HAR trading 1.5c higher at 20c in early morning trade
Haranga Resources raising A$6M from Mongolian investors to progress Selenge Project
January 7 (Proactive Investors) Haranga Resources (ASX: HAR) is raising A$6 million through a strategic placement of shares to a Mongolian investment group to complete the process of obtaining a mining licence at the Selenge iron project in Mongolia.
Proceeds will also be used to complete a feasibility study on a full scale mine and an associated wet magnetic separation plant.
Upon the grant of the licence, the funds should also enable the start of small scale mining in certain higher grade zones that can be beneficiated via simple dry magnetic separation.
The funds were raised through a placement of 30 million new shares priced at $0.20 each to a group of Mongolian investors, led by businessman Amarbaatar Chultem.
This represents an 8% premium to the company's last closing price of $0.185 on 4 January 2012 and a 31% premium to the one month VWAP.
It also includes the issue of 15 million options exercisable at $0.20.
On completion, this new Mongolian investor group, which are clients of Haranga's corporate advisors Garrison Capital, will hold a combined 12.41% of the Company's expanded share capital on an undiluted basis.
Haranga has a 80% interest in Selenge, where it successfully conducted a major drill program in 2012 and expects an enlarged resource in April 2013.
Selenge 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.
With the additional funds, the company's cash position will increase to $9.4 million.
GUF trading 0.5c higher at 58.5c in early trading
Terra Holdings Becomes Substantial Holder in Guildford Coal at 7.13%
January 7 (Mogi) Terra Holdings Limited, Guildford Coal's (ASX:GUF) Mongolian JV partner, becomes substantial holder in GUF with 7.13% stake after transferring minority stake in Mongolian subsidiary Terra Energy to GUF.
YAK closed flat at C$3.83 on Friday, market cap C$130.8m
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. Announces TSX Venture Exchange Listing Application and Officer Resignation
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 04, 2013 /FSC/ - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK - CNSX),("MGG" or the "Corporation") announces the Corporation's application to the TSX Venture Exchange ("TSXV") for the listing of the Corporation's common shares on the TSXV. Such listing is expected to take place in early January 2013 under the symbol YAK (the "Listing"). If the application to the TSXV is successful, immediately prior to the Listing, the Corporation intends to have the Corporation's common shares delisted from the Canadian National Stock Exchange ("CNSX").
MGG also announces that, on December 19, 2012, Genevieve Walkden resigned as Corporate Secretary and as an officer of the Corporation. One of the conditions of listing on the TSXV was the placing of all shares owned by management into escrow agreements with new sale restrictions. Genevieve Walkden could not comply with the terms of the escrow agreement as certain of her shares are held by retirement accounts that are not able to release the shares into an escrow agreement. Ms. Walkden will remain with the Corporation as Director of Operations for the Corporation's property subsidiary, based in the Ulaanbaatar office. Jordan Calonego, MGG's Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed Corporate Secretary.
About Mongolia Growth Group Ltd.
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. is an Alberta, Canada corporation that is primarily engaged in the operation of real estate and financial services businesses in Mongolia. The Corporation's real estate operations are focused on leasable properties in the capital city of Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar. As of December 31, 2012, MGG owned 21 residential units, over 6,100 sq. m of retail space, 5,300 sq. m of office space and the right to redevelop 14,000sq. m of land. The Corporation's financial services operations are conducted through Mandal General Insurance, which is active in both retail and commercial insurance.
899 closed +10.3% to HK$0.032, market cap HK$112.5m
Asia Resources (00899) Mongolian iron mine license cancelled
[ET Net News Agency, 3 January 2013] Asia Resources (00899) said it was notified by the Ministry of Environment and Green Development of Mongolia that the iron mining license for the exploration of iron ore mine located in Tumurtei, Khuder Soum, Selenge Aimag, Mongolia is subject to the new law and shall be cancelled since the Mongolian mine is located in the protected area.
However, no effective date of such cancellation is advised and the Board is in the course of seeking further clarification from the Ministry. Asia Resources shall instruct its legal advisers to Mongolia laws to advise on the final status of the iron mining license, and on any necessary or possible actions that it shall take, including but not limited to, claiming for compensation or appeal against the Ministry's decision, if necessary.
In addition, the IUP OPK license for transportation and selling has been granted to Dampar by The Governor of East Java, Head of the Investment Coordination Board of East Java Province in respect of the designated site of iron deposits in Indonesia. Dampar has already commenced limited operation as permitted under the license. Dampar has also applied for IUP OPK license for processing and is pending the result of such application.
All required documents for the application of the license have been filed with the relevant authorities but there is no expected date for the result of such application.
718 trading suspended, last price HK$0.034, market cap HK$126.9m
Bestway (00718) says 56 ha Mongolia mining license cancelled
[ET Net News Agency, 4 January 2013] Bestway International (00718) said about 56 hectares of the mineral mining license currently held by the Group covering around 689 hectares located in Hovd Gol, Tsengel Soum, Bayan-Ulgii Aimag, Mongolia was cancelled due to the implementation of The Law of Mongolia on Prohibiting Mineral Exploration and Mining in the Area of the River and Water Stream Origin and Basins and in the areas of the Forests.
The area represents about 8% of the total areas covered by the license. Following the cancellation, the area covered by the license was revised to about 633 hectares. As such cancelled areas do not cover any resources, Bestway is of the view that the cancellation will not significantly affect the volume of resources covered by the license.
Trading in the shares of Bestway will remain suspended until further notice.
661 closed -4.4% to HK$0.325 on Friday, announcement made after market close
China Daye agrees to transfer Reservoir Moly stake to Mongolian JV partner Nomin Deposit LLC after court ruling
January 4, China Daye Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Limited (HK:661) --
This announcement is made by China Daye Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Limited (the "Company") pursuant to Rule 13.09 of the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited.
Reference is made to the announcements dated 7 October 2011, 6 December 2011 and 21 May 2012 issued by the Company in relation to the Mongolian Proceedings (the "Announcements"). Unless otherwise specified, capitalized terms defined in the Announcements shall have the same meanings when used herein.
As disclosed in the announcement of the Company dated 21 May 2012, the Mongolian Arbitration Center issued a final written arbitral award in relation to the Mongolian Proceedings (the "Arbitral Award"), pursuant to which the Mongolian Arbitration Center ruled that the mining right to the Aleinuer Mine (Mogi: located in Sukhbaatar Aimag) had to be returned by Reservoir Moly to the Mongolian JV Partner (Mogi: Mongolian JV partner is Nomin Deposit LLC).
Reservoir Moly is a company incorporated in Mongolia, the equity interest of which is 55% held by CRML (a 51%-owned subsidiary of the Company) and 45% held by the Mongolian JV Partner. As at the date of this announcement, the Aleinuer Mine has not yet commenced any commercial production, and the Company has not yet derived any revenue or profit from the Aleinuer Mine.
In order to satisfy the Arbitral Award, CRML and the Mongolian JV Partner entered into a share transfer agreement on 4 January 2013, pursuant to which CRML agreed to transfer its 55% equity interest in Reservoir Moly to the Mongolian JV Partner (the "Transfer").
As advised by the Company's Mongolian legal counsel, since 12 January 2012, the transfer of mining rights has been prohibited under Mongolian laws. Since the key asset held by Reservoir Moly is the mining right to the Aleinuer Mine, the Company's Mongolian legal counsel is of the opinion that the requirements of the Arbitral Award can only be satisfied through the Transfer, and the Transfer is in compliance with applicable laws of Mongolia.
ARGAI BEST'S BROKERAGE AND DEALING LICENSES REVOKED DUE TO VIOLATIONS
January 3 (MSE) Financial Regulatory Commission revoked the license for brokerage and securities dealing activities of "Argai Best" LLC by its resolution no: 374 of December 26, 2012 due to its breach of Clause 8.2.8 of FRC "Regulation on Licensing Professional Activities in Securities Market', Clause 27.3.2 of the "Securities Markets Law" and Clause no: 14.1.4 of the "Law on Licensing". The company's right to participate in securities trading was suspended pursuant to the order no: 177 of a national inspector on December 28, 2012.
KHURKH GOL JSC DELISTS FROM MSE
January 4 (MSE) According to FRC Resolution no: 337 of October 28, 2012, Clause no: 34.1.1 of the 'Securities Markets Law', Clause no: 23 of the 'Company Law' and 'Khurkh gol' (MSE:HRH) JSC's request of December 12, 2012, the total of 153,365 shares were delisted from the MSE securities list. The company was delisted due to the change in company organization into Limited Liability Company.
About 'Khurkh gol' (MSE:HRH) JSC
Listed date: 1993-09-30
Stock type: Common
Closing price: MNT 227.47
Mogi: rather disappointing really from Hogan Lovells, doesn't mention the other crazy provisions, other than the minimum local ownership of mining licenses, e.g. full state expropriation discretion of projects at any stage into state reserve, ridiculous minimum exploration expenditure amount requirements, …
Hogan Lovells: Draft revised Minerals Law
Decembe 31 (Michael Aldrich and Chris Melville, Hogan Lovells) The Office of the President of Mongolia published a draft revised Minerals Law ("Draft Law") on its website on Friday 7 December 2012.
The Draft Law is comprehensive, and runs to over 100 pages and a total of 145 articles, in comparison with the existing law of 66 articles. Mongolia last revised its Minerals Law in 2006, replacing the Minerals Law adopted in 1997 which had provided a very liberal mining regime. Although only adopted in 2006, a revision of the existing Minerals Law had been pending for the last few years and a moratorium on the issuance of new exploration licences had been in place since 17 June 2010. Such moratorium was due to expire today, 31 December 2012, but was extended by a plenary session of Parliament held on 28 December 2012. The extension will be in place until such time as the new Minerals Law enters into force.
It appears that the President's Office intends to hold a public consultation on the Draft Law in the coming weeks, however at this stage it is not certain what format this will take (Mogi: President has called for an open discussion on 18 January). We expect that the Draft Law will undergo at least some amendment prior to adoption. We understand that the current draft has not yet been submitted to Parliament for approval.
The Draft Law deviates from the existing Minerals Law in many areas and seeks to introduce a new regulatory regime with new legal concepts.
Below is a brief summary of the main changes to be introduced by the Draft Law:
1. Definition of "strategic minerals"
The Draft Law introduces a concept of "strategic minerals" which include water, oil, natural gas, radioactive minerals and rare earth metals;
2. Deposits of strategic importance
The draft law reaffirms the existing list of deposits of strategic importance as approved by Parliamentary resolution #27 dated 6 February 20071 and states that no additional deposits will be included in such list. Further the Government is authorised to submit its proposals to remove certain deposits from the list for Parliamentary approval. In respect of development of strategic deposits, the Draft Law no longer provides for "investment agreements", instead these are replaced with so-called "mining agreements" to be entered into between the government and a licence holder of a strategic deposit. Under these agreements, the Mongolian state has the right to take an equity interest in the licence holder for no consideration. The Draft Law specifies further conditions for such agreements;
There will be 4 types of licences in respect of the mining sector (as opposed to the existing two), being:
a) prospecting licences - are to be issued only by way of tender bidding in areas determined by the Ministry of Mining and for up to 4 year terms. Such licences are not extendable nor transferable. Holders of prospecting licences will have a priority right to apply for and obtain exploration licences provided that such entities satisfy the requirements set out in the Draft Law. A legal entity may hold up to a maximum of 5 prospecting licences;
b) exploration licences - are to be issued for a term of up to 5 years in the following circumstances (i) to applicants holding prospecting licences; (ii) to state-owned or state participated entities for areas not already licensed or that are in the state reserve without a requirement to participate in tender bidding; or (iii) by way of tender bidding in areas determined by the Ministry of Mining.
The term of such licences is not extendable and they may not be transferred for a period of 1 year after the date of issue. Holders of exploration licences will have priority rights to apply for and obtain mining licences provided that such entities satisfy the requirements set out in the Draft Law;
c) mining licences - are to be issued for a period of up to 20 years in the following circumstances (i) to applicants holding exploration licences; (ii) to state-owned or state participated entities for areas that are not already licenced or that are in the state reserve without a requirement to participate in tender bidding; or (iii) by way of tender bidding. Mining licenses are extendable a further two times by up to 20 years each time. A legal entity may hold up to a maximum of 5 mining licences.
Mining licences will be transferable, but state-owned entities will have preemptive rights in respect of any transfer;
d) processing licences - are to be issued in the following circumstances (i) by application; or (ii) tender bidding. The term of issue will vary depending on the results of the supporting feasibility study.
4. Transfer/pledge of licences
The Draft Law provides for the transfer of exploration, mining and processing licences with certain restrictions. Licence transfer agreements will only be valid upon registration with the Mineral Resources Authority. State-owned entities shall have a preemptive right to licences being transferred. Pledging of licences is allowed.
5. Cancellation of licences
There are 13 grounds under which licences may be revoked by the Mineral Resources Authority. Such grounds are more extensive than those under the existing Minerals Law and include high-grading and failure to start operations within a specified period of time.
6. Tender process
Licences will be issued by way of tender bidding, save for certain circumstances set out in the Draft Law and the current "first come-first served" system shall be abolished;
7. Eligibility of licence holders
Under the Draft Law, holders of prospecting, exploration and processing licences relating to areas other than the special border zones must be Mongolian-incorporated entities, but the Draft Law does not restrict foreign investment in such entities. However, the Draft Law does impose requirements for local equity participation of mining licence holders. The Draft Law states that not less than 34% of the equity in a foreign-invested mining licence holder must be held by a Mongolian citizen. This effectively requires divestment by foreign investors in favour of Mongolian citizens in the event exploration licence holders intend to convert their licences. The local equity participation requirement increases to a minimum of 51% where the mineral deposit was discovered by means of state-funded exploration. Furthermore, if an area that is subject to a prospecting, exploration, mining or processing licence is located within the special border zones, not less than 51% of the equity of the licence holder must be held by Mongolian citizens.
Licence fees and royalties would no longer be regulated by the Minerals Law, rather by separate legislation.
9. Permit to commence
Licence holders (save for prospecting licence holders) may only start their operations on receipt of a so-called "work permit" from the Mineral Resources Authority.
10. Obligations of licence holders
There are extensive regulations on environmental protection, mine closures, public consultations, agreements with local authorities, local content requirements, mandatory insurance policies, prohibitions on high-grading and feasibility studies.
As currently drafted, the Draft Law does not provide for any transitional provisions relating to existing licences nor the rights and obligations of licence holders under the existing system.
Overall, if adopted the Draft Law will change the existing regulatory regime in many areas. The Draft Law represents a shift to a more state-centric mining regime and imposes additional requirements and obligations on licence holders while at the same time potentially weakening the security of tenure granted under the existing Minerals Law.
PRIME MINISTER OUTLINES PROJECTS TO BE FINANCED BY CHINGGIS BONDS
January 5 (InfoMongolia) On January 04, the Prime Minister of Mongolia Norov ALTANKHUYAG made a brief statement regarding the current political and socio-economic situation of Mongolia at the plenary session meeting of the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia.
As part of the statement, Premier N.Altankhuyag gave specific information on spending the 1.5 billion USD sourced from "Chinggis" Bond that has been already transferred into the Government account in December 2012.
According to his proclamation Premier N.Altankhuyag denied the rumor that Mongolia is paying huge money for interest a day and is plunged into debt further stressed, "In order to decrease the bonds' loss of interest and to secure a positive macroeconomic influence through financial prudence mechanism, our Government for Changes has established the Financial Intermediation Agreement with the Bank of Mongolia (Central Bank) that provides a financial management until the capital sourced from the bonds will be paid out.
Moreover, in order to spend the money more effectively and prudently, we have formed a Policy Council headed by the Prime Minister and members of the Council are Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Finance, Minister of the Cabinet Office of the Government of Mongolia, Minister for Construction and Urban Development, Minister for Industry and Agriculture, Minister for Road and Transportation, Minister for Mining, Minister for Energy, Chairmen of Economic and State Budget Standing Committees of the Parliament, Governor of the Central Bank, Chairman of the Financial Regulatory Commission, Head of the Office of the President of Mongolia, Speaker of the Parliament, Advisor to the Speaker, and the Governor of the Capital City."
The Policy Council has sanctioned the following priority projects and programs to implement at first, and further to consider on each project and program respectively, added Premier.
The projects and programs to implement by the capital sourced from the Government "Chinggis" Bond are:
- to construct a new railroad of 1,800 km
- to purchase new aircraft for MIAT company
- to completely connect 6 centers of the Aimags with the capital city of Mongolia with hard surface road in 2013
- to construct a railroad along the south of Bogd khan Mountain
- to build an industry on oil products
- to supply with necessary investments into "Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi" LLC
- to supply with necessary investments into "Baganuur" LLC
- to develop local demand of cement industry by 100%
- to build a Complex of Metallurgical Industry
- to develop local infrastructure of all 21 Aimags of Mongolia
- to build the Sainshand Industrial Complex in Dornogovi aimag
- to build factories in order to support light industry export output
- to construct a power plant near some large coal mines
- to construct a power plant based on renewable energy sources and hydro-electric station
- to construct a Metro in Ulaanbaatar
- to implement a "Street" project
- and several other projects are also included.
Mongolia's sovereign bond has teething problems
Debut bond rebounded after political scuffle; Investment opportunities limited elsewhere
January 2013 (Euromoney Magazine) When Mongolia issued its debut sovereign bond in late November, international investors showed immediate and keen interest. But a spat within the coalition government resulted in the bond's price plummeting dramatically, threatening to completely undermine the initial positive reaction.
In the face of this setback, Mongolia has gone into overdrive in its efforts to paint the bond issue in a positive light.
"The first sovereign issue by the Mongolian government was clearly a major success," says Alisher Ali, chairman of Silk Road Finance, a frontier markets investment group. "The sovereign bond was the largest-ever issue among all frontier markets for a debut – the issue broke a number of records."
Mongolia issued $1.5 billion in debt in five-year and 10-year tranches. The landmark transaction attracted an order book in excess of $15 billion. Both tranches priced at the tight end of final price guidance, at 4.125% to 4.25% for the five-year tranche and 5.125% to 5.25% for the 10-year tranche.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and JPMorgan were the joint bookrunners for the sale.
The bond's sudden slump in value by $7 to $8 came after members of Mongolia's fragile government, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, announced that the party would quit the ruling coalition, led by the Democratic Party, in protest at MPRP leader Nambar Enkhbayar's arrest following corruption charges.
"Here in Mongolia, people were actually quite surprised that the international community paid so much attention to what was going on in local politics," says Randolph Koppa, president of the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia. "[They have] never really cared before, but since the bond, all eyes are on Mongolia. Political activities and the related rhetoric meant mainly for local consumption are being misjudged. Most people in the west do not have any idea how Mongolian politics work as yet."
According to Ali, investors panicked as a result of greater political tension. "The bond issue was so widely distributed and inevitably, some investors – those not fully aware of the political fundamentals in Mongolia – panicked and wanted out," he says.
"The fact is that there has been political volatility in Mongolia since April, and this was priced in."
Indeed, the likelihood that the coalition government in Mongolia would fall apart even if the MPRP decided to withdraw was minimal. A report by Origo Partners, a private equity investment company based in China, highlights that the threat was only meant as a high-profile warning to the authorities by the MPRP.
"The fact that MPRP ministers have not actually submitted their resignations indicates to us that this political action was aimed primarily at influencing the outcome of the court ruling," says the report. "Following the finalization of Enkhbayar's case we expect the usual condemnation and possibly other political actions of protest from the MPRP, but not the actual exit from... the coalition government."
Moreover, according to the report, the fact that the bonds soon rebounded shows that the market has largely ignored the potential for further political controversy from the MPRP leading to government collapse.
The latest tussle could even be beneficial for Mongolia and bring the frontier market to the fore. "The political [tensions]... brought attention to Mongolia. People are new to the Mongolian story, but the bond issue and the momentary [political] hiccup that followed will demand investor interest," says Ali.
Koppa says: "The week that Mongolia went on the road to drum up interest for their bond, there was no bad news. Talks surrounding the fiscal cliff were just about to start and the Greek crisis looked as if it was cooling down. Investors saw this as a good opportunity, especially for diversification of their portfolios by including a new country from a more dynamic region of the world."
Indeed, the Mongolian bond was popular because investor opportunities elsewhere are limited. Low interest rates in developed economies amid the eurozone crisis and the fiscal cliff have also spurred investors to seek more exotic, high-yielding bonds, while at the same time mainstream emerging market names including Mexico, South Africa and Indonesia have yields at record lows.
"Frontier markets like Mongolia offer yield and diversification and so are a good buy," says Ali.
The size of Mongolia's debut bond is approximately equal to 43% of the country's debt to GDP ratio, and is about 15% of GDP in absolute terms. Moreover, the deal, the biggest in Asia for more than a decade, is so large that the country does not have the net international foreign exchange reserves to cover it.
OT Chairman: Mongolia earns more than the investors in the form of taxes, royalties and other fees despite only owning 34 percent of Oyu Tolgoi
January 6 (UB Post) The following interview is with G. Batsukh, Chairman of Oyu Tolgoi LLC Board of Directors.
-There are rumors that the Mongolian members of the Board of Directors left during the meeting and there's a chance that they will not come back to next meetings because of disagreements with other members. What is the reason for this?
-The meeting was held just as it should be and it is normal for meetings to be postponed. As for the recent meeting we discussed Oyu Tolgoi's budget for 2013. We decided to hold another meeting because three Mongolian Board members did not agree to certain terms of the budget. Other than that they did not do anything like that – leaving a meeting or boycotting. The Board of Directors will assemble again for a meeting and discuss and resolve other important matters. It has been three years since Oyu Tolgoi LLC was established and two years since it's Board of Directors was organized. Since then there have been absolutely no incidents involving abandoned or forcefully postponed meetings.
One of the distinctive features of Oyu Tolgoi Board of Directors is that it consists of nine English, Australian, American and Mongolian members who have world-class knowledge and skill in economy, business and politics. Previously, a former Governor of State of Massachusetts (USA) was part of the Board of Members which shows how experienced the members are.
-How close do the three Mongolian members work with the Mongolian Government?
-The state-owned Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC represents the Government. So the three Mongolian members take the Government's direction and strategy through Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi. I would like to say that the three members – N. Bagabandi, B. Ganbold and P. Tsagaan are doing a great job at fulfilling their duties to protect and ensure the interests and benefits of Mongolia. They truly prove themselves to be great representatives of our society.
-Are ideas or rather opposition circulating among the public with regard to; the increase in the Mongolian share of the project, increasing Mongolian profit of the project or to make changes to the Oyu Tolgoi agreement. How do you take these ideas?
-The 34:66 percent is the result of an agreement signed between the Mongolian Government and investors back in October of 2009. I will not say that this agreement is a perfect one. This is the first agreement Mongolia made with investors that are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their sector, so there are both wins and losses for Mongolia in this agreement. It is a difficult challenge to win everything in one sitting. As for the percentage of ownership the Government and concerned Ministries are discussing the matter. This is not a decision that Oyu Tolgoi LLC or its Board of Directors can make but a decision for the Mongolian Government and the investors. We are only in the first phase of the project – construction was just finished and the concentrator is now in operation. We will now definitely see if Oyu Tolgoi project is profitable. It is not wise to talk about how much share we want from the project when the project has not even produced any minerals yet. We all know that the public has a lot of expectations for Oyu Tolgoi. Mongolia earns more than the investors in the form of taxes, royalties and other fees despite owning 34 percent of Oyu Tolgoi.
-The concentrator is now in operation – how will this affect Mongolian economy?
-To finish the Oyu Tolgoi project, the Oyu Tolgoi facility must be completed. It should consist of an; underground mine, open pit mine, concentrator and processing plants.
With the concentrator, we will be able to process the ore so it can be exported. Everyone has been spending money on this project but starting now we will be making profit. It is special because the latest and most advanced; mining, exploitation and management technology in the world today are being installed and utilized in Mongolia. Specialists from 44 UN States worked day and night with Mongolian engineers for the past three years to put this facility in operation. Once the processing plant is in operation it will produce value-added products that will have positive economic impact on Mongolia through taxes. The Oyu Tolgoi project is also directly contributing to the creation of a whole new generation of Mongolian engineers and technicians.
-To which countries will we be exporting the minerals to? What are the transportation methods?
-To have maximise profit and we need to cut expenditure in every operation. Transportation cost is the highest expense in mining. The closest market we have is People's Republic is China (PRC). Aside from China being very close to Mongolia and greatly cutting transportation costs, China is the world's largest consumer overall. We are also in relations with copper smelters in; Japan, Korea, Sweden and Australia. Currently, there is a road from Oyu Tolgoi to the border of PRC which will be in operation by [this spring.] The transportation tender was announced between Mongolian companies, the winner is not declared yet.
-Will there be a city built for Oyu Tolgoi, just like we did with the Erdenet mine (Erdenet City, the capital of Orkhon Province)?
-When we are running a project as large as Oyu Tolgoi, we cannot leave behind important matters such as people. We plan to have our workers to live comfortably with their families. We made researches and planning to build a city which connects directly to Khanbogd sum of SouthGobi Province (Umnugobi Province). But of course, we plan first and build much later, meaning it will require a certain amount of time before it is built. City planning requires a lot of other work – environmental research and demographics. The construction will probably begin sometimes in the next two years.
-What is the population of the planned city?
-The city would have 15,000 to 20,000 people, the current population of Khanbogd included. This city will have everything the population will need – kindergartens, hospitals, cinemas and schools.
-How are the workers trained?
-Although not in the agreement itself, Oyu Tolgoi LLC renewed 5 vocational training centers and established three new vocational training centers in Nalaikh, Dalanzadgad and Darkhan. We planned to spend USD 146 million on vocational training through five years.
MITSUBISHI-CHIYODA ALLIANCE TO CONSTRUCT A NEW AIRPORT IN KHUSHIGT VALLEY OF MONGOLIA
January 4 (InfoMongolia) Mining sector in Mongolia has been developing progressively in recent years, besides tourism is also being grown concurrently that air transportation's renovation particularly its building enhancement in Mongolia has been an issue of utmost necessary to be solved instantaneously.
So, a new International Airport is to be operational in Khushigt (Khoshigt) Valley by October of 2016, located in the territory of Sergelen Sum of Tuv Aimag about 54 km south to Ulaanbaatar city.
However the groundbreaking ceremony of the new large-scale construction was held in April of 2012, meantime a bid for contractors was announced, but executive companies were not selected to date. Though, Project Director for "Khushigt Valley Up-building" N.Enkhbat called a press conference on January 03, 2013 regarding announcement of executive companies for the new airport. He told reporters, "On November 09, 2012, we have announced a recurrent bid to select executive companies for International Airport to be constructed in Khushigt Valley. However the tender was introduced earlier, but nobody attended. By latter offer, we have received biddings from two groups and now have completed studying through materials that took almost two months. Consequently, we are pleased to announce the winner of the bid as the "Mitsubishi-Chiyoda" Alliance, these corporations are headquartered in Japan. The other group requested was "Shimizu-Danipo". Currently, we cannot provide with detailed information on negotiations held between the two parties (bidder and executer). According to the agreement, the construction will start this April and to be completed within 43 months, in other words to receive its first aircraft by October of 2016."
Moreover, the new airport enables two-way entrance lift off and landing runways and to provide with latest comfortable service for the passengers as well as compliance with the requirements and standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Capacity is set to rise from the current level of one million passengers comprising both local and international flights to roughly 3 million passengers annually. By 2032, the capacity is to be increased 4.8 million passengers by offering multiple departure and arrival routes, said officials.
The current International "Chinggis Khaan" Airport of the capital city (about 16 km from downtown) suffers from occasional high winds and has a relatively short runway with only one-way air-entrance.
Back in 2008, a soft loan agreement of 28.8 billion JPY (approx. 300 million USD) for the establishment of a new international airport in Mongolia was established between the Mongolian Government and the Japanese International Cooperation Bank.
Khushigt Valley airport will be operational in 2016
January 6 (UB Post) Last year, the company that will be executing the construction of the new airport in Khushigt Valley has been selected. The following is an interview with the Director of Khushigt Valley establishment programme.
-It has been reported that the construction executer of the Khushigt establishment has been selected, which company is it?
-On November 9 last year, the tender for the construction company that will execute the international Ulaanbaatar airport has been announced. For more than a month, we have received estimated technical costs of potential candidates. The Mitsubishi Chiyoda's bid was accepted. We have announced a tender before but no applicants were received. Two companies bid for second tender announcement and Mitsubishi Chiyoda was selected. Shimizu Danipo also applied but we have informed that we are unable to accept.
-For how much will the general construction be executed at? And also, what is happening with the soft loans granted under the project?
-The trade contract with JAIKA (Mogi: JICA) prohibits revealing certain information during negotiations, so I cannot reveal the bid amount. When; every consideration has been made, when we have reached a final agreement with JAIKA and lender organization, then the cost will be announced. The loan granted is for 40 years. There is no interest in the first ten years and in the last thirty years, a low interest loan of 2 percent, which will not stress the project, will be paid back completely. The loan contract states that only a Japanese executing company has to be selected. If there aren't any issues, the construction is set to commence on April of this year. The contract also states that the construction of the airport must be completed within 43 months. Therefore, the estimation is that by 2016, the first plane will be able to land at the Khushigt's Airport.
-Was the lender informed of the cost through which the establishment will require to build? How practical is the bid made by the Mitsubishi Chiyoda?
-The Mongolian side will audit whether the bid is realistic or not. After this, we will inform the lenders the cost of construction will be to reach an agreement.
-Well Mitsubishi be undertaking all the construction work? Can a Mongolian company participate to provide extra assistance?
-The contract will be done so that the executing company will hand in a key at the end. The general contractor will undertake all of the work and complete it. Subcontractors have not been mentioned. This is up to the general contractor company.
-What will be the capacity of the airport? Will there be expansions made to it when passengers increase in the future?
-The capacity of the new airport will be three million passengers a year. Studies show that this capacity will be able to manage until 2020. By 2023, the annual passenger is expected to reach 4.8 million. Therefore, the airport will be constructed so as to allow smooth expansions and space has been reserved for it. All of it is being planned, additional expansions that will allow the airport to reach a capacity of 12 million a year has been planned.
-How many planes will be able to land and take off from the airport simultaneously?
-Chingis Khaan International Airport has a track of 3.1 kilometres, which lands one plane at one time from the North West and allows one take off at a time towards the North West. The new airport will be able to land planes from both sides and allow take off from both sides. The Narita International Airport of Japan used to let planes land and take off from one side until a while ago but they served 60 million passengers a year at one point. Therefore the new airport will be able to handle any stressful loads.
-There are rumours that the initial pre-feasibility study, and the initial planned budget was changes due to Yen value fluctuation?
-The pre-feasibility study and the planned budget is basically the loan amount. The budget was based on the studies made in 2006. The contract will be finalized in 2013. And yes, Yen value has been fluctuating in the last seven years. This matter has to be solved with flexibility and consideration.
-It has been said that an adjacent settlement will be established? At what stage is it's financing and planning?
-The adjacent city construction project is being directed by Art Construction Company. They have completed the general planning and had it approved by the government. From what I know, their adjacent city project will proceed in correlation of the airport construction if the construction begins in the upcoming spring. This will mean that by 2016, a city with a capacity for a population of 100 thousand will be completed.
-What is the plan for the management of roads and transportation?
-The roads have been divided in two parts. The financing for the first part has been covered by the capital city budget and the construction has begun. For example, a six row track construction project to the White Arch of the Nisekh (Chinggis Khaan airport). The road construction project for the road towards Khushigt Valley has been included in the list of concessional agreement. Up until today, two tenders have been for the road construction but nobody applied. The general plan has been already made. Everything such as no sharp turns until Tuv Province has been taken into account.
-A railway construction plan through the Tuv Province has been made. Will the new airport construction project correlate with the rail construction?
-We will discuss this issue with the government soon.
Mongolia: Year in Review 2012
January 4 (Oxford Business Group) While Mongolia can look back on a year that began with high expectations for a steady rise in mining-generated wealth, reports of slowing growth and concerns among investors about the risk of resource nationalism cast a shadow over the second half of 2012.
The successful raising of $1.5bn in a two-part government bond release in November underlined that investor interest in the country's vast coking coal and copper mines -- and strategic location near China and Russia -- is still strong. The $500m, five-year issue had a coupon rate of 4.125%, and the 10-year, $1bn-part sold at 5.125%. The offering was 10 times oversubscribed, attracting some $15bn in bids, nearly twice the GDP of $8.5bn. The buyer confidence came despite the government confirming in October that growth had fallen to 13.2% in the first half of this year from 17.3% in the last.
However, while the adoption of a foreign investment law in May that tightened approval requirements for international companies has so far failed to weaken investor interest, the new requirements, combined with a restructuring of a crucial deal with global mining giant Rio Tinto, could make investors more cautious in 2013.
The controversial law, which requires any foreign entity with a holding of more than 5% in a company doing business in Mongolia to be regulated by the Foreign Investment Regulations and Registration Department, has been described by some as a form of "resource nationalism". Concerns also remain over how the law will be implemented.
Critics also noted that Mongolia's vulnerability to a downturn in commodities exports was exposed by a drop in demand from its biggest customer, China, in 2012. Mongolia's expansionary fiscal policy was also blamed for double-digit inflation and balance of payments pressures.
The IMF in particular targeted spending levels this year, linking them to June elections. In the lead-up to the vote, the Mongolia People's Party oversaw cash handouts and measures such as raising civil servant wages by more than 50%. But this didn't stop the Democratic Party taking power by winning six more seats in the 76-member parliament.
"In the six months leading up to the end-June elections, government spending rose by 57%," the IMF said in a November report. "Public spending needs to be reined in, in order not to risk undermining stability and growth prospects".
Following the election, which was praised as free and fair by the US, the Democratic Party has moved to stress its commitment to political stability, putting forward an action plan designed to reduce the budget deficit, curtail inflation and reassure foreign investors.
Domestic demand, which pushed up imports, led to inflation hitting 15% at the end of the year. The IMF noted the steps taken by the central bank to address rising inflation, which included increasing its policy rate and reserve requirements. "These tightening measures contributed to a marked slowdown in credit growth, from 72% in 2011 to 36% in September 2012 (year-on-year)," it wrote in November.
The beginning of 2012 witnessed a wave of confidence in the banking sector, led by a rise in the loan to deposit ratio and a move by Goldman Sachs to buy a 4.8% stake in the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia. However, banks' liquidity dipped from 50% in January 2011 to under 40% at the start of 2012. In May, Moody's downgraded the ratings of four of Mongolia's banks to B1, citing a "relatively low level of cross-border diversification in their operations".
The downturn in the banking sector was in sharp contrast to last year's surge. Foreign direct investment, which totalled $4.6bn in 2011, fell to $3bn this year, and fears mounted that smaller institutions were heading for a crisis.
Mongolia's stock exchange, which has matured considerably in recent years, also struggled in 2012, with the Wall Street Journal reporting in November that its worth had fallen 30%. Efforts are now under way at the exchange to revive growth, including plans to work with parliament on a law that would enable companies listed overseas to sell shares domestically. The Mongolian Stock Exchange is teaming up with the London-based FTSE Group to introduce a Mongolian index, as it prepares to obtain FTSE's frontier-market status.
The year was marked by wrangling between the government and international mining companies, culminating in November with a decision to delay the selection of companies that will develop part of the nation's largest coalfield until next year.
Government plans to raise the royalty taxes on the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, which were originally set in 2009 for a 30-year period in the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement, has also sparked controversy. The tax hikes, which were outlined in the proposed 2013 budget, look set to maintain political pressure on the mining sector next year.
While talk of declining growth and foreign investor concerns may threaten overall confidence, the sheer size of Mongolia's resource wealth and potential give reason for optimism in 2013. The volatility that was evident in the latter half of 2012, however, will remind Ulaanbaatar that it will need to balance sound domestic fiscal policy with an awareness of Mongolia's vulnerability to outside factors.
Fuel price increase mystery
January 4 (news.mn) A number of fuel importer companies have put up the fuel price by 50 MNT at the turn of the new year. The reason behind the fuel price increase is still uncertain. As a result the leading fuel importer companies Magnai Trade and Shunkhlai increased fuel price up to 1670 MNT per liter. The A-80 price is now 1580 MNT, diesel and AI-95 1800 MNT.
The price increase was not announced in advance. However the increase was managed without chaos. Customers questioned the fuel price increase when they bought fuel for 1620MNT on December 29th. The fuel price increase started from the MT gas stations of Magnai Trade in the eastern part of the City. Two days later every gas station in the City increased the price of fuel.
Our journalist tried to identify the reason behind the fuel price increase from the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP). But officials of the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection refused to give more details because it seemed as if they had been ordered not to give information about fuel price increase to journalists.
According to a source, the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP) required a reasonable warrant for fuel price increase from МТ company.
The Central Bank of Mongolia and the Ministry of Mining signed an agreement to issue soft loans to fuel importer companies two months ago.
As a result of the agreement importer companies were granted circulating assets for one percent of interest per year by the Central Bank of Mongolia. In return the importer companies promised not to increase fuel prices.
It seems like the measure has not worked. Russia has pushed again their aggressive offer to build up 100 gas stations in Mongolia.
Russian did not forget to bring up the offer during the XVI Inter-governmental Committee meeting on Trade, Economy, Science and Technical cooperation between Mongolia and Russia on December 21st. This is a strong response by Russia to strap Mongolia for failing to cooperate on strategic projects.
VERTU HAS LAUNCHED ITS STORE IN ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA
January 5 (InfoMongolia) The pioneer of the world's most exclusive handsets, Vertu Corporate has opened its branch store in the "Central Tower" complex, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where the event ceremony was held on December 29, 2012.
Vertu first launched the luxury mobile telephone sector in 1998 and continues to design and build the world's finest mobile phones from its headquarters in Church Crookham, England.
Each handset is made up of hundreds of components, every one designed and made exclusively for Vertu and put in place by hand. A single craftsman meticulously assembles the handsets, adding their own signature once the perfect finish is achieved.
Each key is individually ground and cut from sapphire and all Vertu leather is sourced from Northern Europe and tested for its resistance to different substances, from petrol to lipstick.
Vertu's crisp, elegant screens are protected by a virtually unscratchable, ultra-thin sheet of sapphire crystal.
Moreover, around the clock to receive the expert assistance will be activated soon in Ulaanbaatar for recommendations and priority bookings, said a store manager. That enables to fulfill every request and can be accessed directly from your handset with the touch of a single button.
The flagship model is called the Signature. Its key pad contains nearly 5 carats of ruby bearings. Other models include: Ascent, Constellation Classic, Ayxta, along with smart phones Constellation Quest, and the Constellation Touch (released October 2011). Ascent phones are designed to be lightweight and durable, made of aluminum or titanium with vulcanized rubber and leather.
Currently, the prices for Vertu phones in Ulaanbaatar store ranges between 9 and 77 million MNT or approximately 6,500-55,000 USD.
Vertu has offices in Paris, Frankfurt, Dubai, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. With flagship stores in London, Paris, Milan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and Las Vegas, Vertu's phones are now sold in over 50 countries around the globe.
MONGOLIA TO APPROVE DEDICATED LAW ON BORDER POINTS
January 5 (InfoMongolia) At the Cabinet meeting held on January 05, 2013, it was resolved to submit a bill on Border Points of Mongolia through the plenary session of the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia.
Under the International Treaties and Intergovernmental Protocols being effective, Mongolia co-runs a total of 46 border points, whereas Mongolia is coterminous with the Russian Federation in 29 border points, with the People's Republic of China in 13 border points, and 4 airway ports. Besides, 14 border points have international status, 11 are operational as two-way permanent, 14 are operational as two-way temporary or open seasonally, and 7 are operational as transit, whereas 39 are auto-border ports, 3 railway border port, and 4 airway border ports.
In recent 5 years, over 17 million passengers and 6.5 million vehicles have crossed the ports, that increased by two times compare to the same period of 5 years ago and the number tends to be increased in future.
Currently, Mongolia does not have a specific Law on Border Points, where the border port issues are regulated under Intergovernmental Protocols established with Russia and China, Law on Border, and Resolutions issued by the Parliament and Cabinet.
The Big Dig
Can Mongolia's mining boom protect national interests and local livelihoods while reaping the economic benefits?
January 4 (Al Jazeera) Mongolia is opening one of the world's biggest copper mines, the Oyu Tolgoi.
The project is due to start operations in the next few months and this mine alone will account for 30 percent of Mongolia's entire GDP.
But the Oyu Tolgoi deal between the government and the Australian company Rio Tinto is highly controversial. The government gets just 34 percent (Mogi: 34% is 34 too many for a government to be involved in business), raising suspicions about how much the nation's interests are being protected.
Rio Tinto is also exempt from a windfall profits tax. (Mogi: because there is no windfall profits tax)
And critics say the government is inexperienced in striking deals with foreign mining giants.
For those living around the site, their concerns are more immediate. Located in the South Gobi desert, water is a precious commodity and a source of life for the nomadic herdsmen.
But now the mine has closed off open water sources which it now owns. Instead, it has built a few wells for the locals to survive off. The herders are concerned about surviving the coming winter.
Environmentalists also fear that rapid mining-driven growth has come at the expense of nature and the local way of life.
101 East asks: Is mining changing Mongolia for the better or the worse?
Mongolia names 2013 as environmental education year
ULAN BATOR, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia designated 2013 as the environmental education year to promote public awareness of environmental protection.
Instead of treating pollution afterwards, it was crucial to enhance people's awareness of environmental protection, Environment Minister Sanjaasuren Oyun told reporters on Friday.
Government departments and social groups should act together to promote the concept of green growth and drafted regulations for environmental protection. In addition, the authorities should prioritize sustainable development, Oyun said.
Official data show Mongolia is facing a serious shortage of water resources, with about 70 percent of land suffering different degrees of desertification.
Mongolia suffers cold snap
ULAN BATOR, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia has been gripped by an extreme cold snap coupled with heavy snows, which have disrupted the life of herders in rural areas, local media reported Saturday.
Strong winds and a dramatic fall in temperatures have hit a large part of Mongolia. In some areas, the lowest temperature has plunged to minus 50 degrees Celcius, the reports said.
The National Emergency Management Authority of Mongolia said Friday that over 80 percent of the Mongolian territory was covered with snow that could be as thick as 1.3 meters in worst-hit areas.
It has become impossible for livestock to find grass on the snow-covered pastureland in 55 counties of 15 provinces nationwide, the authority added.
Roads in some areas are also cut off by heavy snow and over 3,000 herders in rural area could not get medical assistance from outside.
The Mongolian government has sent working groups to disaster areas to assess the situation and conduct rescue operations. Local authorities have also been ordered to take immediate actions to restore road traffic.
Severe winter conditions cut off herders – news.mn, January 4
Six provinces to be connected via asphalt road in 2013
January 4 (Business-Mongolia) Mongolia's new government announced in its Action Plan that it will have all the provincial centers connected via asphalt road by 2015. Having reliable, paved road is critical given that Mongolia has the lowest population density of 1.7 people per square kilometer with vast and open areas.
At a recent cabinet meeting of the government, Ministers discussed the road construction plans for the next few years to come. It has been agreed that Hovsgol, Dornod, Dornogovi-Zamiin Uud, Dundgovi, Umnugovi and Bayanhongor provinces will be connected to Ulaanbaatar with paved road in 2013. It is hoped that once these provinces have new road network, individuals and businesses will be able to travel in much less time with more safety and comfort between these destinations.
The government is also planning to complete the construction of asphalt roads for Govi-Altai, Zavhan and Suhbaatar aimags by 2014. Additionally, paved roads will be built in 2015 connecting Uvs, Hovd, and Bayan-Olgii provinces to Ulaanbaatar.
The priority for the government in 2013 will then be to launch the road construction for the above mentioned six provinces on a timely basis and ensure that project is carried out with high quality standards. According to Road and Transport Minister, executing companies for these projects have been selected and their detailed work plans are finalized. However, the Ministry is working to select qualified contractors to build remaining 186 kilometers of road in three different locations in the territory of these six provinces.
One of Mongolia's dinosaurs is missing: The global hunt for prized Tarbosaurus fossil
American authorities tracking a fossil-smuggling network are hunting the rare skeleton of the Tarbosaurus – and they think it's hiding somewhere in the UK
January 4 (The Independent) When it stalked the plains of modern-day Mongolia, the Tarbosaurus bataar was one of the most fearsome predators of the dinosaur age. Measuring up to 12m long and carrying 64 flesh-ripping teeth, this bus-sized killer's Latin name roughly translates to Terror Lizard.
Some 70 million years later, a Tarbosaurus is once more on the loose, spreading confusion and concern at its whereabouts. And this time the ferocious killer – or at least one of its prized fossilised skeletons worth some £700,000 – is somewhere in Britain.
The American authorities have incited a hunt for an intact Tarbosaurus fossil in the UK after a Florida-based fossil dealer last week pleaded guilty to running a lucrative international dinosaur smuggling operation out of Mongolia, with Britain at its hub.
Eric Prokopi, who now faces up to 17 years in prison, admitted to illegally importing "multiple containers of dinosaurs" from the vast central Asian country via the UK, including a "nearly complete" Tarbosaurus skeleton which, according to court papers, remains at an unspecified location in Britain.
The fossil Tarbosaurus, a close relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex found only in a portion of Mongolia's Gobi Desert, is one of six sets of dinosaur fossils that Mr Prokopi has agreed to forfeit so they can be returned to Mongolia.
But unlike the five others which were in Mr Prokopi's possession and have been seized by American officials, the British Terror Lizard remains at large. A copy of Mr Prokopi's plea agreement obtained by The Independent describes each of the dinosaurs, including: "One nearly complete Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton purchased from a Mongolian individual and located in Great Britain."
A source with knowledge of the case said: "This particular fossil is not currently in the custody of British law enforcement. Its exact whereabouts is being established but we would like to see it in safe custody soon. At present, someone's dinosaur is indeed missing."
The hunt for the fossil, which it is understood is the subject of a request from the Mongolian government to London seeking help to secure its return, follows a lengthy investigation into a global trade in dinosaur bones ranging from a New York auction to a prominent British fossil dealer on Dorset's world-renowned Jurassic Coast.
Legal documents seen by The Independent show that Chris Moore, who plies his trade from a fossil shop in the quiet seaside town of Charmouth, sent a consignment of fossils to Mr Prokopi in 2010 along with paperwork passed to detectives investigating the illegal sale of another Tarbosaurus which went spectacularly wrong.
The near-intact skeleton was offered for sale by Mr Prokopi last May at an auction in Manhattan, where it fetched nearly $1.1m (£680,000). But the deal was dramatically halted following an intervention on behalf of the Mongolian President, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, insisting that the fossil was his country's property. Under Mongolian law, all fossils remain state property and their sale abroad is forbidden without a permit which was not obtained by Mr Prokopi.
Within hours an American judge granted an order staying the sale by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions and prompted a criminal investigation by the Department for Homeland Security which last week resulted in Mr Prokopi, 38, a self-declared "commercial palaeontologist", admitting three charges, including the falsification of customs forms and complicity in fraud.
In a statement to a New York court last week, Mr Prokopi said he had asked for the labels on the relics he bought to be deliberately "vague and misleading so that they didn't bring attention to the shipment".
Mr Moore, who runs a company called Forge Fossils, has denied any involvement in the case against Mr Prokopi. The British dealer's American lawyer, John Cahill, said yesterday he had no comment to make on Mr Prokopi's guilty pleas. Earlier this year, Mr Cahill said: "Mr Moore is not involved in the case and has no interest in becoming involved in it."
In the formal legal complaint brought against Mr Prokopi, investigators said they had been given paperwork by Heritage Auctions relating to the sale of the 7.3m-long Tarbosaurus skeleton which included a "commercial invoice" from Mr Moore and a customs declaration stating that the dinosaur fossil had been imported from Britain.
The complaint, filed last October, said: "The commercial invoice lists the contents as containing '2 large rough (unprepared) fossil reptile heads'; '6 boxes of broken fossil bones'; '3 rough (unprepared) fossil reptiles'; '1 fossil lizard'; '3 rough (unprepared) fossil reptiles'; and '1 fossil reptile skull'."
Mr Moore, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, did not respond to a list of emailed questions from The Independent, including an enquiry about the whereabouts of a Tarbosaurus skull he offered for sale in June 2010 at a London antiques fair with a price tag of £125,000.
Mr Moore said he had acquired the skull from an unspecified central Asian country. There is consensus among palaeontologists that Tarbosaurus bataar was native to modernday Mongolia and that known intact specimens originate from a specific location in the Gobi Desert, known as the Nemegt Basin.
Speaking at the time of the antiques fair, Mr Moore said: "We bought a large slab of sandstone with bones sticking out of it and brought it back to our workshop in Charmouth. Gradually, over four or five months, we dug away to reveal what was in there. You can never tell what you're going to find. This is incredible though. There's probably six to eight other ones which are known about and museums have got those."
For the moment at least, however, the location of the British Tarbosaurus skeleton in the Prokopi case remains a mystery.
Scotland Yard yesterday confirmed that its art and antiques unit had been contacted by the US Department of Justice but insisted it was not currently investigating the case.
A spokeswoman said: "At this time no request for assistance has been made and there is no Metropolitan Police Service investigation."
All of which could yet prove a source of frustration for the Mongolian authorities, who are now seeking one of the largest ever repatriations of fossils. President Elbegdorj last week announced plans for a museum to host the dinosaurs, including three Tarbosauruses, once they return.
Prosecutors said the case has helped to lift the lid on a widescale transcontinental black market in dinosaur fossils originating from Mongolia.
Sources in the central Asian country, whose mining-driven economic growth has prompted a new interest in its cultural heritage, said its own investigators believed a ring of middlemen had been responsible for a steady flow of remains, worth up to £1m at a time, to the United States via Japan and Britain since at least 2003.
Preet Bharara, the US Attorney who brought the case, said: "Fossils and ancient skeletal remains are part of the fabric of a country's natural history and cultural heritage, and black marketeers like Prokopi who illegally export and sell these wonders, steal a slice of that history. We are pleased that we can now begin the process of returning these prehistoric fossils."
A lawyer representing Mr Prokopi, who had travelled to Mongolia and spent a year cleaning and mounting the Tarbosaurus skeleton he eventually offered for sale, said his client was co-operating with American investigators as part of his plea deal and expected to receive a "fair and reasonable" sentence as a result.
Following the halt of the auction last May, the American dealer issued statement saying he had acted in good faith and was "just a guy in Gainesville, Florida, trying to support my family, not some international bone smuggler".
In the light of his admissions, it turns out that is just what Mr Prokopi is. All that remains to be answered is just who helped him - and where in Britain the mortal remains of a rapacious killer of enduring fascination to monied collectors has been stashed.
Local attorney helps uncover largest fossil smuggling ring in history
January 6 (Tomball News) A rare dinosaur skeleton smuggled out of Mongolia will finally be returned home thanks to the efforts of Champions-area attorney Robert Painter of The Painter Law Firm.
Eric Prokopi, a Florida fossils dealer who pleaded guilty to two counts of smuggling and one count of conspiracy Dec. 27, faces up to 17 years in prison.
"This turns out to be the largest dinosaur smuggling ring in history to be uncovered," said Painter. "This is the largest return of dinosaur fossils on record."
The arrest has led to the recovery of an additional $6-8 million worth of fossils throughout New York, Los Angeles and Florida. Fossils are even being sold on eBay, said Painter.
"It's not limited to Eric Prokopi for sure," said Painter. "There are many people in many nations involved in this."
Prokopi was linked to the fossils after filing a claim with the federal government alleging he had legally imported the dinosaur from Japan. When an investigation turned up holes in his story, 20 customs agents showed up at his house and confiscated his computer and files.
It turned out the "pile of reptile bones worth $15,000" he claimed on his customs form was really a tyrannosaurus skeleton worth a million plus, said Painter. Later photos of him at Mongolian excavation sites began turning up along with eyewitness accounts of his involvement in the fossil's excavation, said Painter.
"The funny thing about his arrest was that while agents were there a delivery truck showed up," he said. "Another Mongolian dinosaur was in the delivery truck."
In addition to Painter's civil suit, the U.S. government filed criminal charges and arrested him last fall.
"Our legal system is not known for being super fast but this is lightening fast," said Painter. "To put this in perspective, if someone had a case about a car wreck, it wouldn't be this fast."
Painter became involved in the case when an old friend, Mongolian president Elbegdorj Tsakhia, hired him to stop the fossil's auction two days before it was scheduled to commence through Dallas-based company Heritage Auctions.
A day before the auction Painter secured a court order for Heritage Auctions to hold the dinosaur bones. He also traveled to New York, where the company was holding the auction, as a precaution.
The auction held more than 300 items, but when Painter noticed the 10-foot tall, 28-foot long T-rex skeleton, he knew he had a long battle ahead. If the fossils were sold and transferred, they most likely would have never been returned to Mongolia, he said.
Painter ended up calling the judge during the auction and threatened to file charges. While the fossils sold for $1.1 million, the company agreed to cancel the purchase if a contempt of court charge was not filed.
"That's how we ended up with so much attention and success and getting the inspection done," he said. "In all of my career, I've never seen someone ignore a court order, when the judge is on the phone listening."
As a result, Heritage Auction agreed to let the fossils to be examined without argument.
"We have the world authorities in dinosaur bones. We're talking about head of the entire society of tyrannosaurus," he said. "We had four paleontologists who said as soon as you walk into the room, you can instantly tell it's from Mongolia, and they did some more scientific assessments such as measurements. What ended up happening is they wrote a report that was really the basis for our whole legal argument."
Upon verification of the T-rex's origin in June, the federal government had to hold the fossils to allow anyone with a claim to them come forward. Now that Prokopi's claim has been refuted, the government plans to return the bones to Mongolia in March, where they will be displayed in the government square, said Painter.
While Painter's goal was always to return the fossils, the result of this case was more far-reaching.
"What we're excited about is that the Mongolian law is very well defined in English and we have relevant professional societies, and courts and attorneys that are aware of this," he said. "If this comes up, our hope is we can prosecute it very quickly, but really the hope is people will realize it's illegal in Mongolia; it's illegal here and they won't do it."
Mongolia Immigration Agency no longer charges service fee
January 4 (news.mn) The Mongolia Immigration Agency will no longer charge 5000-20,000 MNT service fee or 200-1000 MNT form fees for customers from January 1st. The Agency believes such measures will build up a fast and good public services for customers and save time and money.
But visa fees and other form fees will remain according to law.
Belarus, Mongolia consider setting up bilateral economic and trade commission
MINSK, 4 January (BelTA) – The issues of setting up a Belarusian-Mongolian commission on trade and economic cooperation were discussed at a meeting between Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to China and Mongolia Viktor Buria and the head of the diplomatic mission of Mongolia in China Tsedenjav Sukhbaatar in Beijing on 4 January, BelTA learnt from the Belarusian Embassy in China.
The sides also discussed the issues regarding the visit of Prime Minister of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovich to Mongolia.
Belarus and Mongolia have been working towards intensification of bilateral cooperation. In particular, in September last year, Mongolia hosted the ministerial consultations. The Belarusian delegation was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik. The focus of the consultations was on bilateral relations in the political, economic and humanitarian areas. The two parties also discussed the prospects of cooperation between the two countries in the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement and the development of the legal framework of bilateral relations.
Asia Society's Korea Center Hosting Mongolian Ambassador in 2013 Ambassador Series
Asia Society -- Since the establishment of the diplomatic relationship between Mongolia and Korea in March 1990, two countries have been encouraging cultural exchange and economic partnership on basis of the 'mutual complementary cooperation' principle. While Mongolia is considered one of the fastest growing Asian countries with vast natural resources in 2013, it is pivotal to discuss the future of Mongolia and Korea relations and explore further cooperation among various industrial sectors in Mongolia and Korea. At the Korea Center monthly luncheon, the Ambassador of Mongolia to Korea, H.E. Gerel Dorjpalam will lecture about the new foreign policies of Mongolia toward Korea after the presidential election in May and how both countries can cooperate to deal with the foreign issues such as North Korea nuclear weapons and promote political and economic interactions.
Part 3: Future of Mongolia and Korea Relations
H.E. Gerel Dorjpalam, Ambassador, Embassy of Mongolia
12 noon, Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Lotte Hotel Seoul, Charlotte Suite, 36th Floor
RSVP by Friday, June 14, 2013
Members 30,000 won
Non-members 50,000 won
Embassy/Press 20,000 won
Hanabank 195-910004-19604 Asia Society Korea Center
Taipei art exhibition celebrates 850th birthday of Genghis Khan
Taipei, Jan. 6 (CNA) A series of portraits of emperors and consorts in China's Yuan Dynasty are currently on exhibition at National Palace Museum to mark the 850th birthday of the dynasty's first emperor Genghis Khan, the Taipei museum said recently.
The five imperial portraits, including paintings of Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan, will be on display until March 25 at the museum as part of the exhibition "The Art and Aesthetics of Form: Selections from the History of Chinese Painting."
Mongolia's Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tumenjargal Magaadai will lead a delegation on a visit to the museum Jan. 8 to join the celebration, the museum said.
The Ulaanbaatar Trade and Economic Office in Taipei will also arrange to have Mongolian masters sing Mongolian traditional folk songs and play the morin khuur, a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument, at the museum that day.
Mongolia tops CNN's 2013 travel wish list
January 3 (CNN) -- We've all got them: places that live large in imagination or memory, begging us to hop on a plane to uncover their delicious mysteries.
As the new year kicks off, a handful of our very well-traveled CNN correspondents -- who've been places and seen things many of us may never see firsthand -- share their destination wishes for 2013 and beyond.
Where are you dreaming of visiting this year? Please share your picks in the comments below.
Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman set his sights on Mongolia early in life.
"Back when I was, I think, nine or ten years old I read a book about Marco Polo, how he traveled with his uncles on the ultimate business trip to the Mongol Empire at its height," wrote Wedeman, who recently moved to Rome after an assignment in Cairo.
"The trip lasted almost a quarter of a century, during which he grew up, mastered Mongolian, gained the confidence of the Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan, and then eventually returned home with fantastic tales of strange lands and stranger people. The story hooked me."
Wedeman socked away money from his first job delivering newspapers with an eye toward a $3,000 trip to Mongolia advertised in the Sunday New York Times magazine. "Making around $30 a month, it would have taken me more than eight years to come up with the money."
He read about Mongolia in the meantime but spent most of his teenage years in the Arab world, where he learned the language and became interested in journalism, "for better or for worse, a busier profession in the Middle East than in Mongolia, for example."
Wedeman took courses in classical and modern Mongolian while studying for his master's degree and found it "beastly difficult."
He still wants to visit, in the spring or summer, he said. "Mongolian winters, when temperatures drop to −30 °C (−22 °F) are not for me, thank you very much."
He says he would hire a guide and horses and set out for the vast steppes.
"I know it's changed radically since I first latched on to the idea. For one thing it's no longer part of the communist bloc, it's no longer isolated, and its economy is growing rapidly fueled by a mining boom (which is destroying the traditional nomadic lifestyle, and severely harming the once pristine environment)."
The price today with an upscale company is reasonable, he said, "compared to the $3,000 it was back in 1971."
"Today the same trip is around $5000, which though a still hefty sum, is, in terms of inflation, a steal."
Musa Hassan zips lips in latest scorcher on Altantuya murder
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 (The Malaysian Insider) ― Tan Sri Musa Hassan has refused to be drawn into the latest controversy over the 2006 murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, following the publication of a book claiming the former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) has inside information.
The retired policeman reiterated that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was uninvolved in the explosive case that had been linked to several politicians from the ruling Barsian Nasional (BN) and had resurfaced recently in the run-up to the 13th general election.
"I have nothing to comment," he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted yesterday for a response on allegations he has knowledge of the events surrounding the death of the Mongolian translator, for which two elite police commandos have been convicted and are facing death sentences.
"I have said it many times: Najib is not involved with the murder of Altantuya. This is (Abdul) Razak Baginda's work," he said, referring to the PM's former political advisor who once had an affair with the Mongolian.
"I had briefed Pak Lah that Najib was not involved in this case," Musa said, referring to the then-PM, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
A 26-page book titled "The Black Rose ― Black Rose 1.0", which describes the tangled web of high-profile personalities purportedly involved in the murder conspiracy, has been circulating on the Internet over the past few days.
Carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan, who is at the centre of the controversy surrounding P. Balasubramaniam's conflicting sworn testimonies on the case, yesterday admitted to being the book's author. He also said he will release a sequel.
Balasubramaniam, a former policeman-turned-private investigator who was at that time hired by Abdul Razak Baginda to keep an eye on Altantuya, is seen to be a key witness to the whole saga.
Deepak recently revealed his involvement in getting Balasubramaniam to make the second statutory declaration (SD), reversing an earlier statement linking Najib to Altantuya's murder.
The Bar Council was chided on Tuesday for dragging its feet in investigating the identity of the mystery lawyer behind Balasubramaniam's controversial second SD.
Lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu, who is acting for the former private detective, said that the Bar Council should speed up its inquiry on the high-profile case that had previously been linked to several high-ranking government officials and resurfaced recently in the run-up to the 13th general election.
The Bar Council has said it is investigating the possibility of misconduct in the drafting of Balasubramaniam's second SD, which contradicts his previous sworn statement made just a day earlier over the death of the Mongolian translator.
A cloud of mystery has been hanging over the identity of the lawyer who had drawn up Balasubramaniam's second SD, dated a day after his first on July 3, 2008, regarding the Altantuya murder case.
Last month, Musa accused politicians, including Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, of interfering with police work.
"Mogi" Munkhdul Badral
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