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Friday, October 24, 2014

[BREAKING: Mongolia parliament approves TT-China railway to be standard gauge]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Friday, October 24, 2014

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Mogi: parliament by way of votes removed mention of Nariin Sukhait (MAK, SouthGobi, Terra Energy, …) – China and Sainshand – Zamyn-Uud narrow gauge railways from the bill, leaving just two. This is also a step forward for Aspire’s Ovoot as Erdenet – Arts Suuri border port will pass thru Ovoot.

Mongolia Embraces Standard Gauge Railway to Lower Transport Costs

By Michael Kohn

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia’s parliament adopted for the first time a rail gauge compatible with China, to ease transport of its second-biggest export, coal, to its largest customer.

The landlocked nation’s 1900-kilometer (1,200 mile) rail network was built with help from the Soviet Union in the last century, as Mongolia looked westward for markets and political support. Constructing the 240-kilometer railway from the Tavan Tolgoi coal basin using China’s standard gauge will save on transportation costs, and helps draw a line under Mongolia’s historical mistrust of its southern neighbor, now the world’s largest energy consumer.

The Chinese gauge was adopted for two routes to the border with 84 percent of votes in favor, according to the parliament’s website. The passage follows years of discussion.

With this debate now put to rest, investors are likely feeling a sense of relief,” Chris MacDougall, managing director of Ulaanbaatar-based Mongolia Investment Business Group, said in an e-mail.

Winners from the change will include the operator of projects at Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia’s largest coal deposit with 6.4 billion metric tons of reserves, including Hong Kong-listed Mongolian Mining Corp. and state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC.

Track Contract

South Korea’s Samsung C&T Corp. was awarded a $483 million contract in May 2013 to build the tracks. Securing power and building signaling and maintenance depots will increase the costs of the project to $820 million.

In May, Mongolia Railway, the state-owned company overseeing the line, said construction was slated for completion in late 2016, according to Zorig Alimaa, the head of the project department at the time.

Using standard gauge rail instead of the broad gauge used elsewhere in the country will reduce the cost of transporting coal to China by $2 a ton to $4 a ton, Zorig said. Broad gauge adds costs because of the need to unload and reload coal before it reaches China, he said.

Imperial Russia adopted a gauge of 1,524 millimeters in 1842 for military purposes, as a way to slow down an invasion by rail. The gauge was built across the Soviet Union and many of its allies, including Mongolia. Standard gauge, used in China, is 85 millimeters narrower.

In April, a consortium of four companies established the Gashuunsuukhait Railway joint venture, which is planning to build and operate an 18-kilometer standard gauge railway to straddle the Chinese-Mongolian frontier. The 240-kilometer railway from Tavan Tolgoi will connect with this trans-border line. The shorter line didn’t require parliamentary approval.

Link to article

 

MIBG: RAILWAY GAUGE POLICY FINALIZED

October 24 (MIBG) The Mongolian Parliament has approved a decree titled "Measures to Implement Government Policy on Railway Development in Mongolia." The decree was passed with 84% of Members voting in favor. The main take away from this decree is that two railway lines reaching to Mongolia's southern border will employ the Chinese standard gauge. The railway lines that are affected by this decree include the one connecting Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi and Gashuunsukhait, and the one connecting Khuut and Bichigt.

However, the "horizontal railway line" that connects Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi and Sainshand and extends further to Numrug will be built in accordance with the Russian standard (broad) rail gauge.

This result is not overly surprising, President Elbedorj has made his interest in using both gauges known for some time. However, the decision by Government to move forward with specific gauge on these railways is important as it represents the conclusion to an ongoing debate. With the decision on gauge now finalized producers and investors alike can better understand the outlook for the transportation and export of Mongolia's vast mineral resources.

Link to note

 

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

[BREAKING: SGK approves government restructuring bill, slimming cabinet to 13 ministries]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

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Mogi: a few changes to names and duties of the merged ministries during parliament debate, which went on into the night yesterday. Ministry of Infrastructure Development (merged from Ministry of Roads & Transportation and Ministry of Construction & Urban Development) changed to Ministry of Roads, Transportation, Construction & Urban Development. Duties of Heavy Industry will transferred from Ministry of Industry & Agriculture to the newly merged Ministry of Geology, Mining & Energy. Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be renamed Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Economic Cooperation, reflecting the expanded role of the ministry and its minister’s title will become Deputy PM and Foreign Affairs Minister.

Now to see what kind of changes to ministers the PM will submit.

Mongolia's parliament endorses gov't restructuring bill

ULAN BATOR, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia's lawmakers on Tuesday approved changes in government structure in a bid to clear up overlapping functions and cut off excess staff.

The parliament passed by 73.9 percent of votes a bill diminishing government ministries from the current 16 to 13, with 11 regulatory agencies and 19 implementing agencies.

According to the bill submitted by Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag, Ministries of Finance and Economic Development will be merged into the Finance Ministry; Ministries of Mining and Energy into the Geology, Mining and Energy Ministry; Ministries of Construction and Urban Development and Road and Transport into the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.

Furthermore, the government will appoint a first deputy prime minister and deputy prime minister.

The bill suggests that the foreign minister be a deputy prime minister and that the foreign minister widen foreign cooperation, strengthen economic relations with its neighbors and other foreign countries, and regulate and coordinate foreign relations and collaboration of all ministries.

In connection with it, the first deputy prime minister will be in charge of current deputy prime minister's duties and responsibilities, according to the bill.

Link to article

 

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

[World Bank lowers GDP forecast, Erdene raising Altan Nar funds, Kincora negotiating threshold, and Newcom wins 2nd wind farm]

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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Jump to: Overseas Market - Local MarketEconomyPoliticsBusinessUlaanbaatarDiplomacy - Social, Environmental and Other

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

KCC last traded C$0.04 Friday. TRQ closed +0.54% to US$3.72 Monday

Kincora Exploration and 106-License Update

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 6, 2014) - Kincora Copper Limited (the "Company", "Kincora") (TSX VENTURE:KCC) has concluded drilling and other key field season activities at various copper porphyry and gold targets at its wholly owned Bronze Fox project. The Company is currently waiting assay results, integrating results and analysis from previous geological and geophysical programs.

During the 2014 field season, thirteen holes were completed for a total of 10087 meters, including 3027 meters of RC drilling. Various mapping, surface sampling and trenching activities took place, particularly at the Sophie North and Happy Geo prospects. Drilling activities were focused on Sophie North, Leca Pass and the south-eastern section of the previously known West Kasulu prospect, recently named Shargal Tolgoi("Yellowish Hill") and areas of known mineralization that remained largely untested with favourable Induced Polarization ("IP") and magnetics. Refer to Exhibit 1 for a high level summary, noting various prospects and targets remain open.

The Company will continue to inform the market of its exploration progress.

106-license update

Kincora, and the association of active former license holders, continue to have active discussions with Government officials from the Ministry of Mining, Ministry of Finance and MRAM relating to the 106-license dispute. The Government has announced that former license holders must corroborate the expenses incurred for the said area and that verified expenses will form a "threshold price" that will form the starting point for a competitive tender process to reissue the licenses. It is specified in the competitive selection that if such a former license holder participates in the tender process but does not win, its expenses incurred (agreed "threshold price") will be paid, or reimbursed as compensation by the successful bidder, with the license being granted with a full term of tenure (ie up to 12 years) either to the former license holder or successful third party bidder.

The first 14-licenses with agreed threshold prices impacted by the 106-license dispute were retendered on September 22nd with ten of these to have a second retender on October 22nd.

Kincora is yet to have its "threshold price" confirmed, continues to advocate for the costs previously written down directly relating to our two former licenses as per our audited 2013 Financial Statements ($6,952,000), and is yet to be provided with an indicative timeline for when our impacted Golden Grouse licenses might be retendered.

As at the end of June, Kincora's cash and cash equivalents was $4,466,000.

To view Exhibits 1 and 2 please click on the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/EXHIBIT_1-2.pdf

Link to release

 

ERD last traded C$0.145 Friday

Erdene Resource selling shares to move Altan Nar project to resource drilling

October 6 (The Chronicle Herald) Erdene Resource Development Corp. of Halifax plans to issue a non-brokered private placement of up to 11.5 million company units at a price of 14 cents a unit for gross proceeds of up to $1,610,000.

Each unit will consist of one common company share and half of one common share purchase warrant. Each whole common share purchase warrant will entitle the holder to purchase one common company share at a price of 21 cents for a 24-month period from the anticipated Oct. 31 closing date.

Net proceeds will be used for exploration, including a resource drilling program on the company's Altan Nar gold-polymetallic project in Mongolia, according to a news release.

Link to article

Link to ERD release

 

Aspire Mining Annual Report 2014

October 6, Aspire Mining Ltd. (ASX:AKM) --

Link to report

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Local Market

MSE News for October 6: Top 20 +0.8% to 15,662.23, Turnover 10.1 Million

Ulaanbaatar, October 6 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades on Monday, a total of 2,983 shares of 17 JSCs were traded costing MNT 10 million 121 thousand and 178.00.

"APU" /1,600 units/, "Tavantolgoi" /435 units/, "Hermes center" /400 units/, "Baganuur" /200 units/ and "Merex" /100 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "APU" (MNT five million and 920 thousand), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT two million 178 thousand and 950), "Baganuur" (MNT 700 thousand), "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT 647 thousand and 500) and "Sharyn gol" (MNT 408 thousand).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 575 billion 455 million 792 thousand and 337. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,662.23, increasing 124.40 units or 0.80% against the previous day.

Link to release

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Economy

Early morning USD rates: Khan (Non-Cash Buy 1,835 Sell 1,845), TDB (Non-Cash Buy 1,834 Sell 1,845), Golomt (Non-Cash Buy 1,837 Sell 1,844), XacBank (Non-Cash Buy 1,834 Sell 1,846), State Bank (Non-Cash Buy 1,836 Sell 1,846)

BoM MNT Rates: Monday, October 6 Close

 

10/6

10/3

10/2

10/1

9/30

9/29

9/26

USD

1,842.95

1,842.21

1,841.54

1,841.35

1,840.91

1,840.54

1,839.34

EUR

2,310.51

2,329.20

2,325.13

2,319.27

2,335.19

2,333.07

2,344.70

CNY

300.20

300.08

300.00

299.97

299.70

299.58

300.22

GBP

2,942.55

2,966.23

2,983.11

2,983.08

2,994.42

2,988.30

2,998.77

RUB

46.11

46.35

46.52

46.39

46.75

46.52

47.35

October MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:

 

Link to rates

 

BoM issues 89.1 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -33.5% to 266 billion

October 6 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 89.1 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

World Bank Economic Update: Mongolia 2014 GDP Forecast Lowered to 6.3% from 9.5%

October 6 (World Bank) --

Summary

The Mongolian economy has slowed in 2014 despite continuous expansionary economic policies. The current economic slowdown reflects an adjustment of the economy in response to high inflation and strong balance-of-payments pressure. The current account deficit has narrowed significantly in 2014, but a large drop in FDI keeps the balance-of-payments deficit large, putting heavy pressure on international reserves and currency value. Continued currency depreciation and expansionary economic policies pushed inflation into double-digit territory.

These economic imbalances have been fed by a dampening global minerals market and aggressive expansionary economic policies that kept economic growth at double-digit levels over the last three years. The primary objective of economic policies needs to be restoring internal and external economic stability and avoiding a more vulnerable situation.

Monetary and fiscal policy needs to be tightened in order to tackle the immediate economic challenges and preserve financial and fiscal soundness. Parallel efforts are needed to promote foreign and domestic investment.

Recent Economic Developments

Mongolia's economic growth slowed to 5.3 percent in H1 2014, from 14.4 percent in H2 2013.

While mineral GDP growth remained robust at 16.1 percent in H1, nonmineral GDP growth dropped to 2.8 percent during the same period. Domestic demand has been under growing pressure from high inflation and continued currency depreciation.

Manufacturing output expanded 0.3 percent and the production of the wholesale and retail sector contracted 12.3 percent during the period, reflecting waning domestic demand. On the expenditure side of economic growth, a drop in investment by 32.4 percent has been a main factor behind slowing economic activities amidst a continued decline in foreign direct investment and uncertainty over the investment environment.

National headline inflation has been on an accelerating path, reaching 14.9 percent (yoy) in July 2014. The price level has been under mounting pressure from the currency depreciation and expansionary economic policies through aggressive monetary easing, and off-budget spending through the Development Bank of Mongolia. Core inflation—which largely reflects demand-side pressure—picked up to 17.9 percent (yoy) in July 2014 from 12.1 percent (yoy) at end-2013.

The current account deficit narrowed significantly in H1 2014, largely due to a narrowing trade deficit.

The current account balance recorded a deficit of US$603 million in the first six months of the year, a significant drop from US$1,607 million during the same period last year. The trade account recorded a slight surplus of US$35 million (Free On Board) between January and June, a turnaround from a deficit of US$756 million during the same period a year ago. In the first seven months of 2014, total exports increased by 24.9 percent largely thanks to strong copper export growth over 150 percent from the new Oyu Tolgoi mine. Total imports dropped by 14.6 percent during the same period, driven by a 41.7 percent drop in machinery and equipment imports, reflecting weakening investment activities.

Despite the narrowing current deficit, balance-of-payments pressure still remains high due to declining foreign capital inflow. The capital and financial account registered a surplus of US$29.8 million in H1 2014, a sharp drop from a surplus of US$914 million during the same period in 2013. Net FDI inflow fell to US$370 million over H1, down 70 percent from a year ago. As a result of a smaller capital and financial account surplus, the overall external financing gap remained high despite the narrowing current account deficit. The overall external financing gap during H1 2014 eased only slightly to US$915 million—equivalent to 7 to 8 percent of annual GDP—from US$983 million a year ago.

The large financing gap in the balance of payments has led to a continuous decline in the international reserve level and a sliding currency value throughout the year. The gross international reserve of the central bank fell to US$1.2 billion in July 2014, down 58 percent from US$3.1 billion a year ago and 70 percent from its peak of US$4.1 billion in December 2012. The local currency value depreciated 24.8 percent over the last 12 months through July and 13 percent for the first seven months of the year, amidst the persistent balance-of-payments pressure and the effect of loose monetary policy.

Outlook and Emerging Challenges

The long-term prospects of the Mongolian economy are still promising, given its vast natural resources, but the economy is facing significant challenges in the near term that should be urgently addressed.

In 2014, the Mongolia economy will likely remain under growing pressure from the large economic imbalances that have been accumulated over the last three years. Annual economic growth is expected to soften to 6.3 percent in 2014, reflecting weak non-mineral sector growth. Inflation will likely remain in double digits in the coming months.

The current account deficit is projected to narrow to around 14 percent of GDP in 2014, down from 25 percent in 2013 due to robust copper exports and weaker import demand. However, the balance-of-payments pressure will likely remain high, putting heavy pressure on the international reserves.

Expansion of the bilateral currency swap agreement with the People's Bank of China to Y 15 billion will likely provide a significant buffer to the declining international reserves in the near term. However, the current economic situation calls for structural changes in the focus of economic policies away from growth stimulus to economic stability in order to avoid a more vulnerable situation.

The primary objective of economic policies should be restoring internal and external economic stability.

Monetary and fiscal policy needs to be tightened in order to tackle the immediate economic challenges and preserve financial and fiscal soundness. Parallel efforts are needed to promote foreign and domestic investment. Restoration of FDI, particularly, would help restore investment and create jobs without jeopardizing economic stability. Economic policies recently show some signs of tightening, but further efforts are needed in light of the high inflation and substantial balance-of-payment pressure. The Bank of Mongolia announced that it would raise its policy rate by 150 basis points in July and strengthen some bank prudential regulations. However, the low-rate mortgage financing program relying on liquidity injection of the central bank will likely continue, which will limit the effect of the gradual unwinding of monetary easing programs. Also, prudential regulation and supervision on the banking sector needs to be further strengthened, including eliminating prudential regulatory forbearance that was allowed to policy loans issued by the monetary authorities under the Price Stabilization Program, in the wake of high loan-to-deposit ratios, concentration of loans, rising NPLs, and likely inadequate provisioning. Fiscal policy still remains expansionary despite the expected tightening of the official budget and the smaller off-budget spending compared with last year. A large amount of capital spending channeled through the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) still remains outside the official budget, which will push the fiscal deficit, including DBM spending, to over 7 percent of GDP in 2014.

All fiscal spending, including DBM spending, needs to be consolidated into the budget, and a proper medium-term fiscal consolidation plan needs to be established to reduce the consolidated structural fiscal deficit down to the 2 percent limit of the Financial Stability Law in the coming years.

Link to full report (Mongolia from page 129)

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Politics

PM reports on results of 100-Day Economic Action Plan to parliament

By Ch. Khaliun

October 5 (UB Post) Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag has introduced results from the economic intensifying program EZEN-100 at the Parliamentary plenary session.

Within the guidelines of the intensification program, government has submitted 28 bills and drafts. Of which 12 were approved and 14 drafts are still under discussion. Considering the advice and suggestions from the Economic Council, N.Altankhuyag introduced certain documents to help solve difficulties facing entrepreneurs.

Compared to the previous year, the amount of exported copper concentrate has doubled, oil has increased by 35 percent and coal by 2.6 million ton but in contrast to the world market prices the revenue has decreased causing problems to the economy.

Small to medium sized business entrepreneurs who want to renew their equipment are exempt from the value-added tax. Major national factories that contribute to building infrastructure are able to partly pay the equipment tax within two years.

Customs inspections were decreased by eight times, duration of custom clearance decreased by three times and the number of directors has been reduced to 106. Freight drivers are allowed to enter the border by scanning their fingerprint and ports are running 24 hours a day. This will triple the output capacities of Gashuun sukhait.

Mongolia will then have eight ports open toward the sea. By freely using ships from all countries, international businesses will be able to cheaply enter several outputs of many countries. Altanbulag's free zones will open its doors and Mongolian Russian entrepreneurs will have more opportunities, says Prime Minister. As a result of those regulations, export tends to increase.

In 12 years, Mongolia has built 2,300 km of paved roads but the "New Government for Changes" campaign has launched 2,500 km of road within two years. III, IV Thermal Stations are expanded and the Amgalan Thermal Station was built. These are erected buildings not made in 25 years in the energy sector.

Mongolia has re-negotiated agreements on Mongolian-Chinese railway not renewed since 1955.

By renewing air navigation facilities the number of aircrafts flying through Mongolia has reached 90,000. We are fixing road and streets in the capital city as well as in the rural areas, building thermal stations and upgrading centers of soums. We have expanded apartment programs and started issuing loans with seven percent interest in the rural areas.

Two heads of neighboring countries have paid an official visit to Mongolia and we had reached many strategic agreements. Moreover, we have reached a long-term agreement on distributing our products without limits and tariffs to the Japanese market.

Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag concluded that the aim of EZEN-100 wasn't to solve all problems facing the country's economy and the "New Government for Changes" campaign has fulfilled the purpose to end the barriers and setbacks to entrepreneurship. In addition, N.Altankhuyag gave detailed answers to the questions of the members of parliament.

Link to article

 

Korea denies report ex-Mongolian President seeking asylum

By Yi Whan-woo

October 6 (The Korea Times) The government denied a news report, Monday, about a former Mongolian President seeking political refugee status in Korea.

"We have not received any requests from Nambaryn Enkhbayar seeking asylum here," a Korea Immigration Service (KIS) official said on condition of anonymity. Enkhbayar, 56, was convicted of corruption by Ulaanbaatar's highest court in 2012 after serving his four-year presidential term from June 2005 to June 2009.

Seoul's immigration office added that Enkhbayar has been living in Korea since August of last year after the Mongolian government granted him a pardon, citing his "health."

"Our records show he arrived in Korea at that time and has also traveled abroad back and forth since then," an official at the refugee section of the KIS said.

"We can't confirm whether he has visited Mongolia or not after staying here. We also can't reveal whether his family is with him in Korea," he added.

According to the JoongAng Ilbo, the former Mongolian President was sentenced to two-and-half years in jail in 2012 for illegally acquiring government-owned properties, including plants and hotels. The newspaper said Enkhbayar and his family members owned these properties under their own names. It added that he and his family sought political asylum in Korea after the Mongolian government granted him a pardon.

Citing Ulaanbaatar media reports in September, JoongAng Ilbo reported that Enkhbayar's move is seen as a bid to dodge possible re-investigation over past corruption charges.

In 2005, Enkhbayar was elected as the third President of the former communist country. He ran for his second presidency in 2009 but failed in his attempt.

The Independent Authority against Corruption under the Ulaanbaatar government arrested him in 2012 for corruption allegations involving government-owned real estate. He reportedly claimed such corruption was practiced as a "custom" among government officials.

He had close ties with former Korean Presidents ― the late Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak ― during his presidential years.

As a Buddhist, Enkhbayar also won prizes awarded by Korean Buddhist organizations in both 2006 and 2007 for his piety.

Link to article

Related:

Official says former Mongolian president seeking asylum here – Korea JoongAng Daily, October 7

 

Elbegdorj: Politics is wrecking the economy and the nation

October 5 (UB Post) The following is an interview with President Ts.ELbegdorj about timely issues on Mongolia's economy, legislations, and government related issues.

You declared that the UN should be reformed at the General Assembly of the UN. Can you comment on this?

Well, the UN reform has been discussed for many years. Mongolia didn't initiate this topic but have only agreed with and joined this position.

Some experts predict your next move to be towards the UN. As a politician, do you have policies towards the UN? Do you have any personal interests?

Every international organization, including the UN, has its own internal regulation. It's almost impossible for people aspiring to join international organizations to be able to work for them. There are plenty of people hoping to work for them and do something they can do internationally. For me, daydreaming about these things is a waste of time.

As a president, you've accomplished many things and contributed greatly in promoting Mongolia internationally.

I'm just a man doing his job. The people entrusted me to complete works for the nation and I'm carrying them out. If everyone does their work, Mongolia will develop. My main foreign policy is to increase the weight of Mongolia whether it's internationally, regionally, or at the level of discussing with our neighbors. I only hope for Mongolia's weight and value to increase. I sincerely hope to do this.

Mongolia is working exceptionally on foreign policy. The main issue lies in domestic policy. Foreigners view that Mongolia's main problems are internal. How will domestic issues be resolved? What will happen to Mongolia's economy?

We need to be more optimistic. This economic difficulty isn't a decline. There will be a turnover. Politics is sabotaging the economy and the nation. We're wrecking the nation by turning endevours to flourish the country into politics. I always say that the force to restrict rather than to liberate and the force to halt development rather than to develop is higher in Mongolia. I assess the approach to criticize and disapprove this sort of adversity as a good thing since we're an open society.

The few businessmen producing goods in Mongolia are pressured by taxes and are regionally restricted. Many of them are put to detention facilities. Shouldn't Mongolia enforce economic amnesty? You made a huge advancement by abolishing the death penalty. Where will you head next with this issue?

This question consists of so many things within itself. The government initiated and submitted the law of economic amnesty. This draft will probably consist of things that are possible and impossible to do. I think we should see what happens after it's legally and publicly discussed. The government should bravely grasp the most urgent and fundamental economic issues and determine it.

For example, what sort of urgent issues?

For example, there's a huge social sector including the education, health and culture. Not a single renovation or personal initiation has been put forward into this field. If it is put forward, the Mongolian economy can stimulate and flourish to the same level as when apartments were privatized and livestock were distributed to herders. Additionally, financial operations are executed through banks. This is how assets are being built. There is a secondary market, which builds funds. This operation must be intensified quickly and adjusted to international standards. At the moment, it's at halt.

Mongolia has a total debt of some trillion MNT. Mongolia has resources to transform it into an opportunity and profit. We have to grab that opportunity.

There are significant infrastructure issues. When we were negotiating with our two neighbors about transit railways, the government settled the issue immediately. Property related issues should be resolved. National entities should be supported effectively and efficiently.

The economy isn't the only domestic distress. What will happen to legislations?

Reform for legal bodies will continue. I'm thinking of working steadily on this. Legal reform is only starting. Laws on regulations and enforcement of lawyers and judges haven't been established. As long as these issues haven't been covered, legal reform isn't completed. I view that legal bodies are most supportive on this issue internally; especially judges are very active.

The court is getting criticized for not settling cases and prolonging them. Will the legal reform be readjusted?

Adjustments will definitely be made. We have to fix everything that's obstructing the reform. Works that are complementary to the reform needs to be executed, or the process will slow down. Due to these reasons, reforms are in danger of becoming defamed and receive a bad reputation. Legal reform isn't something that can be completed in a day. It's an all-time worry and work that requires constant adjustment because life is inconsistent.

You established the Independent Agency Against Corruption (IAAC). The IAAC is receiving harsh criticisms of having more authority than the person who established the agency and conducting every bad activity except murder. Your comments on this?

Combating corruption isn't an easy job. Anti-corruption is Mongolia's national interest. Combating corruption can be interpreted as a fight for the safety of the people and national security. Firstly, people obliged to this responsibility should properly understand their duty and take special note on rumors that are being discussed and written. Furthermore, works of legal bodies must be conducted in accordance with the law. In general, legal work must be executed legally. Not a single official can infiltrate or put their hands on this principle.

Do you mean to say that we should entrust freedom to the people?

People have to be trusted and given liberty. They have to be held accountable too. I do notice that Mongolia is weakening on accountability matters and we're focusing on it. Legal bodies have to astray from confining and exhausting people, under the pretense of exposing crimes. To eliminate this sort of operation, a completely changed draft law on operations and law-adherence of legal bodies was submitted to Parliament.

Confinement limits of Mongolians in foreign countries have been extended by four months to a year. Can't these people get restrictions from crossing the border instead? Lately, the Prosecutor's Office is also facing some issues.

Laws, which we discussed for many years and awaiting approval, will give Mongolia a major change after it's passed and executed. Mongolian legal bodies have opportunities to correct their tendency to use crude methods of confinement and interrogation for exposing possible illegal activities and violations. I'd like to underline that it's a criminal act to make people admit their crime by using the law to threaten and exhaust suspects. Everything will be corrected if we find faults from the law and system.

The public opposes the current government for mixing the press into the dirty work, keeping it quiet with money and pressuring people. People want the government to respect tax-payers and not issue the money used for silencing the media into the state budget. Can you disclose your position on this?

I can't understand this working method with the press as it isn't my way of doing things. It's not in my lifestyle. I try my best to be as transparent as possible and be informed of the topics concerning the public. Closing topics residents are concerned about, silencing and bribing them are inconsistent with the democratic social principles. I absolutely can't understand or support this sort of activity.

Lately, Mongolia has had a lot of dispute over state budget issues. Can you comment on this?

It's a fact that expenditure of the government structure has been very high. We have to reduce it. I'm hoping that at least two works are accomplished during budget discussion. We need to stop providing funds to government bodies that are unnecessary, unprogressive and has nothing more than bureaucracy. The organization will cease operation if funds aren't issued. Some countries use this practice to realize this change.

I hope public service expenses aren't cut if I say it like this. I'm only talking about government administration. I'm hoping that the budget discussion will take this measure.

Secondly, budget becomes orderly before the third discussion session. I think MPs and the private sector should organize the third discussion together. Private sectors are the ones providing that money. Mongolia's budget will become the most correct budget if the private sector participate in the third session for the state budget.

The second stage of Oyu Tolgoi project has launched. Many related issues are being covered. Since it's an important topic for Mongolia, it can't be ignored.

Oyu Tolgoi is a company that invested in Mongolia. I assess that their work is progressing according to plan. There are many easy and difficult issues to discuss in regards to Oyu Tolgoi. The government and specific representatives are working on them. I'm confident that they'll be able to resolve related issues.

Source: http://politics.news.mn/content/191066.shtml

Link to interview

 

De Facto: Prime Minister's plan to 'pull the wool over our eyes'

By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa

October 5 (UB Post) The proposal to restructure the Cabinet in order to promote "work that is faster, more dynamic, more accurate, and has a higher level of responsibility" that was publically announced by the Prime Minister on September 9 will be brought up for discussion during the Fall Session of Parliament.

On one hand, there are certain Parliament members who are interested in changing the current structure as soon as the Prime Minister brought up the proposal. There also seem to be many members of the opposition that secretly dream of a MPP-DP joint government and another chance at becoming aminister. President Ts. Elbegdorj gave directions to assign ministerial positions on a merit-based system, with less regard to political party affiliations. The authority of our Prime Minister has fallen below that of some of his Ministers. The opposition is calling for the resignation of N. Batbayar, the Minister of Economic Development. Many members of Parliament were against increasing the size of the Cabinet from the beginning.

On the other hand, there are also many members of Parliament that are against calling for the resignation of the entire Cabinet halfway throughtheir terms. Some members see this as a way for N. Altankhuyag to duck responsibility and try to putall the blame onto the Cabinet structure and its members. There is yet another group of members that feel restructuring the 16 ministries into 11 will not have a significant impact and there is no need to expend the costs to change the ministry names, seals, and addresses as well as cause trouble for a considerable number of people. Some members say that this Cabinet restructuring proposal is a cunning plan to draw the public's attention away from the economic hardships and is a way for the Prime Minister to win time by debating at length in Parliament.

Even with the multiple reasons mentioned above, it is not too difficult to infer the real reason behind the Prime Minister working to restructure and replace the Cabinet that he himself established two years ago. This would be the restructuring of an entire Cabinet in order to replace Minister N. Batbayar, who has amassed more authority than him. A mediocre method employed by poor management.

Generally, governance should be established so that the Cabinet structure is established through legislature, not by the Government itself, and the Prime Minister appoints the members. In 2000, seven amendments were made to the constitution, of which Article 29 stating, "Members of Parliament cannot serve in any other positions… except as Prime Minister and Cabinet Member" is the root of the governance crisis. The MPP (then MPRP) seems to have forgotten that they themselves approved all this while they call for the removal of "dual roles".

We have gone through 15 years of national instability due to political instability. The Mongolian Government is unable to find its feet because of the peculiar model of restructuring of the Cabinet on an annual basis that has been established. The two previous Cabinets for "Alliance" and "Reform" especially relied on the delicate balance between the political interests of the political parties. Attempting to balance political interests by establishing, in name only, positions such as Deputy Minister, which has by "Parkinson's Law" led to a weak Minister with two weak Deputies and an increase in the size of the Government.

N. Altankhuyag established agreements with smaller parties to establish a joint Cabinet and established the status quo between the parties through the bartering of Minister and Deputy Minister Positions. The status quo between the factions of the Democratic Party, which are divided not by ideology but by funds raised for the party and elections, was established internally. It would be very easy to upset these two delicate balances, and if said balances are lost it would become nearly impossible to establish a new Cabinet or appoint a new Prime Minister, and would likely lead to a time consuming governance crisis.

The current economic situation would only worsen during restructuring and reappointment and the delays in decision making that would undoubtedly follow. Will there be a political power willing to accept all responsibility for and lead a government with lost public budget revenues, depleted foreign currency reserves, and a fallen tugrug exchange rate? We will have torepay 500 million dollars of government bonds in three years and there doesn't seem to be a single party that is considering from where and how these payments will be made.

In actuality, there needs to be few conditions met before the Mongolian Government can function well and become stable. First of all, with the exception of the Prime Minster, we cannot have members of Parliament fulfilling other roles. The reason for this is that we Mongolians have plainly seen that with only 76 members of Parliament, having 20 percent as members of the Cabinet leads to a breakdown in accountability. The next condition is the need to see the agendas of political parties and choose accordingly. Also, public funding for parties with seats in Parliament will end up being cheaper for Mongolians and will also provide an opportunity to control corruption. In order to conduct fair elections and obtain accurate income and expenditure statements from political parties the Election Commission needs to be dissolved and the Voters Commission needs to be established in its place. Finally, the roles of Ministries need to be clearly established. Otherwise some Ministries have become similar to businesses. By controlling the prices of common consumer products, the government has given false information to the market and insured the monopoly rights of certain companies and as such is likely to disrupt supply.

While these conditions are not met there is little chance for the Mongolian government to function stably and effectively. Until then, it is necessary for us to stop restructuring the Cabinet and instead focus on strengthening the Government.

The reappointment of one or two Ministers is within the authority of Prime Minister N. Altankhuyag, and does not require approval from Parliament. There is no need to restructure the entire Cabinet. Why try to pull the wool over our eyes?

Trans. by B.AMAR

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Business

Newcom awarded 50MW wind farm permit in Tsogttsetsii

October 6 (Mongolian Economy) The Energy Regulatory Commission has reached a decision to construct a 50 megawatt wind farm in Tsogt-Tsetsii soum, Umnugobi province. The approved five-year permit of construction was given to Clean Energy LLC

Mongolia is seeking alternatives to fossil fuels like coal to power its industry and mining. The government is targeting 20 to 25 percent of its energy to be from renewable sources by 2020, up from the less than 2 percent that it is today. Coal currently supplies about 80 percent of the nation's energy. 

Wind speeds in Salkhit average 8.2 meters per second, while Gobi Desert speeds exceed 9 meters per second. The Gobi has the potential to yield 11 gigawatts per year of solar energy, and 300,000 megawatts of wind power, 

By allowing the new wind farm to begin operation, the power station could produce 140 million to 160 million kilowatt-hours per year, and become an important contributor to the central grid. Compared to a thermal power plant, which uses coal to produce heat, a wind farm with this much capacity will eliminate 230 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year. In addition, the wind farm will save 180,000 tonnes of coal, 1.2 million tonnes of water.

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Promagroleasing signs $1.8 million contract with Hera Equipment for cement carriages

MINSK, 3 October (BelTA) – Promagroleasing has concluded a $1.8 million contract with the Mongolian company Hera Equipment LLC, BelTA learnt from the Promagroleasing press center.

The contract envisages the delivery of 30 hopper cars of the Mogilev Carriage Works to Mongolia for cement transportation under the terms of payment in installments. The batch was supplied to Mongolia in late September.

Hera Equipment LLC specializes in the sales of construction, road construction and agricultural equipment of the world's leading producers. In 2014 the company became a dealer of the Mogilev Carriage Works and shows interest in developing cooperation with Promagroleasing in financing the acquisition of Belarusian products.

Promagroleasing is an allied leasing company of the Development Bank, occupies over 95% of the national market of international leasing services. In 2009 the government enabled this company to create and operate a mechanism of international leasing and to promote Belarusian products abroad. The enterprise has eight affiliated companies and joint ventures in other countries. The company works with clients from more than 10 CIS and non-CIS countries, including the RSA, Mozambique and Canada.

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Canrim Resources: September 2014 Monthly Letter

October 7, Canrim Resources Pte Ltd. --

To the Shareholders of Canrim Resources Pte Ltd.,

September was filled with positives for both Mongolia and Canrim. The economy continued to show signs of improvement and Canrim took full advantage of this to conduct high level meetings with several multinational mining and exploration companies, in addition to meeting with relevant Mongolian officials.

Having previously discussed our proprietary geological database, a main ingredient for achieving success in acquiring and developing actionable minerals projects, we continue to grow this archive and position ourselves for both the submission of license applications and secondary market acquisitions.

MRAM having supposed to begin accepting applications for new license areas during the week of September 25th, they subsequently delayed this process due to a technical glitch in their online and processing systems. We look forward to this issue being resolved for we are fully ready to participate in this process where Canrim will submit applications for multiple licenses.

We also continue to meet with several significant multinational minerals exploration and development companies in both Mongolia and Singapore who are either actively investing in Mongolia or are closely watching the improving investment climate. Such conversations will only accelerate as relationships are built with potential joint venture partners or acquirers, leveraging Canrim's expertise as a credible, diligent, in-country partner who can contribute licenses and operational expertise, a world-class geological team and co-operate on near term production deals.

Mongolian Economic Update:

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Mongolian mission for Gradon Architecture's Tanja Smith

Gradon Architecture is strengthening its links with Mongola, thanks to well-travelled expert Tanja Smith

October 2 (The Journal) Architect Tanja Smith is taking the expertise of a North East agency to Mongolia to strengthen the firm's links with the nation.

Gateshead-based Gradon Architecture has been working with the nation for some time, joining forces with architects from the country to design a new ministerial building, destined for a prime site near the Mongolian Parliament in Ulan Bator.

And the firm has also submitted its design proposals for 50 energy-efficient homes, work which could become the blueprint for the overhaul of Soviet-era homes across the city, helping to protect residents against temperatures which often dip to minus 30C.

Now Miss Smith, chartered architectural technologist and associate at Gradon Architecture, is to make Ulan Bator her temporary home to further cement the firm's work in the capital, while also successfully challenging that stereotype that she works in a man's profession, in which only one in seven architects are women.

She said: "Gradon has been working in Mongolia for some time now, designing sustainable architecture to deliver innovative solutions that will replace some of the country's existing Soviet building stock.

"We have been working closely with local developers and government departments, to raise standards which are significantly lower than here in the UK. We've also been helping people living in the deprived Ger villages, where extreme poverty and pollution collide.

"In the winter, temperatures plummet to minus 30 degrees celsius and to keep warm villagers burn raw fuels and anything they can find in their stoves. This is having a dramatic effect on pollution levels, as well as on public health.

"We want to show the Mongolian people how serious we are about improving people's quality of life and believe that having a permanent base in Ulan Bator is a powerful way to demonstrate this commitment.

"We want to fully integrate and entrench ourselves in the country's culture and values - after all, you can't develop meaningful architecture without first understanding what is truly important to the local community."

Over the past year, Miss Smith has been at the forefront of developing the practice's unique relationship with Mongolia – clocking-up more than 24,000 air miles travelling back and forth to the country in 2014 alone.

With more than 20 years' industry experience, Miss Smith worked in South Africa for much of her early career and met Nelson Mandela through her work helping to regenerate the Lansdown Wetton Phillippi Corridor squatter camps in Cape Town.

As a regional advocate for supporting women in construction through her work with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Miss Smith is a vocal supporter of readdressing the gender imbalance in the industry and is ready for the challenge that her new role brings.

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Power List Asia: Nomin Chinbat, Mongol TV

(Channel NewsAsia) Host Karen Lam speaks with Mongolian power lister - Nomin Chinbat. Chinbat heads Mongol TV, one of the top 3 TV stations in Mongolia, and she also opened one of Mongolia's top luxury hotel.

Power List Asia gets up close and personal with the who's who in Asia's business circles. Find out how they made it to the top, how they keep expanding their business empires, and explore the power they wield over regional and world markets. We get into the minds of these leaders to understand what it takes to run some of the biggest and best companies in Asia, and glimpse the less-often exposed sides of them that make them the top leaders they are today.

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Chinggis City Unveils New Road

Ulaanbaatar, October 6 /MONTSAME/  A paved road of 2.5 km was opened in Chinggis soum of Khentii aimag on October 4.

For this road, a one billion Togrog was issued from the Regional Development Fund. A main executor was the state-owned "Khargui" enterprise. These day it has been repairing a Norovlin--Bayan-Uul road, and will begin a construction of a paved road of 14.6 km soon in frames of a "Street" project under ten billion MNT.  

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Mongolia and The Village @ Nukht

September 12 (APIP) --

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Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar Discusses Urban Development with World Bank

Ulaanbaatar, October 6 /MONTSAME/ Second meeting for strengthening a partnership between the World Bank and city of Ulaanbaatar ran Monday.  The WB agreed to cooperate in favor of vulnerable strata of the city.

The sides discussed investments needed for actions reflected in Ulaanbaatar's general development plan until 2020, such as sufficiency of schools, kindergartens, hospitals, also public transport renovation, re-structuring of ger (national dwelling) districts, enhancement services of the city, energy saving, registration of lands and citizens.

Present at the meeting were the Mayor E.Bat-Uul, the head of Mayor's office Yo.Gerelchuluun, manager-general of Ulaanbaatar B.Badral and the board members, as well as the WB Transport, Urban and Disaster Risk manager Abhas Jha, Urban poverty consultant Gayatri Singh. The WB presented their preliminary conclusion of their study on spatial access, finance and prices of services for the people. The Mayor thanked the representatives of the Bank for noticing the obstacles the city faces and for their recommendations on estimation of costs for social, infrastructural and engineering restructures. "We were not familiar with the methodologies for estimating the cost of the new construction although we all knew what shortages we had. The Asia Foundation has also cooperated with us in  developing the living environment designs for khoroos (local units in districts). It is necessary to publish an 'Urban development manual' based on both studies," the Mayor said.

In accordance with requests from the WB on cooperation themed "Re-planning of ger districts", "Renovation of Public Transport" and "Energy Saving", nine projects were presented at the meeting, on matters of renovation of ger districts and public transports, energy sector, implementation of housing programs, renovation of old apartments, improving infrastructure, increasing a number of schools and kindergartens, treatment facilities, new settlements, and reconstruction around the Selbe river. The WB agreed to cooperate in transport renovation, reconstruction of old housings, energy saving, and adjusting the system for land management and civil registrations.

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Ulaanbaatar unveils China-funded Beijing Street

By M. Zoljargal

October 5 (UB Post) Beijing Street has been reopened today with new paved roads since it closed September 20th.

The project officials met its deadline, assuring the street will open today unless unexpected problems occurred due to cold weather.

A 74 meters long bridge is also under repair. Renovation began in April and is expected to reopen for traffic on November 30, according to a contract.

The Chinese government is funding the project's total budget of 59.8 million CNY through grants.

The road stretches 0.9 kilometer from the Northwest intersection of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology to the 11th micro-district.

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Mogi: not a very good list, nor "Mongolian cuisine"

Ulaanbaatar's 10 Best Restaurants: Profiling Mongolian Cuisine

While the cuisine of Ulaanbaatar may generally be associated with traditional Mongolian meat- based dishes, the city actually offers an eclectic dining scene featuring vegetarian restaurants, Irish pub grub and Sri Lankan fare. Read our updated guide to Ulaanbaatar's 10 Best Cultural Restaurants to discover the city's 10 best cultural eateries.

·         Altai Mongolian Grill

·         Buffalo Grill

·         Ceylonta

·         Grand Khan Irish Pub

·         Hazara

·         Khara Khorum

·         Luna Blanca

·         MexiKhan

·         Namaste

·         Turning Point CafĂ©

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Diplomacy

Mongolia holds promise for Vietnam labour, tourism

October 5 (Voice of Vietnam) Six decades after the establishment of diplomatic ties, the traditional friendship and partnership between Vietnam and Mongolia continues to thrive as a result of the relentless pursuit of opportunities for advancement by its leaders and citizens.

"We have finished the hard part of normalizing relations and must now focus on using our emerging partnership to advance great common causes," Ambassador to Mongolia Phan Dang Duong said during an interview recently. Following are key excerpts from the interview:

This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties. What is the status of progress in bilateral cooperative relations?

Vietnam and Mongolia officially established diplomatic ties on November 17, 1954.

Ambassador Phan Dang Duong (right) and  Poet Tran Dang Khoa

From 1954 to 1990, those ties developed strongly in the fields of politics, economics, culture, education and training. The two sides maintained regular high-ranking exchanges, exemplified by late President Ho Chi Minh's visit to Mongolia in September 1955.

During this period, in 1961 and 1979 to be more precise, the two countries signed friendship and cooperation treaties. Most importantly, Mongolia provided significant support for Vietnam's struggle for national independence and freedom.

From 1990 to 1994, relations were severely strained as a result of changes in the region and world. However, they began to mend starting in 1994 and have been on a steady uphill trend ever since.

During Mongolian President P. Ochirbat's visit to Vietnam in March 1994, the two countries signed a joint statement, highlighting basic principles in bilateral relations in line with the new situation.

The two sides signed a friendship and cooperation treaty for the third time, lifting the cooperative ties to a greater height during State President Tran Duc Luong's visit to Mongolia in April 2000.

At a visit to Vietnam in November 2013 by Mongolian President Ts. Elbegdorj, leaders from both countries pledged to consolidate and enhance bilateral ties in all fields for mutual benefit, contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

Economic cooperation between the two countries does not live up to its full potential. What are the primary obstacles hindering economic expansion?

Recently, despite great effort, economic and trade ties have remained relatively modest and not matched with their fullest potential. Annual average two-way trade turnover only hit around US$16-18 million.

Mongolia is a small market with 3 million consumers. Geographical difficulties in transport, high transportation costs, and lack of information about both sides' businesses are the main obstacles constraining economic expansion.

The lack of an agreement and regulations dealing directly with food safety and animal and plant health are also holding back trade. Getting an Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) consistent with WTO guidelines needs to be fast tracked.

To iron out snags, the following measures should be given effect. First, businesses from both sides should thoroughly study markets via exchange visits, seminars, conferences and trade and investment fairs.

In addition to accelerating signing railway cooperation agreements among Vietnam, China and Mongolia, the opening of direct flights between Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and Ulaanbaatar should be prioritised.

Finally, a programme exempting short term visitors from the requirement to obtain a visa should be considered in order to promote tourism and economic cooperation.

What fields should Vietnam and Mongolia focus on in enhancing cooperation?

There is a huge potential for promoting bilateral cooperation. Vietnam is strong in exporting farm produce like rice, coffee, fresh fruits, seafood and garment while Mongolia has huge potential for exporting frozen meat, leather products and coke.

With 90 million people, Vietnam is a potential tourism market of Mongolia as many Vietnamese people want to explore the country. Vice versa, due to cold winter and no sea, Mongolian people want to visit Vietnam to enjoy warm weather.

The two countries can boost cooperation in following fields:

First, they should maintain high-ranking exchange visits to enhance mutual understanding, share experience and closely coordinate at regional and international forums for mutual benefit.

Second, they should foster cooperation in agriculture, particularly producing veterinary medicine. Currently, Mongolia has 60 million head of cattle so it has high demand for veterinary medicine.

Further, they should fast track all signed agreements on consumption of farm produce and food. In addition to traditional products, Vietnam should consider promoting cooperation with Mongolia in mining which is developing strongly in Mongolia, accounting for 90% of the country's exports value.

Third, Vietnam can promote cooperation with Mongolia in tourism, labour, culture, education and science and technology to exploit available potential.

Mongolia is experiencing a shortage of both skilled and normal workers in infrastructure, food processing and mining.

Around 700 Vietnamese citizens are working and living in Mongolia, however, most of them work at automobile servicing workshops. Signing a cooperative agreement on labour will open a whole new opportunity for Vietnamese workers to access the market.

Moreover, the two countries should maintain and consolidate cooperation in culture, education, and science and technology through exchanging cultural and arts troupes, students and researchers to promote mutual understanding.

Communications agencies, such as radio and television stations and press from two countries should foster cooperation as this is an important channel to introduce land and people.

The two Governments should create favourable conditions for ministries to sign cooperative agreements, helping speed up economic and trade development.

Finally, the two countries should maintain regular meetings of Inter-Governmental Committees on economic, trade, science and technology cooperation to review implementation work.

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Bek Air to open regular flights between Astana, Bayan-Ulgii

Astana, Kazakhstan, Oct.4 (Trend) Kazakh "Bek Air" airlines plan to implement the first flight on the route Astana - Ust-Kamenogorsk - Bayan Ulgiy (Mongolia) Oct.4, the press service of the Ministry of Innovation Development of Kazakhstan reported Oct.3.

"At the initial stage the flight will be performed once a week. With increasing flow of passenger and cargo the flight frequency will be increased," said the ministry.

It should be noted that the new flight was provided by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the aeronautical authorities of Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

"We have been negotiating over the past two years so that Kazakhstan and Mongolia, where a large Kazakh diaspora lives, would be bound by direct air communication," the deputy chairman of the MID Civil Aviation Talgat Lastaev said.

"In May this year, a memorandum was signed. We are very pleased that this initiative found its response from Kazakh airlines, particularly from "Bek Air"," he said. "Now the airline finally got permission to fly from the aviation authorities of Mongolia and will make its first flight in Bayan Ulgiy on October 4."

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Mongolia Participates in OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Autumn Session

Ulaanbaatar, October 6 /MONTSAME/ A delegation headed by Mr N.Enkhbold MP, has taken part in the Autumn Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which ran October 3-5 in Geneva, Switzerland.

At a "New issues of security: Roles of parliaments" themed meeting, the gathered discussed the politics, defense, economy, environment, human rights and humanity spheres, related to the regional security. Moreover, the OSCE PA's Standing committee met to consider the OSCE's action report and plans, to receive information about observation of elections which had been held in the member-states, as well as reports from the special rapporteurs. 

Mr N.Enkhbold delivered a speech at the Standing committee's meeting, and affirmed Mongolia's  invitation to run the 2015's OSCE PA Autumn Session in our country. The he met with Mr Ilkka Kanerva, the President of the OSCE PA, to share views on the collaboration within the OSCE PA such as hosting the 2015 OSCE PA meeting in Mongolia. Hr also talked to Mr Theodor H.Winkler, the director of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), about a  cooperation.

The OSCE PA Autumn Meeting was participated by some 200 parliamentarians from the OSCE Participating States.

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Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan hold first consular consultative meeting

Ulaanbaatar, October 6 /MONTSAME/ The first consular consultative meeting between Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan ran on October 6 in Bishkek.

The sides discussed broad range of matters in regards of activating the operations of the consular departments and exchange of information, and adopted a protocol on further activities. The document was inked by Sh.Sukhbaatar and Arslanbek Umetaliev, the directors of the consular departments of the two Ministries.

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Foreign Ministry Holds Annual Training for Provincial Foreign Relations Officers

Ulaanbaatar, October 6 /MONTSAME/ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday started the annual training for external relations officers of the administrations of Ulaanbaatar and provinces.

During the three-day training, authorities of the state administrative bodies will give reports to the trainees and will hold a practical course for them on presentation of the Zamyn-Uud economic free zone. The trainees will also have lessons and reports on the governmental policies and actions on the external relations, international contracts between organizations, foreign cooperation of localities, economic collaboration, policy and activities of direct investments, on foreign assistance and loans for localities, general regulation of the foreign policy and actions, consular affairs, ties and cooperation with the neighbour countries, on diplomacy and state diplomatic protocol.

Within the practice, they will visit Zamyn-Uud and China's Erlian city.

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Mongolia Approves Mid-Term Technical Cooperation Program with IAEA

Ulaanbaatar, October 6 /MONTSAME/ A middle-term technical cooperation programme will be co-implemented between Mongolia's government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

At its regular meeting on Saturday, the cabinet authorized N.Tegshbayar, a head of the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), to sign this programme, which aims to determine priority spheres and directions of the social and economic short- and middle-term development between Mongolia and the IAEA, and becomes a basis for formulating concepts of the bilateral technical cooperation.

This document will be implemented with a financing from the IAEA in 2015-2019. As supposed it, it will  upgrade techniques and facilities utilized in the state-run and scientific organizations for health, nuclear and radioactive control, agriculture, environment, geo ecology, nuclear physics, geology, mining and industrial sectors, and will empower the staffers trained.

Since 1973, Mongolia and the IAEA have co-realized 63 projects with USD 13.2 million in the above spheres.  

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Mongolia Approves Cooperation Agreement with CERN

Ulaanbaatar, October 6 /MONTSAME/ The cabinet on October 4 approved the Agreement between the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) and the Government of Mongolia on a development of  scientific and technological cooperation in high energy physics.

It was decided to give a right to sign this  document to the Minister of education and science L.Gantomor.

When the this agreement is inked, it will have a great importance in fundamental researches of high energy physics and further sciences-technology development of our country, and will facilitate our scholars, engineers and technological personnel with a long-term involvement in the CERN research projects.

European Organization for Nuclear Research, the leading global high-energy research engine established in 1954, highly contributes to scientific knowledge and technological achievements and has some 4,000 employees running everyday researches and analysis.

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Mongolia and China: Segue to Comprehensive Strategic Relations

by Mark Goleman

October 4 (New Eastern Outlook) The People's Republic of China came into being on 1 October, 1949. On 8 October, Mongolia became one of the first countries to recognize the PRC and establish diplomatic relations with it. And up until almost the second half of the 1960s, relations between the two countries developed quite successfully. During that time frame, China provided Mongolia much financial and technical aid and workforce assistance. But in the second half of the '60s and '70s, the relationship worsened as a result of the confrontation between the Soviet Union and China, during which Mongolia, of course, sided with the Soviet Union. But in the late '70s and early '80s, a rapprochement began. After the signing of a new treaty of friendship and cooperation (the first such agreement was signed in 1960) the two countries proceeded from cordial neighborly relations with each other to a strategic partnership that began in 2011.

Economic ties are being cultivated with particular fervor. By the end of the 1990s, China had secured its place as the main trading partner and investor, and volumes of bilateral trade and investment have grown from year to year. In 2006, Chinese investment amounted to $456 million. In 2014, the figure increased to $2.3 billion, almost half of all foreign investment in Mongolia. Meanwhile, trade volume rose from $524 million in 2002 to $6.6 billion in 2013. At present, 7,000 businesses in all sectors of Mongolia's economy operate with capital provided by China.

These data clearly show how much is riding on Mongolia's further cultivation of strategic partnerships with its southern neighbor, with whom it shares a border stretching 4,710 kilometers.

In light of that, Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit on 21-22 August was a major milestone. It was the first time in 11 years that such a high-ranking dignitary from China had paid an official visit to Mongolia. Mongolia had pinned high hopes on the visit, as its president, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, expressed in an exclusive interview with more than a dozen leading Chinese media outlets in Ulaanbaatar on 15 August.

The signature achievement was a declaration proclaiming the development of a comprehensive strategic relationship. The declaration sprang from extensive face-to-face negotiations between the two leaders.

It is noteworthy that first and foremost, the declaration lays out the principles on which Mongolian-Chinese relations are to be based: mutual respect for sovereignty, independence, the self-rule and territorial integrity of each other, nonintervention in each other's domestic affairs, peaceful coexistence, coequal and mutually beneficial cooperation, and mutual respect for the path chosen by each other.

Speaking at a press conference at the end of the visit, Elbegdorj focused on the following provisions of the declaration: "The parties agreed not to engage in actions that are detrimental to the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other country, not to enter into any alliances or coalitions directed against either of the parties, and not to allow any third country, organization or group to conduct such activities in their country."

For his part, Xi salved the Mongolians' collective psyche, reassuring them that, "China will always respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Mongolia and its choice of development path. China considers cooperation a priority of its foreign policy with Mongolia."

The inclusion of those provisions in the declaration and Xi's assurances are significant because they are intended to assuage some of Mongolia's concerns. Elbegdorj expressly said so to the Chinese journalists: "In recent years, in the Chinese news media and especially on the Internet, many articles have appeared that call Mongolian sovereignty into question and lie about historical events. And this has happened despite the fact that the Internet in China is strictly controlled."

The declaration establishes a basis for Mongolian-Chinese relations to become a comprehensive partnership.

The agreements reached are truly all-encompassing. In all, 26 intergovernmental and interdepartmental agreements and eight contracts and agreements between business entities were signed.

In the policy and security realms, the parties agreed to establish a permanent exchange program between their legislatures and a vehicle for strategic talks between their foreign ministries. They agreed to keep up their efforts at defense cooperation through bilateral consultation and to jointly defend their common interests in areas of defense and security.

They intend to broaden their interaction in the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICMA). China is backing some Mongolian undertakings: Ulaanbaatar's dialogue on security issues in Northeast Asia; the convocation of a summit involving Russia, Mongolia and China; and Mongolia's entry into the Organization of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Mongolia is supporting China's efforts to resume six-party talks on North Korea.

Regarding commercial and economic relations, the parties aim to boost trade volume to $10 billion by 2020 and promote both traditional and new areas of cooperation, such as coal gasification and mineral production. They agreed to work in tandem to develop new energy sources and build gas power plants. The cooperation agreement also touches on electricity exports to China, nature conservation, agricultural and livestock production, and so forth.

A long-anticipated breakthrough was reached on freight delivery to raise the volume to 100 million tons annually by 2020. The agreement calls for the use of Chinese seaports and financing from China for construction of new narrow-gauge railway lines.

The two countries also agreed to study the potential for creating a cross-border zone of free trade and economic cooperation along the border around the towns of Erenhot and Zamiin-Uud. Mongolia offered to supply goods to the Chinese market on favorable terms, including tax-free agricultural products in unrestricted quantities.

In the areas of infrastructure and mining, a medium-range trade and economic cooperation program was worked out and will be instituted by bodies such as the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation and the Cooperation Council.

In the cultural field, China committed to giving out 1,000 scholarships a year to Mongolian university students, train 500 Mongolian troops and invite 250 members of the news media to China. The number of Chinese tourists is expected to grow from 100,000 to 150,000.

We can therefore conclude that the first bilateral Mongolian-Chinese summit was a success. The Mongolians met their expectations of raising the level of mutual trust, consolidating cooperation, and bolstering shared trading and investment activities, among other things.

Both leaders lauded the outcome.

Elbegdorj described it as a "historic act that formed the long-term prospects of our relations."

Speaking in the Mongolian parliament, Xi said he was pleased with the results of the visit and fully confident in the bright future of Sino-Mongolian relations. Wrapping up his answers at the summary press conference, the Chinese president said, "China is ready to become a trustworthy, responsible and good neighbor, a good friend and a good partner for Mongolia."

The wish going forward is that Beijing's policy toward Mongolia will always be in line with those words and that relations between the two countries will continue to develop harmoniously in the interests of both peoples, and in the interests of peace and security in northeast Asia and the Far East.

Mark Goleman, Ph.D, history, head research partner at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, specially for the Internet-magazine New Eastern Outlook

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Social, Environmental and Other

Mongolian farmers herd together in face of adversity

Climate change, gold prospectors and heavy industry threaten an ancient way of life

By Peter Geoghegan

October 6 (Irish Times) Summer was bountiful for the herders of Darkhid, a small farming community about 40km from the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator. Yaks and cows roam across the grassy steppe. A youth on horseback corrals a flock of sheep. The air is thick with the sweet smell of sea buckthorn.

"Three years ago it was not like this, it was a rocky and sandy place where very little grew," says herder Jadamaa Davaa. "Now we have vegetables, fruit trees, and bushes."

Davaa, a broad-shouldered man in middle age with a thick moustache, points approvingly at a squat greenhouse perched on a gently sloping hillside: "Now it has changed completely."

The catalyst for change was the creation of a community co-operative in Darkhid seven years ago. Before 2007, these nomadic families farmed the same way they had for centuries: working in isolation, moving four or five times a season, living in the circular ger tents that are common across Central Asia.

The dome-shaped gers are still dotted across the horizon but now the seven families that make their living off Darkhid's land pool their resources and expertise. "We co-operate now. When we sell milk, for example, we gather all the milk from all the families together and share a truck to take the milk to Ulan Bator," says Davaa over bowls of salty milk tea and handfuls of aaruul, dried milk curd, in his neat, homely ger.

Land degradation

Cutting down on costs is not the only advantage of working together. Up to 90 per cent of Mongolia is vulnerable to land degradation, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Darkhid – despite the clear spring that runs through the valley – was under threat from desertification when the co-operative began.

"Before we established the community group we just herded [animals on] the land everywhere," says the co-operative's de facto leader Davaasuren Terbish. "The livestock were eating all the grasses, so the land turned into a kind of desert. So now we manage the land together. We have seen an improvement in the soil."

The Darkhid grass looks verdant and lush, but appearances can be deceptive. Part of the land has been contaminated by "ninja mining", illegal gold prospecting that often uses cyanide and mercury. The ninjas – named after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because they carry distinctive green bowls on their backs – are thought to number about 60,000 and have wreaked environmental havoc across Mongolia.

As well as starting to clean up the mining contamination, the Darkhid community has managed to curtail illicit logging, the effects of which can still be seen in parched strips cut through the hillside overlooking the hamlet. "We have even created a waste management system," says Davaa.

Destroying soil

Not everywhere in Mongolia has been so lucky. Desertification, accelerated by climate change and the effects of the country's massive mining industry, has forced many herders off the land. "The mining companies use so many big trucks that it destroys the soil. They also use pastureland for mining," says Tungalagtuya Khuukhenduu, project co-ordinator at Nomadic Nature Conservation in Mongolia.

"Climate change is affecting herdsmen too, creating dust storms and drought," she adds.

The effects of these changes are most keenly felt in communities like Shinejinst, a small settlement of a few hundred gers and tin-roofed brick houses about 900km from Ulan Bator, in the Gobi desert.

Eking out a living on the dusty soil here has long been a struggle, but as the desert spreads finding enough grassland for livestock becomes increasingly difficult.

"This was not here five or six years ago," Munkhbat, a council worker from Shinejinst, says as he stands in front of a 25ft high sand dune on the verge of a rutted track that is the road to the capital. "Before, the desert ended there." He points a kilometre or so back into the Gobi.

The encroaching desert is not the only threat to the livelihoods of Mongolia's herders. After the country's communist regime collapsed in the 1990s, thousands returned to the sparsely populated land. But, increasingly, the direction of travel is from the countryside to the city.

In 1990, Ulan Bator was home to about half a million people. Now the city's population is an estimated 1.5 million and that number is growing at a rate of about 40,000 a year. About half of all Mongolians live in the capital.

One of the reasons for this rapid urbanisation has been a series of bitterly cold winters that have decimated livestock and left herders unable to survive on the barren steppes.

In 2010, a dzud – the Mongolian name for particularly extreme winter conditions – saw temperatures drop to -50 degrees. About 10 million animals, including cows, camels, yaks, goats and sheep died.

Thousands of smaller herders were forced off the land. "We have had some very bad winters. Families lost all their livestock so they had to move to Ulan Bator or somewhere else," says Anne-Camille Souris, director of a project dedicated to protecting the Mongolian mule and its habitat.

Many former herders struggle to find employment in the city, often pitching their tents in the vast, informal ger district that has sprung up on the outskirts of Ulan Bator and taking odd jobs to get by.

But the lure of the city can affect even successful herding communities. "The big issue is who will take over," says mother of four Khandaa Davaa over lunch in Darkhid. Three of her children are studying in Ulan Bator. She does not expect any to return to the farm.

"The young generation don't want to work in something so difficult. They go to the city and they don't come back."

Even with the improvements brought by the co-operative, making ends meet is still a struggle for Darkhid's herders.

Ulan Bator is close but on the dirt road the journey to the market takes well over an hour. The herders complain, too, that many milk factories are using cheap powdered milk from China rather than buying fresh milk. Prices are down amid a country-wide economic slump, but costs continue to rise.

Nomadic life

As he walks back from his greenhouse, Davaa explains that his goal is not to abandon the traditional Mongolian nomadic way of life completely, but to combine it with what he calls "normal farming". "We are trying to go from a nomadic way of life to being a farm in one place, planting grasses, improving our livestock, planting fruit trees," he says.

For Nomadic Nature Conservation's Tungalagtuya Khuukhenduu, Mongolia has one big advantage as it wrestles with seismic economic, social and environmental challenges – its people: "Mongolians are really able to accept new things and adapt quickly."

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Mogi: anyone who says "Mongolia's mining boom" these days knows nothing much about Mongolia

Mongolia's Mining Boom Has Environmental Costs

by John C. K. Daly

October 3 (Silk Road Reporters) Mongolia, uncomfortably sandwiched between Russia and China, has seen its economy swing to extremes ever since the 1991 collapse of its closest trading partner and political mentor, the USSR. Attempts to move Mongolia's economy from a centrally planned one, largely based on agriculture, to capitalist free market principles have been mixed at best. Even nature seemed to conspire against Mongolia at times, as extreme weather in 2000 and 2009 decimated livestock herds.

Mongolia's economy subsequently would increasingly turn its untouched mineral riches, close to both industrialized Russia and resource hungry China. The nation is essentially empty, with its 2.8 million citizens producing an average population density of just over 1 person per sq. km., one of the lowest rates in the world. Mongolia's mining sector has some of the world's richest deposits of gold and copper, uranium, coal, fluorspar as well as rare earth elements (RREs) such as tantalum, niobium, thorium, yttrium and zircon. According to a 2009 estimation by the U.S. Geological Survey, Mongolia has 31 million tons of rare earth reserves, or 16.77 percent of the world's total, exceeded only by China.

In 2006 Mongolia's Mineral Law was amended to increase government royalties and licensing fees, reduce tax incentives, set duration terms for exploration licenses, and provide for up to 50 percent government ownership of strategically important resources when jointly funded by the state and private investors. On 25 August 2009 the Ulsyn Ikh Khural (State Great Hural, or Parliament) finally repealed the 68 percent windfall profit tax.

As a result, foreign capital came flooding in, and by 2011 Mongolia was feted as having the fastest growing economy in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) increase of 17.3 percent, roughly $13.38 billion, due to the mining of its mineral assets, primarily coal, copper and gold. Beginning in April 2010, Mongolia's benchmark MSE Top 20 Index became the world's best performer and its currency, the tugrik, the fifth-biggest gainer against the dollar. In early 2011 the International Monetary Fund predicted that Mongolia's economic growth could surge to 23 percent in 2013, more than twice the growth rate forecast for China.

Then politics intervened in the form of political disputes over mining laws, with the World Bank downgrading Mongolia's GDP growth to 11.7 percent in 2012; by Sept. foreign direct investment (FDI) was down 44% compared to the year before, which further shrank Mongolia's GDP growth to 10 percent in 2013. For better or worse, Mongolia's mining industry now comprises roughly 30 percent of the country's GDP, while industrial manufacturing has shrunk to only 5-8 percent from a high of 35 percent in the Communist era.

Ground zero for the mining investment disputes was a fracas over the $7 billion Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine, begun in 2009 with foreign FDI. In Oct. 2011 Canada's Ivanhoe Mines and Rio Tinto formally notified the Mongolian government they were unwilling to renegotiate their investment agreement, under which Ivanhoe Mines, of which Rio Tinto owns 49 percent share, held a 66 percent interest in the project, with the Mongolian government retaining the remaining 34 percent. Oyu Tolgoi is now roughly 50 percent complete, and Rio Tinto, now sole owner, had hoped to begin wide-scale commercial production of copper, gold and silver concentrate in early 2013. Oyu Tolgoi, the world's biggest untapped copper deposit, is expected to produce 1.2 billion pounds of copper, 3 million ounces of silver and 650,000 ounces of gold per year in its first decade of operation. Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government have clashed in the past over the size of Mongolia's stake in the giant copper and gold mine, most recently over tax bills. On Sept. 17 Mongolian Vice Minister of mining Oyun Erdenebulgan confirmed that the government would settle an outstanding $130 million tax bill against Rio Tinto for a $30 million. The dispute had delayed agreement on how to finance the proposed second stage expansion of the mine, how to build it and various mine permits. The overall project is earmarked to generate about a third of Mongolia's national income by the time it reaches full production in 2021.

A 2012 law aimed at restricting foreign ownership in certain "strategic" sectors of the Mongolian economy, which was later reversed, dramatically impacted foreign investment, which fell 70 percent in the first half of 2014. Government official data showed that for Jan.-June 2014, Mongolia's economy grew 5.3 percent, compared with 11.7 percent in 2013.

Worse, much of the money brought in by the mining sector was mismanaged. Recently, when asked about a World Bank report criticizing the government's inept financial policy vice minister of economic development Chuluunbat Ochirbat replied, "These comments and remarks are true. We have learnt a good lesson. We didn't spend the money in a positive way or properly. Before 2012 we collected money into a human development fund that was designed as a welfare fund, but just prior to the election we spent all the money in the fund."

The stampede of foreign investors for the exit brought renewed interest from Mongolia's neighbors. On Sept. 3 Russian President Vladimir Putin's visited Ulaan Baatar, committing with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj to boosting bilateral trade from $1.6 billion in 2013, down 16 percent from 2012, to $10 billion by 2020, primarily by cooperating in railway and transportation development. Although Russia owns 51 percent of Ulaan Baatar Railways and 49 percent of state-owned Erdenet copper mine, bilateral trade with Mongolia has been dropping steadily in recent years.

Enter the Dragon

For more than a decade, China has been Mongolia's largest trading partner and largest source of foreign investment. For the period 1990-2012, roughly half of the 11,642 foreign enterprises registered in Mongolia were Chinese.

For the same period, $3.48 billion of Mongolia's $9.83 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) came from Chinese companies. In 2013 trade with accounted for more than half of Mongolia's total foreign trade, with the two nations also hoping by 2020 to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion annually. During last month's state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first by a Chinese head of state since Hu Jintao in 2003, China and Mongolia signed 26 new deals on railroads, mining and power generation. If these projects are implemented, they would represent Mongolia's most significant economic development since the 2009 Oyu Tolgoi agreements.

But the mining boom and subsequent increased demand for energy have in turn brought additional problems. Mongolia needs new power plants to replace aging and increasingly decrepit Soviet-era power infrastructure that is now reaching peak capacity, as consumption grows in the capital Ulaan Baatar and the electrical grid is extended to communities in remote parts of the country.

And these require water, putting further stress on Mongolia's fragile ecology. Until several years ago, Mongolia's agricultural sector was country's the dominant consumer of water. Four years ago, Mongolia's agriculture sector consumed 55% aquatic resources, with 31% diverted for irrigation and 24% for livestock, while mining utilized 13% and energy production 11%. Mongolia's rising mining industry is now a contender for the country's limited water reserves. A recent Asia Development Bank study noted that last year mining now accounted for 82% of Mongolia's exports and 18.5% of the nation's GDP, and the demand for electricity is projected to increase 500% from 2012 to 2030. Utilizing the country's vast coal reserves, most of the rising demand for electricity is projected to be met by coal-fired thermal power stations, which use water for cooling, while mining operations need vast amounts of water for production. Even worse, the new energy facilities and the new mining operations are to be located in water-scarce areas.

The country's economic progress is increasing leading the Mongolian government to a stark choice – prosperity or pollution. If the Rio Tinto settlement is anything to go by, the Mongolian government has already chosen the former option.

Dr. John C. K. Daly is a non-resident Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Central Asia Caucasus Institute in Washington DC.

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Vitamin D supplements significantly improve symptoms of winter-related atopic dermatitis in children

October 3 (Massachusetts General Hospital) A study conducted in more than 100 Mongolian schoolchildren found that daily treatment with a vitamin D supplement significantly reduced the symptoms of winter-related atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema. Led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) physician, the report in the October issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology supports the results of a preliminary study that showed similar results in a small group of children in Boston. 

"While we don't know the exact proportion of patients with atopic dermatitis whose symptoms worsen in the winter, the problem is common," says Carlos Camargo, MD, DrPH, MGH Department of Emergency Medicine. "In this large group of patients, who probably had low levels of vitamin D, taking daily vitamin D supplements – which are inexpensive, safe and widely available – proved to be quite helpful." Camargo led both the earlier Boston pilot study and the current investigation, which was performed in collaboration with investigators from the Health Sciences University of Mongolia. 

A chronic inflammatory disorder of the skin, atopic dermatitis is uncomfortable and makes patients more vulnerable to bacterial infection. Symptoms of the disorder – most commonly seen in children – often worsen during wintertime. While controlled administration of ultraviolet light, which can stimulate the production of vitamin D in the skin, is a common treatment for severe atopic dermatitis, the possibility that vitamin D deficiency contributes to the seasonal worsening of symptoms had received little consideration prior to the Boston study. That investigation involved only 11 children but provided preliminary support for the hypothesis. 

The current study, conducted in collaboration with the National Dermatology Center in Mongolia, enrolled 107 children, ages 2 to 17, from nine outpatient clinics in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The participants – all of whom had a history of atopic dermatitis symptoms worsening either during cold weather or around the transition from autumn to winter – were randomly divided into two groups. One group received a daily vitamin D dose of 1000 IU while the other received a placebo – both delivered in odorless, colorless and tasteless drops. Neither the children's parents nor the study investigators knew to which group participants had been assigned. 

Standard evaluations of atopic dermatitis symptoms were conducted at the outset of the trial and at the end of the month-long study period, and parents were also asked whether they saw any improvement in their child's condition. At the end of the month, children receiving the vitamin D supplement had an average 29 percent improvement on the primary assessment tool used, compared with 16 percent improvement in the placebo group. Additional assessments – including the report from parents – also showed significantly greater improvement among children receiving vitamin D. 

While data gathered at the outset of the study could not determine whether or not participating children were deficient in vitamin D, the authors note that an even larger study of Ulaanbaatar children conducted at the same time found significant vitamin D deficiency in 98 percent of participants, supporting the probability that the children in this study were also deficient. While future studies are needed to assess the value of vitamin D treatment in adults and in children with year-round symptoms, Camargo – a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School – says that parents of children with symptoms that worsen in the winter should try a vitamin D supplement for a few weeks when symptoms flare to see if it helps. He encourages parents to discuss this study and their plan with their primary care provider. 

Co-authors of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology report are Davaasambuu Ganmaa, MD, PhD, Kh. Erdenedelger, MD, N. Radnaakhand, MD, PhD, and B. Khandsuren, MD, PhD, Health Sciences University of Mongolia; and Robert Sidbury, MD, Seattle Children's Hospital. 

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ADB Introduces Upcoming Projects to Standing Committee

Ulaanbaatar, October 6 /MONTSAME/ A head of the parliamentary Standing committee on social policy, education, culture and science D.Battsogt Monday received a delegation led by Mr Robert Schoellhammer, a Country Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Mongolia.

Mr Schoellhammer introduced to the MP a "Skills for Employment" and a "Darkhan Waste water Management" projects, and said these projects should be included in this year's budget of the ADB.

He went on that the Asian Development Fund proposes to give a financing of USD 25 million for the "Skills for Employment" project, focused on three targeted spheres such as agriculture, construction and road-transportation in order to improve the employment skills at vocational training centers. The second project aims to make the living conditions of Darkhan city more convenient by upgrading the waste water management.

In response, Mr Battsogt thanked the ADB delegation for exchanging views on the projects and said his committee will back these projects.

The same day, S.Ganbaatar MP met the ADB delegation and recommended that the ADB pay attention to monitoring the projects implementation, fruitful exploitation of the financing and to making clear the units that will realize the projects.  

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World Vision: Promoting Education in Mongolia

September 29 (World Vision Mongolia) World Vision Mongolia works to improve access to education for children. This video demonstrates some of our work in the field.

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Mongolia Ends Incheon Asian Games 2014 at 16th with 21 Medals

By M. Zoljargal

October 5 (UB Post) The Incheon Asian Games 2014 (ASIAD) has concluded on Saturday where athletes from 45 countries marched down the stadium in the parade of national teams to celebrate their achievements.

Mongolia finished the games ranking 16th and brought home 21 medals – five gold, four silver and 12 bronze.

Mongolian athletes continued the relay of medals in freestyle wrestling, shooting and boxing, while Incheon 2014 has brought Mongolia's first medal in taekwondo. Both men's and women's basketball teams have advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time at the event.

D.Otgondalai brings home fifth gold medal from ASIAD

International Master of Sport D.Otgondalai was the only Mongolian to vie for a gold medal in the boxing tournament of the Incheon 2014.

After beating his opponent in the semi-final, he commented that he "can't afford to lose now [the final match]." Much to his word, he claimed victory in the men's 60 kg final match against Filipino boxer Charly Suarez and secured the fifth gold medal of Mongolia on Friday.

Jakarta city was announced as the host of the next Asian Games to challenge athletes in 2018.

66 athletes to compete for Mongolia at Incheon Asian Para Games

Ministry to finance athletes at Asian Para Games

The Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games is set to kick off on October 18, where 118 Mongolian national athletes and staff are set to take part.

The Mongolian team in the Asian Para Games consists of 66 athletes and 22 coaches, while 30 media representatives will report the results from the games.

Mongolia is taking part for the first time in sitting volleyball, table tennis and swimming sports in this year's Asian Para Games.

The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism will cover expenses of the para games team. Minister of Culture Ts.Oyungerel and Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan have been appointed to work in charge of the budget allocation.

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Mongolia tops Asian Games by medals per capitaMontsame, October 6

 

Mongolia to further contest Asian Games boxing decision

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Mongolia will escalate its complaints about the officiating in boxing at the Asian Games, its chef de mission said on Saturday.

"Our national Olympic body has decided to write a protest letter to AIBA explaining the details of the contentious bout," B.Bat-Erdene MP told reporters. "We will also take up the matter at future meetings of the world body and tell them that something is wrong with the rules".

Mr Bat-Erdene also said his team felt cheated in the men 55-kilogram category when Tugstsogt Nyambayar lost his semifinal on points to Ham Sang-Myeong of host nation South Korea on Tuesday.

Mongolia made a brief sit-in protest and also complained officially. "We were shocked by that decision and made our point very clear. Boxing is an important sport for us and so is every medal," he added.

India too had protested officially against a result the same day when L.Sarita Devi lost to another South Korean, Park Ji-na, in the women 60-kilogram semifinal.

Both protests were rejected by the AIBA's technical committee since rules do not allow any protests against the jury though teams can object to decisions by the referee.

Bat-Erdene said he was concerned about India's issue too. "I am happy that India protested and hope that countries who felt the jury was biased during the Asian Games, should also approach the AIBA for this," he added, reported yahoo Sports. 

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While India apologises, Mongolia escalates protests against boxing officiating – AP, October 5

 

Yu.Baljidmaa crowned Miss Mongolia 2014

By B. Tungalag

October 5 (UB Post) The 11th Miss Mongolia beauty pageant has concluded at the Independence Palace on October 4 and Yu.Baljidmaa became the beauty pageant of Mongolia.

Over 70 beautiful women from Ulaanbaatar and provinces competed in six categories: miss photo, miss sport, talented miss, miss model, miss bikini and miss goodwill.

M.Khaliunaa won second place and A.Bayartsetseg won third place.

E.Azbileg became talented miss, B.Gunzaya earned the miss sport title, Ts.Delgerjargal won the miss photo title, M.Khaliunaa become miss bikini and A.Bayartsetseg won miss goodwill.

Winner of the Miss Mongolia 2014 will represent her country at the Miss International.

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German singer shows off amazing 'alien' technique from Mongolia

October 6 (Orange News) A video of a German musician demonstrating the other-worldly technique of polyphonic overtone singing is going viral online.

More than a million people have watched the clip of Anna-Maria Hefele showing off the skill on YouTube.

She is able to sustain one constant low note, while simultaneously singing a high-pitched scale.

It is almost impossible to believe that the resulting sounds are coming from just one woman, or even a human at all.

"Overtone singing is a voice technique where one person sings two notes at the same time," Ms Hefele explains.

On her website, she says the singing style is originally from Mongolia, where it is locally known as Sygyt (Mogi: Sygyt is what's Khin Tuvan.

Ms Hefele has been studying throat singing since 2005, and is a classically trained singer who plays instruments like the harp, mandolin, piano, didgeridoo and Schwegel.

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Mongolia Considering Making Additions to World Heritage List

October 6 (news.mn) Mongolia is considering a number of nominations for new additions of world cultural and natural heritages during a seminar at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. Currently, Mongolia's Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape, Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai (World Cultural Heritage) and  Uvs Nuur Basin (World Natural Heritage) are registered to UNESCO World Heritage.

At this time Mongolia is considering adding 16 additional natural and cultural sites to the list. The operational guidelines of the World Heritage Committee recommend countries update their tentative lists approximately once every 10 years.

The seminar will be held separately for World Natural Heritage and World Cultural Heritage. Experts from World Natural and Cultural Heritage organizations will assist the National Committee of Mongolia for World Heritage. The tentative list of natural and cultural properties that appear to meet the eligibility criteria for nomination to the World Heritage List will be adopted and Mongolia may nominate within a given period of time.

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