CPSI NewsWire brings you market updates on Mongolia, compiled by CPS International, a Mongolian marketing arm of CPS Securities, a Perth, Western Australia based stockbroking and corporate advisory firm, specialising in capital raising for mining and junior stocks.
Mongolian Mining Bets China Will Double Coal Imports
June 29 (Bloomberg) Mongolia Mining Corp. is betting there's enough demand from China to support the construction of an $800 million railway that will double export capacity to the nation that counts Mongolia as its biggest coal supplier.
Expanding transportation links between the adjacent countries "will improve the position of Mongolia as the leading coking coal supplier to China," Battsengel Gotov, chief executive officer of MMC, as the company is known, told reporters in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator.
Mongolia, the world's fastest growing economy, overtook Australia as China's biggest coking coal supplier last year, exporting 20 million metric tons of the raw material used to make steel. MMC is building a 250 kilometer (155 mile) rail to add 30 million tons of export capacity direct to China.
"There's still room for everybody in Mongolia" to mine and sell commodities, Gotov said from the company's head office.
MMC shares have fallen 28 percent this year in Hong Kong as coal prices declined. Chinese demand has been curbed by slower global growth and coking coal prices have fallen as much as 15 percent in the first half from the previous six months, Gotov said.
Prices, which fell to $206 a metric ton in the quarter ending June 30, may rebound to an average $225 a ton this financial year, based on the mean estimate of 10 analysts, steelmakers and mining companies surveyed by Bloomberg in April. Anglo American Plc settled coking coal prices at $225 a ton for the third quarter.
MMC plans to boost output by about 41 percent to 10 million tons this year from its Ukhaa Khudag at the Tavan Tolgoi deposit and then to 15 million tons in 2013. It will use about half the export capacity of its planned railway and will lease the other half to mining companies, Gotov said. Mongolia will assume 51 percent ownership of the rail after 19 years.
The rail, due for completion in 2015, will halve the time it takes to transport coal by road from Tavan Tolgoi to China to between two and three hours, he said.
Mongolia is relying on developing of key copper, gold and coal deposits to lift the wealth of its 3.1 million people (Mogi: latest count is little over 2.8m), a third of who live below the poverty line. Mongolians went to the polls yesterday and the result is yet to be announced.
State-owned miner Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, or Erdenes TT, is developing the East Tsankhi part of the 60-billion-metric ton Tavan Tolgoi deposit, of which MMC's share accounts for about 4 percent. Erdenes TT is seeking to sell shares to raise $3 billion to finance new rail, road, and power infrastructure.
Mongolia has held talks with companies including Peabody Energy Corp., OAO Russian Railways, and China's Shenhua Group to develop the West Tsankhi part of Tavan Tolgoi.
MMC uses some of its production to power an 18-megawatt plant to supply electricity to the mine and surrounding town. Roughly 30 kilometers away, MMC is also developing Baruun Naran mine, which it acquired last June for $464.5 million from a unit of Kerry Holdings Ltd.
"Once the railway is completed, it will also be seen as the next profit-generating center," Gotov said.
Coal inventory at China's Qinhuangdao Port hits record
June 24 (Soberlook.com) Recently the Tianjin Port in China was showing record levels of coal inventories. Now the Qinghuangdao Port coal inventories in storage have also risen dramatically (ht Patrick Chovanec). But unlike Tianjin, Qinhuangdao is the world's largest coal loading port handling half of China's coal needs (see this website for more background on Qinghuangdao.)
Want China Times: - The amount of steam coal held in storage at the port city Qinghuangdao in northern China's Hebei province is approaching maximum capacity and has sparked safety concerns that the pile could combust without warning. Coal prices are set to continue to fall as high inventory levels have forced suppliers to try to boost sales.
Inventories at power plants are at the highs and the buyers are holding off. Pricing is becoming a problem and some coal buyers are walking away from their contracts.
Want China Times: - Industry insiders said the coal inventories of power plants are currently high and they will not buy any more coal for the time being unless the price falls to a certain level. The actual transaction value of the coal was reportedly lower than the price offered in Qinghuandao and is likely to continue to fall.
Reports have been heard of breaches of contract between coal traders in the country's coastal areas and forwarders. Coal traders and buyers have became more cautious as the price continues to drop, said Li Xuegang, the manager of a coal-trading market in Qinghuangdao. The industrial chain has seen its downward trend accelerated since they tried to increase sales through a low-price strategy to release inventory pressure and the outlook for the price of coal is poor in the short term, said Li.
During this time of the year coal inventories in storage normally build up, but this time the inventory build has hit record levels.
This is an indication of declining power demand across the country, as factory utilization slows and construction moderates.
UBS Increases Guildford Stake to 8.07% from 5.76%
June 29 (Mogi) UBS AG, which previously notified Guildford Coal Limited (ASX:GUF) of becoming a substantial holder, sends another one today stating they've increased that stake to 8.07% from the previous 5.76% on June 25.
Erdene sells interest in Donkin coal project to subsidiary to focus on Mongolia Project
June 28 (The Chronicle Herald) Erdene Resource Development Corp. (TSX:ERD) is selling its interest in the Donkin coal project in Cape Breton to a subsidiary that, until now, has focused mainly on producing clay for the United States housing market.
If the agreement is approved, Advanced Primary Minerals Corp., which is 60 per cent owned by Erdene, gets what the parent company called in a news release Thursday a "world-class coal project with exceptional upside potential."
Erdene, for its part, will focus on its metals interests in the south Gobi region of Mongolia.
Peter Akerley, Erdene's president and chief executive officer, said separating Erdene's assets was necessary because investors tend to shy away from companies with interests in different minerals on opposite sides of the world.
Erdene's shares closed Thursday at 23 cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Akerley said Thursday the deal would create a vehicle "with much more flexibility for the Donkin project."
The project has been in limbo since last spring, when Australian mining giant Xstrata Coal announced it was pulling out of Donkin. It held a 75 per cent interest.
Since then, Xstrata had hired Citibank to beat the bushes for potential buyers for its Donkin interest. That process is scheduled to be concluded by the end of the year.
If Xstrata finds a potential partner, Erdene, which has the remaining 25 per cent interest in the Donkin project, has right of first refusal.
Consequently, if Xstrata's choice isn't to Erdene's liking, it has a six-week-period in which to find its own partner.
If no one comes forward Erdene, or if the deal announced Thursday goes through, Advanced Primary Minerals, has the option to try and go it alone.
But Akerley said in an interview he is confident it will never get to that point.
"We're very encouraged by the response we've had from companies and the level of interest being expressed. I just don't see a scenario where Donkin isn't working toward a production phase."
Akerley declined to name names. He also won't discuss whether he has talked with Severstal Resources, a Russian steelmaker that may invest $800 million in a proposed Sydney iron ore pelletization plant, about investing in the mine
However, Akerley estimates that Donkin holds almost 500 million tonnes of coal. The main product would be metallurgical coal, which is converted to coke for use in steelmaking.
"We feel very, very bullish about things and look forward to seeing the process coming together later this year with a partner in place."
In May, Advanced Primary Minerals sold its kaolin plant in Georgia to a pair of its U.S. employees.
The deal gave the company US$492,000 in cash and allowed it to absolve itself of US$401,000 in liabilities.
Soon-to-be-renamed "Turquoise Hill Resources" Ivanhoe making progress at Oyu Tolgoi
JOHANNESBURG, June 29 (miningweekly.com) – NYSE- and TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN)(NYSE:IVN)(NASDAQ:IVN) said that the development of its Oyu Tolgoi copper/silver/gold mine, in southern Mongolia, was progressing at an "impressive" pace, with Phase 1 construction 90% complete.
CEO Kay Priestly said in a statement on Thursday that first production at the 66%-owned mine was expected during the second half of this year, with commercial production following during the first half of 2013.
He also noted that the company was executing the various elements of a comprehensive financing plan agreed to with Rio Tinto, in April, adding that the overall package was expected to cover Ivanhoe's total funding requirements to complete the development of Phases 1 and 2.
The Asia Pacific-focused group stated that discussions between the governments of Mongolia and China, which covered the power purchase agreement, were ongoing, and added that the infrastructure necessary to import power from China should be complete by July.
Meanwhile, the company said that its approved name change to Turquoise Hill Resources was to become effective August 1, while the group's new trading symbol – TRQ – would take effect from August 6 on the TSX, the NYSE and Nasdaq.
The company also appointed Warren Goodman and Russel Robertson as directors.
Goodman has previously served as general counsel of Europe corporate and business development at Rio Tinto since June 2008. In April 2010, the responsibility for leading Rio Tinto's Europe, Middle East and Africa legal team was added to his role. Robertson is the executive VP of business integration at BMO Financial Group.
Two additional directors were expected to be appointed in the near future, bringing the total number of directors to 13.
Ivanhoe Mines Shareholders Appoint Two New Directors and Approve New Company Name – Marketwire, June 28
Mongolia A Big Boost For Rio Tinto – Ry Frank via Seeking Alpha, June 29
"Regular Way" Trading of Ivanhoe Mines Rights Begins in the US on June 28
Ivanhoe Mines announced today that rights to be issued under the company's previously announced rights offering will begin "regular way" trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and NASDAQ Stock Market on June 28, 2012.
On the NYSE and NASDAQ, the Ivanhoe rights will begin trading under the symbol IVN RT and IVN.R, respectively.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), the Ivanhoe rights will continue to trade as usual under the symbol IVN.RT.
Details of the rights offering are contained in the final prospectus dated June 7, 2012, which is available on SEDAR and EDGAR. The rights offering was summarized in a news release issued by Ivanhoe Mines on June 8, 2012.
Key terms contained in the final prospectus for the rights offering include:
· Each Ivanhoe Mines shareholder has received one transferable right for each share of common stock owned as of June 19, 2012, the record date for the rights offering.
· Every 20 rights will entitle the holder to purchase seven (7) common shares of Ivanhoe Mines.
· Each holder may choose a subscription price of either US$7.00 per share or CDN$7.17 per share. The US and Canadian subscription prices represent a discount of approximately 32% to the closing prices of US$10.31 on the NYSE and CDN$10.62 on the TSX on June 7, 2012.
· Approximately 260 million common shares are expected to be issued under the rights offering, which would represent approximately 35% of Ivanhoe's current outstanding shares.
· A rights-offering prospectus and rights certificate was mailed on June 27, 2012, to each shareholder of record subject to applicable law.
· The rights offering will be open for exercise for 21 days from the date of mailing to shareholders and will expire at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on July 19, 2012.
· Trading of the rights on the TSX will stop at noon (EST) on July 19, 2012. On the NYSE and NASDAQ, trading of the rights will stop at the close of trading on July 18, 2012.
· Shareholders who do not wish to exercise their rights to buy new common shares under the offering will have the option of selling the rights that they receive from Ivanhoe Mines through the TSX, the NYSE or NASDAQ.
· Shareholders who do not exercise all of their rights will have their present ownership interests in Ivanhoe Mines reduced, as a percentage of the total outstanding common shares, as a result of the rights offering.
Rio Tinto has committed to take up its full basic subscription privilege under the rights offering with respect to its 51% shareholding in Ivanhoe, subject to certain conditions. Rio Tinto will also provide a standby commitment for the full amount of the US$1.8 billion rights offering, subject to certain conditions including the price of Ivanhoe's common shares on the NYSE not falling below the subscription price at any time on or after the fifth business day before the expiry of the rights. Under the standby commitment, Rio Tinto is required to acquire any Ivanhoe common shares not taken up under the rights offering.
MATD closed +1.32% to 9.625p
Petro Matad to review data ahead of new drilling campaign
June 29 (Proactive Investors) Petro Matad (LON:MATD) is to review its exploration assets in Mongolia and assess a technical path forward possibly through partnerships, it said today.
The company, which recently installed a new management team, added it plans to revisit the data from last year's troubled drilling campaign at Davsan Tolgoi to lower the risks for a drilling campaign planned for 2013.
While this study work is going on, drilling has been suspended for the remainder of 2012 and drilling and workover rigs have been stood down.
Petro Matad's PSCs in Blocks XX, IV and V with the government of Mongolia cover over 60,000 square kilometres and encompass nineteen distinct basinal areas spread throughout the blocks.
Studies on Block V are scheduled to be completed over the next three months with seismic over the coming winter months. These studies and field programmes are all designed to generate the first drilling programme on Block V to take place in 2013.
Blocks IV and V also contain approximately fourteen known occurrences of oil shale. Most have been preliminarily assessed with respect to their association with conventional petroleum exploration, the company said.
One, Khoid Ulaan Bulag (KUB) on the southern boundary of Block IV, has the potential to be a large hydrocarbon source at grades that could be considered commercial, it added.
Petro Matad posted losses of US$39.6 mln (2010: US$7 mln) in 2011 and had cash at the year-end of US$15.5 mln.
MEC: Annual Results Year Ended March 2011
June 29, Mongolia Energy Corporation Limited (HK:276) --
MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
Our principal project is the Khushuut Coking Coal Project. The Khushuut Coal Mine is located approximately 1,350 km west of Ulaanbaatar in the aimag (province) of Khovd in Western Mongolia. The Khushuut Coal Mine is about 311 km from the Xinjiang Takeshenken border, connecting by the Khushuut Road built by us.
During the financial year ended 31 March 2012 (the ''Financial Year''), we achieved completion of the Khushuut Road, secured the approval from the government authorities for the use of the road and commenced commercial coal shipment thereafter.
… (Please read from page 23 in Annual Report)
The Group commenced commercial production near the close of this Financial Year thus a low level of sales activities was recorded. The revenue of HK$6.2 million (2011: Nil) represented by a sales volume of approximately 17,350 tonnes of coal shipped to our customers at an average selling price of HK$357 per tonne.
MIG: Annual Results Year Ended March 2011
June 29, Mongolia Investment Group (HK:402) --
MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
During the year, the Group continued to generate considerable revenue from its waterworks business, while devoting efforts to further develop its mining business in Mongolia. In late 2011, the Group also announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding regarding the proposed acquisition of an entity engaging in aerial photography, aviation and aerospace remote sensing image data processing, and provision of geographic information system software and solutions, with an aim of further diversifying the Group's business into areas with long term growth potential. The related formal conditional acquisition agreement was entered into in May 2012 and is subject to shareholders' approval.
Following the acquisition of Tugrugnuuriin Energy LLC ("TNE"), which holds four mining licenses for a coal mine in Tugrug Valley (the "TNE Mine"), located approximately 170 km southeast of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 2010, the Group has been working very hard on its mining operation. However, due to unforeseeable technical causes in dewatering processing and severe competition in marketing coal of lower caloric value, our overall production schedule has been further delayed. The management has engaged independent mining experts to review and advise on a more feasible mining plan, which can drive a profitable business when commercial production commences.
Mining Business in Mongolia
… (Please read from page 25)
IFC Capitalization Fund puts in USD40 million in Mongolia's XacBank
June 29 (The Asset) IFC Capitalization Fund will invest up to US$40 million in subordinated debt in Mongolia's XacBank to strengthen the bank's capital base and increase access to finance for the country's small and medium enterprises and middle-income home buyers. This is IFC Capitalization Fund's first investment in Mongolia.
IFC Capitalization Fund is a global equity and subordinated-debt fund founded by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. It aims to support banks considered vital to the financial system of emerging-market countries. The fund is managed by IFC Asset Management Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IFC.
The investment will support XacBank's expansion plans and help increase access to finance for small and medium enterprises, which are key drivers of jobs and growth. XacBank is Mongolia's fourth-largest bank and a leading microfinance lender.
"IFC's financing enables us to maintain a comfortable level of capital adequacy to enhance our solvency, at a time when the global economy is weak and its impact on the Mongolian economy is uncertain," said Bat-Ochir Dugersuren, CEO of XacBank. "It will also increase our capacity to extend our market share at a faster rate."
"This investment will bolster XacBank's capital base, provide access to SME financing, and help increase international investors' confidence in the country," said Marcos Brujis, head of the IFC Capitalization Fund. "We look forward to strengthening our partnership with an established local player, helping it develop in the fast-growing Mongolian economy."
XacBank is a longstanding IFC client. In 2008, IFC became the shareholder of Tenger Financial Group, the holding company of XacBank, with a 15.2% stake and also appointed a director to the board. In addition to capital, IFC provided advisory services to strengthen the bank's corporate governance and banking operations. Earlier this year, IFC invested US$1.6 million in Tenger Financial Group's joint venture in China to help expand access to finance for small businesses in China's less-developed region of Xinjiang and support economic cooperation in Central Asia.
Resource-rich Mongolia became the world's fastest-growing economy last year and growth is expected to remain at a double-digit rate over the next five years.
SgurrEnergy supports Mongolia's first wind farm through construction
June 29 (Windtech International) Construction has commenced on Mongolia's first wind farm this month with SgurrEnergy mobilising personnel to live on site to support and guide the project through construction.
The US$ 100 million Salkhit project, comprising 31 GE wind turbines will generate 50MW. The Salkhit wind farm site is situated deep in the Mongolian Steppe, around 70km south of the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. With temperatures ranging from -40ºC in the winter to 40ºC in the summer, these extreme weather conditions present an interesting and exciting engineering challenge for the SgurrEnergy team, who will be based on site for the duration of the project.
Sainshand Industrial Complex Fully Developed by 2018
June 29 (UB Post) We recently reported that the Government passed a resolution on the Sainshand Industrial Complex (SIC) in order to develop Mongolia's heavy industry.
The National Development and Innovation Committee (NDIC) reports that the master planning for the development project for the SIC has now been completed by Bechtel Corporation from the US. The results of the studies in the planning indicate that it is more efficient to build the SIC in the form of large complexes.
"USD 9.3 billion will be required for the entire development project of the SIC. Initially, coking coal and a chemical plant will be built and by 2018 most of the major processing plants will be operational," said the Deputy Director of NDIC, L. Zorig.
The construction of the plant complexes will be carried out by private companies, chosen through tender bids. As 12 million tons of mineral resources and about seven million tons of processed and refined material will be transported in and out of the SIC, a complete transport depot installation will be required at the complex.
It is estimated that an average of 11.8 million tons of water will be used by the complex, and for now it will be provided from Bor-Khuuvur Mine reserve.
During the construction phase of the project, over 10,000 jobs will be made available and during the operational phase, around 2,400 jobs will be made available at the SIC. A study suggests that a residential zone with a population of approximately 21,000 people will need to be established near the complex.
As for preparing for the staff necessary to the project, requests have been sent to the Mongolian University of Science and Technology and other institutions. Foreign countries have expressed their interests in training and preparing workers. For example, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency has put forth a proposal to the Mongolian Government to train 450 engineers for the SIC.
Once the industrial complex is fully operational, the GDP contribution from Mongolian heavy industry sector will increase to 57%, upping economic growth in Mongolia between 2013 and 2017 by an average of 15.8 percent.
Video: Mongolians Will Welcome Foreign Investment, Morrow Says
Jun. 28, 2012 (Bloomberg) - Peter Morrow, deputy chairman of Newcom Group, a cross-industry investment group based in Mongolia, talks about the country's election today and its economic outlook. Mongolians went to the polls today to elect leaders who must address soaring inflation and rising demands for a fairer distribution of more than $1.3 trillion in mineral wealth in the world's fastest growing economy. Morrow speaks from Ulan Bator with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television's "On the Move Asia."
Mongolia's Coal Riches Causing Diplomatic Nightmare – Oilprice.com, June 27
Video: Interview with President Elbegdorj
Is Mongolia over-reliant on its resources?
We look at how to stop Mongolia's resource-led boom from becoming a bust
June 30 (Al Jazeera) This week on Counting the Cost Al Jazeera's Steve Chao travelled to Mongolia. Despite being surrounded by global powers such as China and Russia, Mongolia is no economic backwater. The vast country is rich in resources with deposits of coal, copper, and gold worth an estimated $1.3 trillion.
On the back of these resources the country saw over 13 per cent growth in 2011 (Mogi: 17.3% GDG growth) and in the same year spending rose by 56 per cent. However big growth and spending inevitably sparks high inflation and Mongolia is no exception, with 11 per cent inflation in December.
So is it all too much, too fast? And is the Mongolian economy over-reliant on these natural resources? To answer these questions Counting the Cost spoke to Tsakhiagin Elbegdorj, the Mongolian president.
He says: "Most of our growth is actually coming from mining and we would like to make our economy like a rainbow-coloured economy, you know, now Mongolia's economy is mostly one colour and we would like to have more colours. Of course I have a message to foreign investors: Do not see Mongolia as a single mining business country, there are many opportunities... Mongolia can be a great hub between Russia and China in this region - an infrastructural hub, financial hub, high-tech hub, we have the potential."
Mongolian Election Commission Orders New Vote In Two Districts
June 30 (Bloomberg) Mongolia's election commission said that two districts must go to the polls again after winning candidates failed to garner the required percentage of votes. The opposition Democratic Party is leading the vote.
Candidates who won seats in the 22nd and 26th districts did not reach the minimum 28 percent required by election law, General Election Commission head Luvsanjav told reporters in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator today. Each district will decide when and how to conduct a rerun, he said, without saying how it would affect the overall results, which are compiled on the basis of a mixed proportional representation system.
Mongolians voted to directly elect 48 lawmaker and cast ballots for a political party, with their votes then used to allocate 28 more seats in parliament under a system of proportional representation. In districts 22 and 26, a revote is needed for the third candidate in both districts because of a failure to reach 28 percent.
The results are preliminary until each election district approves them, Luvsanjav said. As they stand at the moment, the Democrats won 22 seats and the MPP took 19 of the 48 being contested in the direct elections, Luvsanjav said.
The Justice Coalition, which includes former President Nambaryn Enkhbayar's party, won four seats and the last three went to independents, he said.
In the contest for the 28 seats to be distributed in proportion to the party vote, the election commission said the Democrats led with 35.3 percent, without stating how many seats that would earn the party.
Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold's MPP took 31.3 percent of the vote, the Justice Coalition 22.3 percent, and the Civil Will Green Party 5.5 percent, the commission said.
GENERAL ELECTION COMMITTEE REVEALED PRELIMINARY RESULT OF FIVE CONSTITUENCIES
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 30 /MONTSAME/ Today, the General Election Commission (GEC) revealed an official preliminary result from five remaining constituencies of 2012 parliamentary election.
According to the sub-committee, in Bayan-Ulgii aimag or second constituency with two mandates won A.Bakei from the Democratic Party /DP/, A.Teleikhan from the Mongolian People's Party /MPP/, in Bulgan aimag or fourth constituency with one mandate Yo.Otgonbayar, from MPP, in Gobi-Altai aimag or fifth constituency with one mandate Ts.Dashdorj from MPP, in Dornod aimag or eighth constituency with two mandates N.Nomtoibaatar from MPP, Kh.Bolorchuluun, an independent candidate, in Sukhbaatar aimag or 12th constituency with one mandate M.Zorigt from DP.
Thus, DP has gained preliminarily 22 seats, whereas MPP 19, "Justice" coalition 4, independent candidates 3 seats in the new Parliament . However, some candidates, for example in Bayanzurkh district or 22nd constituency and Songinokhairkhan district or 26th constituency failed to obtain more 28 percent of votes as defined by the Election law. Thus, voting is required to be repeated in these constituencies.
The General Election Commission announces primary results
June 29 (news.mn) The General Election Commission announced a primary counting of parliamentary election results.
not completed yet
not completed yet
not completed yet
Dornogovi and Gobisumber
not completed yet
not completed yet
S.Ganbaatar / Independent candidate /
Khan-Uul, Bagakhangai, Baganuur District
Bayanzurkh, Nalaikh Distruct
By the proportional vote DP has got 32,4% (392259 voters), MPP 28,38% (345412 voters), MPRP-MNDP coalition 20,51% (249479 voters), Civil Will-Green Party 5,9% (61886 voters), Third power coalition 4,36% (66552 voters)8 Mongolian Green Party 1,22% (14866 voters), Motherland Party 0,73% (9038 voters), Mongolian Traditional United Part 0,53% (6658 voters), Civil Movement Party 0,51% (6235 voters), Mongolian United party of Patriots 0,37% (3299 voters), Mongolian Social Democratic Party 0,16% (1985 voters), Party of Development Project 0,16% (1658 voters), and Mongolian Party of Implementation of Freedom 0,13% (1614 voters).
GEC PRESENTS PRELIMINARY RESULT
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 29 /MONTSAME/ At 3.30 pm on Friday, the General Election Commission (GEC) revealed an official preliminary result of the parliamentary election run by the proportional system.
The GEC says it received reports from 17 constituencies out of 26, which means that the ballots numbers have not come yet from 81 electronic counting machines (there are two thous. 436 such nationwide).
The preliminary result show that the Democratic Party (DP) took 392 thous. 259 votes, or 32.24%; the Mongolian People's Party (MPP)--345 thous. 212, or 28.38%; the "Justice" joint coalition of Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and National Democratic Party--249 thous. 479, or 20.51%; the Civil Will-Green Party--61 thous. 886, or 5.9%; the "Third Force" joint coalition of Republican Party and the All-Mongolian Labor Party--66 thous. 552, or 4.36%; the Green Party--14 thous. 866, or 1.22%; the Motherland Party--9,038, or 0.74%; the Conservative United Party--6,658, or 0.53%; the Civil Movement Party--6,235, or 0.51%; the United Party of Patriots--3,299, or 0.37%; the Mongolian Social Democratic Party--1,985, or 0.16%; the Development Program Party--1,958, or 0.16%, and the Motherland Party--1,614, or 0.13%.
Results have not been united yet to come from sub-committees located in Bayan-Olgii, Bulgan, Gobi-Altai and Dornod aimags.
Mongolia's ruling party calls for new elections
June 30 (AFP) Mongolia was facing political gridlock on Saturday with the ruling party leading calls for fresh elections and rejecting a new voting system that was intended to bring more fairness to the polls.
An electronic voting system was used for the first time in parliamentary elections on Thursday in an effort to avoid a repeat of the chaos of a manual count four years ago when corruption allegations triggered deadly riots.
However the automated system has been plagued with technical problems, and results of the elections that were intended to be released within hours of polls closing are still yet to be announced.
The ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP) and eight smaller parties signed a petition on Friday that said the new electronic voting system had "violated the constitution of Mongolia".
"We are demanding the traditional system of counting votes by hand in every election constituency across the whole country to end this confusion that the population has about the voting machines and automated systems," MPP secretary Yangug Sodbaatar said.
However the Democratic Party, the main opposition group which believes it will eventually win Thursday's vote, did not sign the petition and is backing the automated system.
In 2008, accusations of vote rigging among the major parties led to riots in which four people died.
The MPP and the Democratic Party eventually formed an uneasy coalition in an effort to heal the wounds and ensure political stability in the resource-rich nation, which is in the midst of a stunning mining boom.
The economy grew 17.3 percent last year because of the boom, which has seen some of the world's biggest mining firms move into the country to exploit copper, coal and gold reserves estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion.
The Democratic Party quit the coalition in January to prepare for the elections, and the automated system was intended to be an important next step in the former Soviet-ruled country's transition to a stable democratic state.
The Mongolian Election Commission had no immediate response to the calls for a fresh vote using the old, manual system.
But it said it had held a manual recount in some polling stations on Friday and the results had largely matched the automated tally.
The technical problems have included being unable to transmit results from far-flung polling stations in Mongolia, which is three times the size of France but has just 2.8 million people.
Mongolia parties call for new elections – Al Jazeera, June 30
Mongolia alliance opposed to foreign miners posts strong poll gain
ULAN BATOR, June 30 (Reuters) - A left-wing alliance hostile to foreign mining has won more than a fifth of the votes in Mongolia's parliamentary elections, according to a preliminary tally on Saturday, making it a potential coalition partner in the next government.
Led by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, or MPRP, the alliance could hold the balance of power in a new parliament after gaining more than 22 percent of votes cast on Thursday, the country's elections commission said.
Neither of the two front runners - the Mongolian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) - had won enough seats to form an outright majority of 39 seats, the preliminary results showed.
The MPRP's "justice coalition", headed by controversial ex-president Nambar Enkhbayar, campaigned on a "resource nationalist" platform, calling for the renegotiation of a 2009 agreement that granted 66 percent of the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold deposit to Canada's Ivanhoe Mines.
It also wants to keep the coveted Tavan Tolgoi coal project in Mongolian hands.
The MDP won 35.32 percent of the total vote, while the MPP gained 31.31 percent. Both parties ran the country in a "grand coalition" that broke down in January.
Under Mongolia's new electoral system, 48 parliamentary seats are contested at constituency level on a "first past the post" basis, while the remaining 28 seats are allocated to each party proportionately, depending on their total share of the vote.
Although the elections commission did not provide aggregate figures for the number of seats won by each party, Reuters calculations suggest the MDP will be the largest party with 31 seats, eight short of an overall majority. The MPP will control 29 seats while the MPRP-led alliance will gain 11.
Still, analysts said both major parties would be wary of a coalition with Enkhbayar, who faces trial on corruption charges, and another MDP-MPP grand coalition remains a possibility.
Confusion has been sown since polling stations closed on Thursday over allegations of vote rigging and questions about the reliability of a new electronic voting system.
The MDP claimed victory on Friday, saying it had won at least 36 seats and could even be on the verge of gaining absolute control of parliament, known as the Grand Khural.
However, nine other parties - including the MPP and the MPRP - later issued a joint statement demanding a full vote recount.
"People have doubts about the automatic system and counting machines. To clear those doubts, we have to recount all of the votes from the polling stations across the entire country by hand, which is the traditional method," MPP secretary Yangug Sodbaatar told reporters.
On Saturday, the elections commission ruled out a recount.
Democrats beat ruling party in Mongolian election – AP, June 29
– WSJ, June 29
Democratic party leads Mongolia poll – Financial Times, June 29
Mongolia's Democratic Party Leads After Vote For Parliament – Bloomberg, June 29
Statement of Tsakhia Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia, June 29, 2012
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, June 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
The following is a statement released by Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj upon the conclusion of voting to international journalists and organizations observing Mongolia's seventh parliamentary election:
"I am proud that the people of Mongolia have cast their ballots today in the seventh free and fair national parliamentary elections since our revolution. On the heels of these elections, we have moved further down the path of democracy and progress for this great nation.
As the democratic anchor of the East, Mongolia has an obligation to our people and to our global allies to continue on the course of expanding freedom and opportunity for all. The votes of our citizens in this week's elections serve as a reminder that our people hold their leaders accountable for their actions, and that continuing to eliminate corruption, promoting transparency and building economic success for all Mongolians remain national priorities.
To best serve the interests of our people and to advance our global role as a stable democracy, members of all political parties must work together to ensure that Mongolia will meet the challenges of the 21st century. This objective is critical, as only cooperative governance will ensure a proper standard of living for our people, and opportunities for generations to come.
I urge the members of the new parliament to work together to ensure the sustainability of our nation's precious resources as we pursue meaningful economic opportunities that these assets offer all Mongolians.
Today is a great day in Mongolia's history. We should be justifiably proud of completing another free and fair election. However, we cannot forget the tremendous, important work that lies before us. I am committed to working closely with the new parliament, civil society groups, business and community leaders to move Mongolia forward. I truly believe that in doing so our people will reap the rewards for themselves and their children that their hopes, votes, and their voices have brought them."
SOURCE The Office of the President of Mongolia
Guest post: Mongolian election signals growing voter cynicism
By David Sneath of Chatham House
June 29 (FT beyondbrics) Mongolia's June 28 election is set to produce a coalition government with no party in overall control but with the right-leaning Democratic Party commanding the largest number of seats in the nation's parliament, the Ikh Khural.
Tellingly, voter turnout fell to a historical low of around 65 per cent, from 74 per cent in the 2008 parliamentary elections and 82 per cent in 2004. This signals a steadily rising public cynicism regarding party politics, which has failed to deliver improved living standards for the majority of the population despite the recent 'mineral boom' that boosted last year's economic growth to 17 per cent.
Preliminary results for 21 of the 28 electoral districts suggest that the Democratic Party gained about 32 per cent of the popular vote, clearly benefitting from a dramatic split in the ranks of its rivals, the Mongolian People's Party, which had been the dominant force in Mongolian politics since the 1990s but whose share of the vote sank to around 28 per cent. The rebel 'Justice Coalition' led by former president Nambaryn Enkhbayar came third with about 20 per cent of the vote.
When the dust settles on the last of the electoral results, the Democratic Party will need to put together a coalition government. Power-sharing is not new to Mongolia, which has seen a succession of coalition governments. Although the centre-left Mongolian People's Party won a majority of parliamentary seats in the 2008 parliamentary elections, for example, it nevertheless formed a coalition with the Democratic Party that endured until January, when election campaigning began.
The broader issue facing Mongolia is one of social justice and the distribution of the income to be generated by the exploitation of nation's enormous mineral wealth, estimated to be worth $1.3tn. Since the collapse of the Soviet-oriented command economy in the 1990s, Mongolians have seen wealth concentrated in the hands of a relatively small elite, while the majority learnt to survive on low and insecure incomes.
In the 1990s Mongolia introduced a multi-party parliamentary democracy modelled on European examples, resulting in an initially vibrant political culture. However, allegations of corruption dogged the political elite who became closely associated in public perceptions with the new rich. Two parties emerged to dominate the political scene: the former Soviet-style Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (which renamed itself the Mongolian People's Party in 2010) and the Democratic Party. The major parties have proved to be good at sharing power but poor at convincing an increasingly jaded public that they were free of corruption. Many voters came to see the two parties as having grown together to form a pragmatic and largely self-interested circle of influence.
There has been widespread anxiety that the country's vast mineral wealth might be acquired by foreign companies, or monopolized by the wealthy few, leaving Mongolia as poor as ever. Such fears have opened the way for a populist politics that in 2008 saw the major parties competing to promise voters cash pay-outs from future mining incomes.
Attention has focussed on two huge mineral sites in the Gobi region, the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine and the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine.
Oyu Tolgoi is 66 per cent owned by the Canadian company Ivanhoe, backed by Australia-based RTZ, and is due to begin commercial operations next year, eventually boosting Mongolia's GDP by an estimated 30 per cent. The Mongolian state negotiated rights to 34 per cent of the venture but there is widespread public concern that this was too low a share and that the government had sold the Mongolian taxpayer short.
Tavan Tolgoi, which promises to be another massive development, was due to be exploited by an international consortium but growing public pressure led the Mongolian government to suspend these plans. This move, which dismayed some potential foreign investors, reflected the political potential of 'resource nationalism' and the recent splits in the dominant parties.
When the Mongolian People's Party dropped the world Revolutionary from name in 2010 its former leader Enkhbayar broke away with a minority faction to form his own party using the older name and calling for a renegotiation of rights to mineral extraction. The political feud became all the more bitter when, on April 13, Enkhbayar was dramatically arrested on charges of corruption and eventually barred from standing as a parliamentary candidate.
His party, nevertheless, tapped into the general discontent and formed an alliance with a splinter from the Democratic Party to run as the Justice Coalition. That they have won around 20 per cent of the popular vote will give the established parties much pause for thought.
David Sneath is an associate fellow in the Asia group at Chatham House and head of the division of social anthropology at the University of Cambridge
Mogi: nice article
Mongolia's Elite - Lies and a Solution
By Jon Springer
June 29 (UB Post) Most politicians in Mongolia are closely related to Mongolia's business elite. This relationship between economic and political elite is not unique. It is the norm in many countries. Unfortunately, Mongolia's elite has not matured beyond the post-communist era to concern themselves with building a strong nation for all.
A famous political quote from the late 1800s says, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." In the spirit of lying, American author Mark Twain attributed this quote to British politician Benjamin Disraeli. In fact, Mr. Twain coined the phrase and foisted it on the politician to give it power.
Mongolians will not be surprised that a famous political quote is a lie because Mongolians are familiar with politicians and fat lies. There are three lies about Mongolia's society which politicians perpetuate that must stop.
Lie 1: Mongolians are lazy, poorly educated, not hardworking people. Ridiculous. The laziest Mongolians are those who perpetuate the myth that Mongolians are lazy. Mongolians I have met are hard working, have a deep sense of pride about their families and nation, and are tough as nomadic people who had the largest land empire the world has ever seen.
Lie 2: Geographically vulnerable. Placed between Russia and China, politicians play on an historic sense of vulnerability and hate of the Chinese. Japan, South Korea, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom & Kuwait among others want to be Mongolia's strong allies when Mongolia will accept them, and not use them. It is the political elite's failings that these countries are not strong allies.
A lack of allies leaves room for fear and rumors about China. This cannot continue.Mongolia's economy will have trouble without Chinese imports from Mongolia. Thus, Mongolia is in trouble if it fears China due toa lack of strong allies beyond its neighbors. Mongolia's political class uses fear about China to evade responsibility for development failures.
Lie 3: Outdated. Mongolia is seen as behind the times, a country that cannot develop sufficient infrastructure. False. Mongolia had better infrastructure under communism than today. The demographics of where people live changed dramatically partially due to a lack of political will to adapt infrastructure to post-communist needs. If politicians concerned themselves more with citizens' needs, and less with contracts they (or their business relations) willget or lose from the government, Mongolia would develop with help from those allies waiting to build relationships.
Mongolia's citizens know what they need when people take the time to speak with them. Mongolia's politicians must show they care to figure out how to raise the incomes of all people from nomadic herders to teachers, in a manner that keeps pace with the mining boom's inflation; but without government handouts of cash that increase inflation and put the nation further into debt.
Redirecting 100 People
How Mongolia's elite became elite between 1991 and 2010 must be acknowledged. In that post-communist period:
• Those with political connections from the communist regime that were not too prominent to be remembered got ahead, particularly those formerly with the secret service.
• Those who were willing to smuggle got ahead as the brothers from Max Group admitted in an article in last year's Forbes magazine.
• Those who knew the right people to bribe or where to get the right paperwork approved got ahead.
• There was a wild and unregulated way of doing business in this era, and that was the rules of that time.
And now, that time must end.
The ACA's Role
I believe that the Anti-Corruption Agency in the past months has made a mockery of itself. It has been used as a tool of political corruption. Unable to arrest those sitting in the Grand Khural or other national political offices, it has arrested the competition of those in power during the run-up to elections. In my opinion, this is shameful, undemocratic, and a total failure to arrest those most corrupt.
The 2000 Point Challenge
The ACA should cease arrests based on events prior to January 2010. No one who gained wealth or political power during that era is clean. Acknowledge and move forward.
Now, it is time to modify behavior for Mongolia to move forward. No one should be immune from prosecution, not members of parliament, not the President or Prime Minister.
Smuggling by the rich must end. Blocking infrastructure development must end. Impoverishing Mongolia's citizens must end.
HERO magazine publishes a list of Mongolia's 100 richest people. Assign them reverse values: #1 worth 100 points, #2 worth 99 points, and so on, with #65 worth 35 points, to #100 worth 1 point.
Although former President and Prime Minister Enkhbayar was arrested on pre-2010 charges, give the ACA 4 points for arresting him as he was #96 on HERO magazine's top 100 list. He is the only one among the top 100 list arrested.
While I believe Mongolia's wealthiest person is not corrupt, many of Mongolia's 100 richest are known by citizens to be corrupt yet immune from the ACA due to government membership.
The ACA is hereby challenged to clean the country up, arrest and imprison 2,000 points of Mongolia's richest people (from 5,050 points available) based solely on actions since January 2010. This is not a game, but a way for citizens to track if the ACA is doing its job or merely arresting people for show and political motivation. If the ACA is unable to arrest the most corrupt, it is merely a tool to keep down the competition.
Capitalism will be good to Mongolia, however the crony capitalism practiced now punishes Mongolia's citizens. The honorable among Mongolia's 100 richest are great patriarchs and matriarchs to their nation to be admired and respected. They must also admire and respect all the citizens of their great nation, and lift it up.
Jon Springer is a graduate of the London School of Economics. He has visited Mongolia twice and strives to be the most knowledgeable person in the world about investing in Mongolia not living in Mongolia (in lieu of convincing his wife to move to Mongolia). He blogs regularly on SeekingAlpha.com.
Mogi: This dude's been bugging me for a few weeks now
Cronyism At Its Worst In Mongolia
June 28 (Forbes) As I wrote on Monday, the Mongolian elections will go ahead without former president Enkhbayar standing for his Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP). And go ahead they did today due to current president Elbegdorj's manipulation of democracy for his own benefit.
On the significance of the elections, Elbegdorj commented, "Today, we Mongolians face an important time to make a historic choice to address Mongolia's development and democracy." What Elbegdorj failed to mention was that he and his cronies are the principal force standing in the way of Mongolia's development and democracy.
New information the General Election Committee's (GEC) decision-making process sheds light on how corrupt and backhanded the current Mongolian government really is.
The GEC has shown that it is completely subordinate to the two main political parties. Ts. Nyamdorj, the current Minister of Justice and candidate from the Mongolian People's Party, has been mired in scandal. In 2008, as Speaker of the Parliament, Nyamdorj illegally added amendments to natural resources legislation. His actions violated the Mongolian Constitution and he subsequently resigned as Speaker of the Parliament. However, the GEC allowed him to stand in today's elections despite the Constitutional Court's ruling on his illegal actions.
In another case, the GEC refused to register Professor Narangerel, a law professor at the partly state owned Mongolian National University and a member of the MPRP coalition, because civil officials cannot run for parliamentary elections. However, the GEC had no problem registering another professor from the same university, Professor Munkhbaatar, who is a member of Elbegdorj's Democratic Party.
The most striking example of bias has been the treatment of Enkhbayar himself who was, in the end, banned from standing in today's election because he violated a prison regulation during his detainment. (Mogi: actually the GEC decision to deny his candidacy was based on a law that states a candidate should be of sound mind and has respect of law, i.e. his refusal to accept numerous requests for questioning) The prison regulation he violated was merely having a cell phone with him after his bodyguards (all persons with special immunity must have bodyguards in prison) were forced to leave the prison and Enkhbayar's lawyer advised him to keep a phone in case of emergency.
On the one hand, there is a candidate standing for election today who violated the Mongolian Constitution. On the other hand, we have Enkhbayar sidelined from today's election for having a cell phone for emergencies with him after his mandated bodyguards left him without protection.
It is all too clear that the GEC and Elbegdorj had a vested interest in keeping Enkhbayar off the ballot. They succeeded in this pursuit, but in the process they have undermined important tenants of democracy and destroyed Mongolia's reputation as a democratic nation.
Mongolia: Can New Electoral Law Help Women Enter Parliament?
June 27 (EurasiaNet) If all goes as envisioned on June 28, Mongolia's parliament will no longer be a male bastion.
Supported by recent revisions to Mongolia's election law, a record number of women are on the ballot in parliamentary elections on June 28. They are seeking seats in what has traditionally been a male-dominated body. Of the 544 candidates running for the 76-seat parliament, 174 are women – well above a newly established 20-percent quota. But where their names appear on the lengthy ballot may be a determining factor in whether this becomes a breakthrough occasion.
Currently, the proportion of women in the Ikh Khural, or parliament, ranks Mongolia near the bottom of the list of countries surveyed by the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union. Women's rights activists say government policies and patriarchal attitudes have discouraged women from entering politics. Data collected by research group Monfemnet even shows a gradual decline in the number of women elected to parliament in all elections since 2000, when women comprised 11.8 percent of the legislature. The figure dropped to 6.6 percent after the 2004 vote and to 3.9 percent in 2008.
"It's a paradox that women … hold 70 percent of the jobs in the health and education sectors, and yet more than 90 percent of the people in positions of power are men," says Otgonsuren Jargal, a veteran journalist and environmental activist who runs Nomad Green, a citizens' environmental reporting initiative.
Jargal is a Green Party candidate contesting a single-seat electoral district in Sukhbaatar Province. She says she never could have dreamed of being nominated by her party were it not for the female quota. "Now I know it's possible. After working for six years in civil society, this is a great opportunity to share what I have learned and believe in … no matter if they vote for me or not," she told EurasiaNet.org.
This election cycle is not the first time Mongolia has experimented with quotas to encourage female candidates. In 2005, after lobbying from women's groups, political parties were told at least 30 percent of candidates must be women. The law was suddenly revoked just before the 2008 election, however, and never tested.
Members of Women for Social Progress (WSP), a non-governmental organization based in Ulaanbaatar, believe the decision to rescind the 30-percent quota was made without substantive discussion. The experience underscores the lengths some MPs will go to limit the political participation of women in Mongolia, contends WSP Director Odmaa Davaanyam.
Davaanyam believes the reintroduction of a quota last year, though reduced to 20 percent, is thanks to pressure from advocacy groups. While it deserves to be lauded in theory, she argued that in practice it may not do much to change the status quo: that is because the new rules say nothing about where women should appear on party lists. "If you look at the party lists, very few women are at the top," Davaanyam says. "The law is written, but in real life parties are doing little to support women."
Mongolia has a 5 percent threshold for a party to enter parliament and, according to the Sant Maral Foundation, a respected pollster, at least three parties are expected to win seats via this proportional system.
The proportional system allots 28 seats. That means it is unlikely a party can win more than a dozen seats. The two leading parties – the Democratic Party (DP) and the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) – have nine and 11 women respectively on their 28-member lists. But DP's first woman is placed at number seven; MPP's at number 10.
"Women are still at the bottom of the list because [the law] hasn't specified how that 20 percent quota is to be secured," says Sukhjargalmaa Dugersuren, a former senior government aide who helped draft Mongolia's gender equality law. Dugersuren tops the party list for the Civil Movement Party (CMP), the first party to field an overwhelming 95 percent majority of female candidates. While her party has barely registered on pre-poll opinion surveys, and is not expected to secure any seats, Dugersuren is confident they have made their mark. "All over the country people know there is a party that has nominated women intent on pushing for change," she states.
Another change to the electoral code offers hope for female candidates, however: Not all seats are determined through party lists. The new, mixed voting system is expected to help the electoral chances of women, independents, and smaller parties.
Of the 76 seats in the Ikh Khural, 48 are to be determined in individual races.
In these lists of individual candidates, selected by district, but often associated with a party, women stand out, says Naranjargal Khaskhuu of Globe International, a Mongolian democracy watchdog.
"Women are perceived as less corrupt," she says. It is an important consideration in a country that ranks 120 out of 183 in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. She believes that because of growing discontent over the government's handling of Mongolia's vast mineral resources, voters are keen to see more women enter the legislature.
Khaskhuu is cautiously optimistic, hoping at least 10 women will win seats. But she remembers the last time. "Take the 2008 elections," she says, referring to the fact that only three women were elected that year from the 67 on the ballots. "It's the results that prove if mentalities have changed. So far we haven't had much evidence of that."
Guest post: Mongolia's bid to dodge the resource curse through green power
By Nandita Parshad of the EBRD
June 28 (FT beyondbrics) As Mongolia goes to the polls for parliamentary elections the country – remote, still largely unknown, the most sparsely populated on Earth – is enjoying a rapid and well documented boom as it begins to exploit its vast mineral wealth. "We want to be Chile" – this is the mantra of many Mongolians. They are not after the Chilean climate or its wine but rather they aspire to join the ranks of those resource-rich countries that have managed to avoid the "resource curse" and achieve a sustainable, fair and balanced economy.
To the west, the Mongolian story so far has been "mine, all mine". With potential billions at stake, the talk is only about Mongolia's commodities and the massive infrastructure building opportunities that go with them. At the same time an affinity for nature and respect for the environment are deep-seated elements of Mongolian culture, naturally so given its nomadic roots. It was this spirit that, back in 2004, inspired the Newcom group to start investigating the possibility of windpower. Eight years later, I was proud to sign the financing this March for the construction of Mongolia's first ever windfarm, having been partners with Newcom in its development since 2009. By the end of this year 31 turbines, each 100 metres high, will be installed at the Salkhit (meaning "windy") mountain, 70km outside Ulaanbaatar.
In 2004, the very idea of windpower in Mongolia seemed extraordinary and many asked why a poor, isolated country should invest in such challenging technology. But the project originated and was sustained throughout its development not just by commercial interests but also by a deep respect for the environment and a vision of a future for Mongolia that is sustainable and diverse.
Physically, Mongolia is an extraordinary country – no visitor returns unmoved by its vast, eerie beauty. But it is also fragile and a country of extremes: freezing in winter, baking in summer and dry all year round. Its environment is damaged in many places and Ulaanbaatar is one of the most polluted cities in the world, its air quality degraded by the burning of cheap, dirty coal and similar fuels.
The Salkhit windfarm can certainly help with these problems. Its electricity will displace generation that is currently coal-fired, providing about 5 per cent of the nation's needs from this clean, renewable resource instead. In time other windfarms will follow. As anybody who has ever been blown off their feet by that super-potent Mongolian national resource would testify, it has no shortage of wind and no shortage of empty spaces for windfarms. But intermittent wind power cannot be relied on completely and Mongolia will always need to burn some fuels to generate heat.
The Salkhit windfarm's impact goes far beyond its immediate effects, however. It makes concrete a vision of Mongolia's future that takes the benefits of the country's mineral resources and uses them to create a rich and layered economy. The challenges the project has faced have been enormous: working out how to build and operate a windfarm in minus 35 degrees, developing a power purchase agreement from scratch in an untested regulatory environment, transporting the 80 tonne nacelles for the wind turbines over 200 km of unpaved road, are just some examples. But the project is now becoming reality and it is a statement to the rest of the world that a poor, remote country with many economic and physical obstacles is willing and able to play its part in promoting a sustainable future. Perhaps it even lays down a challenge to richer, more developed countries, to match this commitment.
At one of our first meetings on the project back in 2008 the talk was of electric cars on the streets of Ulaanbaatar, and storing electricity using compressed air in disused mines. These ideas seem far from reality right now. But back in 2004, so did the idea of a windfarm in Mongolia.
Nandita Parshad is director of power and energy at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Corruption and greed in 'Minegolia'
Allegations swirl around politicians and extractive operations in Mongolia ahead of this week's election.
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 27 (Al Jazeera) - There was a time when Tugsjargal Munkherdene felt like a pariah. Not one of Mongolia's many radio stations would air his songs; no agent was willing to help him find a gig. It seemed in a nation the size of Western Europe, there wasn't space for a hip-hop rapper, whose harsh lyrics - some of which border on what could be described as "hate" - attack the powers he sees corrupting the country.
Today, however, on the eve of elections, 28-year-old Munkherdene, also known as rapper "Gee", is one of the most sought-after sensations. As we meet in one of the hundreds of grungy bars that line the streets of the capital Ulaanbaatar, his mobile phone won't stop ringing.
"It's another political candidate," he says and smirks. "I'll ignore it, I don't speak or rap for no-one."
That politicians are chasing after a hulking, heavily tattooed rapper who has at times been mistaken for being the "muscle" of Mexican drug cartels, speaks to the climate of the times: specifically, the public's seething anger over the belief that this fledgling democratic system is failing to keep leaders accountable, and that they, along with foreign companies, are "stealing" the country's valuable mineral wealth.
That is at least the perception. To have Gee, the outspoken crusader, appear at an election rally would be an automatic endorsement that a candidate is "clean", the nation's political operatives seem to believe.
Racism? Or railing against foreign ownership?
In one of his most controversial videos, Gee swears at the "Hujaa", a derogatory slur against the Chinese, equivalent to "chink". Wielding a meat cleaver, with sheep carcasses swinging in the background, he threatens to cut up Chinese operators of mines who mistreat their Mongolian workers, along with the country's leaders who sign away the nation's resources.
The video has been viewed more than 170,000 times on YouTube. In a country of 2.9 million people, that equates to a hit.
"I wrote that song because I was angry," he says. "There are so many cases of Mongolians not getting paid, even worse, being beaten and killed in the mines, and our leaders don't do anything. Our politicians should be ashamed. I wouldn't even call them Mongolians."
Negative public sentiment has not only been reserved for Chinese operators. Many other foreign enterprises that run the country's largest mines have also been targets.
Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, a nomadic herder and an internationally renowned environmentalist, shot at a foreign mining operation in 2010. He decried what he described as "predatory capitalism".
"We will give the mining companies fair warning - either they must cease their activities or incur our wrath," he said at the time, just before being jailed. Munkhbayar has since been released and continues his campaigns against the mining industry.
Mongolia, or "Minegolia", as migrant workers are keen to call it, is undergoing a rapid transformation, due to its incredible resource wealth in minerals such as coal, copper, and gold. Some estimate [PDF] the total value of known deposits to be $1.3tn.
The country's economy grew some 17.3 per cent in 2011, faster than any other nation. And if predictions are correct, it will continue its double-digit growth for well over a decade.
But with such wealth comes greed. In 2011, Transparency International placed Mongolia 120th out of 183 nations on its corruption perception index - joint with Iran and Ethiopia, among others. Sumati Luvsandendev, the country's leading pollster, says 90 per cent of Mongolians believe politicians are benefitting from "special arrangements" with foreign enterprises over mining rights.
Public pressure has forced the government to consider placing restrictions on how much of a stake outside companies can have in Mongolia. That has led to nervous investors. A case in point came this week, as shares in Mongolia Mining Corporation, the nation's biggest coking coal exporter, slumped to a record low following speculation that investment rules would be tightened after the upcoming parliamentary elections on Thursday, June 28.
Mongolia's president, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, says he prefers to leave investment issues as they are, and focus instead on tackling the widespread corruption within the government. The this end, he has beefed up the powers of the agency responsible, the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC).
Former president jailed
Since its inception six years ago, IAAC officials say they've gathered evidence on more than 600 politicians and civil servants. But it's the charges against a former president, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, that have raised eyebrows.
In the early morning of April 13, some 600 police officers, including members of a SWAT team, appeared on Enkhbayar's doorstep. A smaller group had failed to arrest him the night before, after his bodyguards reportedly drew guns.
Barefoot with a bag over his head, the former leader was bundled off to jail and charged with five counts of corruption. What followed was what one on-air host described as "the most interesting reality TV show Mongolia has ever seen". Networks aired footage of the former leader being shown around his "accommodation", which was far more comfortable than that of the average Mongolian prisoner.
Then there was the drama of a 12-day hunger strike, where Enkhbayar was seen at times verbally and physically lashing out at his handlers. Following pleas by his family members over his health, a court released him on bail.
The former president, who ran the country from 2000 to 2004, has called his treatment and the case against him "political persecution" and accused Elbegdorg, along with his "corrupt associates", of trumping up the charges to prevent him from contesting this week's elections, seen largely as his chance at a political comeback.
"It's quite widespread for all authoritarian regimes worldwide," Enkhbayar says. "When they want to remove their political opponents from the state, they use charges of corruption." With the case before the courts, the election commission has indeed barred him from running. But whether it is justice or political persecution depends on whom you talk to.
While in jail, Enkhbayar's media-savvy son made several international appeals and appeared to have convinced some that democracy could be under threat. At least one US senator, a former US ambassador, and even Amnesty International publicly raised doubts about the legitimacy of the case. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon even reportedly phoned Elbegdorj to express his concerns.
The current president, however, insists there are no political motivations behind the charges. "I know and most Mongolian people know that Mr Enkhbayar is trying to escape from the court of justice and trying to create [a] court of public opinion," said Elbegdorj. "I would like to urge our allies in the international community to follow this case closely."
He added: "Mongolia is regarded as the democratic anchor in the east… freedom here is non-negotiable, and the fight against corruption is also non-negotiable."
Of the five counts before Enkhbayar, one involves the selling of valuable state property in the heart of the capital to friends and relatives - including a hotel, which is now owned by a company run by his son.
He's also accused of diverting donations from Japan originally meant to be spent on television equipment for a Buddhist temple. The donations were allegedly used to pay for equipment at a network run by his wife.
"Some outside the country may not look at these crimes as much," says Unurbayr Chadraabal, an official with the IAAC, "but counted together, they total some $6m, and in Mongolia that is considered a big thing."
While most of the political parties (barring Enkhbayar's) have preferred not to comment on the case, corruption has taken over as the key issue in these elections. At campaign rallies, candidates refer to it as a "disease", and admit that while "all parties are guilty of it, they are all committed to putting an end to it".
With one in three Mongolians still living in poverty, there is a heavy expectation that the government must move to ensure a fair distribution of the country's resources. "The only way out of this situation is to have more growth that is more just," says Dashdorj Zorigt, the current mines and energy minister.
Interestingly enough, Enkhbayar's plight has revitalised his party's election hopes. Supporters packed a hall at a recent meeting of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) to hear him speak. Having sold himself as the victim of a "corrupt government", many of his backers are the disenchanted. "The person who is really uniting the protest voters against the establishment is our ex-president, that's why whatever he is doing, he will be popular," says Sumati.
But not everyone is so easily convinced. rapper "Gee" Munkherdene laughs off questions about how he will vote. He is so passionate for his country that he wears its name on a tattoo just below his left eye, and says he doesn't "buy any of the claims made by present-day politicians".
What he's looking for, he says, are concrete efforts that bring visible change. "My parents taught me to care about this country. I only use harsh words in my songs because I want to bring people's attention to the problems and make leaders listen."
The phone rings again. It's yet another political candidate. Is his popularity, and the fact that corruption has become a key election issue, perhaps a sign that Mongolians are starting to listen to him? He only smirks and says, "we'll see".
More dinosaur-smuggling cases likely in the future
Mongolia's claim to a tyrannosaur skeleton isn't unique situation, expert
June 29 (LiveScience) Mongolia's claim to a tyrannosaur skeleton that experts agree was smuggled out of the country has captured international attention. However, this dinosaur's situation does not appear unique.
Other fossils from the same species of Mongolian dinosaur, as well as other specimens linked to that fossil-rich country, are not difficult to find in auction house catalogs or on eBay.
They may not be for long: According to Robert Painter, the Houston-based attorney representing the Mongolian president in the tyrannosaur case, the Mongolian government is putting plans in place to monitor sales such as the $1.1 million purchase in May of the tyrannosaur at auction, in the hope of intercepting material taken illegally from within its borders.
Not the only one
The dinosaur skeleton, which Heritage Auctions put up for bid May 20 in New York, is a type of tyrannosaur called Tarbosaurus bataar. Its remains are plentiful in the Nemegt Formation within Mongolia's share of the Gobi Desert, where the only clearly identifiable Tarbosaurus fossils have been found. [ Up For Auction: A Natural History Gallery ]
Mongolian law in place since 1924 declares vertebrate fossils excavated within its borders to be state property and makes smuggling valuable artifacts, including fossils, a crime.
In the same auction, Heritage offered Tarbosaurus teeth and the skull of an armored dinosaur, called an ankylosaurid, which paleontologists said are also likely from Mongolia.
Mongolia's president, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, recently enlisted the U.S. Attorney's Office in his fight to have the skeleton returned to his country. No other items have been drawn into the court case.
Easy to find
A cursory scan of recent catalogs from auction houses with a presence in the U.S. revealed that these sorts of offerings are not unusual. The auction house I.M. Chait offered the skull of a Tarbosaurus, also known as Tyrannosaurus bataar, for sale March 24, 2011, and a Tarbosaurus leg this past May 6. Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers in Los Angeles offered two dinosaur eggs from Mongolia's Gobi Desert on June 2. Bonhams offered a Tarbosaurus skull on May 17, 2011, and, later in the year, on Dec. 11, offered a frilled Protoceratops skeleton found in the Djadokhta Formation, which is located primarily in Mongolia. (The remainder of the formation is in China, which also forbids the export of fossils.)
LiveScience attempted to contact these auctions houses. The only reply came from a representative of Skinner. "I can tell you that Skinner consignors are contractually obliged to state that they have free and clear title to the material they consign with us," Skinner's marketing director, Kate de Bethune, wrote in an email.
Asked for comment on the Tarbosaurus teeth and the ankylosaurid skull, Heritage Auctions' co-Chairman Jim Halperin released a statement, saying: "Numerous unsupported allegations regarding these fossils have been reported in the news media … all of which Heritage Auctions hopes will soon be clarified."
As for the Tarbosaurus skeleton, Heritage Auctions has defended Eric Prokopi, the Florida fossil dealer who sought to sell it through the auction house, and cooperated with the Mongolian investigation into the origin of the dinosaur. Prokopi has questioned whether the fossils truly came from Mongolia. "Other than (from) the diggers, there is no way for anyone to know for certain when or where the specimen was collected," Prokopi said in a statement. [ Image Gallery: Dinosaur Fossils ]
Auction houses aren't alone. A search for "dinosaur fossils mongolia" on eBay Wednesday yielded about 20 results, most of them claws.
Not a shock
While it's impossible to be 100 percent certain the Tarbosaurus fossils sprinkled around public auctions and eBay are from Mongolia, "we can be reasonably certain," said Mark Norell, a paleontologist with the American Museum of Natural History in New York who worked in Mongolia in 1990.
"I see it all the time, so it is not anything terribly shocking that some place would have Mongolia fossils for sale," Norell told LiveScience. While other specimens have not provoked attention from the Mongolian government, the nearly complete Tarbosaurus skeleton was too big to pass by unnoticed, he said.
Paleontologists note that China and other countries have laws similar to Mongolia's that prohibit the export of fossils. However, fossils of Chinese origin are also easily found in the pages of auction catalogs and on eBay.
A watershed case?
The removal of fossils has been a problem for Mongolia during the last 15 to 20 years, amid the "chaos, poverty and corruption" during the country's transition from communism and a planned economy to democracy and a market economy, according to Puntsag Tsagaan, senior adviser to the Mongolian president.
"But now Mongolia has successfully overcome the transition, and it is one of the most fastest growing economies and maturing democracies in this part of the world," Tsagaan told LiveScience.
This loss of dinosaur fossils is likely to be a national priority in the wake of the parliamentary election that took place Thursday, Tsagaan said by email.
Work to that effect has already begun, according to Robert Painter, the Houston-based attorney representing Elbegdorj in the tyrannosaur case.
Elbegdorj has put together a working group to monitor auctions by well-known auction houses and eBay sales in the United States and elsewhere, Painter told LiveScience in an email.
"We hope that vigorous enforcement will help close this global marketplace for illicit fossils smuggled out of Mongolia," Painter wrote.
Russian eager-beavers destined to Mongolia to Save Tuul River
June 28 (Voice of Russia) About 30 beavers from the Russian Kirov region are being brought to Mongolia. Mongolian ecologists hope that the beavers may save the Tuul River, on which Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator stands, from an ecological catastrophe.
Russian specialists have already started to catch beavers in the Vyatka, the main river of the Kirov region, near the town of Kotelnich. This place is famous for its beavers.
The decision to use the Russian beavers for saving the Mongolian river was taken after a Mongolian delegation visited the Kirov Region.
At present, the Mongolian river Tuul has considerably shallowed. The forests around it have been extensively cut down. The environment is strongly polluted. This presents a serious threat to the ecology of Ulan Bator and the region around it.
This problem can be solved by several ways, but the mostly effective and safe one is to bring beavers to live in the river. Dams which beavers build prevent pollution of rivers, rivers become clean from silt, and fish start to appear.
There are very few beavers in Mongolia, and they practically do not multiply. However, beavers from the Kirov region, as experts say, are the best to multiply. Besides, experience has shown that the Kirov beavers quickly get accustomed to new places and new conditions.
Alexander Savelyev from the Institute of Hunting and Animal Breeding says:
"In fact, the Kirov population of beavers was bred artificially. This is a hybrid breed, which descends from beavers which were brought to the Kirov region from Belarus, the Voronezh region in Russia and other regions. The new breed turned out to be highly adaptive and highly reproducible."
A "couple" of beavers from the Kirov region, on average, gives birth to 4 cubs in a year. However, it is hard to catch beavers of this breed – they bite and try to twist out from the hunter's hands.
The "team" of beavers which will go to Mongolia is being collected all over the Kirov region. Every animal has to undergo a thorough genetic examination, because all the beavers should be healthy. Besides, there should be no "marriages" between close relatives among the beavers.
The Russian beavers will go to Mongolia in July. Because it will probably be very hot, the container will be equipped with an air conditioner.
In Mongolia, some of the beavers will be let go to live in the wild, and others will live on a farm which has been specially build for this purpose. Mongolian scientists are going to watch the beavers and regularly report to their Russian colleagues about the animals' health and their success in saving the river.
"Mogi" Munkhdul Badral
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