Blue Wolf Mongolia Countdown: 51 days left till liquidation
TRQ closed flat at C$6.59 and -1.55% to US$6.36
Turquoise Hill Resources Provides Update on Discussions with the Mongolian Government
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 28, 2013) - Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TSX:TRQ)(NYSE:TRQ)(NASDAQ:TRQ) today provided an update on the status of discussions with the Government of Mongolia about the development of Oyu Tolgoi following the recent meeting of Oyu Tolgoi LLC's shareholders and a meeting of the Board of Directors.
Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto continue to have productive discussions with the Government of Mongolia on a range of issues related to the implementation of the Investment Agreement, including project development and costs, operating budget, project financing, management fees and governance. While progress on these issues was made during the latest meetings, all parties have agreed to continue discussions during March 2013 with a goal of resolving the issues in the near term.
The Oyu Tolgoi LLC Board has approved continued funding to progress the project as discussions with the Government proceed. Oyu Tolgoi is expected to reach commercial production by the end of June 2013 subject to the resolution of the issues being discussed with the Government.
Kay Priestly, Turquoise Hill Chief Executive Officer, said, "Given Oyu Tolgoi's significant economic and social benefits to Mongolia, it is in the best interest of all stakeholders to swiftly resolve these important issues and keep the project on schedule. We are open and willing to consider opportunities related to the implementation of the Investment Agreement and companion Shareholders' Agreement that will assist the Government as long as it preserves the respective agreements."
Negotiation on Oyutolgoi to be continued
February 28 (news.mn) Shareholders meeting of Oyutolgoi LLC was held once again in Ikh Tenger complex past afternoon on February 27th. The meeting where parties negotiated on certain issues lasted without a solution after hours.
Hence, the shareholders meeting of Oyutolgoi is expected to be re-scheduled after a break. A working on negotiation will talk to investors of the project to re-schedule next meeting.
The working group lead by Minister of Mining, D.Gankhuyag was representative of Mongolian Government at the shareholders meeting as before.
This the second time that the shareholders` meeting of Oyutolgoi has been postponed without a solution since issues of the project uncertain cost increase, feasibility study implementation failure raised.
Mongolian Government and investors signed Oyutolgoi Investment Agreement in 2009. According to the Investment Agreement the first commercial production at the largest untapped copper and gold deposit was scheduled in 2013.
But Mongolian Government raised some issues over project costs, revenues and taxes.
The project cost blown up to 7.1 billion US dollar, almost a 40 percent rise from planned 5.1 billion US dollar and the costs since the start of the underground mine has risen from USD 14.6 billion as oulined in the feasibility study, to a stuggering USD 24.4 billion, 68 percent increase cause uncertainty about the project.
Therefore Mongolian Government demands investors to re-negotiate on the issues.
Mogi: Gankhuyag stated yesterday that two sides agreed to repay the $250m tax/dividend prepayment in 2014-2015
Mongolia Plans to Charge Rio's Oyu Tolgoi Interest on Tax
February 28 (Bloomberg) Mongolia plans to start charging interest on allegedly unpaid tax owed by Rio Tinto Group's Oyu Tolgoi LLC, as talks continue over the future of the $6.6 billion copper and gold mine, the nation's mining minister said.
Mongolia wants Oyu Tolgoi LLC, in which Rio controls 66 percent and the government the rest, to pay interest, even as the two sides disagree on whether the tax payment was made. Oyu Tolgoi said Feb. 5 that it pre-paid $150 million in tax in 2010 and 2011 and was due to receive credit for it last year. Mines Minister Davaajav Gankhuyag said today that the payment was a loan and tax obligations are still outstanding.
"Their tax will now be charged with interest," which has yet to be worked out, Gankhuyag said in an interview in Ulan Bator. "The Mongolia government did not do anything wrong. It's the investor side."
The tax payment is one of several issues in an escalating dispute between the government and Rio's Oyu Tolgoi unit over the mining project, which will make up 30 percent of Mongolia's economy once it's in full production. The two sides are still in talks, which include funding for Oyu Tolgoi's development, Gankhuyag said.
"We do not have the same position on all matters, we have different positions in various topics, but I hope that we will have a final decision soon," said Davaajav. "We want to start production at this mine as soon as possible."
Oyu Tolgoi's budget is only approved by both sides until the end of this month, while London-based Rio Tinto has said commercial scale operations are due to start by mid-year.
The board of Oyu Tolgoi is meeting today to discuss 13 major issues, the minister said. Among these are Mongolia's plan to introduce a new minerals law to govern the mining industry and the annulment of earlier government decisions to grant Entree Gold Inc. (ETG), a Canadian company that owns part of the Oyu Tolgoi land, permits to extract minerals on the territory, he said.
Rio Tinto has a direct 12.85 percent stake in Entree and a 10.7 percent stake is held by Rio's Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) unit, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
President Tsakhia Elbegdorj this month criticized Rio Tinto for cost overruns at Oyu Tolgoi and said Mongolia wants more control of the project. The copper and gold mine is the second- largest project that Rio is currently building.
In addition to Oyu Tolgoi's tax prepayment, the company also made a $100 million prepayment of dividends in 2010 and 2011, it said in its February statement. Separately, in 2012 Oyu Tolgoi paid a total of $280 million to Mongolia in taxes and other fees, according to the statement.
The $250 million that Oyu Tolgoi said were tax and dividend prepayments was actually a loan to the Mongolian government that the country plans to repay in 2014 and 2015, with interest, minister Gankhuyag said.
P.Tsagaan: We don't talk about politics at the Board of Directors meeting – we talk about Mongolia.
February 28 (UB Post) The following interview is with P.Tsagaan, one of the three current Mongolian members of the Board of Directors at Oyu Tolgoi LLC.
-A discussion concerning the Board of Directors of Oyu Tolgoi during a Parliament meeting sparked the issue of accountability and replacement of its Mongolian members. It has been widely circulated and has become a hot topic for the public and media. You are one of the Board members at Oyu Tolgoi. Your answers in Parliament meetings were very short, and you are generally quiet. What are the reasons for this?
-It would be a very long story if I decide to talk about this. There is no law that dictates a member of a Board of Directors of any company to report their business to the State. When required, we may decide to release information through our investors.
We have been talking about things like these before; this is nothing new – only this time, they were spoken publicly.
-But since then, some people have been and still are actively supporting that the three Mongolian members at the Board of Directors be relieved of their positions. How are you taking this?
-It is possible to let the Board members go. But we can't just let them go when we want them to – it has its own rules and regulations on appointment and removal. Nevertheless, we have worked for the benefit of Mongolia and successfully completed the first phase of the project. No one has to thank us – but they could at least stop accusing us of doing nothing.
The three members have been appointed by the government. I can proudly say that we all have worked hard for the interest of our country. Representing Mongolia, we discussed and debated with one of the largest and most experienced companies; we even quarreled with them on more than one occasion. We don't talk about politics or unions at the Board of Directors meeting – we talk about Mongolia. The investors think we are Mongolian nationalists with strong views. I think they would be surprised to know that we are looked down upon by our fellow countrymen.
I was appointed to this position while I was serving as the President's assistant. N.Bagabandi was a two-term Mongolian president, and was also the Speaker of the Parliament. There was nothing wrong with choosing him for his ability and experience to be a member of the Board of Directors at Oyu Tolgoi. We all know that his words carry more weight than any other random nationalist out there.
People say Ch.Ganbold is simply a singer. I do not think it is his fault that he has a natural ability to sing. He is a very educated man who also serves as chairman of a large commercial bank.
-Can you name a few operations or decisions that are direct results of your involvement at the Board?
-We were appointed and attended our first Board meeting in June 2010. We have always protected the interests of Mongolia in every issue brought up at the Board. The first goal of the Board was to put the copper mine into operation. This was completed half a year ahead of its schedule. There were numerous difficulties during this time, but thanks to the enormous support and assistance from the Mongolian government, the State Property Committee, Erdenes-Oyu Tolgoi, Umnugobi Province, and the administration of Khanbogd Soum, in addition to the excellent financing and management provided by our investors, we have successfully overcome all of them and completed the first phase of the project. This is only the beginning of the construction project.
Past events and Board meeting logs will serve as proof when it comes to the question of our loyalty to Mongolia. If the Mongolian Board members failed to serve as a bridge between Oyu Tolgoi investors and the Government of Mongolia, the first phase could not have been in operation this soon.
For the past two and a half years, there were difficulties concerning Mongolian bureaucracy, beadledom and delays, as well as the foreign investors' temperament. One simple example is that the discussion on whether to temporarily import energy from China has continued for 22 months.
Only a year after joining the Board, we were able to reduce the investment interest by five percent on an already signed contract. It may be easy to say, but it was not an easy task. This five percent means one billion USD is now removed from our annual interest fee. There has never been such a high cut on our expenditure before. The work on changing preferred stocks to common stocks was not easy, too.
All we have left to do is to talk to our investors about expanding production and increasing efficiency, as well as discussing and resolving obvious mistakes made on our contract.
-What is the most important discussion during that Parliament meeting?
-The unprofessional move by Goldman Sachs. Unless they come and apologize by their own initiative, our country will have to issue a complaint.
-Did the Mongolian government know everything about what's happening right now?
-Of course they knew – the heart of the government's strategy lies in knowing who is meeting who and where, and what is taking place. This project is the largest one undertaken by our government. It has many sides and many colors. Not only is it a business, but Oyu Tolgoi is also an important geopolitical project that promises Mongolia fast growth and its economic independence. This is the reason why we must treat this project with different views and with a long-term vision.
Despite having a vast territory and rich mineral resources, Mongolian people were always short on general everyday products for many years. I believe that the first step in overcoming this problem is to correctly cooperate with foreign investors.
Investors are not gods – they are cunning people who are interested in making money. By precisely utilizing their interest to profit from a business with Mongolia's interest to grow its economy, Mongolia can become a great country once again. But to do so, we need smart and fair people who are totally dedicated to improving and flourishing Mongolia.
-The President of Mongolia spoke strongly on Oyu Tolgoi's operations. Why didn't he speak of this before?
-As the President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj knows everything about Mongolia inside out, including the strategically important Oyu Tolgoi project. It is always the center of his attention – as the Head of State, he said what had to be said during the Parliament meeting. It is his choice when and how to say his views.
-When will we be rid of occasional disputes between the investors and Mongolians?
-It depends on the two sides. The faster the heads of Rio Tinto get rid of its old and routine views and actually level with Mongolia, the faster our problems will disappear. Mongolians should also be rid of their "complaining old woman" behavior. We should resolve our issues and move on without embarrassing Mongolia in front of the world. I think our investors would agree.
But I think the two parties will find a way to get along because their objectives and interests are the same.
-The investment of Oyu Tolgoi has been constantly on the rise. What is the reason for this?
-We will soon know. There are implications that we are at fault for the huge expenditure. Both sides should look at the problem realistically. If we hadn't confirmed and approved the 2012 budget, we wouldn't have had our mine in operation by now – and its eventual outcome would have been very hard to imagine. For starters, we would have returned the 10,000 onsite workers back to where they came from and over 1,000 Mongolian companies' contracts and agreements at Oyu Tolgoi would have halted. Thousands of people would have been out of job and ended up with no income.
On the other hand, the concrete molding of certain structures has to be done persistently. The quality of the structure will be put at risk if it is stopped for any reason, and the whole operation will have to be restarted. But what about restarting the work of a 1,300 meter deep tunnel? Do we let it collapse and dig again? Of course, we can do all that – we can destroy it and rebuild it anytime we want but we have to remember that 34 percent of all costs come down on Mongolia.
In short, we were in a stalemate with only one choice available. We discussed the matter with our investors and decided that we would definitely confirm the budget and put the mine in operation before its due time, and we would separately address the issue of cost later. I believe this was the right decision.
Once we had done it, we officially put it on paper that our budget has exceeded by one billion USD.
-What do you think is the reason why the discussion of Oyu Tolgoi has become more popular among Parliament members?
-There must be many reasons. They have a lot of things to discuss. Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi began at about the same time. But Oyu Tolgoi is now powered up and has begun production, whereas Tavan Tolgoi is essentially in a bankrupt state; and where is that famous Thermal Power Plant No. 5?
It is correct to criticize something on its usefulness, but it has to be realistic and backed by evidence. When the world looks at us, it does not matter which party is in control of the government. It is just Mongolia and the Government of Mongolia. So the government should not wrong the previous political party, they should instead have the ability see the government's past, present, and future as one.
Additionally, foreigners should not take advantage of Mongolia's interest to have access to a third neighbor, its low population, inexperience in loaning, or insufficient international financial knowledge.
ETG closed -5.75% to C$0.41 and -4.76% to US$0.40
Mongolia Suspends Two Mining Licenses
February 28 (WSJ) Mongolia suspended two mining permits for a Canadian gold and copper explorer partly owned by Rio Tinto PLC, raising the stakes in a dispute over the huge Oyu Tolgoi development in the Gobi Desert.
Entree Gold Ltd., which has been prospecting on land surrounding the Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine, said late Wednesday that two licenses were suspended, and a government order related to the conversion of an exploration permit into a mining license was canceled. (Mogi: actually Entrée said in the statement the revoked order relates to reserve registration, not license conversions, but the Mining Ministry's statement did say revoked order relates to mining license conversion) Rio Tinto controls the Oyu Tolgoi mine, and owns about 24% of Entree, through its holdings in Toronto-listed Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd.
Rio Tinto had no immediate comment Thursday. The suspensions come as company executives are meeting with the Mongolian government in the capital, Ulaanbaatar (Mogi: thanks WSJ! As latest as 7 February 2013 they were spelling it Ulan Bator, nice!), this week in a bid to resolve differences over Oyu Tolgoi. Mongolia is refusing to support Rio Tinto's efforts to raise as much as US$6 billion in loans tied to the mine. Rio Tinto Chief Executive Sam Walsh said this month the dispute put investment by the mining giant and others in the emerging Asian nation at risk. Oyu Tolgoi is the country's biggest investment project.
Under a 2009 agreement, the government holds a 34% stake in Oyu Tolgoi. Government officials have complained that the Anglo-Australian miner hasn't been transparent about the operation and has structured the project's capital in a way that benefits the miner at the expense of the government.
It isn't the first time Mongolia has canceled mining permits. Last year, the government suspended licenses for another Rio Tinto-controlled company, coal miner South Gobi Resources Ltd. (Mogi: SouthGobi), in an apparent attempt, according to analysts, to block a takeover of South Gobi by state-owned Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. China's voracious appetite for commodities gives neighboring Mongolia a ready-made, nearby market for its exports. At the same time, Mongolia is wary of letting its biggest customer directly control its resources. The mining licenses were restored after the proposed takeover deal was dropped.
Mongolia, a landlocked nation of 2.7 million people, has stirred interest among foreign investors and mining companies because of its vast, mostly undeveloped reserves of coal, iron ore, copper, gold and other minerals.
Despite the latest dispute, the Mongolian government has signaled it is wary of scaring off foreign investment. A controversial proposal to change the country's mining law, giving the state more control over private projects, was shelved recently until after a presidential election scheduled for June.
A top official at Mongolia's Mining Ministry said in an emailed statement late Thursday that the government made the move to suspend Entrée's mining licenses in order to correct a mistake made by the previous administration.
"The previous minister overstepped his authority," the official said. "The current mining minister has just canceled the order due to the breach of law. The Minerals Authority should restart the transferring process again in line with relevant law. The Entrée Gold license is not canceled. Its transfer has been frozen."
Entrée said the temporary suspension of the mining licenses means they can't be transferred or sold. The company said it believes it has complied with Mongolian laws and regulations and is working to resolve the matter. Its shares fell 10% in Toronto on Tuesday to close at 45 Canadian cents (44 U.S. cents).
Rio Tinto has said it hopes to close project financing for Oyu Tolgoi this quarter. A consortium including private banks, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank's International Finance Corp. are involved.
The company plans to begin commercial production from the mine by the end of June. Over its life, Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce an average of 425,000 tons of copper and 460,000 ounces of gold a year.
Commerzbank analysts said in a research note that the government dispute could delay the mine, possibly leading to a lower-than-expected global copper-supply surplus this year.
Mongolia Snubs Canadian Gobi Desert Mine Explorer Entree Inc, Partly Owned By Rio Tinto, On Massive Oyu Tolgoi Mine, At Least For Now – International Business Times, February 28
Mongolian Government Suspending Licenses Doesn't Augur Well For Rio Tinto
February 28 (Trefis) The specter of resource nationalism in Mongolia has come to haunt Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) once again. The Mongolian government has announced its cancellation of the decision made in 2009, under which it converted the Shivee Tolgoi and Javhlant exploration licenses held by Oyu Tolgoi and Entree Gold, into mining licenses. The licenses now stand suspended, pending review of the decision.
Oyu Tolgoi owns 80% interest and Entree 20% interest in production from the mining licenses. Oyu Tolgoi is controlled by Rio Tinto through its Turquoise Hill Resources unit. The Mongolian government has a 34% stake in Oyu Tolgoi, which it is keen to increase to 50%. 
The government's move is being seen as a tactic to exert pressure on Rio, ahead of key talks over funding for the mine which will run out in three days. The two sides are slated to meet on February 27 and 28, to hash out problems and find a compromise. The larger dispute is about ownership in the mine. The Mongolian government is desirous of increasing its stake to 50% immediately in violation of the agreement signed with Rio, which only provides for incremental government ownership over time. (Mogi: the agreement allows for Mongolia to acquire additional 15% after 30 years, if I'm not mistaken)
Impact On Rio
Rio stands to lose from the cancellation of the mine licenses because it is Entree Gold's biggest shareholder, with 23.6% of the shares. The area covered by the license contains 25% of the inferred mineral resources of the Oyu Tolgoi vein, according to Financial Times calculations based on technical reports.
What the Mongolian government ostensibly intends to do is to transfer Entree Gold's licenses to Oyu Tolgoi, in order to boost its own revenues since it owns a part of Oyu Tolgoi. While Rio Tinto is obviously a stakeholder in Oyu Tolgoi as well, its overall revenue share will go down if licenses are cancelled.  (Mogi: can anyone tell me what exactly the OTIA states re Entrée-OT licenses? The government asserts that as per agreement the licenses were supposed to be transferred to OT)
The Larger Issue
Financing for the $6.6 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, which will become the world's five largest once it reaches full production, runs out in three days, and talks to extend its funding are being held on February 27 and 28. If an agreement is not reached, either the mine will have to suspend operations or Rio will be forced to extend it a credit line.
The outcome is crucial to both sides. At full capacity, production from Oyu Tolgoi will account for nearly a third of Mongolia's economy, while Rio Tinto is dependent on the mine to drive growth outside its massive iron ore business. Having suffered massive writedowns in its aluminum business for two consecutive years, Rio is looking for avenues to allow significant yet profitable diversification from iron ore. Also, almost all of Rio's iron ore production is tied up in the Pilbara region of Australia, where cyclones are quite common and lead to production outages.
While the main grouse of the Mongolian government is budget overruns, we wonder why Rio wouldn't want to control costs. It has been a stated objective of the company to reduce costs, reaffirmed in its latest earnings release and presentation through quantified cost saving targets for the next three years. The step is essential to stabilize the company's financials and shore up its balance sheet.
If the two sides fail to reach an agreement in talks and Rio decides not to extend a credit line to Oyu Tolgoi, we see international arbitration as its only option. But that would delay production beyond June 2013 – Rio's stated target. This will have an impact on the company's performance for 2013. Also, arbitration proceedings are not enforceable, so little may be gained in the end even if Rio wins.
We have a Trefis price estimate for Rio of $45, which will be revised now that the fourth quarter earnings results are out.
975 closed yesterday -0.9% to HK$3.32
Moody's downgrades Mongolian Mining to B2; outlook stable
[ET Net News Agency, 28 February 2013] Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the corporate family and senior unsecured bond ratings of Mongolian Mining Corporation (MMC)(00975) to B2 from B1. The ratings outlook is stable.
This concluded the rating review for downgrade initiated on 24 January 2013.
"The downgrade reflects the weakened financial profile of MMC and Moody's expectation that its credit metrics are unlikely to improve materially over the next 12-18 months to a level that is appropriate for a B1 rating, as a result of the prolonged weakness in coking coal prices," said Simon Wong, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst.
"Coking coal prices have firmed recently, largely due to restocking demand, but there is still some uncertainty over whether prices will continue to rise for the remainder of this year. Moody's expects prices to average $165-$175 per ton for the next 12 to 18 months due to the moderation in the growth in demand for steel and the ample level of coking coal supplies", he added.
MNP last traded 25 Feb at C$0.095, MNAP closed flat yesterday at US$0.086
Manas Petroleum Corporation Announces Grants and Cancellations of Stock Options and Amendment to the Consulting Agreement with Investor Relations Consultant
BAAR, Switzerland, Feb. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Manas Petroleum Corporation ("Manas" or the"Company") (TSX‑V: MNP; OTCBB: MNAP) announces that effective as of February 1, 2013, the Company granted 1,000,000 stock options to each of Murray Rodgers and Darcy Spady , two of the Company's directors, for an aggregate of 2,000,000 stock options. Each stock option is exercisable at a price of CDN$0.15 per share for a period of 10 years and vesting in 2 years in quarterly installments. The grant is subject to the execution of stock option agreements by Messrs. Rodgers and Spady and the terms of the Company's 2011 stock option plan.
Effective as of February 1, 2013, the Company also granted 750,000 stock options to General Research GmbH ("General Research"). Each stock option is exercisable at a price of CDN$0.15 per share for a period of 5 years and vesting in 2 years in quarterly installments. The grant is subject to the execution of a stock option agreement by General Research and the terms of the Company's 2011 stock option plan.
Some of the Company's directors and officers have agreed to cancel an aggregate of 4,850,000 stock options to allow the Company to grant stock options to others. Currently, the Company's stock option plan allows the Company to grant stock options to acquire up to a maximum of 10% of the number of issued and outstanding shares of the Company's common stock at the time of the grant.
Effective as of February 1, 2013, the Company entered into an amendment to the consulting agreement with General Research, the Company's investor relations consultant, whereby the Company and General Research amended the consulting agreement effective as of November 22, 2011 to provide that on an "as-needed" and "as-requested" basis, General Research will provide market-making services relating to the Company's securities in accordance with the applicable securities laws and policies of the TSX Venture Exchange.
SCHEDULE OF MSE LISTIED COMPANIES' SHAREHOLDER MEETINGS
February 28 (MSE) If you would like to see Shareholders meeting schedules of joint stock companies please refer to LISTING menu then choose SHAREHOLDERS MEETING option from the Mongolian Stock Exchange's official website.
Please click here to jump directly.
SOME JOINT STOCK COMPANIES DECLARED TO DISTRIBUTE DIVIDEND
February 28 (MSE) As of 28 February 2013, total of 7 companies including Gobi, Hermes center, Sharyn gol, APU, BDSec, Takhi-Co and Bayanteeg submitted their Board of Directors Resolution regarding dividend.
Please click here to view dividend distribution data 2013.
BDSec WEEKLY (WITH YEAR END PROFITABILITY PERFORMANCE OF MSE LISTED COMPANIES)
February 25 (MSE) --
• MSE listed companies started announcing their year-end financials: net profit of most actively traded companies has grown by 42.1% in 2012 and sales revenue of those companies went up by 25% in the same year
• Sharyn Gol (SHG), 100% private and the largest thermal coal producer in terms of coal reserve, is having outstanding net profit growth, 195% CAGR since 2010; followed by Materialimpex (MIE), logistics and trading company which had 193% CAGR and concrete producer Remicon (RMC) which had 155% CAGR during the same period.
Update: Top state-owned mining firm spurns foreign investors
February 28 (The Economist Intelligence Unit) --
Mongolia's biggest state-owned coal mining company, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (Erdenes TT), has picked a domestic contractor, Khishig Arvin, to begin work at the coking coal-rich West Tsankhi block of the Tavan Tolgoi deposit. The contract is for preparation work only, and does not include the excavation of coal.
The selection of Khishig Arvin, a little-known company, throws into doubt the opportunities for foreign mining firms (such as US-based Peabody Energy or China's Shenhua) to be involved in operations at Mongolia's most prized coal deposit.
Khishig Arvin has been contracted to remove topsoil at the West Tsankhi block and to carry out the box cut for the deposit—a project that is expected to take up to six months. In October last year Erdenes TT expressed an interest in contracting Peabody to perform this work, but sources close to the matter suggest that Mongolia backed off after quiet protests against such an arrangement were lodged by both Russia and China. It appears that Mongolia turned away from dealing with the US coal miner and decided to play safe by selecting a domestic producer in Khishig Arvin.
Following its six-month preparation project at West Tsankhi, Erdenes TT will need to find another firm to excavate the coal from the site. That firm could be domestic, an overseas entity or even Erdenes TT itself. The young company has until now only used contract miners but has expressed interest in hiring equipment to begin its own operations. Should Mongolia choose to go it alone, it would be turning its back on world-class mining operators that had been prepared to pour much needed foreign direct investment into the country.
Provided that there are no further delays to the project, the development of West Tsankhi will help Erdenes TT in its goal of making an initial public offering (IPO) on an overseas stockmarket. Erdenes TT is attempting to build up the Tavan Tolgoi mine, increase coal output and improve its financial position ahead of the planned IPO. However, the rejection of world-class foreign mining firms as partners provides another indication that Mongolia is increasingly favouring domestic producers over foreign ones. Foreign investors will face growing challenges from domestic companies in the race to develop Mongolia.
Impact on the forecast
Our forecast for policy trends in Mongolia is unlikely to change, given that the selection of Khishig Arvin confirms the recent trend of a more nationalistic approach to mining policy.
BoM issues 1-week bills
February 27 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 632.15 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.49 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM holds FX auction
February 28 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on February 28th, 2013 the BOM received from local commercials banks total bid offers of 86.3 million USD and 88 million CNY. BOM has bought 43.15 million USD as closing rate of 1401.52 MNT and 88 million CNY as closing rate of 224.50 MNT.
Election Committee sets limits on presidential election campaigning
February 26 (news.mn) The General Election Committee held a meeting on Friday to discuss setting a base spending limit for a candidate`s primary campaign because of the up-coming preparation work for the Mongolian presidential election.
During the meeting the General Election Committee assigned the base spending limit for the presidential election of candidates for 3 billion MNT, of a party, 5.1 billion MNT.
The General Election Committee approved the limit in accordance with the law on the role of President that states the Committee should assign the base spending for a candidate and party in the election by March 1st of an election year.
According to the law the voting for the presidential election will take place during the second half of next June, on a working day.
The day for voting should be scheduled by parliament 65 days in advance of the date.
Ulaanbaatar may face power shortages in 2014
February 28 (UB Post) Given Mongolia's current state of energy resources and production, the country may experience power shortages in 2014, if not sooner. The expansion of the more than 30-year-old thermal power plants and the construction of a new power plant (Power Plant No.5) are expected to meet all electricity demand. Industry officials have stated that by 2020 all domestic demand for energy will been met.
Journalists discussed this issue with the Head of the Fuel Department of the Ministry of Energy, N.Boldkhuu.
-There are confirmed reports that the capital city will experience electrical shortages by 2014. What is the domestic energy shortage situation in Mongolia today and what is needed to resolve this issue?
-Lately, constructing new buildings and housings has become close to impossible. The necessary infrastructure just isn't there. We need to at least meet the 300 megawatt power demand in the first place. This will allow energy to be supplied to 100,000 more households. If the 100 megawatt extension for Power Plant No.4 and the construction of Power Plant No.5 in Bayanzurkh District are completed, domestic demand for electrical power will be met by 2020.
-Can you give us an official explanation for the increased power outages experienced this winter? Was it due to electrical shortages?
-There is a false notion among the public that if the power keeps going out, it means that the power supply is experiencing hiccoughs and soon all power will go out. I want to clarify that these power outages were due to damage and faults in the electrical network system. But we might start experiencing real shortages from next year.
-How many power generating plants are operating at the moment? Building a power plant will require a hefty amount of funding. Though there are ways to raise the capital necessary, the value of the currency isn't gaining strength. What are your thoughts on this?
-At the moment, there are three power plants operating in the capital city and there are plants in Darkhan, Erdenet, Dornod Province, Umnugobi Province, and two hydroelectric stations. There are also sub power stations. You are right, it will require a huge investment to establish new plants. My opinion on this is that the power issue needs to be addressed before the massive railway projects. Whenever someone wants to build something, the infrastructure isn't there and this is a big problem. I think it is better to address the energy infrastructure issues before thinking about profits from exports. Instead of importing energy from abroad, we have to think about supplying the needs domestically.
-It has been said that the railways are the only way to benefit from the mineral wealth, so shouldn't this be a priority?
-Of course it is necessary. We have to think about supplying sufficient infrastructure for the big upcoming mining projects so that they can work at full capacity and produce commercial products that will eventually be transported by railway. When the mines are working at full capacity will there be a need to increase exports. Our nation is located in an advantageous position. The world market is focusing more on Asia and, more specifically, on China. Our biggest economic partner, China, buys the majority of its coal from Australia, Indonesia and USA. So obviously we need to improve exports in order to keep our biggest buyer.
Road to prosperity: five ways Mongolia can improve the quality of its infrastructure spending
February 27 (World Bank Blog) Financed by the mining boom, government spending on new infrastructure in Mongolia has increased 35-fold in the past 10 years. But you would not know this from driving the pot holed streets of Ulaanbaatar or inhaling the smog filled air of the city, particularly in the ger areas.
A new World Bank report I co-authored examines why this increased spending is not resulting in equivalent benefits for the citizens of Mongolia in terms of better roads, efficient and clean heating, and improved water and sanitation services.
The reasons are that much of this spending has been misdirected to low priority areas and activities, and has been wasted due to poor project planning and implementation. Correcting these weaknesses is urgently required to ensure that the government's ambitious spending plans — from the rapidly increasing budget and from new international borrowing, like the recent $1.5 billion Chinggis sovereign bond — result in good quality infrastructure.
Ulaanbaatar accounts for over 40 percent of Mongolia's population and a bulk of its economic activity. Considerable economic research tells us that with proper infrastructure and favorable regulations, cities can be engines of economic growth, fostering innovation and raising living standards for the entire country. The citizens of Mongolia know this and that's why they have been migrating to Ulaanbaatar in search of better paying jobs – the city's population has increased by 60 percent over the past decade.
Yet Ulaanbaatar has been relatively neglected in government infrastructure spending. On average, it received less than 20 percent of the national roads budget over the past 5 years, and was similarly under-prioritized in expenditures on heating. Moreover, future government plans continue to neglect Ulaanbaatar; over the next four years the government plans to spend almost twice as much on rural roads as on Ulaanbaatar's roads even though rural roads will not have anywhere near the traffic volumes needed to generate positive economic returns.
Spending can only result in good roads, schools, and hospitals if these are regularly and adequately maintained. Yet maintenance has been grossly neglected with the result that new infrastructure quickly deteriorates and then requires costly reconstruction. The government only spends a fifth of what is needed on routine road maintenance; it is therefore no surprise that 60 percent of the national road network is in poor condition requiring reconstruction. The ratio of maintenance spending to spending on new investments has been steadily declining over the past three years, pointing to more problems in the future.
Making sure that spending results in a good road or power plant being built also requires proper planning and sound construction. An infrastructure project needs a realistic cost estimate; the contract to the company to build the project needs to be given in a transparent and competitive manner; the contractor has to be properly supervised to ensure it does its work properly; and the construction company has to have the necessary skills and resources to do the job.
Right now none of these key links in the chain from spending to a good new road or other infrastructure is working satisfactorily. Cost estimates are unrealistically low; there is significant political interference in the award of contracts; construction companies cut corners during implementation compromising on quality, often in cahoots with the supervision engineers; and the whole system does not encourage the growth of the construction sector, which is currently greatly lacking in skilled engineers and workers.
So what needs to be done?
· Spending plans need to be tempered with the reality of the capacity to spend well, both the government's capacity as well as the construction sector's capacity. This is currently not the case, which then risks a lot of wastage.
· The spending has to be much more focused on Ulaanbaatar and on infrastructure maintenance to yield maximum economic returns. This can be easily achieved if there is the political will — for example, in the roads sector only a modest reallocation of 20 percent from new construction to maintenance last year would greatly improve the state of the national road network.
· The government needs to invest in its capacity to prepare and implement projects well. This will require having more staff in the ministries and local governments who can do the necessary technical analysis. It also requires taking the time and spending the necessary money for proper economic feasibilities of projects.
· There needs to be much more focus on independent project supervision, including providing opportunities for citizens to monitor projects. Without this emphasis on transparency and monitoring, the risks of corruption and wastage will remain because the rapid growth in spending provides ample opportunities for illicit enrichment.
· Mongolia needs to consider inviting foreign workers and companies who can make up for the shortage of skilled workers. Through specific partnerships, the government can ensure that those companies pass on their expertise and help improve the capacity of both the government and the construction sector.
Do you know of examples in other countries where spending in infrastructure has been improved? Would they apply to Mongolia? Share with us.
1,000 advertising billboards to be removed
February 26 (news.mn) Around 1,000 advertising boards will be removed in the city center according to a new regulation. The Chief of Ulaanbaatar City Governor`s Office, the General Manager of the City, B.Badral introduced a proposal for a new rule to organize large advertising boards that clutter the city center during the meeting of the Citizens" Representative Khural on February Monday 25th. Representatives seriously discussed the issue of advertising board cluttering the City and decided to act on the proposed rule. Ulaanbaatar City Governor`s Office initiated the proposal for the new rule to organize the advertising boards. It is estimated that currently there are 2180 large advertising boards from 274 companies and organizations in Ulaanbaatar city.
In remote districts such as Nalaikh, Baganuur and Bagakhangai there are over 100 advertising boards. Ulaanbaatar City Governor`s Office receives numerous complaints about the un-tidiness and affect of large advertising on traffic security and appearances of the Ulaanbaatar City from citizens.
According to the new regulation the District Administrative will be in charge of issues relating to the placement of advertising bill-boards.
The proposed rule submitted by the Ulaanbaatar City Governor`s Office is designed to arrange the advertising boards by setting a standard, erasing the bad affect on traffic security and the appearance of the city.
According to the rule some advertising boards will be removed from streets and avenues in the city center and a list of streets, squares and buildings where advertisement bill-boards will be forbidden will be made. There will also be a standard for information boards for organizations, offices, cultural attractions, education, entertainment, banks, institutes, trade and services and auto repair service.
The most important part of the rule is establishing the placement of advertisement bill-boards.
According to the regulation passed by the Citizens` Representative Khural on Monday the authority of organizing the boards will be transferred to the District Administrative. The District Administrative will be in charge of signing a deal with contractors to place the advert bill-boards, canceling the licenses and extending the lease period.
New by-the-second mobile tariff by 15 March
February 28 (news.mn) The Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP) negotiated with four national mobile operators to switch cell phone service tariffs from being calculated per minute into per second calculation by March 1st.
Mongolian phone subscribers are to pay per second, rather than paying for a whole minute even when the call lasts only a few seconds.
The Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP) reported that currently the four national mobile operators Skytel LLC, Mobicom LLC, Unitel LLC and G-Mobile LLC have undergone technical and other preparation work for the new service package to switch from the minute tariff into a second tariff.
The Communications Regulatory Commission of Mongolia will consider and solve service offers by mobile operators according to law. All four mobile operator companies will switch into using a by-the-second tariff from the minute tariff by March 15th or International subscriber`s day.
Finance Mongolia 2013 raises public understanding of stocks and shares
February 28 (UB Post) Finance Mongolia 2013, the first financial exhibition and conference of its kind in Mongolia, took place at the Misheel Expo Centre over the weekend. At the event, several financial sector organizations provided the public with information about the financial sector and stock market.
The organizations displaying their services at the event were eager to explain the benefits of the financial market to the participants at the event. The information they provided gave visitors a general understanding of what stocks and shares are and how the equity market works. Most of the participants were brokers and dealers.
Mongolia's top banks, including Khan Bank, the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia, Khas, and Khadaglamj, along with insurance savings companies such as Mongol Daatgal, MIG Insurance, and Soyombo Insurance, exhibited their services and products at the weekend event.
Brokers at the conference said at the conference that since the distribution of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi stock to the public, interest in the stock market has grown and many people are now seeking to learn more about the sector. They noted, however, that the number of accounts being opened at the Mongolian Stock Exchange has declined recently, along with trade.
According to the Manager of Khan-Uul branch of insurance company Mongol Daatgal, the people of Mongolia have yet to learn the importance of insurance, as the sector hasn't seen much development in the past. At the conference he said, "By passing a law regarding driver responsibility, the public has become more informed about (accident) insurance and its significance. After receiving compensation from insurance companies, drivers are realizing the importance of insurance." Mongol Daatgal provided 5.9 billion MNT in compensation payments last year.
Participants at the Coal Mongolia 2013 conference last week noted that the financial and banking sector in Mongolia is underdeveloped compared to other developing nations. They also observed that in most developed countries information about the financial sector is widely accessible and available to the public.
Bankers at the Finance Mongolia 2013 event noted that although the banking sector in Mongolia has seen much progress in recent years due to the country's enviable economic growth, the size of the sector is still not large enough to absorb the inflow of capital. They further noted that the event would have been more effective in informing the public if it had been organized near the centre of the city.
Mongolian meat standardization
By Baptiste Cessieux
February 28 (UB Post) Since a few weeks ago, Europe has been coping with a serious issue related to meat standards and, more precisely, its traceability procedures. Indeed, it has been discovered that some horse meat was sold under the false pretext of beef. Because such fraud is affecting on a large scale the prepared food industry, including dishes such as the lasagna of Findus and the meatballs of Nestle, the integrity of the whole meat supply chain is seriously being questioned.
It is nevertheless clear that this issue has nothing to do with a food safety flaw. The whole scandal is rather based on commercial fraud taking advantage of the lower cost of horse meat compared to beef. Indeed, horse meat is equally safe and appropriate for human consumption but consumers all over Europe have been misguided when it comes to the nature of meat they were supposed to buy. How can you trust suppliers who avoid telling you exactly what you eat?
Sure, this controversy triggered a wave of questions. And what about Mongolia? Indeed, the Mongolian government has been trying for a few years – with a certain degree of success – to enforce the implementation of international standards in local food production. After canned food and drinks, the government wants to expand the application of food safety standards to the meat supply chain. Not an easy task in a country with a nomadic culture!
But implementation is in progress. On March 1, a new law has been approved asking the whole meat production industry to firstly provide training to its workers – including a certification – and secondly to at least acquire the necessary software to implement the full traceability of meat from its source till the consumer. The objective of this two-step approach is to secure the global standardization of meat production by January 1, 2014 when this law will effectively enter into force. Once traceability is secured, Mongolian raw meat cuts will qualify to enter into the international market. It is expected that the price of traceable meat may potentially increase but this will altogether also increase its quality!
This law will bring many changes in the meat supply chain from the herder via slaughterhouses and processing plants till the shopkeeper at the other end. Furthermore, the typical time frame of 10 months between the preparation and implementation of these new standards appears to be very short and ambitious. Cedric Bussac, Country Coordinator for the NGO AVSF (Agronomes et Veterinaires Sans Frontieres) is of the opinion that the government should extend this period because of the huge amount of preparatory work that companies will have to do in conjunction with the important financial investment requirements to bring production facilities in line with the food safety standards.
Having said that, one company in Mongolia did not wait for any law and is at the forefront of the standardization of the meat supply chain. Meat Market LLC, a subsidiary of Just Agro LLC, runs 12 slaughterhouses and processing plants in Mongolia, with its central processing plant located in Ulaanbaatar. This company started to implement internationally accepted food safety standards two years ago with the full HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification delivered on December 19, 2011 by the Swiss auditing company SGS (Societe Generale de Surveillance). HACCP standards are a comprehensive set of rules securing hygiene in the production cycle in order to prevent any potential contamination of meat products. It is a combination of educating the workers on hygiene discipline and the compulsory installation of equipment to decontaminate, sterilize, and clean everything that is involved with the production cycle. Workers are checked daily on compliance with their personal hygiene before entering the decontamination area leading to the slaughtering and processing plant.
It is the intention of Meat Market to bring this food safety concept a step closer to the end client as it was also decided to invest in the renovation of its own five retail shops in Ulaanbaatar to reach the same HACCP compliance. The first such renovated sales point or butchery will reopen its doors by mid-March 2013.
But HACCP is a method, and to go a step further is to fulfill ISO (International Organization for Standardization) requirements. In short and put in a simpler way, HACCP compliance is close to the ISO standard since HACCP is a component of ISO which includes, on the top of it, full traceability capacity beyond the slaughtering and processing plant compound.
This brings us to the other end of the chain where herders and livestock producers play a crucial role. Currently, most of the livestock producers sell their animals to intermediaries who sell them to the butcheries or directly to the end consumer. These intermediaries or "changers" as they are named in Mongolia do not seem to add enormous value into the chain. They usually do not care too much about traceability and, further on, they may potentially prevent the herders to fully benefit from the upside of market price fluctuations.
Herders and livestock producers appear to understand their key position and, in some aimags, they have organized themselves around cooperatives. Some cooperatives are supported by European NGOs. Tsagan Alt which is working with the Norwegian Lutherian Mission and the cooperative "Ar Arvijin Delgerekh" working closely with AVSF are two examples of perfect synergy with tangible results.
Indeed, AVSF has been active over the last eight years in Arkhangai where it successfully teamed up with Ar Arvijin Delgerekh to set up an entire supply chain for yak down fiber, starting from the coop members' yaks and their raw fibers till the European prestigious high-end sales outlets retailing the "Khangai Mountains" branded end products. The key success of this story is that part of the profit made in the European outlets has been directly benefiting herders and members of the cooperative since its creation in 2010. This profit sharing creates the incentive for herders to move from quantity to quality and to do the right things to secure and improve product standards and quality.
Based on this satisfactory experience, AVSF and Ar Arvijin Delgerekh are willing to apply this business model to the livestock and meat value chain, including herders into the profit sharing scheme. Again, provided these herders are following the rules of traceability starting from "animal tagging" up to the provision of full information (including vaccination history) about the concerned animal, securing therefore full traceability.
AVSF and Ar Arvijin Delgerekh are active in the area of herding including the improvement of meat quality via a selected group of pilot herders for breeding improvements, but this does not include slaughtering and marketing. Meat Market and Just Agro are exactly on the other side of the fence starting with slaughtering and processing till selling in the market. Their respective businesses are fully complementary and it is thus no surprise that AVSF, Ar Arvijin Delgerekh, and Meat Market in 2012 signed a partnership covering the whole chain of events from herding till the sales of meat in the market.
In addition, it is not a secret that this partnership wants to compete with imported meat cuts and offer a safe and quality replacement for these imported overseas products. No doubt about it, this is a win-win situation for the herders, the local meat industry, and finally the customers … but equally for "Mother Nature" looking to a potential upside of a possibly better pasture management and less airplane traffic in importing overseas meat products.
Of course, it is just the beginning. Other companies are going to align themselves on this being the way to go. Once all the upsides are understood, Mongolians are quick learners so full implementation of standards is immediately on the horizon.
Mongolia imports 97 percent of its pharmaceuticals
February 26 (news.mn) It is estimated that there are over 500 pharmacies in Ulaanbaatar City according to a study by the Ministry of Health in 2012. The study also reveals that pharmacists of 60 percent of the pharmacies are non-professionals. There 75 companies that run drug business owned by non-professionals. Over 97 percent of the 2400 types of drugs that are sold in the Mongolian market are imported and only 3 percent are made in the country.
Mongolia's drug consumption increased by 28.5 percent in 2012 compared to 2000.
However the drug price is relatively stable except for a 2.5 increase in prices of drugs imported from Germany, according to the study.
It is suspected that a big network of drug businesses exist in Mongolia as well as the 160 registered companies including Monos, Emimpex, Eurofarm, Asiafarm that are officially run drug business. These companies import drugs and pills from mostly Russia, Hungary and Germany. Lately pills have also come from from France, Indonesia and England.
Mongolians who used traditional drugs now also take numerous types of drugs and pills imported in containers from all corners of the world.
Monos Company provides the supply of 65 percent of imported drugs and pills. The company has special interests in 54 percent of the total pharmacies in Mongolia. But not only companies that have been granted an official license import drugs, also individuals import drugs and pills in large quantities.
The imported drugs and pills are believed to be sold via 535 pharmacies. But local reports say that there is already a big black market for the drug business in Mongolia. There is no control on the black market of the illegal drug business.
In the city 198 of the pharmacies are graded as the first class and 337 as second class. But only 95 of these grant drugs and pills using the health insurance book.
A previous regulation meant that the Ministry of Health certified imported drugs. This has been changed so importing companies now take care of the drug guarantee. It is believed that the boom in the drug business is a result of Mongolia's free consumption of drugs without the need of a prescription.
Brain drain takes Mongolia's youth and vibrancy
February 28 (UB Post) In the past, the Mongols were knows as nomads, but today they are often known as migrants. Though many Mongolians who have gone abroad to study or work return home, an equal number are remaining overseas and many more are looking for ways to go abroad.
Young and old alike aspire to find work that pays them well. They therefore aspire to work abroad in any type of job, because the lowest-paid work in countries such as the USA and Japan is often higher than the wages of specialists and professionals at home.
In 2010, the first census of Mongolians living abroad was conducted by the National Statistical Office of Mongolia. According to the census results, in 2010 there were 107,000 Mongolia citizens living and working abroad, which is roughly 4 percent of the total population. In 2010, 40,200 Mongolians lived in Kazakhstan, 30,800 in South Korea, 27,300 in USA and around 5,000 in China and Japan.
The government classifies Mongolians abroad in two categories: Mongolian citizens and Mongolian individuals. The first category refers to those Mongolians living abroad who are under the protection of the State, while the latter refers to those whose nationality is Mongolian but who are not under the protection of the Mongolian State and rights, because they have renounced their Mongolian citizenship.
Curiously enough, because Mongolians who become citizens of another country must renounce their Mongolian citizenship, several famous Mongolian athletes are no longer Mongolian citizens. Such athletes include shooting sportsman, D.Munkhbat, who has become a citizen of Germany, and sumo wrestler N.Tsevegnyam, who is a citizen of Japan.
The census statistics relating to Mongolians living abroad do not include those Mongolians residing abroad illegally or working without work permits. The number of people who are native Mongolians but are not able to access the rights and protection normally given to Mongolian citizens is high compared to the population size because many Mongolians are living abroad illegally or have overstayed their visas abroad. So although they would theoretically be eligible to register at their embassy for rights and protection, they do not do so for fear of being sent back to Mongolia empty handed. They therefore choose to remain without protection.
Although the Government of Mongolia has encouraged Mongolians living abroad to return home to contribute to the development of their nation, there has not been a great increase in the number of returnees.
It is easy to understand why many Mongolians remain abroad. Given the current average household salary in Mongolia, it is impossible for most people to purchase their own homes. Real-estate price have skyrocketed in the capital city, reaching between 1.5 and 3 million MNT per square meter. Indeed, the dream for many who work and live abroad is to someday be able to buy their own homes and lead a comfortable life.
The benefits of the growth in the Mongolian economy in recent years are not being felt by the majority of the population. Most households still live from day to day, only barely managing to sustain themselves. The average household savings in Mongolia are only around 2 million MNT (around 1500 USD).
Therefore many people aspire to work and study in foreign countries where they can earn higher wages, get better quality education and experience a higher standard of living. It is economically beneficial for Mongolians who have attained a professional degree in a developed country and who are able to obtain well-paid specialised employment, with higher wages than those available in Mongolia, to remain abroad.
According to the World Bank, the labourers of developing countries working in developed countries benefit from the foreign currency and the developing countries benefit from remittances.
In 1997, the South Korean Small and Medium Industry Union began hiring Mongolians. They were often people with low or no qualifications, designated to non-specialised jobs. This Mongolian labour force usually had families to support at home and sent money to them. In 2000, the money sent from South Korea by contracted workers was equal to 10 percent of the total Mongolian GDP, according to A.Solongo, a Professor in the Population Study Centre of the Economics School of the Mongolian National University.
But while remittances contribute to the economy when the citizens of developing countries go abroad those countries lose a valuable resource: human resources. Those living abroad tend to be the most productive individuals of the country, as they comprise mostly the younger and middle aged section of the population.
It is a shame to think of all that labour contributing to the development of other countries, while their motherland is starving for a skilled labour force and suffering from brain drain.
There are very few Mongolian families today that do not have members of the family working or studying abroad. In the past decade the number of Mongolian students who have successfully gained entry into prestigious learning institutions such as Stanford, Oxford, Harvard, has increased significantly. Likewise, the number of Mongolians working abroad for the world's leading technological companies, such as Apple, Microsoft and Toyota, has increased. Their achievements should be recognised and rewarded.
But while many skilled Mongolians have been successful abroad, the vast majority of the Mongolians living overseas are working in non-specialized physical labour jobs. This is due to their lack of qualifications and their low level of fluency in the languages of the countries they live in. Many of the brightest youth of Mongolia are living uncomfortably as outsiders in foreign lands doing hard labour for long hours with only a distant dream of living richly.
As these people get older they are burdened with illness, due to their tireless efforts, and all their savings are spent on medication to regain back what little health they can.
Throughout their lives, there remains within many migrants a depth of feeling for their nation and many of them return home when they are old. But they are crippled and unable to work. The sad truth is they have contributed very little of their time and labour to their nation. But they are still Mongolians and desire to return home in their old age to rest.
It seems that through losing much of its youthful population, Mongolia has become a land in which its battered and tired citizens come to die, rather than a vibrant country of young citizens together building their country's future.
NEW "TOBACCO LAW" WILL BE IN EFFECT FROM TOMORROW
February 28 (InfoMongolia) Initiated by female members of the parliament, legislative add on to the law of prohibition and control of tobacco was passed on October 24, 2012. 27.6% of Mongolian population regularly smoke, 42.9% of population is exposed to the second hand smoke in their home, 35.6% is exposed to the second hand smoke in their work place. This new law will be in effect from tomorrow the 1st of March.
Highlights of the new law are:
- Any type of tobacco, cigarette and related products must have a warning photo images on its cover. These images on cigarette box must be no less than 50% of its total area, back and front.
- Any type of tobacco, cigarette and related products must not be sold over the internet, in bars, night clubs and within 500 meters radius of school, university and their dorm buildings. (Mogi: 500m from schools, that'll be a tough one)
- Any type of tobacco, cigarette and related products must not be advertised in anyway except displayed physically on the shelves of authorized sellers.
- Any type of tobacco, cigarette and related product manufacturers must not advertise their products directly and indirectly under the act of social work including by giving aid to welfare organizations, health organizations, and environmental organizations.
- Smoking is prohibited in airplanes, on trains and busses, near public transportation stations, in cinemas, theaters, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, non-smoking rooms in hotels, in and near kindergartens, schools, universities and their dorm buildings, in entrance of public apartments, elevators, near children's playgrounds and public parks.
- Any type of tobacco, cigarette and related product manufacturers must list their 20% or higher shareholders' name, address and other related information on their web page.
- Person who smoked in and near prohibited areas is to be fined with 50,000 tugrugs. Legal guardian of under aged person who smoked in and near prohibited areas is to be fined with 50,000 tugrugs.
- Individuals who violated this law are to be fined with 50,000 tugrugs, appointed officials who violated this law are to be fined with a fine equals to 50 to 100 times of minimum wage rate, legal entities that violated this law are to be fined with a fine equalst to 25 to 50 times of minimum wage rate and their unlawful revenue and products are to be seized.
LOGO SELECTED FOR THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF DIPLOMATIC TIES BETWEEN MONGOLIA AND CANADA
February 28 (InfoMongolai) For the anniversary of diplomatic relations of Mongolia and Canada, logo making contest was organized and second year mining student of Technological School of MUST, B.Bold-Erdene was selected as winner and awarded with new Iphone 5.
The contest was organized by Canadian Embassy and the logo will be the symbol of the 40th year anniversary for whole year. Ambassador from Canada, Gregory Goldhawk said "2013 is very special year for both Mongolia and Canada. 40th year anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and 5th year anniversary of establishing Canadian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar fall in this year. I know it is difficult to express broad relations of the two countries into only one logo. All of 74 logos we received had professionally expressed the relations of Mongolia and Canada in their own unique ways. I thank you for attending this contest". About 23 people sent total 74 logos to the contest.
Mongolia established diplomatic relations with Canada on November 30, 1973. Canadian Embassy was opened in Ulaanbaatar in 2008.
OUTSTANDING DEBT TO BULGARIA TO BE PAID, BUT RESPENT ON SCHOLARSHIPS AND ASSISTANCE TO MONGOLIA
February 28 (InfoMongolia) Mongolia still retains outstanding debts in ruble to former soviet countries from its soviet era. Government officials' meeting was held between Mongolia and Bulgaria in Sofia, Bulgaria on March 22, 2013.
They discussed about ways to pay Mongolia's debt to Bulgaria and made contract on it. Mongolian ambassador to Bulgaria, Tserendorj GANKHUYAG who signed this contract, made press conference. He told press that Mongolia had about 10 million convertible rubles (1 ruble equals about 1 USD) of debt to Bulgaria. During his visit to Bulgaria in 2008, the president at that time Nambar ENKHBAYAR negotiated and reduced this debt by 80%. Since then, Mongolia has been to pay 20% of this debt (2,046,864.18 USD) and two country officials have been negotiating about the ways to pay this for about five whole years.
Ambassador Ts.Gankhuyag said "We have solved this issue and it turned out to be very beneficial to our country. We will pay the debt but in return we are going to send students to study in Bulgaria, and receive agricultural equipments and assistance. In other words, Bulgarian government will spend the debt money as aid to us. About 25 to 30 students will study agriculture and food technology in Bulgarian universities. Later on, we will send our request to Bulgaria to receive agricultural equipments and other consulting services".
Two parties discussed and planned about the President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev's visit Mongolia in October of this year.
Two Mongolian MUM Students Place 5th & 7th in US National Hackathon, Win Trip to Silicon Valley
February (Maharishi University of Management, USA) You might think they were brothers. Khongor Enkhbold and Khasan Bold both grew up in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Both attended the National University of Mongolia to study computer science, and both worked as Software Engineers at the Mongolian national telecom company before enrolling in the MUM Masters in Computer Science program last October.
But the similarities don't end there. Khongor & Khasan both enjoy competing in high level computer programming contests. On February 2, 2013, while enrolled in the challenging Web Application Programming course, they entered the Back to School Hackathon for current US undergraduate and graduate students. Competitors were given 24 hours to complete 6 moderate algorithmic, AI and general programming online challenges. The top ten competitors win a trip to tour Silicon Valley to meet professionals from 14 top tech companies, including Twitter and Facebook. More than 400 programmers, including students from Harvard, Princeton, Carnegie-Melon, and MIT entered the competition. At the end of the competition, Khongor placed 5th and Khasan finished in 7th position among all US collegiate competitors, even though they had little time to prepare. So they each have won an all-expenses paid trip to Silicon Valley in late February.
Khongor and Khasan have enjoyed success in computer programming competitions for a number of years. In 2010 they were on a 3-person team that won the championship cup for all of Mongolia. In 2009, they won bronze medals in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Competition, sponsored by IBM, in the Asian region in Shanghai, China. In 2010 and 2011, Khongor also won bronze and silver medals with different teammates at the same venue.
When asked why they compete in these events, Khongor responded, "We don't compete because we need to... We compete because we love to!" Khasan's love for competition is evidenced in the ongoing support he gives to his younger brother back in Mongolia. Every day he sends his brother tips to help him prepare for future mathematics, programming and physics competitions.
Both students share the goal of working as Java Developers in top West Coast software companies. Their dreams may come true very soon, since they will be completing their on-campus courses and seeking their curricular practical training (CPT) internship employment in US companies in May. Khongor and Khasan will undoubtedly have the attention of many recruiters during their prize-winning trip this month.
Why attend MUM?
When asked why they selected MUM for Computer Science graduate school, the two Mongolian students cited the ability to gain the latest practical software development knowledge from top faculty, along with the unique opportunity to work in the US. They have also found Fairfield to be a small peaceful city which makes an ideal place to study.
History exhibition of overseas Chinese held in Mongolia
ULAN BATOR, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Overseas Chinese held an history and culture exhibition here on Thursday as a way to reflect on the development of their predecessors in Mongolia.
The exhibition, held by Mongolia's overseas Chinese association in a China-Mongolia friendship school in the capital city of Ulan Bator, was a good way to "recall history, cherish present, and look forward to future," said Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese ambassador to Mongolia.
The association's president. Bai Shuangzhan. spoke highly of the hard work spirit of overseas Chinese in the Middle-Asian country, saying that it was a kind of valuable wealth in their history.
Baginda regretted not paying Altantuya - P.I. Bala
February 28 (Malaysia Chronicle) Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda apparently regretted not paying the US$500,000 in commission due to slain Mongolian Altantuya Shaaribuu claimed former private investigator P Balasubramaniam.
He recounted Razak as allegedly saying this just prior to his arrest in 2006.
Balasubramaniam, who was employed by Razak then, was giving a blow-by-blow account of the circumstances surrounding Altantuya's deathduring his first public appearance last night after fleeing the country nearly five years ago.
He said he was leaving the office of a lawyer identified as Puravelan, with Razak, in a lift at that time.
Newspapers were already speculating then about Razak (left) being arrested that day and the lawyer was busy preparing his clients for such an eventuality.
Upon hearing this, the private investigator supposedly told Razak, "Boss, look here. What was my advice to you? Police report. You should have done the police report."
Went against advice
Balasubramaniam explained to that Razak had engaged him to keep Altantuya at bay, but advised him to lodge a police report instead.
However, Razak purportedly declined to do so because "a VVIP was involved," who was later revealed to be then defence minister and now Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Altantuya was said to be demanding US$500,000 (RM1,550,750) and three air tickets to Mongolia from Razak at the time, supposedly the fee for her role in mediating the Scorpene submarine deal.
Balasubramaniam said Razak did end up being arrested on Nov 7, the day the conversation took place, just 30 minutes upon reaching his office at Wisma Lee Rubber, Kuala Lumpur after the meeting.
He was eventually charged and acquitted of allegedly abetting in Altantuya's murder, while two police Special Action Unit (UTK) officers were sentenced to death for allegedly shooting Altantuya and blasting her remains with military-grade explosives.
Some 1,000 persons crammed Kuala Lumpur and Selagor Chinese Assembly Hall's main hall last night to hear first-hand what Balasubramaniam had to say on the Mongolian's killing.
New revelations were few and far in between while Balasubramaniam often stumbled to find the right words and had to rely on a Powerpoint slide he had prepared since his return to recall some of the events.
Glued to their seats
Nevertheless, the audience remained glued to their seats for nearly two hours until around 11.30pm as Balasubramaniam recounted the events.
This included what had transpired between him and Razak from their introduction until the arrest, the circumstances surrounding this first statutory declaration implicating Najib in the murder and a second statutory declaration made under duress to retract it, and further attempts to bribe him to slander opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The audience appeared to be engaged by Balasubramaniam's version of the events, clapping and cheering at key points of his talk or whenever a prominent personality's name, like Najib, cropped up.
They also booed at a video of Najib denying any involvement in the incident that was screened play as part of the prelude to the talk.
Other speakers included Suaram secretariat member Cynthia Gabriel and the cartoonist Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar.
During the talk, Balasubramaniam mentioned that he was alone with the commissioner of oaths during the second statutory declaration.
When the talk's moderator Badrul Hisham Shaharin asked him about a lawyer supposedly involved in preparing the document, Balasubramaniam said he only knew of this through 'hearsay' via businessperson Deepak Jaikishan, who had persuaded him to make the declaration.
"If you ask me, I don't know. I only heard the hearsay info because Deepak had already mentioned that it was Cecil Abraham (left)," he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
He said his lawyer Americk Sidhu and human rights activist Haris Ibrahim had pressured the Bar Council to look into the allegation and its president Lim Chee Wee had asked him to give a statement.
"If everything goes right, Cecil Abraham's cover will be blown," he said.
"Mogi" Munkhdul Badral
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