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Monday, April 1, 2013

[International Bidders for New Railway Advisors Received, SEFIL, Securities Law tops parliament's spring agenda, and Abe concludes Mongolia visit]

CoverMongolia NewsWire

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Mogi: A Cover Mongolia Fundraising Idea

Dear subscribers,

I wanted to run by you an idea that came up.

As you know, I previously mentioned the possibility of starting to charge for the newswire. But decided not to as that would limit my subscribers and I would much prefer if as many people as possible stay knowledgeable on Mongolia.

So, an idea I had was a Wikipedia style voluntary donation scheme. It would be 100% voluntary and each subscriber, if they feel it brings concrete value to their business, can opt to contribute to Cover Mongolia, to ensure the continuous delivery of the CoverMongolia NewsWire, and Cover Mongolia Facebook and Twitter Feeds, and also provide resources for continuous quality improvement.

You can imagine, although I thoroughly enjoy preparing each one of my issues, that it takes considerable time and resources from my side to do so. At the same time, I value each and every one of subscribers, as I believe anyone who chooses to get bombarded everyday with all things Mongolia can only benefit the development of my country.

So, any thoughts?

Mogi

 

BDSec: OT plays hardball to defend RIO & TRQ's stake in Entree Gold (EGI)?

March 29 (Nick Cousyn's client updates) We translated an article from News.mn, which contains some interesting tidbits, which apparently have not been disseminated in the mainstream press, or by our sellside peers.

The crux of the story is that OT has asked for Entrée's OT mining license(s) to be reinstated, after MRAM suspended them, alleging they were not properly converted from exploration status. The article reports that OT will insist the GOM pay back the $250M "loan" (which were prepaid taxes converted to a loan), if the GOM doesn't reinstate these licenses.

This is the first instance that we are aware of where OT/RIO has made demands on behalf of EGI, (whose licenses are part of a JV with OT ), which should be welcome news for EGI shareholders.

With a market cap of only ~$45M and hitting alltime lows of $0.34/sh in trading yesterday, it would appear investors have largely given up on EGI. OT's defense of EGI to us is a "big deal" and may suggest a longer term strategy is still in place for the development of OT beyond Phase 1. EGI is a tiny part of the overall OT capital structure, which could rally violently should OT draw a line in the sand on their behalf. Naturally this isn't pure benevolence on OT's part, as RIO & TRQ own over 20% of EGI equity.

The following is the translated summary from BDSec:

http://economy.news.mn/content/138401.shtml

"OT meeting is dragged out.

Highly anticipated OT shareholder's meeting was supposed to take place last week but was delayed for uncertain period. According to a reliable source, GOM has proposed to have the meeting at the end of this week but the date is not set currently. The GOM still haven't gotten answer for 40% cost overrun, which was asked at the first meeting.

In the meantime, some license belonged to OT multiple deposits were issued to Entrée Gold LLC. The GOM has banned the license transfer temporarily and as a result OT asked GOM to payback USD 250 million in return. Also, last week there was more bad news about the World Bank member, the U.S. expressing opposition towards USD 1.9 mn investment to OT because of the insufficient ESIA."

Link to BDSec

 

10 Q&As with PM Altankhuyag and Diplomatic Corps

March 29 (InfoMongolia) On March 28, 2013, Prime Minister of Mongolia Norov ALTANKHUYAG attended the second meeting titled "The 10 Questions and Answers" to give comprehensive information on current political and economic situation of Mongolia, where representatives of Diplomatic Offices, International Organizations and foreign resident correspondents have participated that took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The first meeting was organized under "Prime Minister: 10 Q&A" at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia on October 24, 2012, and here is below the 10 Questions selected and Answers as follows:

1. What is the distinct policy of the New Government For Changes compare to previous Governments?

- We are working on three principal issues. First, our Government is working aimed to provide with opportunities of involvement in state activity by its citizens and entities. Second, any state actions are to be clear and open for public. Third, any actions completed must be reported having responsible authority.

2. What is your position on the law of the foreign investments' limit in mining sectors?

- We have delivered a bill to the Parliament to amend on the Law on Regulation of the Foreign Investments in the Strategically Significant Industries. You know, the Law was approved before the 2012 Parliament Elections that meets with controversies today, hence after discussing and studying over six months, we have decided to change some articles, not to pass through the Parliament discussion even the foreign investors' share to own is over 49% or over 100 billion MNT. In particular, we dropped the threshold of 100 billion MNT and the 49% of investments is considered to only Joint Stock Companies or companies with state participations.

3. On which projects will be spent the "Chinggis" Bond?

- At first, centers of the 6 aimags will be connected with paved roads to Ulaanbaatar city in 2013. 33 T-intersections of Ulaanbaatar will be converted into 4-way junctions. Highways will be constructed, in addition railroads from Tavan Tolgoi to Gashuun Sukhait and from Tavan Tolgoi to Sainshand will be also financed by "Chinggis" Bond.

4. The Government of Mongolia is to introduce its Mongol Brand, what are current implementations?

- We are planning to introduce annually one Mongol Brand during Mongolia Economic Forum in the sectors of animal husbandry including wool, cashmere, milk and leather. Thereby, some parts of "Chinggis" Bond will be spent for projects on wool, cashmere and tailoring industries. Also, Mongolia is preparing to participate at the World's Leading Travel Trade Show 2015 in Berlin.

5. What is your plan to spend more efficiently the income sourced from mining sectors?

- Not only Cabinet decides solely, but the Parliament also issues resolutions. Before, we used to transfer the income from mining sectors into Human Development Fund's account, but now the welfare allocation is abridged considerably, in particular the monthly 21,000 MNT allocation per citizen has been stopped, instead the Government is allotting monthly 20,000 MNT per child up to 18 years old. Our main policy is employed and paid citizens.

6. On which sectors will be spent the foreign investments?

- The 49% of the bidding for New Railroad Project was announced open internationally. Currently, over 20 companies have applied to invest. We plan to invest into the Power Plant to construct in Tavan Tolgoi, also the V Power Plant will be built by Concession Agreement by foreign investments. We are ready to collaborate with any foreign investors in the frames of mutually beneficial. In addition, Altanbulag – Zamyn-Uud highway is also to be constructed by Concession Agreement. New Airport in Khushigt valley and Oil Refinery Industry are to be built by loan, and roads will be accomplished by foreign investments as well as we inviting investors for 100,000 households program.

7 What is going on about Oyu Tolgoi shareholders' meeting? What is expected on the current negotiations between the Government of Mongolia and the Rio Tinto?

- The one achievement done is sitting behind the tables, currently negotiations are continuing and the process is ongoing not bad.

8. Soon the VII Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies is to be held in Ulaanbaatar. Can you provide us with comprehensive information?

- Minister for Foreign Affairs L.Bold will report next week. As of today, President of Nigeria, Prime Minister of Thailand, Nobel Peace Prize awardees and other ministerial-level representatives are claimed to attend.

9. Prime Ministers of Japan and Turkey are to conduct official visits to Mongolia. What is the nearest prognosis of mutual and multilateral relationships of Mongolia?

- On March 30-31, 2013, Prime Minister of Japan is to visit Mongolia, followed by the Prime Minister of Turkey, and the upcoming event of the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in April. Also, Mongolia is to celebrate the World Environment Day in Ulaanbaatar on June 01-05, 2013. And, the "World Economic Forum's strategic dialogue on Mongolia's economic development perspectives and its tendencies" will be organized in association with the World Economic Forum in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in September of 2013.

10. How the New Government resolves the requests proposed via public contact center, namely "11-11"?

- In the period of four months, there were sent 34,356 requests from civilians, whereas we have responded on over 30,200 questions and 4,100 are being awaited. Of which, 24 thousand of requests were comments to the Government, 3,700 were complaints, 390 appreciations, and about 2,400 were critiques respectively.

Link to article

 

Bids for new railway project advisors announced

March 28 (news.mn) The "Mongolian Railway" State Owned Shareholding Company has been granted a special mandate to develop a project to build 1800km of railway. In 2013 the tenders to select advisor companies for the project should be arranged. 

In accordance with international examples on large scale projects, a tender to select financial, technical and legal advisor companies was publicly and internationally announced on February 2nd. 

On March 27th tender bidders for the tender for the "New Railway" project were announced during a ceremony at the Mongolian Railway State Owned Shareholding company headquarters in Ulaanbaatar. Bidders from Japan, South Korea, USA, Australia, Canada and England delivered their bids to compete for the tender as advisory company

Four companies that have experience working on mining and railway projects delivered their bids for the tender as financial advisors to raise capital to develop the project. 

Three of the bidders are companies who wish to compete for the tender as law advisors to negotiate with investors and develop a contract for the project. 

Four bidders aimed to be the technical advisor to help conduct geology, geodesy and environmental impact assessments, develop construction and technical plans took part in the bidding. 

Officials announced that the valued and experienced companies would soon be selected to sign a contract. 

Link to article

 

Mongolia needs better roads, schools and hospitals: so why all this talk about saving for the future?

March 28 (World Bank Blogs) Mongolia's mining revenues are set to soar in the coming years, but here people talk about the need to save for the future.

Surely building infrastructure, educating young Mongolians, improving healthcare and creating jobs is important? Surely by achieving these development goals Mongolia is providing for the next generation? These are great questions. Mongolia must do these things. But they in turn depend on efforts to prevent boom and bust and provide financial assets for future generations. Saving some of the revenues in good times is part of effective natural resource management.

Eric Parrado, former head of the Chilean 'Economic and Social Stabilization Fund', tells us that "if natural resource booms are well managed they can be a blessing" and that "an important general lesson is that governments should avoid temptation to spend significant temporary surpluses". Eric was just here in Ulaanbaatar among international experts working with the Mongolian government to improve mechanisms to save resource revenues to (i) smooth the economy (a rainy day fund) and (ii) provide for future generations of Mongolians.

So why should Mongolia save? The main reason being reliance on non-renewable natural resources (which Mongolia's geology provides in plenty) poses significant challenges to policymakers. These challenges are fourfold:

·         First, natural resource revenues are volatile and uncertain. Global prices can change to great extent, without warning and are almost impossible to project reliably.

·         Second, natural resources run out; they are exhaustible. The benefits must be made to last by transferring some (and not all) for future generations.

·         Third, Mongolia will be selling most of its copper, coal, oil and other minerals abroad. This has implications for the domestic economy in terms of how the non-mining sector competes and in terms of macroeconomic stability.

·         Fourth, the exploitation of natural resources can be a source of corruption and inefficiency. Mongolia needs to deliver value for money when investing and spending tax payers' and mining revenues. 

Back to the 'save some money' solution – In the good years government should run a fiscal surplus (spend less than is collected in revenues). This provides opportunity to save. The saved money can be used in the tough years preventing cuts to important areas of expenditure like education, health and infrastructure. This also reduces the need for government to borrow and incur associated interest costs. Also if savings become plentiful the government could spend only the profits from investment without reducing the financial assets themselves.

Without political backing, which in turn reflects public opinion in Mongolia, saving cannot happen. Mongolia has a stabilization account and a Fiscal Stability Law limiting budget deficits. But it requires saving into the account and some improvements to the design. There is also no merit in bypassing the stability law and procedures by spending money off-budget, as witnessed in 2012 and now in 2013, as it prevents the above mentioned challenges from being met.

Mongolia has a history of boom and bust. The graph below shows the ups and downs of the recent economic cycle. With the graph in mind it's worth thinking about the insight Eric shared from Chile. During the period copper prices increased rapidly Chile saved off-shore and when copper prices fell at the height of the 2008 global financial crisis, Chile weathered the storm by spending funds saved in the good times. Expenditure on education, health and roads was largely maintained despite huge swings in mining revenues. Crucially Chile had public and political consensus behind their prudent approach.

Saving in a Sovereign Wealth Fund for rainy days and future generations, underpinned by fiscal discipline, is essential to avoid the resource curse and make the most of Mongolia's geological endowment. Chile is joined by Norway, Timor-Leste, Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago –among others- in utilizing savings for success in natural resource management. No story is perfect and in each instance policymakers muddled through, enhancing the design of their savings instruments and improving institutions in an iterative and incremental manner. While there is no best practice, Mongolia can gather principles from these examples and inform its own policy.

Communicating the merit of the savings message takes hard work. Spending in the short-term wins elections and provides a much needed, but unsustainable boost to people's lives. If Mongolia is to benefit from its mining revenues substantially, and over the decades to come, it cannot leave the challenges of reliance on mining revenues unchecked. By looking over the horizon, and into the years just ahead, Mongolia will have ample opportunity for improved roads, schools and hospitals; and for providing jobs for Mongolians.

However, there's a choice to be made: short-term and unsustainable gains versus medium- to long-term sustainable benefits. It's up to Mongolians to decide on the trade-off: which way is best for Mongolia?

Gregory Smith is a World Bank economist working on the East Asia and Pacific region. He has a keen interest in fiscal policy and how natural resource management can be improved to enhance people's lives. Prior to working at the World Bank he spent eight years in Africa working with finance ministries in South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Sierra Leone and as an ODI fellow in Uganda. Gregory has a PhD in economics from the University of Nottingham in the UK.

Link to blog post

 

BoM holds FX auction

March 28 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 28th, 2013 the BOM received from local commercial banks total bid offers of 47.3 million USD and 107 million CNY. BOM has refused for the bid оffers.

On March 28th, 2013, The BOM received MNT Swap agreement offer in equivalent to 87 million USD from domestic commercial banks and BOM sells 75 million USD by swap agreement.

Link to article

 

Construction material producers to get soft loans

March 29 (Business-Mongolia.com) Since last January, the Central Bank of Mongolia has started implementing programs in conjunction with government to stabilize prices of key commodities such as petroleum goods, meat, vegetables, flour, and construction materials.

Government authorities hope that these measures will allow these businesses to finance their imports at minimal cost, and reduce expenses that otherwise might have occurred as a result of high interest rate on borrowing.

The Ministries, the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP) and domestic providers of building material signed the agreement last January. Within this framework, yesterday on March 28, 2013 the trilateral agreement between the Ministry of Construction and Urban Planning, the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP) and  over 50 construction structural steel, cement producers signed the agreement to get a soft loan.

The program will provide soft loans to the companies to procure building materials at minimal cost and keep the apartment`s market price under 1.5 million per sq.metre. Additionally, the initiative will focus on introducing eco-friendly technologies in the construction industry, and launching mortgage programs in order to provide housing to wider public.

Link to article

Similar:

Central Bank offers loans to building material providersnews.mn, March 28

 

Governor Zoljargal meets Deutsche Bundesbank President in Germany

8March 29 (Bank of Mongolia) In mid March, Governor of the Bank of Mongolia N.Zoljargal has paid a working visit to the Federal republic of Germany. During his visit, on 14th of March, the first official meeting between Governor N.Zoljargal and Jens Weidmann, President of the Central bank of Germany, was held at the main building of the Deutche Bundesbank which located in Frankfurt city.

The meeting took place in a formal and friendly way as the Governors exchanged their views on expanding mutually beneficial cooperation. Furthermore, they settled to collaborate on various matters that needed to be solved.

The Ambassador, extraordinary and plenipotentiary from Mongolia to the Federal Republic of Germany Mr. B.Davaadorj and the Secretariat to the Executive Board at President's Office Mr. B.Kaltenhauser have also taken part of this meeting.

Link to release

 

BoM issues 1-week bills

March 29 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 121.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

Governor Zoljargal meets EBRD representative on end of his term

March 29 (Bank of Mongolia) Due to Mr. Philip ter Woort ending his duty as a Head of Resident in Mongolia, EPRD and returning to his hometown, Mr. N.Zoljargal, Governor of the BOM, met with him today and wishes the best of luck in his future life and career.

Link to article

 

Leather tanneries to be removed from Ulaanbaatar by 2017

March 28 (news.mn) Experts invited by the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture to look at the leather working industry reported that leather processing factories in Ulaanbaatar should be centralized in one place. Currently, by being spread through the City water and electricity problems are harder to solve. They also said that establishing a wastewater treatment facility is necessary in Ulaanbaatar. 

The Ministry of Industry and Agriculture agreed that it needs to build new settlement areas with schools and kindergartens. Therefore the authorities are focusing on removing leather processing factories that are blamed for environmental damages out of the city by 2017. 

According to an estimate currently 140 leather processing factories are operational in the City, emitting polluted water and waste near the area. 

There are numerous complaints about the Tuul River pollution caused and affected by leather processing factories by residents in the City. 

Feasibility studies on the removal of leather factories from the City to Emeelt station is in a process. The discussion is now focused on the main roads that cross through Emeelt station, which is near a suburb of the City, leading to western aimags from the City. The risk that animal origin infectious disease may spread through the city if the leather processing factories are evacuated to Emeelt station is a risk that is being looked into. 

Link to article

 

Mongolia: Ongoing mining disputes hurt growth

March 28 (Oxford Business Group) Following disagreements between the government and major international mining firms, Mongolia is taking steps to reassure investors. However, it has proven difficult to convince interested parties that these disputes are not indicative of a deeper conflict building between the present leadership and the foreign firms that are extracting minerals..

In mid-March government officials said a disagreement with multinational mining firm Rio Tinto on key points relating to cost overruns, the feasibility study for phase two of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine and the employment of Mongolian workers would not delay the start of production, which is scheduled to take place at the end of June 2013.

"The Mongolian government and the investor both [want to] highlight the importance of production starting on time," Dorjsuren Javkhlanbold, a senior official at the Ministry of Mining, told Reuters.

In a further bid to calm sentiment, Ulaanbaatar also announced in March that it will ease recently introduced limits on foreign investment. Referring to legislation that required any deal worth more than MNT100bn ($71.9m) and involving the transfer of more than 49% of a Mongolian company to a foreign group to be referred to parliament for approval, Luvsanvandan Bold, the minister for foreign affairs, said on March 21 that the threshold would be raised to MNT1trn ($719.7m) (Mogi: proposals submitted to parliament to remove threshold altogether). "There will be changes in the law in the near future so that the international community and investors will be happy," said Bold.

However, such steps will likely be condemned by politicians (Mogi: not likely, smooth passage in parliament likely) who say major international firms, such as Rio Tinto, are taking advantage of the country's surge in resource wealth. Under its original deal with Rio Tinto, signed in 2009, the government was granted a 34% stake in the Oyu Tolgoi project, which will rise to 50% after the first 30 years of operation. Pressure from opposition politicians, however, saw the government attempt to renegotiate this in October 2012, as well as increase the size of royalty payments, but a revised deal has yet to be reached.

The massive Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine is important to the future growth of Mongolia, as it is set to double the size of the economy when it comes on stream in 2013. Meanwhile, the equally giant Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit, which is estimated to hold some 6bn tonnes of reserves, will also play a significant role in economic expansion.

Yet the coal sector has also fallen victim to a dispute between the government and mining firms. The China Aluminium International Trading Company (Chalco) said in January 2013 that it would seek legal redress if the Mongolian government followed through with a decision to try to alter an agreement signed in 2011. State-owned Erdenes-Tavan Tolgoi (ETT), the firm that manages the Tavan Tolgoi coking coal mine, said it wanted to renegotiate that deal with Chalco. The agreement between the two firms saw the Chinese firm lend ETT some $350m, which the Mongolian company would then repay with Tavan Tolgoi coal.

Meanwhile, Chalco had also planned to make a $926m bid for SouthGobi Resources, a Canadian firm based in Mongolia, but abandoned its proposal in October 2012 after strong suggestions that the government would not approve it. The firm also cited uncertainty over the regulatory environment as a cause.

In addition to disputes between the government and mining firms, critics say that to ensure its citizens benefit wholly from resource wealth, the country also has to build human resources capacity to ensure there is sufficient scope for its people to take on more than unskilled jobs within the mining sector.

"There is a significant need for techno-economic based capacity building and associated technology awareness training to be provided, covering the efficiency and environmental impacts of clean coal and alternative technologies," Andrew Minchiner, the principle associate at the IEA Clean Coal Centre, wrote in March 2013. "This is necessary both to assist the nation in its near-term development plans and also to build up the national capacity from a longer-term sustainable perspective."

Indeed, unless the country is able to strike a proper balance between nationalist sentiment, protecting its resources and keeping foreign investors happy, the basis for healthy economic assessments for the near term could be significantly impacted. To ensure continued prosperity, Ulaanbaatar needs to improve its ability to communicate, as well as take a more inclusive approach to dealing with international mining firms.

Link to article

 

PARLIAMENT'S SPRING AGENDA ANNOUNCED

Ulaanbaatar, March 29 /MONTSAME/ The Speaker has made an arrangement of the agenda to be considered by the 2013 spring session of parliament.

There are 18 issues to be discussed. The very first one is the Presidential election's dates and fixing of financing for it. Then go discussions of the draft on amending the law on regulating foreign investments, made in entities engaged in the strategically important sheres, of the new wording of a law on securities market, of implementation of the 2012' socio-ecenomic priorities, of parliament's resolution on "Approving 2012' budget execution and government's united financial report".

They are followed by the financial matters related to infrastructuring the city's ger (national dwelling) districts, a parliament's draft resolution on "Approving a programme on investments to be financed by the state budget in 2014-2016", a draft law on the 2015-2016 budget's vision, a parliament's draft resolution on "Approving the 2014' socio-economic main directions".

Others are a draft law on citizens' health insurance, a new wording of a draft package law on the lands, drafts laws on the Bayanmongol /Erdenes Mongol/ company and on the Human Development fund, a draft on amending the law on state service and so on.

Heads of Standing committees and other related officials have been ordered to ensure a preparation for the agenda consideration.

Link to article (click English and click link again)

 

PROJECT ON CROSS COUNTRY HIGHWAY TO START IN MAY

Ulaanbaatar, March 29 /MONTSAME/ A construction of a one thous. kilometers' high speed road in Altanbulag--Ulaanbaatar--Zamyn-Uud route (connecting the northern point to the southern point) will start this May and finish in October of 2015.

This work is to done by a Concession agreement, an executor company will own it 2015-2040 and return to the state in 2040.

The total cost of the project is USD 3.5 billion (3.5 million per kilometer), 70% will be financed by international investors, the rest by the "Chinggisland Development" group which consists of more than ten Mongolian big companies.

The high-speed road will be two-way, covered by 70-sm thick emulsified asphalt according to the international C1 category. The European standards will be strictly adhered in the construction of this road which will connect Asia and Europe.

As expected, this road will also help Russia and China have their markets get closer and increase a trade volume, and will develop satellite towns and service centers.

Several foreign companies are supposed to take part in the projects including Italian and North American famous ones.

Link to article

 

Mogi: anyone can shed more light on this? Sounds intriguing

Texas Lawyer Sued Over Mongolian Business Deal Gone Bust

Law360, Dallas (March 28, 2013, 9:10 PM ET) -- A Texas attorney and former city judge was hit with a suit Wednesday alleging he defrauded the owners of a European communications holding company who partnered with him to invest in the launch of a Mongolian business.

Andrew Bain and David Stewart, the owners of Atlantic Group Ltd., say they provided financial backing for what was supposed to be a surefire business opportunity in Mongolia, but that attorney Ed Winfrey and his business partner Michael Plue lied about securing government licenses and used the investment money for personal and family expenses. The suit alleges fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract, seeking punitive damages and the return of an initial $900,000 stake in the proposed business.

"Winfrey and Plue represented that, due to Winfrey's contacts with the Mongolian government, the business could have any project desired from a list of 114 construction and social services contracts," the suit said. "These representations were patently false."

Winfrey is a former municipal judge in Decatur, Texas, and had a solo practice in Fort Worth until April 2012. He's now the international legal adviser for the Zamyn-Uud Free Economic Zone in Mongolia and oversees Mongolian development for Akica Group LLC, according to his LinkedIn page. Plue formerly owned a collections business in California and is now chief operations officer for Akica Group.

According to the suit, Stewart and Bain, who knew Plue from their service together in the U.S. Marine Corps, agreed to invest in a company with the men on the strength of Plue's claim that Winfrey's extensive contacts with the Mongolian government would allow them to pick up a plum government contract that would net the company 50 percent profits on those projects. Winfrey also allegedly promised the company would earn a steady income from a lottery business in Mongolia.

But Winfrey and Plue falsified financial records showing they had completed work on the government projects and Winfrey falsified the translation of Mongolian government documents to make it appear he had secured a gaming license that would allow them to operate the lottery, the suit says. Winfrey allegedly used the money for personal expenses and an unrelated business and made direct payments to some of his family members.

Plue came clean about the misdeeds in October to Bain, a Colorado native living in Austria, and Stewart, who lives in Scotland, but by then it was too late to recover their money, according to the suit.

"Plue continued to conceal the truth from Bain and Stewart until it was far too late," the suit said. "Plue waited to disclose his knowledge to Bain and Stewart until after they had transferred $900,000 and the funds were improperly used."

Winfrey and Plue did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Bain and Stewart are represented by Edward F. Fernandes and Christopher H. Taylor of Hunton & Williams LLP.

Counsel information for Winfrey and Plue was not immediately available.

The case is Bain et al. v. Winfrey et al., case number 048-265081-13, in the 48th Judicial District Court of Tarrant County, Texas.

Link to article

 

Abe, Mongolian chiefs to cooperate on resource projects, North Korea

ULAN BATOR, March 31 (Kyodo) – After meeting with Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag in Ulan Bator (Mogi: come on Kyodo!), Abe told a news conference the two sides will accelerate ongoing bilateral negotiations toward inking a free-trade accord. The two sides agreed to hold a third round of trade liberalization talks in the Mongolian capital from Tuesday.

"As Mongolia is rich in natural resources, Japan's technological cooperation will lead to a win-win scenario for both countries," Abe, the first Japanese prime minister to visit Mongolia in nearly seven years, said after the talks.

Abe also pushed the participation of Japanese companies in developing one of the largest coal deposits in the world, at the Tavan Tolgoi site in the Gobi Desert, during the talks. Japan hopes to secure cheaper supplies of natural resources abroad while its nuclear power stations remains stalled in view of the Fukushima disaster.

The suspension of atomic power plants will drive up utilities' fuel costs for the operation of thermal power stations to a sky-high ¥3.2 trillion in fiscal 2012, which ends Sunday, far in excess of levels seen before the 2011 meltdowns crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

As well as its abundance of coal, Mongolia is also known for rich mineral resources such as gold, copper and uranium, while rare metals and rare earths deposits could also possibly be extracted.

Aside from economic issues, Tokyo also considers Mongolia an important ally from a diplomatic and security perspective since it has diplomatic relations with North Korea — unlike Japan, which has no formal ties with the communist country — and borders China to the south and Russia to the north.

On North Korea, Abe said the two countries had agreed to deal with its recent provocations to the international community in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions. Given Ulan Bator's ties with Pyongyang, Abe was especially eager to secure its support in resolving the long-standing issue of the North's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and '80s, government officials said.

Last November, Ulan Bator hosted the first talks between senior Japanese and North Korean officials since 2008 on the abduction issue.

Meanwhile, Japan, the largest donor to Mongolia, also intends to provide technical assistance to help the country cope with serious air pollution in the capital and assist the building of new transport infrastructure as a way of alleviating heavy traffic in and around it.

Japan was Mongolia's fourth-largest trading partner last year, when the fast-growing country's economy jumped 17.3 percent from a year earlier. China, Russia and the United States occupied the top three positions.

Link to article

Similar:

Abe Pledges to Beef Up Ties With Mongolia WSJ, March 31

Abe moves to strengthen ties with MongoliaFinancial Times, March 31

Japan seeks Mongolia support in China island row – AFP, March 31

Japan, Mongolia agree on initiative packageJiji Press, March 31

Japan seeks Mongolia support over island spatAl Jazeera, March 30

Mongolia, Japan call for development of "strategic partnership"Xinhua, March 30

Japan's PM leaves for Mongolia on nature resourcesXinhua, March 30

 

Mongolia Seeks to Play Peacemaker as North Korea Declares 'War'

March 30 (Bloomberg) Mongolia called for six-party talks to be resumed after North Korea said it's in a "state of war" with its neighbor to the south.

"Mongolia would like to extend its relationship with North Korea," Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag said at a press conference in Ulaanbaatar with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. "Mongolia can contribute if they initiate any meetings."

North Korea's official KCNA news agency stepped up its rhetoric against South Korea a month after the secretive regime defied global sanctions by detonating a nuclear device. Mongolia is one of the few countries to have a working relationship with both North Korea and the U.S., and hosted talks between the communist state and Japan in November.

Six-party talks have continued, on and off, for years between South Korea, North Korea, China, the U.S., Russia and Japan. Mongolia has maintained good relations with North Korea for decades and, in a March 7 interview, Foreign Minister Luvsanvandan Bold said he'd broached the matter of opening up with the hardline state.

Altankhuyag said he supports Japan's efforts to repatriate citizens kidnapped by North Korea, which Abe said he hopes can be resolved during his administration.

"Japan will never accept these North Korean tests," Abe said, speaking at the start of a two-day visit to the Mongolian capital. "North Korea has to follow" United Nations Security Council resolutions, he said.

Mongolia's booming mining sector is attracting the attention of its neighbors and Abe agreed to cooperate on several economic initiatives. The Japanese leader announced a 4.2 billion-yen ($45 million) loan to upgrade Ulaanbaatar's Power Station No. 4, built by the Soviets in 1981. The upgrade will increase the capacity of the power station by 100 megawatts to 580 megawatts.

Japan also aims to assist Ulaanbaatar to build its first metro line, a 10 1/2-mile train line with 3.7 miles to be dug underground, according to a press release issued by Mongolia. The cooperation agreement also includes the development of a new international airport and Mongolia's first oil refinery.

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What Japan Can Offer to the Most Promising Industry in the Fastest Growing Frontier Economies in the World

March 29 (Frontier Securities) Although media has not reported yet, we believe one of the key potential areas of cooperation between Japan and Mongolia will be on technology and technical assistance from Japan related to green growth of Mongolia in the context of sustainable development of Mongolian economy. Following link the studies on initiatives taken by Mongolian government and business opportunities for both countries.

Link to release

 

Z.ENKHBOLD VISITS THE WOOD INDUSTRY IN CANADA

Ulaanbaatar, March 29 /MONTSAME/ The Chairman of the State Great Khural Z.Enkhbold has visited Vancouver city of Bristish Columbia, Canada.

There Z.Enkhbold and accompanying him delegation have visited biggest forest products companies such as Linwood homes and Interex Forest Products Ltd. The "Linwood" cooperates with Mongolian University of Science and technology /MUST/. It has constructed two model houses for MUST and is collaborating in the "New soum" project. Recently, it has erected buildings of kindergarten and school in isolated areas. Mr Enkhbold said that it is not a help to each other, it is rather a market competition. When Canadian companies enter Mongolia, they will extend their market, and a fact that Mongolia has chosen the Canadian house shows that Mongolia is cooperating with Cananda, he said.

A head of Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) presented its activity to Z.Enkhbold. The FII is a provincial agency that promotes British Columbia's forest products and practices around the world.
The Canadian wooden house has a guaranty of 80-100 years. Some research has been run in the UB city on re-planning the ger areas.

Canada and Mongolia are similar in climate conditions, and erected in Ovorkhangai province houses proved that their quality are suitable for our winter.

Mr Enkhbold will meet Mongolians living in Vancouver March 30.

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Turkey-Mongolia visa talks to begin

At the JEC 7th term meeting, Turkey and Mongolia to begin talks to end visa requirement for Turkish citizens

March 29 (World Bulletin) Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc and Mongolian Defense Minister Dashdemberal Bat-Erdene on Thursday attended a signature ceremony for Turkey-Mongolia Joint Economic Commission Seventh term Meeting Memorandum of Understanding in the Turkish capital of Ankara.      

Speaking to reporters during the ceremony, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc stressed that Turkey and Mongolia will soon begin talks on ending visa requirement for Turkish citizens travelling to Mongolia.      

Once we finalize the talks, our businesspeople and citizens will be able to travel to Mongolia more frequently, Arinc also said.

Minister Bat-Erdene underlined that the MoU signed on Thursday showed the will of the two countries to boost cooperation.

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Fourth meeting of India-Mongolia Joint Committee on Cooperation held in New Delhi

New Delhi, India, March 29 (Jagran Josh): The 4th Meeting of the India-Mongolia Joint Committee on Cooperation was held in New Delhi on 21 March 2013. 

The meeting was presided by Minister of State for External Affairs of India E. Ahamed and Luvsannyam Gantumur, Minister for Education and Science of Mongolia. The meeting was conducted to review the broad range of issues related to India-Mongolia relations. 

Highlights of the Meeting

      Indian companies were interested in playing a larger role in the Mongolian mineral processing and mining industry, in lieu of that they articulated the hope that a favourable environment for their operations could be created. 

      The Indian side restated its support for Mongolia's development processes and reaffirmed that it is modernizing the Rajiv Gandhi Polytechnic College of Production and Art in Ulaanbaatar.

      The Indian side wants to set up a milk processing plant in Mongolia. 

      An Implementation of the Line of Credit of 20 million US Dollars extended by India to Mongolia for setting up an India-Mongolia Joint Information Technology Education and Outsourcing Center in Ulaanbaatar was discussed.

      The Meeting also centered around continuation of joint military exercises, the proposed visit of an Indian business delegation to Mongolia in summer 2013 and the possibility of launching air services between India and Mongolia and the establishment of an India-Mongolia Joint School.

The 5th Meeting of the Joint Committee on Cooperation will be held in Mongolia in 2014.

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MONGOLIA ASKS CHINA FOR ASSISTANCE IN ESTABLISHING SCIENCE PARK

March 29 (InfoMongolia) Mongolian delegation from Ministry of Education and Science led by its Minister Luvsannyam GANTUMUR has conducted a working visit to the People's Republic of China on March 25-26, 2013.

In the frames of his visit Minister L.Gantumur met with the Minister for Science and Technology of the PR of China Wan Gang and Minister for Education of the PR of China Yuan Guiren respectively, where parties exchanged views on collaboration in the fields of education and science.

In the meeting, Minister L.Gantumur emphasized that Mongolia is aiming to establish its Science Park and in the scope of the program, Mongolia is seeking opportunities to cooperate with China, studying its experience and conduct research works. Moreover, Minister noted that Mongolia is willing to use effectively the China's Government scholarships being granted and asked the China part to assist with preparations of professional staff in the fields of mining, science, infrastructure, botany, environment protection, veterinary, engineers of particular sectors, and technology that are top essential in today's inquiries of Mongolian educational sector.

In respond, Minister Wan Gang said, "It is good to hear that Mongolia pays such significant importance to establish its Science Park and China Ministry of Science and Technology will work to assist. There plenty of potential possibilities to partner in science sector and we need to implement this opportunity more efficiently".

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Passengers of delayed MIAT flight compensated

March 27 (news.mn) Passengers of the Boeing 737-800 MIAT ОМ136 Berlin-Moscow-Ulaanbaatar flight were stuck in Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow due to technical service failure and a snowstorm since Sunday March 24th. After three days of delay the passengers arrived in Mongolia on Wednesday March 27th

Passengers who stayed in Sheremetyevo International Airport who were forced to sleep on the floor for days have decided to administer a claim to the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP). The claim states the Mongolian Airline Company`s failure to its 120 passengers` comfort and accommodation, causing passengers to sleep on the floor near to Duty Free stores at the airport like refugees. According to the A/71 direction by the director of the MIAT Company on January 21st 2013, passengers are allowed to have compensation of 200 US dollars for flights over 3500 km in the case of being denied-boarding, delays and cancelation of flights. 

The responsibility also lies with MIAT for its passengers to be served food, drink, given accommodation and transportation during the delay.

A spokesperson for MIAT made a statement regarding the compensation. 

"The ОМ136 Berlin-Moscow-Ulaanbaatar flight was delayed for two days due to technical failure and weather conditions from March 24th to March 26th. It was found that a tire should be replaced during technical checks just before departing Moscow. The company took action to bring a tire from Mongolia on a plane but we failed at the customs warehouse due to a Russian customs regulation issues. 

Due to these conditions the process of replacing the tire would certainly take time. Hence MIAT authority reached a decision and sent a plane to collect its passengers at 19.30 pm on Tuesday March 26th. Passengers arrived at 10.30 am on Wednesday March 27th. 

The MIAT Airline Office in Moscow provided passengers with flight security, safety actions and comfort in accordance with its rule and compensated passengers for the delay."

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Draft law submitted on commercial use of Chinggis Khaan's name & portrait

March 29 (news.mn) MP D.Ganbat and G.Bayarsaikhan submitted a draft law about the use of Chinggis khaan`s name and Chinggis khaan`s portrait to the Deputy Speaker L.Tsog on Thursday March 28th. 

MPs said that "the possibilities to use Chinggis khaan`s name and portrait is open but commercial products and packages that use the great conqueror`s name and image are popularly seen in streets as trash. Unfortunately this is in disregard of National pride and insults the historical man.  Therefore we needs to initiate a draft law in a bid to use the name properly, limit commercial use and hold it as a form of National pride openly for Mongolians".

The draft law consists of three articles and 12 acts. It outlines how to regulate the use of the name Chinggis Khaan and the image properly and limits commercial use

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Misunderstood Mongolia

March 30 (Business-Mongolia.com) As being one of the few sources to provide Mongolian business related news to international audiences in English we strive to be independent and unbiased.

We understand that news can affect analyses of analysts around the world, public opinions, thus, result a correlated effect on the capital markets. However, at Business-Mongolia.com, our integrity and our duties to our readers come first. Therefore, we will keep publishing our unbiased and independent news from the closest sources of an event or a case.

Despite our effort, some international news agencies are giving wrong signals about the country's mining and investment sector. We regret that some of the companies in the country also pouring oil on the fire.

There was never an official statement or government stance to nationalize or expropriate the foreign or domestic owned mines and properties. Mongolia is an example democracy, and a developing nation with a free market. It needs all the help it could get to become a well governed and prosperous state being sandwiched between two giant powers.

It is embedded in the Constitution of Mongolia that all the reserve and resources /underground wealth/ belong to the people of the country. License is merely a tool or a permission to develop and extract these if the government believes it is economically profitable to the country. Economic profitability is the base of all the investment and commercial transactions. International investors and know it, we understand it.

The Strategic Investment Law is under review after receiving enormous amount of scrutiny and criticism from both international and local investors and business people. The message from the government is clear – we want to support SMEs, and limit foreign state-owned enterprises to dominate Mongolian market. It is an strategic decision, and it should not be underestimated or misunderstood.

The BBC, as one of the most global news agencies in the world reports on many issues and events of the country. The last news titled "Dividing up Mongolia's mining riches from Oyu Tolgoi" mentioned the comment regarding resource nationalism by Cameron Mcrae, CEO of Oyu Tolgoi LLC. Then it asks the opinion of Gee, a Mongolian rapper. Gee, probably one of the most patriotic rappers in the country had an easy answer "We will not gain" – referring to the ordinary citizens of the country.

The international media ignores the fact that 34% of Oyu Tolgoi which belongs to the Mongolian shareholder – Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, a state-owned company does not come as a free-carry. Yet accepted that, the cost overruns, lack of proper explanation, and 4 time-champion Feasibility study that has been delayed for another year is what puts pressure on the Mongolian government from the people. It seems like a debt-trap, after it involves international financial and development institutions and commercial banks to get 4 billion USD to spread the risk on phase-II development

Oyu Tolgoi LLC that sometimes referred as a copper unit of Rio Tinto PLC by international media has been consequently failing to win the hearts of the general public. Then, it blames it on the government for spreading wrong message about the company and demands for an apology letter on the Oyu Tolgoi LLC shareholders meeting last month from the government ministers.

The 2013 Technical Report released this week was a proof that there had been hidden costs after it stated a 5.1 billion for second phase of the mine's development excluding the power plant and concentrate expansion. Some analysts from international companies had released similar opinions.

Mongolia needs foreign investment to prosper in partnership. Also, it needs international agencies and institutions such as World Bank to strengthen their knowledge on governing and managing its' forthcoming wealth. Both of the parties have to work hard to resolve the outstanding issues and get on with the business.

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Why Mongolia needs trees

March 28 (Elizabeth Bryning for UB Post) Yesterday the world celebrated the vital, life-sustaining role of forests. March 21, 2013 was the first ever United Nations International Day of Forests, a day set aside to raise awareness of the value of forests and to promote sustainable forest management. The importance of this day for Mongolians should not be underestimated.

Most people don't think of Mongolia as a country with forests, and you wouldn't know it from looking at Mongolia's vast empty steppes, but closed forest cover accounts for about eight percent of the country's territory.

The percentage of forest cover is declining fast, however. The ceaseless and growing demand for firewood and construction timber, along with the grazing of livestock and encroachment of mining in forested areas, and extensive forest fires, have led to deforestation rates of up to 150 million trees per year, with a combined total of about 230,000 hectares of forest being lost each year in the northern and Gobi regions alone. According to a 2007 report by International Forest Fire News, at least 40 percent of Mongolia's forests have been damaged by human activity in recent decades.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in 1998 that Mongolia's forest area had decreased by 1.2 million hectares between the late 1970s and the late 1990s. Since then deforestation has accelerated, with an estimated 2.5 million hectares lost in the past ten years.

The forests of Mongolia provide a multitude of services for the people of this country. A key service provided by forests, and one that is crucial in a country as dry as Mongolia, is their role in the hydrologic cycle, which determines precipitation levels. Other water-related services include maintaining water tables, preserving river conditions, storing rainwater, and feeding filtered water to waterways and lakes. The forests of this country also serve to maintain nutrient cycling in soil; stabilize the soil and prevent erosion and desertification; provide wind breaks; supply habitat for Mongolia's wildlife; and sequester carbon, thus combating climate change. These services have many economic benefits. Forests not only provide timber and firewood, the services provided by forests are invaluable to the agriculture, water, and tourism industries.

The economic benefits of forests are perhaps best understood through explaining the negative effects of deforestation on the economy and society. Deforestation accelerates desertification and diminishes water supplies, thus impacting severely on the agriculture industry. Deforestation translates into higher food prices, as loss of grazing land to desertification and decreased water resources (drying up of streams) result in lower agricultural productivity and reduced supply of agricultural products. Given that rising food prices disproportionately affect poor families, this leads to a widening in the gap between the rich and poor. Greater inequality in society in turn generates social unrest and increased crime.

Furthermore, the loss in the carbon storage value of forests caused by deforestation has the effect of hastening climate change, which is likely to lead to more frequent extreme weather events, such as dzud. Such climatic events have devastating impacts on the agriculture sector and lead to increased poverty in rural areas, which results in greater migration by herders to Ulaanbaatar, in turn leading to higher unemployment rates in the city and a rise in associated social issues such as alcoholism and violence. And those worst affected by societal problems are the most vulnerable, particularly children and the disabled.

Given the above, it is not an exaggeration to say that forests are crucial in ensuring human well-being in Mongolia.

Mongolia's forests are disappearing largely because of unregulated use and inadequate protection. While many laws exist in Mongolia to manage and protect the country's forests, these laws are largely not enforced.

Forest mismanagement is a key issue in Mongolia. According to the Mongolia State of the Environment Report for 2002, prepared by the Regional Resource Centre for Asia and the Pacific, forest resources are over-used, and timber harvesting practices in Mongolia have been wasteful and inefficient, with the timber industry using only 60 percent of the total harvested timber in a profitable way, due to poor forest management and outdated technology. Recent reports and studies by the World Bank and the FAO indicate that little improvement has been made in forest management in the past decade.

Forests are also poorly protected. Most rangers have little training and are inadequately paid, with the result that they have little incentive to protect the forests they are responsible for safeguarding. Efforts are being made by the FAO and other organizations to address these issues, but progress has been slow.

Reforestation activities began in Mongolia in the 1970s, and while there have been some positive outcomes, the rate of reforestation has been very low, with less than a million hectares replanted in the past 40 years. Furthermore, poor reforestation techniques and the low quality of the seedlings planted in reforested areas have resulted in minimal success in restoring forests.

Recognizing the importance of forests to the lives of Mongolian people, it is clear that the government must take further action to protect Mongolia's forests and manage them sustainably. This is not just a matter for the Ministry of Nature, Environment, and Green Development, all related ministries in Mongolia must be involved in addressing the issues. The Ministry of Industry and Agriculture, for example, has to implement policies that decrease herd sizes and prevent overstocking, to stop herders resorting to forested areas as grazing land, while the Ministry of Mining needs to enforce laws to protect forested areas and watersheds from the devastating effects of mining, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has to take action to prevent the destruction of forests, waterways, and the herding way of life, all of which are key attractions for tourists.

Anyone who cares about the people and development of Mongolia can only hope that the first International Day of Forests marks a turning point in Mongolia's management of its forests. If action is taken by all sectors of the government and by civil society, it may be possible to one day have some optimism regarding the future of this country's forests.

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Nepal hosting first World Forum for people of Mongol origin

March 29 (news.mn) The Ulaanbaatar based World Centre for Mongol Origin People and the Indigenous Mongoloid Republican Forum of Nepal are jointly to hold the first World Conference of Mongol Origin People including Mongolia, India, Nepal, Khazara, Myanmar on 5th April in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

At the meeting Mongolian representatives lead by the President of the World Centre for Mongol Origin People, Nyamdavaa Oidov. Ph.D, three parliamentarians from India, participants from Afghanistan, Myanmar and representatives of 12 provinces of Nepal will give speeches at the forum.  

During the forum Mongolian traditional culture, customs, similarities in life-styles that existed in the world spread by people of Mongol origin and Mongolian history. Representatives will call an appeal to people of Mongol origin. 

The forum will be followed by the "Miss Mongol" contest in Nepal on April 6th. The winner of the contest will be prized with an invitation to spend a holiday in Ulaanbaatar with flight tickets. 

The "Miss Mongol" contest has been annually organized in Nepal since 2009. The participants of the contest are girls who have Mongol origins from India, Myanmar and Khazara, Mongolia. 

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Tyrannosaurus Bataar to return home in May

March 29 (news.mn) A working group has been established to bring a nearly complete 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Bataar, the centre of international debate, on May 18th by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism and the General Police Department. The working group will leave for US on May 2nd to bring back the fossils and manage the return of Bataar home to Mongolia in one week. On May 18th, the day of Mongolian National Pride the rare finding will be publicly exhibited during an display on Sukhbaatar Square

A self-described commercial paleontologist, American Eric Prokopi, sold the smuggled fossil at a Manhattan auction last spring for $1.05 million.  Eric Prokopi claimed the find was not from Mongolia, but the Mongolian Police provided evidence to prove Eric Prokopi guilty of smuggling the dinosaur fossil skeleton and helped to reveal a black market trade network. 

The Vice Chairman of the paleontology museum where the Tyrannosaurus Bataar fossil will be stored is registering the US seized dinosaur fossils to catalogue the data. It is still unclear to the public the amount of the dinosaur's skeleton that was found or indeed what size it is. 

The State Investigation Department is conducting an investigation on three suspects involved in fossil smuggling across the Mongolian border involving a few Customs officers. Though the US seized dinosaur fossils are presented with Mongolian Customs documents the documents are cleared in the Mongolian Customs Archive. The Police are currently investigating this mystery. 

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Mongolia's rock scene to be revealed in LIVE from UB

March 28 (UB Post) The small but vibrant rock music scene in Ulaanbaatar has not had much exposure on the world stage so far, but that is about to change with the upcoming release of a film titled "LIVE FROM UB."

LIVE FROM UB," an exciting and informative exploration of Mongolian rock music, mixes the real time story of one band struggling to develop a new sound with expert voices from the local music industry and rare archival footage.

Emerging documentary filmmaker, Lauren Knapp, has launched an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to raise funds and awareness for the hour-long documentary film.

"I've already spent nearly a year in Mongolia researching and collecting footage," says Knapp. "Now I just need funding to cover the cost of editing and distribution."

Mongolian rock dates back to the 1970s when the communist government created the first rock band, "Soyol Erdene" (Cultural Jewel). In the 1980s the genre took on a more subversive tone as musicians used their songs to challenge the government and call for a democratic and free society, which was achieved in 1990.

Several years later MTV hit the airwaves in Mongolia, exposing a new generation of music lovers to Western rock and pop. "It was at this point that all sorts of imitation bands started appearing. You had the Mongolian Nirvana, the Mongolian Madonna, even the Mongolian Boyz II Men," says Knapp.

But today, imitation has given way to innovation.

"The most surprising thing I discovered in the making of LIVE FROM UB was this real drive among Mongolian musicians to create music that is both new and hip but also distinctly Mongolian," says Knapp. "It's really important for this new generation of Mongolians to be a part of a global community without betraying their heritage, and that's brilliant."

Knapp first arrived in Mongolia in late fall of 2011. She lived in Ulaanbaatar interviewing major players in the Mongolian rock and pop music industry and following a few key bands.

To get a sense of the historical context from external points of view, Knapp also interviewed former U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia Jonathan Addleton and best-selling author Jack Weatherford.

The research and production for "LIVE FROM UB" was supported by a Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship. Fulbright-mtvU gives up to four awards each year, which allow individuals to study and document music in another country.

According to Knapp, a crowd-funding model like Indiegogo is the ideal way to get inputs and contributions from rock music fans while keeping her film independent. She also notes that, "A campaign like this a great way to raise the funds needed to finish the film, and get the word out about the project at the same time."

Knapp has a degree in anthropology from Grinnell College and worked as a journalist at the PBS News Hour for four years prior to moving to Mongolia. She sees the documentary medium as an ideal way to explore anthropological themes in a way that is accessible to a broad audience.

A trailer for the film is available at the Indiegogo site: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/live-from-ub-a-documentary-film-about-mongolian-rock and the film's website: www.livefromub.com.

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Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi

Cover Mongolia

Email: mogi@covermongolia.mn

Mobile: +976 9999 6779

Skype: mogibb

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