Sunday, July 17, 2011

[cpsinewswire] [CPSI NewsWire: Altan Rio to Reverse Takeover TSX-V Listed AMN Capital]

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Close: Mongolia Related ASX Listed Companies, July 15, 2011



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AMN Capital Corp. Announces Agreement for Qualifying Transaction

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - July 12, 2011) - AMN Capital Corp. ("AMO")(TSX VENTURE:AMO.P), a Capital Pool Company ("CPC") trading on the TSX Venture Exchange (the "Exchange"), is pleased to announce that it has entered into a binding letter of intent dated July 6, 2011 (the "Agreement") regarding a proposed transaction (the "Transaction") with Altan Rio Minerals Limited ("Altan Rio"), a privately held company incorporated under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia), which operates as a mineral exploration company with various mineral exploration interests in Mongolia.

It is intended that the Transaction will constitute AMO's "Qualifying Transaction" in accordance with Policy 2.4 of the Exchange. AMO and Altan Rio are at arm's length; accordingly the Qualifying Transaction is not a "Non-Arm's Length Qualifying Transaction". As such, it is anticipated that the approval of the shareholders of AMO will not be required. Subject to any regulatory, director or other approvals that may be required, the completion of satisfactory due diligence by AMO and other conditions contained in the Agreement, it is intended that AMO will acquire 100% of the common shares of Altan Rio (the "Altan Rio Shares") in a reverse takeover transaction which will be effected by way of a three cornered amalgamation (the "Amalgamation") pursuant to which a newly formed wholly-owned subsidiary of AMO will amalgamate with Altan Rio, resulting in the amalgamated company becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of AMO. Pursuant to the Amalgamation, 41,804,343 Consolidated AMO Shares, as defined hereafter, will be issued to the existing shareholders of Altan Rio. Upon completion of the Qualifying Transaction, it is expected that the Resulting Issuer, as defined in Exchange Policy 2.4, (the "Resulting Issuer") will be listed on the Exchange as a Tier 2 mining issuer.

As a condition of the Amalgamation, the shareholders of AMO will be asked to approve a consolidation (the "Share Consolidation") of AMO's common shares ("AMO Shares") on the basis of approximately one and two-thirds (1.66665) old shares for one (1) new share. The AMO Shares as so consolidated are hereinafter referred to as the "Consolidated AMO Shares". Concurrently with closing of the Qualifying Transaction, AMO will change its name to "Altan Rio Minerals Ltd." or such other name as may be selected by Altan Rio. If requested and approved, the Share Consolidation would become effective prior to completion of the Qualifying Transaction. All share numbers and pricing herein assumes completion of the Share Consolidation prior to closing of the Qualifying Transaction.

AMO and Altan Rio confirm that there are no finder's fees or other similar fees payable to any person or party with respect to the Qualifying Transaction.

Capital Structure of Altan Rio

The principal stakeholders of Altan Rio, who as a group own beneficially, directly or indirectly, or exercise control or direction over 41,449,935 Altan Rio Shares, representing approximately 41.61% of the issued and outstanding Altan Rio Shares, are founding shareholders Messrs. Evan Jones (of Perth, Australia), John Jones (of Perth, Australia), and Kelly Cluer (of Carson City, Rio). Mr. Evan Jones is a beneficiary of a trust that is the sole shareholder of 0809979 B.C. Ltd that owns 37,034,844 Altan Rio Shares or 37.17% of the issued and outstanding Altan Rio Shares, Mr. John Jones through Jonmin Superannuation Fund owns 300,109 Altan Rio Shares or 0.30% of the issued and outstanding Altan Rio Shares and Mr. Kelly Cluer owns 4,114,982 Altan Rio Shares or 4.13% of the issued and outstanding Altan Rio Shares. The remaining 58,177,115 Altan Rio Shares are held by approximately 180 other shareholders. These shareholders include Mr. Murray Seitz of AMO who owns 67,000 Altan Rio Shares or 0.07% of the issued and outstanding Altan Rio Shares and Mr. Robert Scott of AMO who owns 33,333 Altan Rio Shares or 0.03% of the issued and outstanding Altan Rio Shares.

Altan Rio currently has 99,627,050 Altan Rio Shares issued and outstanding. Altan Rio also has 31,547,002 warrants outstanding exercisable into an equivalent number of Altan Rio Shares at an exercise price of $0.29 per share.

Contemplated Financings

In conjunction with the Qualifying Transaction, AMO will undertake a non-brokered private placement (the "Offering") to raise gross proceeds of up to $1,000,000. Under the terms of the Offering, AMO would issue up to 2,000,000 units (each a "Unit") at a price of $0.50 per Unit. Each Unit will consist of one Consolidated AMO Share and one-half of one common share purchase warrant. Each whole warrant (a "Warrant") will entitle the holder to acquire one Consolidated AMO Share at the exercise price of $0.65 for a period of two years from closing.

AMO may pay finder's fees to arm's length parties in an amount equal to 7% of the proceeds raised under the Offering payable in cash and 7% in finder's Warrants.

It is expected that the net proceeds of the Offering will be used to complete additional exploration and a subsequent drill program on the Chandman-Yol Properties (as defined and described below) in Mongolia, as well as for general working capital purposes.

Resulting Issuer Capital Structure

Assuming completion of the Share Consolidation and the Amalgamation and that the Offering is fully subscribed, the Resulting Issuer will have outstanding approximately 43,484,360 Consolidated AMO Shares, 14,237,384 warrants, 140,000 finder's Warrants, and 90,000 agent's options.

Closing Conditions

The closing of the Qualifying Transaction with Altan Rio is subject to a number of conditions, including, but not limited to the following:

1.    completion of all due diligence reviews;

2.    receipt of all director and shareholder approvals as may be required under applicable laws or regulatory policies;

3.    execution of a formal amalgamation agreement;

4.    the Altan Rio shareholders entering into such escrow agreements as may be required by the Exchange and applicable securities regulatory policy;

5.    completion of the proposed Offering;

6.    confirmation of ownership of key mineral exploration properties in Altan Rio;

7.    confirmation that the Altan Rio Shares will be free and clear of all liens, claims, charges or encumbrances;

8.    there being no material actions, suits or proceedings at the time of closing involving either party;

9.    there being no material adverse change to the assets, technology, liabilities, business, operations, or financial condition of either party at the time of closing;

10.  completion or waiver of sponsorship;

11.  receipt of all required regulatory approvals, including the approval of the Exchange, of the Qualifying Transaction;

12.  satisfaction of the Minimum Listing Requirements of the Exchange and all requirements under the Exchange rules relating to completion of a "Qualifying Transaction";

13.  a new slate of directors be appointed as agreed by the parties; and

14.  the AMO Shares be consolidated prior to closing;

Altan Rio has agreed to reimburse AMO up to a maximum of $100,000 for costs and fees incurred in connection with the Qualifying Transaction.

A filing statement in respect of the proposed Qualifying Transaction will be prepared and filed in accordance with Policy 2.4 of the Exchange on SEDAR at no less than seven business days prior to the closing of the proposed Qualifying Transaction. A press release will be issued once the filing statement has been filed as required pursuant to Exchange policies.

Altan Rio

Altan Rio is a private mineral exploration company incorporated November 30, 2007 pursuant to the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) and the indirect owner of the following material mineral exploration properties (collectively, the "Chandman-Yol Properties"):

·         the Chandman Property consisting of five exploration licenses (currently an option agreement with Gallant Minerals Limited, a private Bermuda company, to acquire 80% of the shares of GS Minerals Corp. Ltd., a private Bermuda company which holds 100% of the shares of Braveheart Resources XXK, a private Mongolian incorporated company which holds the Chandman Property exploration licenses); and

·         the Yol Property consisting of four exploration licenses (100% owned by Altan Rio Mongolia LLC).

The Chandman-Yol Properties are located in western Mongolia and are held indirectly by Altan Rio through a chain of British Virgin Island and Mongolia incorporated subsidiaries. Altan Rio Mongolia LLC, is the name of the Mongolian incorporated subsidiary. References below to Altan Rio include references to its 100% owned subsidiaries as applicable.

Altan Rio's primary focus, and assuming the completion of the Amalgamation, the Resulting Issuer's primary focus over the 12 months following the Amalgamation, will be the Chandman-Yol Properties.

Altan Rio's head office and registered office are located in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Chandman Property. The Chandman Property is an early stage exploration property comprised of approximately 5 mineral exploration licenses covering approximately 354.7 km2 in the western region of Mongolia.

Altan Rio Limited, one of Altan Rio's British Virgin Island subsidiaries, entered into an option agreement with Gallant Minerals Limited ("Gallant") dated November 26, 2007 to acquire 80% of the shares of GS Minerals Corp. Ltd., a Bermuda incorporated company, whose wholly owned Mongolian subsidiary, Braveheart Resources XXK, is the 100% owner of the Chandman Property. The agreement is subject to the following:

·         Payment of $50,000 in cash on signing (paid);

·         Incurrence of $3,000,000 of cumulative exploration expenditure on the properties over a four year period as follows:

o    Minimum of $200,000 on or before the first anniversary of the agreement (incurred);

o    Minimum of $1,000,000 (cumulative) on or before the second anniversary of the agreement (incurred); and

o    Minimum of $3,000,000 (cumulative) on or before the fourth anniversary of the agreement (incurred).

·         Payment of $600,000 in cash over a four year period as follows:

o    $100,000 on or before the second anniversary of the agreement (paid); and

o    An additional $500,000* on or before the fourth anniversary of the agreement (pending).

* In lieu of cash, Gallant may elect to receive Alan Rio shares. If Altan Rio is publicly traded at the time the payment is due and Gallant elects to be paid in shares then the price of the shares shall be the price at the date of listing. If Altan Rio continues to be a private company and Gallant elects to be paid in shares it may request to be granted options to acquire shares at the listing price. All amounts are in US dollars.

On completion of the terms of the agreement, Gallant has a one-time option to retain its 20% interest in the project or convert its 20% interest into a 2.5% NSR.

Yol Property. The Yol Property is an early stage exploration property comprised of approximately 4 mineral exploration licenses covering approximately 1,047 km2 in the western region of Mongolia. Altan Rio Mongolia LLC is the 100% holder of the Yol Tenements.

Technical Report. A National Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101") compliant technical report in respect of the Chandman-Yol Properties is being prepared by Mr John L. Stockley, B.Sc. (Hons), F.A.I.M.M., C.P. (Geo) of Lyndhurst Enterprises Pty Ltd. Mr. Stockley is an independent "qualified person" within the meaning of NI 43-101.

Financial Position. Altan Rio has cash on hand and a current working capital surplus in excess of $3.5 million as at today's date (unaudited). A more detailed summary of financial information in respect of Altan Rio, and an audited balance sheet, will be included in the Filing Statement which will be prepared and filed by AMO on SEDAR in connection with the proposed Qualifying Transaction.

About AMO

AMO, a capital pool company within the meaning of the policies of the Exchange, was incorporated in British Columbia on December 20, 2010 and was listed on the Exchange on June 29, 2011. AMO does not have any operations and has no assets other than cash. AMO's business is to identify and evaluate businesses and assets with a view to completing a Qualifying Transaction.

Link to release


Blue Wolf Mongolia Holdings Corp. Announces Pricing of $70,000,000 Initial Public Offering

NEW YORK, July 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Wolf Mongolia Holdings Corp. (the "Company") (NASDAQ: MNGL), a newly-organized blank check company formed for the purpose of acquiring or merging with an operating business, today announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 7,000,000 units at a price of $10.00 per unit for gross proceeds of $70,000,000 on July 14, 2011.  Each unit issued in the initial public offering consists of one ordinary share and one warrant to purchase one ordinary share at an exercise price of $12.00 per share.

The Company's units are expected to be listed today on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the ticker symbol "MNGLU". The Company has granted the underwriters a 45-day option to purchase up to an additional 1,050,000 units to cover over-allotments, if any.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. acted as sole book-running manager and representative of the underwriters of the offering.

Link to release

Link to Prospectus


C @ Limited intersects significant coal in Mongolia, to expand exploration footprint

July 15 (Proactive Investors Australia) Perth-based C @ Limited (ASX: CEO) has discovered two significant coal intersections on the Ovorhangay licences after completing its technical due diligence exploration program in southern Mongolia.

The coal licences are located in the South Gobi province and the adjoining Ovorhangay province, which the company holds under an option agreement with a major international developer. 

C @ Limited also announced today that it has exercised its rights under an option agreement to acquire a total of eight licences in the Ovorhangay and South Gobi provinces from an international coal developer. The licences cover an extensive area of about 625 square kilometres.

Under the terms of the option agreement the consideration for the coal licences was set at $7.7million. The company expects that further negotiation will take place over the next few weeks to finalise a definitive sale and purchase agreement for execution.

The licences in Ovorhangay are close to existing mining operations, providing some infrastructure, and easy access to the Chinese coal markets. Interestingly, C @ Limited is known to be in talks with a number of strategic investors.

The two intersections in the Ovorhangay licences are located 280m apart and the first hole produced a coal seam thickness of 60 metres from surface and was estimated to comprise one major coal seam. 

The second hole achieved a 40 metre coal seam thickness commencing at 89 metres in depth, which was also estimated to comprise one major seam.

The company said it is still unclear if these two intersects form part of the same coal seam or are two different structures.

Mark Earley, C @ Limited's managing director, said the company is "delighted with the results achieved from its due diligence exploration program, particularly those from the Ovorhangay province. 

"The work done to date only starts to scratch at the surface of the potential of these licences. Upon successful completion of the sale and purchase agreement, the company will embark upon a substantial drilling program on the licenses."

To further understand the orientation of these coal seams and their structure, the company drilled another three holes on this licence. 

The fifth hole, located about 6 kilometres from the first two holes,  intersected coal at 38 metres for 12 metres, and then a shaley coal sequence, with occasional siltstone partings at 141 metres for 15 metres before the drill bit got stuck at 156 metres, having to be abandoned. 

Due to the thickness of the seams and large number of mining options available to maximise the coal quality, the company is looking to engage experts in Australia to assist with the correlation and potential market positioning for the coal.

Link to article

Link to CEO releases:

Rights Exercised Over Mongolian Coal Licences – July 15

Mongolian Coal Licences Drilling Update - July 15


Mongolia pay for Petro Matad

July 14 ( London-listed independent Petro Matad (LON:MATD) has struck hydrocarbons with the latest exploration well drilled on its Mongolian acreage as it proves further prospectivity in the little-explored play.

Chief executive Doug McGay said the explorer has hit pay zones with all but one of seven probes drilled to date as part of a drilling effort targeting 12 prospects in the Davsan Tolgoi area of Block 20.

The latest probe, DT-7, encountered three zones of possible net pay and the rig has now been moved to drill the next well in the programme, DT-8, that is set to be spudded today.

McGay said the seventh well had confirmed the prognosis for the reservoir formation at Davsan Tolgoi, which lies in the vicinity of the producing Daqing oilfield across the border in China.

Each of the wells has already given us important information that is being used to refine our geologic model, and hence our drill site selection,” he said.

This should serve us well not only for the continued drilling of our prospect inventory, but also for the ongoing exploration of the remainder of Block 20.”

Link to article

Link to MATD release


Manas Petroleum begins second seismic survey on Mongolian blocks

July 15 (Energy Business Review) Oil and gas company Manas Petroleum (TSX-V:MNP) has begun the second seismic survey on the Zuunbayan-XIV and Tsagaan Els-XIII blocks owned by Gobi Energy in Mongolia.

This year's seismic survey, which covers ten prospective areas over both blocks, includes up to 1,700 kms of 2D seismic.

The company said the seismic program is laid out in eight phases without any interruption between the phases and some phases show interdependencies.

The seismic acquisition is expected to start next month and the company has already commenced preparation and mobilization.

Manas Petroleum is carrying out the survey in order to improve the quality of existing data and increase the chances of success of exploratory wells it plans to drill upon completion and interpretation of the new data.

The company is expected to commence drilling operations at the first well in the second quarter of 2012.

Manas Petroleum, through its wholly-owned subsidiary DWM Petroleum, owns record title to 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of Gobi Energy, though 26% is held in trust for others.

Link to article

Link to MNP release


Lucky Strike Resources to acquire 80% of 6 Mongolian coal licenses

July 13 (Proactive Investors USA & Canada) Lucky Strike Resources (CVE:LKY) reported Wednesday that it has signed definitive agreements with five private Mongolian companies to acquire an 80% stake in six mining exploration licenses and coal properties.

The Choir-Nyalgia properties, which encompass an area of 13,096 hectares, are situated 170 kilometres from the Trans-Mongolian Railway.

Under the agreement's terms, Lucky Strike will pay vendors US$5.8 million in cash to acquire the 80% interest in the Choir-Nyalgia properties and commit US$2.5 million in exploration expenditures.

Lucky Strike said it already paid non-refundable deposits of US$100,000 to certain vendors, and upon the acquisition's acceptance will make additional cash payments of US$400,000.

It is estimated that Mongolia has potential coal resources of 162.3 billion tonnes, and 20.3 billion of coal resources in the Choir-Nyalgia coal basin, which exported 18.2 million tonnes of coal last year, Lucky Strike said.

"Mongolia has vast coal resources with significant potential at an early stage of development in the nation's mining industry," said Lucky Strike’s chairman and chief executive officer, Cathy Fong.

"Lucky Strike's decision to acquire coal exploration licenses within the Choir-Nyalgia coal basin was based on favourable geological conditions."

Further, as part of developing the properties, it intends to carry-out a drilling program to determine the extent of the mineral resource potential.

Additional geological, engineering and feasibility studies are expected to be required to assess whether the Choir-Nyalgia coal properties have the economic potential to ship product to Ulaanbaatar, and to be a fuel source for a power generating plant.

The acquisitions are subject to TSX approval, as well as legal and technical due diligence.

Lucky Strike's shares rose 30 cents, or 4.29% to $0.73 in Wednesday’s afternoon trading session.

Link to article

Link to LKY release


Gulfside Minerals Lines Up Likely Buyer for Stake in Mongolian Coal Properties

July 13 (NASDAQ) Gulfside Minerals Ltd (GMG.V) has found a potential buyer for its stake in the Onjuul Lignite Project in central Mongolia, with Lucky Strike Resources (LSY.V) in line to acquire title to the property in exchange for paying Gulfside a 2% royalty on net production.

Gulfside acquired the rights to the Onjuul coal project in August 2009, agreeing to pay $19 million over the next 22 months and issuing 2 million shares of its stock. It later received concessions from the sellers allowing the firm to instead spend on exploration while it also sought additional investments -- money it was unable to secure. Gulfside last year also sold its 5% stake in another Mongolian coal play and is now concentrating on several gold prospects in British Columbia.

Lucky Strike closed Tuesday at $0.70 a share.

Link to article

Link to GMG release


Centerra finds high-grade gold in Mongolian mine

July 11 (Reuters) - Canadian gold miner Centerra Gold Inc (TSX:CG) said it discovered high-grade gold and silver on its property in northeast Mongolia and raised its exploration budget for 2011.

The company raised its exploration budget to $40 million. It said it would spend $4 million for further drilling at other known mineralization targets.

The company said it intersected gold grades ranging from 0.1 grams per tonne (g/t) to 160 g/t at its Altan Tsagaan Ovoo (ATO) property. It also found silver grades of up to 500 g/t silver.

Centerra has spent about $6.5 million on ATO, about 600 kilometres northeast of Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, Centerra bought the property in May last year.

Shares of the Toronto-based miner closed at C$16.75 on Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. 

Link to article

Link to Centerra release


Ivanhoe Mines Announces Appointment of Rio Tinto Executive Dan Larsen to Company's Board of Directors

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 14, 2011) - David Huberman, Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines, (TSX:IVN)(NYSE:IVN)(NASDAQ:IVN) announced today that Dan Larsen, Rio Tinto's Controller and Global Head of Planning and Reporting, has been appointed to the Ivanhoe Mines Board of Directors.

Rio Tinto's nomination of Mr. Larsen increases to seven the number of Rio Tinto appointees presently on the 14-member Ivanhoe Mines board.

Under terms of the October 2006 private placement agreement between Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines, Rio Tinto is entitled to nominate members to the Ivanhoe board in proportion to Rio Tinto's shareholding in Ivanhoe. Rio Tinto has committed to maintain a majority of independent directors on the Ivanhoe Mines board until January 2014.

Rio Tinto increased its holding in Ivanhoe Mines to 46.5% from 42.0% in late June 2011 through Rio Tinto's exercise of all remaining share-purchase warrants – which also resulted in the allocation of an additional Ivanhoe Mines directorship to Rio Tinto.

Mr. Larsen has been based in London, England, as Rio Tinto Group Controller and Global Head of Planning and Reporting for the past six years. He is a director of Rio Tinto International Holdings Ltd., which holds Rio Tinto's interest in Ivanhoe Mines. Mr. Larsen joined Rio Tinto in 1992 and previously was a senior manager with Ernst & Young's mining practice.

Howard Balloch, a director of Ivanhoe Mines since 2005, has relinquished his position to enable Mr. Larsen's nomination.

Mr. Huberman said Mr. Balloch's experience as Canada's former ambassador to China and Mongolia, and his career in Canada's foreign service, had greatly benefited the Ivanhoe Mines Board of Directors as the company pursued the development of its Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold-silver mining complex in Mongolia and other developments in the Asia Pacific region. Mr. Balloch is Chairman of Canaccord Genuity Asia.

Link to release


East Asia Minerals Announces Completion of $10 Million Underwritten Private Placement of Common Shares

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - July 13, 2011) - East Asia Minerals Corporation (TSX VENTURE:EAS) is pleased to announce the completion of the private placement previously announced on June 28, 2011. Through a syndicate of underwriters led by RBC Capital Markets and including Jennings Capital Inc. and Cormark Securities Inc. (collectively the "Underwriters"), 3,450,000 common shares of the Company (the "Common Shares") were purchased on an underwritten private placement basis at a price of $2.90 per Common Share for aggregate gross proceeds of $10,005,000 (the "Offering"). The net proceeds of the Offering will be used primarily for exploration and development at the Company's Miwah property and for general working capital purposes.

As consideration for their services in connection with the Offering, the Underwriters were paid a cash commission equal to 6% of the gross proceeds of the Offering.

All of the securities issued pursuant to the Offering are subject to a hold period expiring on November 14, 2011.

About East Asia Minerals Corporation

East Asia Minerals (TSX VENTURE:EAS) is an Asian-based, Canadian mineral exploration company with gold and copper exploration properties in Indonesia, and uranium exploration properties in Mongolia. In Indonesia the Company has a 70 to 85% interest in six advanced gold and gold-copper properties located in Aceh Province, Sumatra, and Sangihe Island, North Sulawesi. The Company owns seven uranium properties, including the advanced Ingiin-Nars, Ulaan Nuur and Enger uranium projects, and two phosphate properties in Mongolia. East Asia currently has 81,412,372 shares outstanding. Its shares are listed for trading on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol "EAS".

Link to release


Solartech (01166) places up to 505m shares for HK$98m

July 14 (ETNet) Solartech International (01166) said it agreed to place up to 505 million shares at HK$0.2 apiece, representing a discount of about 34.43% to the closing price of HK$0.305. 

The placing shares represent about 28.57% of the enlarged issued share capital of Solartech. 

The maximum gross proceeds and net proceeds of the placement are about HK$100.9 million and HK$98 million. Solartech intends to utilize about HK$50 million as part of the consideration for the acquisition of cooper mines in Mongolia as announced earlier and the remainder of the proceeds will be used for the general working capital of the Group. (HL) 

Link to article

Link to Solartech release


Winsway (01733) declines to comment on Moody's report

July 12 (ETNet) Winsway Coking Coal (01733) said it has noted the report issued by Moody's Investors Service yesterday. 

The Board does not believe it is appropriate at this moment to comment on reports of third parties, including the Moody's report, and emphasizes that this should not in any way be taken to imply acceptance of any statements or conclusions in such report regarding the company or the company's business. (HL) 

Link to article

Link to Winsway release


Moody's analyzes Chinese companies for 'red flags'

July 11 (Seeking Alpha) DES MOINES, Iowa -- A new report by Moody's Investors Service (MCO) warns that the finances and governance of more than five dozen Chinese companies raise "red flags" including high concentrations of family ownership, frequent changes in auditors and too-aggressive business and financial strategies.

Moody's analysts have developed 20 criteria to assess the risks associated with emerging-market companies.

In a report released Monday, the ratings firm said increased scrutiny by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies of Chinese companies prompted it to develop a layer of analysis beyond the usual ratings.

The SEC has recently looked into the quality of financial reporting from publicly listed Chinese companies.

"To address investors' concerns and provide transparency on our approach to ratings, this report identifies warning signs _ so-called "red flags" _ for our rated, high-yield, non-financial Chinese companies," Moody's said

Moody's said it plans to follow up soon with a report for other issuers inAsia.

The analysts looked at 61 rated companies in China.

Moody's red flags included corporate governance, riskier business models, poorer quality of earnings or cash flow, and concerns over auditors or financial statements.


Moody's gave the second-highest number of red flags to Winsway Coking Coal Holdings Ltd., which also has a non-investment grade rating of "Ba3" and "stable" outlook.

Winsway has a short track record and a plan for rapid expansion. The company boosted its procurement of Mongolian coal from 1.3 million tons in 2008 to 6.5 million tons in 2010. That triggered several red flags because the required build-out of infrastructure pressured working capital and left Winsway with negative free cash flow.

Also, the company's chairman is the majority owner of Winsway and its commodities-trading businesses, which facilitated the debut and growth of Winsway's operations, but Moody's said the chairman has a non-compete agreement with Winsway.

Link to article


Mongolia Investment Group: Annual Report 2011

July 15, Mongolia Investment Group Limited (HK:402) --

Link to report


Buy Mining Plays with Assets In Mongolia: Pro

July 15 (CNBC) The Mongolian mining industry, which is to benefit from China's huge appetite for resources, is a sector to bet on. One fund manager suggests investing in mining plays that are listed internationally, but have assets in Mongolia.

"Mongolia will emerge as one of the most significant resource producers in Asia," Alisher Ali, managing partner of Silk Road Management told CNBC.

His top three picks are U.S.-listed Ivanhoe Mines, Mongolian Mining listed in Hong Kong and Australia-listed Hunnu Coal.

Ali's first choice is Ivanhoe Mines, whose Oyu Tolgoi Project is considered the crown jewel of Mongolia's resource industry. It is expected to produce 650,000 ounces of gold a year in its first 10 years starting 2013.

Investing in Ivanhoe Mines will also give traders exposure to copper and silver as the Oyu Tolgoi Project is projected to yield 544,000 metric tons of copper in the first 10 years, as well as three million ounces of silver annually.

Ali also said Mongolian Mining was one of the best positioned companies to exploit the emergence of Mongolia as the biggest coking coal exporter to China.

The miner has an edge over its competitors mainly because of the quality of its coal assets in South Gobi and the proximity of its deposits to China, Ali said.

His third pick, Hunnu Coal currently holds nine exploration licenses in Mongolia. An investment in this company, which is still in the exploration stage, Ali felt would pay off once it brings its coal assets to production.

Link to article and video


L1 Capital Increases Hunnu Stake from 7.12% to 8.28%

July 11, Hunnu Coal Limited (ASX:HUN) --

Link to release


Global X Files For Global X Central Asia ETF

July 11 (ETF Daily News) Global X has filed paperwork with the SEC for a “Global X Central Asia ETF.” The Global X Central Asia ETF (“Fund”) seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Solactive Central Asia Index. The Solactive Central Asia Index is designed to reflect the performance of Central Asian companies. The index is comprised of companies that are domiciled or have their main business operations in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The stocks are screened for liquidity and weighted according to free-float market capitalization. The index is maintained by Structured Solutions AG.

They did not specify a trading symbol or expense ratio in the initial filing.


The Fund will invest at least 80% of its total assets in the securities of the Underlying Index and in ADRs and GDRs based on the securities in the Underlying Index. The fund will invest at least 80% of its total assets in securities that are economically tied to Central Asia.

The Underlying Index tracks the performance of the [ ] largest and most liquid companies in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. As of [ ], 2011, the Underlying Index had [ ] constituents, all of which are foreign companies. The three largest stocks were [ ], [ ] and [ ]. The Fund’s investment objective and Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval. Shareholders will be given 60 days’ prior notice of any such change.

The Underlying Index is sponsored by an organization (“Index Provider”) that is independent of the Fund and Global X Management Company LLC, the investment adviser for the Fund (“Adviser”). The Index Provider determines the relative weightings of the securities in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index. The Fund’s Index Provider is Structured Solutions AG.

The Adviser will use a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the Underlying Index and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.

The Fund will use a replication strategy. A replication strategy is an indexing strategy that involves investing in the securities of the Underlying Index in approximately the same proportions as in the Underlying Index. However, the Fund may utilize a representative sampling strategy with respect to the Underlying Index when a replication strategy might be detrimental to shareholders, such as when there are practical difficulties or substantial costs involved in compiling a portfolio of equity securities to follow the Underlying Index, in instances in which a security in the Underlying Index becomes temporarily illiquid, unavailable or less liquid, or as a result of legal restrictions or limitations (such as tax diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not the Underlying Index.

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Puget Ventures Inc. Completes Key Milestone in Completion of Global Cobalt Launch

Transaction to acquire assets in mineral-rich Altai Republic would create a regional strategic metals development company.


·         Shareholders to vote on approving acquisition July 21st, 2011 in Vancouver

·         $400 million (Cdn) allocated by Altai Republic Government to develop infrastructure for Karakul Project

·         Pugetto undertake $16-million (Cdn) financing to develop world-class development and mining assets in Altai Republic

·         As a condition of the acquisition the Company must apply for graduation to list its shares on the TSX

PUGET VENTURES INC ("Puget") (TSX VENTURE:PVS) today announced it has received conditional approval from the TSX Venture Exchange to acquire Karakul, a diversified metals deposit, along with world-class cobalt, tungsten and other strategic-metals projects in Russia's Altai Republic and in Mongolia.

Link to release


GTSO Meets with U.S. Trade Development Agency

USTDA Could Help Fund Geological Studies and Recovery in Sub-Saharan Nations

SAN JOSE, Calif., Jul 13, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Green Technology Solutions, Inc. (otcqb:GTSO) announced today that its consultant met last week with representatives of the U.S. Trade Development Agency (USTDA) in Washington, D.C., to explore potential financing opportunities in support of the company's efforts to develop new rare earth mines in Sub-Saharan Africa.

GTSO is already pursuing new rare earth mining development in Mongolia. Earlier this year, the company added precious metals to its core mining goals, forming a global strategic profit alliance with the Beijing Bullion Transfer Group (BBTG), an experienced international trader of gold, silver, platinum and other valuable metals. According to the alliance agreement, BBTG will find, develop and market gold and precious metals on properties in Mongolia, Africa and beyond while GTSO provides necessary start-up expenses and operating costs.

Link to release


Mongolia Mining Report Q3 2011 in terms of coal production report forecasts an annual average growth rate of 17.0% reaching 27.0mntpa by 2015

July 13, DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of the "Mongolia Mining Report Q3 2011" report to their offering.

Mongolia Mining Report provides industry professionals and strategists, corporate analysts, mining associations, government departments and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on Mongolia's mining industry.

Mongolia is set for a rapid increase in production of gold, copper and coal leading to fast growth in the mining sector. BMI expects that mining sector output will grow to US$11.5bn by 2015, marking a fourfold increase from 2010 levels of US$2.6bn. Most of this rapid growth will occur in 2012 and 2013 as the Oyu Tolgoi mine comes online.

Rapid Growth Across All Metals

BMI expects a dramatic reversal of the trend of static growth in mining output, with rapid rates of growth across the mining complex over the coming years. From 2011 to 2015, BMI forecast an annual average growth rate of 31.4% in gold output to reach 791kozpa (thousand ounces per annum), and 46.2% growth in copper production to 720ktpa (thousand tonnes per annum). The phenomenal rates of growth in copper and gold output will be largely driven by the Oyu Tolgoi mine, a joint venture (JV) between Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines, which is due to come online in 2013. This mine is set to be one of the largest copper and gold mines in the world and will make Mongolia a significant producer of both metals.

In terms of coal production, BMI forecasts an annual average growth rate of 17.0%, reaching 27.0mntpa (million tonnes per annum) by 2015. This increase will be driven by South Gobi, a subsidiary of Ivanhoe, which is increasing production at Ovoot Tolgoi, the country's largest coal mine, to 6.5mntpa by 2014. This growth will reverse the decline experienced over the last three years. There are substantial upside risks to our coal outlook as the Tavan Tolgoi mine, currently owned by the Mongolian government, is due to commence output by 2015.

The annual production figures have yet to be released, but the mine is believed to contain 6bnt (billion tonnes) of reserves, making it one of the world's largest untapped coal deposits. Aside from these developments, Mongolia has great potential for further growth in mining output across all metals as very little of the country has been mapped. Therefore, it is likely that significant deposits of minerals are yet to be discovered.

Regulatory Environment

Mongolia has made significant progress over the last decade to improve its business environment. Most importantly, the government recently rescinded the 68% windfall tax which had been a great impediment to foreign investment into the country. The repeal of the tax led to a wave of investment including the completion of the Oyu Tolgoi agreement, which will bring billions of dollars of investment into the country. Recently, however, there has been a slight deterioration in the country's business environment as the government suspended almost half of the country's mining licenses on environmental grounds, having previously cancelled two exploration licenses for the Canadian miner Khan Resources.

Companies Mentioned:

·         Ivanhoe Mines Ltd

·         Erdene Resource Development Ltd

·         Centerra Gold

Link to release


Microfinance Lenders Seek Ways to Hedge Forex Risks

July 13 (WSJ) Global banks have figured out how to hedge against unexpected exchange-rate movements in the euro, yen and Swiss franc. But what happens when they try dealing with the Mongolian togrog?

Hedging foreign-exchange risks in major markets is becoming less of a problem for savvy institutions, but it is a growing issue for smaller companies that make philanthropic loans in tiny economies--investing known as microfinance, in which lenders such as Ulaanbaatar-based Xac Bank offer $2,500 loans to local entrepreneurs to try jump-starting economic development in small countries.

These kinds of loans are rapidly spreading around the world as rich-country investors make charitable loans to people who otherwise wouldn't usually have capital. One recent report says microfinance banks currently have about $6 billion in outstanding international loans.

The problem is, the countries that are poor enough to need microfinance lending usually have extremely illiquid currencies, which make them all but impossible to hedge against. Banks are afraid to send large sums of their currencies there because if the local currency suddenly devalues, the borrowers can't pay back their loans and the lenders end up short.

"If the (Serbian) dinar tanks," for instance, borrowers there would still have to pay back their loans, so the lender would "take the hit," says Brian Cox, chief executive of the Washington-based hedging firm MFX.

Another, simpler problem? "There are very few counterparties that will price an FX forward contract in Honduran lempiras," says Candace Smith, chief operating officer of MicroVest, a $150 million fund manager in Bethesda, Md., that has tried hedging in that very currency. A "forward" is an oft-used agreement banks use to exchange currencies at later, predetermined dates and prices.

The solution to these issues might come in the form of firms such as Netherlands-based TCX, a government-backed fund that holds massive amounts of exotic currencies such as the togrog and converts them to major currencies so that lenders don't have to bear the exchange risk of doing it on their own. TCX can do this because it uses government money (something large banks don't have) to deal in more than 80 currencies whose fluctuations cancel each other out.

Microfinance gained recognition as a way to help poor people start their own businesses after Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for spearheading the Bangladeshi bank's effort to make ultra-small loans.

But although the world has been moving toward freely floating and potentially volatile exchange rates for three decades, people in the microfinance field didn't take into account the idea that they could lose drastic sums of money because of currency fluctuations until the 2008 financial crisis, says Christian Speckhardt, member of the management board and chief investment officer at Zurich-based responsAbility Social Investments. During the global recession, exchange rates starting going haywire and the microfinance world finally started to worry.

Enter TCX, a $750 million fund founded in 2009 and backed by two dozen government agencies, including the development banks of Germany, Belgium and Japan. The fund holds huge quantities of currencies from emerging markets such as Tajikistan (somonis) and Uzbekistan (sums) to Ethiopia (birrs) and Central Africa (francs). The idea behind holding all of these currencies is that if one of them unexpectedly moves in value, another's movement will balance it out, similar to how hedge funds operate.

Banks that are interested in working with TCX typically reach out to the company's head trader, Bert van Lier, to discuss what currency they need to hedge and how much of it needs to be handled. Because TCX is government-backed, it isn't always necessarily trying to squeeze every last penny out of its business deals like other major banks. To be sure, though, there are profits to be had in selling their complex foreign-exchange hedging instruments. Net asset value per share of TCX, which is how the fund measures its own performance, was $551,000 at the end of May, up 10% in the past three years.

Bai Tushum & Partners, a Kyrgyzstan-based microfinance lender, is in negotiations with TCX to set up local-currency loans, says the lender's deputy general manager, Nurgul Torobaeva (Kyrgyzstan's currency is the som). Bai Tushum wants to lend money in soms instead of euros because that'd make it so that if the som suddenly depreciates in value, borrowers can still pay back their loans. Bai Tushum would still have to account for the exchange-rate fluctuation, but it is better prepared to handle currency movement than the average Kyrgyz street vender.

But there's a problem--there aren't enough soms to go around. Kyrgyzstan's annual inflation is 15.5% and the government is paying more than 20% on some of its bills, making them extremely attractive to local investors. That means all that country's money gets tied up in government investments and the currency market has no depth. Bai Tushum hopes TCX will be able to provide that missing liquidity.

What happens when microfinance lenders try to make loans without this hedging help? Mongolia's Xac Bank offers micro-loans of about $2,500 to nomadic yak herders and small manufacturers. The bank has to make the far majority of its loans in U.S. dollars even though its borrowers need Mongolian togrogs, a currency that is extremely volatile because it's so illiquid, says Banzragch Ts of the bank's treasury department.

That forces the bank to make convoluted loans in which it deposits dollars from abroad into a local bank, then switches them for togrogs, and then lends those out to herders. This leaves Xac Bank exposed to the risk of the togrog devaluing and borrowers having no way to fully repay their loans.

Because the amount of money pouring into microfinance is growing while the risks of lending aren't going anywhere, funds such as TCX are starting to pop up elsewhere around the globe. Microfinance currency consulting firm Cygma Corp., based in Kennett Square, Pa., has been trying for several years to start a fund that would back hedges the way TCX does. Cygma's president, Art Avedisian, says the firm is about $3 million in junior equity away from being able to officially launch.

He says he sees a big opening in the business because he thinks there is a good chance microfinance investors and lenders will get "really hosed" if they don't have help. Many of the foundations he works with "just don't understand foreign exchange ... we try to level the playing field," he says.

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: responsAbility Loans $8m to Kompanion of Kyrgyz Republic, Eskhata of Tajikistan, XacBank of Mongolia

July 15 ( responsAbility Social Investments AG (responsAbility), a Swiss asset management company that invests in microfinance institutions (MFIs) and microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs), recently reported to MicroCapital that it made debt investments totaling USD 8 million through MIVs it manages in the following institutions: USD 3 million to Kompanion Financial Group Microfinance Closed Joint Stock Company, an MFI in Kyrgyzstan; USD 2 million to Eskhata Bank, an institution in Tajikistan that lends to micro- and small businesses; and USD 3 million to XacBank, a community development MFI in Mongolia.

Kompanion was formed from a consolidation of five microcredit agencies affiliated with the US-based economic development and aid organization Mercy Corps. It reported to the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX), the US-based nonprofit data provider, total assets of USD 50 million and a gross loan portfolio of USD 30 million as of December 31, 2010. Eskhata was established in 1993 and reported to MIX total assets of USD 78.3 million and a gross loan portfolio of USD 47.4 million for 2010. XacBank is a subsidiary of TenGer Financial Group, a conglomerate in Mongolia owned by a group of local and international investors, and in 2010 reported to MIX total assets of USD 380 million and a gross loan portfolio of USD 264 million.

Link to article


MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Dual Return Fund of Vision Microfinance Loans $3m to Microfinance Institutions in Mongolia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador

July 14 ( Absolute Portfolio Management GmbH, an Austrian investment company that specializes in microfinance, recently reported that its Dual Return Fund, a sub-fund of Vision Microfinance, made debt investments totaling USD 3 million in unnamed microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Mongolia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Ecuador.

In June 2011, Dual Return Fund’s total microfinance investment portfolio reported an annualized yield of 7.9 percent and an investment level of approximately 75 percent. Dual Return Fund reported year-to-date returns of 0.32 percent for its EUR (P) Share Class and 0.39 percent for its EUR (I) Share Class. As of June 2011, Dual Return Fund reported a total fund volume of EUR 85.2 million (USD 119 million) and loans issued to 54 MFIs in 24 emerging markets.

Link to article


Leica provides equipment to monitor Mongolian mineral works

July 14 ( Leica Geosystems has provided crucial surveying equipment for a joint German-Mongolian surveying project, aimed at monitoring the increasing extraction of the Central Asian nation's rich mineral reserves. 

The project was proposed after more and more mining and ore extraction operations started up on the previously untouched, remote steppes of Mongolia. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research began sponsoring a research project at the beginning of this year, to see how the extraction processes could best be managed sustainably. 

The Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Ulaanbaatar - which is carrying out the research along with scientists from Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Science in Höxter - did not have the necessary equipment to carry out the task, however - which is where Leica Geosystems stepped in. 

They made two GPS systems available to the university, from the winter semester in 2010, to allow them to undertake the appropriate training and tests with the equipment before beginning work on the surveying field campaign this summer. 

It is hoped that the use of remote sensing data will allow for the differentiation between various types of land affected by mining activities, such as open-cast mines, reclaimed areas, and sites abandoned without restoration, as automatically as possible. This could help cut down on illegal extraction and unsustainable exploitation of the resources.

Link to article


Parliament ratifies loan agreements

July 11 ( Parliament ratified on Saturday two loan agreements. The first is for a Chinese loan of USD500 million repayable in 20 years with 2% annual interest. The other is from the International Development Association to develop the mining sector. 

The session also passed a draft protocol to use a USD1.5 million loan to support pastureland management and to help herders who lost all their livestock in the dzud. The loan carries an annual interest of 0.75% and is to be repaid in 40 years. 

Link to article


Chinese fuel only for mining sector

July 11 ( Agreement will soon be reached on Mongolia importing 10.000 tons of fuel from China every month. However, China insists that the fuel is to be supplied only to the mining sector and will not be sold in retail to citizens.

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China turning to Mongolia for coking coal

July 16 (Washington Post) As China continues to step up steel production, it will require increasing amounts of coking coal, which is needed to fire blast furnaces. Although China currently meets more than 90 percent of its own coking coal needs, its domestic supply cannot keep up with growing demand. China will become increasingly dependent on other countries for the resource, especially nearby Mongolia, which contains huge, largely untapped reserves.

Link to article


China, rich with coal, seeks more next door in Mongolia to meet its energy needs

July 17 (Washington Post) TAVAN TOLGOI, MONGOLIA — Overlooking a deep black gash in the Gobi Desert, Od Jambaljamts watched Caterpillar trucks rumble across the rim of the world’s biggest undeveloped coal deposit — and mused on Mongolia’s good fortune to have the world’s most voracious consumer of coal just a few scores of miles away.

China is so big that even if they cut their economy in half they will still need what we have here,” said Od, a former Mongolian diplomat in Washington who, along with his younger brother, now controls the Mongolian Mining Corp.

With China so close and so hungry for energy — and Mongolia so rich in what China needs — locals with mining licenses and a swelling swarm of foreign investors believe that only the absence of modern transport links to China clouds Mongolia’s future as a would-be Saudi Arabia of coal.

It should therefore have come as good news when Mongolia recently started preparations for a new railway line from Tavan Tolgoi, the first such link with the epicenter of this landlocked nation’s nascent, China-driven mining boom.

But there is a problem: The new track will not go to China. Instead, it will head hundreds of miles in the opposite direction toward Russia — and carry a heavy freight of suspicion and wariness that impedes China’s global quest for energy.

China’s demand for the coal, uranium and other minerals that Mongolia has in abundance — but has so far barely touched — is gargantuan and growing. China, which surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest energy user in 2009, needs to find enormous quantities of new fuel to meet what, according to the International Energy Agency, will be a 75 percent increase in its energy needs by 2035.

But as China scours the globe for coal, oil, uranium and natural gas — and hunts for rivers just beyond its borders on which to build electricity-generating dams — it increasingly confronts a stubborn reality: What Beijing and foreign businessmen embrace as a simple law of supply and demand stirs complex, and sometimes dangerous, political passions, security fears and big power rivalries.

“In the 21st century, whoever controls energy controls everything,” said Sanjaasuren Oyun, a member of the Mongolian parliament, Cambridge University-educated geologist and former foreign minister. She says that Mongolia needs a railway to the Chinese border but that it has to make sure the country doesn’t just become a grab bag for China-bound minerals.

Mongolia last year nearly doubled its sales to China, which absorbed 84 percent of all its exports — three-quarters of which were coal and other minerals. But this is just the start. The vast bulk of Tavan Tolgoi is still untouched and eagerly eyed by Chinese, Russian and American companies that want to profit from China’s insatiable demand. Mongolia could multiply its coal exports across its southern border many times over — if only it could get the stuff there swiftly and cheaply.

Coal is transported in convoys of trucks across unpaved desert tracks, a method that is expensive, slow and hazardous.

Link to article


China, Mongolia deepen relations

July 11 (The China Daily) BEIJING - Nearly 62 years after establishing diplomatic ties, China-Mongolia relations areentering a new era.

China's Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu visited Mongolia from Wednesday to Friday, thefirst Chinese leader to do so since the two countries established a strategic partnership inJune, to boost cooperation in law enforcement and security issues.

During Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold's visit to China in mid-June, the twocountries also signed 10 major agreements, covering areas including education, trade,transportation and culture.

Economic cooperation is now the most active area in China-Mongolia relations, with Chinabeing its largest trading partner.

Bilateral trade was $3.9 billion in 2010, according to the Ministry of Commerce, up 62.5 percentyear-on-year.

Large-scale economic cooperation is the main factor driving relations between the twocountries, said Tsedenjav Sukhbaatar, Mongolian ambassador to China.

Being close neighbors geographically is an advantage, he said, adding that China offersMongolia its shortest route to the sea.

In a recent joint bid, Chinese company Shenhua Energy won the right to develop 40 percent ofthe western portion of Mongolia's Tavan Tolgoi, the world's largest coal mine in Mongoliacontaining an estimated 6.5 billion metric tons of metallurgical coal.

In addition, a Russian consortium won 36 percent, and US Peabody Energy won 24 percent.

"Through the joint bid, you can see Mongolia trying to balance different powers," said WangPeiran, a visiting scholar at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium.

Wang said the fact that the majority stakeholding went to China is an indication of Mongolia'sdesire to enhance ties with its neighbor.

As well as developing relationships with its neighbors and other countries, Mongolia is alsoactively engaged in regional cooperation.

Mongolia has called for the establishment of a dialogue mechanism to discuss Northeast Asianregional issues, and is now member of the Greater Tumen Initiative, a joint mechanismincluding China, the Republic of Korea and Russia to promote regional cooperation foreconomic growth in Northeast Asia.

Link to article


Room for improvement in Mongolia trade

July 11 (Vietnam News) Viet Nam News spoke with Mongolian charge d'affaires Chuluun Bayarmunkh on the occasion of Mongolia's National Day today.

Link to article


Mongolia: Looking East, looking West

President demonstrates considerable flexibility in balancing strategic relationships

July 13 (Asia Sentinel) Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj continues to ascend up the list of priority partners in the capitals of North Asia’s key power brokers. Elbergdorj has demonstrated remarkable tact in his management and enhancement of Mongolia’s complex relations with China, Russia and the United States. 

The Mongolian head of state is fluent in English and Russian and has a master’s degree from Harvard in government. His own personal narrative continues to further Ulan Bator’s diplomatic push to enhance ties with both neighbors – China and Russia – and foreign markets in Europe and North America. 

The current Mongolian government’s nuanced approach to its foreign policy is accruing benefits. Elbegdorj continues to follow a policy similar to that of newly re-elected Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan that advocates “zero problems” on its borders. While Mongolia does not have to deal with the same problems as Turkey from a security perspective, the challenge of managing its relationships with China and Russia is considerable. 

Mongolia has historically been blessed and cursed by its geostrategic location between two great powers. Elbedorj is now making it a priority for Mongolia to manage these problems – ranging from historical disputes, energy security to corruption – in order to chart out a prosperous and sustainable future for his country. 

Sino-Mongolian relations have improved under Elbedorj’s watch, both economically and politically. Defense cooperation with China is still a sensitive issue for Mongolia but there have been signs of a gradual move towards increasing these ties with Beijing. Last August, the two countries concluded the 5th China-Mongolia Defense Consultation aimed at promoting regional and bilateral defense cooperation. 

China recognizes Ulan Bator’s increased engagement with the US and NATO and is anxious to act as hedge and second avenue for the Mongolian government. Following the last round of consultations, a senior official from the People’s Liberation Army remarked that the bilateral discussions had made ‘positive contributions to advancing mutual trust between the two.’ 

Mongolia’s dialogue with China on security issues is largely based on its preeminent economic relationship. Beijing continues to be Mongolia’s largest trading partner and primary source of foreign investment. There have also been early discussions on a potential China-Mongolia free trade agreement, which could serve as a lever to further Chinese commercial interests in Mongolia’s booming mineral sector. Energy security continues to be a predominant policy in Beijing and it is keen to enhance relationships with additional markets outside of the Middle East and Russia. 

Elbegdorj’s experiences as an expatriate in the former Soviet Union (Ukraine) and the US have helped fuel Mongolia’s relations with the other two key power brokers in the region: Russia and the United States. He just finished up a state visit to Russia earlier this month – marking the 90th year of bilateral relations between the two countries - with stops in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Speaking fluent Russian, Elbegdorj stressed his government’s push to increase Mongolia-Russia ties in the areas of defense cooperation, energy security, trade facilitation and people-to-people exchanges. 

Of primary importance to Elbegdorj is the secure flow of energy products across the border from Russia – which Mongolia relies upon to keep its economy churning. Previous interruptions to the energy supply chain have had detrimental effects on Mongolian industries including the agricultural sector and even a smooth public transit system in Ulan Bator. The national interests of Moscow and Ulan Bator intersect on these key two issues. Russia is a big investor in Mongolia’s surging mining sector, while Mongolia continues to prioritize the exploitation of its minerals and energy resources to hungry foreign markets. 

This leads us to Elbegdorj’s recent June visit to the US, which ended with a bilateral meeting with President Obama in Washington. Elbegdorj also had separate meetings with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Speaker of the House John Boehner. During his visit, Elbegdorj met with Mongolian students and business leaders and emphasized that the US remains the “Pacific gateway” to Mongolia. After meeting with President Obama, a joint statement was released committing to strengthened trade and investment in areas such as Mongolia’s energy and mineral resource industries. 

But it is not only trade and investment that bind the two nations. Elbegdorj continues to place emphasis on leveraging Mongolia’s strategic cooperation with Washington on domestic and international security issues. The Joint Statement pointed to enhanced regional cooperation through the United Nations and “other multilateral organizations”. While NATO was not pointed to in the statement, it is clear that defense cooperation with Mongolia and the alliance has been growing at steady pace. Through the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Mongolia contributed about 150 soldiers - a considerable number considering the size of its army - to help train the Afghan National Army in mobile field artillery techniques. 

While most of Mongolia’s forces in Afghanistan have now returned home, such moves have bolstered the broader relationship with both NATO and the United States. Moreover, Mongolia has agreed to redeploy troops to Iraq and continue its support for UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. 

The Obama administration has indicated that it intends to build on this progress. Last summer, the Mongolian Armed Forces (MAF) and the US Pacific Command conducted its annual joint-training exercise, ‘Khaan Quest,’ which was first undertaken in 2004 and is aimed at further enhancing the MAF’s expertise in peacekeeping and counterterrorism. Khaan Quest continues to attract observer and participating nations from across the globe, with South Korea, Thailand, Canada, India, Japan, and Fiji all in attendance recently. 

Elbegdorj’s vision is commendable as much for its restraint as for its ambition. Unlike aging kleptocratic rulers in Central Asia, Elbegdorj seeks enlightened growth for his country that accommodates national interests and a diverse group of international partners. Rather than seeking an authoritarian fiefdom, the Mongolian president leads by keeping in mind his own experience as one of the leaders of Mongolia’s peaceful democratic revolution in 1990. 

While not without its flaws, the current government in Ulan Bator understands its limitations – as well as its opportunities – and continues to navigate its international relationships with astute stewardship in a region that continues to lack reliable partners. 

Link to article


Mongolia Increases Troop Deployment to Northern Afghanistan

July 12 ( Kazakhstan's Afghanistan deployment may have been abandoned, but its (almost) neighbor Mongolia is increasing its troop contribution. Within the next couple of months, the country will be adding about 120 soldiers to its contingent in Badakhshan province, in Afghanistan's far northeast (bordering Tajikistan) where the German military leads operations. According to AFP (in German), the new Mongolian troops will amount to one company of infantry, snipers and medics and will patrol (but not participate in "offensive operations") in addition to its current mission of guarding the German camp.

NATO public relations has a video report on the Mongolian deployment in Afghanistan, though they use some different numbers -- AFP says there are now 74 Mongolian soldiers in Afghanistan, while this report says it's 200 (though NATO's own numbers support the AFP figure):

Link to article and video


UAE constructs humanitarian village in Mongolia

WAM Abu Dhabi, Jul 12th, 2011 (WAM) -- The 'Village', a humanitarian and development project commissioned by the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation in Mongolia will soon be ready for operation.

The project in the Olgiy province, in the west Mongolia is being implemented at a total cost of AED5 million as per directives from HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Zayed Humanitarian Foundation. 

Director General of the Foundation Obeid Salem Al Dhahiri said that once completed, the Village will provide housing, schools, heating, mosque, shopping arcade, healthcare facilities and other utilities for the Mongolian Muslims living in Olgiy.

Olgiy situates in the extreme west of Mongolia and shares borders with China and Russia.

Works on the Village is expected to be over and the facility will be opened by the end of the Holy month of Ramadan.

Link to article


Rains that Don’t Wet

July 12 (National Geographic) Hatgal, Mongolia -- If you visit a Mongolian ger, be prepared for a few things. First, you’ll be served a thin-walled bowl of weak tea. Sometimes it tastes salty. Sometimes the surface glistens with a few spots of fat that’ll coat your lips. It’s always served with milk—yak, cow or camel—and never with sugar. A ger, in case you’re wondering, is what Russians and some American’s call a yert: a round felt tent held up by wooden stays tied together with animal-hide thongs. Even though Mongolia was occupied by the Soviet Union for about 70 years, here this white, domed hut, with a name that rhymes with air and begins with a hard “g,” is never called a yert.

In Mongolia’s countryside—almost everywhere outside the capitol, Ulanbaator—hosts invariable also offer visitors rustic snacks, such as crispy chips of salty homemade yak cheese. I anticipated these pleasant customs with eagerness when I ducked through the low doorway of the livestock herder Hurelchuluun. (As is customary here, Hurelchuluun uses only one name. He generally goes by the nickname Hurlee, pronounced just as it looks: HER-lee.) Hurlee lives with his wife, whose name, unfortunately, I never learned. Several of their nine grown children and, two grandchildren live with them in their snug ger. The members of Hurlee’s extended family are the sole human residents of the emerald-colored Dalbay valley in Northern Mongolia. They share the mountain steppe pasture, nestled between larch-covered mountains and Lake Hovsgol, with a flock of several hundred goats, sheep, yaks and cows. When I visited the family, I knew they’d offer me food and drink. I didn’t expect the exotic food I got.

I had joined a scientific research team led by Clyde Goulden, an ecologist at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Goulden had set up a seasonal research camp in the valley in 1994, and he’s been returning there every year since. At first Goulden studied the ecology of Lake Hovsgol, a long skinny body of water nicknamed the Blue Pearl, in testimony to its beauty and purity. Lake Hovsgol is 100 miles long and contains about 70% of all of Mongolia’s surface water.

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Mongolia mining success brings booming sex trade

July 11 (AFP) ULAN BATOR — Pimps man the park across from the historic Ulan Bator Hotel, popular with foreigners. They are keeping an eye on their employees -- about 20 women working in Mongolia's quickly expanding sex trade.

"40,000 tugrik for one hour," says one young woman asked about the going rate -- the equivalent of about $30.

Prostitution is illegal in Mongolia, but the sex industry is booming, due in part to the explosion of the country's mining sector, which has spawned a huge mobile workforce of men far away from home.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says there are almost 19,000 sex workers in the impoverished landlocked country with a population of just 2.7 million -- or one for every 140 people.

"Poverty and unemployment force women into the industry -- the government should be seriously concerned about it," Nyam Ultzii, who runs one of the few non-government organisations in Mongolia helping sex workers, told AFP.

While the park in front of the Ulan Bator Hotel is a notorious public spot to trawl for sex, the trade is gradually shifting out of sight to karaoke bars, hotels, saunas and massage parlours -- putting the women at higher risk.

"Because it's gone underground, we seek women in the most vulnerable places and offer services like access to medical professionals for health check-ups, or clean places to shower and wash their clothes," Ultzii said.

The flourishing sex trade is having major health consequences -- inadequate medical services, limited prevention campaigns and the cultural stigma linked with prostitution have led to a rise in sexually transmitted infections.

A 2010 assessment done by personnel at Oyu Tolgoi, a huge copper deposit being developed by Canada's Ivanhoe Mines and Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto, identified STIs as one of five major health risks in the south Gobi desert.

The rise in the number of men working at both Oyu Tolgoi and the nearby Tavan Tolgoi coal field has led to a spike in sex worker activity -- and increased risk, says Ariunna, who runs Oyu Tolgoi's community health programme.

Some truck drivers en route to the Chinese border "have no money, so they sell one or two litres of diesel to the girls in exchange for sex. They've come to be known as the 'diesel girls'," said Ariunna, who like many Mongolians goes by one name.

"They can't get access to health services, and because of the shame to the family, they often shy away from any help or support," she added.

Nationwide, HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS -- is becoming a concern.

Despite Mongolia's status as a low-prevalence nation, the infection rate has increased 17 times in the past six years to a recorded 95 cases. And officials at the National AIDS Foundation admit the real number is likely much higher.

"Mongolia is a country at high risk of an accelerated HIV spread due to its relatively young population, increased mobility, proximity to growing epidemic countries such as Russia and China, and the high level of HIV-related stigma and discrimination", said local UNAIDS coordinator Altanchimeg Delegchoimbol.

Mongolia is one of 49 countries and regions in the world which still have restrictions on the movements of those living with HIV/AIDS, adding to the stigma attached to admitting one's status and getting treatment.

In 2002, a young woman was murdered by her husband after a local newspaper reported she was HIV positive, according to media reports. It turned out to be a false positive.

But in June at a high-level UN meeting on the topic in New York, lawmaker Dagvadorj Ochirbat said the government was "in the process of eliminating HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence".

Concerns about testing accuracy also remain a problem, especially in the impoverished countryside, as the health industry suffers from financial and professional deficiencies.

The huge population rise in the south Gobi region sparked by the race to exploit Mongolia's vast mineral resources is testing the country's already strained medical services.

In Khan Bogd, the town closest to the Oyu Tolgoi deposit, the local hospital has only 23 staff treating more than 3,000 officially registered residents, Ariunna explained. The only gynaecologist on staff is not certified.

Managers at Oyu Tolgoi are working with local authorities to bolster local health services, but they say authorities at both the national and local levels need to do more.

"We need support from the central government level. We're telling people to improve hygiene and use preventative measures -- but how much can we really achieve when there is no running water in hospitals?" Ariunna said.

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Buddhist temples vie to recruit Mongolians

July 17 (Al Jazeera) Until the advent of communist rule, Mongolia was heavily influenced by Buddhism, with one in every three men serving as monks.

Official atheism encouraged the destruction of monasteries and violent purges of religious orders.

The end of communism brought an end to that repression and many Buddhist temples actively compete to attract followers.

Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan reports from Ulan Bator.

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