on.

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Tea with salt?

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Tea with salt.

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Do you work with a team of men or do you work on your own?

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Your wife works with you in the mine?

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CRAIG LAUGHS

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That's really str... In the UK that doesn't, it... No.

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I'm just blown away by the fact he works with his wife,

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and his children as well!

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I love my wife to bits, but I just...

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There's no way I could work with her. She'd do my head in!

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It's time for Craig to see where he's going to be working.

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That one's for me?

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It's a two-mile ride up to the mine.

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I got Sukhbaatar here to guide me.

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Nothing can go wrong! HE CHUCKLES

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Happy days!

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Mongolian weather is extreme and changeable.

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Sometimes it is said to have all four seasons in one day,

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but, whatever the weather,

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Sukhbaatar and Gansuvd make this journey to work

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every day of the year.

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'I'm in Mongolia, I'm living with a family and it is like a dream.

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'I feels, I'm going to wake up any moment.'

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We're driving through yaks and just vast landscape,

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and I'm expecting to see mining machinery, big machinery,

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and I can't hear nothin', I can't see nothin'.

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If Craig is expecting anything like a British mine, he's in for a shock.

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I can't believe that this is mining.

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People just digging holes in the ground.

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It looks like a prison camp.

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This is not...

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It's not what I expected, this isn't.

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Nothing like I expected.

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So you all dig...one hole?

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Bloody hell!

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Do you know, if that ground collapsed...

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This is just mud and...

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for a collapse... It's so easy for a collapsed ground in here.

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That's not on, is it? It's not on. I just can't...

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HE EXHALES

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Bloody hell.

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I couldn't send my wife down there, or my children.

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I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it.

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What is the ore that you're extracting?

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Fucking hell. OK.

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This is the Mongolian gold rush.

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Alongside the big international mining companies,

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about a 100,000 ordinary people around the country

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have become small-scale miners,

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digging into the soil and panning for gold.

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Nobody knows how many have died in the huge networks of tunnels.

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That's a massive risk, that's a massive risk,

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for a little piece of gold.

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There's a girl there who's about the same age as Jessica.

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She's got to be about the same age.

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It breaks your heart.

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It'd break my heart to do that to my kids every day -

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bring 'em out to work.

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Before Craig starts work,

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there are a few practicalities that need to be taken care of.

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So the toilets are all outside?

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OK, so you stand over...

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and s...?

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Yeah, OK.

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What about bath or a shower?

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And what do you do? Do you stand in it and then...?

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And then wash it off, yeah?

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THEY LAUGH

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Even in the spring, night-time temperatures

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can plummet well below zero.

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Is this dung?

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Some horse, some yak poo.

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Benzine, fuel. Smell?

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CRAIG EXHALES

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Do the job. Look at that!

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It's been very emotional today.

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It's like a bit kick in the bollocks, basically, tell you the truth, and that's how I felt.

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That's what I can't get in my head. It seems life is cheap.

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Good night, good night.

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Craig is settling in,

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but the visit to Sukhbaatar's mine has unnerved him.

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I mean, I've got a lot of thinking to do tonight.

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Am I going to go down that hole?

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He's asked me to go. Thing is, I've got a family thousands of miles away

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who want me to come home to them.

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This is pushing me to the edge already, thinking about it.

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It's really cold in here. The fires have gone out.

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I've just got to try and get my head down,

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but my head's been spinning round, 100 miles an hour.

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Sukhbaatar's hole...

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..just looks like a grave,

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and that's the first thing I thought of, it's a grave.

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Er...

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Today is supposed to be Craig's first day at work

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as a gold miner on the Mongolian steppe.

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Eagles are flying in the sky. Absolutely amazing.

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It's a gorgeous day, and I'm thankful for that

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cos it's probably going to help me when I, you know,

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make that final decision whether I go into the hole or not.

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Good morning!

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He's been doing some drawing for us and some colouring pictures.

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Look at these, you've been a really busy lad!

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What's the owl go? CRAIG HOOTS

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Ooo!

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That's it, an owl.

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Owl.

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You say OWL.

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Yeah! Language barrier is quite difficult.

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But there's another barrier that Craig needs to overcome.

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The long drop - and it's a long walk as well!

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You have to hang your head in shame

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because you know what's going to happen when you get there.

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At the minute I'm trying to hold off,

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but I know that nature will call and I'm going to have to face that demon.

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I don't know if I'm more nervous about using the long drop

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or going down the mine!

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He needs a trailer!

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Sukhbaatar has to carry everything he needs for the mine

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on the back of his motorbike.

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This would not, never be allowed on British roads.

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The early morning sun has already melted the snow in the valley.

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It's still a bad place to be...

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middle of nowhere like this. It's still a bad place.

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That's a long way down.

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It's all loose. The sides are all loose.

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For the moment, Craig can avoid confronting his fears.

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It's like one, two, three, bungee!

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I feel sick as a pig. I feel really nervous.

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I feel nervous for him.

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Deep below the ground,

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Sukhbaatar has reached the bed of an ancient river.

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It's here that the soil can sometimes contain gold.

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He's just going in, beyond, and he's not even...

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he's not even giving a shit about it.

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This would never happen at home. We would never allow it.

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Well, I'm pretty strong

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and that's got a good bit of weight to it, that has.

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Hauling the bucket is usually Gansuvd's job,

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bringing up nearly half a tonne of soil every day.

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Pulling up this, for about eight hours,

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that's a ball ache on your back. Mega.

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To drop in them holes like that...

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they've got some bollocks

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cos I'm seriously thinking twice about doing it.

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They have got some balls to do that.

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It's really, really dangerous.

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For now, Gansuvd's going to show him

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the next stage in the mining process - panning.

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Flippin' heck, this water,

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if it was snowing, it would just be like ice, it'd be horrible.

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In fact, some has just gone down the glove and it is freezing cold water.

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Once the soil has been washed and the bigger stones sifted out,

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the remaining sediment is transferred to a special mat.

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Into the mat. OK, yeah.

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I hope we find something.

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I'm not doing it right. I knew I wouldn't.

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It's a knack, ain't it? It's a skill.

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This is where days of digging end in success or failure.

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Don't put the pressure on me, I'm trying!

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This is really...

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Whoa, I'm going to let you do that, I'm not going to do that.

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There's a tiny, tiny little piece there.

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I call that a lot of hard work for next to nothing.

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It's the moment of truth.

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If Craig won't go down the hole,

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he'll never make it as a Mongolian miner.

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Do I want to do it?

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Do I really want to go in and do it?

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Ah, I'm still unsure about it, but I'm going to do it,

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I think I want to do it.

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I owe it...

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I owe it to them to go down and have a look.

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If there's a problem, look out, cos I'll be out like a shot.

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I'm ready to go.

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OK?

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It's like going into your own bloody tomb. Yeah.

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Give me a line, give me a line. I'm going now.

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This is Victorian mining.

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This ain't right. There's no props, no supports or nothing.

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It really is awful. It's really bad, that's really bad.

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You never run a hole this far

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without setting any kind of supports up.

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This is what's... I can't get my head around it.

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I mean, how far is he going to go before he puts a support in?

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How far is he going to go before it all comes in on him?

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Jesus Christ.

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We seriously need to talk.

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Fucking hell, here we go! This has just come in down my back.

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It's just coming down around you.

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Um... It's not... I'm going to come out.

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This is fucking gung ho mining, this is. It's really dangerous.

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Really dangerous.

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Back home, Craig works in mine safety,

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and now he's desperate to try and improve things

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for Sukhbaatar and his family.

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Sukhbaatar, I'll show you a drawing of what we use in the UK.

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That's a prop, we call that a tree.

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Yeah? A prop. This is wood.

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Have you ever used anything like that before?

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My head...my head's telling me that, you know, it should be shut down.

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They've had people killed here.

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There are accidents waiting to happen.

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Most of the valley has been excavated.

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It's now a warren of underground tunnels.

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Bloody hell.

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The risk of collapse gets worse with every new shaft.

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Collapsed, collapsed...collapsed.

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There could be tunnels going all over the place,

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and if they start to break into one of them tunnels,

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they're not going to know about it until it's on top of them.

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I think there's a tunnel here.

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Here and over here.

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No support, the whole lot's come in. five to ten tonnes of soil here.

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You ain't getting out alive at all,

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and by the time someone's dug you out, you're dead.

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Back home, it's easy, we'll just get someone in touch with the inspectors

0:21:100:21:15

and we'll get someone to shut it down.

0:21:150:21:16

Here, there's nothing, they're on their own and that's it.

0:21:160:21:21

Back at the house, Sukhbaatar's daughter Eggi and her husband Anga

0:21:250:21:29

are preparing Craig his first traditional Mongolian meal.

0:21:290:21:33

Is he a good father-in-law?

0:21:330:21:35

CRAIG LAUGHS

0:21:350:21:37

So, we've got beef, noodles, potato... Is that carrots?

0:21:390:21:45

Is there a name for this dish?

0:21:460:21:48

THEY ALL LAUGH

0:21:500:21:52

Spending the day with the family

0:21:550:21:57

has made Craig determined to try and change things.

0:21:570:22:01

'Hopefully I can show him, you know, I can prove to him'

0:22:010:22:04

that putting a bit of wood in there is going to save his life.

0:22:040:22:08

Just a piece of wood.

0:22:080:22:10

I've got to do something, I've got to try and show him.

0:22:100:22:12

'It frightens me and it upsets me that people are working like that.'

0:22:120:22:17

Today, Craig is starting out as a miner in his own right.

0:22:220:22:26

He's got just eight days to dig his own hole and strike gold.

0:22:260:22:30

So whereabouts are we going to dig, then?

0:22:300:22:32

Any ideas?

0:22:320:22:33

Choosing the right place to sink the shaft is crucial.

0:22:330:22:36

Get it wrong and days of digging can go to waste.

0:22:360:22:39

Here?

0:22:460:22:47

One, two, three, four.

0:22:490:22:52

Why do you think it's here, then? Why do you think it's better here?

0:22:520:22:56

I think what it is, you just chuck it up in the air...

0:22:580:23:01

it's a six, we'll go over here and that's...

0:23:010:23:03

There ain't no science to it.

0:23:030:23:05

They don't bounce radars down and back up, and find out...

0:23:050:23:07

do some drills, you know?

0:23:070:23:09

Take some core samples like we do back home, core samples...

0:23:090:23:14

Nothing, it's just...like that.

0:23:150:23:19

Christ Almighty!

0:23:200:23:21

Solid.

0:23:270:23:28

It really is rock hard.

0:23:280:23:30

That's got to be half a metre.

0:23:330:23:36

Thank you very much.

0:23:410:23:43

It's hard graft!

0:23:510:23:53

After two hours of back-breaking work, Craig has hit a problem.

0:23:530:23:57

That's solid, that is, it's solid packed.

0:23:580:24:01

It's rock hard!

0:24:010:24:03

It's just like hitting a piece of granite.

0:24:040:24:07

This is permafrost -

0:24:070:24:10

a layer of permanently frozen soil under the surface of the earth.

0:24:100:24:13

For the miners, it's an impenetrable barrier between them and the gold,

0:24:130:24:18

but they've found a familiar solution...

0:24:180:24:21

dung.

0:24:210:24:22

What's the fire? What's it do?

0:24:250:24:27

God, there's a lot of shit!

0:24:310:24:32

Like that.

0:24:440:24:45

That's going to set fire, melt the ice, the ice is going to melt

0:24:450:24:48

and this is going to be smoking like that.

0:24:480:24:51

Happy days, happy days.

0:24:520:24:54

It's been a good first day of digging,

0:24:540:24:57

but there's a long way to go before he'll get anywhere near the gold.

0:24:570:25:00

Like most Mongolians, Sukhbaatar and his family are Buddhists.

0:25:060:25:10

Every couple of weeks Gansuvd visits a monastery on the edge of town.

0:25:110:25:15

Peaceful...I've never been to a temple before.

0:25:170:25:22

So why do you come here? Is there a reason for coming today?

0:25:220:25:24

MONKS CHANT

0:25:340:25:36

This is amazing.

0:25:380:25:40

Mongolians have a deep connection with the land.

0:25:420:25:46

Digging it up to make money runs counter to many of their beliefs.

0:25:460:25:49

In return for a small donation, the monks here will chant sutras,

0:25:510:25:56

or prayers, for forgiveness.

0:25:560:25:59

THEY PLAY PIPES, BELLS AND DRUMS

0:25:590:26:02

The feeling, when it's the chanting, like a rhythm...

0:26:050:26:09

It's ever such a weird feeling. It's like you're being drawn in.

0:26:090:26:12

They feel bad for digging holes in their soil.

0:26:120:26:15

I hadn't really thought about it until now.

0:26:150:26:17

They need to find the gold to survive,

0:26:170:26:20

but, on the other term, they feel guilty and bad for digging the holes.

0:26:200:26:25

CRAIG ROARS

0:26:250:26:27

So, if you wasn't mining

0:26:330:26:35

and you moved to the countryside, what would you do?

0:26:350:26:38

Would you be farming?

0:26:380:26:40

OK.

0:26:450:26:46

Bloody hell.

0:26:550:26:56

It must be terrible to watch your animals die.

0:26:560:27:00

Oh, dear.

0:27:060:27:08

It's really difficult to take in, this is.

0:27:080:27:10

Until a couple of years ago,

0:27:100:27:13

Gansuvd and Sukhbaatar were nomadic herders -

0:27:130:27:16

tending Yaks, goats and horses...

0:27:160:27:18

..but in recent years, freak weather conditions

0:27:200:27:23

have devastated Mongolia's livestock herds.

0:27:230:27:26

Severe summer droughts followed by long harsh winters, known as Zuds,

0:27:260:27:30

killed an estimated eight million animals

0:27:300:27:33

and threatened the ancient way of life on the steppe.

0:27:330:27:35

Like thousands of other herders,

0:27:360:27:39

Sukhbaatar and his family were forced off the land.

0:27:390:27:43

How long ago was this?

0:27:490:27:50

That's you?

0:27:570:27:58

Happy times?

0:28:020:28:04

You've got a smile on already.

0:28:040:28:07

So everything that you ever knew,

0:28:330:28:36

everything that you ever done had just been taken away from you?

0:28:360:28:41

And you have to ride past them every day going to that place.

0:28:480:28:52

Maybe one day, you may be able to do it.

0:28:520:28:54

If you find that one piece of gold

0:28:540:28:55

that's going to earn you enough money to get your cattle,

0:28:550:28:58

and you can take your family back to the countryside and be happy.

0:28:580:29:03

I hope and I pray, I hope and I pray it comes true.

0:29:040:29:07

'The family that I thought I knew over a few days...

0:29:070:29:12

'I didn't know at all.

0:29:120:29:14

'I can't take it in. I can't hold it in my head.

0:29:150:29:18

'It's tragic.

0:29:180:29:20

'He's got to work at that little mine he's got

0:29:200:29:23

'to support his family, and it's killing him.

0:29:230:29:26

'That's not him. He's not a miner. He's not a miner.'

0:29:260:29:28

He must be going crazy.

0:29:280:29:30

His mind must be in turmoil all the time

0:29:300:29:33

'about where he should be and why he isn't there.

0:29:330:29:36

'It's so sad...'

0:29:360:29:39

So sad.

0:29:390:29:40

Breaks me heart.

0:29:490:29:50

I want to pick 'em up and take 'em...

0:29:500:29:52

somewhere where they're going to be safe,

0:29:520:29:54

where they ain't got to do anything stupid,

0:29:540:29:56

like go in them shitty little pits.

0:29:560:29:58

Overnight, the dung fire has melted the frozen earth

0:30:070:30:11

in Craig's new mine shaft.

0:30:110:30:13

It's like when you clean your BBQ out.

0:30:130:30:16

Getting down to the gold seam could take days,

0:30:160:30:19

and once you reach it, you're lucky to earn £5 a day.

0:30:190:30:22

These are poor people...

0:30:230:30:26

so the showy new visitor to the site is looking a bit out of place.

0:30:260:30:30

Sukhbaatar, who's the fella in the nice and shiny jeep?

0:30:300:30:35

Sukhbaatar has got a small amount of gold to sell

0:30:390:30:42

from yesterday's mining.

0:30:420:30:44

Gold buyers like these tour the mine sites across Mongolia.

0:30:440:30:48

Operating on the fringes of the law,

0:30:490:30:51

they buy gold at source and sell it on for profit,

0:30:510:30:54

often on the black market.

0:30:540:30:56

At the bottom of the chain, Sukhbaatar has no choice

0:30:580:31:01

but to accept whatever price these middle men give him.

0:31:010:31:04

How much did you make, Sukhbaatar?

0:31:060:31:09

That's about £8.

0:31:110:31:13

Is that good, are you happy with that?

0:31:130:31:15

How can you try harder? You're working really hard as it is.

0:31:240:31:27

I don't know how you can work any harder.

0:31:270:31:29

Sukhbaatar's gold is now making its way 300 miles north to the capital,

0:31:320:31:38

Ulaanbaatar.

0:31:380:31:39

Here, a vast market in copper, gold and coal

0:31:400:31:43

has made this country the fastest growing economy in the world.

0:31:430:31:48

Billion dollar contracts are up for grabs.

0:31:480:31:50

Luxury cars and designer brands, signs of the astonishing boom...

0:31:500:31:55

..but despite the wealth, over a million Mongolians

0:31:570:32:00

still live in acute poverty,

0:32:000:32:03

their traditional way of life under threat.

0:32:030:32:06

Halfway through his trip

0:32:130:32:14

and Craig is still determined to help Sukhbaatar work safely.

0:32:140:32:19

We're going to the mine today.

0:32:200:32:21

Can we...maybe try and build...

0:32:230:32:27

Can we try and do our supports like we talked about?

0:32:270:32:31

Would you like me to show you today, or not?

0:32:310:32:33

They nick it, so...

0:32:380:32:40

You're screwed every way you look at it.

0:32:410:32:44

Wood is expensive here.

0:32:440:32:46

Sukhbaatar can't afford to leave it at the mine to be stolen,

0:32:460:32:49

but there's a more serious problem that he's been keeping from Craig.

0:32:490:32:54

So, I'm now being part of an illegal mining, er...job.

0:33:200:33:26

So, yeah, all right, erm...

0:33:310:33:34

..happy days.

0:33:360:33:37

For Craig, illegal mining is a serious issue.

0:33:380:33:42

He's from a world of regulations,

0:33:420:33:44

where health and safety comes first, and illegal pits are shut down.

0:33:440:33:48

He's just decided to tell me that it's an illegal pit.

0:33:490:33:52

So I'm not very happy, cos...

0:33:540:33:57

that's not what I'm about.

0:33:570:33:59

We go into mines that are licensed...

0:33:590:34:02

..they're safe.

0:34:030:34:05

Obviously, if there's an incident, there's different levels of safeness,

0:34:060:34:10

but this...

0:34:100:34:11

You know, if the police come, they have to run to the hills.

0:34:150:34:17

What the fucking hell is that all about?

0:34:170:34:20

It needs bringing together, the government need to be here.

0:34:210:34:24

It needs formalising, it needs things in place to protect the workers.

0:34:240:34:28

At the minute, they've got nothing.

0:34:280:34:30

Oh.

0:34:320:34:34

The government in this part of Mongolia

0:34:440:34:47

refuses to issue mining licences to people like Sukhbaatar,

0:34:470:34:51

claiming that they damage the environment,

0:34:510:34:54

but, further up the valley, big companies have been granted licences

0:34:540:34:58

to mine gold on an industrial scale.

0:34:580:35:00

They have pledged to make good the environmental damage

0:35:020:35:05

once they have finished mining the area.

0:35:050:35:07

Sukhbaatar has friends who live and work on the fringes

0:35:100:35:13

of one of these legal mines.

0:35:130:35:15

Thank you very much, sir, thank you.

0:35:170:35:19

The ger's selling beer and everything else,

0:35:210:35:23

and there's a pool table slapped outside it.

0:35:230:35:26

Bit surreal.

0:35:260:35:28

CRAIG CHUCKLES

0:35:280:35:30

It just doesn't make sense.

0:35:300:35:32

In just 20 years of mining,

0:35:490:35:52

the Ongin River has all but dried up.

0:35:520:35:55

Heavy machines have carved up the land

0:35:550:35:57

and water guns are draining the last of the valley's natural supplies.

0:35:570:36:02

Do you think they will put it back to how it was

0:36:020:36:05

or just move on to another valley?

0:36:050:36:07

They're just bastardising the land, and what you're doing is nothing,

0:36:200:36:23

you're not doing anything of the sort.

0:36:230:36:25

You're doing it to survive, these are doing it for profit.

0:36:250:36:28

It's always the same, the big boys, the fat cats, they get richer,

0:36:330:36:38

and the small fry, you know, the little fish,

0:36:380:36:41

they get fucked over all the time.

0:36:410:36:43

Sukhbaatar's not...a bad man.

0:36:430:36:48

He's far from it, he's anything but.

0:36:480:36:50

He doesn't want to be down a little pit like that...

0:36:500:36:53

but it's a means to an end.

0:36:530:36:55

He has to do it to try and get those scrappy little bits of gold together

0:36:550:36:59

for somebody at the top end of the market to make...

0:36:590:37:02

ultimately, millions of pounds.

0:37:020:37:04

How much more can I take of this? How much more can I take of this...

0:37:040:37:07

..shit that these people have to live through?

0:37:080:37:11

Another day.

0:37:110:37:12

Another day in Mongolia.

0:37:140:37:15

I've been trying to hold off for ages.

0:37:230:37:25

I'm going to have to go...

0:37:250:37:27

and use the long drop.

0:37:270:37:30

But, yeah, it's not going to be good.

0:37:300:37:32

Wish me luck.

0:37:350:37:36

Oh, dear!

0:37:380:37:41

Alone with his thoughts, Craig has had a brainwave.

0:37:430:37:46

'I spoke to Sukhbaatar around the shaft today,

0:37:480:37:50

'about putting planks in.'

0:37:500:37:51

I said to him about boarding out,

0:37:530:37:55

and he said it weren't worth it but he's just done it here.

0:37:550:37:58

Be brave, you can see inside. It's all boarded out.

0:37:580:38:01

He's got boards at the back, there, to hold back.

0:38:010:38:04

He's even put, you know, a framework around it,

0:38:040:38:07

a wooden framework around it to support everything.

0:38:070:38:09

He's even got them in the bottom, there, planks in the bottom.

0:38:090:38:12

So he knows about boarding out,

0:38:120:38:14

but he just chooses not to do it at his shaft side.

0:38:140:38:17

I just can't understand why... CRAIG COUGHS

0:38:170:38:22

..why he wouldn't do it. It just doesn't make sense.

0:38:220:38:26

Craig's mind is made up.

0:38:320:38:33

He's on a mission to prove that mining here can be made safe,

0:38:330:38:37

shoring up his own hole

0:38:370:38:39

using planks that are removed at the end of the day.

0:38:390:38:42

Let me show you.

0:38:440:38:45

The deeper you go, the lower your boards.

0:38:480:38:51

Keep putting them lower. It holds the sides in.

0:38:510:38:54

He thinks it's a toilet.

0:38:580:39:00

You protect your toilet from collapsing,

0:39:060:39:08

but you don't protect you from it collapsing.

0:39:080:39:10

I just can't get my head around it.

0:39:100:39:12

Support the toilet so it doesn't cave in on itself.

0:39:120:39:14

This, it's a life, isn't it?

0:39:140:39:16

It might not be a bloke, it could be a kid down there, with Mum.

0:39:160:39:19

It's got 16 and a bit stone on it...

0:39:220:39:26

It's going nowhere!

0:39:260:39:27

Quick simple supports. If they build it all the same every time,

0:39:270:39:30

they've just got to knock 'em out and back in again.

0:39:300:39:32

In...bucket...out. Easy!

0:39:340:39:38

Yeah, plenty of room at the bottom

0:39:430:39:45

because...here, if it comes in, we pull you up.

0:39:450:39:50

If it comes in here...

0:39:500:39:51

He's interested. He's interested.

0:39:550:39:58

Bucket, please.

0:40:010:40:02

With his mine shaft supported, Craig can get back to digging.

0:40:020:40:06

It's solid now, we're at the ice bed again.

0:40:060:40:10

There's still at least two more metres to dig

0:40:100:40:13

before he can hope to strike gold,

0:40:130:40:15

but it looks like he might be digging in the right place.

0:40:150:40:19

Wow, look at all that!

0:40:210:40:24

Bloody hell, that's a lot of gold there.

0:40:240:40:27

How much do you think that's worth, Sukhbaatar?

0:40:270:40:30

And where's that mining from?

0:40:400:40:43

There...

0:40:430:40:44

..there...there.

0:40:460:40:48

With the promise of a big strike,

0:40:510:40:53

there's just one more layer of permafrost to melt.

0:40:530:40:55

Oh, wasn't as grand as the other day, was it?

0:40:590:41:01

Craig's been mining for more than a week.

0:41:050:41:08

Today, he's heading out onto the Mongolian steppe

0:41:080:41:11

with Sukhbaatar and his family.

0:41:110:41:13

Sukhbaatar, two minutes out of the town,

0:41:130:41:17

it's absolutely beautiful out here.

0:41:170:41:18

You've got horses running around,

0:41:180:41:20

the landscape is absolutely...breathtaking.

0:41:200:41:24

They have come to visit Gansuvd's brother,

0:41:310:41:34

who still lives the nomadic lifestyle of a Mongolian herder.

0:41:340:41:38

Gambold was lucky.

0:41:450:41:48

Unlike Sukhbaatar, much of his herd survived the terrible winters.

0:41:480:41:53

How many horses do you have?

0:41:530:41:54

They're a bit lively!

0:41:590:42:00

Whoa!

0:42:000:42:02

Giving me the eye!

0:42:020:42:04

This is getting a bit... Aye-aye!

0:42:070:42:10

Woah, look at that!

0:42:140:42:15

How easy was that?

0:42:170:42:19

Sukhbaatar's the daddy on that. He was straight on, hooked it on.

0:42:190:42:23

He's loving every minute of this.

0:42:230:42:26

Sukhbaatar! Hey!

0:42:260:42:28

Sukhbaatar hasn't lost his skills as a herdsman,

0:42:280:42:32

passed down to him through generations...

0:42:320:42:34

but working at the mines, he hasn't had the chance to teach his son.

0:42:340:42:39

Oh, look at this, now they're taking it.

0:42:390:42:42

His dad's teaching him, teaching him the ways so he don't forget it!

0:42:420:42:45

Look at 'em. Big smiles on their faces!

0:42:450:42:47

That's brilliant, isn't it?

0:42:470:42:49

Trying to keep them in touch with what the family used to be.

0:42:490:42:52

That's lovely. It's absolutely lovely.

0:42:520:42:55

Thank you very much.

0:43:010:43:04

Craig's being given a job

0:43:040:43:06

that's a bit less glamorous than horse wrangling.

0:43:060:43:09

This is a job for the ladies, not for the boys.

0:43:090:43:12

CRAIG GIGGLES

0:43:120:43:15

They're big. Listen to them. YAKS GROWL DEEPLY

0:43:150:43:18

She's going in sports mode now.

0:43:240:43:27

Be good.

0:43:270:43:28

Woo-hoo-ha-ha-ha-ha!

0:43:290:43:31

Oh, it's ever so warm.

0:43:310:43:33

HE LAUGHS

0:43:340:43:36

I'm only good with one hand! HE LAUGHS

0:43:410:43:45

With one hand, I'm exceptional!

0:43:460:43:48

It's very difficult.

0:43:500:43:52

As a coal miner, I don't get to milk many yaks.

0:43:520:43:56

Ah, yak's milk!

0:43:560:43:58

I've got a fair bit off one, bless her.

0:43:580:44:01

As night falls, it's back to the ger for a hearty Mongolian feast.

0:44:060:44:11

I'm a little bit nervous about what we're eating at the minute. Um...

0:44:160:44:21

I don't eat intestines. The liver, kidneys...

0:44:310:44:35

Happy days.

0:44:370:44:38

Not sure about the fat.

0:44:410:44:43

Fuck it, in for a penny.

0:44:450:44:48

Different.

0:44:580:44:59

Please help.

0:45:090:45:10

They've done all this. It's really, really nice, really kind of them.

0:45:100:45:15

There's just so much of it!

0:45:150:45:16

'Sukhbaatar, today, has really let his hair down.

0:45:160:45:20

'He's so proud of his history, what he is.

0:45:200:45:24

'And he's a farmer, he's not a miner.'

0:45:240:45:26

Cor!

0:45:260:45:28

'His heart's here. I just wish he could stop here with his family,

0:45:280:45:33

'where he needs to be, where he should be.'

0:45:330:45:35

THEY LAUGH

0:45:350:45:36

He's more than somebody who scraps around in bloody little holes.

0:45:370:45:41

This bloke has got a world of knowledge. He's intelligent.

0:45:410:45:44

You know, he knows the land, he knows animals.

0:45:440:45:48

HE SINGS

0:45:540:45:57

WHOLE FAMILY SINGS

0:46:150:46:18

While they have been away in the country,

0:46:370:46:39

disaster has struck at the mine.

0:46:390:46:42

He's annoyed, he needs to come out. He needs to come up.

0:46:490:46:51

Thieves have raided Sukhbaatar's mine.

0:46:510:46:54

Other miners have broken into Sukhbaatar's tunnels

0:46:570:47:00

and taken out all the gold.

0:47:000:47:02

A week spent digging down to the seam has gone to waste.

0:47:020:47:06

Fucking hell.

0:47:150:47:17

The family that have dug that hole have broke in here,

0:47:170:47:20

the family that dug that hole have broke in here,

0:47:200:47:22

the family that dug that hole have broke in here.

0:47:220:47:24

So, basically, he's been shafted by one, two, three families.

0:47:240:47:29

Well, if it was me, Sukhbaatar, I know what I'd do.

0:47:290:47:32

I'd get a shovel and I'd fill their fucking holes in for them.

0:47:320:47:34

Make them dig a new hole.

0:47:340:47:35

I'm fucking fuming. I'm fuming.

0:47:360:47:40

I'd fill that hole in, I'd fill that hole in, and I'd fill that hole in,

0:47:400:47:43

and I'd sit here all night and wait for them to come back,

0:47:430:47:45

and I'd kick the shit out of them.

0:47:450:47:47

That's bang out of order.

0:47:470:47:49

It's took him a week to dig this.

0:47:490:47:51

He's shagged, he's got no money now.

0:47:510:47:53

That's some friend, that is.

0:48:010:48:03

I'm looking at every one of them now, thinking, "Is it them, is it them?"

0:48:040:48:07

And I shouldn't do that, I shouldn't do that. It's making me really angry.

0:48:070:48:10

HE EXHALES

0:48:100:48:13

Slimy bastards! They are really slimy bastards for doing that.

0:48:130:48:16

Look at him. His fucking shoulders have dropped.

0:48:160:48:19

You ain't got to look at his face. You know.

0:48:190:48:21

I know what he's thinking, "What am I going to do?"

0:48:230:48:26

For Craig mining has always been a brotherhood

0:48:280:48:31

but it seems that in Mongolia's gold rush you can trust no-one.

0:48:310:48:34

In England we say, "Bastards".

0:48:360:48:39

See this one, I'm going to dig it deeper, and quicker,

0:48:390:48:42

and you can take this one cos that you ain't going to use any more

0:48:420:48:45

but this one is your new hole, yeah?

0:48:450:48:46

Once I've finished digging it you've got it, it's yours, yeah?

0:48:460:48:49

I can't do anything else.

0:48:490:48:51

I don't know what else I can do.

0:48:510:48:53

Ooh, it's nice and warm in here!

0:48:560:48:58

Oh, that fire's lovely.

0:49:010:49:02

'This afternoon I didn't know what to do with myself

0:49:110:49:13

'and I don't know what to do with myself now.

0:49:130:49:15

'I still feel shell shocked. I feel like I've been robbed.'

0:49:150:49:18

With Sukhbaatar's mine gone, tomorrow they need to find gold

0:49:180:49:22

in the hole that Craig has spent days digging.

0:49:220:49:25

'We have got to dig deep and fast.

0:49:250:49:27

'This family is going to starve if we don't get that hole dug.

0:49:270:49:30

'That puts a whole different bag of pressure on my shoulders.

0:49:300:49:33

'This place ain't going to beat me.'

0:49:330:49:35

I'm not going to let his family down.

0:49:350:49:37

So I'm going to dig that hole until it's deep enough

0:49:370:49:39

and they do find gold, and I'll keep digging until they've got it.

0:49:390:49:43

Judgement day today.

0:49:500:49:52

That's my biggest fear. We've spent all that time digging that hole

0:49:520:49:55

and I'm not going to find gold.

0:49:550:49:57

That's my biggest fear because what then?

0:49:570:49:59

Today, riding out one final time across the Mongolian steppe,

0:50:060:50:10

British Miner Craig Notman is a man in search of gold.

0:50:100:50:14

I shall do my very best, Sukhbaatar,

0:50:320:50:35

to try and put some gold in this pot for you.

0:50:350:50:38

Are you doing the boards today?

0:50:390:50:40

Good answer.

0:50:410:50:43

Good answer. Come on, then.

0:50:430:50:44

Yeah.

0:50:440:50:45

Spot on.

0:50:450:50:47

No dramas now. He's left us to it.

0:50:470:50:48

Obviously, thinks he can trust us to do it

0:50:480:50:51

so just want to crack on and get it completed now.

0:50:510:50:54

It's been five days of hard graft, digging through the stony soil

0:50:590:51:02

and melting the permafrost with dung fires.

0:51:020:51:05

Bucket, please!

0:51:050:51:07

Now, five metres below the surface,

0:51:080:51:10

Craig hopes he has finally hit the gold seam.

0:51:100:51:13

If you notice the soil, the colour's changing.

0:51:140:51:18

It's getting more and more orange.

0:51:180:51:20

Yes...yes...

0:51:230:51:26

yes...

0:51:260:51:28

oh, fucking yes!

0:51:280:51:30

What's this, here?

0:51:310:51:32

Gold!

0:51:340:51:35

I'm trying to be Mr Cool.

0:51:410:51:42

I don't want all these lot to see that I'm buzzing me boobs off!

0:51:420:51:46

I'm chuffed to bits. I am happy.

0:51:460:51:48

But the real work has only just begun.

0:51:500:51:52

I'm wet through with sweat, the hole's red hot.

0:51:560:51:59

This is the toughest I've ever had to work.

0:51:590:52:01

If you've got to start a new hole after you've dug one

0:52:010:52:03

and you've found nothing

0:52:030:52:05

the thought of having to crack on and dig another hole,

0:52:050:52:07

it breaks your heart it, really does, it's a killer.

0:52:070:52:11

After digging and panning for two more hours,

0:52:110:52:14

Craig is finding just a few grains of gold.

0:52:140:52:17

This is the reality of life for a Mongolian gold miner.

0:52:170:52:20

I'm getting more frustrated.

0:52:240:52:26

In a minute that's going to go about 800 yards down there.

0:52:260:52:28

I'm just going to fling it.

0:52:280:52:30

It's a lot of graft for nothing, really.

0:52:320:52:35

Pennies.

0:52:350:52:36

We've had buckets with nothing in, pans with nothing in.

0:52:360:52:40

When we first found some it was brilliant,

0:52:410:52:44

I thought, "Here we go, happy days,"

0:52:440:52:46

but it's just been so bloody difficult.

0:52:460:52:48

So hard to try and get it out.

0:52:480:52:50

How much do you think we've got up to now?

0:52:500:52:52

HE SPEAKS IN DIALECT

0:52:520:52:55

That's £1.50.

0:52:550:52:58

That 's not enough, we've got to keep going, haven't we?

0:52:580:53:01

Come on, we can't sit around. Let's go and do some more.

0:53:010:53:03

'You know, I've put myself in Sukhbaatar's position.

0:53:120:53:15

'You know, it's my family that's sitting there

0:53:150:53:17

'waiting for me to bring money home.'

0:53:170:53:19

If I don't do it my family don't get nothing.

0:53:200:53:23

'We're going to crack on

0:53:250:53:27

'and we're going to get it out, we're going to dig it out.

0:53:270:53:29

'Just going to man up a bit and just get on and deal with it.'

0:53:290:53:32

Finally, in the last buckets of the day,

0:53:340:53:36

a few more flecks start to appear.

0:53:360:53:38

You know, we've tried our best, we've worked hard and...

0:53:400:53:45

I think Sukhbaatar will be happy still

0:53:450:53:46

because don't forget I'm still a bloody novice at this mining.

0:53:460:53:49

'It's the end of the day now. Everybody's packing up.'

0:53:580:54:00

I know it's not a fortune but we've got gold out of the ground.

0:54:000:54:05

I don't think we've done too bad but I'd just prefer to get a lot more.

0:54:050:54:09

There.

0:54:090:54:11

We've tried, we've done the best we can.

0:54:210:54:23

Sorry.

0:54:350:54:36

We tried our best but that's all we could get.

0:54:360:54:38

You're my friend for ever, mate.

0:55:080:55:10

Thank you. Thank you, as well.

0:55:100:55:12

All these people!

0:55:180:55:19

Sukhbaatar has invited friends and his family from the countryside.

0:55:210:55:25

And on the menu is roasted goat - Mongolian style.

0:55:250:55:30

They've got a blow torch out and just set fire to its skin.

0:55:320:55:35

Yeah, different, isn't it?

0:55:350:55:37

'It's been one hell of a day, it's been mega hot.

0:55:370:55:40

'It's the hardest graft I've had any day of my life

0:55:400:55:44

'but it's been bloody worth it.

0:55:440:55:46

'I've shown them about making the hole safe'

0:55:460:55:49

and they are going to try and use it.

0:55:490:55:50

They know now that they can set it up

0:55:500:55:52

and they can bring it back home with them

0:55:520:55:54

so I'm chuffed to bits with that. I've got 100% now.

0:55:540:55:57

I'm really happy.

0:55:570:55:58

'Sukhbaatar is a really, really honest, hard working good bloke

0:56:160:56:20

'and I totally respect him.'

0:56:200:56:22

All he's after is to get money together

0:56:220:56:26

to get his herd to go out in them bloody hills, right up there,

0:56:260:56:31

and just live a peaceful, tranquil life.

0:56:310:56:34

..Why's that?

0:56:370:56:40

Back home and Craig's training British workers in underground safety.

0:56:400:56:45

'It was difficult. It was hard, upsetting.

0:56:450:56:49

'I think I went through every emotion and then some.'

0:56:490:56:51

I'm still trying to come down from it now.

0:56:510:56:53

Clip 'em on, lock him on.

0:56:530:56:56

Your life's hanging off this wire.

0:56:560:56:57

'I miss Sukhbaatar and his family so much.'

0:56:570:56:59

A really good man. An honest man. His heart's as big as a lion.

0:56:590:57:03

I do class him as a very, very long distance friend now.

0:57:030:57:08

If I could be a little bit more like him I'd be a happy man.

0:57:080:57:12

Set number is 34...

0:57:140:57:16

With help from the mining community,

0:57:160:57:17

Craig is determined to raise money for the Mongolian gold miners...

0:57:170:57:22

'A miner's struggling,

0:57:230:57:24

'some other miner is going to help him.

0:57:240:57:27

'That's what happening. It's a brotherhood.'

0:57:270:57:29

Teams are coming together saying, "We'll do something, we'll help."

0:57:290:57:32

and they've given up time to do it.

0:57:320:57:34

And he's committed to helping his friend Sukhbaatar

0:57:340:57:37

return to his nomadic life as a herder on the Mongolian steppe.

0:57:370:57:42

I want to pull up outside his place, with a big lorry full of cattle,

0:57:420:57:46

drive out into the countryside, park up, and that's it.

0:57:460:57:49

And leave him to it. Leave him to where he should be.

0:57:490:57:51

I will achieve that. We WILL achieve that.

0:57:510:57:54

I'm looking forward to that day so much, yeah.

0:57:540:57:58

I must admit, mate, it's nice to have you back.

0:57:580:58:00

Yeah, you're full of shit. Come on then!

0:58:000:58:02

After you, girls!

0:58:020:58:05

Next time...

0:58:050:58:06

Colin Window is swapping his 1,000 tonne London ferry

0:58:060:58:10

for a tiny wooden boat in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

0:58:100:58:12

This is going to be a lot more involved

0:58:140:58:16

than what I imagined, I tell you.

0:58:160:58:18

He'll be working on the Buringanga river,

0:58:180:58:21

where ferrymen take their lives in their hands every day.

0:58:210:58:25

This would be a reportable near miss on the River Thames.

0:58:250:58:30

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:530:58:55

Craig Notman, a mine worker from Staffordshire, is travelling to Mongolia to dig for gold in some of the toughest conditions on Earth. Mongolia is a country enjoying the world's biggest economic boom, entirely supported by mining. But while some people are getting rich, more than 40 percent of the population lives in poverty. Craig is staying in a traditional Mongolian tent, or ger, and working with local miner Sukhbaatar.

Like tens of thousands of small-scale miners, Sukhbaatar digs tunnels into the Mongolian steppe, searching for gold deep underground. It is a gruelling and dangerous way to earn just a few pounds a day. Thousands have died in the precarious networks of underground tunnels. Safety conscious Craig braves the tunnels himself as he learns to dig and pan for gold. He has to endure extreme weather and back-breaking work, and get to grips with unusual cuisine. Along the way, he discovers that a traditional nomadic people have been driven off their land by unprecedented extreme weather. With no other work in prospect, they must risk their lives every day in a desperate attempt to make money.


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