Tuesday, May 7, 2013

[Haranga ups resource by 675% to 254Mt, MMC reaches rail compensation deal with GoM, and US hands back Mongolian dinosaur]

CoverMongolia NewsWire
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Tyrannosaurus Bataar
Mogi: Korean Air is kindly sponsoring and shipping back the Bataar free of charge
Lenny the dinosaur begins journey back to Mongolia after looters smuggled bones to America
May 6 (The Telegraph) Some 70 million years after he roamed the Gobi desert, Lenny the tyrannosaurus began his journey home today after dinosaur bone looters smuggled him to America via Britain.
At a repatriation ceremony in a Manhattan hotel room, top US legal officials handed back the near complete skeleton of the 24 ft long and 8 ft carnivorous raptor to delighted Mongolian officials.
In a dramatic raid, the tyrannosaurus bataar – a cousin of the fearsome T-Rex – had been seized by the authorities from a New York auction house as he was put up for sale for more than $1 million.
The skeleton is just the first part of a trove of looted Mongolian dinosaur remains that will be returned to their homeland after an agreement was reached with a British fossil dealer, US prosecutors told The Daily Telegraph.
Chris Moore, who runs Forge Fossils in the Dorset town of Charmouth, recently handed over to the Manhattan district attorney's office a large collection of pre-historic fossils, including another tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton. These will also be returned to Mongolia.
Mr Moore faces no legal proceedings in the US. The Mongolian government said that its criminal investigation into his activities will be ended when the fossils are back on home soil.
The case has thrown a spotlight on the lucrative world of paleontological plundering as dinosaur fossils fetch high prices under the hammer at auction.
Eric Prokopi, a commercial paleontologist from Florida, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy for his role in smuggling Lenny into the US and putting him up for sale.
Lenny was shipped in several consignments from Britain to Prokopi who then reassembled him. The country of origin for the Mongolian fossils was also listed as Britain.
The skeleton was tracked down and recovered by special agents from the homeland security investigations unit of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement department (ICE) working with the Manhattan US attorney's office.
"We cannot allow the greed of a few looters and schemers to trump the cultural interests of an entire nation," said John Morton, ICE director, before he signed the repatriation certificate. "We undo a great wrong by returning this priceless dinosaur skeleton to the people of Mongolia. This is truly an exceptional case."
Tsagaan Puntsag, the chief of staff of the Mongolian president who led his country's delegation, expressed his delight in the return of the raptor, who had become a "hero dinosaur in Mongolia".
The tyrannosaurus bataar will have pride of place in a newly-created national Mongolian dinosaur museum, officials disclosed. "The Mongolian people are very happy that he is coming home," said Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, the country's minister of culture, sport and tourism.
The case came to light last year when American paleontologists saw that the skeleton was being advertised for auction and they alerted the Mongolian government which in turn contacted the US authorities.
Bataar fossils dating to the late Cretaceous period were first discovered in the Gobi Desert in 1946. They were among the last dinosaurs to roam the earth's surface before extinction. The fossils are believed to have been illegally poached and smuggled out of Mongolia between 2005 and 2012.
In announcing the seizures, Preet Bharara, the Manhattan US attorney, called Prokopi a "one-man black market in prehistoric fossils".
Video: Dino skeleton returned to Mongolia – Washington Post, May 6

Overseas Market
Haranga Resources ups Resource at Mongolian project by 675% to 254Mt at 17.2% iron
May 7 (Proactive Investors) Haranga Resources (ASX: HAR) has significantly increased the value of its Selenge Iron Ore Project in Mongolia, upgrading its JORC Resource by 675% to 254 million tonnes at 17.2% iron.
Notably, 99.8% of this is in the Measured and Indicated categories while initial Davis Tube Recovery results indicate that a high quality 66% iron concentrate is attainable from the project.
The upgrade is based on the drilling carried out by the company in 2011 and 2012, which defined the resource at the Bayantsogt, Dund Bulag and Undur Ukhaa deposits.
Drilling also discovered additional iron mineralisation at the nearby Huiten Gol Prospect.
An additional exploration target of 50 million tonnes to 100 million tonnes exists on these four targets.
Selenge Iron Ore Project
The Bayantsogt, Dund Bulag and Undur Ukhaa deposits lie within 3 kilometres of each other and are associated with large magnetite skarn hills with wide mineralised lodes from surface.
All are located within the structural corridor that contains the major iron ore deposits in the region.
The nearby 300 million tonne Eruu Gol mine, valued at US$2 billion based on a 2009 investment by the China Investment Corporation, exported about five million tonnes of magnetite concentrate in 2012, shipping the product to China via dedicated rail spur to the main trans-Mongolian rail line.
Dund Bulag, the largest of the three deposits, makes up about 78% of the total combined resource.
Its wide lodes from surface should ensure very low strip ratios to allow lower mining costs.
The preliminary metallurgical test work suggested a coarse grind of (80% passing) 125 to 75 micron (μm) for optimal mass yields and concentrate properties.
This work indicated that the banded magnetite found at Selenge can achieve a high quality magnetite concentrate despite the lower in situ ore grades, producing a consistent magnetite concentrate with an iron grade that averaged around 66% iron from all three deposits.
The company believes Selenge will support a wet magnetic concentrator with a standalone infrastructure solution to deliver around 4 million tonnes per annum of magnetite concentrate onto the nearby rail spurs for domestic and export consumption.
Haranga is now undertaking further progressive grind tests to optimise the metal recoveries achieved. Once the grind characteristics are optimised, it is intended to generate a yield based resource estimate for use in preliminary scoping studies and a full feasibility study.
The Mining Licence application process is also underway, based on the updated resource and metallurgical test results, before it moves to a full Feasibility Study.
Further drilling is planned in 2013 in order to fulfil various feasibility study requirements, extend the known resources and test some of the remaining undrilled iron ore targets within the project area.
Haranga had $7.46 million in cash as of 31 March 2013.

Haranga: 675% Increase in Resources at the Selenge Iron Ore Project
May 7, Haranga Resources Limited (ASX:HAR) --
<![if !supportLists]>      <![endif]>A significantly increased JORC Code compliant resource has been defined covering three clustered deposits within the Company’s Selenge iron ore project area in Mongolia.
<![if !supportLists]>      <![endif]>The new total resource is 254Mt of iron ore at an average in situ grade of 17.2% Fe (for 44Mt of contained iron metal) based on a 12.5% Fe cutoff grade, of which 99.8% is in the Measured and Indicated categories.
<![if !supportLists]>      <![endif]>It is expected that further drilling at Selenge will expand the Dund Bulag and Undur Ukhaa resources and confirm further iron targets within the project area.
<![if !supportLists]>      <![endif]>Initial Davis Tube Recovery (DTR) results indicate that a high quality 66% Fe concentrate is attainable from Selenge grades.
<![if !supportLists]>      <![endif]>Progressive grind tests are underway to determine optimal metal recovery conditions and potentially further enhance the results of this initial baseline DTR study.
<![if !supportLists]>      <![endif]>The Mining Licence application process is also underway, based on the updated resource and metallurgical test results.
<![if !supportLists]>      <![endif]>Selenge is ideally located, with two nearby rail spur options and just 15km from the 5Mtpa Eruu Gol mine, Mongolia’s largest magnetite concentrate rail export operation.

Mongolian Mining Corp to Get $59 Million Compensation for Rail Pact
May 7 (Bloomberg) Mongolian Mining Corp. (975), the nation’s biggest coking-coal exporter, will receive 84.3 billion tugriks ($59 million) in compensation as part of a pact with the government to terminate a rail-concession agreement.
The company and its units will enter talks with the government and may convert some of the payment into equity (Mogi: “may?” More likely a “no choice but to” for GoM) in a venture that will build a railway line to the Chinese border, according to a filing by Mongolian Mining to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday.
As part of the agreement, the company will be granted access to 50 percent of the railway’s capacity and state-owned Mongolian Railway will take over existing construction contracts and obligations, Mongolian Mining said.
The Mongolian government is seeking a non-state partner to build a 260-kilometer (160-mile) railway to the Chinese border from the Tavan Tolgoi coal field, and had accepted bids from 20 companies, the state-run news agency Montsame said in March.
Tavan Tolgoi, one of the largest coal deposits in Mongolia, has an estimated 6.4 billion metric tons of reserves, 70 percent of it coking coal for steelmaking. Mining companies at the site, including Ulaanbaatar-based Mongolia Mining, currently deliver supplies to the border by truck.
Mongolian Mining is negotiating with the government to take as much as a 10 percent stake in a unified railway development project, according to CEO Battsengel Gotov, who spoke in a briefing in Hong Kong on March 12.
The company’s stock gained 1.8 percent to close at HK$2.28 in Hong Kong trading yesterday, before the announcement. The shares have slumped 40 percent this year, compared with the 1.1 percent gain in the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index.

MMC to resume UHG operations within a month
April 30 ( Since the fall of coking coal price in the world commodity market, the Mongolian coal exporters faced some difficulties to cope with high transportation cost and low coal price. Mongolian national company, daughter of MCS Group, Energy Resources LLC was no exception. The coal exports halted to the level it had to stop mining operations.
Energy Resources LLC is listed through its Cayman Island registered, Hong Kong listed Mongolian Mining Corporation under the code 975. It is logical that the share price has been falling from the end of last year.
The company employs 2600 people directly and about 7000 people indirectly. The coal export accounts for 40% of the state-budget and Energy Resources is one of the big chunks. Halting the operation means a significant pressure for the budget. Last month it announced unpaid leaves for its mine-field staffs, and plans to decrease the office workers in Ulaanbaatar. Also, a pressure for its employees.
However, a person familiar with the internal operations of the company told that the company is planning to resume its operations within a month due to renewed negotiations with the importers in China.
It is a good news that coal exports are resuming in Tavan Tolgoi mine.

VOR closed +12.5% to 0.9c on the day
Voyager Resources Investor Presentation May 2013: Exploring and Developing Copper in Mongolia
May 6, Voyager Resources Limited (ASX:VOR) --

Rio Tinto’s Strategy on Improving Relationships with Mongolia
May 2 ( It was announced last week that Bold Baatar, a Mongolian national, former JP Morgan investment banker and CEO of NewCom Group will be appointed as head of international operations of Copper Group of Rio Tinto. He will be reporting to Jean Sebastien Jacques, CEO of Rio Tinto Copper Group.
Former CEO of the Copper Group Andrew Harding was replaced by Jean Sebastien Jacques in the middle of  dispute with the government on Oyu Tolgoi matters. After the re-shuffling in the Rio Tinto, Andrew Harding was appointed to CEO of Iron Ore projects of the company. Mr. Jean Sebastien Jacques will be taking the Board seat in Oyu Tolgoi LLC. Also, apparently Mr. Bold Baatar have been advising Rio Tinto since the start of Oyu Tolgoi deal.
Now that a Mongolian national is leading the international copper operations of the company, Rio Tinto calculated that it will be easier to come in terms with the Mongolian officials. Usually, Oyu Tolgoi LLC appoints people with connections to the ruling party or the relative ministry’s as an adviser or VPs to maintain good communication channels. Unfortunately, we are witnessing that it is not effective as it looked.
Poor relations with the government officials and weak public relations with the population forced Oyu Tolgoi LLC, often cited as Rio Tinto’s copper unit, to take a new turn on dealing with the locals. Appointing Mr Bold Baatar is a new and promising approach. There has been a lot of pressure from the government to include Mongolian nationals to the project’s executive and management levels. Management of Oyu Tolgoi LLC insisted mostly indirectly that there aren’t qualified locals to take on these jobs. However, Oyu Tolgoi LLC is sending away its’ high-potential Mongolian national staffs abroad to Singapore and USA for marketing, operations and administrative training.
Perhaps, Mr. Bold Baatar can give insights to Rio Tinto as he has been giving over the years, it is unlikely to make a significant change in communicating and dealing with the government officials. We have seen that how determined the officials are with the cost overrun, Entree license, and other crucial issues. To this day, there hasn’t been progress on solving these problems. The cabinet agreed to accelerate the start of the production and commercial exports, however the two sides haven’t come in terms on outstanding problems  yet. (Mogi: much progress has been made I would say on the contrary. I think they’re waiting for the right time to come out holding hands and both sides boasting about how they made a win-win decision)
Another change occurred from the Mongolian government side releasing Ganbold Chuluun from the Oyu Tolgoi LLC Board back in March, 2013. (Mogi: Mr. Ganbold has apparently resigned out of his own choice)

Guildford: Board of Directors Update
May 7 -- Guildford Coal (ASX: GUF) today advises that Mr Craig Ransley has resigned from his position as a Non-Executive Director of Guildford Coal. With Guildford making the transition from explorer to producer/seller and with a new team in place to manage the changed emphasis of the Company it is Mr Ransley’s belief his energies are best directed at other activities and enterprises.
In accepting Mr Ransley’s resignation, Guildford’s Chairman Peter Lindsay paid tribute to Mr Ransley’s enormous personal contribution to Guildford. “Without Craig’s vision, leadership, entrepreneurial skills and perseverance Guildford would not be on the verge of imminent coal production in Mongolia nor would the Company have the platform in place in North Queensland to commence the development of its North Galilee project. The Guildford Board thanks Mr Ransley for his unwavering dedication to Guildford Coal. As a major shareholder in Guildford we look forward to Craig’s continuing support in other ways.”
Following Mr Ransley’s resignation, Mr Lindsay is pleased to confirm the appointment of Mr Kon Tsiakis, a commercial litigation partner with HWL Ebsworth as a Non-Executive Director. Mr Tsiakis has wide experience advising directors and companies on regulatory compliance and statutory corporate obligations as a commercial litigator. He also spent a number of years as a senior enforcement analyst with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Mr Ransley’s resignation and Mr Tsiakis’s appointment are effective immediately.
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Local Market
May 6 (BDSec) Khot Development JSC (MSE:SDT) formerly known as Shad Trade JSC has held its first AGM on April 11th, 2013 after entities controlled by Firebird Investment Funds have taken over control of the company. Firebird has provided a bridge financing to cover initial operating costs. The AGM is the first step in the restructuring plan of the company.
The newly appointed Board of Directors will provide further clarity on the restructuring process and future plans for the company development in the near future.

May 6 (BDSec) Berkh Uul JSC (MSE:BEU) is pleased to announce the appointments of Jimmie Wilde as Chief Operating Officer and Jim Flores as Chief Financial Officer as the Company enhances the Executive Team and advances the restart of operations at the former producing Delgerkhaan Fluorspar Mine
Mr Mendsaikhan Bold, Chief Executive Officer commented, “We are excited to quickly advance planning of the rehabilitation of our Mongolian Fluorspar mine.  The appointments of Mr. Wilde to oversee the rehabilitation program and Mr. Flores to oversee the Company’s accounts will greatly increase the strength and depth of our management team.  We look forward to restarting mining operations at Delgerkhaan”.
The Delgerkhaan deposit has a stated resource of 9.6 million tonnes of Fluorspar having an average grade of 33.7%, confirmed by a recent 43-101 compliant report.
Jimmie Wilde is a highly skilled operational executive with over 35 years’ experience in open-cut and underground mining around the world.
He began his career with Rio Tinto in Zimbabwe before moving to deep level underground mines in South Africa.  In 1990, he became Mine Manager of a small diamond project, and in 1992 became General Manager of Oman Chromite Company, developing chrome deposits in the Middle East.  In 1995 he returned to Zimbabwe to take up the position of Mine Manager at ZAMASCO (platinum) followed by Falcon Gold.  From 2001 he was the Mine Manager and then Director of Operations at Oryx Natural Resources Limited, responsible for the Tschibwe diamond project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”).  In 2005, Mr. Wilde joined Tsar Emerald Corporation managing the rehabilitation of their Russian property at Malysheva and responsible for bring the operation back into production; this was followed by a move to the uranium industry in 2007 where Mr Wilde was appointed as Forsys Metals General Manager in Namibia followed by his appointment in 2010 as the General Manager in Malawi for Paladin Energy’s Kayelekera Project.
In 2012 Mr. Wilde was appointed as a Board Member of Berkh Uul JSC.
James A Flores has over 30 years’ experience in financial services including 18 years in the energy industry.  Immediately prior to joining Berkh Uul JSC he was Chief Financial Officer of Colombia Energy Resources Inc, a metallurgical coal mining firm located in Bogota, Colombia. Previously in his career Mr. Flores was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Royal Coal Corp. (US); he served as CFO at Norwest Corporation, a coal mining consulting firm and Vice-President, Project Finance at MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company Inc; a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway inc. Mr. Flores is also the Chief Financial Officer of Sharyn Gol JSC (MSE: SHG), a producer of high quality thermal coal listed on the Mongolian Stock Exchange.
He holds an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University.
For more information regarding operations, please contact:
Jimmie Wilde,
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BoM issues 1-week bills
May 6 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 25.8 billion at a weighted interest rate of 11.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Mongolia: From Herders to Cultivators
ULAANBAATAAR, Mongolia, May 05 (IPS) - When the food-strapped Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) appealed to the Mongolian government for food last month, it signaled a major turning point in the public image of this Central Asian country, which has long struggled to feed its own population of three million.
Transformed from a nation of nomads into an industrial agricultural exporter during its time as a Soviet satellite state between 1921 and 1990, the country’s food production systems suffered a sudden crash after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Families went back to subsistence agriculture, but herding under a privatised market economy created unsustainable livestock populations and overgrazing, as a result of which Mongolia now has an estimated 78 percent desertification rate.
As recently as 2008, the country imported two-thirds of its wheat, one third of its potatoes and most of its milk products in urban areas, according to a United States Department of Agriculture report.
But new initiatives by the government and private sector to revive food production here have taken Mongolians back to their roots as small-scale cultivators, utilising the short growing season on the Central Asian Steppes to plan trees and the nutritious sea buckthorn bushes to protect the topsoil.
Tuya, a member of the Mongolian Women Farmers Association (MWFA) told IPS that imported vegetables are too expensive for the rural and urban poor living in informal “tent cities” across the country. So the new cultivation initiatives offer a way out of malnutrition and food insecurity.
According to government studies, a full third (33 percent) of Mongolians eat no vegetables at all.  The poor suffer from heart disease, stunting in children, high blood pressure, obesity, malnutrition and alcoholism. The MWFA, a volunteer-led civil society organisation, has been teaching ger-district and rural residents how to grow and cook vegetables to improve both their income and health.

Mongolia: Building an Agricultural Empire
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, May 06 (IPS) - Genghis Khan knew about hard times. The founder of the Mongol Empire, which spanned most of Eurasia until roughly 1227, Genghis and his clan had to survive on their wits and natural surroundings, often resorting to meals of “green leafy things” when food was scarce.
Today that history seems to have been lost, with most Mongolians dismissing fruits, vegetables and cultivation as “unmanly”, according to Marissa Markowitz, a food security consultant with the ministry of industry and agriculture (MoIA).
Less than one percent of the country’s land is used for crop production. Instead, following the instincts of their ancestors who were primarily nomadic herders, Mongolians rely on livestock for their food needs, guiding massive herds across the vast grasslands of the Central Asian Steppes.
The Soviet-era meat and dairy industries that flourished here between 1921 and 1990 collapsed along with the Soviet Union, robbing Mongolians not only of the centralised economic structure that had regulated production and distribution for years, but also of major markets for their products, tipping the country towards food insecurity.
One third of households in urban provincial centres and the capital, Ulaanbaatar, were found to be food insecure in 2009, according to a seminal study by Mercy Corps.
The standard diet here is comprised of wheat, meat and rice, said Markowitz, citing reports by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Research released by the ministry of health in 2008 and 2010 revealed that a full third of the country’s population of three million eat no fruits or vegetables at all.
Little knowledge of vegetable use stemming from a lack of access to nutritional information, doctors and health specialists contributes to this imbalanced diet, which particularly affects the one in five families living on 1.25 dollars a day.
Vegetables and fruits are expensive compared to the monthly minimum wage of about 100 dollars. Spring is a particularly difficult period, when national food stores are depleted and prices skyrocket – during this time, local sea buckthorn berries sell for about three to four dollars a kilo; carrots for roughly two dollars a kilo and tomatoes for nearly four dollars a kilo.
A severe lack of storage capacity in rural areas and informal settlements known as “ger districts” -- shantytowns comprised of traditional Mongolian felt tents, or yurts -- exacerbates the problem, with transportation costs adding to the price.
The poverty index is 23.4 percent in Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with 60 percent of the city’s one million residents living in informal settlements or shantytowns.
A fifth of Mongolian children under the age of five are stunted, according to the MoIA’s statistics on malnutrition.
Experts on food security are also concerned about extreme desertification brought on by the introduction of a market-based food system, which saw herds increase by 20 million heads between 1999 and 2007.
Bringing back gardens
In light of these alarming trends, the country has recently embarked on the slow process of rebuilding its agricultural sector.
In the northwestern Songino Khairkhan district in Ulaanbaatar, in a neighbourhood crowded with gers surrounded by wooden fences, a two-acre farm flanked by snow-capped mountains is thriving. Warm greenhouses nurture vegetable seedlings and, outside, the hardy sea buckthorn bush saplings are preparing to explode into ripe orange fruit.
This is the headquarters of the Mongolian Women Farmers Association (MWFA), a volunteer-led NGO that works in all 21 of Mongolia’s provinces to promote vegetable and fruit cultivation among poor families.
The climate here - cold and dry with a short growing season from May until September - is ideal for potatoes, beets, cabbage, carrots, onions and radishes, which can be stored during the long winter months when temperatures drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius.
But a survey published by the Mercy Corps showed that despite 40 percent of the urban poor having access to land, only six percent grew their own vegetables – and even these families cultivated the produce for their own personal use rather than additional income.
Markowitz, coordinator of the project, says the NGO has already worked with 4,500 families on “enhanced nutrition and resource conservation”, and supported vegetable gardens as a “viable way to generate household income”. MWFA also teaches families how to cook and preserve vegetables by canning.
The organisation hopes this will reduce dependence on Russian and Chinese imports that typically flood the local market during the cold season that lasts from October through April.
A volunteer named Tuya told IPS the farm is very popular among locals, particularly for their cultivation of sea buckthorn, which thrives in Mongolia’s harsh weather and helps to stem desertification.
Over 30 grafted varieties of the plant grow in the central and northeastern parts of the country. The yellow berry, known as a “super plant,” is high in vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids and can remove toxins in the body. Families freeze harvested berries in the winter, and often turn them into juice for a quick meal.
In 2007, the far-western Uvs province, considered the birthplace of wild buckthorn domestication in the 1940s,attained the coveted geographic indicator status, comparable to the Champagne region in France, which ensures a higher price for specialised produce. Today, Uvs supplies the nation with 60,000 saplings yearly, according to a FAO case study.
In addition to helping spread sea buckthorn plants, MWFA has published two books and 30 texts on agriculture, using their greenhouses as teaching aids. They also provide free classes to the local community in the surrounding ger districts.
One of the teachers, Bayraa, told IPS classes span twenty days and instruct individuals interested in subsistence agriculture or entrepreneurs aiming to start a business.
Some teachers travel to the countryside to impart knowledge of vegetable cultivation to populations in more remote provinces.
It remains to be seen if sea buckthorn berries or vegetables can stand alongside meat or dairy as a traditional Mongolian meal, even though agricultural production was practiced on the steppes as far back as 2,000 years ago.
Today, Ulaanbaatar boasts over 20 vegetarian restaurants, helping to fuel a demand for local greens and reduce the impact of herding on the country.
If the expansion of agriculture here is successful, Mongolia could build a different kind of empire to Genghis Khan’s – one with nutrition and food security at its core.
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MPP Confirms Bat-Erdene As Nominee for Presidential Election
May 5 (Mendee Jargalsaikhan, Mongolia Today) The opposition Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), announced its candidate for the upcoming presidential election after series of internal party nomination elections.  A well-known wrestling champion and long-time Member of Parliament (from Khentii Province), Badnaanyambuu BAT-ERDENE, will run against the incumbent President Elbegdorj.
With his continued stance on environmental protection, particularly from mining consequences, he is a strong candidate in this election.  He demonstrated staunch support of the controversial [depending on analysts' perspectives] “Law with the Long Name” (The Law on the Prohibition of Minerals Exploration in Water Basins and Forested Areas of 2009) and even has contradicted the previous governments of his own party.  Obviously, environmental protection and improvement of legal frameworks and enforcement concerning mining will be one of the main issues in the upcoming campaign along with fighting corruption and reducing government inefficiency.
As the party announced its nominee, President Elbegdorj tweeted his congratulations. The  MPP started campaigning for Bat-Erdene as the “Emissary of Unity” [Ev Negdeliin Elch] through social media.  The impact  of social media in the election will be an interesting aspect to watch.

Mongolia’s Presidential Election: An Introduction to the Candidates and Instant Analysis of the Polls
May 5 (APIP) The Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) announced their official presidential candidate in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The man, a former wrestler, is a heavy weight, both literally and metaphorically. But is he ready to grapple with petite political powerhouse, Ts. Elbegdorj?
B. Baterdene (Mogi: Bat-Erdene), a retired professional athlete considered by many to be the greatest Mongolian wrestler in the history of the sport, is nearly 1’8 meters tall and weighs well over 120 kilos. With his hulking shoulders and fingers as large as sausages, he stands in sharp contrast to the diminutive 1’5 meter incumbent president from the Democratic Party (DP), Ts. Elbegdorj. However, the disparities between the two men’s professional backgrounds and political styles are, if possible, even more stark than their physical differences. 
Elbegdorj was born to a family of nomadic herders in the impoverished and isolated Western province of Khovd. A natural leader and precocious student, he was sent abroad to study journalism in the Soviet Union. Upon graduation, he returned to Mongolia, where became active in politics early in his career. In the wake of the USSR’s collapse and Mongolia’s political transition, he transformed himself into a leader of the nascent democratic movement. He helped craft the new nation’s new constitution and became a Member of Parliament at the young age of 27.  He subsequently served several terms as prime minister and obtained a Master’s degree Harvard University’s Kennedy School before winning the presidency in 2009.
In contrast, Baterdene was born to a herding family from Khentii province, much closer the centers of power in the capital city. He obtained his education exclusively in Mongolia and never worked or studied abroad for any significant period of time. In the late 1980s, while Elbegdorj was organizing student activists, Baterdene was at the height of his athletic career, bowling through his opponents with his straightforward, no-nonsense wrestling style. He did not enter politics until later in life, after retiring from his athletic career with a mountain of accolades. He served his first parliamentary in 2004. In the same year, Elbegdorj - only a few months Baterdene’s senior - was appointed to his second term as prime minister.
While the wrestler would undoubtedly dominate his DP opponent in a physical confrontation, Elbegdorj appears to have a distinct advantage when it comes to political experience. The latest political polls, conducted by international researchers at the Sant Maral Foundation, seem to confirm this fact (Mogi: this poll faced Elbegdorj against many possible MPP candidates, so it wouldn’t be fair to say Elbegdorj was the clearly winner in the poll. The poll might look different if it’s directly between Elbegdorj and Bat-Erdene). When pollsters asked a nationally representative sample of Mongolian voters who would be the most suitable president for Mongolia, more than 19% spontaneously responded with Elbegdorj’s name. Only 2.1% listed Baterdene as their top choice (Mogi: again because MPP vote was split between many possible candidates). In fact, even Baterdene’s own party was slow to rally behind him during the nomination process. He won the MPP candidacy only after a protracted three round run-off amongst designated voting party members that ran late into Saturday evening. Even then, he only barely squeezed out a victory over his closest MPP rival, U. Enkhtuvshin. All these signs appear to indicate that Elbegdorj should have no trouble pinning his opponent in the electoral arena. The incumbent president has a distinct lead in the polls and the full support of his party, though he will not receive the official nomination until May 8th.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to discount Baterdene this early in the process. The wrestler’s athletic achievements have earned him enduring admiration and popularity among the Mongolian people. But, far from being a dumb jock, Baterdene is known as a cool headed tactician with a no-nonsense political style that mirrors his approach to athletics. He may just have a few surprise moves left in him.
Regardless, pundits should beware placing too much emphasis on polls taken before the campaign season begins. As the recent US election showed, national level polls can swing wildly over the course of a campaign. Moreover, even under the best conditions, public opinion is notoriously hard to measure in Mongolia, where much of the population continues to live a semi-nomadic existence and party loyalties are less distinct. The Sant Maral poll was collected back in mid-April, long before the field of candidates was narrowed down. As in other countries, the opposition party (or parties) will certainly close ranks and rally behind their chosen candidate after bestowing the nomination. The only other politicians popular enough to enter the field are effectively disqualified because they are either in prison (N. Enkhbayar) or not currently a member of a coalition party (Ganbaatar) (Mogi: hmmm, my legal knowledge might . Public sentiment could very well shift in Baterdene’s favor now that potential rivals have been eliminated. If the memes that have evolved on Facebook over the last few hours are any guide, it seems entirely feasible that Baterdene may be able to offer Elbegdorj a close match. 
A Baterdene surge in the polls could put further pressure on foreign investors, who already feel squeezed by the current government. President Elbegdorj has, somewhat unfairly, been portrayed as a resource nationalist by the international media in recent months. This trend started back in February with a now notorious mistranslation of several lines of a presidential speech by Bloomberg’s Michael Kohn. It is certainly true that Elbegdorj has sent mixed signals regarding FDI and the government’s role in the massive Oyu Tolgoi project. His tone on this topic has been as variable as spring weather in Ulaanbaatar. He tends to talk sunshine when foreigners are in the room and spout gloom to his Mongolian audience. However, his policy decisions have been much more consistent than his rhetoric and FDI has undeniably flourished during his tenure. Baterdene, on the other hand, is a true resource nationalist in the fullest sense of the word. He has been one of the most outspoken critics of Oyu Tolgoi, repeatedly called for a full renegotiation of the investment agreement. His strong nationalist tone may very well scratch an itch with an electorate that feels it has not received its share of the benefits from the recent mining boom. 
For the past several years, Elbegdorj has had to play a delicate balancing act – paying homage to nationalist sentiment on the one hand while reassuring foreign investors and technocrats on the other. There are some who think a former wrestler may be just the person to tip up this balance.
The team at Invest Mongolia fully expects an Elbegdorj victory but we also suspect that the race may end up being considerably closer than other international pundits have indicated. Ultimately, it is the Mongolian people and the democratic process that will decide.
Regardless of the outcome, we will keep you updated.

Mogi: MNDP is the junior partner in a coalition that’s in turn a junior partner to DP in government
MNDP to nominate M.Enkhsaikhan for president
May 6 ( Mongolian National Democratic Party (MNDP) held  its Administrative board meeting today on May 6th and agreed to nominate the head of the party M.Enkhsaikhan for the Presidential Election. 
The Administrative board of Mongolian National Democratic Party consists of 11 members agreed to discuss the issue on the Assembly meeting next Friday said MP D.Battsogt. 
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Mogi: old news, I know, bizmongolia was shut down over the weekend due to godaddy issues.
GoM offering one-time opportunity to buy back ETT shares from companies
April 29 ( In accordance with the government Resolution 132 of 2013, Mongolian government is to organize a one-time return-offer of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC shares for those companies who wish to return their shares.
Last year, 20% of the of the state-owned company’s shares were distributed to the public, and the government offered a compensation if a shereholder wants to re-sell it for cash. The government sold these re-sold shares to the companies for its face-value and was planning to act as a broker between the people and the companies. About 1.5 million people subscribed to sell their shares. About 1000 companies bought 36,240 shares each for 933 MNT each, accumulating 20 billion MNT in The Mongolian Securities Clearing House and Central Depository (MSCH&CD).
The government’s plan to payback 1.5 trillion MNT to the 1.5 million shareholders wasn’t realized. Hence, the companies that paid several thousand dollars for the shares also wanted to return it as the IPO had been delayed for number of times. Thus, the Tax Authority of Mongolia will organize a one-time return offer for those companies who are returning their shares.

Indonesia’s United Tractors Keen on Mongolian Coal
May 6 (Jakarta Globe) United Tractors, the heavy equipment unit of Astra International, is looking to tap opportunities in the coal industry in resource-rich Mongolia, the company’s president director said.
Djoko Pranoto, United Tractors’ president director, said Mongolia’s huge coal reserves and proximity to major coal-consuming countries have driven the company to explore opportunities in the nation.
“In terms of quantity, coal resources and reserves in Mongolia are very attractive,” he said over the weekend.
Mongolia is said to hold 12.2 billion tons of coal reserves.
Djoko added that the coal industries in Indonesia and Mongolia had similar characteristic as mines in both countries were generally open-pit and produced coking coal — a type of coal that has a higher calorific (energy) value.
Export markets will be widely available should United Tractors decide to invest in coal industry in Mongolia, Djoko said.
“The distance between Mongolia and two [major] coal-consuming nations, China and Russia, is small,” he said.
However, Djoko said United Tractors is focusing current efforts on expanding its business in Indonesia.
United Tractors currently owns nine coal mining concessions across the country with combined estimated reserves of around 424 million metric tons.
United Tractors’ coal business is managed by its mining contractor subsidiary, Pamapersada Nusantara.
Coal output at the subsidiary was 23.6 million metric tons in the first quarter, a slight increase from 21 million tons a year earlier. In 2013, the company expects to see a 5 percent to 10 percent increase on last year’s coal output of 94.4 million tons.
United Tractors allotted $190 million out of $230 million in capital expenditure this year to Pamapersada Nusantara. (Mogi: Pama has a rep office UB, let me know if you’d like to contact)
United Tractors capex this year is half of 2012’s, as the company is anticipating a persistent slowdown in global coal markets to affect demand for heavy equipment.
Shares in United Tractors rose 1.4 percent to Rp 17,650 in Monday trading in Jakarta.
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Cabinet proposes opening embassies in Brazil, Indonesia, reopen in Kabul; Mining Minister Gankhuyag to meet Aussie counterpart
May 6 (InfoMongolia) On May 04, 2013, the Cabinet of the Government of Mongolia held its regular meeting and the following issues were discussed and resolved accordingly.
<![if !supportLists]>-       <![endif]>In conjunction with the 90th anniversary of founding the Arkhangai, Zavkhan, Tuv and Khentii Aimags (Provinces) in 2013, the Naadam Festival of these aimags will be celebrated simultaneously on July 26-28, 2013. Moreover, the regional horse racing competitions are also to be organized on the date mentioned.
<![if !supportLists]>-       <![endif]>Since the Government House became open for public views, Cabinet decided to launch a hall for movie, lecture and meeting; the room will be opened next to the State Historical Museum.
<![if !supportLists]>-       <![endif]>Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag will participate the VI International Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Conference to be organized in Australia on May 20-25, 2013. During his attendance, Minister D.Gankhuyag is scheduled to meet the Minister for Resources and Energy of Australia Gary Gray to discuss the policy of mining products’ export, creation of economical integrations.
<![if !supportLists]>-       <![endif]>Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia L.Bold introduced his official visit to the State of Kuwait made on April 16-17, 2013.  During his visit, parties discussed the Mongolia-Kuwait economical and technical cooperation, investment increases, moreover the project of constricting Parliamentary Palace in Ulaanbaatar.
<![if !supportLists]>-       <![endif]>The “Economical Cooperation between the Governments of the Republic of Poland and Mongolia” was approved, the Agreement was signed in Warsaw on January 21, 2013, where parties agreed to re-establish an intergovernmental commission. The trade turnover between the governments was at 36.5 million USD in 2011, whereas Mongolia’s export made 47.1 thousand USD, import 36.4 million USD and 6.4 million USD’s investment. In 2012, the trade turnover between Poland and Mongolia reached at 57 million USD.
<![if !supportLists]>-       <![endif]>During the Cabinet meeting Mongolia’s Embassy to open in the capital city of Indonesia, the Special Capital Region of Jakarta and in the capital city of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Brasilia, was discussed. Also, to restore Mongolia’s Embassy in the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, Kabul. Moreover, to open General Consulates in Ankara, Republic of Turkey and in Bishkek, Republic of Kyrgyzstan, to open Consulate of Mongolia in Busan City (Pusan), Republic of Korea respectively. If these issues approve at the affiliated Standing Committees of the Parliament, then would pass through the Parliament meeting for an approval.

Chinese state councilor to visit Mongolia
BEIJING, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi will visit Mongolia from May 8-9 at the invitation of its government, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a Monday press briefing.

South Korea eases bank deposit guarantee requirement for visas from Mongolia
May 6 ( The Republic of Korea made changes to its visa requirements for Mongolian citizens last October. According to the changes to the South Korean visa requirements Mongolian visitor should have at least 10-20 million MNT in a bank account in order to apply for a South Korean visa (Mogi: 10-20 million? Paranoid much?). Since South Korea made visa restrictions designed to prevent Mongolians over staying in the country illegally, Mongolians have complained a lot to the South Korean Embassy in Ulaanbaatar. 
The South Korean Embassy reached a decision to reduce the bank deposit to 30 percent based on citizens` complaints. Also a Mongolian who has paid at least 1.4 million MNT for social insurance in a one year period is now able to apply for the visa with their family. In this case a bank account is not necessary. The new visa requirements will be available by May 13th.

Nigeria: VP Sambo Praises Mongolian President's Contribution to Democracy
April 30 (allAfrica) Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo has described the President of Mongolia Tsakhia Elbegdorj as a “lover of democracy”. (Mogi: haha, luvaaaa!)
The Vice President made this remark on Tuesday, April 30, when he paid a courtesy call on the president at his office in Ulaanbaatar.
The Vice President, who represents President Goodluck Jonathan at the event described Mongolia as a country with a strong history in the world and hoped to strengthen and develop more relationships between the countries.
Arc Sambo also hoped that the countries would continue to relate and cooperate in areas that would be beneficial to their various people and promised to report back to Nigeria's president Dr Goodluck Jonathan on the excellent and successful conduct of the event.
In his response, the Mongolian President Tsakhia Elebegdorj stated that countries and continents are connected together and that he regarded President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria as his good friend and looked forward to future working relationships with him when he assumes presidency of the Community of Democracy.
The Vice President was accompanied by Gombe State governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, Minister of State Foreign Affairs Viola Onwuliri, Nigerian Ambassador to China Aminu Wali, and his Polish counterpart Samuel Jumba and Adetokunbi Sonaike Director Asia-Pacific Division (APD) Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

U.S. State Department sends innovative dance leaders to Mongolia as Arts Envoys
Eugene, Oregon, April 17 (U.S. Embassy in Mongolia) - Two dance artists from DanceAbility International will travel to Mongolia as 'Arts Envoys' of the U.S. State Department. The State Department is sponsoring the two DanceAbility Teachers to travel to Indonesia, Mongolia, and the Philippines. Alito Alessi, Artistic Director and founder of DanceAbility International, and Karen Daly, a DanceAbility teacher, cancer survivor, and wheelchair-user, will be spreading the DanceAbility method to groups that integrate people with and without disabilities. They will share this American-born dance form in workshops "Let's Dance Together" in Ulaanbaatar. DanceAbility International is based in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.
The Arts Envoy Program is very selective and prestigious. The mission of the program is to “share the best of the U.S. arts community with the world and foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration.” Alessi and Daly feel honored to have been chosen to represent the United States in sharing the cutting edge of dance and the celebration of diversity. They are the first participants in the Arts Envoy program to hail from a “mixed-abilities” or integrated dance company (integrating dancers with and without disabilities.) They will be teaching various dance workshops, organized by the U.S. Embassy. Some of the workshops will be professional teacher trainings, so that local dance educators will be equipped with the skills needed to lead groups that integrate both people with and without disabilities. In addition to the opportunity of sharing DanceAbility with new audiences, Alessi and Daly are also looking forward to promoting cross-cultural artistic collaboration.
“The DanceAbility method has arisen from people on several continents,” said Alessi. “I’m excited to both take this information to three new countries and add more wisdom of more cultures to the DanceAbility method.”
In conjunction, DanceAbility International launched its first-ever Kickstarter campaign, with a goal of raising $5,000 by April 26th. The money will go to fund a professional videographer to accompany the dancers in the three Asian countries, to provide footage for a feature-length documentary about DanceAbility. DanceAbility International is a nonprofit organization based in Eugene, Oregon. It celebrates the beauty of diversity, by bringing people together, with and without disabilities, through dance. It conducts performances, educational programs, teacher trainings and workshops, worldwide. In its 25 years of activity, it has reached more than a million people in 37 countries. Over 400 people in 25 countries are Certified DanceAbility Teachers. Alessi is a Guggenheim Fellow, Ashoka Fellow, and Fulbright Senior Fellow.

Pakistani Terrorists in Mongolia?
May 5 (Registan) Last week it was announced in the Mongolian press that three Pakistani terror suspects had been arrested at Chinggis Khaan International in Ulaan Baatar (Mogi: spelled the airport correctly but couldn’t UB) by the police and intelligence agency of Mongolia as they were trying to enter the country ( This is unusual for Mongolia (Mogi: why unusual?); it is the only country I’m aware of in mainland Asia besides Bhutan that has so far avoided any taint of terrorism (Mogi: and that’s unusual for Mongolia?). There has, of course, been a serious upswing in racism/xenophobia in the country resulting in mob violence and racist rap videos (which would seem more of a deterrent to foreign terror organizations (Mogi: hahahaha, so you think foreign terrorists would be scared to come to Mongolia because of our racist rappers? Oh please), but no domestic group has yet been accused of terrorism. Outside groups seem to have similarly avoided the country; it’s not really on the way to anywhere, has no organic support network terror groups can rely upon, and despite a shaky banking sector and some money laundering problems, is not terribly attractive to foreign terror organizations. So one wonders what the three Pakistani terror suspects would be doing there (Mogi: can’t find a reason? Read your own reasons above and perhaps exactly for your above “un-attractiveness” of Mongolia argument that terrorists might use Mongolia as a transit route).
The suspects, Ramzan Hafiz Mohammed, Mohammed Ramzan Bakhsh, and Khizar Hayat, don’t seem to have any terrorism charges pending according to Interpol, but in the news reports terrorism charges were alleged. Since May 1, I haven’t seen anything more about this story. Do any readers know more about this story?
Author: Alec Metz is an independent policy analyst focusing on security and development in South and Central Asia.

Young Mongolians dream of studying at Turkish schools
May 5 (Hizmet Movement) Mongolian students, who deem the Turkish schools in the country as the keys to secure a bright future, sweated out the entrance exam of the schools.
Turkish schools, in operation in Mongolia since 1994, held their annual entrance exams on May 4. The schools are so much in demand that, to be able to qualify, candidates prepare for these exams by attending months-long preparation courses. Mongolian students’ another dream is to study in Turkey (Mogi: dream, yes, but surely behind US, England, Australia, …). Parenthetically, during the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent visit to Mongolia, his Mongolian counterpart Noroviin Altankhuyag told PM Erdogan that a minister and a senior official in his cabinet studied in Turkey.
The students who pass math, IQ and Mongolian exams will be interviewed to ultimately qualify for their dream schools. Turkish schools officials said about two thousand students take these exams every year to be among the four hundred admitted.
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Social, Environmental and Other
Mongolia: Prioritising education
Figures released by the National Statistical Office in February 2013 showed encouraging increases in the total number of students and graduates, as well as schools operating in the country. The total number of students increased 0.8% from 890,000 to 897,000 for the 2012/13 academic year. Meanwhile, the number of graduates from secondary, technical and vocational schools, and universities rose to 167,000 from 133,000. Additionally, 70 new schools – four secondary schools and 66 kindergarten – began operations in 2012/13.
A further positive sign for the sector is the joint strategy launched in 2011 by the government and the UK’s Cambridge University, which leaders say will improve the quality and effectiveness of the education system. Teachers from Cambridge have been working with Mongolian counterparts on new textbooks in maths, science, biology, chemistry, physics and English for 10 grades, as well as developing reforms in national education policy. Under the plan, a small network of elite schools will be built in Ulaanbaatar and regional centres.
Cambridge University is giving us advice in accordance with the contract that the government signed with them. They are helping us achieve a world-class standard of education,” L Gantumur, the minister of education and science, told local weekly publication The UB Post in March 2013.
However, some critics have taken aim at the MoE’s relationship with Cambridge, saying Mongolia must develop its own country-specific education system. “Mongolia should try to find its own solutions by establishing relationships between teachers and students and motivating their intellectual creativity,” wrote the Mongolian Economy magazine in an editorial in September 2012.
Other observers have said the government's plan to allow only the best students access to the elite schools will create a two-tier system, suggesting the MoE instead develop a plan that sees quality education trickle down through the rest of the system.
“Mongolia is using its newly exploited mineral wealth to reform its social services. While the government should be applauded for looking to the future... separating academically successful children into an elite system raises serious concerns about equity,” wrote Kate Lapham, senior programme manager for the Open Society Foundation’s (Mogi: Open Society Forum) Education Support Programme, in March 2013.
Given the design of the Cambridge system, it is also uncertain whether it will tackle another key challenge – teachers’ salaries. While the government pledged in 2010 to raise these to MNT410,000 ($292) per month, online news portal InfoMongolia reported in November 2011 that the average teaching salary was still MNT300,000 ($214), which resulted in over 10,000 public school teachers from 108 schools going on strike in December that year.
In an attempt to address the issue, while discussing an amendment to the education law regarding funds allotted for teachers’ salaries, the Cabinet opted to grant an additional MNT30m ($21,352) compared with the initially proposed MNT150bn ($106.76m).
Critics also say there is a greater need for vocational schools to teach unemployed Mongolians job-specific skills that can integrate them faster into the economy. Key to this will be reforms to technical and vocational education and training (TVET), which is currently being developed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The ADB has stated that the initiative aims to deliver employment-focused and quality TVET to both rural and urban learners.
“Many TVET schools have largely inherited the pre-[Soviet], transition-period set-ups in terms of inadequate teaching and training techniques, outdated equipment, and poor state of training facilities... [this project] will support development of preparedness and trainability among students in general secondary and special education schools and the provision of guidance for their future career choice,” the ADB wrote in its project data sheet in early February 2013.
Both the recently introduced and upcoming changes to the education system will indeed generate a number of benefits, including a higher standard of education and more highly skilled nationals. However, the government must strive to continue its educational development and compensate teachers financially if it hopes to become a global competitor.

Red Cross: East Asia (MAA54001) Annual Report 2012
This report covers the period 1 January to 31 December 2012
May 6 (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) --
The IFRC’s East Asia regional delegation (EARD) serves to support and build capacities within the national societies (NSs) of the East Asia region. The region includes China, Mongolia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, and Japan. The IFRC supports all five national Red Cross Societies in the region and additionally has long-term planning frameworks specifically for the NSs in China, Mongolia, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Mongolia – In December, the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) of Mongolia issued a dzud[2] warning for the winter of 2012-2013. Many families were forced to evacuate and livestock was not able to survive on the pastures. Mongolia Red Cross Society (MRCS) and IFRC act proactively towards the harsh winter, especially in looking at how communities can increase their resilience. A national vulnerability and capacity assessment (VCA) process has been initiated in 2012 to allow the MRCS to review the vulnerabilities and capacities of many communities and Red Cross branches throughout the country. The findings, expected to be released in 2013, will be shared with stakeholders in Mongolia and partners as a joint mechanism for coordinating appropriate support throughout the country.

74 wildfires reported this year
May 6 ( Since January there have been 74 forest fire incidents reported in 47 sums in 15 aimags over these first five months of the year. 
Almost 80 percent of high fire risk aimags are too dry or at dangerous levels of dryness. 
Therefore the National Emergency Management Agency is giving warnings to prevent possible forest fires during such a dry period of the year. The warnings include avoiding ash leakages and making open air fires, avoid leaving small children without a caretaker or prohibiting letting them play with fire and avoid going on any picnics or tours in the forest. 
Currently over 100 people including the National Emergency Management Agency staff and local residents in Khutag-Undur sum in Bulgan aimag are struggling to extinguish a fire. This battles has already been going on for days. 
Almost 60 staff of the National Emergency Management Agency and 167 local residents cut off a forest fire in Bat-Uul in Bulgan sum in Dornod aimag. 
There were also forest fires in Tenkhleg area in Dadal sum in Khentii aimag, Kharzad area of Dashbalbar sum in Dornod aimag, Bayandelger sum in Tuv aimag. A dump caused a forest fire in Kherlen sum in Dornod aimag, there was a steppe blaze from Russia in Dashbalbar sum in Dornod aimag, and more fires in Khalzan sum in Sukhbaatar aimag, Maldvai, Doctor and Zeergene area of Chuluunkhoroot sum in Dornod aimag which were extinguished with support from servicemen and local residents. 

Bayankhongor schools closed due to mercury leak from illegal gold mining
May 6 ( In Bayankhongor aimag schools and kindergartens have been forced to close after a mercury leak was revealed during an investigation at the Michid Maral service center due to illegal gold washing with mercury. 
The investigation revealed that a mini-melting furnace was replaced in the facility with the installation of 70cm by 120 cm air conditioning unit connected to an 80 cm long pipe in order to release mercury fumes. 
After the discovery of the mercury leak Bayankhongor Emergency Commission led an urgent meeting due to current situation. 
The Governor of Bayankhongor aimag gave orders to close and suspend services of school, kindergartens, grocery markets and trade centers within a 150 meter radius of the area of the mercury leak. 
A working group has been sent to conduct comprehensive inspections, surveys, analysis, evaluation and internal monitoring in Bayankhongor aimag. Lieutenant colonel of the National Emergency Management Agency, D.Altnagerel, heads the working group to provide management and arrangement to prevent any aftereffects of the mercury leak. 
According to a report by the National Emergency Management Agency, the Emergency Rescue and Relief Service and the State Specialized Inspection Agency will jointly manage the operation to clear the residue of the chemical leak and neutralize the area. 

Sainkho Namtchylak on BBC World Service's Outlook
May 2 (Pearly Jacob) --

War in the East: How Khalkhin-Gol changed the course of WWII
May 7 (Russia & India Report) In 1939 an unknown general named Georgy Zhukov trounced Japan at the Battle of Khalkhin-Gol in the Mongolian steppes, changing the trajectory of Japanese expansionism towards Pearl Harbour and Europe’s Asian colonies.
The reasons for the spectacular Russian victories in Europe during WW II can be traced to a little-known but significant battle that took place in Asia a full two years before Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.
In August 1939, just weeks before Hitler and Joseph Stalin invaded Poland, the Soviet Union and Japan fought a massive tank battle at Khalkhin-Gol on the Mongolian border. It was the largest armoured battle in the world until that point.
Khalkhin-Gol dramatically changed the course of WW II – and history. Haunted by their crushing defeat the Japanese tore up their plans to annex the Russian Far East and Siberia. Instead they decided it would be easier to expand into the Pacific and Southeast Asia. The upshot: Pearl Harbor and the Japanese invasion of Europe’s Asian colonies.
Probing and counterattacks
If you get an opportunity to travel back in time, try and avoid Russia in 1917. Some really terrible stuff was going on there – the downfall of the tsar, the Bolshevik revolution, and an intercontinental civil war. All this in the midst of a world war during which the German Army came within 500 km of St Petersburg. (Yes, this was before they re-appeared in the neighbourhood in World War II)
Seeing their giant neighbour in distress, the Japanese occupied its far eastern provinces and parts of Siberia in 1918. However, Japanese adventurism didn’t last long. By 1922, the communists had got their act together and forced Tokyo to withdraw from those territories.
But in 1931 Japan marched back, occupying Manchuria where they established the puppet state of Manchukuo. This was quite alarming from the Russians' point of view because the Trans-Siberian Railway, their only link to the Russian Far East, was now just one pincer thrust away from Japanese-held territory.
Another scare-factor was the anti-communist pact signed in 1936 between Germany and Japan, and later joined by other countries, including Italy, Spain, Turkey, Croatia, Hungary and Finland.
Japan's motives – and fears
The Japanese had compelling reasons for expanding into Asia. One, it was still the age of empires. If the Nazis were talking of Lebensraum (extra living space for the blue-eyed Germans) in the west, on the other side of the globe Japan was peddling its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, a euphemism for their own version of Lebensraum.
The second factor was natural resources, including oil. Russia’s Far East, for instance, was under-inhabited, under-defended and overabundant in resources; it was simply too tempting.
Being Pacific powers, Russia and Japan had been rivals for decades. In the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 Japan had sunk an entire Russian fleet which had rashly sailed around the world from the Baltic Sea. Japan had also occupied Vladivostok during the Russian civil war.
But by the 1930s Russia was resurgent. The Imperial General Staff in Tokyo was particularly concerned about the threat Soviet submarines posed to Japanese shipping, and the possibility that Soviet bombers based in Vladivostok would be able to strike the Japanese hinterlands.
Japan had two strategic options. The North Strike Group of generals within the Japanese Army wanted to seize Siberia as far as Lake Baikal for its resources. The South Strike Group – backed by the Japanese Navy – sought the rich lands of south-east Asia, which were under the shaky rule of effete European powers like Britain, the Netherlands and France.
Striking in China and Mongolia
The North Strike Group prevailed. In 1937 the Japanese, convinced that Joseph Stalin’s purge of 1935-37 had crippled the Soviet officer corps, rolled into China. The country was in the midst of a civil war and didn’t really put up a fight. The invasion forces quickly seized Shanghai and Nanking, where they killed millions of Chinese civilians.
The Russians – fearing encirclement by Japan and Germany – acted quickly. They concluded a treaty with China, furnishing financial and military aid; 450 pilots and technicians and 225 warplanes were sent to China in 1937.
Khalkhin Gol: Enter Zhukov
But the real high stakes game was about to unfold on the Mongolian steppes. During July and August 1938, Japan and Russia repeatedly clashed at the borders between Mongolia (a Soviet ally) and Manchuria. After bitter air and land battles, the Japanese finally decided on a full-on clash. They chose a remote area on the Khalkhin-Gol, the river between Mongolia and Manchuria. In May 1939 the Japanese occupied the area around the village of Nomonhan, hoping to challenge Russia. The Japanese Army was confident their attack force would strike the enemy “like a butcher's cleaver dismembering a chicken”.
The command of the Soviet forces went to a relatively unknown general who had escaped Stalin’s bloody purges through sheer chance. This was 42-year-old Corps Commander Georgy Zhukov. By mid-August, Zhukov had amassed 50,000 troops, 216 artillery pieces, and 498 armoured vehicles including tanks. Air support was provided by 581 planes.
At 5am on August 20, 1939, Zhukov struck. It started with 200 Soviet bombers pounding the Japanese positions. When the bombers withdrew, a massive artillery barrage began that lasted nearly three hours. Meanwhile, the planes returned for a second bombing run. Finally, Zhukov ordered the artillery to launch a 15-minute barrage at the Japanese troop concentrations.
“The Japanese huddled in their trenches under the heaviest bombardment to which they or any other Japanese unit had ever been subjected,” writes Stuart D. Goldman in Nomonhan, 1939: The Red Army's Victory That Shaped World War II. “Artillery came pouring in at two to three rounds per second. Earth and sky throbbed.”
With their own artillery knocked out, the Japanese were defenceless against the flame throwing tanks, which a Japanese officer saw “spitting red darts like the tongues of snakes”. A Japanese artillery commander described the bombardment as reverberating like “the gongs of hell”.
The effect, physically and psychologically, was shattering. The denouement came when shell-shocked Japanese soldiers ran out of water and in their desperation drank the foul liquid from the radiators of their military vehicles, thereby immobilising the vehicles.
What followed was a combined assault. Soviet infantry attacked the Japanese centre and armour encircled the Japanese flanks. By the 11th day of the battle, the Japanese force was decimated and surrounded. A few Japanese units managed to break out of the encirclement, but those that remained were finished off by air and artillery attacks.
On September 16 the undeclared war was declared over.
Changing the course of history
Khalkhin-Gol had two major results. One, it secured Russia’s backdoor. Japan’s imperial military realised it had seriously underestimated the Russians. It would never again threaten Russia. And indeed when Germany attacked, the Japanese – despite the temptation and Hitler’s pressure – stayed away.
Zhukov ensured that Germany and Japan never got a chance to link up their conquered areas through Russia. The overstretched Soviet military was able to focus its forces on just one front. They were able to move 15 infantry divisions, three cavalry divisions, 1,700 tanks and 1,500 aircraft from the Far East to the European front. These reinforcements turned the tide in the Battle of Moscow in 1941.
The battle catapulted Zhukov into the top ranks of the Soviet brass. Several of his trench mates at Khalkhin-Gol later became prominent wartime commanders. S.I. Bogdanov, Zhukov's chief of staff, went on to command the 2nd Guards Tank Army, one of the elite mechanised formations that played an important role in Germany’s defeat.
Khalkhin-Gol demonstrated the viability of Russian military tactics. A year after flinging the Germans back from Moscow, Zhukov planned and executed his offensive at the Battle of Stalingrad, using a technique similar to Khalkhin-Gol. In this battle, the Russian forces held the enemy in the centre, built up a mass of force in the area undetected, and launched a pincer attack to trap the Germans.
(In fact, so confident was Stalin that on September 17, 1939, a day after hostilities ended at Khalkhin-Gol, he confidently marched into Poland)
Secondly, Japanese war planners now began to look at British, French and Dutch colonial possessions in Southeast Asia as offering greater prospects for expansion. As European armies were being soundly thrashed by Germany, the South Strike Group went in for the kill and prised out their colonies one by one, with the most spectacular victory coming at the Battle of Singapore, where they defeated 135,000 British troops. The humiliation of British officers and soldiers in front of the subject peoples of Asia played a huge role in ending colonialism in Asia.
Japan’s reverse move also sent it headlong into war with the United States, resulting from the brilliant – if ultimately counterproductive – attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
The rest, as they say, is history.

Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
Cover Mongolia
Mobile: +976 9999 6779
Skype: mogibb
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Cover Mongolia · Sukhbaatar District · Ulaanbaatar, Ulaanbaatar 14200

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