Sunday, February 10, 2013

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Rio Tinto Hits Bumps in Mongolia

Copper Mine in Gobi Desert Stirs New Tensions With Government, Which Owns 34% of the Project

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia, February 7 (WSJ)—As new Chief Executive Sam Walsh takes control of Rio Tinto, he inherits a big dig in the Mongolian desert that's about to produce tons of copper and gold—and a shovelful of headaches.

For starters, Mongolia is refusing to support Rio Tinto's efforts to raise as much as $6 billion in loans tied to its Oyu Tolgoi mine in the Gobi Desert.

The $13 billion Oyu Tolgoi project, nearly two decades in development and located in one of the harshest and remotest places, is a huge untapped source of copper. At full production, Oyu Tolgoi could help Rio shed its reputation among investors of being a one-trick pony that makes most of its profits from iron ore, a material heavily dependent on the ups and downs of the global steel market.

The first stage of the Oyu Tolgoi project—an open pit mine—is several months ahead of schedule. Rio recently fired up production of a copper concentrator, a plant that crushes copper-flecked rocks into a black copper dust that is smelted into pure copper.

Rio has lined up Chinese smelters to buy much of what the mine will produce in the next three years and has built a paved road through the Gobi Desert for giant trucks to deliver the copper across the border.

It's preparing the next stage: an ambitious "block cave" mine nearly a mile underground—to access the richest veins of minerals—that will cost $7.1 billion, according to people familiar with the project.

Erupting at the surface of the deal, however, are tensions between Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government, which owns 34% of the project and will earn revenue from taxes and royalties.

Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj had harsh words for Rio in a speech reported in a Ulan Bator newspaper this week, accusing the miner of "irresponsible management" leading to cost overruns. "Oyu Tolgoi should help Mongolia prosper, not leave it with a scar," he said.

Rio flew in executives from London to Ulan Bator this week for negotiations. To pressure Rio on the deal, a government official said Thursday it is withdrawing support for the potential $6 billion in project financing that Rio is negotiating with a consortium of lenders including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank's International Finance Corp. and private-sector banks.

Cameron McRae, head of Rio Tinto's local unit, said the company has "always been fully transparent with all our shareholders regarding our project finances, costs and operations." He added: "We will continue to hold as many frank and open discussions as needed to help clarify issues raised by the government of Mongolia."

The Anglo-Australian company has said it hopes to close project financing this quarter, with production starting in 2016.

"At some point there will be a showdown" with the government, said Hayden Bairstow, an analyst for brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.

The latest bout of tensions erupted in October 2012, when the newly elected Mongolian government asked Rio to reopen the 2009 investment agreement between the company and the government that was meant to guide the project for the next 50 years. The government wants to maximize its share of the profits from the mine, which when at its peak will make enough copper to build 840,000 Statues of Liberty.

Tom Albanese, Rio Tinto's departed chief executive, told the Mongolian government: No changes to the Oyu Tolgoi agreement.

For Mongolia, the massive project, whose spending makes up a third of the country's $10 billion annual gross domestic product, could be a cash cow for government coffers. But many feel the deal, with a structure that leaves a foreign entity as majority owner, isn't generous enough to the Mongolian people, many of whom feel the country's mining boom has left them behind. A third of the population live in poverty by the government's measure.

"The expectations are that we will not get much from this project," said Dorjdari Namkhaijantsan, manager at Open Society Forum Mongolia, a George Soros-funded think tank in Ulan Bator. He specializes in studying Mongolian government finances and mining deals.

Mr. Dorjdari is critical of the way the agreement is structured, but says it would be too hard for the government to change the terms in a significant way. "It's too big to fail for Mongolia," he said. The government earns money through royalties and taxes and will earn dividend payments after a loan that Rio made to the government in exchange for the 34% stake is paid back.

Mongolia has since said it will seek to negotiate within the confines of the 2009 pact. But authorities complain that Rio has structured the project's capital in a way that enriches Rio at the expense of the government's minority stake, thanks to loans made between Rio and its Mongolian subsidiaries. "It's the right of minority shareholders to sort out issues we don't understand," said a government official.

It's not clear what the government is seeking nor how any changes would affect Rio's profits.

The government's efforts to amend its relationship with Rio, along with a major change passed in April to Mongolia's once-friendly foreign investment law, have cast a pall on Mongolia's business climate. A proposal the government is expected to consider this spring to amend the mining investment law has drawn a strong rebuke from the foreign and domestic business community. The mining-law changes would increase government involvement in mining ventures and limit the profit that mining-exploration companies could enjoy.

"The great risk is that if investors feel that any investments they make here might not be honored in a way they expect and they were led to believe, then that understandably makes potential future investors more cautious and perhaps less willing to invest," said David Wyche, the economic and commercial section chief in the U.S. Embassy in Ulan Bator.

For Rio Tinto, Oyu Tolgoi is a big bet on copper and a way to reduce its reliance on iron ore, which makes up 71% of its operating profit world-wide. The Rio-led project has spent $6.6 billion on the first phase, digging an open-pit mine, the copper concentrator, an international airport, a 40-mile water pipeline and a 100-mile electrical line that plugs into China's grid, all in an place where it is minus 29 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, and 120 degrees Fahrenheit in summer.

"Outside of iron ore, it's the only thing Rio has that's a game changer that could impact earnings," said CLSA's Mr. Bairstow.

Getting Oyu Tolgoi in shape has been a challenge. Rio spent months negotiating an agreement with Chinese power suppliers to string the electrical line across the border to supply the mine's crushing and processing equipment. News of the agreement, finally reached in November, sent shares of Turquoise Hill, Rio's Mongolian subsidiary that trades in Toronto and New York, up 11%.

Copper was first discovered in the area of Oyu Tolgoi by Bronze Age nomads. In the 1980s, Soviet geologists did preliminary mapping of the remote area, populated by herders and wild animals such as the Asiatic wild ass and goitered gazelles. (The closest settlement of more than 10,000 people, the town of Dalanzadgad, is 130 miles from the mine.)

It wasn't until the mid-1990s that a concerted effort began to find a mother lode. Rio's top competitor, BHP Billiton scanned the area and drilled wells starting in 1996, but abandoned the effort, conducting 23 core samples and falling about 100 feet short of where the copper was hidden.

BHP sold the rights for about $40 million to American Robert Friedland, whose company, Ivanhoe Mines, drilled over 2,000 holes and found an amount of copper that will add about 4% of the world's current output per year when the mine is at peak capacity.

Average yearly production over the life of the mine will be 425,000 tons of copper and 460,000 ounces of gold.

Along with copper and gold, the mine contains silver and molybdenum, an element used in steel alloy.

In 2006, Ivanhoe brought in Rio Tinto as a strategic partner to develop the mine. Rio gained majority control of the venture in early 2012.

Link to article

Related: Mongolia Refuses to Support Rio Tinto Financing Effort for Oyu TolgoiWSJ, February 7


Mongolia, Rio to Meet Again This Month on Oyu Tolgoi Concern

February 8 (Bloomberg) Rio Tinto Group will resume talks with Mongolia this month to resolve concerns that spending at their jointly owned Oyu Tolgoi mining project is overshooting and the country isn't benefiting enough from the development.

Shareholders met in Ulan Bator yesterday to discuss outstanding issues surrounding the gold and copper venture. For the government, these include the cost, furthering Mongolian participation in its management and increasing the number of local companies that can benefit from the project, including the use of a Mongolian bank, it said in a statement.

President Tsakhia Elbegdorj said last week Mongolia should have more control of the mine that will be the biggest contributor to its economy once it's in full production. The mine is 66 percent owned by Rio unit Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. and 34 percent by Mongolia's government.

"A squabble is a natural tension that exists between any joint venture, where the operator is more guarded about releasing information and it's normal for equity holders to want more information," Prasad Patkar, who helps manage about A$1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) at Sydney-based Platypus Asset Management Ltd., said by phone. "What is harder to resolve is what appears to be a changing in goalposts. It's a reflection of an immature mining jurisdiction."

Rio Tinto gained 0.8 percent to A$69.23 at 11:22 a.m. in Sydney trading. The S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.2 percent. Turquoise Hill was up 0.5 percent at the close of trading in Toronto.

Heightened Tension

The president's comments heightened tension with London- based Rio over the ownership and development of the project, which is currently the world's biggest copper mine under construction. Rio is considering a temporary halt to work to protest government demands for a greater share of profit, two people familiar with the plans said last week.

This is "the sort of pain that Rio would have to go through being the first mega project in a very immature economy," said Patkar.

The cost of building the mine rose 16 percent to $6.6 billion, according to a statement this week from Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the mine's operator. The estimate compares with the initial 2010 projection of $5.7 billion.

Rio Tinto hasn't explained the reasons why the project has gone over budget, Mining Minister Davaajav Gankhuyag said at a press conference in Ulan Bator yesterday.

Tax Issue

"Oyu Tolgoi has delivered construction ahead of schedule and in line with the budget submitted to the Oyu Tolgoi board and government shareholder representatives," said Rio Tinto Copper Chief Executive Andrew Harding in a statement yesterday. "We produced our first copper concentrate last week, and remain on schedule for commercial production in the first half of 2013."

According to the statement, construction remains on budget. Citing a figure that doesn't include exploration and other pre- project costs, the mine is "coming in at $6.2 billion, which is in line with the project estimate submitted to the Oyu Tolgoi board and government shareholders in December 2010," it said.

A London-based spokesman for Rio Tinto declined to comment further.

Finance Minister Chultem Ulaan said at the press conference that Oyu Tolgoi paid no taxes in 2012. According to a media release posted on its website Feb. 5, Oyu Tolgoi was Mongolia's sixth-biggest taxpayer in 2011, before the mine was operational, and paid $280 million in 2012 in taxes and other government fees. The company also spent more than $1.1 billion during 2010-2012 with Mongolian suppliers.

Link to article


Mongolian officials to continue talks with Rio TintoXinhua, February 7

President Makes the Case for Increased Control over Oyu TolgoiThe MICC Report, February 1-7


Mogi: taking it further I see. Only 288 supporters so far on

CEE Bankwatch Network: World to banks: don't fund a mining catastrophe in Mongolia!

Petitioning the Board of Directors and President, World Bank and EBRD

( Right now Mongolia has one of the world's fastest growing economies because of the minerals it owns, but nearly a third of the population still lives in poverty. Mongolia could become one of those countries that suddenly became very wealthy but its people remained very poor, the so-called 'resource curse.' But you can help break the curse.

The World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will soon decide whether to fund a massive gold and copper mine in the Gobi Desert that could generate billions in revenues for the country. But in its current shape, the project will damage the environment and destroy the livelihoods of the local people that call the area near the mine home.

But there is still hope! We must convince the banks to improve the project by including measures that protect the climate, biodiversity and water for the people who rely most on those resources. Help raise a loud and a unified public voice that demands that the project brings real benefits for those most impacted.

Link to petition


Wolf Petroleum kicks off Mongolian oil and gas hunt

February 8 (Proactive Investors) Wolf Petroleum (ASX:WOF) has started comprehensive geophysical programs at its Sukhbaatar block in Mongolia to confirm the structure and depth of hydrocarbon basins.

Gravity and magnetic studies will cover the entire 23,047 square kilometre block.

Following the expected completion of this program in March 2013, the company will start a 2D seismic survey and a petroleum geochemical work program in April.

The ground based program consists of more than 6,300 survey points and 11,000 line kilometres of survey work.

Processing and interpretation of the geophysical data will be done simultaneously in Mongolia and the U.S. to accelerate processing and interpretation time.

Data from the geophysical survey will assist with interpretation of high resolution remote sensing surveys that Wolf is conducting.

Data from the 2D seismic and geochemical programs will confirm the presence of a petroleum system under the block and focus the 2013 drilling program towards areas of live hydrocarbon seepage.

Link to article

Link to WOF release


Petro Matad: Appointment of Macquarie Tristone to manage farm-out process and Presentation at Oil Barrel Conference

February 7 -- Petro Matad (MATD:LN) is pleased to announce that the Company is today presenting at the 57th Oil Barrel conference in London.  The Company's Exploration Director, Ridvan Karpuz will be providing an update on the Company's portfolio of exploration assets in Mongolia and explaining Petro Matad's strategy to seek farm-out partners to accelerate the exploration of the Company's acreage.  The presentation contains no material information that has not been previously disclosed. 

Petro Matad has engaged Macquarie Capital (Europe) Limited ("Macquarie Tristone") to find a strategic partner to progress exploration activities on its three 100%-owned onshore Blocks in Mongolia comprising 60,300 km2. The transaction will be by means of a joint venture or farm-out in order to expedite evaluation, seismic acquisition and drilling activities. 

A copy of the Company's presentation to delegates at Oil Barrel will be available at the Investors' Section of the Company's website following the conference and information regarding the farm-out process can be accessed via the link below to the website of Macquarie Tristone.

Link to release

Link to conference presentation


Haranga Resources' drilling confirms new iron ore discovery in Mongolia

February 8 (Proactive Investors) Haranga Resources (ASX:HAR) has received final assays from drilling at its Selenge iron ore project in Mongolia which confirm the new Undur Ukhaa discovery and extend mineralisation at the Dund Bulag Prospect.

All three prospects – Dund Bulag, Bayantsogt and Undur Ukhaa – at the Selenge Project contain wide lodes of iron mineralisation from surface.

Assays have now been received for the new Undur Ukhaa discovery and show intercepts of 44 metres at 20% iron from 24 metres; 16 metres at 21% iron from 89 metres; and 26 metres at 21% iron from 107 metres.

Highlight intersections from drilling at the Dund Bulag prospect include 130 metres at 22% iron from 67 metres; 50 metres at 22% iron from 9 metres; and 26 metres at 27% iron from 116 metres, including 2 metres at 47% iron.

The magnetite mineralisation at the Dund Bulag Prospect achieved a high quality concentrate averaging over 65% iron with low impurities during metallurgical testing in 2012. 

The receipt of the final assays completes the program of 35,000 metres of diamond drilling at the Dund Bulag, Bayantsogt and Undur Ukhaa prospects undertaken in 2012.

The cumulative exploration target at Selenge is 250 to 400 million tonnes. 

An expanded JORC Resource is expected in the June quarter this year.

Selenge is located in the heart of Mongolia's premier iron ore development region just 20 to 30 kilometres from two rail spurs and 15 kilometres from the 5 million tonne per annum Eruu Gol iron ore export mine.

The 300 million tonne Eruu Gol deposit was valued at around US$2 billion based on a 2009 investment by the China Investment Corporation.

The four Priority 1 iron ore targets at Selenge lie within 9 kilometres of each other. 

All four are associated with large magnetite skarn hills and lie within the structural corridor that contains the major iron ore deposits in the region.

Drilling at Selenge has defined an initial Inferred JORC Resource of 32.8 million tonnes at 24.4% iron at the Bayantsogt Prospect and discovered significant iron mineralisation at the Dund Bulag and Huiten Gol prospects.

Importantly for the economic viability of Selenge, iron ore prices in China have improved markedly in recent months.

Inland domestic magnetite concentrate continues to be priced at a significant premium to the seaborne import iron ore price.

Spot market prices for 66% iron magnetite concentrate delivered to NE China steel mills remain over US$160 per tonne.

Link to article

Link to HAR release


SouthGobi says restrictions placed on Mongolian assets, pre-mining agreement signed on a Soumber license

[ET Net News Agency, 8 February 2013] SouthGobi Resources (01878) said the Mongolian Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) has informed its wholly owned subsidiary SouthGobi Sands LLC (SGS) that orders placing administrative restrictions on certain of its Mongolian assets, including local bank accounts have been imposed in connection with its continuing investigation. 

While the orders restrict the use of in-country funds pending the outcome of the investigation, they are not expected to have any material impact on SouthGobi's activities

Neither SouthGobi nor any of its employees have been charged with any wrongdoing. 

SouthGobi is investigating the issues that have been raised and continues to cooperate with the Mongolian government agencies, including the IAAC, in their ongoing investigations. 

Besides, SouthGobi notes that a Pre-Mining Agreement for License 9443X was approved and signed by SGS on 18 January 2013. The license is an area which complements SouthGobi's existing mining license for the Soumber Deposit. (HL) 

Link to article

Link to SGQ release


Mongolia puts restrictions on SouthGobi's bank accounts, assetsReuters, February 7


Prophecy Announces Private Placement With An Asian Strategic Partner

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 7, 2013) - Prophecy Coal Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY)(OTCQX:PRPCF)(FRANKFURT:1P2) announces that it is undertaking a non-brokered private placement to raise gross proceeds of up to Can. $8,400,000 (the "Placement").

The Placement involves the issuance of up to 60,000,000 units (each a "Unit") at a price of $0.14 per Unit. Each Unit consists of one common share (a "Share") of the Company and 0.75 of a share purchase warrant (a "Warrant"). Each whole Warrant entitles the holder to acquire an additional Share at a price of $0.18 per Share for a period of two years following closing. NewMargin Prophecy Coal Ltd. ("NewMargin"), at arms lengths to the Company, has subscribed 40 million units of this financing. Company insiders may participate in the Placement.

The Company intends to issue a combination of Units and special warrants ("Special Warrants") to keep the share issuance under 25% of the Company's outstanding common shares. Each Special Warrant will be automatically exercised for one Unit without payment of additional consideration following receipt of shareholder approval, which the Company will seek at its next annual general meeting in June.

The proceeds of the Placement will be used to prepare for Chandgana power plant construction and for general working purposes.

The Shares are subject to a minimum hold period of four months plus one day. Finder's fees may be paid as part of this private placement.

The Placement is subject to the approval of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Link to article


Guildford: Mongolia and Queensland Update

February 8, Guildford Coal Limited (ASX:GUF) --



Ø  Key appointments to new Management positions to subsidiary companies Terra Energy Limited and Guildford Coal (Mongolia) Pty Ltd for the planned rapid expansion of Guildford's Mongolian Coal Operations.

Ø  These appointments further strengthen the Company's Executive Management team as it prepares for the start of coking coal production at the South Gobi Project North Pit with the East Pit development to follow shortly thereafter

Ø  Mining and technical team significantly augmented with the appointments of three well-credentialed Senior Executives

o    CEO - Peter Westerhuis 

o    COO Technical - Julien Lawrence

o    GM Mining - Mark Sinton



The Board of Guildford is pleased to announce a number of  key new Management positions to subsidiary companies Terra Energy Limited and Guildford Coal (Mongolia) Pty Ltd for the Mongolian Coal Operations. These appointments further strengthen the Company's Executive Management team as it prepares for the start of coking coal production and planned rapid expansion of operations at the South Gobi Project in Mongolia.



Peter Westerhuis

Mr Westerhuis has a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of WA and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Queensland. Prior to joining Guildford, Mr Westerhuis was an Executive Director with Idemitsu Resources Australia and the CEO of the Ensham Joint Venture. The Ensham JV owns leases in Central Queensland with reported coal resources of more than 1Bt. 

Mr Westerhuis led the development and expansion of Ensham from a small open cut to a world class 9Mtpa open cut and underground mining complex employing up to 1,000 people and producing 10 different energy products for export to customers worldwide.   

Mr Westerhuis has strong experience in matters of strategy, business development, customer relations, government & stakeholder relations, risk management and sustainability. He is particularly passionate about health & safety, people relations, operational effectiveness, aggressive business improvement and project delivery.


Julien Lawrence

Prior to joining Terra, Julien was the Regional Mine Services Manager for Leighton Asia Limited covering Mongolia.  Mr Lawrence helped develop a mining business for Leighton Asia by supporting pre-contracts studies, such as BFS and desktop mining studies, contract development and negotiations, business development, initial project start up support throughout Asia including Mongolia, Philippines, China, Indonesia, Russia and also Canada. Julien project managed the development of the Khushuut Coal Project in Western Mongolia from technical studies through to first production.  

Prior to joining Leighton, Julien gained extensive technical, operational and management experience working at Australian projects in the Bowen basin, northwest Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia across various commodities. 

Julien is a qualified mining engineer holding a Bachelor of Engineering (mining) with first class honors from the University of Queensland


Mark Sinton

Mark has a held a number of Management positions at various operations across the world. He has managed the expansion of numerous large scale operations from Greenfields through to production across numerous geographies. 

Previous roles include General Manager at Perseus Mining Limited. Perseus is a gold producer, developer and exploration company based in West  Africa. Other roles include Project Manager for Noble Group and Leighton Contractors (Asia) Limited. 

Link to release


Newera Resources fires up for more coal drilling in Mongolia

February 8 (Proactive Investors) Newera Resources (ASX:NRU) is planning a third drilling program at its Shanagan East Coal Project in Mongolia.

The program of 15 holes will target the potential of two new coal seams identified from dipole-dipole survey modelling.

If successful, follow up drilling will be considered to further define the east-west strike of these seams

Infill drilling is also planned to define an exploration target and a potential JORC Resource.

Newera has had ongoing success at its Shanagan East Project with significant widths of bright black coal recently intersected in three of the four phase two drill holes.

Notable intercepts from the 520 metre program included 18.55 metres of net bright black coal between 21.46 and 106.58 metres; 18.34 metres between 3.46 and 129.59 metres; and 5.77 metres between 8.19 and 77.82 metres.

Analytical results continue to indicate a high ranking black coal with low moisture, low volatiles, low sulphur and relatively high ash at the Shanagan Project.

Link to article

Link to NRU release


Altan Rio Completes Share Issuance for Drilling Settlement

VANCOUVER, Feb. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - Altan Rio Minerals Limited, TSX.V: AMO ("Altan Rio" or the "Company") announces that, further to the press release dated January 28th, 2013, it has now completed the settling of debt for drilling services of $245,860 by issuing 1,606,928 shares at a deemed price of $0.153 per share to Erdenyn Erel LLC, a private Mongolian company.

Link to release


BoM holds FX auction

February 7 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on February 7th, 2013 the BOM received from local commercial banks total bid offers of 5.7 million USD and 20 million CNY and ask offers of 10 million USD. BOM has refused for the bid and ask оffers as considering the demand and supply of USD and CNY is balanced.

Link to release


BoM issues 28-week bills

February 8 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 28 week bills worth MNT 10.0 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.02 percent per annum. /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release



February 7 (InfoMongolia) Representing the Municipal Government of Ulaanbaatar city, Deputy of the City Road and Infrastructure Department N.Gantumur, Chairman of the Capital City Road Authority D.Nanzaddorj and representatives of the China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation have signed on the Memorandum of Cooperation on February 06, 2013.

In the frames of the Memorandum, 6 projects will be implemented to construct 2 bridges and 4 multi-level overpasses on some intersections of Ulaanbaatar city, where the credit will be allocated from the Government of China on easy terms.

Particularly, a multi-level overpasses will be build on the intersection namely "West 4 Junction" (Baruun Durvun Zam) by "China Railway International" Company, a multilevel overpasses nearby the "Yarmag" Bridge, a multi-level overpasses over the roundabout namely "Bayanburd", and a multi-level overpasses over the roundabout namely "Sapporo", besides a bridge will be accomplished over the junction located to the west-south of Traffic Police Department, and a new bridge nearby "Sonsogolon" Bridge.

The construction works for multi-level overpasses over "West 4 Junction" will be starting from February 15, 2013 and accomplished by December 31, 2015, multi-level overpasses nearby the "Yarmag" Bridge and a bridge over the junction located to the west-south of Traffic Police Department will be completed between February 15, 2013 and November 30, 2015.

Projects to be implemented in Ulaanbaatar city by the Government of China's Credit Export on easy terms:


Project Name

Executive Company

Budget /USD/


Multi-level overpasses over "West 4 Junction"

China Railway International Limited Co., Ltd



Multi-level overpasses nearby "Yarmag" Bridge

China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation



Bridge over the junction located to the westsouth of Traffic Police Department

China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation



Multi-level overpasses over the roundabout "Bayanburd"

Xinjiang Beixin Road аnd Bridge Group Co., Ltd



Multi-level overpasses over the roundabout "Sapporo"

Not announced yet



Bridge nearby "Sonsgolon" bridge

Not announced yet




Link to article


Districts granted budget spending powers

February 7 ( The Citizens` Representative Khural in Khan-Uul district have approved the district budget and distributed budget into khoroos, depending on the proportion of population. It is because districts have been granted the rights to spend their own budget aiming to improve the direct democracy-civil participation in Mongolia. 

Therefore citizens can supervise a khoroo with their participation forming a service point and not only requesting a reference letters and the like from it from now on. 

Those attending the Citizens` Representative Khural in their district as a civil participant will be provided with the right to spend the budget. 

The Citizens` Representative Khural in bag and khoroo used to have nothing but an appointed Governor. The Khural stayed outside of public attention and opinion.

But now the legal right for civilians to manage the budget for their area themselves has been approved.

Khan-Uul district for example split the budget distribution into its16 different khoroos. 

The 1st  khoroo with 2,304 households and a population of 8,706 was granted 108 million and 900 thousand MNT budget while 14th khoroo with 1,135 households and a population of 3,224 was granted 40 million and  500 thousand MNT of the budget. 

Link to article


Dunjingarav shopping center owners to sue Governors Office

February 8 ( The Governor`s Office of Ulaanbaatar City and the Ulaanbaatar Property Relations Agency have made a decision to cancel the land ownership license and tear down the Dunjingarav shopping center. The shoping centre is believed to be built illegally last year on a basin reserve of drinking water. 

The decision is still only on paper because owners of the Dunjingarav shopping center will appeal against the decision made by the Governor`s Office of Ulaanbaatar City and the Ulaanbaatar Property Relations Agency. 

The shopping center owners claim that it was built far from the fresh water basin and that the decision to destroy a private property is illegal. 

But the Ulaanbaatar Property Relations Agency is commented on the decision and has said that "illegal buildings where the licenses have been cancelled will be released from next May 15th. The documents relating to the Dunjingarav shopping center have already been arranged."

Link to article


Umnugovi connected to the central energy system

February 6 ( Mandalgovi-Tavantolgoi-Oyu Tolgoi electricity transmission line and substation have been commissioned on January 28-30, and the opening event has been attended by M.Sonompil, Energy Minister and Member of Parliament, who have been visiting the province on these days. Connecting the South Gobi region to the central energy system allows residents in the province enjoy a reliable source of energy without any power cuts or limitations.

This critically important, infrastructure development will not only bring improved living conditions in Umnugovi province, which had continuous, electricity problems and shortages in the past, but also lay the foundation to connect Tavantolgoi and Dalanzadgad, further to Oyu Tolgoi. According to the plans made by the Energy Ministry, once the new Tavantolgoi substation is put into operation this year, there would even be possibilities to transmit energy to the central regions of the country too.

Financed by the government funds, this project has been executed by MCS International, where Mongolians built a 220 KV overhead transmission line, and completed the design and construction of the substation for the first time.

Although a thermal power station with 6 Megawatt was built twelve years ago in Dalanzadgad with international aid, largely from South Korea. With constant break downs and technical faults, the station never worked in its full capacity, and did not fully meet the basic supply requirements of businesses and the local households. Its equipments came from Korea, Japan and India.

While Mongolian aimags are with energy need of 3-4 MW on average, Umnugovi's demand is currently at 7-8 MW, which is set to grow even more in the near future.

Link to article



February 7 (InfoMongolia) Mongolia, as the current Presidency of the Community of Democracies, will hold the VII Ministerial Conference of the Community in its capital Ulaanbaatar on April 27-29, 2013 and complete its tenure of the Chairmanship. The Presidency next goes to the Republic of El Salvador.

On February 07, 2013, Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag chaired the National Committee meeting, got familiarized with current preparation of the upcoming Ministerial Conference and gave some regulations to members of the Committee.

Deputy Chairman of the National Committee, Foreign Minister L.Bold introduced that at present about 1,000 foreign delegations and over 10 Foreign Ministers and Heads of International Organizations have claimed to attend the meeting, where Mongolia officially invited close to 130 Foreign Ministers and about 10 Heads of State to take part in the Ulaanbaatar Ministerial. Some Heads of State and Government, and prominent public figures will participate the VII Ministerial as Guests of Honor of the President of Mongolia.

Thematic sessions on Education for Democracy, Emerging Democracies in Asia and the Arab world, Democracy and Millennium Development Goals, Corruption and other threats to Democracy, and Online Freedom will be held during the Ministerial.

Ulaanbaatar Ministerial promises to become a landmark event for the Community, cementing the accomplishment of the institutional reforms and deciding the future role of the Community.

Moreover, at today's meeting officials announced the launching of its website, which is operative in both English and Mongolian languages.

Community of Democracies

Community of Democracies is a global intergovernmental coalition of democratic countries, with the goal of promoting democratic rules and strengthening democratic norms and institutions around the world.

Community of Democracies (CD) was founded in 2000 during a Ministerial Conference in Warsaw. The conference was the idea and initiative of the then Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Bronislaw Geremek and the former U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Madeleine Albright. In 2000 in Warsaw ministerial delegations from 106 countries from all around the world signed the final  declaration "Toward the Community of Democracies", naming values which constitute democracy. The aim of the declaration was to demonstrate methods of support to those countries which strive for freedom and democracy.

Mongolia's role on Community of Democracies

The Mongolian Presidency successfully carries out institutional reforms of the CD as decided by the CD's Vilnius Ministerial Meeting in 2011. During Mongolia's Presidency, CD Governing Council and Executive Committee of CD were established and the first Secretary-General of CD was appointed.

Mongolia now focuses to transform the CD into a dynamic, inclusive, transparent and fully-fledged international organization. It has initiated the process of accrediting the Community as an observer organization with the UNGA.

Mongolia's agenda as the CD Presidency: Mongolia places Education for Democracy high among other priorities such as advancing CD regional cooperation, strengthening of civil society, exchange of experiences, and zero tolerance to corruption.

Mongolia, together with fellow democracies has been promoting education for democracy globally. The Heads of State and Government of Finland, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Nigeria and Romania have established an Initiative Group on Education for Democracy (IGED), in 2011 in New York. The UN General Assembly unanimously adopted Mongolia's resolution on Education for Democracy at its 67th session. The Government of India successfully organized an Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of the Community of Democracies on Education for Democracy on January 17-18, 2013, in New Delhi.

As part of Mongolia's efforts to promote CD cooperation at the regional level, the Presidents of Mongolia and the Republic of Korea launched an Asian Partnership Initiative for Democracy (APID) in 2011 and the President of Indonesia expressed to join it.

Prior to the Ministerial Conference - on April 27-28, 2013 - the Presidency will also organize forum on civil society, youth and students, women, corporate entities and parliamentarians which represent the pillars of the Community of Democracies.

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Mongolia: Asia's Economic Standout Feels Weight of Corruption

February 6 (The Asia Foundation) Mongolia's economy is booming, with growth trajectories showing it will be one of the world's fastest growing economies again this year. It is consistently advancing in global rankings on governance and investment climate. Thanks in part to the passage last year of the new Law on Conflict of Interest, Mongolia moved 26 spots from 120 to 94 in Transparency International's 2012 "Corruption Perceptions Index," and up from 88 to 76 in the World Bank's "Ease of Doing Business Index."

These are impressive and tangible markers of progress, especially considering Mongolia's nascent democratic institutions and legal system. However, when you talk to people from the civil society and business sectors in Mongolia, you often hear a more nuanced and less rosy side of the story. The new report, "Study of Private Perceptions of Corruption," commissioned by The Asia Foundation and conducted by Mongolian NGO Sant Maral Foundation, shows that the perception among Ulaanbaatar-based Mongolian businesses is that there are significant steps still needed to curb corruption in Mongolia. The study captures the experiences of 330 members of the business community in their interface with government service providers, and within their own business service sector.

According to the report, over 17 percent of large businesses (with transactions of more than 200 million Tugriks, or $144,000) spent over 50 percent of their time overcoming non-productive obstacles, such as obtaining or renewing licenses, facing temporary prohibitions, and navigating an unstable regulatory environment . The 11 percent of businesses able to overcome these obstacles have been able to accomplish this by using 25 percent of their company resources.

Similarly, 16 percent of respondents reported they had observed instances of corruption in the last month, and nearly 50 percent reported they had personal knowledge of corrupt transactions in the past seven months. A total of 75 percent of businesses reported they "always" or "often" encountered corruption in public tenders and contracting. Construction is the top sector in which corruption was most widely witnessed.

In fact, there is a strong commitment among state and non-state actors to work together and improve coordination to combat corruption. Surprisingly, despite the government anti-corruption efforts such as the enactment of the Freedom of Information Law (2011) and Conflict of Interest Law (2012), and presence of the Independent Authority Against Corruption, an overwhelming number of respondents from the business community (73 percent) reported they have little or almost no knowledge of government anti-corruption efforts. Only 2 percent reported that these anti-corruption efforts are very effective. Eighteen percent said they were somewhat effective.

The survey is intended to serve as a baseline to track progress on combatting corruption in Mongolia and to identify what needs to be done to ensure that the government's anti-corruption efforts reach the levels of society and business where it matters the most.

Parliament has a key role to play in this fight if it can provide the much-needed oversight over the performance of key anti-corruption actors in government and hold them accountable. Last month, 12 parliamentarians from across all political parties held a press conference to announce the reconvening of the Mongolian chapter of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians against Corruption, a voluntary organization of parliamentarians from around the world seeking to promote transparent and accountable governance. Last week, four parliamentarians attended the GOPAC Conference in Manila where they were introduced to the importance of strong leadership, creating a robust legal environment, and the critical role civil society can play in the fight against corruption. They also had the opportunity to network with potential allies and like-minded members of Parliaments from more than 65 other countries. With the Mongolian GOPAC Chapter now reconvened, there are high expectations of what the Parliament will focus on, and the Mongolian people are hopeful it will play a more active role in countering corruption.

The Study of Private Perceptions of Corruption was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as part of The Asia Foundation's Strengthening Transparency and Governance in Mongolia (STAGE) project, which aims to strengthen democratic governance by building a more transparent and accountable regulatory and legislative environment while promoting principles of checks and balances. Read more about the program.

Meloney C. Lindberg is The Asia Foundation's country representative in Mongolia, Basanta Pokharel is the Foundation's chief of party for the STAGE project in Mongolia, and Tirza Theunissen is program and operations manager. They can be reached at,, and The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and not those of The Asia Foundation.

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February 6 (InfoMongolia) The IV intergovernmental committee meeting between the Governments of Hungary and Mongolia is scheduled to be organized on upcoming March 20-24, meantime Mongolia-Hungary Business Forum will take place in Budapest organized by Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI).

Hungarian side has requested to deal with Mongolian businessmen in the sectors of environment, water, agriculture, meat, dairy, forage preparation, butchering, intensive farming, pharmacy, forestry, construction, urban infrastructure and transportation.

Mongolian business delegation will be led by Parliamentarian, Chairman of MNCCI, Sambuu DEMBEREL.

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Law on Annulment of Agreements Between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of Four Countries

This information was prepared as a general guidance only, and should not be used as a specialized legal conclusion.

February 6 (GRATA Law Firm) --

On 2 November 2012 the Parliament of Mongolia has passed the law on annulment of agreements between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of four countries on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

In line with GRATA Law Firm's practice of keeping clients informed of important legal developments that may influence their business. 

1. General Provisions

The Parliament of Mongolia has passed the following four laws on 2 November 2012 on annulment of agreement between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of four countries on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income treaties. They are:

1)    Annulling the law on Ratifying the Agreement between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of Kuwait on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income treaties dated 30 July 1998;

2)    Annulling the law on Ratifying the Agreement between the Government of Mongolia and the Kingdom of Luxemburg on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income treaties dated 5 April 2001;

3)    Annulling the law on Ratifying the Agreement between the Government of Mongolia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income treaties dated 30 October 2002;

4)    Annulling the law on Ratifying the Agreement between the Government of Mongolia and the United Arab emirates on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income treaties dated 23 October 2003.

2. Expiry dates of the agreements

According to an official document (Ref N 2/1121) by the Ministry of Justice dated 19 November 2012, the above agreements on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income will expiry from:

1)    1 January 2014 for the Kingdom of the Netherlands;

2)    1 January 2014 for the Kingdom of the Luxembourg;

3)    1 January 2015 for the United Arab Emirates and;

4)    1 April 2015 for Kuwait.

3. Reasons of annulment

We have contacted with the Taxation Authority of Mongolia and inquired about the annulment of these agreements. The core reason is the agreements are more favorable to other parties of the agreement and less favorable for Mongolia.

4. Conclusion

In our view, the annulment of these agreements would have an adverse impact on the existing and future investment from above mentioned four countries and reduce business framework with these countries.


This Client Note provides an analysis of certain prospective amendments to the legislation of Mongolia. Any questions regarding the matters herein may be addressed to: 

Bolormaa Volodya

Senior Lawyer

GRATA Law Firm

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A nomad in a city of nomads

February (The Anthropocene Journal) As Mongolia connects to the global economy, its people risk losing a vital connection to their nomadic past. Holding on to nomadic culture is essential for a sustainable future, argues "Mongolia's Einstein" Togtokhyn Chuluun, perhaps the first Earth-system scientist to oversee a government ministry for economic development.

The nomadic life is etched into Mongolians' DNA. It flows through their veins and arteries. It defines the national character.

But DNA, itself, is restless. It does not sit still. It mutates. It evolves under external pressures. Sometimes the pace of change has surprised scientists.

Mongolia's economy is growing at breakneck speed, estimated at 15% for 2012. As Mongolia industrializes and urbanizes a vast canyon is ripping open between the young generation and nomadic culture of yore.

This split from the past spells disaster for long-term economic sustainability says Togtokhyn Chuluun, who has recently been charged with developing the nation's green growth strategy by the country's new coalition government. But, can Mongolia's 2.8 million citizens avoid this fate?

Chuluun is an academic, an Earth-system scientist with expertise in resilience, sustainability and adaptation. Several years back, he returned to Mongolia after a long exile to head the Dryland Sustainability Institute at the National University of Mongolia in the capital Ulaanbaatar. When the new government came to power in June 2012, it plucked him from the university and appointed him joint head of a new ministry for green development.

As a scientist with a wandering mind Chuluun often felt nomadism was not just in his blood but in his synapses, his neural networks and every electrical impulse in his brain.

He grew up in Mongolia in the 1960s and 70s under the fist of the Soviet Union. The country was desperately poor. Food shortages and long queues were part of everyday life. But this did not hold Chuluun back. He excelled at school, coming top in mathematics in the country. This distinction earned him a place in one of the best universities in the communist regime. He studied first theoretical physics then systems ecology.

His requests to take up academic positions in the United States were blocked by the authorities. They were not about to lose what they described as their "Mongolian Einstein" to the West. With the fall of communism, Chuluun was granted his wish. In 1991, he joined Colorado State University.

But the move was never meant to be permanent. He knew his trail would eventually lead back home to the capital.

The nomadic city

Ulaanbaatar has a colourful history. For more than a century, it embodied the character of its people. In a flurry of wooden poles and flapping felt the city sprang from nowhere in 1639. It upped sticks and moved 28 times – Mongolians thought nothing of moving an entire centre of civilization – before settling permanently in a valley on the Tuul river, north-central Mongolia, in 1778. With a continental climate, and sitting at an altitude of 1300 metres, Ulaanbaatar is the world's coldest capital city.

Mongolia's nomads and herders are moving in droves to the capital – the manufacturing heart of the country – which has swollen to more than one million people. Around 400,000 live in gers – traditional felt-lined cylindrical tents. Keeping thin-walled gers warm through long, freezing winters means burning staggering amounts of coal – Mongolia's most abundant natural resource. It is hardly a surprise in 2011 the World Health Organization declared the city the second most polluted in the world after Ahwaz in Iran. For much of the winter the city is draped in a dank fug.

Chuluun worries for the health of his three young children growing up in the capital.

He still holds a visiting professorship in Colorado. For several years this has allowed him to whisk his family away from the capital's dreadful pollution before the deep cold sets in, to over-winter in the Rockies.

With his new job come new concerns. Chuluun's worries stretch beyond his three children. Tens of thousands of children live in smoke-filled gers.

The Mongolian government has ambitious plans to change all this and put the country on course for a sustainable future. With Chuluun as Director General of the Green Development and Planning Department for the Ministry for the Environment and Green Development the government seems serious. While in most countries ministries for sustainable development or the environment are marginalized and lack influence, the government – the Civil Will-Green coalition party – has done something radical and placed the ministry on a level with the finance ministry and, importantly, above all other departments. Chuluun is perhaps the first Earth-system scientist heading up a major ministry in any government in the world.

Rich in natural resources

Chuluun has his work cut out for him. Like much of Asia, Mongolia's economy is exploding, driven by its mining industry. The nation is rich in coal, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, fluorspar, gold, silver and iron. According to the Economist one copper-and-gold mine on the border with China – known as Oyu Tolgoi, or "Turquoise Hill" – provides a whopping one third of Mongolia's GDP.

The government owns 34%, but the mine is controlled by mining giant Rio Tinto, which has injected six billion dollars into the project. Many Mongolians are unhappy with this split in ownership and want the deal renegotiated. There is a niggling secondary issue too: the electricity to run the mine comes from China. These are some of the issues Mongolians must grapple with during this period of extraordinary growth.

Time to stop celebrating polluters

For someone who understands the enormous pressure seven billion people exert on the Earth system, Chuluun is painfully aware that his country's rapid growth, industrialization and urbanization comes at a cost to long-term sustainability of both planet and country.

In 2011, he published an article in the academic journal Nature arguing that the UN's iconic and hugely influential Human Development Index (HDI) had serious flaws (Time to stop celebrating the polluters). The HDI rewarded polluters, he said. It promoted a model of human development that was not sustainable. The scientist suggested the HDI should include per capita carbon emissions alongside the three other parameters, GDP, education and health. Only then would the UN be sending the right signal to developing nations like his own.

When carbon entered the calculation the index changed radically. Sweden and Switzerland swung to the top whilst gas guzzlers like the US, Canada and Australia nose dived.

In October, Chuluun visited Sweden on a fact-finding mission with his president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. Scandinavia is often viewed as a utopian ideal. While not a model of sustainability, the Nordic countries are attempting to move swiftly in the right direction. While in Stockholm I invited the academic to dinner in our home. Over the meal we discussed a word held dear by Swedes "lagom" meaning "in moderation" or "not too little, not too much". Chuluun rolled the word around his mouth, trying it on for size. He liked the concept, and it appeared in a talk he gave the following day in the Prime Minister's office.

The idea of "lagom" is part of the Swedish national character. It has come to define a nation that rewards restraint and fairness and frowns on excess. It is no coincidence Sweden rides high in Chuluun's new index.

Similarly Mongolia's near neighbours Bhutan and South Korea are increasingly building international reputations related to sustainability based loosely on their national characters. Rooted firmly in its Buddhist ideals, Bhutan is the only nation in the world to take stock of the country's happiness by annually assessing Gross National Happiness.

Meanwhile, green growth is not a sector of the South Korean government but the driving strategy for the nation's long-term development. If you want to see what a future green economy may look like, take a trip to Seoul.

A green civilization

Chuluun finds these visions inspiring. He is at the start of a journey to articulate a unique vision for Mongolia. He wants the nation to become what he calls "a truly green civilization", perhaps the first, and sees the crucial link between old traditions and true sustainability.

"The nomad instinct is dying as people swarm to the capital- within a generation or two it may disappear completely. An entire culture may be lost." Chuluun is adamant  this fate is avoided. And there is still time: 40% of the population are still herders.

As nomads and pastoralists, Mongolians never tolerated waste. Pollution was rare. Richness and wealth were determined by the quality of life of your family, not the amount of money in your bank. Over consumption was unwanted. Warmth and hospitality were hallmarks of a kind people. Sustainability, say Chuluun, "is written into the DNA of the Mongolian people." Retaining Mongolia's cultural identity is crucial to becoming a sustainable society once more.

Chuluun's vision for a green civilization is wrapped up in keeping and celebrating Mongolia's cultural heritage. Tapping into this rich seam will create natural prosperity for his people. He sees promoting cultural heritage as a spur for green development. But he recognizes it will take more than this to tackle Ulaanbaatar's appalling pollution. And his biggest dilemma is that resource extraction fuels his country's phenomenal growth.

"I will be developing this vision in the next year. But it is not just my vision, everyone must own it. We need to go out and talk to people. But the old regime was corrupt. First, we need to rebuild trust. Then we need to ask: What future do you want? And determine how can we achieve it sustainably."

For a country as poor as Mongolia, the scale of the challenge is daunting. But the capital city is by far the largest urban centre. Chuluun's first step is to create a plan to transform the capital into a healthy, thriving space celebrating the country's rich culture. "We need a modern, green transport system and well-insulated homes using cleaner energy. Most of all we need healthy children playing freely."

If he succeeds in his vision, this will send an important message to other nations. The dominant global narrative pits economic growth against sustainability: no one has found a way to prosper sustainably. This narrative may be false. Sustainability has been an essential feature of all cultures throughout their histories. But we are losing it rapidly. Much of this culture has gone from North America and Europe. Rediscovering it is proving painful.

On the other hand, while Asia and Africa are developing at an astounding pace, their older cultures remain within sight. Chuluun argues, "Investing in the values we shared not so long ago is investing in our future."

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Mongolia holds meeting on sustainable immunization financing

February 7 (Vaccine News Daily) Mongolia recently held its first national parliamentary briefing on sustainable immunization financing, discussing how best to finance immunizations after funding from the GAVI Alliance ends.

Members of Mongolia's parliament, officials from the Ministry of Health and officials from other government departments attended the conference. SIF Senior Program Office Khongorzul Dari said that the meeting was a major success.

Mongolia's Vice Minister of Health opened the meeting, which included multiple presentations on immunization financing and the expanded program on immunization.

The conference received significant media attention. It was broadcast on Mongolian national news, including a special economic program that aired on Eagle TV. Information about the conference was published in the Mongol Messenger and the Ulaanbaatar Post.

The meeting was sponsored in part by the Sabin Vaccine Institute, a non-profit organization made up of researchers, scientists and advocates dedicated to reducing suffering from vaccine preventable diseases. The organization works with governments, public and private organizations, and academic institutions to provide solutions to pervasive health challenges.

Mongolia has a EPI program with a long track record of successfully controlling vaccine-preventable diseases. Sabin said that the parliamentary briefing represents an important step toward achieving the goals of its SIF program to ensure that necessary measures are in place to continue all necessary immunizations in Mongolia.

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February 5 (InfoMongolia) The Consul General of Mongolia to Osaka city of Japan Dambadarjaa BATJARGAL met with the Governor of Tottori Prefecture, Japan, Takeuchi Isao on February 04, 2013.

Consul General D.Batjargal proposed to use Mongolian camels for tourism promotion in Tottori Sand Dunes, one of the three largest sand dunes in Japan. If the City Administration agrees to bring those camels into Japan, Mongolian Bactrian camels would be the symbol of the Tottori Sand Dunes.

"Mongolian Bactrian camels are distinct from any other species. We wish to deliver dozens of Mongolian camels that would also promote Mongolia", said D.Batjargal.

Governor Takeuchi Isao also mentioned, "Recent years we face with difficulties to find camels and we are glad to hear the proposal from you".

Tottori Sand Dunes

Tottori-Sakyu (sand dunes), located in the eastern Tottori, are the largest sand hills in Japan. They are 16 kilometers long from east to west and 2 kilometers wide from north to south. Volcanic ash from Mt. Daisen settled on the sand of the Sendai-Gawa (river), and the ocean winds that blew from the rough Sea of Japan formed the dunes over a period of almost 100,000 years.

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3 Mongolian students in heroin-trafficking rap

PETALING JAYA, February 8 (Borneo Post) Three Mongolian students were charged in a magistrate's court here yesterday with three counts of trafficking in heroin in Subang Jaya last month.

Bayanjargal Khaliun, 31, faces two counts of trafficking in 28.52kg of the drug at a condominium in Jalan SS12/1 Subang Jaya at 10.34am on Jan 26, this year, and another 50.24kg at the same place, time and date.

A couple, Zolzaya Natsagroj, 24, and Barsbaatar Ganbold, 21, are jointly accused of trafficking in 1.022kg of heroin at No: 71, Jalan SS 15/20, Subang Jaya at 11.18am on Jan 26, this year.

No plea was recorded from all three when the charges were read out to them in English before Magistrate Ahmad Solihin Abd Wahid, who fixed March 15 for mention. — Bernama

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Oakland: Feds seize 2,300 rounds of ammo hidden in cars headed for Mongolia

SAN FRANCISCO, February 7 (Oakland Tribune) -- Thousands of ammunition rounds hidden in cars on a container ship were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Port of Oakland, federal authorities said Thursday.

The 2,300 rounds of ammunition were found in early December by federal officers, concealed in the air filters of three personal vehicles destined for Mongolia, said Frank Falcon, CBP spokesman for the San Francisco Field Office.

On Jan. 25, officers formally seized all of the items including a 2006 Lexus RX400, a 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser and a 2007 Toyota Camry. The undeclared ammunition included a Winchester .22-caliber long rifle and Remington 12-gauge shotgun shells.

The value of the seized merchandise is worth more than $45,000, Falcon said.

The vehicles belonged to a Bay Area resident whose identity is not being released by authorities because no criminal charges have been filed.

"The penalty was the resident had to forfeit the items," Falcon said.

Failure to declare and attempt to smuggle the ammunition violates multiple federal regulations which include the requirement for a license to export munitions from the Department of State.

Falcon said the process of seizing undeclared items is often lengthy.

"We inspect the item and if we find something isn't right, we have it pulled from the shipping line," Falcon said. "The item is then transferred to another location then emptied entirely."

If officers find something, an investigation takes place and they determine if a law has been violated, then formally seize the item, he said.

"CBP is charged with protecting our nation's borders and enforcing U.S. laws on all goods and persons entering or departing the country," said Brian J. Humphrey, CBP Director of Field Operations in San Francisco. "Attempting to circumvent these laws and evade detection is taken seriously, and violators will pay the price."

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7 Amazing Facts About Our Long Term Snow Leopard Study in Mongolia

February 7 (Snow Leopard Trust) Four years ago, we've set up camp in Mongolia's South Gobi to start the world's first comprehensive, long-term study of snow leopard's ecology, habitat and behavior. As we look ahead to the next chapter in this groundbreaking research endeavor, we also want to share 7 amazing facts from the past 4 years with you.

1.    Thanks to your support, we've collared and tracked a total of 19 snow leopards in the South Gobi in the last 4 years.

2.    Our GPS collars recorded over 18,000 individual snow leopard locations, the most detailed snow leopard distribution data ever assembled.

3.    From this data, our scientists have calculated that the most avid wanderer among "our" cats, Ariun, has a monthly home range of over 463 km2, which is more than 5 times the size of Manhattan…

4.    Our study area sometimes resembles a nursery: In 2012: we've been able to confirm the existence of six new snow leopard cubs through a preliminary review of research camera data and from sightings!

5.    We've documented weight, size and sex of three newborn cubs, another "first" in snow leopard science!

6.    Thanks to the data from our study, local communities have managed to secure greater environmental protection for a 6,500 sq km region in the Tost mountains, 2/3 the size of Yellowstone National Park.

7.    More than a dozen grad students from Mongolia and many other countries have advanced their academic careers while taking part in the long-term study.

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