Toson Lake
Toson Lake

Using a D8R Dozer for Environmental Rehabilitation

For mining company Monpolymet Group, rebuilding the environment is just part of the plan. Once a functional mine, Mongolia's largest man-made lake was created using a Cat D8R dozer.

By Caterpillar | Posted: January 27, 2022 | Revised: March 28, 2022

How to Turn a Former Mine Into a Giant Man-Made Lake

Ever wonder what happens to old mine-sites after they shut down operations? You may envision a barren wasteland of holes and dirt piles.  You probably don’t think of a picturesque lake that’s been wholly man-made.

Welcome to Toson lake – formerly, the Toson mine. It’s now a beautiful vacation destination and home to all sorts of animals and plants. Talk about a makeover.

Total Mine Makeover

Of course, former mine-sites don’t just naturally become lakes. They’re built intentionally, through a practice called environmental rehabilitation.

It’s a positive, growing trend. And this type of rehab is making damaged land (by humans or mother nature) beautiful and useful again; the Toson mine site, located in eastern Mongolia is a stellar example of environmental rehabilitation.

The site is located in the heart of Mongolian gold territory and was previously mined by The Monpolymet Group. For years it was an active mine that employed hundreds of people.  When operations shut down in the early 2000s, it had the potential to be a barren hole in the ground.

Instead, the Monpolymet Group rehabbed it.

Using their fleet of Cat® D8R dozers they helped prepare the former mining site to become a lake and surrounding park area.

Today it’s the largest man-made lake in the entire country sitting at 700 meters/2300 feet across. Monpolymet also rehabbed other areas of the mine into forest groves of over 60,000 trees.  The beautiful area is home to swans, geese, herons as well as several types of fish – along with many summer vacationers.  

Converting the Mine Using D8R Dozers

If you love learning about big jobs, look no further than the work needed to clean up a former mine site. It’s why the company relied heavily on Cat D8R dozers.

Bayarbat Chuluunbat, the company’s general mechanic, said, “We have two dozers that have been working for 20 years. In my experience, Cat engine, undercarriage and transmissions are better than any other brands. Plus, the D8R dozer is the machine that has the lowest cost and highest production, while also providing operator comfort and easy maneuvering.

Lastly, the D8R dozers only require a modest amount of power, meaning they can be easily used at nearly at any mining site. After 12-hours of running at full capacity, the dozer only requires 350 liters of fuel.”

Bayarbat and his colleagues use Cat dozers for all types of work, including mining remediation purposes.

The Future of Toson Lake

Since the Toson lake opened in 2011, Monpolymnet has continued to invest in the area.  They’ve added beaches, wooden shelters, rock sidewalks as well as chairs and picnic tables.  

“We work hard every day to protect the rehabilitated area,” said one former mining employee. “It’s a lot like caring a lot of children, lovingly protecting the land and keeping it restored.”

Today 93.3% of the former Toson mine has been technically remediated. And about 60% of the area has been biologically remediated – meaning the soil, plant and animal life has been restored. The company has also planted 80,000 trees, along with fruit and berry groves. Not bad at all.

Learn more about how Caterpillar and our customers support environmental rehabilitation and other sustainability efforts globally.

Mongolia Man-Made Lake
Digging Lake
Digging lake
Mongolia Lake

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