Blue Wolf Mongolia Countdown: 63 days left till liquidation
Rio Says Mongolian Project's Start Depends on End to Dispute
February 15 (Bloomberg) Rio Tinto Group, the world's second- largest mining company, said its $6.6 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia won't start until disagreements with the government are resolved.
"A number of substantive issues have recently been raised by the government of Mongolia, including the implementation of the investment and shareholder agreements and project finance," London-based Rio said today in a statement. "Subject to the resolution of these issues, first commercial production from Oyu Tolgoi is scheduled to commence by the end of June 2013."
Rio, which today named Jean-Sebastien Jacques as the new head of its copper unit, twice rejected Mongolia's demands in the past 18 months for a greater share of profits from the mine. President Tsakhia Elbegdorj said this month Mongolia should have more control of the copper-gold operation that will be the biggest contributor to its economy once it's in full production.
"I'm concerned by recent political signals within Mongolia calling into question some aspects of the investment agreement," Rio Chief Executive Officer Sam Walsh said during a webcast presentation today. "This undermines the partnership we've built and the stability on which a project of this size and scale depends."
Rio and Mongolia, which held talks on Feb. 7 in the capital Ulan Bator, plan to resume discussions this month to resolve concerns that spending at Oyu Tolgoi is overshooting and the country isn't benefiting enough from the development.
The government is seeking to boost Mongolian participation in management and increase the number of local companies that can benefit from the project, including the use of a Mongolian bank. (Mogi: not A Mongolian bank, but bankS)
"Jean-Sebastien has already been involved in the discussions in Mongolia and in fact he was there last week as part of the shareholder meeting and part of the discussions with the Mongolian government," Walsh said today on a conference call after reporting the company's first annual loss.
Rio slipped 0.3 percent to 3,745.5 pence by the close in London, with 8.09 million shares changing hands, double the daily average volume for the past three months.
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 month. The mine, the biggest copper project currently under construction, is 66 percent-owned by Rio unit Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. and 34 percent by Mongolia's government.
Rio would continue to engage with the government to implement its 2009 investment and shareholder agreements "in their current form," the company said in its statement.
Rio reported a better-than-expected second-half loss as earnings at its iron ore unit beat analyst estimates and it raised its dividend.
The loss was $8.9 billion in the six months ended Dec. 31, from a $1.76 billion loss a year ago, Rio said today in an e- mail. That's better than the $10 billion median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The loss, the biggest in at least 15 years, was driven by $14 billion in writedowns on the value of its aluminum and coal businesses and offset by an almost $1 billion benefit from its minerals sands operations.
The writedowns saw Walsh last month named as CEO, replacing Tom Albanese who signed off on the $38 billion takeover in 2007 of Alcan Inc. Rio, which reported full-year underlying earnings of $9.3 billion that beat analyst expectations, said today it boosted its full-year dividend by 15 percent and accelerated expansion at its iron ore mines in Australia.
Rio said it has accelerated "phase one" of its Pilbara iron-ore expansion to be completed in the third quarter. The expansion will boost production to 290 million metric tons a year, while a second increase in output to 360 million tons will be operational in the first 6 months of 2015.
The company will pursue an "unrelenting focus" in creating better value for shareholders, Walsh said in the presentation. The company said it is cutting capital expenditure to $13 billion in 2013 from $17 billion last year, while targeting cash cost savings of more than $5 billion by the end of next year.
Rio said its disciplined capital management will help maintain its single A credit rating. Walsh ruled out acquisitions for the moment, saying deals are "not on my radar." Chief Financial Officer Guy Elliott also said the return of cash to shareholders in the form of a buyback shouldn't be expected this year.
"The group appears to have taken its major writedowns this year and looks well set to pass on the benefits of its cost reduction program through 2013," John Meyer, a mining analyst at SP Angel in London, said in a note. "Rio has a good long- term history of managing its costs and should realize significant benefit going forward."
Rio said iron-ore production would be 265 million tons this year, while it would produce 8.5 million tons of hard coking coal, 20.5 million tons of thermal coal and 665,000 tons of copper. The production outlook is "weaker" than Liberum Capital Ltd. had estimated, the brokerage said in a note to investors.
Rio's second-half earnings from its iron ore unit fell as prices for the steel making ingredient declined. Iron ore prices averaged 27 percent lower during the six months to Dec. 31 than a year earlier, at about $116 a ton, data from The Steel Index shows.
Prices have since recovered from a three-year low in September to a 15-month high of $158.50 a ton last month on signs of economic recovery in China, the biggest consumer of industrial metals.
"We see positive momentum in the fourth quarter last year being sustained into 2013 with Chinese GDP growth returning to above 8 percent in 2013," Walsh said in a statement. "We expect market uncertainty and price volatility to persist as long as the structural issues in Europe and the United States remain unresolved."
Rio Tinto results for the year ended 31 December 2012 – Rio Tinto, February 14
Turquoise Hill Resources Provides Oyu Tolgoi Project Update – Turquoise Hill Resources, February 14
Rio Tinto CEO: Concerned by Mongolia Comments on Oyu Tolgoi - Dow Jones Newswires, February 14
Oyu Tolgoi's underground feasibility study gets delayed till 2014
February 14 (The Northern Miner) Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ-T, TRQ-N) updated the market on its 66%-held Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project in Mongolia's South Gobi desert with a mix of potentially good and bad news.
It noted the mine's first-phase development was virtually completed by the end of 2012, with final costs anticipated to come in at US$6.2 billion, 3% over its initial budget. The company, which is majority-owned by Rio Tinto (RIO-L), said US$6 billion had been invested in the first phase by the end of 2012.
The project, comprising several copper-gold-silver-molybdenum deposits, will be mined as an open-pit and underground operation, with first phase mining targeting near-surface pits, where ore will be processed in a 100,000-tonne-per-day copper concentrator plant. Once the open pit production ramps up, the company will add ounces from a proposed underground mine and expand the mill capacity to 160,000 daily tonnes.
As previously reported, processing of near-surface ore started in early January, with the first copper-gold concentrate produced on Jan. 31.
"We are making good progress on our timetable leading to the start of commercial production," the Vancouver-based firm said that day.
On Feb. 14, it added first commercial production from the open pit should start by the end of June 2013, depending on whether it could resolve the concerns the Mongolian government has with the "implementation of the Investment Agreement, the companion shareholders' agreement and project finance."
The Mongolian government acquired 34% of the primary copper-gold property after entering an Investment Agreement with Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto in late 2009. But several officials have been pushing for sometime to have that contract renegotiated so the government could increase its stake to 50%.
Turquoise Hill says discussions with the government and other stakeholders are ongoing to ensure no changes are made to the current investment and shareholders' agreements.
Once surface activities ramp up, the companies intend to develop an 85,000-tonne-per-day underground block-cave mine at the Hugo North deposit, where the ongoing feasibility study has been delayed to early 2014.
"This follows earlier postponements from Q4/12, to H1/13, H2/13 and now into next year," writes BMO Capital Markets analyst Tony Robson, adding he's unsure if the setbacks have any thing to do with the country's ongoing political risk or technical or geological study issues.
The U.K.-based analyst also suggests that Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto are waiting for the government to reaffirm the current investment agreement before another US$7-$8 billion is invested into Oyu Tolgoi.
Despite the feasibility delay, Turquoise Hill hasn't made any changes to its underground production guidance, slated to begin in 2016, with full production from both underground and open pit to follow by 2018.
But Robson remains cautious, saying "although work on the shaft is ongoing, a delay to the feasibility study puts that timeline at risk."
Oyu Tolgoi is located 550 km south of the capital of Ulaanbaatar and some 80 km north of the China-Mongolia border.
The large-scale project has the potential to produce an average of 1.2 billion lb. copper, 650,000 oz. gold and 3 million oz. silver a year in its initial 10 years. Oyu Tolgoi has an estimated mine life of 50 years.
To focus on the long-life, capital intensive project, Turquoise Hill recently agreed to sell its 50% stake in Altynalmas Gold, a private company advancing the Kyzyl gold project in Kazakhstan, to Sumeru Gold for US$300 million. The sale should close by the end of June.
The Vancouver-based outfit also holds a 58% stake in Mongolia-focused SouthGobi Resources (SGQ-T) and 57% of the copper-gold miner Ivanhoe Australia (IVA-T).
On Feb. 14, Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto were both down nearly 2% on the Toronto and London bourses to $7.41 and £36.93 per share.
Video: Sam Walsh on Rio Tinto's Growth Strategy, Outlook
Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Sam Walsh, chief executive officer of Rio Tinto Group, talks about the mining company's performance, growth strategy and copper mine project in Mongolia. Walsh speaks with Tom Keene and Scarlet Fu on Bloomberg Television's "Surveillance."
BBC Radio: One steppe beyond
Mongolia goes head-to-head with Rio Tinto over revenues from a vast new copper mine.
Includes interviews with President Elbegdorj, Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh.
CEE Bankwatch Network: Rio Tinto's responsibilities in Mongolia extend beyond shareholders
New civil society recommendations for the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia illustrate that much more than the bottom line needs to be considered to avoid development at the expense of local communities.
February 15 (CEE Bankwatch Network) Yesterday the Financial Times reported that the mining giant Rio Tinto recorded its biggest loss in its history, prompting its new chief executive to promise an "unrelenting focus on pursuing greater value for shareholders".
An exclusive preoccupation with the bottom line, however, likely leads to other stakeholders' interests being sidelined, particularly those of people living in the vicinity of mining operations.
A case in point is Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, one of the largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits in the world and in line for financing by the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The loan decisions by both banks are scheduled for the end of February (28th and 26th respectively). But letters signed by 39 organisations (pdf) that were sent today as well as a still active online petition are asking the two institutions to postpone their decision or include a number of expert recommendations as requirements in the loan agreement.
In order to be considered for financing by the banks, Rio Tinto had to submit an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for the USD 13.2 billion mining project and the associated facilities (which also includes a coal power station). Yet, as an independent assessment of the ESIA has shown in December, the document is a non-starter and deeply flawed.
Not only does the ESIA omit crucial impacts on the local environment and communities, the included management plans also only cover the construction phase, which was over 94% completed at the time of disclosure (August 2012, production is expected to commence in the first half of this year).
The NGO letter to the two banks therefore points out that
"The late stage at which the ESIA has been released and the increasingly limited scope for making serious changes to significantly reduce the environmental impacts of the project [...] raise questions about whether the EBRD/World Bank can offer environmental additionality in the project."
The recommendations that the company needs to fulfil and ensure in the loan agreement include:
· An examination of the cumulative environmental and social impacts of the associated coal power plant, including less carbon intensive alternatives. (Experts estimate the CO2 emissions during the construction phase with 1.35 million tonnes CO2-eq/year and during the operational phase (coal combustion (the major source) and diesel consumption from vehicles) with 1.85 million tonnes CO2-eq/year.)
· The preparation of comprehensive studies of the local water reservoirs to establish beyond doubt that there is no risk of water scarcity as a result of the mine's operations.
· Improving the compensation and consultation framework for impacted herders in Khanbogd. In particular with regards to consultations on the diversion of the ephemeral Undai River that will flow through the waste rock and future open pit areas.
· The development of a strong and long-term plan for biodiversity protection.
Even if mining operations and the Oyu Tolgoi mine in particular are seen as the future of the Mongolian economy, the negative impacts on local livelihoods can and should be mitigated. If Rio Tinto proves to be too relentlessly pursuing shareholders' interests, Oyu Tolgoi must not receive public financial support. A company that big would surely be able to deal with it. It wouldn't be the first time it found itself in a similar spot either.
NGOs suggest key recommendations for Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine project in Mongolia – CEE Bankwatch Network, February 15
Entrée Gold and Sandstorm Gold enter into wide ranging finance package
February 17 (Junior Mining Network) Entrée Gold (TSX: ETG), Sandstorm Gold (TSX: SSL) and Sandstorm Metals and Energy (TSX.V: SND) announced last week that the companies have agreed to a multi-faceted financing deal worth $55 million.
Terms of the agreement include a streaming royalty from future production at Entrée Gold's Heruga and Hugo North deposits in Mongolia, a private placement by Sandstorm Gold into Entrée Gold, and a net smelter return (NSR) for Sandstorm Gold on Entrée Gold's assets in Nevada.
Entrée Gold President and CEO commented: "This financing package lays a solid foundation upon which Entrée can further advance its core properties. The nature of this transaction minimizes shareholder dilution while allowing the Company to monetize a portion of its assets. The upfront cash consideration from the funding and royalty agreements totaling US$45 million, in exchange for a relatively small portion of our future cash flows, provides an independent third party valuation of our current deposits. Entrée is now in a strong financial position from which it can meet its ongoing commitments in Mongolia and continue to advance the Ann Mason Project in Nevada."
Sandstorm President and CEO Nolan Watson added: "Although this transaction represents only 4% of Sandstorm's current market valuation, we believe that it will provide a material base of precious metal cash flow for many decades. We are pleased to have teamed up with Entrée Gold and their management team on these world-class deposits."
Multi-faceted finance package
The terms of the deal called for three separate transactions, as described below:
1) Metals Streaming Agreement
Sandstorm Gold has purchased a streaming agreement on future precious metal production from Entrée's 20% stake in the Heruga and Hugo North deposits, both which are part of the Oyu Tolgoi mine complex in Mongolia.
The terms call for Sandstorm Gold to make an upfront payment of $35 million in exchange for the right to purchase 25.7% of future precious metal production from Heruga and 33.8% from Hugo North.
The agreement locks in Sandstorm's purchase price on the first 8.6 million ounces of gold and 40.3 million ounces of silver at $200 and $5 per ounce, respectively. Thereafter the purchase prices will increase to $500 per ounce of gold and $10 per ounce of silver. Both terms are subject to inflationary adjustments and payment will likely be in cash, not bullion.
Additionally, Sandstorm Metals & Energy has made an upfront payment of $5 million for the right to purchase 2.5% of Entrée's future share of copper produced from both deposits at a fixed price of $0.50 per pound for the first 9.1 billion pounds. The fixed priced will increase to $1.10 per pound thereafter.
2) Private Placement
Sandstorm Gold has agreed to subscribe to 17,857,142 common shares of Entrée Gold stock, at a price of $0.56 per share, for gross proceeds of nearly $10 million.
Rio Tinto, which holds 13% interest in Entrée Gold, has 10 business days to exercise its right to participate in a similar transaction in order to sustain its current stake in the company. Should Rio Tinto choose not to exercise its right, Sandstorm will hold a 12.2% stake in Entrée after the investment.
3) Net Smelter Royalty
Sandstorm Gold has also purchased a 0.4% NSR on any future production at Entrée Gold's 100% owned Ann Mason and Blue Hill deposits in Nevada. In exchange for the royalty Sandstorm has agreed to make a one-time payment of $5 million. Additionally, Sandstorm has the right of first refusal on any future streaming agreements on Ann Mason.
Entrée Gold released an updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on Ann Mason in November. Highlights from the PEA included a pre-tax Net Present Value (NPV) of $1.1 billion, which represent an internal rate of return (IRR) of 14.8%. Total capital costs to develop the project are estimated to be $1.28 billion.
Total life of mine production over 24 years would be expected to produce 5.14 billion pounds of copper and 36.4 million pounds of molybdenum.
Oyu Tolgoi mining complex
The Oyu Tolgoi mining complex in Mongolia is one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold districts in the world.
Entrée Gold acquired concessions surrounding the Oyu Tolgoi mine in 2002 and has since joint-ventured with Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX: TRQ), which in turn partnered with Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government, to finance and bring the massive mining camp online.
Entrée holds a 30% interest in mineralization occurring from surface to 560 meters and a 20% interest in mineralization lying below the 560 meter level at the Hugo North deposit.
Proven and probable underground reserves at Hugo North include 27 million tonnes grading 1.91% copper and 0.74 g/t gold. Hugo North remains in development stage and the first of two shafts have been completed. Production from the deposit could commence as early as 2015.
The Heruga deposit remains in exploration stage. Future potential production from the ore body likely remains a decade away.
Mongolian government conflict
Despite the first concentrate being poured at Oyu Tolgoi in January and commercial production expected to commence this June, the government of Mongolia has begun to raise concerns that could have serious negative effects on the future of the mining district.
Trouble began late last year when Mongolian president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj published a draft legislation that would have serious negative effects on the country's mining industry if passed. The bill would severely restrict foreign ownership as well as increase government control over the country's mineral resources.
Following support of the draft from citizens and certain members of the Mongolian parliament, president Elbegdorj followed up with a speech in early February in which he announced that "…the time has come for the Mongolian government to take Oyu Tolgoi matters into its own hands."
To make matters worse 2013 represents an election year in Mongolia. With the Democratic Party controlling parliament and looking for re-election, Oyu Tolgoi continues to remain a hot topic. (Mogi: only presidential election this year)
The most controversial issues include capital cost overruns, employment disputes and concerns from Mongolian citizens.
Initial capital costs pegged phase one development of Oyu Tolgoi at $5.7 billion and complete development at $9.55 billion. These numbers have increased significantly over the last three years and are now expected to total $6.6 billion and $13.2 billion, respectively.
Mongolian president Elbegdorj blamed it on "irresponsible management" and noted that the country needs to play a larger role in the project.
Unconfirmed reports two weeks ago suggested that Rio Tinto was considering construction halts in protest of the Mongolian government. However these reports were never confirmed by the company and seem unlikely.
The most interesting aspect of the announcement last week was clearly Sandstorm's confidence in the future of Oyu Tolgio. The company was quick to note however that the investment represented only 4% of the company's total market valuation.
Investors should gain clarity over the next four months if Sandstorm's risk/reward models are working correctly- both commercial production at Oyu Tolgio and Mongolian elections are due to take place in June.
Sandstorm Gold Announces Metal Credit Purchase Agreement with Entree Gold - Sandstorm Gold, February 15
Sandstorm Metals & Energy Announces Metal Credit Purchase Agreement with Entree Gold - Sandstorm Metals & Energy, February 15
Announcement made after Thursday close, 276 closed Friday -1.18% to HK$0.42
Mongolia Energy (00276) served writ by Leighton
[ET Net News Agency, 15 February 2013] Mongolia Energy Corporation (MEC) (00276) said a writ of summons was issued in the Court of First Instance of the High Court of Hong Kong by Leighton LLC against MEC.
Leighton claims for around HK$67.98 million against MEC, or alternatively damages for breach of contract by MEC, as surety under a written contract of guarantee made on 2 June 2010, together with interest and costs.
MEC said it has instructed its legal adviser to defend the claims and to raise counterclaims against Leighton. Given that the litigation process is at an early stage, MEC considers that it is not practical to assess its potential impact on the Group at this moment.
The writ was related to MoEnCo LLC's contractual dispute with Leighton LLC. MoEnCo LLC is an indirect wholly owned operating subsidiary of MEC in Mongolia and Leighton is the ex-contractor of coal extraction in the Khushuut Coal Mine. (HL)
FeOre ups ante in iron ore resource in Mongolia
February 14 (Proactive Investors) FeOre (ASX:FEO) has reported a 14% increase in total mineral resource at its Ereeny iron ore project in Mongolia with the total resource at 124.2 million tonnes at 36.1% TFe.
The resource includes 66.1 million tonnes of indicated at 36.8% and 58 million tonnes of inferred at 35.3%, while mFe resource includes 62.7 million tonnes of indicated at 27.8% and 61.4 million tonnes of inferred at 25.8%.
This represents a 14% increase in the total resources, compared with the 2011 resource and a 15% and 509% increase in indicated resource tonnage for TFe and mfe respectively.
The results follow the completion of a six hole surface diamond drilling programme in December 2011. The drilling focused on two areas including confirming the continuity of mineralisation via infilling the near surface of previous inferred portions.
It also confirmed the metallurgical understanding via more test work.
The Ereeny Iron resource covers about 3.26 square kilometres lateral extents and reaches a maximum depth of 400 metres.
FeOre owns 80% of the project.
Amarbaatar Chultem becomes substantial holder in Haranga
February 15 (Cover Mongolia) Pursuant to Haranga Resources' (ASX:HAR) latest $6m at 20c private placement to Mongolian businessman Mr. Amarbaatar Chultem became a substantial holder in the company with 30 million shares or 12.41% voting power on 13 February.
Coke Oven Testwork Confirms Ovoot Project Coal as a High Quality Blending Coking Coal
February 18, Aspire Mining Limited (ASX:AKM) --
• Initial pilot coke testing completed using coal indicative of what will be produced from the Ovoot Coking Coal Project;
• Coke testwork using various blends was conducted at the ALS Coke Research facility in Riverview Queensland and used various combinations of Ovoot coking coal with:
o An Australian hard coking coal,
o An Australian low volatile, low fluidity semi-soft coking coal, and
o Coke breeze (recycled coke oven residues).
• This testwork programme using various blends has shown that Ovoot coking coal can be used to replace hard coking coal in a batch when using lower quality semi-soft coking coals.
• The testwork has also demonstrated that in batches using up to 15% coke breeze, batch coke strength improved by replacing prime hard coking coal with indicative Ovoot coking coal. Coke yields are noticeably higher with the addition of coke breeze.
• A high value in use has been demonstrated using these blends.
• Hard mechanical coke strengths were obtained, using indicative Ovoot coking coal as a single charge and in blends.
Blue Wolf gains 3 new substantial holders
Delaware registered AQR Capital Management, Arrowgrass Capital Partners, and Polar Securities (Canada) managed, Cayman Islands registered North Pole Capital Master Fund became substantial holders in Blue Wolf with 650,00 units (1 share & 1 warrant), 709,100 shares, and 999,800 shares respectively or 6.5%, 7%, and 9.9% voting power.
Khan Files First Quarter 2013 Financial Results
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 14, 2013) - Khan Resources Inc. (CNSX:KRI) ("Khan" or "the Company") announced today that it has filed its financial statements and management discussion and analysis for the three months ended December 31, 2012 on SEDAR and has posted these documents to its website www.khanresources.com.
Highlights for the quarter include:
· International arbitration action against the Government of Mongolia - Submissions on the merits and damages arising from the Mongolian Government's expropriatory and unlawful treatment of Khan were filed by the Company on December 7, 2012. A Statement of Defense and Counterclaim by the respondents is due on April 5, 2013. Khan's claim has been revised upwards from $200 to $326 million. This submission was pursuant the Tribunal's ruling on July 26, 2012 which dismissed all of Mongolia's objections to the continuance of the suit.
· The decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario remains pending regarding the $300 million lawsuit against Atomredmetzoloto JSC ("ARMZ"). The appeal was heard on September 11, 2012.
· The Company closed and began decommissioning the Dornod site on June 30, 2012. By the end of January, 2013, in conjunction with closing the Dornod camp, most of the assets at the camp, with the exception of a transformer and power lines, have been sold and removed or demolished.
· Khan holds 15.5 million common shares of Macusani Yellowcake Inc. ("Macusani") which represents 9.7% of the 159.5 million Macusani outstanding common shares. The value of the Company's investment in Macusani as at December 31, 2012 was $2,251,000, an increase of $78,000 from its value at September 30, 2012.
· The following table summarizes financial results of the Company for the three months ended December 31, 2012 and 2011.
In thousands of dollars
Three months ended December 31
Basic and diluted earnings per share ($)
Three months ended December 31
Three months ended December 31
Cash and cash equivalents
As at December 31
Khan Announces Approval of Stock Option Grant
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 15, 2013) - Khan Resources Inc. ("Khan" or the "Company") (CNSX:KRI) is pleased to announce that a total of 1,675,000 stock options to purchase common shares of Khan were granted to employees, officers and directors yesterday at an exercise price of $0.20 per share and expiring on February 14, 2016. The grant is subject to regulatory approval.
Under Khan's stock option plan (the "Stock Option Plan"), 9.58% of the issued and outstanding common shares or 6,528,334 common shares are reserved for issuance, including the above grant, and the Company may grant an additional 284,210 options under the Stock Option Plan representing 0.42% of the issued and outstanding common shares.
Mongolian Railway invited investors in the new railway project
February 14 (Business-Mongolia.com) The Parliament of Mongolia ratified the State Policy on Railway Transportation (Railway Policy) in June 2010. The Railway Policy concluded to construct approximately 5,600 km of railway infrastructure in 3 phases in an effort to extend the unified railway network, utilize large mines, and export commodities from those mines.
The Government of Mongolia granted, via Resolution No.121 of 2012, the construction license for Phase 1 and 2 of the Railway Policy to Mongolian Railway State Owned Shareholding Company ("MTZ"), and also the Government granted, via Resolution No. 28 of 2012, the build – operate – transfer (BOT) concession right for Phase 1 and 2 railway base structure to MTZ.
The government decided to set up New Railway LLC, with participation from domestic and international investors to implement the railway project through public partnership concession scheme. The company is expected to develop, construct, finance and operate a 1900 km of railway infrastructure as per Phase 1 and 2 of the Railway Policy ("New Railway Project"). MTZ completed the Business Case Study for New Railway Project which includes the following routes:
• Tavan Tolgoi – Sainshand (450 km;)
• Sainshand – Baruun-Urt (350 km);
• Baruun-Urt – Khuut (140 km);
• Khuut – Choibalsan (150 km);
• Khuut – Bichigt (200 km);
• Khuut – Numrug (380 km);
• Tavan Tolgoi – Gashuunsukhait (267 km);
The capital expenditure cost estimate is approximately USD 5.2 billion, under BOT terms, as per the MTZ Business Case Study. The state owned Mongolian company MTZ has invited international and domestic investors to invest in 49% of New Railway LLC.
MIBG Weekly Market Analysis
February 18 (MIBG) --
Markets - Commodities and China Make Mongolia Attractive In H2'13
Last week saw a renewed focus on commodities pricing including updated views from several key institutions such as the Reserve Bank of Australia, Allianz Global Investors, Aviva Investors, as well as indicative moves being made by Soros and Bacon against gold backed exchange-traded products. While a number of precious and base metals (including gold, silver, and copper) experienced poor performance over the past week we were able to observe significant differences between Mongolian stock performances and their relative markets.
With gold retreating to a six month low closing out at 1,609.50 and having dipped below 1,600 for the first time since Aug 15 of last year gold focused mutual funds, exchange traded funds, and a wide range of gold mining companies closed the week at measureable losses. However, Mongolian exposed gold stories such as Erdene (TSX:ERD), Centerra (TSX:CG), and Entrée (TSX:ETG) remained relatively unchanged as did other Mongolian focused stories exposed to different commodities. We maintain that the underlying reason for this separation is the continuation of negative market sentiment that began towards the end of H1'12. Unsurprising to our readers, this sentiment has depressed Mongolian focused stocks and has resulted in a divergence in pricing between Mongolian explorers and their peers. With ongoing political and legislative uncertainty anticipated until the conclusion of the Presidential elections in June we expect that this trend will continue through to H2'13.
Moving into H2'13 we believe that a very different sentiment will enter Mongolia. This is hinged on several key milestones including changes to the strategic foreign investment law, approval of an industry accepted minerals law, commercial production being reached at Oyu Tolgoi, and a strong outlook for Chinese growth and commodities demand. While these milestones may seem daunting we believe that they are plausible. Continued coverage of key economic indicators from MIBG's China Analyst including ongoing assessments of industrial and construction outputs suggests support for our view that the Chinese economy will begin to recover through 2013. This will drive immediate demand for a number of industrial and energy commodities forming the foundation for wider growth across the economy.
With this scenario playing out we maintain our view that Mongolian producers will be strongly positioned to benefit relative to their international peers (read Australia and Canada). This is due to the competitive advantages in transportation costs through the proximity to the Chinese market. With supportive legislation, key operations coming online, a stabilization of the political environment, and competitive cost advantages we believe that Mongolian explorers and producers will experience a significant revaluation. It is our view that this will bring Mongolian stocks back into sync with their respective global markets and could present substantial gains for opportunistic investors.
Last week on the 13th of February the Mongol Bank issued 576.75 Billion MNT (approximately 411.4 Million USD) in one week treasury bills at 12.5%. As readers may remember, the Mongol Bank lowered its policy rate by 75 basis points to 12.5% on the 31st of January this year. The central bank originally started to sell treasury bills weekly in July of 2007 at a fixed rate and amount. However, in May 2010 the trading of treasury bills became competitive based on rates bid by local commercial banks.
The Government of Mongolia also announced last week the issuance of a 25 Billion MNT (approximately 17.85 Million USD) 12 week bond. The issue was oversubscribed with local banks bidding 38 Billion MNT. As planned the 12 week bond issue closed at 25 Billion MNT at a weighted average rate of 11.04%. The lowest and the highest rates of the subscription were 10.87% and 11.20% respectively.
The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) released its initial data on China's International balance of payments for 2012. Until now, China has been unable to fulfill a favorable balance of current accounts which has led to the "double surplus" following the Asian financial crisis and the subsequent increase in foreign exchange reserves.
That said, last year was the first time that China's balance of payments shifted from "double surplus" to a surplus in current accounts, a deficit in capital accounts, and a deficit in financial accounts. SAFE explains that the reasons for such a change is primarily due to the pressures on capital outflows through the slowdown in both domestic and overseas economic growth as well as ongoing instability in international financial conditions. This also reveals that with basic stabilization of foreign reserves, deeper RMB exchange reform, surplus in current accounts, and deficit in capital and financial accounts China has enhanced its ability to stabilize its balance of payments.
Comparing the 2012 results to those of 2011 China's current account surplus has increased by 6% or 12.1 Billion USD. Over the same period capital accounts transferred from a surplus to a deficit, decreasing by 53.1% while international reserve assets increased by 75% or 291.3 Billion USD. The following lists provide details for China's 2012 balance of international payments.
Current accounts surplus reached 213.8 Billion USD with:
· Goods traded account surplus at USD 323.2 Billion
· Services traded account deficit at USD 89.5 Billion
· Income deficit reached USD 23.5 Billion, and
· Current transfer surplus reached USD 3.7 Billion
Capital and financial accounts deficit reached 117.3 Billion USD with:
· Net inflow of foreign direct investment reached USD 180.1 Billion
International reserve assets increased by USD 96.5 Billion (excluding exchange rates, pricing, and other non-trading value change effects), with:
· Foreign reserve assets grew USD 98.7 Billion
· Special Drawing rights decreased USD 400 Million, and
· China's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund dropped USD 1.7 Billion
The senior economist from the Bank of China, Zhou Jing Tong said that deficit in capital accounts was mainly due to the slower appreciation in the Renminbi leading to international capital inflows to slow down. In the future this could even lead to outflows. But it is also partially due to foreign direct investment. It is expected that the current accounts surplus will remain over the long term but as for the capital accounts deficit there will likely be ongoing fluctuations over the same period.
According to a recent Government resolution, number 28 in 2013, the Government of Mongolia has awarded the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) concession to Mongolian Railway SOSC. Mongolian Railway SOSC has decided to attract both private sector and foreign investors into the project and has created the "Shine Tumur Zam LLC" (New Railway LLC) Special Purpose Vehicle for this process.
According to an announcement made by Mongolian Railway SOSC investors will be able to participate for up to 49% interest in the newly formed SPV. The company has finalized a feasibility study involving the following projects and estimates that the overall cost will be at 5.2 Billion USD.
The new railway projects include:
• Tavan Tolgoi - Sainshand (400 km)
• Sainshand - Baruun Urt (350 km)
• Baruun Urt - Khoot (140 km)
• Khoot - Choibalsan (150 km)
• Khoot - Bichigt (200 km)
• Khoot - Nomrog (380 km)
• Tavan Tolgoi - Gashuun Sukhait (367 km)
Workers of Petro China Daqing Tamsag delay strike
February 15 (news.mn) A total of 250 workers of the 100 percent China owned Petro China Daqing Tamsag LLC, a subsidiary of the Daqing Oilfield Company Ltd, announced that they would hold a strike in January demanding a pay increase by up to 50 percent.
But the Trade Union of Petro China Daqing Tamsag LLC announced that the strike will be postponed.
N.Erdenebat, the Head of Trade Union of Petro China Daqing Tamsag LLC explained to reporters that the Chinese Directors of the company have not arrived back in Mongolia since leaving to celebrating the New Year in their home country. The Directors of the company also requested the workers postpone the strike until after they negotiate on the pay increase with the Executive Directors who are based in China. Therefore workers of the company delayed the strike until February 25th.
Mongolian workers of Petro China Daqing Tamsag LLC earn 300 US dollars, service workers, guards and cleaners earn 100 US dollars per month on average. But Chinese workers earn 2500 US dollars per month on average. Therefore Mongolian workers are demanding an increase to the minimum base pay up to 300 US dollars.
BoM holds FX auction
February 14 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on February 14th, 2013 the BOM received from local commercial banks total bid offers of 9.5 million USD and 20 million CNY and ask offers of 3 million USD. BOM has refused for the bid and ask оffers as considering the demand and supply of USD and CNY is balanced.
Before the gold rush
Mongolia's road to riches is paved with shareholders' tiffs
February 16 (The Economist) ONE of the world's fastest-growing economies, Mongolia finds itself at odds with the sources of its new-found wealth: the foreign miners and financiers dazzled by the unfathomable bounty under its vast terrain. Some foreigners fear that populist politicians, pandering to a belief that the nation is selling its birthright too cheaply, may kill the goose before it has laid any golden eggs. Almost certainly not; but "resource nationalism" will surely make life uncomfortable for geese.
Because of falling commodity prices and a slowdown in China, which takes over 85% of its exports, Mongolia's roaring economy slowed drastically last year—to a mere 12% or so GDP growth, from over 17% in 2011. But the benefits produced by these giddy numbers remain elusive for many Mongolians. The frozen main streets of Ulaanbaatar, the capital, are gridlocked. In the glitzy mall in Central Tower, it is warm enough to browse the posh shops in a T-shirt. Yet more than half of Ulaanbaatar's 1.3m people live in "ger districts" on its fringes, shanty towns of felt tents often with no running water or electricity. According to the IMF, the number of Mongolians living in poverty fell by about ten percentage points in 2011, thanks to government handouts. But that still left some 30% below the poverty line. For them, the most obvious effects of the inflow of foreign money are sharply rising prices, unplanned urbanisation and the presence of rich-looking foreign visitors and residents.
In a vibrant young democracy, plenty of politicians tell Mongolia's 2.8m people that they should be faring better as the country hurtles towards rich-world average incomes. In parliamentary elections last June, about a quarter of the seats went to "resource nationalists", advocating local control of the mines. Such nationalists make up about a third of the cabinet of the coalition government led by the Democratic Party.
During the campaign, a scandal blew up when the foreign-controlled owner of Ovoot Tolgoi, a Mongolian coal mine, wanted to sell it to a Chinese state-owned enterprise. Acutely conscious of their commercial dependence on China, Mongolians are sensitive to any hint of its gaining control over them. A "strategic entities foreign-investment law" was pushed through, tightening approval procedures. Mongolia is far from unique in having such a law, but it was taken as a sign of an incipient backlash.
A presidential election is due in May (Mogi: in late June, date not set yet). The incumbent, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, of the Democratic Party, is the favourite, and is closely identified with the opening to foreign investment. But new draft mining legislation from his office has provoked howls of protest from the industry, which claims its restrictions would deter all new investment in mining. And this month the president weighed into the foreigners behind much the biggest project in Mongolia to date, the Oyu Tolgoi ("Turquoise Hill") or "OT" copper-and-gold mine. OT is expected to contribute one-third of GDP by 2020, and is the basis of the strategy of rapid growth fuelled by foreign investment in mining. Some 34% of OT is owned by the Mongolian government and 66% by Turquoise Hill Resources (which also controls the firm that owns Ovoot Tolgoi), a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, a British-Australian mining behemoth.
The mine has just produced its first copper concentrate. It is expected to begin commercial production by the end of June. In the Gobi desert, just 80km (50 miles) from the border with China, which will buy its product, it seems well on track to meet the ambitious hopes vested in it. Yet the president accused the company of having spent more than had been scheduled when the investment agreement was signed in 2009 (nearly $7 billion so far); of being slow in explaining why; of paying its management too much; and of employing more foreigners than it was supposed to. In rebutting these slights, OT pointed out that Rio is shouldering most of the project's risks. It is lending the government the money for its share of the investment, and the loan will never be repaid if the mine does not make enough money.
Cynics suggest Mr Elbegdorj's tirade may have owed something to two related factors other than genuine concerns about the project and posturing ahead of the election. One is the government's gaping budget deficit. OT is already a big taxpayer. By piling on pressure, the government may hope to extract more revenue from it. The second is a fiasco at a potentially even more lucrative project—the nearby coal mine at Tavan Tolgoi (TT). To meet the government's cash-handout promises, coal from TT was presold to China at prices below what it now costs to mine and transport it. Plans for a global share offering for TT are on hold.
So a row with OT is not all bad for the government. And at least it is not threatening, as it did last year, to renegotiate the investment agreement or expropriate part of Turquoise Hill's stake. The smug consensus among foreign businessmen is that the government needs Rio more than Rio needs it. That may well be true; but it is all the more reason to expect the government to be suspicious of its foreign partner. By refusing to support OT's efforts to raise bank finance for the expensive second, underground, phase of the mine, it has found a powerful lever. At a time of stress in global mining, when projects elsewhere are facing the axe, this is a dangerous game.
My name is Chinggis
Mongolia knows its own appeal to global investors. In November it raised $1.5 billion in international markets. Its bond, inevitably called "Chinggis" after the national hero, Genghis Khan, was heavily oversubscribed, and traded initially on terms better than those available to, for example, Spain. But the price of the Chinggis has proved as volatile as its namesake and much more vulnerable to shareholder disputes. Some investors hope the government will moderate its behaviour. But is the land of Genghis, conqueror of China and most of the Eurasian land mass, really going to quail before the scribblers in the bond markets?
Legal impasse threatens Mongolia FDI
February 14 (IFLR) Resource nationalism in Mongolia's draft Minerals Law and the lack of action on the Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL) are threatening the country's investment environment.
Mongolia used to be an investor darling; a democracy located between China and Russia with enormous natural resources potential. But recent political developments and their subsequent legal implications have severely impacted sentiments.
The shift occurred in May 2012 following China Aluminum Corporation's (Chalco) bid to buy SouthGobi. Fearing China's influence on Mongolian resources, the Parliament passed the SEFIL.
Tensions were exacerbated when Mongolia banned SouthGobi president Justin Kapla and counsel Sarah Armstrong from leaving the country in November. In January, Chalco threatened legal action against state owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (ETT) for its failure to abide by its contract.
In addition, sources say that the much-hyped ETT triple-listing on the Mongolia Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Hong Kong Stock Exchange is on hold until at least 2014. Even at that point, its listing may not be on the same scale.
Laws aggressively targeting foreign investors means many are now checking their bilateral investment treaties rather than actually making investments.
Darin Hoffman of Ulaanbaatar-based MahoneyLiotta told IFLR that many emerging markets go through a "two steps forward and one step back" process on the road to joining the global economy.
"Bumps in the road are understood as part of the economy's maturation process and investors will take this in stride so long as it isn't one step forward and two steps back (or worse)," he added.
Foreign investment uncertainty
Mongolia's foreign investment law was adopted and became effective on 17 May last year, following a quick but opaque legislative process.
But the Foreign Investment Regulations and Registration Department (Firrd) has not yet promulgated the SEFIL regulations as required by law.
This has paralysed foreign investment. A way to get around this to draft a share purchase or subscription agreements that transfer less than one-third of a business entity of strategic importance (Besi) with no other control or direction prongs triggered. This means no approval is required, other than post-closing notification.
"We can move money to escrow if necessary but we're uncertain when or if such transfers may be completed," said Hoffman. "We have had many clients reach the long stop date (breakaway point) and had the transaction fall apart and the money returned to the potential acquirer because the registration could not occur."
Moreover, if someone were to go to Firrd to obtain the requisite approval, the Department's clerks will not approve the transaction as they have no guidelines by which to abide. The clerk at Fiird to whom the application is presented will simply hand the paperwork back to the applicant and tell them to come back after the regulations have been promulgated.
Foreign investment has therefore been at a standstill since the law was passed and adopted. Although politics – namely a June parliamentary election – can be partially blamed for the delay, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify to the market.
Hoffman added that the SEFIL has had a devastating impact on the equity capital markets, particularly initial public offerings, but he does not think the full effect has yet trickled down to the entire economy.
A new development is even more worrying to foreign investors: Mongolia's draft Minerals Law. Released in December 2012, investors agree that if passed in its draft form, it would have a devastating impact on inbound investment.
The law is calamitous for foreign investors, who previously came to Mongolia for its friendly so-called Third Neighbour investment policy. Gibson Dunn's John Viverito told IFLR that licences will generally be issued via a tender process instead of today's first-come-first-served system, which is a disincentive for companies to try to locate potential deposits.
Moreover, the State will be allowed to take over land or licences while only paying compensation for incurred expenditures, Viverito said. This is not sufficient because it does not account for lost opportunity costs.
But resource nationalism is most evident in provisions that require a strategic deposit mining licence-holder to enter into a 'deposit development agreement' if required by the government. The agreement would allow the government to take an equity stake for no consideration. (Mogi: Viverito forgets to mention that the draft limits such 'strategic' deposits to the existing 15 strategic deposits, most of which are already state-owned)
"This is clearly expropriatory, especially since it applies to shares in mining companies – which are clearly private property – rather than deposits, which arguably belong to the state," Viverito said..
Further, state-owned entities appear to have preemptive rights over any transfers of licence. Viverito said this will discourage licence sales and purchases between private parties, since they would be concerned with the state stepping in at the last minute and buying the licence for itself. This means the time and expense by the parties entering into the deal would go to waste.
The draft Minerals Law also has a minimum ownership threshold for Mongolian citizens for mining licence holders.
It is a provision seemingly modeled after those seen elsewhere in resource-rich Asian countries like Indonesia.
"At least 34% of the equity in a mining licence-holder must be owned by a Mongolian citizen, and in some cases this percentage is even higher: 51% in some instances and 75% in others," Viverito said.
Stipulations for obtaining prospecting, exploration or processing licences in areas other than special border zones do not require minimum ownership by Mongolian citizens. Therefore this provision essentially forces foreign investors to divest shares once they reach the mining stage.
But Viverito noted it will be impossible for Mongolian citizens to finance such a large shareholding percentage in every mining licence-holder in the country. There are only 2 million Mongolian citizens (Mogi: 2.8m), while Mongolia has $2 trillion in untapped natural resources.
It is, however, encouraging that this law was released before passage. Hoffman said that it is a positive sign that open forums have been conducted on the draft Minerals Law, which is a marked departure from past practice. The legislative process in Mongolia is usually quite opaque and laws are generally adopted with little or no public commentary.
Hoffman added that while the President reportedly intended to have the draft Minerals Law adopted by Parliament prior to the scheduled June 2013 Presidential election, there has been some indication that the President may be willing to delay adoption to open a more detailed dialogue with the industry.
But he warned that in any case, whether adopted sooner or later, there is a strong probability that a minimum Mongolian ownership component will remain in the final law as adopted.
Mongolia sovereign bond first explained http://www.iflr.com/Article/3133749/Mongolia-sovereign-bond-firstexplained.html
Mongolia's foreign investment reform: what to expect http://www.iflr.com/Article/3098391/Mongoliasforeign-investment-reform-what-to-expect.html
OPEN ACCESS: Mongolia's new foreign investment law explained http://www.iflr.com/Article/3028715/OPEN-ACCESS-Mongolias-new-foreign-investment-law-explained.html
Mongolia's draft securities law explained http://www.iflr.com/Article/3034599/Mongolias-draft-securities-lawexplained-OPEN-ACCESS.html
Mongolia Salkhit financing sets foreign security precedent http://www.iflr.com/Article/3068847/Mongolia-Salkhit-financing-sets-foreign-security-precedent.html
Investment Climate in Mongolia Getting Worse
February 17 (Lenz Blog) This article titled "Legal impasse threatens Mongolia FDI" gives a good overview on the various measures enacted in the last year by the Mongolians to make the investment climate much worse. Thanks to this tweet by CoverMongolia for the link to this excellent resource, which I recommend reading.
Much of that is aimed at putting some massive brakes on investment in the mining sector. With most of the foreign direct investment and most of GDP growth coming from that, it doesn't make sense to me trying to slow that down. But most of what is happening in the world doesn't make much sense.
I am interested in the mining sector only as an indication of how much one can trust the Mongolians to keep their promises (e.g. not much right now). Investment in clean energy may be a different story.
But anyone investing in the prospecting or mining sector in Mongolia clearly is willing to take some substantial risks. And those that are already trapped with substantial investments there will, as the article cited above says, "check their investment protection treaties".
It may be too early to give up completely on the potential trillion dollar clean energy project in the Mongolian Gobi desert and look for some other path to mitigate global warming.
But clearly any substantial investment there will be in need of some form or other of international guarantees that are substantially better than what bilateral investment treaties and the Energy Charter Treaty are offering right now. I recall having offered an idea for doing exactly that in my book "Energy from the Mongolian Gobi desert (free PDF file available)" , in chapter 5.
What does Mongolia's mining boom mean for Australia?
February 13 (Australia Network News) As Mongolia's resources sector starts to come on line, there are some who believe it poses a serious threat to Australia's mining boom.
Travis Hamilton is Managing Director with Khan Asset Management. He's speaking with Whitney Fitzsimmons.
Nomad Capitalist Report: Feb 16, 2013
February 16 (Nomad Capitalist) This week's episode of our weekly radio show aired February 16, 2013, on our flagship station WVNJ New York and online.
Chris Tell of Capitalist Exploits, who spent time in and wrote the book on investing in Mongolia. He explains the amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors in boom markets like Mongolia, 2012′s fastest growing economy in the world, as well as Myanmar, Fiji, Cambodia, and others. Plus, how business in these up-and-coming nations is much easier than in the west.
Bill Stenger, owner of Jay Peak Resort in Vermont, on his aggressive use of the United States EB-5 visa program for foreign investors. He explains how those wanting to relocate their families to the US can invest $500,000 in a rural business that creates jobs and get a green card in return. His company has raised $300 million from investors all over the world, and he tells you how you can do it, too.
Presidential election date to be scheduled by spring session
February 14 (news.mn) The Presidential Election date is expected to be scheduled by the next spring Parliament session.
Presidential election law says that the date of the voting day should be scheduled on any day of the last quarter of June. The date should be scheduled by Parliament less than 65 days before the voting day according to a law passed last December. Therefore the election would be scheduled before April 25.
The Presidential Election voting day will be a public holiday.
Mongolia will vote for the seventh president this year, even though the voting will be the sixth time for Mongolians. The first President, Ochirbat Punsalmaa, was elected by the People`s Parliament in 1991 and the first public voting for the Mongolian President was organized in 1993.
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdor Visits South Sudan
The Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdor arrived in Juba today to strengthen diplomatic relations with South Sudan.
JUBA, 15 February 2013 [Gurtong] -President Elbegdor becomes the first Asian leader to visit the infant nation since it gained independence in 2011.
Elbegdor received a warm welcome from the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and the UN Special Envoy to South Sudan Hilde F. Johnson upon his arrival at the Juba International Airport.
Government Spokesperson Dr. Barnaba Marial said his visit is of great significance to South Sudan.
"As you know the UNMISS troops who are here in South Sudan, a large number of them come from Mongolia. He will visit his troops in Bentiu, Unity State and Rumbek in Lakes State," said Marial in a statement to the press.
"What is important is that the President and the people of the Republic of South Sudan are happy to receive the President of Mongolia. We warmly welcome him," Marial added.
Hilde said that Mongolia has two contingents of UN Peace Keepers who are deployed in South Sudan carrying out a mission of ensuring peace in the country.
She said UNMISS is "very pleased to have a head of State of the Republic of Mongolia visiting South Sudan."
"We are really pleased with his troop's performance. They are duty bearers that never hesitate being sent to hotspots areas. And we have done that many times. They are high quality and we think it's great that the president is coming to visit them and support them," she added.
Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is the 4th and current President of Mongolia. He won the election on May 24, 2009 and was sworn into office on June 18, 2009.
Mongolian Defense Delegation Visits Moscow
MOSCOW, February 17 (RIA Novosti) – A military delegation from Mongolia led by the country's Defense Minister Dashdemberel Bat-Erdene is arriving in Moscow on an official visit on Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.
The delegation will hold talks with Russian Defense Minister, Army General Sergei Shoigu.
The two defense chiefs will discuss the state and prospects of military and technological cooperation and consider a number of important issues of regional and international security.
"The agenda also envisions a visit to the 5th separate motorized rifle brigade of the Western Military District in the Moscow Region," the ministry also said.
The visit will end on February 21.
Russia and Mongolia share a common border and are both members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
University of Queensland's Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining awarded A$620K research grant from AusAID
2012 ADRAS award recipients
Mining for development
Region/Country of focus
Supporting women during Mongolia's mining boom
Mongolia's mining boom is threatening the sustainability of herder livelihoods through social changes stimulated directly and indirectly by ecological impacts. Often these threats impact women greater than their male counterparts due to a lack of gender-orientated awareness and safeguards. This project will use a gender based multidisciplinary approach to establish the changing roles of herder households to recommend safeguards for their empowerment.
University of Queensland
INVITATION TO COMMENT ON EBRD'S COUNTRY STRATEGY FOR MONGOLIA
February 8 (EBRD) The EBRD is committed to enhancing transparency and accountability, and fostering good governance in all its activities. The Bank seeks an open exchange of views with all its stakeholders and, having started work on the revision of its strategy for Mongolia, invites comments from the public based on the draft strategy in English (255KB - PDF) and Mongolian (604KB - PDF).
Any comments should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 30 March 2013 so that they can be taken into account.
The first Article of the Agreement Establishing the Bank states that "the purpose of the Bank shall be to foster the transition towards open market-oriented economies and to promote private and entrepreneurial initiative in the Central and Eastern European countries committed to and applying the principles of multiparty democracy, pluralism and market economics."
In order to achieve these objectives, the Bank primarily provides finance for investment projects, with a special focus on the private sector, carefully selecting projects that promote transition by:
· creating, expanding and improving markets;
· establishing and strengthening institutions, laws and policies that support markets; and
· facilitating the adoption of market-oriented skills and sound business practices
In addition, every Bank project is examined for its environmental impact and the EBRD places special emphasis on projects that are oriented directly towards environmental improvements and energy efficiency.
Mongolia Today Blog
Global indices seem to be gaining in popularity, at least they appear more and more often in the press. This seems to be motivated by a desire to communicate some characteristics of countries, cities, companies, university, and brands on a common scale.
Naturally, Mongolia is included in most indices that rank countries on some aspect of their performance. Mongolia's ranking rarely makes the headlines except for when it makes a significant move up or down in a ranking.
Having grown curious about these rankings, we are now attempting to trace Mongolia's performance in these rankings and will add overtime performance in the future.
Below, we list the name of relevant indices, Mongolia's score, Mongolia's ranking and comments (if any) about the methodology or other noteworthy information.
Transparency International: Corruption Perception Index
2012 Rank 94 (of 174) | 2011 Rank 120
2012 Score 36 (of 100)
Notes: Still unclear on methodology or explanation for the year-on-year jump for Mongolia | Discussion I | Discussion II
WorldBank: Ease of Doing Business
2013 Rank 76 (of 185) | 2012 Rank 88
Notes: Mongolia handicapped by land-locked geography | Discussion
World Justice Project: Rule of Law Index
2012 Rank 38 to 93rd (of 97) on different subindicators
Bertelsmann Stiftung: Transformation Index
2012 Rank 39 (Democracy), 71 (Market Economy), 51 (Status) (of 128)
Forbes: Best Countries for Doing Business
2012 Rank 64 (of 141)
Heritage Foundation: Index of Economic Freedom
2013 Rank 75 (of 177) | 2012 Rank 81
2013 Score 61.7 | 2012 61.5
Freedom House: Freedom in the World
2013 Score "Free" Civil Liberties 2, Political Rights 1 | 2012 Score "Free" (2.0), Civil Liberties 2, Political Rights 2
UNDP: Human Development Report
2011 Rank 110 (of 187)
2011 HDI 0.653
World Economic Forum: Global Competitiveness Index
2012-13 Rank 93 (of 144) | 2011-12 Rank 96
2012-13 Score 3.87 (1-7)
Fraser Institute: Economic Freedom in the World
2010 Rank 69 (of 144)
2010 Score 7.01 (of 10)
Reporters without Borders: Press Freedom Index
2013 Rank 98 (of 179) | 2011-12 Rank 100 (0f 179)
2013 Score 29.93 | 2011-12 Score 35.75
Maplcroft: Global Political Risk Atlas
2013 Rank 101 (of 197)
2013 Score medium
GIEWS Country Brief: Mongolia
February 14 (FAO) --
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
· Record 2012 wheat harvest is officially estimated
· Wheat imports are forecast to reach the lowest level on record
· Livestock numbers have almost recovered but still remain below the pre-2009 natural disaster levels
· Prices of rice and wheat flour generally stable but the inflation rates remain high
Record 2012 wheat harvest is officially estimated
Harvesting of the main season crops, mainly wheat, barley and oats, was completed in September. The total wheat production is officially estimated at a record level of 465 294 tonnes, some 7 percent above the 2011 another record output, mainly reflecting favourable weather conditions throughout the growing period from April to August 2012.
Wheat and rice are the two major cereals imported, mainly from China and the Russian Federation. The country experiences an increase in wheat production for the fifth consecutive year (since 2008) and given the record harvest in 2012, wheat import requirements are forecast to reach the lowest level at 81 000 tonnes during the 2012/13 marketing year (October/September). Rice imports are estimated to remain similar to the last year's level of 30 000 tonnes.
Livestock numbers have almost recovered but remain below the pre-2009 natural disaster levels
The total livestock and breeding animal numbers have recovered since the Dzud in 2009/10 but are still below the pre-disaster levels. At the end of 2012, the total number of animals was 40.9 million down from 44 million at the end of 2009. Similarly, breeding stock heads are currently estimated at 13.7 million down by 1.6 million from 2009. According to some sources, lower levels of animals per hectare of land are considered to be more ecologically desirable and sustainable.
Prices of rice and wheat flour generally stable but the inflation rates remain high
According to the Central Bank of Mongolia, the consumer price index (CPI) in December 2012 reached 14 percent on yearly basis.
The price for wheat flour, the main food staple in the country, has however remained relatively stable since November 2011. Similarly, prices of rice show comparatively stable trends in recent months. Bread prices, generally subsidized in the capital city Ulaanbaatar, are more stable and below the wheat flour prices.
Prices for beef and mutton decreased since their peaks in mid-2012 and have stabilized in recent months. They remain, nonetheless, 48 and 42 percent higher, respectively, than a year earlier, due to decreased supply as result of exceptional livestock losses from the past Dzud and continued strong growth of domestic demand. Meat prices in Ulaanbaatar capital city market follow the usual seasonal lows during October-December and highs during May-July.
Social and economic situation of Mongolia (As of January 2013)
February 14 (NSO) --
I. Social indicators
In January 2013, 6532 mothers delivered 6564 children (live births) increased by 517 mothers or 8.6 percent and 531 children or 8.8 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
This time the infant mortality has increased by 8 or 7.6 percent to 113 and mortality children aged 1-5 has increased by 2 or 9.5 percent to 23 compared to same period of the previous year.
The number of unemployed reached 37.2 thousand at the end of January 2013, decreased by 21.0 thous.persons or 36.0 percent compared to the same period of the previous year and but increased by 1435 persons or 4.0 percent compared to the end of 2012.
In January 2013, 119.8 thous.persons were insured, out of which 71.3 thousand or 59.5 percent were establishments or companies and 48.6 thousand or 40.5 percent were Generel government institutions. Compared to same period of the previous year, the number of insured bodies has increased by 4.2 thousand or 3.6 percent, from which establishments or companies have increased by 2.4 thousand or 3.5 percent and Generel government institutions increased by 1.8 thousand or 3.8 percent...
In January 2013, social welfare payments were allocated to 47.7 thous.persons, showing an decrease by 6.0 thous.persons or 11.2 percent. The total amount of the allocated fund increased by 693.8 mln.tog or 24.0 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
In January 2013, the total number of infectious disease cases reached 4370. This is an increase by 555 cases or 14.5 percent compared to same period of the previous year. The increase in the number of infectious disease cases occured mainly due to the growth of mumps by 866 or 4.1 times, syphilis 268 or 74.2 percent, varicella 257 or 74.1 percent, gonococcal 141 or 34.6 percent and tuberculosis 32.0 or 10.6 percent. Hence number of viral hepatitis has decreased 989 or 71.7 percent and shigellosis 23 or 21.4 percent and
At national level, there were registered 2327 crimes in January 2013. It is an increase by 62 or 2.7 percent compared to same period of the previous year. The number of convicted crimes has mainly growth due to the increase of the crime against the right of ownership (70), crime against social dangerous situation (17) and crimes against establishments (10) compared to same period of the previous year.
As a result of the crimes 737 have injured and 134 have died. The number of injured has increased up by 30 or 4.2 percent and the death cases has decreased by 65 persons or 32.7 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
II. Macroeconomic indicators
The national consumer price index in January 2013, has increased by 1.8 percent compared to the previous month and 13.0 percent compared to same period of the previous year. The increase in national index in January 2013, has increased by 1.8 percent compared to same period of the previous month. It was mainly due to the price growth of increases of food and non-alcoholic beverages by 4.4 percent and transport by 1.8 percent.
According to the report of the Bank of Mongolia, money supply (broad money or M2) at the end of January 2013, has reached 7344.3 bln.tog, reflecting decreased by 272.9 bln.tog or 3.6 percent compared to the previous month and increased by 1196.8 bln.tog or 19.5 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
At the end of January 2013, issued currency in circulation has reached 742.1 bln.tog. This is decreased by 86.4 bln.tog or 10.4 percent compared to the previous month and increased by 85.1 bln.tog or 13.0 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
Loans outstanding at the end of January 2013, have amounted to 7142.0 bln.tog, up by 151.5 bln.tog or 2.2 percent compared to the previous month and 1494.4 bln.tog or 26.5 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
Principals in arrears at the end of January 2013, has reached 105.5 bln.tog, decreased by 5.1 bln.tog or 4.6 percent compared to the previous month and increased by 31.7 bln.tog or 42.9 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
At the end of January 2013, the non-performing loans over the bank system reached 307.8 bln.tog, showing an increase of 12.7 bln.tog or 4.3 percent compared to the previous month and a decrease of 18.9 bln.tog or 5.8 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
In January 2013, there were 23 trading days during which 8.7 mln.shares valued at 4.2 bln.tog were traded.
As of January 2013, Mongolia trade relations with 91 countries from all over the world. The total external trade turnover reached 779.7 mln.US dollars, of which exports made up 281.6 mln.US dollars and imports made up 498.1 mln.US dollars.
The foreign trade balance has showed a deficit 216.5 mln.US dollars in January 2013, while it was in deficit of 254.6 mln.US dollars in January 2012. Compared to same period of the previous year, deficit increased by 38.1 mln.US dollars or 14.9 percent. The foreign trade deficit was mainly caused by the fact that the import growth was higher by 16.5 points than the export growth.
Total external trade turnover decreased 44.6 mln.US dollars or 6.1 percent, of which exports grown by 41.3 mln.US dollars or 17.2 percent and imports grown by 3.3 mln.US dollars or 0.7 percent, compared to same period of the previous year.
Mineral products, natural or cultured stones, precious metal, jewellery, coins, raw & processed hides, skins, fur & articles, animal origin products and textiles & textile articles accounted for 97.0 percent of the total export value.
III. Economic sector indicators
In January 2013, at national level natural losses of adult animals down by 49.4 thous.heads or 2.2 times to 72.2 thous.heads compared to same period of the previous year. Out of the losses of adult animals, 3.8 thousand were horses, 7.6 thousand were cows, 56 were camels, 25.9 thousand were sheeps and 34.8 thousand were goats.
In January 2012, the total industrial output increased by 25.7 bln.tog or 16.1 percent to 184.7 bln.tog (at 2005 constant prices) compared to same period of the previous year. The increase in the industrial output was mainly due to 14.9-84.5 percent, increases in mining and quarrying products such as copper concentrate, gold, zincum concentrate, iron ore, flour spar concentrate, crude oil and 0.5-37.4 percent increases in industrial main products of manufacturing sector such as kind of sausage, metal foundries, knitted goods, alcoholic beverage, bakery products, bread, carpet, flour, bottled water, fodder, electric wire, metal steel, beer, milk, sawn wood, contrite mortar, plastering mortar, briquette and metal sleeper.
In January 2013, 1664.2 thous.t freight and 315.8 thous.passengers (double counting) were carried by railway transport. Compared to same period of the previous year, the number of carried freight decreased by 51.5 thous.t or 3.0 percent and the number of carried passengers rose by 18.6 thous.persons or 6.3 percent. Due to the increase in carried freight and passengers, revenue from railway transport decreased by 4.2 bln.tog or 11.6 percent to 31.9 bln.tog in January 2013, compared to same period of the previous year.
In January 2013, 290.6 t freight and 59.2 thous.passengers (double counting) were carried by air transport. Compared to same period of the previous year, the number of carried freight decreased by 11.7 t or 3.9 percent and the number of carried passengers rose by 13.0 thous.persons or 28.1 percent. Due to the increase in carried freight and passengers, revenue from air transport increased by 3.2 bln.tog or 22.4 percent to 17.4 bln.tog in January 2013, compared to same period of the previous year.
In January 2013, 452 disasters and accidents occurred. As a result, 5 people died, 0.2 thous.livestock and animals had lost. There were 428 fires of consruction, 9 animal madness diseases, earthquakes with magnitude greater than 3.5 respectively, 3 accidental drowning and submersion incidents, 2 emergency calls related to chemical substance usage and heads of sheep which died from pox. In January 2013, estimated damage caused by the disasters and accidents amounted 3.8 bln.tog.
Compared to same period of previous year, the occurance of disaster and accidents has increased by 109, people died down by 8.
According to the report of the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, the maximum precipitation level was registered in Bayan-Ovoo soum (8.5 mm) of Khentii aimag in January 2013. In January 2013, Khanbogd soum of Omnogobi aimag had the highest air temperature (6.7°C), while Tosontsengel soum of Zavkhan aimag had the lowest air temperature (-47.2°C). The wind speed reached 24 m/sec in Olgii soum of Bayan-Olgii aimag and Kharkhorin soum of Ovorkhangai aimag.
As of January 2013 the daily average concentration of nitrogen dioxide has exceeded 31 times in the area of the West crossroad of Ulaanbaatar city, 30 times in the area of the 13th micro district, 28 times in the area of the Kharkhorin market, 26 times in the area of the 32nd Toirog, 22 times in the area of the Offitseruudiin ordon and 15 times in the area of the 1th micro district. More over the daily average concentration of sulphur dioxide has exceeded 31 times in the area of the 32nd Toirog and the, 30 times in the area of the West crossroad and 13th micro district respectively, 29 times in the area of Kharkhorin market, 25 times in the area of the Offitseruudiin ordon and 20 times in the area of the 1th micro district, concentration of carbon protoxide has exceeded 2 times in the area of the 32nd Toirog and 1 times in the area of the West crossroad, particulate matter less than 10 micrograms has exceeded 30 times in the area of the West crossroad and 32nd Toirog respectively, 29 times in the area of Kharkhorin market, particulate matter less than 2.5 micrograms exceeded 25 times in the area of the West crossroad from the maximum allowable concentration of air quality standard.
Monthly Statistical Bulletin, December 2012 – NSO (2012 CPI = +14%)
#Op Myanmar: Mongolian Police Official Website Hacked and Defaced by ViruS Noir
February 16 (Hack Read) The official website of Mongolian Police website has been hacked and defaced by Virus Noir from Moroccan Agent Secret for #Op Myanmar.
The hacker who contacted me via email told that reason for hacking the site is to boast moroal for #Op Myanmar, test his skills and have some fun. Virus Noir left his deface page along with a simple message on the index page of website according to which "Virù$ Noir..#Op Myanmar..You have been hacked".
It is unclear if the hacker has acquired any sensitive or personal data of police officers.
Link of hacked website: http://www.police.gov.mn/
Mirror of hacked website: http://www.th3mirror.com/mirror/id/214017/
Virù$ Noir has been hacking Israeli and Spanish website in past, this is the first time when Moroccan hacker has attacked high profile Mongolian website.
At the time of publishing this article, the website was displaying under construction message.
Tyrannosaurus at center of custody case going home to Mongolia
February 14 (Reuters) - A nearly complete 70-million-year-old tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton will be returned to Mongolia following the high-profile prosecution of a Florida paleontologist by federal authorities in New York, U.S. authorities said on Thursday.
A New York federal judge ordered the skeleton and other fossils forfeited to the U.S. government this week after the paleontologist pled guilty in December to fraud and conspiracy.
Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said his office would return the 8-foot-tall (2.4 meter), 24-foot-long (7.3 meter), mostly reconstructed cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex.
Mongolian officials demanded the skeleton's return after paleontologist Eric Prokopi sold it at a Manhattan auction last spring for $1.05 million. Mongolia suspected the skeleton had been smuggled out of its fossil-rich Gobi desert
U.S. authorities filed charges against Prokopi and seized the skeleton, which is fossilized bones welded to a metal frame. In announcing the seizure, Bharara called Prokopi a "one man black market in prehistoric fossils."
Authorities accused Prokopi of having lied on U.S. customs forms when he declared the fossilized bones were worth $19,000.
In a New York courtroom in September, Prokopi's defense attorney challenged the charge that his client had lied on the forms, saying the reconstruction was not a single creature but bones from multiple dinosaurs. Mongolian authorities and U.S. government paleontological experts believed it was a single creature.
A federal judge suggested the skeleton might be a "Frankenstein model of dinosaur parts" and asked a prosecutor why government experts had not recognized that the skeleton was from several sources.
"It was marketed as one dinosaur," the prosecutor said. "A 75 percent complete, but one dinosaur."
In December, Prokopi pleaded guilty to conspiracy, entry of goods by means of false statements, and the interstate and foreign transportation of goods taken by fraud.
He faces at least 10 years in prison if convicted on the fraud charge when he is sentenced in April.
Tyrannosaurus Can Trod Off to Mongolia – Courthouse News Service, February 14
Mogi: Looks like in Uvs Aimag judging from the map
Minor earthquake – Western Mongolia on February 14, 2013
February 14 (Earthquake Report) --
Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 3.9
Local Time (conversion only below land) : 2013-02-14 08:51:17
GMT/UTC Time : 2013-02-14 01:51:17
Depth (Hypocenter) : 30 km
Depth and Magnitude updates in the list below.
Share your earthquake experience (I Have Felt It) with our readers.
Click on the "I Felt It" button behind the corresponding earthquake. Your earthquake experience is not only important for science, but also for people in the area as well as our global readership.
Feb 14 01:51 AM
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Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
February 13 (EurasiaNet) Scholars believe it to be the world's largest treasury of ancient Buddhist texts. The sheer immensity of the collection held in the National Library of Mongolia has prevented a proper tally to date.
The National Library, located in a stout Soviet-era neoclassical building in downtown Ulaanbaatar, is estimated to contain over a million scholarly and religious Buddhist works. Besides original works from Mongolia, the library has rare copies of the early Tibetan Buddhist canon—sacred contemporary records of the Buddha's oral teachings, called the Kangyur, and commentaries and treatises on the teachings of the Buddha, the Tengyur.
Many original Tibetan texts were lost or destroyed amid the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950. Thanks to centuries of contact with Tibet, however, Mongolia is believed to have some of the few remaining originals. In addition to ancient Tibetan and Mongolian documents, rare Sanskrit manuscripts, including 800 verses by Nagarjuna, a 2nd-century Indian Buddhist philosopher, inscribed on birch bark, have been identified in the collection.
"This collection is not just a national treasure, but a world treasure. It's not just about Tibetan or Mongolian history, but a slice of human history," says the library's director, Chilaajav Khaidav.
How the texts found their way to the library is as much a source of painful recollection about Mongolia's communist legacy as it is a celebration of the country's Buddhist heritage, says Buddhist scholar and former monk Nyamochir Gonchog.
Mongolia's links with Tibetan Buddhism date back to the 4th century AD. It was a Mongolian ruler that conferred the title of Dalai Lama – Mongolian for 'Ocean Lama,' (lama means priest) – to Tibetan spiritual leader Sonam Gyatso in 1587. The title has stuck with successive Tibetan Buddhist leaders, as well as being applied retroactively to previous monks in the lineage.
At the turn of the 20th century, there were over 800 Buddhist centers of learning in Mongolia. Over the centuries, hundreds of thousands of scared Tibetan texts had been brought into the country for translation into Mongolian or as gifts to monasteries.
The library itself was started with the personal collection of the last Bogd Khan, Mongolia's spiritual and secular head of state, who died in 1924, three years after the communists came to power. But the charred edges of many texts are reminders of the 1930s communist purges when over 30,000 monks were executed and around 700 monasteries razed to the ground. As news of the destruction spread, faithful Buddhists across Mongolia hid artifacts and salvaged what they could from destroyed monasteries.
Hidden texts started resurfacing by the 1960s. When the Mongolia Academy of Sciences established the Department for Mongolian and Tibetan Studies in 1985, people started donating hidden family collections once they believed the texts would be preserved, recounts Gonchog, the former monk who is also a member of the Academy.
Many texts are in poor condition and housed in less-than-adequate conditions, admits Khaidav, the library director. Space is a constraint and much the collection is stacked haphazardly in the library's storeroom. Khaidav says the Mongolian government has funded the study and restoration of many of the ancient Mongolian texts. But until recently little was done with the Tibetan texts.
Foreign assistance arrived in 1999, when the Asian Classic Input Project (ACIP), a New York-based non-profit dedicated to preserving and digitizing ancient Tibetan and Sanskrit texts, began cataloguing the library's contents. But the project progressed fitfully, until stalling in 2008.
Gonchog believes that perceptions of the collection's monetary value and suspicions among local officials about the reasons for foreign interest have hindered preservation efforts. "People have thought these texts can fetch a lot of money, but the real value is in the contents," he told EurasiaNet.org. "This is priceless knowledge that has to be understood and preserved."
ACIP's work resumed this month with a temporary grant from Singapore-based Global Institute For Tomorrow (GIFT), a think-tank, which estimates the whole project will cost $1.1 million.
"The work itself is a very slow and methodical process," said Ngawang Gyatso, a Tibetan from India who oversees the cataloging project for ACIP. Every single page is carefully studied for type of material used, possible origin, as well as the script and printing style and monastery seal stamp that help determine where and, sometimes, when the text was produced. The titles of the texts are transliterated into the Latin alphabet and details are then entered in a database, Gyatso explained.
Within days of recommencing the project, faulty electric wiring at the library caused a small fire, stalling work again for a few days. ACIP recently updated the hardware, and says that with enough funding it could catalogue the entire collection within three years.
In remote, winter-blasted regions of Mongolia, inclusive education for children
Reaching children in remote communities in northern Mongolia is challenging. UNICEF is supporting schools in order to provide education for all.
KHUVSGUL, Mongolia, 13 February 2013 (UNICEF) – The Khuvsgul region of northern Mongolia is a land of mountains, yurts, nomads and herds.
Reaching children in the remote communities of Khuvsgul is challenging. Roads are rough tracks that often change throughout the year, depending on the season. Families are isolated and poor. Many of them herd animals for their livelihoods, and children are expected to work.
Khuvsgul is home to diverse ethnic groups. Nine-year-old Murun is from the Tuva ethnic minority. Her family herds goats, cows and reindeer. When we visited Murun's yurt, her father was away, deep in the forests with their herd of reindeer, which eat a special lichen during the harsh winter season.
Life away from home
Murun's school is far from her home, and, like so many children here, she lives in the school's dormitory. First-time students enroll when they are only 6 years old. Living away from their families is difficult.
Murun tells us that being away from her parents is hard. "I miss my mom a lot," she says. For pupils of ethnic minorities whose native tongue is not Mongolian, the adjustment is even harder.
Children who live near the school can walk, but night closes in quickly, and some children must walk long distances in the dark. Temperatures can reach –45⁰ C. Children who live further away sometimes suffer frostbite on their faces and hands.
Challenges of water and sanitation
There is no running water in the village of Tsagaannuur. The community gets its water from the nearby lake. In the school, children fetch water to wash themselves from containers that store the lake's water.
The school's latrines are outdoors, which makes it difficult for children, in particular, girls, especially during the winter and at night. Pointing to the latrines, Murun explains, "Our latrines are far from the dorm. At night, when we need to go, we're scared."
For so many countries worldwide in which UNICEF is working, access to clean, safe water and sanitation is a challenge. This holds true in Mongolia, which presents a unique set of issues, among them, the freezing temperatures. Schools across the country, especially in rural communities, face challenges such as unreliable sources for drinking water, poor hygiene conditions and a lack of hand-washing facilities, and insufficient shower facilities in dormitories.
Indoor toilets, outdoor latrines, inclusive education
In the next two years, UNICEF will provide Tsagaannuur's school with indoor toilets for boys and girls, including toilet units for children with disabilities and urinals for boys. UNICEF will also provide outdoor ventilated latrines. The goal is to ensure that there are sufficient toilets, as well as showers, for all students.
UNICEF has been supporting Tsagaannuur school with teacher training, supplies and special integration programmes for children who have dropped out of school and children with disabilities. UNICEF's non-formal education initiatives allow out-of-school children to catch up with the curriculum and be reintegrated into their classrooms. They also allow children with special needs to access basic education in a supportive, child-friendly environment so that they are not left behind and further stigmatized.
With its partners, UNICEF is also providing guidance and training to make the Tsagaannuur school a child-friendly school that provides quality education and promotes child participation, protection and inclusiveness.
Children like Murun are motivated to learn and value their education. "When I grow up," she says, "I want to become a primary school teacher." To make Murun's dreams come true and unlock the potential for economic growth, we need to invest in children's education.
The Schools for Asia initiative is determined to do just that and provide children with the best possible start in life.
Click here to find out more about Schools for Asia.
Where Do You Stand in the Global Love Ranking?
February 14 (Bloomberg) Paris and Rome may be famous for romance, but it's Filipinos who get the most love. That, at least, is a conclusion that can be drawn from a global love survey conducted by the Gallup Organization.
In our latest column for Bloomberg View, we mine the unique Gallup data for insights into the nature of love and its relationship to nationality, age, money and economic development. The survey, conducted in 136 countries, posed the question: "Did you experience love for a lot of the day yesterday?"
In honor of Valentine's Day, we thought readers might be interested in seeing the full ranking. So here goes. The first number after each country name is the percentage of respondents who said they had experienced love the previous day. The second (in parentheses) is the sample size for the country.
1. Philippines 93% (2193)
2. Rwanda 92% (1495)
3. Puerto Rico 90% (495)
134. Mongolia 32% (928)
135. Uzbekistan 32% (962)
136. Armenia 29% (1954)
A color-coded map of the countries where people feel the most and least loved – The Washington Post, February 14
"Mogi" Munkhdul Badral
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