Monday, January 14, 2013

[Haranga continues excellent Selenge drill results, first oil refinery by 2015, and Colonel Sanders coming to Mongolia]

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HAR up 1-2c to 18-19c

Haranga Resources confirms wide lodes of iron mineralisation at Selenge project

January 14 (Proactive Investors) Haranga Resources (ASX: HAR) has completed diamond core drilling that confirmed the presence of wide lodes of iron mineralisation from surface at three prospects in its Selenge iron project in Mongolia.

Notable results from drilling at the Bayantsogt prospect, where all assays have been received, include:

-    34 metres at 32% iron from 79 metres including 8 metres at 41% iron from 103 metres;
-    16 metres at 35% iron from 88 metres including 8 metres at 49% iron from 92 metres; and
-    24 metres at 31% iron from 178 metres including 4 metres at 40% Fe from 188 metres.

Drilling at Bayantsogt has also extended the strike length of the deposit by 250 metres to the southeast.

Assays from the Dund Bulag prospect have confirmed the consistently wide seams of magnetite starting from surface. These include:

-    60 metres at 23% iron from 0 metres;
-    16 metres at 25% iron from 17 metres;
-    24 metres at 27% iron from 113 metres;
-    120 metres at 20% iron from 172 metres;
-    66 metres at 22% iron from 251 metres; and
-    98 metres at 21% iron from 275 metres.

The magnetite mineralisation at both Dund Bulag and Bayantsogt had achieved a high quality concentrate averaging 65-66% iron with low impurities during metallurgical testing in 2012.

At the Undur Ukhaa prospect, 11 of the 12 holes drilled there appear to have intersected significant apparent widths of magnetite mineralisation as determined by geological logging and handheld XRF measurement.

The mineralisation at Undur Ukhaa appears to be of a similar nature to nearby Dund Bulag. The Undur Ukhaa anomaly is narrow but appears to have a strike length of about 800 metres. 

Undur Ukhaa represents the fourth major iron discovery within the large Selenge project area, following Bayantsogt, Dund Bulag and Huiten Gol. The Company has not yet received any laboratory assay results from the drilling at Undur Ukhaa.

Based on the results to date, the cumulative Exploration Target for the Selenge Project has been estimated at 250-400 million tonnes of iron ore, based solely on the four Priority 1 targets already drilled within the project area. There are a number of other promising magnetic anomalies yet to be drill tested.

Haranga has a 80% interest in Selenge, which comprises four major iron ore prospects within 10 kilometres of each other, and is strategically located near to the 304 million tonne Eruu Gol mine, which currently exports over 3 million tonnes of magnetite concentrate per annum.

Link to article

Link to HAR release


EUM last traded 15c

Eumeralla Director Adds Shares

January 11 (Mogi) Non-Executive Director James Hyndes, Eumeralla Resources Limited (ASX:EUM), which owns the Chuluun Khoroot Tungsten Project in Dornod and recently signed options agreement to acquire tin/tungsten assets in Myanmar, announced he bought 34,000 shares for A$4,635 on 8 January 2013.

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BDSec pitches Mongolian securities abroad

January 11 (BCM) Investment bank BDSec JSC began meeting with investors for its road show to present a USD 100 million public offering for Beren Mining Co. Ltd and a convertible loan for Berkh Uul JSC.

Berkh Uul is the owner of the world's largest fluorspar deposit while Beren is an iron ore operation. The road show began on 14 January in New York in the United States before hitting Washington D.C., Miami, and San Francisco.

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Mongolia to build first oil refinery by 2015

ULAN BATOR, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Mongolian government has decided to finish construction of the country's first oil refinery in the central Darkhan province by the end of 2015.

Mongolia will construct the state-owned refinery with the capacity of processing 2 million tons of crude oil per year in Darkhan by 2015, and start negotiations with Japanese banks to obtain loans for the refinery, the government said in a statement Saturday.

The refinery will be built by Japan's Toyo Engineering Corporation with the Mongolian companies as subcontractors.

Mongolia has no oil refining industry. Some 90 percent of its consumed petroleum products are imported from Russia.

Link to article

Link to cabinet press release


Mongolian mining ventures come under threat

THERE goes another resources dream.

January 14 (The Australian) We're talking about Mongolia, with its huge mineral treasures, which appears to be the latest country to play get-the-mining-companies (a tune still in the Canberra top 10 after more than two years on the ALP-Greens political hit parade). It's a craze that is sweeping the world. Bolivia, Eritrea, Guinea and Ecuador are some of the more enthusiastic players, and great company for Australia to be in.

The Mongolian story blew up during the week after a letter from the country's business council to the government in Ulan Bator was made public. This said the proposed new mining law - which will mandate Mongolian citizens must hold a 34 per cent stake in all projects and gives state-owned entities a pre-emptive right to any mining or exploration licences for sale - "threatens to shut down the entire minerals industry in Mongolia".

Which is a smart move for a country that gains 90 per cent of export revenues from mining.

The business council said the new laws would halt all exploration and mine development, discourage future foreign investment, and knee-cap the whole economy. The council includes big boys such as Rio Tinto (RIO) - whose Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold project eventually will provide 30 per cent of Mongolia's gross domestic product - Peabody Energy, General Electric and Mitsubishi.

There is resentment in many rural areas affected by mining projects and the new law is being seen as an attempt by politicians to capitalise on this.

ASX-listed companies operating in Mongolia have seen their shares take a battering in recent months but, with two exceptions, they seem to be sticking to their plans.

While Eumeralla Resources (EUM) now seems to find Burmese tin and tungsten more alluring than its original Mongolian plans, and General Mining (GMM) appears to be taking more interest in its Australian gold project rather than potash and lithium in the land of yurts and fermented horse milk, others have been updating their Mongolian plans.

They would have been as pleased as Punch over at Aspire Mining (AKM). They saw their stock rise 39 per cent on Thursday and another 28 per cent on Friday after it was announced that Noble Group, Asia's biggest listed commodity trader, was pledging further support to the Ovoot coking coal project. Noble, which is providing money for the planned railway that will make it possible to rail coal out of Ovoot, is increasing its marketing rights to 60 per cent of the mine's output and is opening up the chance for Aspire to ship coal to Asian customers through a planned port in Russia. It was just the tonic Aspire's share price needed, closing on Friday at 10.5c. The stock had fallen from a 52-week high of 45.5c to a low of 5.5c.

Guildford Coal (GUF) is also regaining ground, having seen its stock fall in the past year from 89c to a 27c low. It is now back to 52.5c. The company reassured shareholders last week it still planned for the South Gobi project to produce coal this year.

Matthew Wood's Haranga Resources (HAR) seems to be moving in advance of the new laws. Its Selenge iron ore project is already 20 per cent owned by Mongolian interests and last week it did a $6m placement to a group of Mongolian investors who together will hold 12.4 per cent of the company. HAR closed at 17c, still a long way off its 54c last March.

Wood has had a mixed 12 months with his other two Mongolian plays. Copper hunter Voyager Resources (VOR) has fallen from 8.1c a year ago to 1.5c. But his Wolf Petroleum (WOF) rose from 1c in September to 14c just before Christmas and on Wednesday unveiled a production-sharing contract with the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia. It does seem Wood knows his way around Ulan Bator. WOF is now the largest petroleum exploration ground holder in Mongolia, with 74,400sq km. As the junior pointed out last week, Mongolia is striving to free itself of dependence on Russian oil and this year will start building its own refineries.

Of the other Mongolian players, Newera Resources (NRU) has seen its share price rebound, albeit to only 4c. It has the Shanagan coal project.

Meanwhile, another Noble Group partner, Xanadu Mines (XAM), will be looking to rebuild investor enthusiasm this year for its Mongolian copper and coking coal projects. Its stock has fallen from 80c two years ago to 8.7c on Friday.

Three to watch

THREE other developments of note.

Only one foreign company has managed to break into India's iron-ore business - a little Aussie battler. After four years of trying, during which time the share price has only once threatened 20c, NSL Consolidated (NSL) has two small projects getting into production and has acquired a third mining lease in Andhra Pradesh. The company is also pursuing thermal coal in Queensland with an eye on the Indian power sector. The $17.7m-capped company believes it is showing it's possible to do mining business in India.

Australia still awaits the day its first potash project gets going. Potash West (PWN) is pinning its hopes on 2016. Its Dandaragan Trough project north of Perth, for which the scoping study results have just been released, will produce the more expensive of the potash types, sulphate of potash. This once commanded prices 50 per cent higher than muriate of potash, but the premium now is more like 35 per cent.

PWN is targeting as customers grain growers in WA, for which it will not get the premium, but also palm-oil growers in Malaysia and Indonesia. Specialist vegetable and fruit growers pay the premium for sulphate of potash as it does not contain chloride, which can harm some crops.

We have a new listed tin company. MGT Resources (MGS) debuted on Wednesday at 10c after migrating from the National Stock Exchange. It will be in production in Queensland this year. Tin prices have risen 5.3 per cent since January 1 and closed on Friday within a whisker of a hearty $US25,000/tonne.

Sale to China                                                                                                                                                                   

FOOTNOTE to our lengthy look last week at China's acquisition of gold projects. On Wednesday, St Barbara (SBM) announced it had sold its mothballed Southern Cross gold operations, and their 2.4 million ounce resource, to Hong Kong-listed China Hanking Holdings fo $22.5m

The writer implies no investment recommendation and this report contains material that is speculative in nature. Investors should seek professional investment advice. The writer owns shares in Rio Tinto.

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Business Council of Mongolia: New Mineral Law threatens foreign investment

January 11 (UB Post) Mongolia’s vast deposits of mineral resource could soon be governed by a resource nationalist regulatory framework, if a new draft of the country’s Minerals Law is passed in its current form, says Mongolia’s largest business group.

The new draft was published by the Mongolian government in December, and makes far-reaching changes to the way mining and exploration licenses are awarded and maintained. It mandates that Mongolian citizens must hold a 34 per cent equity stake in all mining projects, and gives state-owned companies a pre-emptive right to any mining or exploration licenses transferred from one entity to the other, according to a summary from law firm Hogan Lovells reports Financial Times.

The Business Council of Mongolia (BCM) said in a four-page letter sent to President Tsakhia Elbegdorj’s office on January 7 that the law “threatens to shut down the entire minerals industry of Mongolia.”

Mineral product exports account for more than 90 percent of the country’s exports.

“The impact of the draft law on the minerals industry will be to halt current mineral exploration and development in Mongolia and greatly discourage any future foreign investment. Collateral damage is likely to include all other sectors of supply, including but not limited to the; construction and real estate sectors, imposition of a significant chain-reaction burden on the banking and financial institutions which may not be able to withstand. All this would lead to a deepening of a potential crisis,” said the BCM’s letter.

The Business Council of Mongolia, founded in 2007, has 250 members including Rio Tinto, Peabody Energy, General Electric Co. (GE) and Mitsubishi Corp. The Office of the President of Mongolia didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment yesterday.

The current minerals law was passed in 2006 and is the basis for the Oyu Tolgoi investment agreement between Rio Tinto, which owns 66 percent of the project and Mongolia which owns the rest. The proposed law is twice as long as the current legislation, Mongolia International Capital Corp said in a report last month.

“Nobody expected that the law would be so tough on mining…There’s no way this is not correlated with the presidential elections this year. The majority of the population may favour this law, because it is not happy with mining, especially in the rural areas. The country as a whole benefits from mining, but locals feel they don’t directly benefit,”said Dale Choi, an Ulaanbaatar based associate with Origo Partners MGL to Bloomberg.

The proposed legislation would need to be passed by the parliament for it to become law and at this stage it is more than likely that significant changes will be made to it.

The draft Mineral Law was drafted by the president’s office and business groups suspect that this is an early move by the president’s campaign to bolster support in the upcoming presidential election this year.

Last fall, parliament members who promised to get tougher on foreign miners sought to renegotiate the investment agreement of Oyu Tolgoi Project with Rio Tinto, to gain a bigger stake in the project. The Oyu Tolgoi project is expected to account for about 30 percent of the Mongolia’s gross domestic product once in full production.

Foreign investment flow in Mongolia has decreased substantially since a law last year restricted state owned companies from controlling strategic assets. It effectively stopped Chinese state-owned CHALCO from taking control of SouthGobi.

The parliament will have to find the fine line of balancing domestic interests with those of investors.

Mongolia’s economy grew 13.2 percent in the first half of 2012, according to the national statistics office. Expansion for the full year may have slowed to 11 percent, central bank governor Naidansuren Zoljargal said in October. The government has yet to release annual economic statistics.

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Seven Billion MNT wasted on Unusable Merchandise at Erdenes Tavantolgoi

-Erdenes Tavantolgoi requests for a loan of 200 million USD to continue operations-

January 11 (UB Post) The Standing Committee of Economics met on Wednesday where the implementation of parliament decree 39 regarding the exploitation of the state owned Tavantolgoi coal mine was discussed. The director of Erdenes Tavantolgoi, Ya.Batsuuri informed everyone that due to three major issues, its operation is facing difficulties.

When the company commenced operations at the Tavantolgoi mine, they received 350 million USD as an advance from Chinese state owned CHALCO and a loan of 131 million USD from Golomt bank. From this, only around 170 million USD was approved for the operations of Erdenes Tavantolgoi and the rest was distributed to the public through the Human Development Fund as government cash hand-outs.

Erdenes Tavantolgoi’s 170 million USD lasted until August 2012 and they lent 100 million USD from the Development Bank to continue operations. The company is once again facing financial difficulties and they have asked for an additional 200 million USD. The additional loan will allow the company’s operations to run smoothly as well as providing an opportunity to distribute dividends to the 1072 shares every Mongolian citizen owns, by 2016.

Mongolia exports a tonne of coal from the Tavantolgoi mine for 70 USD in accordance with the long term agreement made with CHALCO during the Coalition Government’s administration. The management of the Erdenes Tavantolgoi state that they are facing tremendous losses because of the cheap prices they export to China.

The company informed people at the meeting that they have begun discussions of renegotiating the price. Ya.Batsuur said that the discussions are progressing well but cannot reveal any information since it is on-going.

The company is even looking into ways to export to other countries as well but to actualise this; they said that a railway needs to be built immediately. At the moment, Erdenes Tavantolgoi transports their coal to Tsagaan Khad (border point to China) with trucks. The trucks have to then go back to the mine. If railways are built, the transportation issues would be solved.

Furthermore, washing and concentrating plants can increase coal export price from two to three times.

One of the issues related to the above addressed at the meeting was the construction of the railway to the Gashuun Sukhait Border, but the main issue was what type of rails should be built.

Member of the parliament and Minister of Industry and Agriculture Kh.Battulga said, “The parliament has already approved the state policies regarding the railways. The Mongolian government ordered the rails be laid 1,520 mm apart. But the head of the Mongolian Railways, M.Enkhsaikhan is talking of building thin Chinese standard rail tracks. Certain questions have to be answered regarding this.

Director of Erdenes Tavantolgoi Ya. Batsuuri said, “If thin rail tracks to Gashuun Sukhait southern border are built, it will be more profitable. But this issue is up to the parliament and the government to decide. It is not up to us.”

Minister of Mining, D.Gankhuyag said, “The heads of government agencies and Ministries have duties to enforce and implement the policies formulated by the parliament and the government. Railways are extremely important for exporting the goods produced by our mines. Within this framework, a construction of a total of 1800 kilometre of railways has been included in the policy. Mainly, the issue of building rails to Gashuun Sukhait has been raised. The Minister of Roads and Transportation A.Gansukh is more familiar with this matter. A task force has been appointed to resolve this matter.”

Parliament member N.Battsereg said, “When the issue of Tavantolgoi is raised, railways construction has to be talked about also. When we further discuss this issue, the Minister of Roads and Transportation as well as the Minister of Mining and other affiliated people have to be present to share information.”

Another issue that raised concern was the fact that the previous management of Erdenes Tavantolgoi supplied unusable products worth around 7 billion MNT. When the mine started operations, ten heavy duty tracks were purchased but they aren’t used because they do not meet operational standard. Each truck each cost 160 million USD. Also, spare heavy duty truck wheels worth five billion MNT were purchased which are also not in use because it is not the type they use at the mine. Merchandise worth around 7 billion MNT is just collecting dust unused at the mine.

It is said that they were bought by announcing tenders and with required information. The new head of the Erdenes Tavantolgoi said that after the involved parties were accounted for, no more issues such as this has been raised.

Legal authorities have to be notified and a compensation for ill-used 7 billion MNT has to be made by the responsible parties to be made example of, said Members of the standing committee.

Link to article


2013 named as the year of energy saving

January 14 ( The Ministry for Energy has named 2013 as the year of energy saving and gaining benefits. 

The Mongolian energy sector provides 414,000 households with electricity via 7 Power Plants and a number of sub-stations in 5 regions

Electricity use has increased 8-10 percent a year as Mongolian economic growth accelerates year on year.

The electricity system produces up to 700-780 megawatts. But at peak time the restrain reaches up to 860-865 megawatts

However Mongolia targets to run energy sources equal to operations in the energy sector. But the supply has not met demands yet and the date for operational is too early. 

Therefore on Friday D.Sonompil, Minister for Energy, D.Dorjpurev, Deputy Minister for Energy and other officials held a press conference with journalist calling customers to save energy and use energy efficiently.

-Is it the right solution allowing customers to use electric heaters and encouraging them to use them during demand high time. Is there any way to reduce air pollution except this?

-This is very controversial. During the peak time from 17.00 to 21.00 supply does not meet demand. But we do not intend to ban using electric heaters. If customers can manage to use electricity from 22.00 pm to 06.00 am it will be helpful for electricity distribution. The electricity use costs 36 MNT per a kW  h during this time. 

That`s why we suggest customers save electricity during peak time. 

-How is the progress of V Power Plant’s construction?

-We hope the V Power Plant deal will be signed and will be operational soon. The new Government made a decision on the issue last December. The V Power Plant construction is expected to be started in the first quarter of 2013. 

-What is the policy on energy? The electricity tariff is expected to be increased. Will there be a difference between the tariffs?

-The electricity tariff increase is necessary. Currently power suppliers loss is estimated over 50 billion MNT. We spend 30 billion for operation expenditure. We do not intend to make a difference. But we want electricity costs to be reasonable in economically beneficial sectors.  The electricity is sold cheaper than its import costs. 

But people should not take seriously the tariff increase. For instance there will be no increase for households where electricity use is lower than 200 kW h. 

According to an estimation almost 80 percent of customers use electricity less than 200 kW h. 

We keep negotiating with the Authority for Fair Competition and Customers` Protection on the issue about electricity tariff increase.

Link to article


Yum’s KFC to Open First Outlet in Mongolia

January 11 (Bloomberg) Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM) will open its first KFC restaurant in Mongolia, Asia’s fastest-growing economy, this year with conglomerate Tavan Bogd Group, the Ulan Bator-based company said.

Tavan Bogd, whose businesses include distributing Volkswagen AG (VOW) cars, said it won the rights to establish KFC outlets in Mongolia, and plans to set up four this year, according to a statement on its website today.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based restaurant chain, whose logo features the image of founder Colonel Harland Sanders, is entering the North Asian country as commodity mining and investment drive the nation’s development. Mongolia’s economy is forecast to expand 15.7 percent this year, the fastest pace in Asia, according to International Monetary Fund estimates.

All four KFC outlets will be located in the capital city of Ulan Bator, Ts. Baatarsaikhan, chief executive officer of Tavan Bogd, said in today’s statement.

We are conducting a market survey together with a global research company to determine the market potential and identify eating habits of Mongolians, which will outline our development road map,” he said.

Amy Sherwood, Yum’s Kentucky-based spokeswoman, was not immediately able to respond to an e-mail sent by Bloomberg News after regular office hours.

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Dilenschneider Signs PR Contract with Mongolia

Janury 11 (O’Dwyer’s PR News) The Dilenschneider Group has a $300K contract with to provide PR and strategic counseling services to Mongolia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Economist (Jan. 3) predicted that commodity-rich Mongolia is going to be the second fastest-growing economy this year, advance at a 13 percent clip as the world’s largest copper and gold mine begins commercial production.

According to the State Dept., Mongolia considers the U.S. its “third neighbor” in an effort to cut its reliance of adjoining Russia and China. Mongolia contributed about 350 soldiers for peace-keeping duties in Afghanistan.

Yum Brands, on Jan. 10, announced plans to open the first KFC restaurants in Mongolia. Its capital city of Ulan Bator will host four of the chicken outlets.

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Government to spend MNT 370 Billion to support construction sector

January 11 (Business-Mongolia) As previously reported by BM, the Central Bank of Mongolia has started implementing programs in conjunction with government to stabilize prices of key commodities such as petroleum goods, meat, vegetables, flour, and construction materials. Selected businesses in petroleum, meat and flour production sectors have received loans with favorable terms to date.

A total of 11 importers and retailers of fuel and diesel products were provided with MNT 93.7 Billion loan with annual interest of 3.8% repayable within one year. Government authorities hope that these measures will allow these businesses to finance their imports at minimal cost, and reduce expenses that otherwise might have occurred as a result of high interest rate on borrowing.

Recently, Ts.Bayarsaikhan, Minister for Construction and Urban Planning, and N.Zoljargal, President, Central Bank of Mongolia, have signed a memorandum to launch a program to support construction sector, and stabilize the supply of quality housing and of its prices. Minister Bayarsaihkan stated that the program would spend MNT 370 Billion to increase the supply of housing and stabilize prices offered to the public. The program will provide soft loans to construction companies on an open and transparent manner so that they can procure building materials at minimal cost.

He said that having the working capital ready before the construction season would be critical for the companies operating in the sector. Additionally, the initiative will focus on introducing eco-friendly technologies in the construction industry, and launching mortgage programs in order to provide housing to wider public.

More details about the “Price Stabilization Program” can be obtained at

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January 11 (InfoMongolia) At the morning plenary session meeting of the State Great Khural (Parliament) held on January 11, 2013, the first issue to discuss was a Parliament Decree titled "Changes to Memberships of the Standing Committees".

In the scope of the Decree, several members of the Parliament have requested to belong some Standing Committees, including representatives of Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), who recently were recognized its Group in the Parliament, and newly approved members D.Arvin, G.Batkhuu, D.Sarangerel and Ts.Oyunbaatar, who took an oath for membership in December 2012.

Accordingly, the issue was revised at the meeting and resolved to affiliate Parliamentarians into the following Standing Committees:

D.Arvin - Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science’s Standing Committee,

G.Batkhuu - Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science’s Standing Committee and State Structure’s Standing Committee,

D.Sarangerel - Petitionary’s Standing Committee,

Ts.Oyunbaatar - Legal Standing Committee,

Also, Ch.Saikhanbileg was removed from the list of Legal Standing Committee's members.

Yo.Otgonbayar, J.Enkhbayar and N.Enkhbold joined the Security and Foreign Policy Standing Committee,

Sundui Batbold, B.Bat-Erdene, Ts.Dashdorj and Ya.Sodbaatar to belong the Environment, Food and Agricultural Standing Committee,

J.Batsuuri and A.Tleikhan - Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science’s Standing Committee,

N.Nomtoibayar, D.Sarangerel, O.Sodbileg, Ch.Khurelbaatar and B.Choijilsuren - Petitionary’s Standing Committee,

Sukhbaatar Batbold and M.Enkhbold - State Structure’s Standing Committee,

D.Demberel and D.Khayankhyarvaa - State Budget Standing Committee,

D.Lundeejantsan, D.Oyunkhorol and U.Enkhtuvshin - Legal Standing Committee,

S.Byambatsogt, Ts.Nyamdorj and L.Enkh-Amgalan to affiliate the Economic Standing Committee.

Currently, there are eight Standing Committees in the Parliament of Mongolia. The Committees of the State Great Khural (Parliament):

1. Security and Foreign Policy Standing Committee

2. Environment, Food and Agricultural Standing Committee

3. Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science’s Standing Committee

4. Petitionary’s Standing Committee

5. State Budget Standing Committee

6. State Structure’s Standing Committee

7. Legal Standing Committee

8. Economic Standing Committee

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Mogi: the original cabinet press release stated it’s banning “commercial export” of falcons, so guess we can still “gift” them to sheikhs, phew.

Mongolia bans export of saker falcons

ULAN BATOR, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia announced a five-year ban on the export of its iconic but threatened saker falcons Saturday.

The government said in a press release the decision was aimed at increasing numbers of the bird, which has an important position in Mongolian history and culture.

It estimated about 6,800 falcons were present in Mongolia during summer months but most depart for the winter.

Sakers play an important role in Mongolia's traditional herding life, keeping the ecological balance by eating pastureland rodents such as mice.

The country's national bird, Sakers have been exported to Gulf countries such as Kuwait and Bahrain. They are also illegally caught and sold abroad for high prices by poachers, which the government has sought to fight through law enforcement agencies.

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In the old Lenin Museum

Mongolia to launch dinosaur museum

ULAN BATOR, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Mongolian government decided Saturday to open a museum to display dinosaur fossils to be brought back from the United States.

Without a museum dedicated to the dinosaurs, currently the country's about 500 dinosaur skeleton exhibits stay at the Paleontological Center of Academy of Sciences and Natural History Museum.

The new Central Dinosaur Museum of Mongolia's collections would also include Tyrannosaurus Bataar and Saurolophus and Oviraptor skeletons, the Mongolian fossils smuggled to the United States and soon to be returned to their homeland by the U.S. government.

A 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton unearthed in Mongolia's southern gobi desert was recently sold at a New York auction for more than one million U.S. dollars. It was seized by U.S. Department of Homeland Security after Mongolia said it was illegally smuggled.

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Kimjongilia Flower Show Held in Mongolia

Pyongyang, January 10 (KCNA) -- Kimjongilia shows took place in different countries with splendor to mark the first anniversary of demise of leader Kim Jong Il, the 21st anniversary of his assumption of supreme commandership of the Korean People's Army, the first anniversary of the dear respected Kim Jong Un's assumption of supreme commandership of the KPA and the 95th birth anniversary of anti-Japanese war hero Kim Jong Suk. 

Tens of thousands of people visited the shows held in Ulan Bator of Mongolia, Shenyang, Dalian and Jilin of China, Vladivostok and Nakhodka of Russia, Jakarta of Indonesia and Conakry of Guinea from Dec. 10 to 26 last year.

The visitors were excited to go round the shows.

The minister of Nature, Environment and Green Development of Mongolia who is member of the State Great Hural wrote in the visitor's book: "Kimjongilia is a very beautiful and wonderful flower. I think Kimjongilia creates a beautiful world".

The son of O. Cherma, employee of the former Mongolian School of Korean War Orphans who is chairman of the Kimjongilia Association of Mongolia said that a photo of President Kim Il Sung receiving his mother is still hanging on a wall of his house as a precious heirloom of his family.

"I will bring into full bloom Kimjongilia and widely propagate it in order to live up to the benevolence shown to our family even a bit", he said, adding:

"I will cultivate Kimjongilia with care in the future so that the immortal flower may come into full bloom in all parts of Mongolia." 

The daughter of O. Cherma wrote in the visitor's book that she was very pleased to remember the great Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Suk.

The director general of the Shenyang Korean Trade and Investment Consultation Co. Ltd. of China said that Kimjongilia will always bloom in the minds of the Korean people and the peace-loving people of the world, glorifying the great feats of Kim Jong Il.

The chairman of the Flower Association in Dalian City reiterated his will to cultivate more immortal flowers in the future to glorify the greatness of the President and Chairman of the National Defence Commission Kim Jong Il.

The deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Jilin Provincial People's Government of China expressed his sincere hope that Kimjongilia would be kept in full bloom in Jilin as a symbol of everlasting Sino-DPRK friendship.

The mayor of Nakhodka City of Russia stressed that the Kimjongilia shows held in different parts of maritime territory fully reflected the reverence of the Russian people for the peerlessly great man.

The director general of a flower garden council in Jakarta of Indonesia renewed his will to make every effort to cultivate more immortal flowers to propagate them among more people. 

The vice-chairman of the Kimilsungia-Kimjongilia Association of Guinea said that Kim Jong Il, the great leader of the Korean people, would be always alive in the hearts of the progressive people of the world along with Kimjongilia. 

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Where Did The Ancient Xiongnu Get Their Gold?

Cultural Heritage: Platinum levels suggest Xiongnu people of Mongolia produced their own gold jewelry

December 18 (Chemical & Engineering News) Warrior nomads in Mongolia called the Xiongnu had a taste for the finer things in life, particularly gold jewelry, which they wore to their graves. Archeologists have wondered whether the gold objects found in second- and third-century B.C. Xiongnu burial sites originated from local deposits. Perhaps, researchers thought, the objects were gifts from the Chinese, who had a tumultuous relationship with their neighbors that alternated between warring and intermarrying.

Experiments using a synchrotron X-ray source now suggest that the Xiongnu gold originated from local panning in Mongolia instead of Chinese mines, says Martin Radtke, a physicist at Germany’s Federal Institute for Materials Research & Testing, in Berlin. Radtke’s team was invited to collaborate with researchers in Paris at the Center for Research & Restoration of Museums of France to pinpoint the likely geographical provenance of the Xiongnu gold (Anal. Chem., DOI:10.1021/ac3025416).

Figuring out the gold’s provenance by a standard technique, such as studying the isotope composition of trace elements in the metal, was not possible, Radtke says. That’s because the method requires removing a small sample, which was not an option for the rare Xiongnu artifacts.

So the researchers turned to synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence (XRF), a noninvasive technique, and looked for the presence of platinum impurities in some 30 Xiongnu gold foils found in four tombs. They reasoned that if the Xiongnu had sourced the gold locally, they would have done so by panning, which leaves traces of platinum in the gold, Radtke says. Meanwhile if they found no platinum, the results would point toward a Chinese origin, since the mining techniques used by the Chinese during this point in history would have resulted in gold that was very low in platinum.

Unfortunately for the researchers, looking for trace platinum in gold using XRF is challenging because the signal for platinum is buried in the signal for gold. So the scientists employed a few experimental tricks to sidestep this problem.

First they adjusted the wavelength of the excitation energy to preferentially excite platinum signals. Next they measured or modeled the XRF spectra of all possible trace elements in the gold artifacts, such as tin, copper, and silver, and then subtracted these individual element spectra from the overall spectrum of the gold artifacts. The result was a spectrum that corresponded to that of platinum, suggesting that the origin of the artifacts was indeed the Xiongnu people themselves.

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Scandal that refuses to die

January 13 (The Sydney Morning Herald) The plot has all the trappings of a B-grade movie: the murder of a glamorous Mongolian socialite amid allegations of high-level bribery, blackmail, betrayal and a political cover-up.

But these are real-life events and they could set back the chances of Malaysia's ruling coalition in an election that the Prime Minister, Najib Razak, must call by mid-year.

The Prime Minister denies any involvement but the allegations will not go away and, the internet in Malaysia is running hot with new accusations by a disaffected businessman, Deepak Jaikishan, who is well connected in the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). They relate in part to the alleged cover-up of the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu a 28-year-old Mongolian fashion model and translator in a patch of jungle in the Kuala Lumpur suburbs in 2006.

The second part of the controversy is driven by a French inquiry 10,000 kilometres away, into a complex money trail left by Malaysia's $US2 billion purchase of two French-Spanish-built Scorpene submarines in 2002 while Mr Najib was the defence minister. Ms Shaariibuu spoke several languages and worked as a translator in latter stages of the deal negotiations.

The link between the two events is a Ferrari-driving businessman, Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Mr Najib's best friends and policy advisers, who was the director of the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre.

Mr Najib, who is preparing to contest his first election since being installed in power by his party in 2009, denies ever meeting Ms Shaariibuu or having any link with her and the government denies any wrongdoing in the submarine purchases.

But it was two of Mr Najib's bodyguards who dragged Ms Shaariibuu from a car, knocked her unconscious and shot her twice in the head on October 19, 2006, according to court testimony.

She had begged for her life and apparently that of her unborn child. The men then wrapped her body in C4 plastic explosives obtained from the military and blew her up, ensuring the foetus was destroyed along with the identity of the father. For good measure they erased her entry into Malaysia from immigration records.

The Scorpene submarine story has been leaking out since 2002 when Mr Najib ordered the vessels from the French shipbuilder DCNS. Two French investigating magistrates are looking into so-called ''commission'' payments totalling about $US160 million into companies reportedly set up by Mr Baginda.

Documents have been seized from DCNS's offices in Paris.

Ms Shaariibuu became Mr Baginda's lover after they met in Hong Kong. Stunningly beautiful, she had been married to a popular Mongolian singer and to the son of a famous Mongolian fashion designer.

Ms Shaariibuu admitted in a letter found after her murder she had been blackmailing Mr Baginda, who had jilted her after they had travelled through Asia and Europe together. She reportedly had wanted a $US500,000 cut to remain silent about her knowledge of the deal.

Ms Shaariibuu was abducted outside Mr Baginda's house where she was said to be causing a scene.

Her murder was eventually uncovered following continued pressure from her well-connected family and the Mongolian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The two bodyguards were convicted of murder in 2009 but have claimed they are scapegoats and are appealing against death sentences.

Pleading with a court not to execute him in February 2009, Sirul Azhar Umar described himself as a ''black sheep that has to be sacrificed'' to protect unnamed people. ''I have no reason to cause hurt, what's more to take the life of the victim in such a cruel manner … I appeal to the court, which has the powers to determine if I live or die, not to sentence me so as to fulfil others' plans for me.''

A judge sensationally dropped an abetting a murder charge against Mr Baginda in 2008 even before any evidence was heard and he is believed to be living in exile in Britain with his family.

Among a number of claims made by Mr Deepak, a carpet dealer, to opposition and independent websites, are that he interceded to have a private detective change his 2008 sworn declaration that Mr Najib had had a sexual relationship with Ms Shaariibuu.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly denied any relationship with Ms Shaariibuu, calling it a ''terrible lie''. Often sensational claims and counter claims in the case have been barely reported in Malaysia's government-controlled mainstream media.

The Malaysian human rights non-government organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), whose approach to a magistrate in Paris in 2010 prompted the French investigation, has complained of official harassment.

But the accusations are hot topics on opposition and independent websites, led by the Hong Kong-based Asia Sentinel online magazine, which published confidential files on the case last year and whose editor, John Berthelsen, has doggedly pursued the story for years.

Malaysia, with a population of 28 million, has an internet penetration of more than 62 per cent, one of the highest in south-east Asia.

Some commentators in Kuala Lumpur, including Wong Choon Mei writing in the Malaysia Chronicle, have speculated that 59 year-old Mr Najib could be forced from office before he gets to call the election.

Jittery powerbrokers in UMNO fear, if he remains head of the coalition, they may lose to the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

There is infighting in UMNO which has shared power in the country for more than 50 years as the latest opinion polls show Mr Najib's approval rating has fallen to its lowest level in 16 months.

Wong wrote in the Chronicle on January 7 that UMNO watchers believed the former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad had decided to throw his weight behind the Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, and effect an 11th-hour change in leadership, although many have cautioned that such a move could boomerang and create even greater infighting.

But Mr Najib, the son of Malaysia's second prime minister, has emerged unscathed by the prosecution of his bodyguards and is publicly ignoring the French inquiry and Mr Deepak's claims as he seeks to present himself as a reformist, abolishing a number of restrictive laws and implementing a program to bolster unity among ethnic groups.

Malaysia's economy has fared well and the country is considered by the World Bank to be an attractive place to do business.

On January 8 Mr Najib denied rumours he had suffered a minor stroke due to the pressure of the allegations by Mr Deepak, saying he was healthy. ''So don't listen to the blogs, please,'' he said.

Analysts say the election will be the strongest ever challenge to UMNO's rule with Mr Najib saying it will be ''a defining point for the destiny of the people and country''.

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“Mogi” Munkhdul Badral

Cover Mongolia


Mobile: +976 9999 6779

Skype: mogibb

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