Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Smuggling Wood

Yet another entry in the 'stranger than fiction' file.  I recall that, during a visit to Mongolia in the early 1990s, a member of our tour party, an amateur geologist, rather naively packed a small sample of Gobi sand in a plastic envelope as a souvenir.   The envelope was discovered and confiscated at the airport.  Initially, we wondered whether the officials had suspected the white powder to be something other than sand - but then we realised that their true concerns related to mineral data being taken out of the country without authority. 

Clearly, given Mongolia's vast mineral potential, this remains a major worry.  This recent UB Post story describes recent instances of smuggling - gold, mineral data and - most bizarrely - petrified wood. 

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