The mining industry is one of the most prestigious sectors in Mongolia. A this year’s graduate of Saint-Petersburg Mining University shared the story of how she ended up as a student of the first higher technical University in Russia. Now she is back home, working as the Underground Mining Specialist at a local mining company.
According to Uugantuya Gantulga, nowadays only a tiny proportion of Mongolians can speak Russian. The country sees itself more as a part of Asia. Hence it is actively developing partnering relationships with Japan and China. Yet as a schoolgirl, Uugantuya was studying Japanese; she also undertook an exchange visit to Japan. Upon completion of school with a focus on physics and math, she enrolled in the Department of Geology and Geophysics of the National University of Mongolia.
“Mongolian people have deep respect towards Russian scientific school. Everyone in the country knows these were Russians who laid the foundation for the mining sector. The quality of engineering education is much higher compared to my country as well. When I was in my first year, I won the Russian Government scholarship. These are usually awarded to my country’s citizens on an annual basis, and to get one, I had to pass several exams. I did not speak Russian at all, but fortunately, I impressed the admissions board with my knowledge of mathematics. Since I wanted to work in the mineral resources sector, I was given a quota to study at St. Petersburg Mining University. Back then, I already knew that Mining University is considered to be one of the best and most prestigious mining & engineering schools in Russia. It is also the University from which the first President of Mongolia, Punsalmaagiin Ochirbat, graduated.
“I wanted to evolve in the field that cannot be properly studied in four years of the Bachelor’s degree program. So I knew I had to earn a Specialist degree. It may seem it was an ‘extra’ year I spent on studies, but it actually helped me to get a job. In today’s labor market, it is the competency level that counts, most notably when referring to a degree certificate obtained from a foreign university. Thus I remember thinking to myself, why would I ever need those disciplines? I was a student; I thought of them as being redundant and, frankly sparking, I doubted I would ever find them useful. Only when I got a job, I realized I was wrong, and there was value in studying those disciplines too. For instance, my knowledge of MacroMine and AutoCad, which we used to draw sketches of mining workings, came in quite handy. Overall, mining engineer is an exciting occupation, but not an easy one,” admits the Mining University’s graduate.
Upon return home, Uugantuya got hired by Max Group, a domestic corporation operating across a variety of industries, including gold mining. Uugantuya’s role there lies in the medium-term planning of surface mining operations at the Khan Altai deposit.
While studying at Mining University, Uugantuya undertook an internship at Rio Tinto, an Anglo-Australian multinational company ranked within the top 3 largest metal and mining corporations globally. After gaining some practical experience, probably a few years later, the Mongolian graduate intends to return to the company, but this time as a full-time specialist.