Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mongolian Real Estate Developers Establish Largest Ever Partnership

/Ulaanbaatar, 2015.09.29/ Mongolian Real estate developers with pioneering construction projects launch the biggest partnership effort to date, under a company named Mongolian Development Partnership LLC (MDP).  The newly founded company shall serve as the building block for its partners in developing large scale Real estate projects domestically and internationally, while focusing on developing Mongolia’s first Real Estate Investment Trust (known as REIT).

The members of MDP, consisting of Tsast Group, Zag Group, Orchlon Construction, Gandirs, and Green Resources Construction, have developed over 623,979 square meters of properties domestically, making the collective experiences presented by these companies unmatched.

“MDP partners have gained extensive experience in the last 2 decades of their operations in terms of introducing good governance and proper construction management in accordance with ISO and FIDIC standards, while adopting international standard best practices and modern technologies. We believe that the decision to found a joint company is of high importance as well as a required stepping stone for the future growth of our industry, as this will help us export Services.”, said the MDP Board.

The newly established company has so far received requests for partnerships from other real estate developers with industry experience and good governance, including CHMM LLC and Buyanpel LLC and in response MDP shall remain open to further partnerships.

MDP will start operations with immediate effect to pursue its mid-term strategy to establish a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) within the next 2-3 years in order to provide the much-needed Exit strategy in the market, and provide qualified Fund management services.


If you are interested in receiving media quotes or additional information please contact Gerel Orgil on 88779173.


Members of Mongolian Development Partners

·         Zag Group                                      (Founded in 1990)

·         Tsast Group                                   (Founded in 1997)

·         Orchlon Construction                     (Founded in 2003)

·         Gandirs Group                                (Founded in 1991)

·         Green Resource Construction        (Founded in 2008)

·         Buyanpel                                        (Founded in 2004)

·         CHMM                                             (Founded in 1996)

Members of MDP board

·         Nemekhbaatar.B, Managing Director of Zag Group

·         Bayarsaikhan.N, Managing Director of Tsast Group

·         Ganzorig.D, Managing Director of Orchlon Construction

·         Erdenechuluun.Ts, Managing Director of Gandirs Group

·         Tsetsenzorig.Ts, Managing Director of Green Resource Construction

·         Ariunbold.D, Managing Director of Buyanpel

·         Chinbat.Kh, Managing Director of CHMM

A MDP board meeting is scheduled to take place in October 2015, during which the board members will appoint the board’s Chairman along with the CEO.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

NAMBC UPDATE: TRQ Chair, New U.S. Amb. to Make First Public Appearances in Mongolia at NAMBC, 29-30 Sept

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

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Cover Mongolia is a media sponsor of the event

UPDATE: Turquoise Hill Chairman, New U.S. Ambassador to Make First Public Appearances in Mongolia at NAMBC Investors Conference

-       Attendance is capped at 100 to promote real dialogue, powerpoints are banned– and there are only 8 seats still available. Registrants are coming from the US, Canada, South Korea and Mongolia, including several new-to-Mongolia companies;

-       THR Chair Jill Gardiner will speak on September 30, her only public appearance in Ulaanbaatar

-       Three senior USG officials are coming from Washington to speak at the conference: Terry McCartin, Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative, who coordinates TIFA talks and the bilateral Transparency Agreement; Scott Tatlock, Executive Director for China & Mongolia, US Commerce Department; and Zhen Gong-Cross, Head of Mongolian Affairs, US Commerce Department

-       Panel on "25 Years of Mongolia's Third Neighbor Policy" includes President Ochirbat, three former Foreign Ministers, former Mongolian Ambassadors to the US and Canada and former US Ambassador to Mongolia Pamela Slutz, chairman of the NAMBC

-       New US Ambassador Jennifer Galt will make her first public speech in Mongolia at the Investors Conference on the morning of Sept 29. She is expected to arrive today in UB.

-       Panel on Constitutional Revision on Sept 30 will include MP Batchimeg and former Minister D. Tsogtbaatar.

Link to NAMBC





18th Annual Investors Conference

1990 – 25th Anniversary of NAMBC & Mongolian Democracy -- 2015

28-30 September 2015

Shangri-La Hotel & Government House

(*) = to be confirmed

Monday, September 28

4:30 – 6:00 PM – Registration Desk – Shangri-La Hotel

5:00 – 7:00 PM – Opening Event – Joint meeting of Business Council of Mongolia (BCM) & NAMBC followed by networking reception; Shangri-La Hotel 

Tuesday, September 29

8:00 AM – Registration Desk – Shangri-La Hotel

9:00 AM – Welcome and Call to Order – Ambassador Pamela Slutz, Chairman, NAMBC

“25 Years of Mongolia’s Third Neighbor Policy”

Introductory Remarks – Ambassador Ed Jager, Embassy of Canada to Mongolia

Moderator:  Ambassador Pamela Slutz

H.E. P. Ochirbat, Member of the Constitutional Court of Mongolia and First President of Mongolia

H.E. Lu. Bold, Member of Parliament and former Foreign Minister and Defense Minister

Ambassador L. Erdenechuluun, Director, Human Security Policy Studies NGO and former Foreign Minister

Madame Nyamosor Tuya, Consultant, National University of Mongolia and former Foreign Minister

Ambassador Ravdan  Bold, Chairman, Mongolia-America Society and former Ambassador to the US and to Australia

Ambassador G. Batsukh, Chairman, Oyu Tolgoi LLC and former Ambassador to Canada and to the People's Republic of China*

Ambassador T. Shimizu, Embassy of Japan to Mongolia*  

Scott Tatlock, Executive Director for China and Mongolia, U.S. Department of Commerce

“Jump-starting the Mining Sector”

Mongolia is on the move” -- Remarks – B. Byambasaikhan,  CEO, Erdenes Mongol

Moderator: Cameron McRae, Chairman, Institute of National Strategy;  CEO, Tarva Investment and Advisory LLC


Dashdorj Zorigt, former Minister of Mining and Energy

Dale Choi, CEO, Mongolia Metals & Mining

N. Algaa, President, Mongolia National Mining Association

Steve Potter, General Manager, Wagner Asia Ltd.

Bolormaa Luntan, Editor in Chief, Mongolian Mining Journal

Others TBA

12 Noon – 1:00 PM – Buffet Lunch -- Lobby restaurant, Shangri-La

1:00 PM – “Opportunities in Non-Mining Sectors

Moderator: Bilguun Ankhbayar, CEO, Mongolia International Banking Group (MIBG)

Jim Dwyer, Executive Director, Business Council of Mongolia*

Zhen Gong-Cross, Head of Mongolian Affairs, US Department of Commerce

Jalsa Urubshurow, CEO, Nomadic Expeditions Inc. and Three Camels Lodge*

Jeremy Thiessen, CEO of Xanadu Razorback Farms

Marc Tassé, Resident Director, American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS), on nurturing entrepreneurship

Enkhtuvshin Tsetsegmaa, Junior Partner, Anderson & Anderson LLP, expert in IPR

Erika Taylor, Principal Program Designer, Global Wellness Design Inc.

“Policy, Legislation & Elections:  Putting the economy back together”

Moderator: Pete Morrow, Partner, NovaTerra LLC; Chairman, American University of Mongolia; Vice Chairman, NAMBC


L. Sumati, Chairman, Sant Maral Foundation

Angar Davaasuren, CEO, Mongolian Stock Exchange

D. Jargalsaikhan, columnist; host and producer of Jargal de Facto*

Damdin Tsogtbaatar, Director and Party Secretary, Mongolian People’s Party; former Minister of Construction & Urban Development; CEO of Xillion LLC

Mogi Badral Bontoi, CEO, CoverMongolia Newsletter

Tumentsogt Tsevegmid,  Chairman, CEO’s Club; Executive Director, GE Mongolia

Nick Cousyn, Chief Operating Officer, BD Securities (BDSec JSC)

Wednesday , September 30

8:40 AM – Delegates arrive at Visitors Entrance, Government House; government-issued photo ID required

9:00 AM – 1:00 PM  – Convene at Government House, Conference Room TBA

NB: following start times are notional, to be confirmed

9:10 AM -- Remarks & Q&A  -- H.E. Z. Enkhbold, Chairman of the State Great Khural

9:50 AM -- Remarks & Q&A – H.E. Ch. Saikhanbileg, Prime Minister

10: 30 AM -- Remarks & Q&A --  Mr. P. Tsagaan, Chief of Staff to the President of Mongolia

Panel:  Transparency

Terrence McCartin, Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR), Executive Office of the President of the United States

Ms. Ashleigh Whelan, Resident Director, International Republican Institute NGO

Panel: Prospects for Constitutional Revision—TBA

5:00 PM – 6:30 PM – Closing Reception, National Gallery of Art

Speaker: Ms. Jill Gardiner, Chair of the Board of Directors, Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd.

NB: Ms. Gardiner will speak promptly at 5:15 PM after guests are seated


6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
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Monday, September 14, 2015

[BREAKING: Erdenes announces OT has all critical GoM approvals to commence underground development]

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Monday, September 14, 2015

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Mogi: this press release was delivered via email update subscription on Erdenes OT’s website but could not be found on the actual site

EOT: Government of Mongolia delivers all critical approvals for Oyu Tolgoi Underground construction to commence

14 September 2015, Ulaanbaatar -- Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC wish to announce that all critical Government of Mongolia approvals required from its agencies and institutions in respect of Oyu Tolgoi (OT) project have now been delivered, including the following:

·         Acceptance of the OT Feasibility Study by the Mongolian Minerals Council that aligns with the underground mine development plan

·         Confirmation provided to World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, stating that the Government has no objections to issuing a guarantee pursuant to the requirements of the international lending institutions

The above steps have been approved by the Government in accordance with the OT Underground Mine Development and Financing Plan (Underground Development Plan) that was approved on 18 May 2015. These actions allow the OT LLC joint venture partners to progress their discussions with the international banks and multi-lateral lending institutions to rapidly advance the Underground Project Agreements in order for the underground stage of the world-class Oyu Tolgoi Project, which comprises over 80% of the Project’s total resources, continues on its positive path towards production.

Davaadorj Ganbold, chief executive of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC said: “The decisive actions and expeditious approvals secured by Government of Mongolia in relation to its commitments under the Underground Development Plan again confirms the Government’s resolve to rapidly bring this world-class resource into production and on a broader level further demonstrates that Mongolia is open for business.”

Link to Erdenes OT website



6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
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Monday, September 7, 2015

[TT deal 'unlikely'; AKM rail concession signed; MNT hits new low; PM submits names; SGK reconvenes today; and EBRD investigates Altain Khuder]

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Monday, September 7, 2015

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original


Overseas Market

MMC closed -2.01% Friday to HK$0.195

Mongolia unlikely to seal $4 bln coal mine deal - minister

ULAANBAATAR, SEPT 3 (Reuters) A delayed $4 billion deal aimed at spurring development of Mongolia's enormous Tavan Tolgoi coal mine has only a slim chance of going ahead, partly due to China's slowing growth, one of the country's chief negotiators said on Thursday.

A plan for a consortium of Mongolian Mining Corp, China's Shenhua Energy and Japan's Sumitomo Corp to take over the operations of state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi was blocked by Mongolia's parliament speaker in April, leaving the future of the deal in the hands of lawmakers.

Minister Mendsaikhan Enkhsaikhan, who led the Mongolia's negotiations with the consortium, told an investor conference in Ulaanbaatar he was pessimistic on the prospects of lawmakers clearing the deal.

"When we submitted the proposed agreement for the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine project, I said there was a 50-50 chance for approval," said Enkhsaikhan, the minister in charge of Mongolia's so-called "mega projects".

"At this moment, it's less than 10 percent that it will be approved by parliament and will be implemented," he said.

In addition to indecision by the government, the deal was threatened by economic troubles in China.

"It's not only because of parliament, but also because of the Chinese situation," he said, noting the volatility experienced in Chinese markets.

Mongolia relies on China to buy nearly all of its minerals and petroleum, which made up 86 percent of exports in the first six months of 2015.

Slowing growth in China amid expanding supply worldwide has driven prices sharply lower for most of Mongolia's chief exports, such as coal and copper, to more than six-year lows.

Enkhsaikhan asked investors to be patient, despite growing frustration among those who have waited three years for the government to decide on a strategic partnership for the mine.

Plans and agreements for mega projects like Tavan Tolgoi needed time to be approved because of the huge impact they have on Mongolia's tiny $12 billion economy, he said.

"Speed kills mega projects," he said, pointing to the impact of data mistakes during the early stages of development.

"When we look to the documents and we see there were some mistakes with the basic data, those mistakes can ruin the projects at any stage of development."

Link to article


Erdenes Mongol takes over Tavan Tolgoi negotiations, CEO appointed head of working group

Ulaanbaatar, September 3 (MONTSAME) Held by the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg, the "Hour for solutions" weekly meeting on Thursday was attended by B.Byambasaikhan, an executive director of the "Erdenes MGL" LLC.

He has been appointed as a head of a working group in responsible for talking with an investor of the Tavantolgoi deposit and formulating a draft investment contract to be established with a selected investor for the deposit. This working group was set up this year by an order of the Premier with a purpose of continuing talks of the Tavantolgoi deposit.

The working group's composition did not include political state servants, but it has comprised representatives of the "Erdenes Mongol" company and the "Erdenes Tavantolgoi" company in order to professionally carry on the talks between companies under commercial principles. In addition, international legal, financial and technical experts are working on the group for providing it with professional consulting, Byambasaikhan said.

Feasibilities are being made for fully exploiting the deposit, selling value-added products in the international market by improving the competitiveness and resolving infrastructure and construction works for the deposit, he said.

Talks have been made with the deposit's investor in order to keep the price of deposit's shares owned by Mongolian citizens and national enterprisers high, Byambasaikhan said.

In response, the Premier Saikhanbileg underlined a necessity of continuing the Tavantolgoi deposit's talks in a scope of specific conclusions from the working group and resolutions of the government and parliament. He also emphasized that it is vital to carry out the talks on railways to be constructed in eastern region and to collaborate with the investor in starting construction works by spring of 2016.

The Premier considered as necessity to last the talks with the China's Shenhua Group and to realize the principle of utilizing all deposits of Tavantolgoi in accordance with a direction from parliament.

"At least 51 per cent of the shares of railways should be owned by the Mongolian state in accordance with the talks. Thus, the working group's composition should include additional representatives from the railway sector of Mongolia," the Premier emphasized.

At the end of the meeting, the Premier obliged Byambasaikhan to continue the talks in several stages and to give reports to the cabinet.

Link to article


AKM traded flat 3-4 Sep at A$0.017

Aspire Mining company executes Concession for Erdenet to Ovoot railway

September 3 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining's (ASX:AKM) Northern Railways has reached a key milestone with the execution of the Concession Agreement to build and operate the Erdenet to Ovoot railway in Mongolia.

This follows the company securing earlier this week funding from its rail and financial adviser Signum Resources Corporation to carry out the first stage of the Bankable Feasibility Study.

Northern Railways, Aspire's wholly-owned rail infrastructure subsidiary, now has 18 months to complete a number of conditions precedent required to commence construction of the 547 kilometre rail project.

These include the completion of a bankable feasibility study, EPC contract, connection agreement to existing railway at Erdenet, financing, licences and permits necessary to construct and operate the Rail Project.

The Concession will allow up to 5 years to construct the railway followed by 30 years of operation after which 100% of the base railway infrastructure will be transferred to the Government of Mongolia.

Northern Railways' Erdenet-Ovoot railway represents the first stage of a new rail connection linking Mongolia to Russia that provides Aspire with a defined path to market for its Ovoot Coking Coal Project.

It is exclusively engaged with China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation (CR20G) and China Railway First Survey & Design Institute (FSDI) in relation to EPC contract negotiations and completion of the bankable feasibility study respectively. 

Both CR20G and FSDI are subsidiaries of Fortune 500 company China Railway Construction Corporation (HKG:1186, SHG:601186).

David Paull, Aspire managing director, commented:

"The company has entered an exciting phase in progressing the development of our Ovoot Coking Coal Project.

"The Erdenet to Ovoot railway provides not only a transport solution for Ovoot coking coal but its planned connection with Russia creates an international rail transport route running directly through northern Mongolia where the majority of our assets are located".

"Having the support of China Railway subsidiaries CR20G and FSDI is significant to the development of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway as they bring extensive international experience in the design and construction of railway, as well as connections with Chinese financiers keen to participate in infrastructure projects along the Silk Road."

Concession Agreement

The execution of the Concession Agreement to build and operate the Erdenet to Ovoot railway was has been completed during signing ceremonies in Mongolia and China with authorised representatives of the Government of Mongolia Investment Agency, Aspire, Northern Railways, CR20G and FSDI.

This follows three months of negotiations between the Mongolian Government and Northern Railways.

On 10th August 2015, the Cabinet of the Mongolian Government passed a resolution authorising its Investment Agency to execute the Concession Agreement.

Bankable Feasibility Study

In late August, the company secured financing from its rail and financial adviser Signum Resources Corporation to carry out the first stage of the Bankable Feasibility Study for the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway.

Signum will provide a US$600,000 loan and invest US$200,000 through a placement of 13.89 million shares at $0.02.

The remaining US$200,000 of the required US$1 million required by CR20G to complete the first stage of the BFS will be provided by Aspire.

This funding will allow CR20G to mobilise and conduct the first stage Feasibility Study fieldwork before the Mongolian winter in order to maintain the development schedule for the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway.

Mongolian-based Signum was founded to establish large scale projects in Mongolia and structuring optimal financing solutions and attracting international capital.

It will also assist Northern Railways in sourcing the funding for the balance (US$5.5 million) of the Feasibility Study costs and to identify strategic partners and new funding sources for Northern Railways.    

Erdenet-Ovoot rail line

The 547 kilometre rail project forms part of Mongolia's Rail Policy to provide rail access to its northern provinces through the extension of its existing rail network from Erdenet to the Russian/Mongolian border at Arts Suuri with a Russian connection planned to Kyzyl. 

At full operation the rail project will have capacity to move 30 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of bulk commodities, agricultural, general and passenger freight including transit freight between Russia and China.

This is key to unlocking the value of Aspire's Ovoot Coking Coal Project, which has a JORC Resource of 255 million tonnes and initial production of 5Mtpa scaling up to 10Mtpa.

It can also provide other Mongolian resource projects in the area with a path to market.


Execution of the Concession Agreement to build and operate the Erdenet to Ovoot railway takes the company a step closer towards developing the Ovoot Coking Coal Project.

In addition to providing transport for Ovoot coking coal, it could also move bulk commodities, agricultural, general and passenger freight between Mongolia and Russia.

Aspire had $4 million in cash and term deposits as at 30th June 2015.

Link to article

Link to AKM release


Aspire Mining Presentation to Discover Mongolia 2015

September 3 --

Link to preso

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Review: Top 20 +1.13%, 10.8B T-Bills, 1.9M Corp. Bonds, ₮28.2M Stocks

Ulaanbaatar, September 4 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange from August 31 to September 4, 2015. In overall, 261 thousand and 33 units of 37 JSCs were traded costing MNT 10 billion 868 million 738 thousand and 152.00.

"Merex" /127 thousand and 608 units/, "Remikon" /9,872 units/, "E-trans logistics" /3,179 units/, "APU" /2,946 units/ and "Khokh gan" /1,407 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Merex" (MNT 10 million 082 thousand and 240), "APU" (MNT nine million 875 thousand and 720), "Suu" (MNT two million and 530 thousand), "Gobi" (MNT one million 167 thousand and 420), and "Makh impex" (MNT 826 thousand and 290).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 296 billion 786 million 566 thousand and 437. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,106.51, and the all index of MSE was 962.16.

Link to article

Link to MSE report


BDSec Market Watch, Episode 37

September 3 (BDSec) --

Link to video


Four Brokerages Stripped of Membership by MSE

September 3 (MSE) According to Mongolian companies law on 76 section 76.1.18, Financial Regulatory commission's rule 212, 280, 283, 332; Mongolian stock Exchange, and government owned stock companies rule 7th section 7.3.1, 7.3,17, membership rule 8 section, board of companies management rule 5 section 5.4; Also considering, the request of the companies' board of management, Mongolian Stock exchange has ruled to eliminated four companies which are listed below from august 28,2015 with order number 2015/10 and the four companies will be no longer members of Mongolian stock exchange.

1.    ABJYA  LLC

2.    Global-Asset LLC

3.    Thushig-Trust LLC

4.    United-Securities LLC

Furthermore, securities company's right to operate will be voided, The Financial regulatory commission will act behaves of the listed companies and they will decide the company's financial situation. 

Link to release


MSE: Foreign Investor Trading Up 5.3 Times in August, Domestic Up 43.3 Times

September 3 (MSE) As of August 2015, the trading participation of foreign investors has been increased by 5.3 times from the same period of the previous year and reached to MNT469.6 million. On the other hand, domestic investors' trading participation has been increased by 43.3 times and reached to MNT36.7 billion.

As of first 8 months of 2015, the trading participation of foreign investors has been increased by 2.7 times from the same period of the previous year and reached to MNT6.0 billion. On the other hand, domestic investors' trading participation has been increased by 29.3 times and reached to MNT359.2 billion. 

Link to release

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Mogi: MNT renewed its historic low vs USD on Thursday by ₮0.01

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, September 4 Close


































































































Bank rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮1,987 Sell ₮1,997), Khan (Buy ₮1,984 Sell ₮1,994), Golomt (Buy ₮1,984 Sell ₮1,994), XacBank (Buy ₮1,988 Sell ₮1,996), State Bank (Buy ₮1,986 Sell ₮1,995)

MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:

Link to rates


BoM FX auction: US$16m sold at 1,990.5, CNY55.6m at 309.82, accepts $71.4m MNT swap offers

September 3 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on September 3rd, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 28.6 million in a rate between MNT 1987.00-1992.20 and CNY 112.56 million in a rate between MNT 308.91-312.05 from local commercial banks. The BOM sold USD 16.0 million in a closing rate of MNT 1990.50 and CNY 55.6 million in a closing rate of MNT 309.82 respectively.

On September 3rd, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer equivalent to USD 71.4 million local commercial banks and the BOM has accepted the offers.

Link to release


BoM issues 58.8 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding -0.7% to ₮455.1 billion

September 4 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 58.8 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release


G.Tumenjargal: Difficulties Faced by Construction Sector Linked to Macro Economy

September 3 (Mongolian Economy) We sat down with the CEO of the Mongolian National Construction Association, G.Tumenjargal, to talk about the current situation and the future of the real estate sector.

- They say the construction sector's struggle will dragthe other sectors down. What's being done to overcome this hurdle?

- Mongolia's real estate sector developed quite rapidly in the last 10 years. The capital's population is increasing year by year. In recent years, the population's income as a share of GDP increased 2.5 times over the past five years. In addition, it has increased 8.7 times in the past 10 years. It shows that people are willing to buy apartments. However, as the country's overall economic situation deteriorated, people lost jobs and stable incomes, decreasing their ability to buy apartments. In general, the housing sector is closely linked with the macro-economy and the mining industry. The purchasing power of people will improve if the mining sector develops and assets and supplies come along with it. Thus, the difficulties faced by the construction sector are linked to the macro-economy.

Sixty percent of the country's households are considered to be low income. Last year, we conducted a study with the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development, and the price gap between housing demand and supply was significant. About 70 percent of 200,000 households interested in buying an apartment want to buy less expensive apartments, while the majority of the apartments being supplied to the market are for middle income households. As such, the government should provide subsidised housing for low income people. As the result of joint research by the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development and the Mongolian National Construction Association, the government is pursuing a policy to support low income families. In addition, most of Mongolia's young families have no savings. The majority of citizens have difficulty saving up for a 30 percent down payment, so the government is pursuing a policy to support young and low-income families by guaranteeing 20 of the 30 percent down payment. Generally, the eight percent interest loans have been a big support to the citizens. Russia is implementing 12 percent interest mortgage loans.

-It has been reported that more than 30,000 apartments are yet to be purchased. What influenced this oversupply?

-According to one survey, 180,000 out of 340,000 households in Ulaanbaatar are interested in buying an apartment. Around 60,000 of them are households with the capacity to buy said apartment. Sixty thousand households with the capacity to buy apartments mean that 20-30,000 additional apartments can be supplied to the market. However, many people have lost their jobs. Income has fallen and purchasing power has been significantly weakened because of the current economic situation. There is no money to meet the supply. Housing must be provided to 100,000 families further down the road. According to one minister, there is a construction development goal to provide 67 percent of the country with housing by 2020. And it's possible to achieve this.

- A lot of people work in the construction sector. You were saying that more than 300,000 people might lose their income.

-This industry has more than 70,000 employees. It has 130,000 employees in total if we count related sectors. In the last two years, 30 percent of the sector's employees were laid off. This can have negative impacts on the country's macro economy, because these people would reinvest their salary into the economy. It would have negative impacts if such people be unemployed. Therefore, it's necessary to support this sector. Many other sectors such as retail electronics, consumer products, construction materials and moving services make their business off this sector. For a simple example, a person who sells floor mats at the market has no income. Household products are not selling because housing sales are low. The construction sector pulls along many sectors, so it's important to support the national industries.

- In recent years, investment in the construction sector is increasing. How was last year?

-In 2010, the parliament approved the 100,000 households housing program. Private investors are planning large residential areas according to the programme. The Ministry of Construction and Urban Development established a real estate investment department for the first time. The real estate sector is not just housing and apartments. Shopping centres, industrial buildings, hotels, entertainment and service structures which will create new jobs need to be created in this sector. Long term investments are required to develop this sector. There are initiatives to take out long-term loans with low interest rates from outside rather than taking high interest rate loans from commercial banks.

MNT 1.5 trillion circulates in the housing market per year. Just residential construction alone occupies 1.6 million square meters. However, this figure is different each year. About 23,000 apartments were put into operation last year. Thirty thousand apartments were planned to be commissioned this year, but because of the market situation it appears 25,000 apartments will be commissioned. Generally, more than 50,000 unfinished buildings left on the market are being reinvested. Some of the buildings' performance is under 50 percent, so it will be put into operation through the year. The number of buildings to be commissioned next year is more likely to drop. This year, there are few companies starting new construction works.

-How do you see the future of the sector after 10 years?

-The Mongolian population is young. Demand for housing is there. In general, there is a long road ahead our country's development, so the sector has the potential to develop. According to a study by a Japanese research organisation, Mongolia has the capacity to build apartments worth about USD 2 billion per year. The construction and infrastructure market is big even though our population is small. In this sense, foreign countries are actively starting to expand cooperation. Further on, construction quality and standards must be improved in addition to the investment environment.

Link to interview

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Politics & Legal

PM Submits Nominees for Six Ministers, Three from DP, Three from Justice Coalition

September 4 ( On September 4, 2015, Prime Minister of Mongolia Mr. Chimed SAIKHANBILEG has presented a draft Resolution of the Parliament on promoting some Members of Government to Vice-Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) Mr. Radnaasumberel GONCHIGDORJ.

In accordance with the Constitution of Mongolia, Article 39.3, and the Law on Government, Article 23.1.1, the names of below incumbent parliamentarians are promoted for Members of Government and Ministers of Cabinet.

-       Mr. Tserendash OYUNBAATAR as the Member of Government, Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia (Mogi: MPRP)

-       Mr. Namdag BATTSEREG as the Member of Government, Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism of Mongolia (Mogi: MNDP)

-       Mr. Bayarbaatar BOLOR as the Member of Government, Minister of Finance (Mogi: DP)

-       Mrs. Zangad BAYANSELENGE as the Member of Government, Minister of Construction and Urban Development of Mongolia (Mogi: MPRP)

-       Mr. Munkhchuluun ZORIGT as the Member of Government, Minister of Roads and Transportation of Mongolia (Mogi: DP)

-       Mr. Garidkhuu BAYARSAIKHAN as the Member of Government, Minister of Labor of Mongolia (Mogi: DP)

The above nominations were introduced and consulted with the President of Mongolia, Mr. Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ. 

On August 6, 2015, a draft Resolution of Parliament to dismiss some members of the Government was ratified.

On August 25, 2015, Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) Mr. Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD delivered a Letter on "To Work Implementing the Law" addressed the Prime Minister of Mongolia, Ch.Saikhanbileg. The Letter states, the State Great Hural should appoint succeeding six Members of Cabinet before September 6, 2015.

Link to release


Special Session of Parliament Called to Discuss Cabinet Appointments, Presidential Veto on September 7-18

September 4 ( On September 4, 2015, Vice-Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) Mr. Radnaasumberel GONCHIGDORJ issued a Decree No.181 to call an irregular plenary session of the Parliament.

The Decree was released shortly after Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg's submission of the draft Resolution of Parliament on promoting some Members of Government.

According to the Decree, the irregular plenary session of the Parliament will be running from Monday, September 7th to Friday, September 18, 2015 and two issues will be discussed:

1.    To appoint some Members of Government

2.    To discuss the President's veto on the Law on Amnesty of Mongolia

Link to release


Mongolian People's Party will accept president's partial veto on Amnesty Law

September 4 ( Following the meeting of the political parties, initiated by the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), the Chairman of the MPP, M.Enkhbold, provided information to journalists saying: "The MPP will accept the veto of the "Amnesty Law" by President Ts.Ebegdorj. The MPP considers that "Amnesty Law" as approved by the Parliament is not suitable to be implemented in its current approval form. This decision was made following a special discussion during a large meeting of MPP".

Link to article


All political parties of Mongolia agree establish joint working group on amending election law

September 4 ( The meeting of all political parties of Mongolia themed "National Consensus" was held on September 03, 2015 at the State Palace of Mongolia at the invitation of the Mongolian People's Party to have open discussion regarding amendments on election law and constitution and also issues regarding the election.

The Chairman of Mongolian People's Party (MPP) M.Enkhbold, the Secretary General of MPP J.Munkhbat, the Secretary General of Democratic Party of Mongolia (DP) L.Erkhembayar, Deputy Chairman of Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) D.Terbishdagva, MP L.Bayanselenge, MP Ts.Oyunbaatar, the Chairman of Mongolian National Democratic Party M.Enkhsaikhan, the Chairman of Civil Will-Green Party Ts.Gankhuyag, the Chairman of Republican Party (RP) B.Jargalsaikhan and other chairmen of parties without seats in the parliament were in attendance.

At the meeting, parties have managed to reach agreement on forming a joint working group to work on draft amendment to election law. They plan to submit it to the State Great Khural (Parliament of Mongolia) on October 01, 2015. MPP's Secretary General J.Munkhbat will join the working group.

As MPP has protested some parts of amnesty law regarding the corruption and appointments before, on September 02 at meeting of regulatory council of MPP, participating parties were interested in MPP's position of amendment to election law. In other words, MPP doesn't agree to grant amnesty to criminals involved in corruptions.

At the end of meeting, the MPP Chairman M.Enkhbold said: "As a leader of organizing party of the meeting, I would like to say that this meeting is not aiming to provoke any radical activities such as strife or revolution. I see that the parties without seats in the parliament have unified their own position regarding the amendment to election law.

Judging opinions of parties' chairmen, I think we all agree that parliament is acting irresponsibly. I find that there are two steps in realization of agreement that we have reached today. First, 20 parties and 2 more that couldn't attend the meeting have agreed to form a working group to work on the draft amendment to election law.

Second, all parties with the seats in the parliament and political groups and coalitions should discuss the drat amendment to election law prepared by parties among themselves and suggest their ideas. Thus we can jointly prepare the draft amendment to election law in 30 days. We will submit our draft amendment to the parliament on October 01, 2015."

Link to article


"Amnesty Law" – whom does it applies to?

September 3 ( Regarding, the approval of the "Amnesty Law"; earlier today, the Deputy Director of the Judicial Decision Executive Authority, Colonel G.Tuulkhuu provided the following official information: "There is a variety of information about the "Amnesty Law". Therefore, I intend to provide official clarification. There are currently 1700 citizens, who the "Amnesty Law" applies to, in total. 730 of them will be freed and the prison sentences of 970 citizens will be reduced by 2 years. The organizational commission of the "Amnesty Law" has had its first meeting during which it was decided to implement the provisions of the "Amnesty Law" from tomorrow, with the exception of the provisions vetoed by the President. If the Parliament accepts the Presidential veto, this list of 1700 people will be reduced by 161".   

Link to article


Julian Dierkes: Ulaanbaatar Impressions, September 2015

By Julian Dierkes

August 31 (Mongolia Focus) Yes, another periodic visit to Ulaanbaatar, yes once again too short a visit, but here are some immediate impressions along the lines of observations on previous visits that I noted down: May 2015 | November 2014 | May 2014 | November 2013.

Cityscape and Traffic

      I arrived in the middle of the night and flew out before first light, so I didn't see the airport road during the day, but it seems to change almost as quickly as the immigration and departure hall at Chinggis Khaan (of course!) airport. For the airport changes, Tsogoo suggested "nomadic reformism" as an explanation. I think we might have to expand our policy series to feature this perspective! Back to the airport road, development along this road is continuing though the large mall certainly looked quite dark. Lots of gas stations, too. And, a new row of trees along the southside to complement that poor stand of JICA-planted trees that have been more or less alive on the northside of the road for seemingly decades.

      I don't think I had previously been in Ulaanbaatar just before/on the beginning of the academic year. There was a noticeable and seemingly overnight increase in traffic to celebrate the beginning of the school year. This also coincided with the introduction of jaywalking fines for crossing the street outside of crosswalks. According to Y Otgonbayar, an individual from the province he represents in parliament, Bulgan, had beat me to the punch in becoming the first person fined, but oh my, how the world has changed when you see Mongolians waiting for a pedestrian light to turn green even though traffic is jammed in front of them. The jaywalking fine threat is unfortunate, of course, as the return of traffic makes downtown Ulaanbaatar safer for pedestrians who can cross in between stopped cars.

      With increased traffic and the disappearance of open areas in downtown Ulaanbaatar, parking is growing scarce. I noticed for the first time that the small hotel where I like to stay now charges hourly for use of its (very central) parking lot.

      There still is an astonishing number of hotel and commercial buildings under construction in central Ulaanbaatar. Hard to imagine what hordes of conventioneers, businesspeople and tourists are meant to fill all these buildings. The Shangri-La appears to be sort of open, couldn't say that it looks particularly attractive from the outside, but early reports are of high quality on the inside.

      The beginning of the school year is clearly treated as a holiday and it was wonderful to walk in central Ulaanbaatar between appointments. Lots of kids on the hands of their (grand)parents in brand-new school uniforms, the girls with fancy hair, chattering away excitedly, reporting on the first day of school, I imagine. Teenagers also walking along in newly uniformed groups, looking like they were deep into catching up on events that may have occurred over the summer. Wonderful atmosphere.


      In several conversations I found general astonishment and surprise about the removal of MPP ministers from cabinet earlier in the summer confirming my own sense of the current political landscape. The consensus on identifiable causes/explanations: DP in-fighting. The tug-of-war between УИХ Speaker Enkhbold Z and PM Saikhanbileg Ch. continues, now focused on the naming of new ministers in front of parliament. Apparently, the DP caucus is demanding that these are all double-deel DP MPs.

      While the electoral system for next year's УИХ election appears to be on track for some continuity (28 proportional, 48 first-past-the-post with some multi-member districts), there is some speculation about an early (March) or late (October) election instead of the usual late-June date. The argument for early centres on the DPs inability to govern (with the common expectation that we will see more changes in government until the election). Speculation about moving the election to a later date is in part rooted in the July ASEM summit which will clearly have much of the government (and Ulaanbaatar) preoccupied from some time in the late Spring with preparations.

      Several conversations highlighted the deepening governmental engagement with China, beyond the symbolically important and visible participation of Mongolian troops in the Sept 3 military-triumphalism-event in Beijing.

Link to post


Prime Minister interviewed by Die Welt newspaper

September 4 (GoGo Mongolia) Die welt  is a German national daily newspaper published by the Axel Springer AG company and is being published since 1946. 

Prime Minister answered the questions of the reporter and talked about the current economic indicators and programs directed at increasing the investment inflow into Mongolian market.

Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg emphasized during the interview changes made to the Investment Law, which now ensures the favourable investment environment for both foreign and domestic investors and interested parties.

Further, the PM gave full scope of the investment opportunities in sectors such as mining, cattle breeding, agriculture, tourism, wool and cashmere manufacture and that Mongolian government is holding policy to diversify it economy, creating more opportunities for the investors.

Moreover, PM mentioned the opportunities for cooperation with Germany in the sectors such as coal liquification projects, infrastructure development to connect Asia and Europe, enhance the tourism cooperation.

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EBRD launches investigation into Altain Khuder iron ore mine it financed for impacts on local communities

Press release by Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), CEE Bankwatch Network & OT Watch

Last week, the independent accountability mechanism of the EBRD announced it will investigate the EBRD-financed mine, operated by Altain Khuder in the Gobi-Altai region of Mongolia. The investigation comes in response to a complaint filed to the EBRD's Project Complaint Mechanism (PCM) in December 2014 from herders affected by the project.

Amsterdam/Ulaanbaatar/Prague - September 3, 2015 - The herders had also requested that the PCM convene a dialogue with the company to address issues of displacement and dust pollution, but the PCM rejected that request. In response to the PCM's determination, documented in its Eligibility Assessment Report which was published on 28 August, Amibukh, one of the complainants, expressed, "Although we hoped that the PCM could get the company to finally listen to all our concerns, we are not surprised that the company is not cooperating. They have been unresponsive to all our attempts to resolve the issues so far. It's disappointing, but at the same time we are pleased that there will be an investigation. We invite the PCM to come visit us in Tseel soum and assess the impact of the mine on our lives".

The Eligibility Assessment Report reveals the deteriorating relationship between the EBRD and Altain Khuder. As a result, the EBRD has not received any information from the company regarding environmental and social issues since mid-2013, making it impossible for the Bank to fulfill its obligation to monitor the implementation the agreed action plans. The PCM found that the deteriorating relationship was also, in part, the reason for rejecting the complainants' request to convene a dialogue between the parties, stating that "the PCM would not be viewed as a suitable forum for dialogue between the Complainants and the Client." It also cited the lack of cooperation of the EBRD's client, "the Complainants continue to assert that the Client refuses to engage with them, [and is] in some cases purportedly pursuing legal action against them."

"We are very disappointed by the PCM's reasoning for finding the problem solving request not eligible. The fact that Altain Khuder refuses to engage with the herders is exactly why we requested the problem-solving process in the first place," says Anne Schuit, researcher at the Amsterdam-based Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO). "Nevertheless, we hope the compliance review will provide clear recommendations for improvements to the project that will result in meaningful improvements for the lives and livelihoods of the herders."

Sukhgerel Dugersuren, director at OT Watch, states "It is unacceptable that a company financed by the EBRD can cause unmitigated environmental and social impacts, refuse to engage with the Bank or the PCM, and get away with it. It is the EBRD's responsibility to ensure that its borrowers comply with its standards and do not further impoverish the communities where they work. We hope that the compliance review will help resolve these issues for the relocated local community members after all."

The complaint, filed by seven individuals in December 2014, alleges that the mine displaced herders and left them without a suitable alternative resettlement site. As a result they are unable to sustain their livelihoods. In addition, dust pollution as a result of the export of iron ore from the mine to China allegedly causes illnesses to herders and their animals. Herders have brought these impacts to the attention of the company on numerous occasions but rather than solving the problems the company has reacted with intimidation and legal action.

"At the start of the mining boom in Mongolia, Bankwatch warned the EBRD that it would be unsustainable to make Mongolia dependent on mining exports. With slowing demand from China, the Altain Khuder case demonstrates that communities are paying the price for the EBRD's short-sightedness and are left without redress," says Fidanka Bacheva-McGrath, EBRD campaign coordinator at CEE Bankwatch Network.

For the investigation, the PCM will assess the EBRD's compliance with its own environmental and social standards in relation to its investment in Altain Khuder. The Eligibility Assessment Report includes a Terms of Reference for the investigation and identifies the PCM expert responsible for it. The Terms of Reference also provides for the possibility of a site visit to Mongolia. According to its procedures, the PCM should be completed in 60 business days, unless further time is needed.

Notes for the editor

1.    For the complaint, see

2.    For a report on a fact finding mission to the Tayan Nuur mining area in Mongolia, see

3.    For a multimedia story, see

4.    For a case study on Altain Khuder and the mining project, see

5.    For other press releases regarding this case, see

Link to release


For mining in Mongolia without populism!

By A.Bilguun /CEO, Mongolian Investment Banking Group/

September 4 (Mongolian Economy) It has been several years since the "psychological disorder" known as populism settled itself into the Mongolian economy. It has become obvious that the lives of Mongolians are dependent on the mining sector, especially on the foreign direct investment that comes into the mining sector. It is inevitable that in the near future, we will see economic development from mining revenues. It would be much easier to explain this through statistics than verbosity. The following are few facts based on information from the National Statistical Office of Mongolia.

In fact, the average Mongolian citizen is now living better compared to 10 years ago, and this cannot be separated from the mining industry. This rapid economic development began in 2011 when OT and the investments that followed came in. According to the above graph, MNT 5.9 trillion in FDI came into the Mongolia, which led to a 17.3 percent growth in GDP that year. As the value of deposits become more worthy, some politicians and interest groups started to push out the foreign investment. Thus, our economic growth experienced a sharp slowing down, and some economists fear growth might even end up negative this year. 

However, according to some politicians, the mining industry does not produce wealth, and they say that Mongolia can develop the economy from other sectors. This is populism. Reality is such.

Last year, the mineral sector's products accounted for 83 percent of our total exports. Currently, we have no products other than copper, gold and coal to supply to the global market. How is our economy going to improve when the very people who want to throw shade and badmouth the mining sector with the intention of making the sector look bad to public have already become members of our parliament? 

Thinking back to 2011, the world was sorely mistaken when it predicted that Mongolia would one of the Asian tiger countries.

The state budget of MNT 760 billion ten years ago has increased to MNT 7 trillion (a 10-fold increase in 20 years) as of last year. Every Mongolian receives some part of this money, especially considering that the state has become so rich that it can afford to give lifetime stipends to athletes who win Olympic medals. The majority of this revenue comes from taxes on traded mining products. However, it is populist to talk about mining projects as though they were something that has no effect on society and the everyday citizen.

It would be a biased to say that the mining industry did not benefit ordinary people. Are you better off now than you were in 2005? If this question was posed to the people reading this article, 90 percent would answer "yes." 

Most Mongolians are doing jobs that in some way related to the mining sector. Even if they don't work in the mining industry itself, they work in organisations that provide supplies to the mining industry, or at least the very least they sell products and provide services to people who earn salaries from the mining industry. Hence, the upper class of Mongolians was able to save up, while the middle class was able to buy apartments through bank loans. Did we have such opportunities back in 2005?

It can be seen from above graph, that vehicles per capita was 0.10 in 2011, while this figure had increased by 20 percent to 0.12 in 2014. Many of us bought our own vehicles, and cars became more of a need than a luxury. Only 10 years ago, housing area per capita was 1.5 square metres, yet now its 4.5 square metres, a three-fold.

Other export

If we had not utilised the mining industry, Mongolia would have had net exports amounting to less than USD one billion, and there would be no such talk of economic growth and development. Many would have just remained as herders in central Asia. Maybe at best, tourists would have visited our country, saying how wild and in touch with nature we are.

Our current lives would be unimaginable without mining. Mongolia's mining sector is at the edge of a cliff because of populist politicians' conspiratorial campaigns and their manipulating ways. They  gave MNT 21,000 to everyone instead of building railways and boosting the price of the coal, and they lost three precious years on the advancement of the OT underground mine quarreling amongst themselves. They have stolen the Mardai deposit and plunged it into a debt of USD 100 million. We are letting the illegal miners destroy the Gatsuurt deposit under the guise of defending it. The beginning of all of these issues can be directly linked to populism and political hysteria. Did a single Mongolian person become richer having received MNT 21,000? Has poverty diminished? What positive results were achieved by stopping OT? Where is the Hun tomb you mentioned when you were rallying against using Gatsuurt deposit? Who will be responsible for all this?

Link to article


Five hot natural & organic product trends coming your way: Mongolia's first organic skincare

From new coconut concoctions to powdered leaves from a "miracle tree", a diabetic-friendly sweetener to Mongolia's first organic skincare range, the recent Natural & Organic Products Asia expo offered a glimpse of the latest trends for the health-obsessed.

By Jeanette Wang

September 1 (South China Morning Post) Demand for natural and organic products is booming in the region and at last week's Natural & Organic Products Asia expo, we got a glimpse - and taste - of the latest products coming Hong Kong's way.

Thousands of brands from more than 250 exhibitors from 25 countries were on display in the event hall at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. This year's trade fair was 70 per cent bigger than last year's inaugural event. Here are a few trends that stood out.

Mongolian skincare line

Mention Mongolia and a pristine landscape and natural beauty come to mind. Khulan Davaadorj has taken Mongolia's natural gifts and turned them into an organic skincare line, Lhamour (

Davaadorj, who used to work in renewable energy, founded the company in 2014 and the expo was her first foray beyond Mongolia. Her products, such as soaps, bath bombs and candles, are made with ingredients such as sea buckthorn, yak milk and a special stone salt.

Another exotic ingredient is sheep's tail fat oil, which is traditionally both eaten and used topically to soothe inflammation. The oil is said to be especially nourishing and moisturising. It's so gentle that an allergy treatment hospital in Mongolia started using the soaps on their patients with conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Link to article


Gantig Bath: Tubs Made in Mongolia

September 3 ( It has been not so long ago when we were happy that Mongolians started producing socks. Then now Mongolians are keen on creating and producing and are having many products to be proud of that are Made in Mongolia.

We have invited CEO of Gantig Bath Construction Munkhtsetseg Jadambaa to share her experiences of overcoming her ups and downs to create the brand that is produced in Mongolia.

It might be pleasing to know that one can actually have a custom made bath tub and sink of a desired color and that is made my Mongolians.

Before meeting her we visited the store in 100 Ail. We were actually amazed by the variety of colors and possibilities of design and make of the bath tubs and sinks. The store is located at the ground floor of Material House Store.

We were curious about prices of the similar products offered by Gantig Bath Construction, the prices were same, but one thing differed significantly the design.

-How did the production start? 

-My spouse worked in Korea at the bath tubs and sink manufacturing joint. His contract ended in 2011 and came back to Mongolia. During his stay in Korea we were discussing on the opportunities of having the similar business here in Mongolia. After he came back we have prepared necessary equipment and set up the production location in a year's time. At that time the construction sector in Mongolia was booming and many young couples were interested in moving into apartments. We have established our company in June of 2012 and the production started in August of the same year.

-You are offering various options for the customers on the size, design and even colors. How many types of products the company offers? 

-As of today we produce 8 types of sinks, 14 types of bath tubs and 2 types of jacuzzi tubs equipped with tools from USA. On color options we added options of sparkles, patterns and cuts on top of variety of colors.

-In order to come up with pricing you must have done the market survey. Do you  offer competitive prices?

-We do offer lower prices. The cheapest products are plastic and metal ones from China. Those without front closures are priced at MNT 200-250 thousand, while we offer stone tubs with front closures at MNT 230-250 thousand. The point here is to make better choice and spend money wisely as we offer better quality products at the same price.

-Do you have plans to expand the stores aside from human resources development?  

-Indeed. We are working to have 2-3 stores by next year. We do actually receive offers to sell our products.

-Thank you and we are wishing success in your business.

More detailed information on Gantig Bath Construction can be found  HERE.

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Students protest bus fare mismanagement

September 3 (UB Post) Hundreds of students who are being forced to pay 1,000 MNT for cash bus fares demonstrated against the city's new public transportation policy on Thursday, calling it inconsiderate an in conflict with student needs and interests.

Chinggis Square was nearly filled with student protesters who demanded the provision of either the new bus pass or the previously available student smart cards that allowed them to ride for free on public buses.

The students complained that the Ulaanbaatar Auto Transportation Authority halted distribution of 64,000 student smart cards, which are being stored at the Union of Mongolian Students. The cards were ordered before the end of the last academic year for 8,900 MNT each. But after the new bus pass system launched last month, it was announced that the student smart cards did not have chips that were readable, and that students would have to pay cash fares.

City administrators claim that 113,000 bus passes were created for students, but the students say they still haven't received them. Bus fares for people without smart cards were set at 1,000 MNT on September 1. As a result, some students who live in the outlying areas of the city say that they are paying 4,000 to 5,000 MNT for bus fares each day, as they take multiple buses to get to their universities.

The protesting students demanded that city administrators make students exempt from bus fares by providing bus passes as soon as possible. If their demands are not met, the students announced that they would hold another peaceful demonstration at Chinggis Square on September 7.

Link to article


Group targets traffic violators with donkey stickers

September 3 ( A group to "punish" the violators of traffic rules started their activities targeting drivers who speed up with yellow light, park their cars on pedestrian lanes and honk their horns.

Photos of the vehicles with big sticker which reads "I am a donkey without rules" on their windshiled has been circulating on social media recently.

This is the part of the activities of a group to "punish" the violators of the traffic rules. This will give the warning to the drivers who overuse the horns, violate traffic rules and others who do not behave in accordance with traffic rules.

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New UN Resident Coordinator in Mongolia Presents Credentials

Ulaanbaatar, September 4 (MONTSAME) The UN Resident Coordinator and Permanent Representative of UNDP to Mongolia Ms Beate Trankmann Friday presented her letter of credence to Mr L.Purevsuren, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

At the held after the presentation, the Foreign Minister received Ms Trankmann, exchanging views with her on the Mongolia-UN relations and cooperation.

The Foreign Minister expressed thanks to UN for supporting socio-economic goals of Mongolia and rendering assistance. He affirmed that the government of Mongolia will collaborate with the UN in working out 2017-2018 frameworks of assisting Mongolia, and said Mongolia will pay special attention to realizing the development program beyond 2015.

Link to article


China, Mongolia vow closer ties

BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Mongolian counterpart Tsakhia Elbegdorj Thursday after China held a grand military parade at Tian'anmen Square in downtown Beijing.

Xi thanked Elbegdorj for attending the commemoration marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, saying it shows Mongolia highly values the bilateral relations.

China and Mongolia are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers, said Xi, adding their relations are an important part in China's neighborhood diplomacy.

The comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries has been developing smoothly, he said. Xi voiced hopes that both sides cooperate closely to speed up the implementation of consensus.

The two countries should maintain close high-level communication and cooperation in all fields, fully understand and accommodate each other's core interests and major concerns, said the Chinese president.

Xi called for integrating China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with Mongolia's Steppe Road plan, and launching a batch of key projects to enhance cooperation levels.

China is willing to keep close communication with Mongolia and Russia, to push the construction of the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor, he said.

Elbegdorj said he was pleased to participate in the commemoration on Thursday morning.

He called for implementing the consensus he reached with Xi on advancing bilateral cooperation, and boosting new progress in Mongolia-China all-round strategic partnership.

China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang also met with Elbegdorj on Thursday, calling for closer parliamentary exchanges between the Chinese National People's Congress and the State Great Hural of Mongolia.

Zhang urged the two parliaments to share governance experience and maintain regular exchanges.

Elbegdorj said he expected closer parliamentary exchanges and cooperation in such areas as agriculture, farming and mining.

Link to article


President Ts.Elbegdorj meets China's top legislator Zhang DejiangInfoMongolia, September 4


Mongolian Soldiers Take Part in WWII Victory Parade in Beijing

September 4 ( Yesterday, Mongolian troops marched in the 70th Anniversary Victory Parade of "World War II". When the Mongolian soldiers came on the "Tiananmen Square", the commentator announce: "The parade unit of the Mongolian Armed Forces has come to the center of the square under the command Deputy Colonel Hash-Erdene Batdelger. The Mongolian Army of 21,000 troops liberated the Republic of China from the foreign enemies and brought victory. Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj viewed the Victory Parade from the seats for heads-of-state and honorary guests. The Mongolian Minister of Defense also viewed the parade. After the parade, President Ts.Elbegdorj met Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the Head of the Chinese Parliament Zhang Dejiang.      

Link to article


Review: Speaker of Mongolia Parliament Attends IV World Conference of Speakers

September 4 ( A group of legislators from the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia headed by Chairman Mr. Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD has attended in the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament that took place at United Nations Headquarters from August 31st to September 2nd of 2015.

The three-day IV World Conference of Speakers of Parliament culminated with the adoption of the Declaration on "Placing democracy at the service of peace and sustainable development: Building the world the people want" on September 3, 2015.

The Press and public relations department of Secretariat of the Parliament is presenting a brief review of working visit of the Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold to the United States of America.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Chairman Z.Enkhbold meets Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan

The Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament commences

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The VI Mongolia-Czech Joint Intergovernmental Commission, Ulaanbaatar, September 21-23, 2015

Vietnam to support Mongolia's candidacy for 2022 elections

H.E. Mr. Z.Enkhbold delivers remarks at the Plenary of the IV World Conference of Speakers of Parliament

MPs Su.Batbold and Ts.Oyungerel attended Panel discussions

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Commemorative plaque at the "Tree of Peace and Unity"

World Parliament Speakers adopt a declaration on Building the world the people want

Link to release


MP Ts.Oyungerel Visits American Museum of Natural History, Proposes Joint Commission to Repatriate Mongolian Artifacts

September 3 ( On September 2, 2015, member of the State Great Hural (Parliament) Ms. Tsedevdamba OYUNGEREL visited American Museum of Natural History during her working visit to New York by attending the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament.

At the American Museum of Natural History, MP Ts.Oyungerel was welcomed by Dr. John Flynn, Dean of the Richard Gilder Graduate School affiliated the Museum and during the meeting, she noted that in the scope of approaching the centennial anniversary of an expedition arrived in Mongolia led by American anthropologist Roy Chapman Andrews /1922/, a joint commission should make open to public regarding an implementation of the agreement to repatriate findings discovered in Mongolia back in 1920s.

The agreement - established between Roy Chapman Andrews and Mongolian authorities in 1924 - cites to return to the Government of Mongolia one item of each group of findings including dinosaurs eggs, bones and fossil mammals. In addition, two copies of films and photos captured in Mongolia; and to collaborate on founding an "Urguu" museum. According to the agreement, all findings were agreed to deploy under scientific purposes only.

Consequently, Dr. John Flynn pledged to convey MP Ts.Oyungerel's request to Head of the American Museum of Natural History and respond shortly. Parliamentarian Ts.Oyungerel is a former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Mongolia, and during the term of the office, she administered to repatriate over 400 findings and fossils including Tyrannosaurus bataar, a 70-million-year-old dinosaur.

Link to release


Mongolians, Marines Train Marksmanship During Golden Steppe 3

September (III MEF Marines) U.S. Marines give instruction on combat marksmanship techniques to Mongolian Armed Forces during exercise Golden Steppe 3 at the Five Hills Training Area in Tavantolgoi, Mongolia, July 31, 2015.

Link to video


Philippines, Mongolia Co-Chair Asean Regional Forum Workshop On Mongolia's Nuclear Weapon Free Status

05 September 2015 (Department of Foreign Affairs) - The Philippines, represented by Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Jesus Domingo, co-chaired the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Workshop on Mongolia's Nuclear Weapon Free Status, with Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs State Secretary Damba Gankhuyag on September 03 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The two-day workshop, initiated by Mongolia and supported by the Philippines in the framework of the ASEAN Regional Forum, highlights Mongolia's unique experience in establishing a Nuclear Weapon Free Status and its continuing efforts to promote its status.  Officials of the Mongolian government shared the history of Mongolia's initiative to declare itself a nuclear weapons free country arising from the imperative of its peculiar geographical location between two nuclear powers, Russia and China, and the status of its pursuit of international recognition of this initiative. Other participants exchanged ideas on reinforcing existing Nuclear Weapons Free Zones (NFWZs), news ways of promoting nuclear non-proliferation in non-traditional cases, and examined the current practice of NWFZs like that of the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ).  In examining the next steps, both strategic and operational issues that can advance NWFZs in the wider context of non-proliferation were discussed. 

In his closing remarks, Assistant Secretary Domingo said the Philippines looks forward to continue working with Mongolia on issues on non-proliferation under the framework of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

Speakers from government, civil society and the academe participated in the three panel sessions of the Workshop, including Assistant Secretary Jesus Domingo, Dr. Jargalsaikhan Enkhsaikhan of Blue Banner, Mr. Yuriy Kryvonos of the United Nations Regional Center for Peace and Development (UNRCPD), Deputy Director Dashdorj Bayarkhuu of Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Col. Dorjjugder Munkh-Ochir of Mongolia's Ministry of Defense, Mr. Jamiyandagva Adiyasuren of the Institute of Strategies Studies of Mongolia, and Ms. Usana Berananda of the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs.   

Thirty-nine (39) participants from 14 ARF member states namely, the Philippines, Mongolia, Thailand, Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Lao PDR, Canada, Russia, Korea, Viet Nam, and the United States took part in the workshop.

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Ethiopia studies Mongolia's artisanal mining policies

September 3 (UB Post) Representatives led by the Minister of Mining of Ethiopia, Tewodros Gebregzabher, are paying a seven-day visit to Mongolia to become acquainted with the nation's artisanal mining industry and policies.

On Tuesday, the Ethiopian delegation was received by the Ministry of Mining of Mongolia and introduced to the conventional and artisanal mining sector's current conditions, as well as its legal environment and achievements.

During their visit, the delegation will meet representatives from governmental and non-governmental mining organizations to exchange experience on legalizing and formalizing micro-mining, defining its economic contributions, as well as on land reclamation, and the working conditions of micro-miners.

The Ethiopian team is also studying health and social insurance accessibility for micro-miners in Mongolia. They will meet micro-miners in Bayankhongor Province's Bayan-Ovoo soum and visit the Monpolymet Group, which is engaged in gold mining land reclamation in Zaamar soum, Tuv Province. The delegation will also become acquainted with the progress of a sustainable micro-mining project which is being implemented in Mongolia with the aid from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Mongol News spoke with the Chairman of the Policy Coordination Department of the Ministry of Mining, B.Batkhuu, regarding Mongolia and Ethiopia's micro-mining conditions.

We all know that most of the countries in Africa have great natural resources. Can you tell us  about the mining sector's development in Ethiopia?

On Wednesday, delegations of the two countries started holding meetings. We will share our experience for many days, so Mongolia will become more informed about the country's economic development and legal environment. However, Ethiopia is a country with great natural resources.

The majority of the artisanal mining sector in Ethiopia is comprised of gold miners. We could say that this is similar to Mongolia. Ethiopia also explores many precious stones. A total of 98 percent of exported gems are extracted through micro-mining.

Major representatives of the Mongolian micro-mining sectors are small gold mining companies and individuals. A law on micro-mining was also approved to support them, but gold delivery to Mongol Bank is not increasing. Can you explain why?

It is directly related to poor government policy. Gold reserves at Mongol Bank have drastically decreased, because of the 68 percent tax that was being imposed. At the beginning of 2000, gold delivered to Mongol Bank reached 20 tons, and it dropped to two tons as a result of this tax.

Some companies were also illegally exporting gold to foreign countries. It was a good decision to cancel the tax in order to keep gold in the country. Now gold reserves are gradually increasing.

What are Mongol Bank's gold reserves as of September 2015? How does Mongolia's reserves compare to Ethiopia's in 2014?

Last year, Mongol Bank reserved 13 tons of gold, 3.2 tons of which was submitted by micro-miners. While in 2014, Ethiopia delivered 12.5 tons of gold to the central bank, 25 percent of which was comprised of deposits from micro-miners. Even though the figures may seem small, here we should note that entities and individuals deliver gold mostly from September to November. That means that by the end of this year, we may reserve more gold than last year.

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Social, Environmental

This Month in Mongolian Studies - September 2015

September 4 (American Center for Mongolian studies) "This Month in Mongolian Studies" is a monthly listing of selected academic activities and resources related to Mongolia. This list is based on information the ACMS has received and is presented as a service to its members. If you would like to submit information to be included in next month's issue please contact the ACMS at and/or the editor, Marissa Smith, at

This publication is supported in part by memberships.  Please consider becoming a member of the ACMS, or renewing your membership by visiting our website at Thank you!

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Lessons from the steppes: Mongolia's model social insurance system

As a role model for social insurance systems, Mongolia, with the help of the ILO, shares its efficient single window system for social services with other countries in South East Asia.

BANGKOK, September 1 (ILO News) - For any young couple, the birth of a first child is a momentous occasion. At their remote farmstead on the Mongolian steppes, Batjav and his wife were celebrating the birth of their baby boy.

Although they are young the couple follow the traditional lifestyle of Mongolian nomadic herders, living in a ger, a traditional nomadic home, and keeping animals, including long-haired goats.

However, a week after the baby's birth Batjav did one less traditional - but very important - thing; he got on a motorbike and rode off across the grasslands to register the birth of his son and apply for the universal child money programme and maternity benefits for his wife.

Before having her baby Batjav's wife joined Mongolia's social insurance scheme, which is open to herders on a voluntary basis. Her contributions to the social insurance fund meant she was eligible for maternity benefits equivalent to four months' salary. In years to come the system will also give her a pension, so she is not a burden to her son when he grows up.

In the past claiming such social benefits was difficult and impractical for herders like Batjav and his family, living in a remote, rural area, with animal flocks that could not be left unattended for long. Mongolia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, meaning that rural Mongolians often had to travel long distances, and visit several government offices.

But this changed with the introduction of One Stop Shops, or OSS services in 2007, by the Government of Mongolia, with the help of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). 

The OSS gathers a number of government ministries in one place, both in the capital Ulaanbaatar and at district – or soum - level. It offers a range of services such as social welfare, social insurance, employment counseling and civil registration. 

"Before people had to go to many doors to get one service. Now, they come to one door to get many services," said O. Toivogoo, Head of the Government Office in Bayankhongor province. 

At his local OSS office Batjav filled in a few forms and handed over some documents. In return he received a benefits card for his child and a confirmation form for maternity benefits. Both benefits will be transferred to his bank account every month. The process was quick and easy, allowing him to get home before the end of the day. 

All Mongolia's provinces, and most of the districts, now have OSS services, and for those who live in really remote areas the Government has launched a mobile OSS van, which brings officials and the services to the door of the ger. 

Mongolia also operates a mandatory social health insurance scheme, and a number of other social welfare programmes to support vulnerable groups. Policies have recently been introduced to promote employment and local development. 

Mongolia's approach caught the attention of other countries in South East Asia. So, in 2014, a study trip was organized to help some ASEAN countries learn from each other's experiences of running a single window system for social services. Representatives from Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand took part. 

The trip was arranged by the ILO's 'Promoting and Building Social Protection and Employment Services for Vulnerable Groups, Learning from ASEAN (MAPS Project) , supported by the ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme , and the joint ILO-UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) Project on South-South Triangular Cooperation and promotion of Social Protection Floors. 

"You would never think that Mongolia, the land of nomadic herders and the world's most sparsely populated country, would have anything useful to share. But Mongolia actually has an advanced social security system and offers a good example of the single window approach," said H.E. Sann Vathana, Council for Agriculture and Rural Development of Cambodia. 

Following the study visit, Cambodia began a pilot of social service delivery mechanisms in two provinces, using lessons learned from Mongolia's success with delegated decision making. The Indonesian delegates proposed to apply some of Mongolia's experience in dealing with vast distances to expand their own Single Window approach to all provinces. The experts from Thailand also expressed interest in the decentralization of public services.

"Success of a Social Protection Floor relies on accessibility of social services and benefits, an area where Mongolia has invested a lot," said Ms Celine Peyron Bista, Chief Technical Advisor of the MAPS Project. "Thanks to this project, countries in ASEAN were given for first time the opportunity to learn from Mongolia's experience."

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Mongolia and FAO: Partnering for sustainable agriculture and natural resources management

Year of publication: 2015


Mongolia and FAO have shared a long history of cooperation since 1973 when Mongolia became a member and FAO in Mongolia was accredited through the FAO Office in China. The cooperation between FAO and Mongolia solidified upon establishment of a dedicated FAO Mongolia Office in Ulaanbaatar. In recent years, FAO has been further assisting the Government following its decision to make sustainable agricultural development in Mongolia a top priority. FAO is focusing specifically on enhancing food security, rural development and natural resources management.

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Opening remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative: Pole to Paris Consultation meeting, Mongolia

September 4 (UNDP Mongolia) Excellency, Ms Oyun, Member of Parliament, President of the UN Environmental Assembly

Government officials, young scientist, journalists, development partners

On behalf of the United Nations and UNDP in Mongolia, I would like to warmly welcome you all to this public awareness raising event on climate change with "Pole to Paris" in Ulaanbaatar

This is a great subject for my first official event in Mongolia since taking office last week. It's a subject close to my heart and one that I worked on a lot in Indonesia my previous duty station – Indonesia of course being one of the top global emitters of Greenhouse gas emission and as such a frontline country in the fight against climate change. Dan's first stop after leaving Australia for his long journey to Paris was Indonesia and we held some joint events there, too. So, Dan great to see you now in Mongolia with quite a few more thousands of kilometers under your belt.

Why is climate change important?

Climate change is a reality

It is no longer a discussion as to whether there is such a thing as climate change and whether or not it is driven by us, the people of the planet.

It is happening right now. It is already impacting our lives and the evidence base shows that climate change is a consequence of human activity.

Globally, the air temperature increased by 1.26 ° above the 20th century average. We are rapidly approaching the critical tipping point of an increase in 2 degrees temperature beyond which changes to the planet will be irreversible.

2015 is the hottest year on record 'By A Mile' scientists say

This has increasingly costly consequences on human life, serious social impact and economic losses. Climate change increases people's vulnerability through environmental degradation, reduced water supply, food insecurity and forced changes to livelihoods as well as migration. 

Climate change is universal; it threatens development progress in countries rich and poor. As such, it is both a results but also a threat to current development patterns. Importantly it tends to affect the poorest the most as they tend to live in areas that are more exposed to rising sea levels, landslides or droughts and generally have no coping mechanisms to recover from the consequences.

This is why climate change is one of the defining development challenges for this century.

To tackle climate change, the whole world must develop differently. All of us must change consumption and production patterns and this requires engaged citizens and bold leadership.

The choice is not between green or growth; we have to make growth climate and environmentally friendly and it is entirely possible as many green economy models show.

It is often said that we are the first generation that can eradicate poverty – we are also likely the last generation that can save the planet

What about Mongolia? I believe it is no coincidence that Dan chose Mongolia as a stop on his way to Paris.

Mongolia is extremely vulnerable to climate change due to its geographic location, vulnerable ecosystem, people's lifestyle and economy.

In the past 70 years, the mean temperature increased by 2.07°C,  meaning considerably faster than global average.

Mongolia is also ranked 8th among over 100 countries in the Global Climate Risk Index of 2014

Due to the dependency of natural resources, the most vulnerable groups to climate change are nomadic herders and farmers.

Why are we meeting today?

"POLE TO PARIS" is a great campaign to raise awareness on the impact of climate change and spur current and future leaders into action.

2015 is defining moment in the global mission towards a sustainable future. This month, a set of new sustainable development goals will be agreed on to succeed the MDGs. They will specifically include a goal to "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts".

The year will also see the signing of a new universal agreement in December 2015 in Paris. This agreement is hoped to set ambitious and binding targets for emission reductions to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Dan has biked from Australia to Mongolia – some 7000 km – he has met people in all the countries along the way to raise awareness of climate change. He is on his way to Paris.

Today's and tomorrow's events aim at raising awareness on climate change and its impacts and at encouraging a change in collective and individual behaviors towards a more sustainable future with a smaller "carbon footprint". The contribution of people like you - young scientists, researchers from public institutions and private sector, young government officials and media – in this will be critical.

The Role of the UN and UNDP

The UN and UNDP stand ready to support countries in the needed transitions to cleaner and low carbon development models and to build more resilient societies that adapt to climate change.

In Mongolia, we work to:

·         Build community resilience

·         Improve energy efficiency

·         Reduce GHG emissions

·         And develop sustainable and low carbon cities.

The time for all of us to act on climate change is now in order to save the planet for future generations to come!

With this, I wish you very fruitful discussions and thank you for your attention and participation.

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PoleToParis climate change discussions held in Mongolia

September 4 ( Discussions on the measures being taken to lessen the climate change impacts in Mongolia and globally are to take place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for the next two days.

Discussion will feature prominent British researcher on climate change impacts Daniel Price.

The discussions will take place at UN HOUSE today during 10AM and 12PM featuring the scientists and researchers who participate in the POLEtoPARIS, where young scientists travel across the globe to talk about climate change and bridge the gap between science and society, ahead of COP21.

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Lake Baikal in danger, scientists warn against dam in Mongolia

By Ulf Mauder

September 6 (Gulf Times) In Siberia near Lake Baikal, clouds of smoke pass high above the water as the biting odour of forest fires is in the air.

Before this year, say environmentalists, there had never been such extensive forest fires along the picturesque mountainous shores of the lake, the world's largest fresh-water reservoir.

Experts say this Unesco World Heritage Site is facing many threats.

"Illegal camping and camp fires, rubbish dumped everywhere, the lack of sewage treatment and a low water level are all causes for worry," says the director of the Institute of Geography in Irkutsk, Igor Vladimirov.

The expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences regards the lake's unique ecosystem as exposed to unparalleled stresses. It's been only a few months since alarming reports of a water level at historic lows. Vladimirov says that was mainly due to low rainfall. Although the water level is now rising again, he says the risks have not gone away.

Experts also point to the trend of diverting water for use in hydropower energy production. This has culminated in plans by neighbouring Mongolia to build a dam on the Selenga River, considered the most important water source for the lake.

Named the Shuren Hydropower Plant and the Orkhon-Gobi Water Diversion project — the Mongolian water initiative makes all the other problems for the lake pale in comparison, says biologist and Baikal researcher Marianne Moore.

The project could upset the water balance of the internationally important wetland in the Selenga River Delta, the Wellesley College researcher says. The Delta is the most important foraging ground for the region's fish and birds.

With this in mind, Moore has called on the World Bank to reject the Shuren project. Mongolia, she says, could be better served by using alternative energy sources such as wind or solar.

Her colleague Anson Mackay of the Environmental Change Research Centre in London notes that the Selenga River is Baikal's most important supplier of oxygen, without which the lake will die.

In addition, the river transports important minerals and other nutrients to the lake. This process is not only vital for fish but especially for the one-of-a-kind Baikal seal, Mackay says.

The experts oppose calls by Mongolia to conduct further research into the possible effects of the dam project. For the scientists, the threats to Baikal are already clear and present, and this new project would be catastrophic, Mackay says.

The environmental organisation Baikalskaya Ekologicheskaya Volna — or Baikal Wave, for short — is fighting to prevent this environmental disaster. Over the years the organisation battled the paper and cellulose plants on the banks of the lake until they finally closed, says Baikal Wave's Maxim Vorontsov. Now the organisation is taking aim at the Mongolian project.

Worontsov says the condition of the lake has already visibly worsened without the project.

"You can see by the green algae near the shore that the water quality is worse. What's more, we're experiencing a mass death of sponges in (the city of) Listvyanka where Lake Baikal flows into (Siberia's) Angara (River)," he says, noting the importance of the sponges in purifying the water.

His organisation also complains that Baikal is being polluted by illegal building on the shore, phosphate run-off and effluent containing faeces that enters the lake.

"At lot is happening at once — including uncontrolled fishing with fine-meshed nets and increased shipping on the Baikal," Vorontsov says.

Ultimately the environmentalists and the scientists are complaining that Russia's leadership is taking little notice of the lake's condition. The researchers are not alone. UNESCO also has accused Moscow of being in dereliction of its duties in handling of a valuable commodity — water — and the unique natural resource and heritage — the Baikal region. —DPA

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Anu's Tale – From Little Cub to Proud Mother of Triplets

Using remote-sensor research cameras and GPS tracking collars, Snow Leopard Trust researchers have been able to follow and observe a young female snow leopard named Anu over the course of four years as she grew up, dispersed from her mother and later had cubs herself twice in her mountain habitat in Mongolia's South Gobi. The latest photos show Anu followed by three small cubs. Her tale is a powerful sign of hope for the endangered cat species.

August 31 (Snow Leopard Trust) In the fall of 2014, our team retrieved one of our research cameras, stationed near a watering hole frequently used by the area's animals. Days later, we got an excited email from the field: "Amazing pics. Mother with 3 cubs!"

It took half a year and some painstaking detective work until we realized we knew the mom of these three cuties. It was Anu!

In the secretive world of the elusive snow leopard, Anu is an exception. While other cats stay hidden forever, Anu has become something a public ambassador for her species. Born in Mongolia's Tost mountains on the edge of the Gobi desert in 2009, Anu was first thrust into the spotlight a year later.

Part of A Groundbreaking Study

Around the time Anu was born, researchers from the Snow Leopard Trust had set up camp just a few miles from her den site for what was to become the world's first long-term study of this endangered cat's ecology and behavior. Using technology such as motion-sensor cameras and GPS tracking collars, the scientists sought to lift the veil on some of the snow leopard's secrets: how much space do these cats need? How much prey do they consume? How do they interact? Where do they migrate to, and which patterns do they follow?

The answers to some of these questions have helped shape effective conservation measures over the last years. The study showed that more than a dozen cats lived in this area – information that has been critical in partially protecting Tost from the threat of mining until now. Data from the study proved that snow leopards migrate between various mountain chains, crossing steppe and desert if necessary – promoting efforts to protect these important corridors along with the mountains they link.

In 2010, when Anu was around one year old, she was photographed for the first time by one of the Snow Leopard Trust's research cameras, hiding behind her mother, a cat the scientists had named Inquisitive for her curious nature.

At the time, it was estimated that Anu would soon disperse from her mom and set out on her own to find a suitable home range, and indeed, in the spring of 2011, when she made her next appearance in front of a camera, Anu was traveling alone and had developed into a fully grown young cat.

Historic Mom

A couple of weeks later, our research team achieved a breakthrough: an alarm went off at basecamp, indicating that a snow leopard had been caught by a hidden snare, giving the scientists the opportunity to equip the cat with a GPS tracking collar. The cat in the snare was Anu.

The researchers had set out to collar a young female, hoping she'd have cubs while they were tracking her. Anu didn't appear to be pregnant though – but with the collars lasting for about 18 months, they were hopeful for 2012.

As her collar steadily sent location data to a satellite, our team tracked Anu's movements for about a year. In the spring of 2012, they noticed a change in her ranging patterns. She restrained her movements more and more, using only a very small portion of her home range. Eventually, she stopped moving altogether. For the Trust researchers, this was exactly the sign they had been hoping for. They believed Anu was about to give birth.

They tracked her signals to a remote cave, not far from the study's base camp. There, hidden behind a wall of rocks that must have been built years earlier by local herders, they heard faint sounds. They attached a camera to stick – a bit of a makeshift set-up, as this was before the era of the ubiquitous self-stick – and carefully lifted it over the wall to film the inside of the cave.

It may only be a few seconds of shaky images, but the footage the team took that day was historical: the first ever video of a wild snow leopard cub in its den, with its mother, Anu.

Watch the footage of Anu and her cub. Another female, Lasya, was found with two cubs around the same time.

A few days later, Anu ventured out of the den to hunt for food. The team used this opportunity to examine her cub, carefully inspecting, weighing and photographing the little kitten. They quickly left the den site and waited at a safe distance for Anu to come home.

After a few hours, Anu returned with dinner and settled back into the den with her offspring.

The photos and videos had a major impact in the scientific community and were celebrated by snow leopard lovers around the world. Anu, however, didn't seem to be impressed by her sudden fame. Instead, she began venturing out of the den with her cub, teaching the little one to hunt and survive in the rugged mountains of their home.

Anu's GPS collar dropped off as scheduled soon after, and the team lost sight of her and her cub for a while – our research cameras kept track of them though. 

In the fall of 2012, they appeared in a photo – the cub still relatively small. Our team was anxious to see how the two cats would fare through the hard Mongolian winter.

A few months later, in early 2013, the got their answer, as Anu and her cub again passed in front of a camera. By then, the tiny ball of fur our team had found in its den had grown into a handsome young adult.

After this sighting, we lost track of mother and cub for a couple of months. In this time, the cub must have dispersed to find its own home range.

Detective Work Leads to Discovery

When a camera stationed near a watering hole in 2014 took pictures of a female snow leopard with three cubs, we were elated. Footage of wild cubs is still exceedingly rare, and is always a powerful sign of hope.

A dedicated volunteer, Simone Schreiber, put together a short video of the playful cubs, and thousands of supporters enjoyed seeing them. Behind the scenes, however, we were trying to find out how this cat was.

Check out video footage of Anu and her three cubs, taken in 2014

In the photos from the watering hole, it's hard to make out much of the mother's fur pattern, which is how individual cats can be identified. So, as a direct ID was impossible, our researchers looked for other photos of the quartet, where they may be more easily identified.

Finally, Dr. Koustubh Sharma, the Trust's Senior Regional Ecologist, found the key pic: a crystal-clear image of the mother, trailing her three cubs, taken near the same watering hole, but by a different camera. He was able to confirm that it was the same cat as in the other photos. More importantly, he now had a good picture of her spots to compare with our database of snow leopard photos.

What sounds like a quick job for a computer is actually a bit more complicated than that. Slight differences in posture, angle or lighting can distort fur patterns significantly. Sometimes, what looks like two different cats may indeed be one and the same animal, while similarities in patterns between two cats can lead to false IDs.

"It took some time, and I hit quite a few dead ends, but I was finally able to confirm that the mother with three cubs is indeed Anu", Koustubh says. 

"Seeing Anu again, with a new litter of cubs, gives me hope. It shows that this sliver of snow leopard habitat we're working to protect in Mongolia is a suitable home for this endangered cat, and could support a healthy population."

You can help protect Anu and her cubs and their habitat in Mongolia's South Gobi by making a donation today!

When can we expect to see Anu and her small family again? "If we're lucky, they'll have passed some of our cameras this spring. We'll collect those photos soon, so stay tuned", Koustubh says.

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Wildfire continues to rage in Khuvsgul Aimag's Tsagaannuur, Renchinlkhumbe soums

September 4 ( A wildfire that took place in Khar Davaany Am (on the border between Tsagaannuur and Renchinlkhumbe sums of Khuvsgul aimag) on August 27, 2015 is still raging.

According to information provided by local officials, totally 72 people, 24 troops of Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and 48 local volunteers, are working on the scene to put out raging forest fire with 2 fire engines and 5 additional vehicles.

In addition, harsh hot weather condition covering territories under forest fire creating difficulties for fire suppression work even though there were rainfalls in some parts of Khuvsgul aimag.

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KIIT-KISS Founder Dr. Achyuta Samanta receives top Civilian Award of Mongolia

Report by Odisha Diary bureau, Bhubaneswar, September 4 (Odisha Diary): In recognition to his outstanding contribution in the field of education, social work and in appreciation to his relentless effort to create an equitable world sans poverty and ignorance, the Republic of Mongolia has conferred the highest Civilian Award "BEST WORKER' on Dr. Achyuta Samanta, Founder KIIT and KISS in a ceremony organized in Ulaanbaatar the capital of Mongolia on 1st September 2015. Dr. Satyendra Patnaik, Rector, KIIT University, received the award on behalf of Dr. Samanta.

Unlike other countries, persons of high social standing, institutions of national importance and non-governmental organisations with national and international recognition propose the names of individuals, organisations working for the society in diverse fields, to the concerned Ministries to consider conferring "BEST WORKER" Award. After scrutiny, the concerned Ministries send the names of the selected nominee to the Parliament which decides on it, through rigorous process.  Once the Parliament ratifies the proposal, it goes for Presidential ascent.  Only after the President puts his seal of approval, the nominee is declared as "BEST WORKER" in the field. Dr. Samanta has been declared as "BEST WORKER" by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Labour.

"BEST WORKER" is incidentally, the highest Civilian Award any person of foreign origin could get. Samanta has become the first Odia to receive this coveted award being chosen by two separate Ministries of the Government of Mongolia. The Awards contain citations and gold medals. Since Dr. Samanta's name was proposed by Hangai University and Prof. Dr. Timur Ochir, former Speaker and a former Education Minister, Hangai organized a function to congratulate Dr. Samanta. Besides Dr. Saman

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Mongolia's Got Talent, Launching 20 September, Announces the Judges

September 4 ( "Mongol HD" television obtained the official rights to air the "Got Talent Show" in Mongolia, at the beginning of 2015. Also, "Mongol HD" will show the new episodes of "Britain's Got Talent". "Mongolia's Got Talent" will be on TV from 20th September. The team of judges has just been announced and will consist of the following: composer, producer, musicians of the "Kharanga Band", the director of "UP Music Production" Ts.Chuluunbat, "Mongol HD television" announcer, S.Chimgee, rapper "Rokit Bay", and violinist Deegii. They started their local tour from the beginning of 2015. Approximately, 2000 people from the every corner of Mongolia have displayed their talents.

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Inspired by Zaya - E.Munkhshur, Singer

September 3 ( "Future of Mongolia is not just mining. Instead I believe our future is dependent on educated, intelligent and multifaceted youth". I want to proudly introduce those talented and educated young professionals to others.

Editor E.Ariunzaya

Two years ago E.Munkhshur featured in Inspired by Zaya for the first time and this is the second time she is joining Zaya to tell her story. I was inspired by how much she could develop and improve in just two year's time. In two years she completed her Master's Degree in Chicago and enrolled in a doctorate program in Music University of Florida with full scholarship.

She has successfully participated in major three competitions and have raised Mongolian flag abroad. In between her competitions and studies she manages to teach music in USA as well. Munkhshur is definitely one of the young representatives Mongolia should be proud of.

For the full interview please click here.

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Mongolia Holds Its First Monodrama Competition

September 3 (UB Post) Wining votes from all judges, artist of the State Academic Drama Theater B.Odgerel came in first place at the first Monodrama Competition of Mongolia, and won a right to give a closing performance at the upcoming International Monodrama Festival.

The competition was organized at the Student Theater of the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture on August 31, by the Mongolian Monodrama Center and Dream Art Production, with support from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, State Academic Drama Theater and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A special prize was awarded to an artist from the Children's and Youth Theater in Orkhon Province, G.Misheel, who gave an amazing performance of "Does Chaplin Have Tears" play. She will be joining B.Odgerel at the International Undefeatable Victor's Monodrama Festival, which will kick off from September 30 to October 6.

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7th Ulaanbaatar International Film Festival Announced on 7-11 October

September 3 ( The Ministry of Education Culture and Science, the Mongolian Art Council, the French Embassy, and the Mongolian Artistic Film Council are organizing the 7th "Ulaanbaatar International Film Festival" on 7th-11thOctober. This year, the festival coincides with the 80th Anniversary of the Mongolian Cinema and the 50thAnniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Mongolia and France. Therefore, France has been selected as the "special country" for this year's festival, in connection with which a "French Film Day" will be organized on 8th October. During the festival, nine outstanding movies from France, Columbia, Island, Iran, China, Hungary, and Turkey, which were selected as the best nominees of the Cannes, Berlin, and Toronto Film Festivals will be shown. 

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The Bible enters Internom bestseller list for the first time

Ulaanbaatar, September 4 (MONTSAME) The "Internom" bookstore has named bestseller books of the last week by August 24-30.

The Oxford English-Mongolia and Mongolian-English by Monsudar publishing led the bestselling books of the last week, and it was followed by Nobel Prize winner "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

"Morning Person" by Saisho Hiroshi came third in the bestseller, being followed by the Bible which is included in the list of bestselling books for the first time.

Other bestsellers were "Art of Loving" by Erich Fromm, a German social psychologist and psychoanalyst; "Green eyed monk" by Ts.Oyungerel; "Queen Sorkhugtani" by B.Sarantuya; "Cloud-shaped world" by a novelist B.Shuudertsetseg; "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy' and "Lean In: Women, Work and Will to Lead" by Sheryl Sandberg. 

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Woman gives birth on train from Ulaanbaatar to Sainshand

September 3 (UB Post) Local social media posted news about a baby born in a train that was travelling from Ulaanbaatar to Sainshand soum in Dornogovi Province, on September 1.

Mongol Khun Mongoliin Baylag Facebook page first posted the photo of the mother and baby coming out of the train in Sainshand. The photo and the news was widely shared and reported by social media and local new outlets.

Ambulance delivered them to a hospital as soon as they got off the train, according to Ulaanbaatar Railway officials.    

The following is a brief interview with G.Otgonjargal, conductor at Ulaanbaatar Railway Joint Venture Company, about the baby delivery.

Can you give us details about the woman who gave birth in the train? How are the mother and baby doing now?

They are fine. Emergency doctors examined them immediately after they got off and confirmed that they are both in good shape. They were travelling in Train No.286 in route of Ulaanbaatar-Sainshand on Tuesday. The mother is 35 years old and her name is Battsetseg. She is a resident of Dornogovi Province and meant to check into a maternity hospital in Sainshand in time.

Who assisted the birth in the train?

The mother is a very lucky woman. There were four doctors travelling in the train and we emptied a cabin for the delivery. Superintendent of the train D.Boldbaatar also cooperated with the doctors and supplied everything from the train that was useful for the delivery.

The public has been assuming that the newborn baby boy will be exempt from train ticket fees until he turns 18 years old. Is it true?

Ulaanbaatar Railway grants babies born in trains "Steel Rail" certificate, which exempts them from train ticket fees until they turn 16 years of age as is tradition. The baby born in the train on Tuesday will have the same right.

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Khan Bank Awards 70 Scholarships to Freshmen

September 3 (Khan Bank) On the first day of new academic year, Khan Bank granted certificates of the Khan Bank Scholarship for Freshmen Students to the selected students of MUST, MSUE and MSUA, the oldest universities of Mongolia.

Mr. L.Gantumur, Minister of Education, Science and Culture, along with the management of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology participated in the opening ceremony of the new academic year in the MUST, one of the leading universities of Mongolia. Mr. D.Ariunbat, Director of Retail Bank – Ulaanbaatar, Khan Bank handed Mr. B.Ochirbat, Principal of the University scholarship certificates for their 24 students. Mr. D.Ariunbat stated that "Khan Bank is a firm supporter of education sector's development and it is of great pleasure to see that in the year 2015-2016, out of 70 winners, 24 freshmen students of MUST won the tuition fee scholarship of the Khan Bank Foundation".

Moreover, Khan Bank representatives attended the opening of new academic year at the Mongolian University of Life Science and the Mongolian National University of Education, conveyed greetings to the professors and students and handed out scholarship certificates for selected outstanding students to the school management. Six students from MULS and 13 students from MNUE are selected for the student scholarship program.

A loyal contributor to the development of the education sector, Khan Bank invests in knowledge by granting scholarships to freshmen students who have outstanding academic performance and active involvement in social and community services in order to encourage their further studies.

Congratulations and best wishes to the student leaders who inspire and lead the way for thousands!

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Khan Bank Sponsors High School English Language Project

September 1 (Khan Bank) The opening ceremony of the High School English Language Project which aims to develop the English language proficiency of remote high school students of the capital city took place to coincide with the commencement of new academic year.

The High School English Language Project is an intensified training technology designed specifically for English language teachers and Mongolian children, and in the first stage, 400 8th grade students from school No. 71, 58 and 35 in Sukhbaatar District are involved, and the project will continue long-term.

The project was initiated by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture along with Talk Talk English Institute, as well as being sponsored by Khan Bank, a social responsibility implementer. Mr. D. Ariunbat, Director of the Retail Bank-Ulaanbaatar, Khan Bank, Mr. Trevor Syrad, Director of Talk Talk English Institute and teachers and students of school No. 58 were present in the opening ceremony of the project

Khan Bank has been implementing many volunteer projects dedicated to the development of the education sector, among which includes a student scholarship program, Banking Olympiad, research conference and presentation contests, as well as school classroom renovation.

The significance benefits of the High School English Language Project are improved skills of English teachers at schools, and the provision of scientific methodology for world-standard English teaching specifically for Mongolian children.

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Three Mongolian Judokas Rank Second in Latest IJF Ranking

Ulaanbaatar, September 4 (MONTSAME) The International Judo Federation (IJF) released the latest rankings of world judokas on September 1 after the 2015 World Judo Championships held in Kazakhstan.

According to the rankings, a State Honored Sportswoman and World champion M.Urantsetseg went down to second, following an Argentinean judoka Paula Pareto who grabbed a gold medal in the World Championships. Alongside M.Urantstetseg, other Mongolians D.Tomorkhuleg and D.Sumya were ranked second, in the men's below 66 kg and women's -57 kg categories, respectively.

A State Honored Sportsman and World champion G.Boldbaatar went down to fourth place with 1,810 points, whereas his countryman D.Amartuvshin was ranked at 8th place in the same division with 1,395 points.

Grabbing a bronze medal in the World Championships in Astana, an Olympic bronze medalist S.Nyam-Ochir lifted up to 11th place in the men's -73 kg category, while G.Odbayar--to 14th place.

A State Honored Sportswoman M.Bundmaa was on 15th place in the women's 52 kg, having 908 points; and Ts.Monkhzaya went up to 7th place in the women's -63 kg division thanks to winning a bronze medal in the World Championships.

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Usain Bolt accepts invitation to visit Mongolia

September 4 ( The 15th IAAF World Championship in Athletics, which took a place from 22nd-30th August in Beijing, has come to an end. During the championship, the 50th meeting of the IAAF was also held. Mongolian representatives, headed by Member of Parliament and former Foreign Minister, L.Bold, and the coaches participated in the 50th IAAF meeting. The representatives also met the new President of the IAAF, Lord Sebastian Coe, and Senior Vice-President Sergey Bubka. They discussed sport education and the development of athletics in Mongolia. Also, during the meeting, Mr. Bold invited the "Jamaican Legend", Usain Bolt, to visit Mongolia in order to support Athletic Development. Usain Bolt accepted the invitation.

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Special Olympics' Mary Gu speaks on how Mongolia can become a better for intellectually disabled

September 3 ( Special Olympics East Asia Regional Leadership Council Meeting is being in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, during September 1-3, 2015.

It all began in the 1950s and early 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated. She also saw that many children with intellectual disabilities didn't even have a place to play. She decided to take action.

The movement has expanded into every corner of the world and is giving hope and changing attitudes globally. Mongolia has become one of its youngest members in 2013 and in just two years of official operation has achieved astounding results by recruiting 1,400 athletes.

Team Mongolia has participated in the World Summer Special Olympics held in July 2015 in Los Angeles for the first time and showed an extraordinary results by winning 4 gold, 4 silver, 4 bronze medals and 3 special prizes.

Special Olympics Mongolia athlete Davaa Magvansuren served as torchbearer for the lighting of the Special Olympics World Games cauldron, making her way through touching and inspirational story and achievement in sports she gained through her hard work and dedication.

With all these achievements Mongolia has managed to gain in just two years led the Special Olympics East Asia Regional Leadership Council Meeting to be held in Mongolia. The meeting is being attended by the senior management team such as Janet Froetscher, Chief Executive Officer and Mary Gu, Regional President & Managing Director, East Asia.

GoGo News Agency has been honored with a privilege to interview Ms Mary Gu, a profound leader of East Asia Region of the Special Olympics. She has shared her aspirations and thoughts on how Mongolia can become a better place for those with Intellectual Disability and live fuller lives.

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A 4000-mile away trip: Airdrieonians fans will meet Deputy Prime Minister, play the national football champions and eat goat during Mongolian mission to build homes for the poor

SUPER Diamonds supporters will head out to the Asian country later this month and live alongside villagers after raising £7000.

September 4 (Scottish Daily Record) THEY are no stranger to an away day.

Stranraer, Dumfries, Elgin, Dingwall, Stirling – they have racked up the miles following their beloved Diamonds far and wide.

But not every away trip includes a diet of goat and vodka, a meeting with the deputy Prime Minister, an encounter with the best football team in the land and a trek through the desert.

A group of intrepid Airdrieonians fans are set to embark on the journey of a lifetime – to the other side of the planet where the weather is extreme, the people speak a different language and the way of life could not be much more different.

And no – it's not Peterhead.

Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, is the next stop for the football-mad bunch.

Eleven Diamond geezers, including Supporters' Trust chair Willie Marshall, are setting off on a 4000-mile trek to drop off medical supplies and build homes for those less fortunate in the Asian country.

The trip was organised on the back of last season's successful KitAid campaign after Mongolian side AK Bayangol beamed pictures of their players kitted out in full Airdrie strips back to Monklands.

Adventure Kicks – a football development and tourism company – contacted the group and set the wheels in motion.

A fundraising push followed with an impressive £7000 being pulled together – enough to build two homes, or 'gers' as they are known in Mongolia.

And after months of meticulous preparation, the group – whose ages range from mid-20s to late 50s – are raring to go.

The adventurers leave Monklands for Mongolia on September 17 and will spend 10 days living alongside villagers in the most densely-populated country on earth.

But within hours of landing, after two flights and two days of travelling, the devoted bunch will pull on their football boots and get stuck straight into the action.

Willie, 58, explained: "We play for Internazioswally FC, the supporters' team, and the day after we arrive we've got a match with Horomhon FC, the Mongolian champions, in the national stadium.

"We play games quite often but I don't know if I'd say we're match fit! It should be an amazing experience anyway.

"After that we head to the British Embassy for a reception where we will meet the deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia."

The fanatics then make their way south towards the majestic Gobi Desert – where they will complete a walk.

Willie continued: "We're pretty much going to be driving south and camping in tents from there on. In one of the towns, we will be stopping to hand over some vital medical equipment and in another we will gift the 'gers'.

"They are for the homeless people and we have been told that they are literally life-saving due to the extreme temperatures."

Willie went on to explain that the kind-spirited group are looking to make the most of their stay by sampling all Mongolia has to offer.

He said: "We've been told that if you like goat and vodka, you'll love Mongolia. Apparently goat is a staple food and they are very hospitable so you'll never be without a drink.

"None of us know any Mongolian but we've been told that many people speak English over there. If they understand 'pint of lager' I'm sure the guys will be happy.

"Football is a universal language though, so we'll manage.

"One of the guys – John Swan – hasn't even been abroad before so he's had to get a passport to come.

"Apparently he is 'bricking it' – those are his words by the way. It's some first trip away for him."

The Monklands to Mongolia XI are: Willie Marshall, Dougy Allsop, Ian Bear, John Swan, Alan Gibb, Kenny Boyle, Derek McMillan, Robert Strain, Hugh McManus, Jamie Anderson and Jamie Leishman.

And Willie commented: "On behalf of all the guys we would like to thank everyone who helped raise the funds required, including the stadium company who donated £1000 – the equivalent to one ger."

·         To contribute to the guys' fundraising total, visit

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Mongol Derby: A long and arduous trek

September 3 (Waikato Times) A broken toe, several damaged joints and 1000km later, Cambridge vet Patrick Sells is back after completing the toughest horse race in the world.

Sells was one of four New Zealanders to finish in the top seven and he made a record on the way - completing a 34km leg of the race, over two mountains, in just 78 minutes.

The race saw more than 30 competitors race across the Mongolian desert on the backs of half-wild steppe ponies.

"The risk of death was very real. I'm really surprised no one has died in the derby yet. It lived up to its billing as one of the world's hardest endurance races ... it was extremely tough, physically and mentally," he said.

Sells has been home for about 10 days, but he still can't feel his feet.

"I always asked for a fast horse because my legs were so sore. I was in agony, so trotting wasn't an option, so I wanted one that would canter because it's more comfortable," he said.

Another thing he hadn't expected was such harsh exposure to the elements, something he described as "absolutely overwhelming."

Temperatures soared to upwards of 39 degrees celsius, and dropped to below minus 10.

By day three, half a dozen riders had intravenous drips attached to them, and by day six most of them had hypothermia.

Throughout the journey, Sells rode 28 different ponies. He said he had a few plodders, but also a crazy galloper which was almost uncontrollable.

"It was probably good that the horse went lame because I thought I was going to die ... it was terrifying."

But equal to the struggles were highlights for Sells. He came face to face with a Tibetan wolf, which are generally elusive and rarely seen during the day.

He said the Mongolian people were superstitious and believed that only those equal to the wolf were able to see them in daylight.

Throughout the race, riders had to stop their horses at 40km checkpoints where they had to pass a vet check.

Sells said the Mongolian people had had immense pride in their horses and looked after them well.

"It's great for Mongolia. This race is a huge source of income for them. They get a year's worth of wages for supplying a horse, a bonus if the horse is good, and if the horse goes lame they get compensation."

He said learning about their culture had been a special experience. Some of the more competitive riders didn't make time to get to know the families, but Sells did.

When he stopped for the night, he would bring out packs of balloons for the children who were overjoyed at the smallest of gifts.

"Despite all the struggles it was an extraordinary experience seeing that beautiful scenery with those incredible people. They live simple but happy lives, they're not rich but they have everything they need ... they live off the land," he said.

Riders were only allowed to carry 5kg worth of gear on the horses, including food and overnight gear. 

A lot of the competitors became sick or had diarrhoea because they weren't used to the diet, which consisted of a lot of dairy products.

Sells was not the only New Zealand man to finish the race in the top 10.

Maxim van Lierde and Ben Wilks crossed the line together with American rider Michele Tanaka coming in second, and Braden Cameron from Wellington coming in not long afterwards.

"They were polite, they were great horsemen and they had great team work, they were always smiling and I really think they did New Zealand proud," he said.

"I didn't go to win it, I went for the journey and it was an extraordinary journey. I'm more competitive within myself than with other people."

The race doubles as a fundraiser for Cool Earth, a charity that works with villages to stop rainforest destruction.

To be eligible for the race, competitors had to raise $1000 for Cool Earth and $1000 for another charity of their choice.

Sells managed to raise about $11,500 for the Kiwi Care Team, an organisation to which he belongs and that dedicates time and money to helping working animals overseas.

Before heading over for the Mongol Derby he had just returned from Fiji, where he worked with volunteer equine dentists and farriers to educate the locals on how to better care for their horses.

Although he was back in the country and still exhausted, Sells isn't about to put his feet up.

It's the beginning of foaling season and as the vet for Windsor Park Stud he has hit the ground running, but is pleased to be back into his usual routine.

"I need a busy job. We just got a new stallion from England called Charm Spirit and it's a privilege to come back and work with exciting horses like him," he said.

He is sure he will have permanent joint problems after doing the Mongol Derby, but is already thinking about doing it again - or at least returning as a volunteer vet.

"Previous riders have complained of ruined knees and ankles that haven't been right since, and I suspect that's the same for me," he laughed. 

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Friends complete 9,200-mile Mongol Rally in £400 Nissan Micra

September 6 (Henley Standard) TWO men have completed the Mongol Rally, raising £1,200 for charity.

Alex Green, from Fingest, and Guy Hart, from Binfield Heath, both 20, travelled 9,200 miles across 20 countries mint-green Nissan Micra that cost £400.

They were one of 200 teams that started at Goodwood motor circuit in West Sussex with the aim of reaching the Russian town of Ulan Ude. Less than half the teams made it.

Mr Green and Mr Hart, former pupils of Gillotts School in Henley, chose their car because the official rally rules state all vehicles must be "farcically small" and it provided their team name, "Micra-waves".

The pair worked hard on modifying the car, fixing a sump guard and decorating it with stickers.

Their journey took them through Europe, Turkey, across the Caspian Sea and north east through central Asia to get to Mongolia. The final leg was across Mongolia to the finish line, just over the border in Russia.

Guy said: "The trip took us 32 days, finishing next to Lenin's head in Ulan Ude. We spent the majority of the trip wild camping, although we had to stay in a hotel for seven nights when we were in cities.

"Our route took us along some very interesting terrain - there was a lack of proper roads after Azerbaijan. By the time we hit Mongolia, there was no Tarmac in sight. The car took a beating throughout the rally and engine warning lights came on in week three. By the end, our suspension had started to fail and the engine block had dismounted. The car was finally scrapped into Ulan Ude. We flew back to the UK."

Guy said: "We had a few problems along the way, although surprisingly only three broken wheels. 

"We got stuck in Baku for six days, waiting for a ferry over the Caspian Sea. However, the fresh beluga caviar on the ferry made up for this!

"Some of the highlights of the trip included some of the extremely welcoming people of Uzbekistan and the scenery of Kyrgyzstan. But, of course, the main highlight was always going to be Mongolia, given its remoteness and the people's traditional lifestyles. We experienced huge temperature swing from 50C in Turkmenistan, where we were drinking 10 litres plus of water a day, to minus five degrees in Mongolia."

The money the men raised will go to Cool Earth, a charity which works with indigenous villages to preserve the world's rainforests.

The men were supported by a number of businesses including Central Home in Reading Road, Henley, Wacky Wheelers in Sonning Common, Savile Row Travel in Market Place, Henley, and Sno & Sun Gear, also in Market Place.

To make a donation, visit

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Mongolian Altai Eagle Festival, Sagsai soum, Bayan-Ulgii, 19-20 September

September 4 ( Mongolia is home to a 2000 years old tradition of hunting with trained Golden Eagles. This tradition has been passed from generation to generation among the Kazakh nomads, and even survived the harsh regime when national identities such as religions and traditions were oppressed - thanks to the Mongolian government for consenting ethnic minorities to keep their traditions and languages.

The Kazakh are an ethnic group mostly inhabit in the Altai Mountains in Western Mongolia. Each year, the Kazakhs hold 2 festivals for their renowned Eagle Hunters, and one of them is the Altai Eagle Festival taking place in late September in Sagsai soum of Bayan-Ulgii province. This small eagle festival features about 40 eagle hunters and their eagles that show off their skills in several events starting with chasing a fox skin and calling their eagle from a distance. The final event is the eagle catching a fox fur being pulled behind a horse.

The festival also features a camel race of 6 km and several Kazakh games including archery, Tiyn Teru (a race to pick a coin off the ground from horseback), Kyz Kuar ("woman chase," a man and woman racing with the woman whipping the man), and the highlight, Kokpar (tug-of –war while on horseback). Winners are selected in each event. The Altai Eagle Festival provides a great opportunity for visitors to get up close to the eagles and their trainers.

Moreover, visitors can also ride a camel or horse or hold an eagle for photos during the event. The festival was initiated in 2003 with sponsorship from local tour operator Blue Wolf. Food and traditional Kazakh crafts are sold at the venue by locals. Gers and tents are available for rent at the festival site or in Sagsai as well as transfers. Some local tour operators provide package tours as well. AeroMongolia is having 5 flights to Ulgii weekly.

Festival dates for 2015: 19-20 September.

Venue: Sagsai soum, Bayan-Ulgii province (1hr drive from Ulgii town).

For more info about the Altai Eagle Festival just contact the organisers at the following numbers & emails: or +976-99110303, 95382772 and 94382772.

Photos are provided by the Organisers.

Prepared by Zola, General Manager of Mongolian Tourism Association for GoGo Travel. © All rights reserved 2015.

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Photo Journal Of Our Gobi Desert Tour

August 23 (Nomadasaurus) Stretching across borders and altering preconceptions, the Gobi Desert is as diverse in its offerings as it is large in size. Over 1.3 million square kilometres of intense beauty and barren landscapes occupy the southern region of Mongolia, and a substantial part of Central China. The image of iconic two-humped camels wandering at the foot of enormous sand dunes is synonymous with Mongolia. Travelling through the country without visiting the area would be a crying shame. Naturally, we were aching to take part in a Gobi Desert tour to see the place for ourselves.

While we usually prefer doing things independently, the Gobi Desert is a region that is best explored as part of a tour. There are countless tour operators in Mongolia than can run trips to the Gobi Desert, but we decided to team up with the sustainable tour company Selena Travel for your journey. We have a strict personal rule of only using companies that practice responsible tourism, and after a bunch of research it became obvious that Selena Travel was really trying to be the leader in their field. Locally-owned and run, and contributing to environment conservation, they are setting the standard for sustainability in Mongolia. Not only that but they provide a high quality of service and strive to meet all customer's needs and wants throughout the trip. A wonderful experience that was hard to fault.

The Gobi Desert is a place of superlatives, and as with most places in Mongolia the photos do not do the place justice. Still we shall try, and here is our photo journal from our Gobi Desert Tour.

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I Want to Go to Mongolia

September 4 (cin cin & cin cin) Years ago, when I was in a transition period looking for a job that I really wanted to do (i.e. unemployed) after having 4 jobs in 5 years, well actually my friends had complimented me for this that I could always find amazing (-sounding) jobs despite the fact that I kept changing them, I had this plan to go to Mongolia for a month.

Reasons were various: I love nature, I love raw beauty, I love wilderness, I love simple life, I love traditions, I love ethnicity, and I like (love would be a little exaggerating) , also the Mongolian men.

So my plans included these

BUY A HORSE I read on a book that it costed US$100 to buy a horse in Mongolia (and I still believed so until not long while ago when I found that the sources were from 10 years ago and now it costs 10 times more…), and I had right away the plan of horse trekking in the country, especially around the Lake Khövsgöl.

Me and my horse walking by the lake, "hand-in-hand", "it would be beautiful" that's what I thought and still think so.

LIVE IN A GER I went camping a lot with my family when I was little, my parents love nature and outdoor activities and when you are a kid, you just follow whatever your parents do and go wherever they take you to, and I enjoyed it a lot.

So staying in a ger is something I must do and experience in Mongolia, I told myself. I love this brilliant idea to have a "portable" and "mobile" house. You have all your belongings and carry them with you, you go where you want to and you can feel always home as the fact is that your home is with you.

I want to smell the fragrance of fresh grass when I sleep, I want to be surrounded by cows, sheep, goats and horses, I want them to be part of my life, myself to be part of theirs. And mostly I want to experience the usual, ordinary daily life of the Mongolians. Could be also the one that I have always been looking for, living with my hands.

VISIT THE TSAATAN TRIBE  in northern Mongolia which means the "reindeer people" in Mongolian. The dear reindeer not only provide the tribe with milk, cheese, fur but also as a transportation method, and for 3000 years. There are only hundreds of Tsaatan people today and the number of dear reindeer is also reducing in recent years…I hope I can be there to seize the moments and to see the lives there guided with dreams and tradition.

More about the Tsaatan.

After having this idea to go to Mongolia, I started to do some preparation work, though not much as soon then I found a job (and yeah I changed again the job later on).

Besides searching on the internet, borrowing books in the library, I also went to the Mongolian Office in my city in order to have some further information, as it is not one of the top destinations here and little related info, too. The lady in the Mongolian Office was really nice to keep making paper copies to me as they only had one book and no brochures…and had also spent 1 hour explaining to me what to see, where to go in Mongolia, really nice…

I bought a Lonely Planet Mongolian phrase book and found an YouTube channel with a very kind native Mongolian teaching you how to pronounce all these phrases in the book. I am a fan of learning new languages, I still remember that I started to learn Croatian because I was crazy for this Croatian tennis player.

I also tried to eat more lamb, as I wasn't really a lamb person.

Time has passed by, it has been years since I had this dream to go to Mongolia and I still haven't. Now I have a job that I have enjoyed so far and that I hope to stay with for at least 1 year (2 more months go to, yeah!).

I still want to go to Mongolia one day and I am still trying to keep collecting information once in a while, especially updating the costs to buy a horse there and trying to figure a solution what I should do with my pony when I have to leave, I won't want to sell him, can't take him with me home, either…

I still have this dream to ride (walk mostly I guess) my horse, and enjoy the feeling of  being little,  anonymous in the raw beauty under the clear sky of this place that I have never seen and never been but I know it is going to be astonishing.

The photographer and scholar Hamid Sardar-afkhami said, "Mongolia isn't some fantasy; it's about the art of living that we've forgotten." and I am looking forward to finding my simplicity and freedom there.

Two photographers whose pictures of Mongolia I like a lot are Jimmy Nelson as you can see most of the pictures in this post are his works, while the other is Hamid Sardar-afkhami, as mentioned above, he is also a scholar.

When you see my next post on Mongolia with my own photos, it means I have been in Mongolia already :)

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6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
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