Blue Wolf Mongolia Countdown: 84 days left till liquidation
JPM lowers MMC (00975) to "neutral" & HK$4.5
[ET Net News Agency, 23 January 2013] JP Morgan lowered its target price for Mongolian Mining Corporation (MMC)(00975) to HK$4.5 from HK$5.5, and downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "overweight".
MMC expects a FY2012 loss, while the stock has enjoyed a 30% rebound from its September 2012 low. However, JPM believes downside may be limited given improving coking coal markets and MMC's strong leverage to coking coal prices. (KL)
Citi cuts Mongol Mining (00975) TP to HK$4.8, maintains "buy" call
[ET Net News Agency, 24 January 2013] Citigroup lowered its price target for Mongolian Mining (MMC)(00975) to HK$4.8 from HK$5.2, and maintained its "buy" call.
The research house said MMC's development, from a profitability perspective, has been slower than expected. Nonetheless, Citi likes MMC's value proposition as a low cost base load supplier of coking coal to China.
It believes that coking coal prices should firm slowly in 2013, but value in the shares would be a function of MMC growing and maximizing HCC volumes under the new mine plan and monetizing improving infrastructure over time. (KL)
Moody's reviews Mongolian Mining's B1 ratings for downgrade
[ET Net News Agency, 24 January 2013] Moody's Investors Service has placed Mongolian Mining Corporation's (MMC)(00975) B1 corporate family and senior unsecured ratings under review for downgrade after MMC's profit warning announcement on 21 January 2012 of an expected consolidated loss for its FY 2012 financial results, owing to the decrease in the selling price of coking coal, and increases in its finance costs, as well as inventory loss provisions.
"MMC was expected to announce a breakeven net profit for 2012. Its warning of a loss, with weaker cash flows anticipated could temper its liquidity and hinder its ability to ride out the relatively lower prices for coking coal," said Simon Wong, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst.
"The announcement also comes on top of MMC's weaker-than-expected results for the first half of the year, from poor sales volumes and lower operating margins because of weakened Chinese demand for coking coal," Wong added. (KL)
Prophecy Coal Announces Executive Chairman Appointment and Director Resignation
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 25, 2013) - Prophecy Coal Corp. ("Prophecy Coal" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY)(OTCQX:PRPCF)(FRANKFURT:1P2) is pleased to announce that Mr. John Lee has transitioned from his role as Chief Executive Officer ("CEO") of the Company to Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors (the "Board") of the Company.
The Board has determined that the Company has reached a critical stage and now requires Mr. Lee to focus his time and attention on negotiating the major government and joint venture agreements for the development of the Company's Chandgana power plant project in Mongolia.
To complement Mr. Lee in his role as Executive Chairman of the Board, the Company has initiated a search for a new CEO to carry out day-to-day management responsibilities as the Company transitions into a true developer of coal powered electrical generation. Mr. Lee will serve as Interim CEO until a new candidate has been identified and appointed.
Prophecy Coal also announces the resignation of Mr. Jivko Savov as a director of the Company. In light of recent increases to his responsibilities as Director of Global Business Development, M&A and Retail for Gazprom in London, Mr. Savov has decided to focus his attention on his position with Gazprom. As such, Mr. Savov considered that it would be best for him to step down from the Board. However, Mr. Savov will continue to assist Prophecy in its business development as an advisor. The Board wishes to thank Mr. Savov for his contribution to the Company to date and looks forward to Mr. Savov working with the Company in the future in an advisory capacity.
Petro Matad: Issue of Equity
January 25, Petro Matad Limited (MATD:LN) --
Issue of Equity
Petro Matad announces that it will issue 500,000 ordinary shares of US$0.01 each under the Company's Long Term Equity Incentive Plan (the "Plan") (the "New Shares"). The New Shares will be issued, under the terms of the Plan, at nominal value.
Application has been made for the New Shares to be admitted to AIM and it is anticipated that this will occur on or around 31 January 2013.
Total Voting Rights
Following the issue of the New Shares, Petro Matad will have 186,676,001 shares in issue. There are no shares held in treasury and therefore the total voting rights in the Company will be 186,676,001.
Mongolia Cuts Rates for First Time Since 2009 to Support Growth
January 26 (Bloomberg) Mongolia's central bank cut interest rates for the first time since 2009 after determining that the outlook for inflation is benign and deciding to "cautiously" ease policy, its chief economist said.
The Bank of Mongolia reduced its policy rate to 12.5 percent from the previous 13.25 percent effective yesterday, according to a table on the monetary authority's website and confirmed by chief economist Sandagdorj Bold. The central bank is confident it will be able to achieve its 8 percent inflation target for this year, Bold said in a telephone interview.
Mongolia's gross domestic product growth moderated to 12.3 percent last year from a record 17.3 percent in 2011 after the price of coal, the biggest export, fell. Slower growth in China, which buys 92 percent of Mongolian exports, also reduced demand.
Inflationary pressure has eased as a result of fiscal limits adopted by the government that have resulted in "more disciplined" spending, Bold said.
Programs by the central bank to ensure the stability of food, fuel, housing and transportation costs have also helped, he said. Those efforts included providing loans to importers of fuel, he said.
Mongolia's central bank at the end of last year gave the country's fuel importers 83 billion tugrik ($59.7 million) of loans after the companies said they may have to increase gasoline prices, news website News.mn reported this month.
The nation's economy has been spurred by a mining boom and influx of capital to fund projects such as the $6 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine operated by Rio Tinto Group.
Mongolia exported 20.9 million tons of coal last year, down from 21.3 million in 2011, according to the National Statistics Office. The value of the exported coal in 2012 was $1.9 billion, compared with $2.27 billion in 2011, according to the agency.
Mongolia Bets on China Rivals to Break Impasse
BEIJING, January 25 (WSJ)—Mongolia is reaching out to China's largest coal producer, China Shenhua Energy, in an effort to break a deadlock over the terms of a souring coal-for-loan deal with another Chinese resource company, Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., according to Mongolia's ambassador to Beijing, Tsedenjav Sukhbaatar.
China's state-owned resource giants often compete with each other—at least in the early stages—in securing projects, and Mongolia may be counting on the Chinese companies' innate sense of rivalry to prompt renegotiation of an increasingly untenable resource deal.
A deepening disagreement with China—Mongolia's largest trading partner—over the deal highlights moves to regulate foreign investment in the country's fledgling mining sector that could throw into disarray the development of Tavan Tolgoi, potentially the world's largest untapped coal reserve.
State-owned Erdenes-Tavan Tolgoi LLC, which owns the project, has halted coal exports to China in a bid to renegotiate the July agreement, under which Aluminum Corp. of China, also called Chalco, lent Tavan Tolgoi $350 million to be repaid in coal but capped the commodity's price at $70 a metric ton, Mr. Sukhbaatar told The Wall Street Journal.
"Chalco was just using a moment when the government badly needed funding to get a deal that was unacceptable in the sense of normal international trade," he said.
The management team at Tavan Tolgoi, appointed last fall by the freshly elected Mongolian government, has repaid nearly two-thirds of the loan, and now wants to change the contract to reflect fluctuating market prices for coal, he said. Coking coal import prices are about $190 a ton, according to the 52Steel.com consultancy, though they were even higher at the time the Chalco deal was reached. (Russian coal imports cost $229 a ton including transport and taxes.)
A failure to come to new terms led, in part, to Tavan Tolgoi being unable to continue to pay for transportation and exportation of the coal to China, he added.
Mongolia may be hoping Shenhua, which is in the running to develop the western half of Tavan Tolgoi, will work to resolve the impasse with a focus on gaining goodwill in its bid for the project.
"What we're trying is to deal with Shenhua as the principal and the biggest coal company" in China, he said. "They have the infrastructure. They are the international company. Chalco has nothing to do with coal."
In July, Ulan Bator awarded rights to develop Tavan Tolgoi's western area to Shenhua, Peabody Energy Corp. and a Mongolia-Russia consortium with 40%, 24% and 36% stakes, respectively. But complaints from competing countries about the bidding process led the government to hastily withdraw the decision. Mongolia hasn't made any final decision on the development rights.
An official in Shenhua's media department said Friday that the company needed to study the issue and had no immediate comment. Chalco said in a statement that it hoped Mongolia would honor all the terms of its agreement, "including confidentiality arrangements." Chalco has also said it dispatched a team in November to Tavan Tolgoi to convey Beijing's views.
Public opposition to the division of the spoils in Mongolia's newfound mining wealth in recent years prompted the new Mongolian government, elected on a crest of resource nationalism last June, to redraw policies seen as overly favoring global mining interests and potentially creating overreliance on China.
But Mr. Sukhbaatar said Friday that the Chalco coal stalemate wasn't tied to any of the proposed changes, which include proposed amendments to the country's mining law. The law, if amended, won't affect existing deals, he said.
The changes essentially would devolve project approval power to local governments and require miners to conduct "at least initial processing" before exporting coal and mineral ores, he added.
Business leaders and investors have been less sanguine about the proposed amendments. The Business Council of Mongolia said in an open letter earlier this month that the changes could "halt current minerals exploration and development in Mongolia and greatly discourage any future investment."
Exports of all other types of Mongolian commodities are proceeding as normal, Mr. Sukhbaatar said.
Tavan Tolgoi isn't likely to hold an initial public offering this year as previously planned, as Ulan Bator would prefer the mine's infrastructure to be in place, which would potentially improve the offer price, he said. Mongolia was initially seeking $3 billion in the IPO.
Troubles at the world's largest coal mine escalate – MINING.com, January 25
Mongolia postpones Tavan Tolgoi IPO – bne, January 25
Development Bank cleared to provide $55 million initial financing to Mongolian Railways
January 28 (Business-Mongolia) The Cabinet meeting of Mongolian Government was held on January 26, 2012, discussing a number of timely issues faced by the policy makers. Following an earlier decision made by government, Mongolian Railway, a state owned company, has been provided with the special license to build rail tracks and related structures, and were tasked to raise the financing of the projects with local and international partners with a condition where government share is dominant.
The latest cabinet meeting decided to provide the state company with the concession to build, utilize and transfer railway infrastructure within the framework of the state policy on railway.
The Board of Development Bank was allowed by the government to do the financing of the initial USD 55 Million to be used for the implementation of "New Railway" project within February this year. Economic Development Minister N.Batbayar was tasked to ensure that future repayments of the loan are made on a timely manner to the government.
Risky Mongolia could revive this hard-hit investment trust: Origo Partners
One of the worst performing investment trusts of 2012 could see a reversal of fortunes this year, writes James Carthew.
January 25 (Citywire Money) Last week's article noted that some of the best-performing investment companies of 2012 were stocks that had previously disappointed. There is a long list of disappointing stocks to trawl through to identify what might surprise on the upside in 2013 but one I have been meaning to write about for ages turned out to be one of the worst-performing funds in 2012: Origo Partners.
The decline was dramatic – the share price fell from a high of more than 51p in June 2011 to 13.375p today; the stock was trading at more than 30p as recently as last March.
Rise and fall
Origo started life late in 2006 as Origo Sino-India, and was designed to invest in fast-growing Chinese and Indian private companies. Its share price collapsed as the credit crisis took hold and, in September 2009, it was merged with Origo Resources (a separate fund launched in November 2007, which had also fallen out of favour with investors).
At the same time, it moved its focus away from the Indian side of the business to China and changed its name to Origo Partners. The fund is now designed to be a play on China's rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, the idea being that this will fuel demand for resources and a need for investment in renewable energy and clean technology. The portfolio is quite concentrated, with the top 10 investments accounting for 90%.
The company was expanded through a couple of share issues (June 2010, raising £20 million at 25p, and December 2011, raising £21 million at 36p) and an issue of $60 million of zero-dividend convertible preference shares in March 2011.
The preferences mature in March 2016, when holders can opt for $1.28 in cash or, at any time before maturity, choose to exchange them for ordinary shares at $0.95 each.
At the end of December 2011, Origo had net assets (less the preference shares) of $241 million; by September 2012, this had fallen to $202 million or 57 cents per share. This is the last published net asset value (NAV). While we can only guess at the likely NAV decline since then, it still seems likely Origo is trading at a substantial discount.
In 2011, the company initiated a $1.5 NAV buyback programme, which, while modest, should be NAV-enhancing. Net cash in September was $25.8 million, so there is room to step up share repurchases in future.
Origo is self-managed, with more than 50 employees and ongoing expenses (excluding performance fees) of about $6 million. The senior management positions are held by executive chairman Wang Chao Yong, chief executive Chris Rynning and chief financial officer Niklas Ponnert.
A performance fee introduced in 2009 gave senior management 20% of realised profits on investments over a 10% per annum hurdle. At the end of June 2012, Origo had accrued performance fees of $6 million.
There are also 13.6 million options exercisable at 31p, 11.5 million exercisable at 23.45p and 4.8 million granted in 2009, initially exercisable at 15.5p but this grows by 3.5% per annum. Most of these are held by the senior management. While all of these options are underwater, they could act as a drag on future performance and could add 8.3% to the issued share capital.
So what upside is there in the portfolio? A lot will depend on your view of China and whether you believe the recent positive news coming out of the country will be sustained, but one issue, more than any other, has affected Origo's recent fortunes: the introduction of a new mineral law in Mongolia.
More than half (54%) of the fund is invested in metals/mining stocks and Mongolian projects account for more than 40% of the fund. The biggest is Gobi Coal & Energy but it also holds stakes in Moly World, a molybdenum/tungsten project, and Kincora Copper, Kincora's Bronze Fox copper/gold deposit, sits alongside Rio's larger Oyu Tolgoi operation.
Gobi Coal (almost 30% of the fund) is also held by Baker Steel. Recently it wrote down its carrying value on the back of poor prices for Mongolian coal at the Chinese border. Gobi was supposed to float in 2012 but the Mongolian government started to make noises about rewriting the law that underpins the state's relationship with big, mostly foreign-owned, resource projects, and this unnerved investors.
As drafted, the law says Mongolian citizens must hold at least 34%/51% in each project (depending on the type of project), the state has pre-emptive rights in the event that a project changes hands and it can take a stake in the licence holder of a deposit for no consideration.
Unsurprisingly, investors are protesting. If the law is watered down, Origo's shares should jump; if not, the focus switches to its remaining investments.
These include Celadon Mining, a Chinese coal miner, two holdings in the agricultural sector (25% of the fund) China Rice (rice processing and distribution) and RM Wiliams (an Australian farming company exporting to China) and a spread of 'clean tech' investments (17%) including stakes in China Cleantech Partners (a fund launched in conjunction with Ecofin), Unipower Battery (lithium ion batteries) and Niutech Energy (tyre and plastic recycling).
We will know what the real discount is when Origo releases its end-December NAV estimate around the end of this month, when it makes its next interim statement. Short-term success largely depends on factors outside its control but, with a fair wind, Origo could be a winner in 2013.
James Carthew is a director of Sapient Research
Mongolian President Says No Tolerance on Corruption
Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj talks about the economy and fighting corruption. He spoke with Bloomberg Television's Caroline Connan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Accountability is the Gobi's Scarcest Resource
January 25 (The Mongolist) The Gobi has a government accountability shortage that is reaching breathtaking levels. In the news this week is the revelation that Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (ETT), the government owned mining company overseeing the development of the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit, is running low on cash. The cause of the cash flow problem appears to be the fact that the company is selling coal to its main Chinese consumer Chalco for USD 53 per tonne, but it costs USD 61 per tonne for ETT to transport the coal to the border.1, 2 Yes, you read that right. The company is selling coal at a loss of USD 8 per tonne, or at least it was until mathematical reality wiped out the company's cash on hand. What is breathtaking about this story is that it has all the hallmarks of a massive political scandal, and yet it has so far received scant coverage in Mongolia and almost dispassionate reporting in the international press as if such a mistake is routine and a loan of a few hundred million dollars and renegotiation or buy out of the Chalco deal should fix the problem. And, the current CEO of ETT is saying just that. A loan of approximately USD 355 million should about cover the Chalco problem and also address lingering issues of infrastructure and equipment on site.3
This kind of story is sadly all too common in the Gobi, and the region is fast becoming the poster child for the expression "throwing good money after bad." Where's the accountability? I should be up front that I have a bit of ax to grind in this blog post. My wife and I have been connected to the region in one way or another over the last decade, and we've seen first hand the rapid changes that have occurred during that time. There are plenty of positives. There are employment opportunities, the provincial capital feels like a boomtown, personal car ownership is becoming the norm, people are healthier and happier, and there are many other changes that have provided friends and neighbors economic mobility and freedom. These positives, however, have been marred by an on-going and severe accountability shortage. Millions of dollars are spent each year to "fix" problems only to have the same or similar problem pop up again very soon after the fix. It is extremely frustrating to watch this game play out over and over again.
As an example I take the on-going problem with electricity in the province. I think a few lines from a letter to the daily newspaper Unuudur from a resident of the provincial capital Dalanzadgad sums up the frustration best:
Member of Parliament Ts. Bayarsaikhan and Provincial Governor Tsedencamba said during the opening ceremony of the new Dalanzadgad power plant in 2000 that the province would finally have cheap, reliable energy. Three days after the ceremony the plant broke down. Thirteen years later the power plant is still crawling along and we've arrived at the developmental level of the 1950s and 1960s.4
Indeed, it's hard to imagine it was worse in the 1950s and 1960s than today in the Gobi. The power is off more than it is on in spite of tens of millions of dollars being spent on repairs for the plant since 2000. Almost daily we receive assurances from someone in a position of authority that everything will be fixed by some date soon. Just before the local elections in November the provincial governor came to our town to assure us that from December onward the power problems would be fixed. Now two months later it is reported that the power plant can only operate at 50-60 percent its normal operating capacity and the province is dependent on surplus electricity when available from a power plant built to serve Tavan Tolgoi.5 The only hours of the day that the power plant can reliably provide electricity are 2am to 7am when, of course, most of the province is asleep.6 But, that's not all, it is also reported that all the problems could be fixed in "2-3 hours" if only the government provided the plant with USD 60 million or MNT 84 billion.7 Just like ETT, the problem is money--not a lack of accountability--according to those in charge.
These problems are not new, and in the past provincial incompetence and shenanigans could easily go unnoticed by the wider world because the region was literally in the middle of nowhere. But, now the entire country is economically dependent on this region getting things right. Mistakes here affect everyone in the country, and yet oddly most of the news coverage about the area seems to center on Oyu Tolgoi, the only major development initiative in the region that is arguably showing sustainable results. As I have written in the past, Oyu Tolgoi shouldn't get a free pass on accountability (see ), but sometimes it appears from on the ground that a lot of outside public scrutiny is misdirected and wasted on Oyu Tolgoi to the detriment of other serious problems. ETT running out of cash by selling coal at an avoidable loss and one of the richest provinces in the country struggling to provide electricity to its citizens are just symptoms of wider problems. Something is definitely in short supply here, but it's more than just cash, electricity, or even water. Where's the accountability?
1. "Chalco Urges Erdenes TT to Honor Terms of Coal-Supply Accord", Bloomberg News, , January 22, 2013.
2. "Erdenes TT is in negotiations with CHALCO", News.mn, , January 21, 2013.
3. Michael Kohn, "Mongolia Loan May Help Tavan Tolgoi Exit Chalco Deal, CEO Says", Bloomberg News, , January 24, 2013.
4. . , " ", , January 17, 2013, A7.
5. . , " ", , January 17, 2013, A7.
6. . , " ", , January 17, 2013, 1.
Bombardier Commercial Aircraft Caps Off Successful Year for its Q400 and Q400 NextGen Aircraft Program
- Recorded orders and options for up to 81 Q400 NextGen aircraft
- Q400 NextGen aircraft with new dual-class configuration entered service
- Approval awarded for Q400 and Q400 NextGen aircraft to operate in new countries
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 25, 2013) - Bombardier Aerospace announced today that its Q400 and Q400 NextGen aircraft program wrapped up a successful year in 2012 with up to $2.7 billion US in orders including 50 firm orders and 31 option aircraft, while welcoming seven new customers, operators and leasing companies.
"In 2012, the Q400 NextGen aircraft order book grew significantly with orders from first-time customers - WestJet and Eurolot − as well as from repeat customers looking to enhance their fleets with the only turboprop that accommodates more passengers and route possibilities," said Mike Arcamone, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. "The Q400 aircraft spread further into secondary markets and, together with theQ400 NextGen aircraft, brought new customers, operators and leasing companies from almost every continent into the Bombardier turboprop family. This demonstrates the flexibility and performance capability of the aircraft.
"For airlines seeking high productivity and profitability on a diversity of routes, Q400 and Q400 NextGen aircraft are unbeatable. With up to 10 more seats, up to 35 per cent more cargo volume and with their jet-like speed, the aircraft can fly up to 18 per cent more flights per day than a competing turboprop. That's approximately 30 per cent more revenue potential," added Mr. Arcamone.
Russia and CIS Type Approval and Mongolia Type Acceptance Certification
In June 2012, the Q400 and Q400 NextGen aircraft became the largest Western-built turboprop aircraft to be awarded type approval for operation in Russia and the CIS. Mongolia in central Asia granted the aircraft type acceptance certification in the region in May 2012. A few weeks later, EZnis Airways began operating its first Q400 aircraft showcasing the aircraft's performance on gravel runways and in cold weather, as well as its ample cargo and baggage compartments for supporting mining charters and equipment.
JAPANESE MAN JAILED FOR CHEATING EX-SUMO CHAMP ASASHORYU
TOKYO (AFP) - A 78-year-old Japanese businessman was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison Friday for swindling former Mongolian sumo grand champion Asashoryu out of 1.1 million dollars.
Takeo Kikuchi conspired with an associate in 2009 to cheat the then-champion, whose real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, by saying they needed the money to help develop projects in Mongolia, the Tokyo District Court said.
Kikuchi and Takaharu Kumada, 65, told the wrestler they had gold ingots abroad and wanted to melt and cash them in before investing in Mongolia, presiding judge Yukihiko Imasaki said. Kumada has been tried separately on the same charges and is awaiting sentencing.
Dagvadorj handed them about 100 million yen after they asked him to help pay an overdue storage fee for the gold.
"What the defendants told him (Dagvadorj) were all false," the judge said.
"We cannot help but sympathise with him as the defendants took advantage of his feelings for his country although he was so naive as to respond to such a suspicious proposition," he said.
Dagvadorj retired from competition in 2010 after winning 25 tournaments as the third most successful wrestler in sumo history while raising some eyebrows for making comments and behaviour which were seen too abrasive for a sumo champion.
Now 32, he is a leading entrepreneur and personality in his home country.
New study shows 10% of death in UB caused by air pollution
January 23 (InfoMongolia) American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) presented their latest lecture "Air Pollution in Ulaanbaatar: Public Health Impacts and Research Opportunities" given by Dr. Ryan Allen, Ph.D of Simon Fraser University, Canada on Tuesday, 22 January.
Part of his research team such as the professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University Dr. Bruce Lanphear, directors of international NGOs, nurses, doctors, journalists, university students and others from the community were amongst those that attended.
Dr. Allen who was last in Mongolia in 2010, recently did an assessment of UB air pollution using the land use regression technique over a two week period and discovered "that 10% of the deaths in Ulaanbaatar can be attributed to outdoor air pollution". He is leading the team Ulaanbaatar Gestation and Air Pollution Research (UGAAR) comprised of Mongolian and international professionals to investigate what the effects are on babies when pregnant women breathe air pollution, in collaboration between the Health Sciences University of Mongolia, Sukhbaatar Health District and Simon Fraser University of Canada, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The way air pollution is being measured is by particular matter (PM) which is proven to be one of the strongest types that affect public health, one of the main issues discussed. Diesel buses (emitting nitrogen oxide) and ger stoves burning coal (emitting sulphur oxide) are some of the examples that measure PM 2.5 are common factors found in UB air pollution.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), 89 percent of the world's population lives in high air pollution levels and most of this percentage lies in Asia. Ulaanbaatar is the second most polluted city in the world today. "There is no safe level of air pollution", says Dr. Allen who further suggests more near term interventions could be used to improve and manage air pollution which forms the basis of his work. The team will carry out their research in the Sukhbaatar District of the city and some of the surrounding khoroos. He finds Ulaanbaatar to be full of opportunity to conduct efficient research due to its smaller population and finishes the lecture in saying "If you improve the air pollution levels you will improve public health".
Simon Fraser University was established in Vancouver in 1965 and is named after a famous explorer. It is ranked as one of the top three most comprehensive universities of Canada over the past 20 years.
ACMS Speaker Series is a series of on-going lectures that are presented by Mongolian and visiting international academics to the public and generally held between 5:30 – 6:30 pm every Tuesday at the American Corner, Natsagdorj Library in Ulaanbaatar.
Marketing implications of the destination image of Mongolia
Marketing implications of the destination image of Mongolia
David Mwaura, David Acquaye, Sarnai Jargal, (2013) "Marketing implications of the destination image of Mongolia", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 5 Iss: 1, pp.80 - 91
10.1108/17554211311292466 (Permanent URL)
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the destination image of Mongolia held by actual and potential tourists, including how such images are formed and its implications in destination marketing.
Design/methodology/approach – A quantitative research was undertaken in order to understand the image of Mongolia held by actual and potential tourists and how such images were formed. An online questionnaire survey, that utilized structured questions, was carried out in leading travel blogs.
Findings – Destination image plays an important role in determining whether a destination will be visited or not. Actual visitors' experience and perception of Mongolia was found to be highly positive and showed that generally the projected image represents an accurate picture of Mongolia. However, many potential visitors perceived Mongolia to be a long haul destination, that is remote and isolated.
Practical implications – Successful destination marketing campaigns will require tourism marketers to understand how those images are formed. This information will enable them to project a positive image to the right target markets. Understanding the information sources is beneficial to long haul destinations such as Mongolia, which can use such channels to promote their destination.
Originality/value – Most destination image studies have concentrated on mainstream tourism destination and less popular long haul destinations such as Mongolia have received little, if no, attention. This paper will appeal to destination marketers of other long haul destinations who are seeking to position their destination in the right target markets.
It's goodbye Lenin, hello dinosaur as fossils head to Mongolia museum
Ulan Bator to transform its Lenin museum into a centre housing prehistoric fossils, including a Tyrannosaurus bataar specimen
January 27 (The Guardian) Once he bestrode his world, lending his name to more museums, streets, monuments and public institutions than any other 20th-century figure. But in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, at least, it is goodbye Lenin, as a political dinosaur makes way for the real kind.
Mongolia is to transform a museum once dedicated to the Soviet dictator into a centre for its wealth of fossils, including a 70m-year-old Tyrannosaurus bataar specimen.
The grand building in Ulan Bator, which still boasts a giant bust of Vladimir Ilyich, has been used as offices for several years. The government has now earmarked the complex for a new dinosaur museum.
"Mongolia has been sending dinosaur exhibits abroad for 20 years, while not having a museum at home," said Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, the minister for culture, sports and tourism. "We have a wonderful dinosaur heritage but people are not aware of it."
She said that fossils lent to overseas institutions, and specimens smuggled abroad illegally, would fill several facilities if they were all brought home.
The centre will also be home to a new register for Mongolia's dinosaur finds, allowing proper tracking of discoveries.
The minister said she hoped that education via the Ulan Bator museum and other new exhibits around the country would help turn people into protectors of Mongolia's heritage, and deter smuggling. The government also hopes to encourage tourism.
The Lenin Museum opened in 1980, when the country was a Soviet satellite. "It was a very grand museum with Lenin's statue, everything embellished with red flags and with pictures of Lenin's childhood and history," said the minister.
She learned more about Lenin when glasnost began as she was studying in the Soviet Union, and, like many of her compatriots, "started thinking Lenin was not such a great figure and had caused so much misery to his own and other people".
Since the transition to a multiparty democracy in 1990, the Mongolian People's party has been based in the building, which has also housed a bar and restaurant; at one stage Lenin's bust gazed down over pool tables.
In the building's new incarnation the centrepiece is likely to be the seven-metre long Tyrannosaurus bataar – also known as Tarbosaurus bataar, because experts dispute its taxonomy – which prompted a dispute when it was put on sale by a New York auction house last May. In December, prosecutors in the US said Erik Prokopi, a fossils dealer from Florida, had agreed to surrender the nearly complete Tyrannosaurus bataar and other fossils – paving the way for their return to Mongolia – after pleading guilty to smuggling dinosaur specimens into the US. They described Prokopi as "a one-man black market in prehistoric fossils".
Bolortsetseg Minjin, the New York-based founder of the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs, said the case had proved a turning point, raising awareness among the Mongolian public and officials. "Mongolia is known to have many different species and the preservation is unique: you find complete skeletons in the Gobi desert, which is very rare."
International palaeontologists and the public have been interested in the country's treasures, but many in Mongolia had been unaware of them, she added. She described running an outreach programme for children who lived next to fossil sites in the Gobi but who thought dinosaurs were mythical creatures.
"They should know what they have in their backyard … [but] there were no books they could read in their language and no toys or TV programmes to learn about their inheritance."
The paleontologist has been at the forefront of efforts to promote public interest in dinosaurs and protect specimens such as the Tyrannosaur bataar.
She added: "If they decided to use it as a permanent museum, I would think Lenin's head would need to be removed because in terms of content it doesn't really go. I suppose some people might be against that."
But, she added: "Both are part of our history. Dinosaurs go back millions of years; Lenin was [decades] of history under the Soviets. I don't think there will be strong objections from the public, because they are excited about what's going on with the dinosaurs."
The government has called a new dinosaur centre as an urgent priority because the natural history museum is in a state of disrepair, and other specimens are due to return home soon.
Mongolia: Eagle Hunting Sustains Kazakhs' Living Legacy
January 25 (EurasiNet) "It's good, yes? It's veeeery good!" Orisbai Shatirbai laughs giddily, as Hiran, his five-year-old golden eagle, perches over the large fox it has just caught on the Mongolian steppe.
Seventy-three-year-old Shatirbai was six or seven when his father first taught him to hunt with an eagle. By 15 he was doing it alone. He's passed the knowledge on to his own sons, emphasizing that this tradition is an important cultural legacy that they – as ethnic Kazakhs – are responsible for maintaining.
Eagle hunting is a seasonal pastime, only practical in the autumn and winter after the birds have molted.
Shatirbai's family of sheepherders moves between three steppe camps in spring, summer, and early autumn. Ahead of the brutal winters, each October the family retreats from their felt yurts to a couple of houses nestled in a hillside a few miles outside of the small, western Mongolian town of Tolbo. There, Shatirbai and his wife Khama live with their youngest son and his large family. Most days, Hiran can be found hooded and on her perch outside the house. Once every two days she is fed chopped, raw meat—usually fox, rabbit or cow.
The day before the hunt, Hiran is brought inside the house; she must get ample exercise to make her hungry enough to hunt for a fox (females are used exclusively as they are more aggressive). Shatirbai prepares Hiran by tethering her to a thick mitt that he then rocks up and down rapidly for several minutes at a time, as she tries to hold on like a cowboy on a bucking bronco.
One need spend only a few minutes with Shatirbai and Hiran to see their strong relationship. If it weren't obvious, family photomontages around the house all seem to include a snapshot of Shatirbai with one of the golden eagles he's trained over the years.
Though foxes are the most common prey, two well-trained, strong eagles can together hunt animals as large as a wolf. (Kazakhs and Kyrgyz also sometimes hunt smaller prey with falcons.)
On a recent morning, after reaching the top of a rocky bluff, Shatirbai removes Hiran's hood and she quickly alights toward something no one else can see. After swiftly coasting down on a scuttling fox, the bird lashes its talons and elegantly sinks them into its prey.
Shatirbai could not be happier. Sitting with his bird, his son, and the dead fox, he poses proudly for a photograph. Kazakhs both in Mongolia and across the border in Kazakhstan have strived to preserve their rich nomadic cultural traditions in modern times. At least for today, in a desolate swath of the great Central Asian steppe, that heritage is alive and well.
Wanders never cease: The nomadic life of Mongolia's Kazakh eagle-hunters
Amid the harsh splendour of Mongolia's arid plains, nomadic eagle hunters still follow a traditional way of life that has defied history, geography and political change. The photographer Christo Geoghegan offers an insight into their lives...
January 27 (The Independent) The Kazakh nomad's hand rocks forwards in a gentle stroking motion and the eagle needs no keener reminder of the business of the day, springing from her master's wrist like a fluid extension of his will, gaining the thin, freezing-cold upper air with a few strokes of her vast wings. From there she sees the province of Bayan-Olgii spread out below, the bare, dun-brown, ice-streaked mountains culminating in Mongolia's highest, Khuiten Uul, climbing 13,000ft into the sky.
On the arid plains at the foot of the mountains, those dirty grey specks are hundreds of head of scrawny sheep and goats, tearing at the sparse vegetation – but it's not on them that the eagle's eyes are fixed but rather that fox down there, invisible to human eye, even if one could get up to that height and look where the eagle is looking, creeping from the shade of a rock.
In less time than it takes to tell, she is on to it, screaming in like a racing yacht with a fierce wind behind it, slicing diagonally across the sky, then with a sudden, stunning turn of speed just a few feet above the ground she has the scruff of the fox's fur in her talons, its feet leave the ground then crash back on it as all 15lb of the eagle's weight descends like doom on its neck.
Within minutes the fox is no more than another fine trophy hat for the berkutchi (Kazakh for eagle hunter) in the making.
Kazakhstan and Mongolia share no common border, but at the closest point, where China to the south meets Russia to the north, they are less than 40km apart. And the two countries share much else: the world's first- and second-biggest landlocked countries respectively, both are heirs to the legacy of Genghis Khan and his many and varied successors and imitators; both have tiny populations considering their vast size; both amaze the eye with their endless perspectives; both gladly discarded their Soviet overlords and sent the Red Army packing when the Bolshevik experiment bit the dust.
Long before the bug for drawing hard and fast borders reached these latitudes, this region was home, it is believed, to the first domesticated horses in the world and the first hunting eagles: falconry, we are told, was invented here, the use of these beautiful and powerful raptors to hunt where no other means would have a chance.
And through all the barbaric vicissitudes of the 20th century, the habit of nomadism, of moving from the uplands to the plains with the flocks, and back again as the seasons turn, persisted, as did the love and knowledge of falconry of which it was an intrinsic element: a source of pride and a badge of identity, as much as the extravagant fur coats and hats in which it resulted.
Yet the Kazakh nomads of the far west of Mongolia, though they were accepted – Islamic religion, Turkic language and all – as part of the traditional Mongolian mix, had a hankering for the company of their co-nationals. So when Nursultan Nazarbayev, the ruler of Kazakhstan since before the collapse of the Soviet empire, invited them to return "home" en masse, many heeded the call: the population of their Mongolian province, Bayan-Olgii, crashed from 102,000 in 1991 to 75,000 in 1993 as they streamed west along the jagged Russian-Chinese border to rejoin their country.
Twenty years on, many say the experiment has failed. Although Nazarbayev's appeal, post-Communism, was to Kazakh nationalism, the native traditions which the nomads represented, whatever their sentimental value, have no place in the country he has engineered – a place which today, thanks to its huge oil reserves and the ambition of Nazarbayev himself, has more in common with the hyper-modern monarchies of the Gulf than with Mongolia. Lured by the call of home, the Kazakhs from Mongolia found themselves trapped on their country's margins. Less than ever was there a call for the traditions by which they defined themselves.
It has dawned on many of the Kazakh nomads that the siren song of nationalism means less in the long run than the company of Mongolians who, however different in language, ethnicity and religion (most Mongolians are devout Buddhists in the Tibetan style), still find a place in their lives for yurts (the Mongolians call them gers), for flocks of animals, for fiery little horses ridden bareback and all the other customs and consolations of life on the plains.
So the exodus has been inverted: though many of the Kazakhs confronted previously unimagined obstacles of passports, visas and guarded frontiers, many have returned to Mongolia: the slump in the population of Bayan-Olgii reversed, and at the last estimate, in 2009, had increased to more than 93,000.
And if, even in Mongolia, the old ways seem increasingly anachronistic, the fascination of hunting with eagles, and the winter festivals in which the sport is celebrated, attract a growing following among visitors from Europe and the US. Challenged on all sides by modernity, there is life in the berkutchi and their fabulous birds yet.
"Mogi" Munkhdul Badral
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