ULAN BATOR, Feb. 14, 2011 (Xinhua News Agency) -- The Mongolian parliament passed a law temporarily banning issuance of new mining exploration license, local media reported Monday.

The law was initiated by President Elbegdorj Tsakhia and banned issuance of new mining license until April 30, 2011.

Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia issued about 4000 exploration and 1,000 mining licenses since 1990s. There are only a dozen large mining operations being conducted by Mongolia despite high number of exploration licenses given out. Mongolian civic groups demanded stricter regulation in mining activities citing environmental degradation.
Under the public pressures, Mongolian government is cracking down on illegal mining operations. Mongolian parliament is expected to debate more stricter law on issuance and transfer mining and exploration licenses.

Munkhbayar Tsetsgee, an environmental activist who leads "River Movement," said "the law should have banned issuance of new mining licenses permanently. Currently, it is just banning temporarily."

Mining is a main economic sector of Mongolia and contributed 98 percent of total exports in 2010, according to National Statistical office of Mongolia.