Monday, May 20, 2013

[US Ex-Im approves $0.5B OT financing, BoM deposits further ₮50b Chinggis in banks, and Mongolia's poverty rate drops to 27.4% from 33.7%]

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Smuggled Dinosaur's Return May Boost Mongolian Paleontology
May 17 (LiveScience) When Mongolia's most famous dinosaur, a relative of T. rex, returns to the Asian country on May 18, it returns to a homeland rich in dinosaur fossils, but with scant resources to display and study them.
But there are signs this dinosaur's celebrity status —the Tarbosaurus skeleton made headlines as the subject of a custody battle and federal smuggling case here in the United States — may help change that.
"We didn't have a single star who can be a representation of the whole paleontological heritage that we have," Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, Mongolia's minister of culture, sports and tourism, told LiveScience at a repatriation ceremony for the fossil. "That's why [the dinosaur] became like a hero that fascinates everyone and just awakened the Mongolian public to learn more about paleontological heritage of the country." [Tarbosaurus: See Images of the Celebrity Dinosaur]
When the dinosaur arrives on Saturday (May 18), the new national Dinosaur Day, it will return to a country with no dedicated dinosaur museum, only three doctorate-level paleontologists, and no university-level courses in paleontology. However, Mongolian officials have plans to change all of this.
Unrecognized national treasures
A landlocked nation situated between China and Russia, Mongolia is slightly smaller than the state of Alaska, and is home to 3.2 million people (Mogi: almost 2.9 million by latest count). In 1990, the country left behind its communist Soviet system for democracy and a free market.
A number of factors — including the prolonged economic depression following this transition, little access to English in the past, a publishing industry that was nonexistent until recently, a shortage of paleontologists, and cultural attitudes toward bones and the dead —have inhibited the Mongolian public's interest in the country's fossil heritage, Oyungerel told LiveScience.
In recent years, mining has spurred economic growth in Mongolia, and more Mongolians are learning English. As a direct result of the Tarbosaurus case, plans are underway to establish the country's first dedicated dinosaur museum, the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs, and to train the paleontologists needed to staff it and study the nation's fossils.
Currently, one museum in Mongolia, the national natural history museum, displays dinosaur fossils. But this museum's building is old and at risk of collapsing, Oyungerel said.
In need of a new generation
While many foreign paleontologists come to Mongolia to work, the country has only three doctorate-level, or full-fledged, vertebrate paleontologists, who study the fossils of animals with backbones, including dinosaurs.
One of the three paleontologists, the youngest and the only one trained in the United States, Bolortsetseg Minjin, has been tapped as assistant director of the new museum and its chief paleontologist. The other two were trained by the Soviets, while Mongolia was a communist country.
"We really need to work hard to have a young generation (of paleontologists) as soon as possible," Bolortsetseg said.
The Mongolian government hopes to establish the dinosaur museum, with the Tarbosaurus as its first specimen, in an old Lenin museum. This museum was established during communist times to display art and artifacts related to the life of the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. [Image Gallery: Amazing Dinosaur Fossils]
However, ownership of the former Lenin museum building is now tied up in a court case. After the dinosaur arrives on May 18, the country's new National Dinosaur Day, officials plan to house it in a temporary exhibition hall in the main square of the capital Ulaanbaatar, Oyungerel said. 
The new museum will register all Mongolia dinosaurs, including those sent abroad on loan.
More fossils and more museums
Mongolian law makes all fossils found within its borders state property; U.S. officials seized the Tarbosaurus from a Florida fossil hunter and dealer, Eric Prokopi, charging that he smuggled it into the United States.
At 8 feet tall (2.4 meters) and 24 feet long (7.3 meters) when assembled, this juvenile Tarbosaurus bataar, requires some space to display, but it isn't the only large dinosaur heading back to Mongolia.
As part of the federal case, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office and Homeland Security Investigations have seized additional dinosaur fossils from Prokopi and a British dealer, Chris Moore. These include other large dinosaurs, among them more Tarbosauruses. Traveling dinosaur exhibitions in Europe and Japan will add to the tally when they return to Mongolia, Oyungerel said.
"Just one giant is enough to fill the biggest hall of any museum, so we need to accommodate this list, like 20 giants, somewhere. So we are envisioning a big Giants' House in the south of Ulaanbaatar," Oyungerel said.
South Gobi province is also interested in establishing a museum commemorating the expeditions by the paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews in the 1920s, and there is also discussion of a national dinosaur park, she said.
Studying abroad
Mongolia has provided foreign paleontologists with a rich source of fossils from the Mesozoic Era (251 million to 65.5 million years ago), but many would like to see more Mongolians studying the fossils unearthed in their country.
When Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, first visited Mongolia about 20 years ago, he noticed the absence of young Mongolian scientists.
"Even though Mongolia had some paleontologists they weren't training anyone to replace them, and a lot of other institutions were going in there and collecting fossils and bringing them out and preparing them and publishing papers on them, and they also were not preparing Mongolian students," Horner said.
He has since worked with Bolortsetseg to train Mongolian students and to reach out to the public through a nonprofit she established called The Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs. Bolortsetseg has plans to begin another student-training program this summer, within another year, she hopes to have two future Mongolian paleontologists ready to begin graduate programs abroad. [Science Education: Top and Bottom States (Infographic)]
No paleontology courses are currently available in Mongolian universities, although there are plans for one to begin in 2014, Oyungerel told LiveScience.
After a visit to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University on May 9, Bolortsetseg said she found it to be an appealing place to send future Mongolian paleontology students.
Through a long-term project conducting environmental research at the ancient Lake Khuvshul (Mogi: Khuvsgul) in Mongolia, the Academy has helped produced 14 Mongolian doctorates and more than 20 master's degrees for Mongolians.
Involving Mongolians, or any local people, in research based in their country is a moral imperative, since the work is being done on their property, Clyde Goulden, who initiated the Khuvhsul project and serves as director of the Academy's Asia Center, told LiveScience in an email. It also makes for better science by deploying more researchers to explore and test hypotheses, he wrote. "Who else can do a better job of that than the scientists who live nearby and can continuously study and explore." 

Overseas Market
Ex-Im Approves $500 million to Finance U.S. Exports for Use in Oyu Tolgoi
Transaction will support 2,000 Jobs Across Several States
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has voted to authorize an approximately $500 million direct loan to finance the continued development of a Mongolian mine that upon completion will generate approximately 30 percent of the Mongolian GDP.
Additionally, Ex-Im Bank's financing will support approximately 2,000 U.S. jobs across the United States, according to Bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology.
"This transaction will not only support good jobs and bolster our economy here in America, it will also provide a lift to the Mongolian economy and directly impact the country's GDP," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg . "Moreover, by using American-made products in this large project, the financing will support thousands of U.S. jobs in states like Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, New York, and Texas. This transaction is even more proof of the value of exports in continuing to help the U.S. economy grow."
The Oyu Tolgoi mine, which is located in the South Gobi region approximately 550 kilometers south of the the capital city Ulaanbaatar, is an open-pit and underground copper mine that will produce concentrate containing copper, gold, and silver. Once developed, the mine will rank as one of the largest copper mines in the world. It will also count as one of the most important capital projects in Mongolia.
The mine is operated by Oyu Tolgoi LLC, which is jointly owned by Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. of Canada and Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC of Mongolia. Leading global mining company Rio Tinto holds a majority stake in Turquoise Hill. 
Ex- Im Bank has worked closely with the other lenders and sponsors to ensure that the project was planned to minimize the impacts on the local residents and environment in compliance with Ex-Im Bank's strict Environmental Procedures and Guidelines and Mongolian law.
One U.S. small business that will benefit from the project is CC Solutions LLC, a Yonkers, N.Y.-based company that is a specialist in export credit agency administration. The company's proprietary software, MTS, has processed nearly $1 billion in Ex-Im Bank disbursements across the world.
"The financing of this and other projects by Ex-Im Bank has allowed our company to provide high-value professional services, leading to permanent and partial employment for five people in the United States," said Valerie Colville , principle of CC Solutions. "The Mongolian economy will benefit tremendously from the development of the Oyu Tolgoi project. Significant mineral deposits will be recovered in a responsible and environmentally-sound manner, and the proceeds will be used for the human and social development of the people of Mongolia."
Ex- Im Bank is an independent federal agency that creates and maintains U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. In the past five years (from Fiscal Year 2008), Ex-Im Bank has earned for U.S. taxpayers nearly$1.6 billion above the cost of operations. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.
Ex- Im Bank approved $35.8 billion in total authorizations in FY 2012 – an all-time Ex-Im record. This total includes more than$6.1 billion directly supporting small-business export sales – also an Ex-Im record. Ex- Im Bank 's total authorizations are supporting an estimated $50 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 255,000 American jobs in communities across the country. For more information, visit

Prophecy Coal shares surge on 25-year power tariff agreement with Mongolian government
May 17 (Proactive Investors) Shares of Prophecy Coal Corp. (TSE:PCY)(OTCQX:PRPCF) surged on Friday after the company announced the final terms of a 25-year tariff agreement for the Chandgana coal mine mouth power plant project in Mongolia. 
The major terms of the agreement include an initial tariff for the first year of the power plant operation, and a weighted average tariff for the remaining 24 years under the deal
The company told investors Friday that the numbers are in line with its final proposal submission to the Mongolian Ministry of Energy in February of this year. 
Shares jumped almost 24 per cent to 13 cents on the main board of the Toronto Stock Exchange this afternoon. 
Prophecy said the deal is a major catalyst for the company that could lead to concluding the power purchase agreement with the government in an "expedited manner", as well as to finalizing joint venture discussions with power companies, and the selection of a turnkey contractor for the project. 
The Mongolian government assigned a "working group" for the Chandgana project, which was made up of 11 members, including officials from the Ministry of Energy, the Energy Regulatory Commission and private companies operating in the energy sector in the region. 
With all major construction, environmental, mining, land use licenses and/or permits already in place, Prophecy said it is looking forward to possibly the country's first major thermal independent power plant project.

Draig Resources greenlights 2013 exploration program at Mongolian coal projects
May 17 (Proactive Investors) Draig Resources (ASX:DRG) and its joint venture partners have greenlighted the Stage 1 of the 2013 exploration program at their coal exploration licences in Mongolia.
Work to be undertaken as part of Stage 1 includes mapping, ground magnetic surveys and drilling over anomalies identified from previous exploration work done in earlier programs.
The exploration plan is part of the overall exploration initiative to test out new areas of interest among the existing licences.
Draig, via its subsidiary holds 75% interest in the Mongolian Coal Joint Venture that manages eight coal exploration licences.
Four of these licences are located in the Ovorhangay region and four are located in the South Gobi region.
Exploration at Ovorhangay region tenement includes field mapping and trenching at Teeg and Urtnii-Am licences, which will be followed by ground magnetic survey and rotary air blast drilling
Field mapping and trenching will also be done at Khongor
In the South Gobi, magnetic survey will be done over Zamt Uul, which will be studied to evaluate previous resistivity data. 
Also mapping will done over Gurvantes licences' northern area, while drilling will be undertaken in the south of the licence over anomalies identified from resistivity work carried out in the previous programme.

Khan Files Second Quarter 2013 Financial Results
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 17, 2013) - Khan Resources Inc. (CNSX:KRI) ("Khan" or "the Company") announced today that it has filed its financial statements and management discussion and analysis for the six months ended March 31, 2013 on SEDAR and has posted these documents to its website
Highlights for the quarter include:
<![if !supportLists]>·         <![endif]>International arbitration action against the Government of Mongolia - Submissions on the merits and damages arising from the Mongolian Government's expropriatory and unlawful treatment of Khan were filed by the Company on December 7, 2012. With that filing, Khan's claim has been revised upwards from $200 to $326 million. The December 7, 2012 submissions were pursuant to the Tribunal's ruling on July 26, 2012 which dismissed all of Mongolia's objections to the continuance of the suit. A Statement of Defense and Counterclaim by the Respondents was submitted to the Tribunal on April 5, 2013. Additional submissions by both the Claimants and Respondents will be submitted in the summer and fall of 2013. The formal hearing by the Tribunal on the merits and damages for the case is scheduled for November 11 through November 15, 2013.
<![if !supportLists]>·         <![endif]>Atomredmetzoloto ("ARMZ") litigation - On April 2, 2013 the Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed Khan's appeal to validate, substitute or dispense with service of Khan's Statement of Claim. ARMZ had avoided service of the Statement of Claim as the Russian Ministry of Justice had invoked Section 13 of the Hague Convention which allowed Russia to refuse to serve ARMZ as a matter of Russian sovereignty or security. Khan is reviewing the decision and is considering the options available to it. The next stage of appeal would be the Supreme Court of Canada.
<![if !supportLists]>·         <![endif]>Khan holds 15.5 million common shares of Macusani Yellowcake Inc. ("Macusani") which represents 9.7% of the 159.5 million Macusani outstanding common shares. The value of the Company's investment in Macusani as at March 31, 2013 was $1,708,000, a decrease of $466,000 from its value at September 30, 2012.
<![if !supportLists]>·         <![endif]>The following table summarizes financial results of the Company for the three and six months ended March 31, 2013 and 2012.

Khan Management: Progress in Mongolia
Singapore (PRWEB) May 17, 2013 --
Political and legislative progress and renewed optimism is finally evident in Mongolia following over a year of populist domestic political posturing during which Mongolian asset prices plummeted.
The spring session of parliament recently opened with a speech from the President that highlighted the country's democratic and free market values and included strong commentary on the importance of the country's capital markets, stating that the country's wealth should be managed through capital markets participation rather than Government ownership.
Travis Hamilton, Managing Director of Khan Investment Management, recently met with the Prime Minister as well as a number of key Ministers and other senior government officials. During his private meeting with the Prime Minister, His Excellency Altankhyug (Mogi: Altankhuyag) confirmed the Government's support for the Oyu Tolgoi project as well as plans, now reality, to amend the Foreign Investment Law and provide investors with new incentives to reinvigorate confidence and capital flows into the country.
The Foreign Investment Law was recently amended and the government resolved to "intensify" development of Oyu Tolgoi (OT) in order to ensure the project meets planned commercial production in June. Following this decree, Mining Minister Gankhuyag, was tasked to urgently resolve all outstanding obstacles preventing timely production of OT. The previously proposed controversial draft minerals law introduced by Mongolia's President has now been withdrawn. The Deputy Minister of Economic Development announced a new investment law designed to give investors more assurance about the rules governing their investments has been drafted and will be proposed in Parliament before the end of the spring session.
"The underlying concerns that previously threatened growth and investment are now clearly beginning to be resolved and Mongolia is implementing a more supportive operating environment. Whilst a number of investors remain side-lined in the lead up to the June Presidential elections, we believe that there exists an opportunity now to gain exposure to Mongolian stocks at deep discounts before this "non-event" comes and goes," stated Mr. Hamilton.
A number of Mongolian brokerage houses and pundits have also recently called the bottom of the market. According to James Passin, Fund Manager and co-founder at Firebird Management, "compared to other emerging markets, Mongolia offers arguably the highest potential reward with the lowest risk right now – as all risks are known, are on the table and have been fully discounted in the market."
"The investment opportunities and growth potential of Mongolia remains tremendous and we believe that there is a window of opportunity that currently exists for investors to acquire quality investment opportunities with outstanding long term potential," said Hamilton.
Khan Investment Management Limited is a Cayman Island investment manager that provides global investors with access to a wide range of investment opportunities in fast growing Mongolia.
For further information please contact Travis Hamilton, Managing Director, Khan Investment Management Limited, travishamilton(at)khan-management(dot)com, +65 6502 6112

Entree Gold Adopts Advance Notice Policy for Nominating Directors
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - May 17, 2013) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG)(NYSE MKT:EGI)(FRANKFURT:EKA) ("Entrée" or the "Company") announces that its Board of Directors (the "Board") has adopted an advance notice policy (the "Policy") for the purpose of providing shareholders, directors and management of Entrée with a clear framework for nominating directors. The Policy is designed to further Entrée's commitment to: (i) facilitating an orderly and efficient annual general or, where the need arises, special meeting, process; (ii) ensuring that all shareholders receive adequate notice of the director nominations and sufficient information regarding all director nominees; and (iii) allowing shareholders to register an informed vote after having been afforded reasonable time for appropriate deliberation. The Policy is in full force and effect as of May 17, 2013.
The Policy contains a provision requiring advance notice to Entrée in certain circumstances where shareholders of Entrée nominate individuals for election to the Board. The Policy establishes deadlines by which director nominations must be submitted to Entrée prior to any annual or special meeting of shareholders and also outlines the information that must be included in the notice to Entrée for an effective nomination to occur.
The deadline for notice to Entrée in the case of an annual meeting of shareholders is not less than 30 days nor more than 65 days prior to the date of the annual meeting; provided, however, that in the event that the annual meeting is to be held on a date that is less than 50 days after the date on which the first public announcement of the date of the annual meeting was made, notice may be made not later than the close of business on the 10th day following such public announcement.
In the case of a special meeting (which is not also an annual meeting) of shareholders called for the purpose of electing directors (whether or not called for other purposes), the deadline for notice to Entrée is no later than the close of business on the 15th day following the day on which the first public announcement of the date of the special meeting was made.
The Board has also approved the alteration of the Company's Articles to add the same advance notice provisions (the "Advance Notice Provisions"), effective upon confirmation by the Company's shareholders. The Company will ask its shareholders to pass an ordinary resolution to confirm the alteration of the Company's Articles at its upcoming Annual General Meeting on June 27, 2013. In the event the Company's shareholders do not confirm the addition of the Advance Notice Provisions to the Company's Articles, the Company's Articles will remain unchanged. The Policy will terminate and be of no further force and effect immediately following the Annual General Meeting.
The full text of the Policy is available on the Company's website at  
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Local Market
Mogi: disappointing. Lots of factual mistakes
James Passin, the American Who Bought Mongolia
May 16 (Businessweek) The Mongolian Stock Exchange occupies a single room (Mogi: single room? The whole building is MSE) inside a gray building that once housed a children's movie theater, just off Sükhbaatar Square in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. On any given day, it's quieter than the nearby National Library, as 20 or so traders in cubicles click away softly on their laptops. This muted bourse hardly seems a place to make a fortune, but James Passin, who needs no prompting to declare that he's "super bullish on Mongolia," swears it is. Passin, who's just flown across 12 time zones from New York City, has as much reason to promote Mongolia's potential as any foreign investor in the country. His future is riding on it.
Passin, 41, has at least $130 million in three funds that he oversees for his employer, Firebird Management, a Manhattan firm that specializes in emerging markets. Passin controls four companies listed on the Mongolian Stock Exchange—in coal, fluorite, and real estate—as well as an undisclosed number of private enterprises. His placements make Firebird one of Mongolia's largest and most diversified foreign private equity funds.
Until a few months ago, many other international investors shared Passin's enthusiasm for the Mongolian market. The country, with a 17.3 percent growth rate in 2011 (Mogi: revised up to 17.5%), had the fastest-growing economy in the world. A sparsely populated nation of 3.2 million (Mogi: almost 2.9 million by latest count) run by communists until 1990, Mongolia has discovered a bounty of natural resources. Lying on an ancient seabed, where sedimentary basins cooked carbon for millennia, the country has about 130 billion tons of coal. Iron, copper, uranium, silver, fluorite, and many other minerals are also in abundance. The estimated value of it all runs into the trillions of dollars.
In the last year, however, the Mongolian government decided to redraw its policies on mining and foreign investment. The Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law, which the Mongolian Parliament passed last May, dictated, among other things, that any transaction of more than $75 million involving a foreign entity was subject to government approval (Mogi: $75m investment taking more than 49% interest in a strategic sector entity). In December the president's office released the draft version of a minerals law that would introduce tougher regulations and higher taxes while giving the government free stakes in many mines. Among Mongolians, the new laws reflect a fateful debate: Are foreign companies and investors grabbing too much, swiping the nation's birthright? At what price growth?<![if !vml]><![endif]>
The new restrictions have halted the development of Oyu Tolgoi (Mogi: no it has not), Mongolia's biggest industrial project and the largest untapped copper-gold mine on earth. Rio Tinto (RIO), the world's second-largest mining company (Mogi: 3rd I believe after BHP, Vale), has sunk $6.6 billion into its development. Oyu Tolgoi was scheduled to begin production this year, but the project is now in limbo (Mogi: again, it is not, exports might even start ahead of June schedule). Many who recognized Mongolia's potential have quickly retreated, unsure of how the country wants to proceed.
Yet here's Passin, confidently strolling the floor of the exchange, predicting a boom. As the traders stare blankly into their monitors, where the odd transaction registers now and then, Passin looks on with a smile. "I think a multiyear bull market is starting," he says. 
The Soviets engineered Ulaanbaatar for a population of 400,000. Now the city holds three times that number. On the streets, you spend half your day in traffic. There are few stoplights. Cars crawl past crumbling Chinese and Russian buildings, which are reflected in the glassed facades of several new office towers. Although Ulaanbaatar lies 800 miles from the sea, a skyscraper in the shape of a sail sits in the middle of the city, as in most every other aspirational metropolis in the world.
Passin favors a restaurant in the city center called Modern Mongol (Mogi: Modern Nomads?). In a private room on the second floor, he's joined by Batbaatar Badan, a director of one of Firebird's holding companies. Over a variety of meats and dumplings, Passin explains how he ended up Mongolia's die-hard bull.
After earning a philosophy degree from St. John's College, he joined Firebird in 1999, specializing in acquiring equity in natural resources, particularly in Africa. He worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Somalia. "We identified underperforming companies and became aggressive," he says. In 2005, Passin's friend Asashoryu Akinori (Mogi: his wrestling name, real name Dagvadorj Dolgorsuren), a Mongolian sumo champion, invited him to Ulaanbaatar. "It was very sleepy," Passin recalls. "The market was primitive. But I sensed the changes that were coming." He speaks quickly, rattling off figures and data. Keeping up with him requires considerable energy.
During Passin's early visits to Mongolia, he befriended Robert Friedland, the founder of Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines, now called Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ), who was negotiating with the government for the right to develop Oyu Tolgoi in the Gobi Desert. "I saw that OT would transform the economy and mark a great boom," Passin says. "I saw that it was going to go from an economy dominated by meat and cashmere to an economy dominated by the mining business and financing."
He focused on Mongolia's immature stock exchange. It was a repository of insider deals—the maximum penalty for violating the securities law was less than $1,000—and on many days, saw no trading at all. When there was action, buyers often unloaded shares immediately upon purchase, feeding volatility. Fearing taxation, companies preferred not to disclose financial information; nor were they compelled to do so, meaning that all growth was speculative. Yet where others saw a den of thieves, Passin recognized an opportunity, believing many listed firms were undervalued.
Through a series of holding companies, Passin and Firebird began buying significant numbers of shares. They faced no regulatory resistance. "It was very easy for them to acquire shares block by block," says Saruul Ganbaatar, the chief regulatory officer of the Mongolian Stock Exchange. Eventually Passin amassed majority stakes in several companies—"Carl Icahn-style," as he says. Passin followed a simple formula: "Take control. Purge the board. Inject capital."
This approach bore fruit with Sharyn Gol, a major open-pit coal mine near the Russian border. When Passin took control, the mine was valued at $8 million. In 12 months, its value had soared to $280 million. This legitimized the exchange. "Firebird's involvement helped guide other foreign investors to the market," Ganbaatar says. "That drew interest generally." Firebird's companies became the first in Mongolia to bring in international auditing firms to examine their books.
The Mongols had never encountered anyone like Passin. Infected with the fatalism of the previous communist regime, they were only just learning the ways of modern industrial development. Although Passin's results spoke for themselves, not everyone was pleased with the way he achieved them. "People take what he says personally," one Ulaanbaatar investment professional told me. "He says, 'You're wrong,' and people don't like to hear that they're wrong. But he has a lot of experience in emerging markets, so he knows what he's doing."
Passin wasn't the only foreigner with capital who identified Mongolia's promise. Locked away in pastoral isolation for centuries, its infrastructure a testament to neglect, Mongolia was just beginning to locate the treasure hidden beneath its rolling, empty plains. A democratically elected government gave investors confidence in the institutions that would protect their stakes. Foreign investment poured in, boosting the economy, until the government hit the brakes, stopping many second-wave investors in their tracks.
Larry Ewers, the owner of the Energy Group of South Texas, in Corpus Christi, is one. At the urging of his attorney, Houston lawyer Robert Painter, who also represents Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Ewers visited Ulaanbaatar in 2011. "I was tremendously impressed with the Mongolian people," he says. "They are eager to do business." Upon returning to Texas, Ewers recruited about 20 investors and signed letters of intent with the Bodi Group, one of Mongolia's largest consortiums. They've forged an agreement to fund a coal mine, four power plants, and a coal-to-diesel operation. Ewers is also considering deals in rare-earth minerals, gold, and copper, as well as a development to export coking coal to China and Japan. Ewers says his group is prepared to invest roughly $1 billion. "We think the opportunities are unbelievable," he says. "We think it is an opportunity that comes around very seldom. We're very serious about it. But we're in a holding pattern. We can't move forward without knowing the outcome of the mining law." 
While others wait and see, Passin has barreled ahead. Under license, Firebird's Mongolian mining companies have already drilled 100,000 meters (328,084 feet) in exploration, hoping to repeat the success of Sharyn Gol. Since it opened in 1965 under Mongolia's command economy, Sharyn Gol has been the major supplier of thermal coal for Mongolia's north and central regions. During the transition to a market economy in the 1990s, Mongolia fell on hard times, the population in jeopardy of freezing through the winters. The state pushed Sharyn Gol's directors to produce more coal. Reserves dwindled, and many at the mine feared it had given all it could. "The government thought it was dying," Batmunkh Batkhuu, Sharyn Gol's chairman, told me. "The company was in survival mode."
In 2010, Passin and Firebird took it over, amassing a controlling stake through the Mongolian Stock Exchange, where Sharyn Gol had ended up after state privatization in the '90s. "James was very brave," Batkhuu said. "We didn't have the money to put into coal exploration." Firebird raised a $6 million bridge loan, which funded 17,000 meters of exploratory drilling. Passin's geologists discovered a cache of 330 million tons of coal, 300 million tons more than the company's previously known reserves.
The snow-driven journey from Ulaanbaatar to the Sharyn Gol pit takes five hours along a barely navigable road. In time, Sharyn Gol appears on the horizon. Pinched by a series of peaks, several smokestacks pump tumbling black clouds into the sky.
Jim Goldie, the mine's chief operating officer and a native of Queensland, Australia, lights up when I hand him the bottle of Johnnie Walker Black he'd requested over the phone. "The carrot that got me here was developing this into a superpit," he says. "We're planning on doing 1 million tons this year." Goldie has worked in mines for 30 years, in copper, gold, and coal in New Guinea, Indonesia, Laos, and Kyrgyzstan. Nothing prepared him for this ruggedness and isolation.
Outside his office, in the cold, he points to a tumbledown building nearby. "There was a huge coal dust explosion there," he says. "It blew the top eight stories off the building." Snow flurries are falling lightly upon our hair and clothes. As is coal dust. It is hard to tell one from the other.
We hop in Goldie's jeep. He gestures to his driver. "Tugi's learning some English," he says. We embark on a tour of the mine and an explanation of how Passin's efforts have saved it. Tugi guides the jeep down into the pit. It's about a kilometer from one end to the other. Goldie says he will tap into Sharyn Gol's newly discovered reserves next year and points to a 40-meter seam of coal, a rich, clearly defined deposit in the wall of the pit. "I've been to 100 mines," he says, "and I've seen that maybe two, three times. We're doing about 3,000 tons a day now. I want to do 15,000 a day. And we can do it."
It's not clear how much all this effort will ultimately earn Sharyn Gol's investors. A depressed international coal market and a slowing economy in China, Mongolia's main trade partner, have eroded Passin's portfolio. From a high of $280 million, Sharyn Gol's market cap has fallen to $60 million in two years. "We're looking at someone who has already taken a chance on the country and has taken a very substantial hit," says Jackson Cox, chief executive officer of Woodmont International, a consulting firm with offices in Ulaanbaatar. "I'm sure this has not been the best 12 months for James."
"I don't have worried investors," Passin says, but he acknowledges "there is some concern. They read the papers."
As Tugi drives out of the pit, Goldie talks about Passin. "In my long career," Goldie says, "he's up there with the best small investors I've ever seen." Privateers line the road leading to the front gate. They're waiting to buy coal at the spot-market price, peering onto the territory of Sharyn Gol with hollowed, darkened faces. A cow moves down the road behind them. Goldie exhales. "I came here for the great weather, the clean air, and the beautiful town," he quips. He claps Tugi on the shoulder. "What do I always say?" Tugi speaks his English now, in unison with Goldie, as the two men draw out the words: "Beautiful Sharyn Gol." 
On the plains 30 miles east of Ulaanbaatar stands a 250-ton steel statue of Genghis Khan on horseback, 15 stories high. For many Mongolians, this statue, just a few years old, has become a pilgrimage site. In trying and changing times, Genghis Khan provides a reminder of what a Mongol is: a warrior, fiercely independent.
Passin regards the statue from a less epic perspective. Squinting up at it, he says, "I see this as a dividend play." In 2009 the company charged with building the monument floated around 30 percent of its value on the Mongolian Stock Exchange. Passin snapped up almost the entire initial public offering, providing the capital necessary for construction.
We enter the base of the statue. "We're not going to make 10 times the stock on this," he says. "I hold the shares because I'm bullish on Mongolia generally." So bullish, in fact, that he plans to raise an army. The statue's management company is building 10,000 soldiers, a life-sized force in the spirit of Qin Shi Huang's terra cotta warriors, to be arrayed around the pedestal of the monument. Tourists can pay to have soldiers carved with their own likeness. Passin is considering ordering soldiers molded after him and his employees, a Firebird battalion. "It seems a little grandiose," he says. "But I've been thinking about it."
Passin's abiding confidence in Mongolia continues to set him apart. Share prices of Mongolian companies have fallen roughly 70 percent in the last year. Cox estimates that Mongolia's political maneuvering is responsible for at least an extra 30 percent devaluation. "That equates to between $2 and $3 billion," Cox says. "That's money that was in this market and is now gone. The markets are pricing at a risk premium in Mongolia."
With foreign direct investment down more than 50 percent in the initial months of 2013, the government is taking steps to reverse the trend. The presidential Cabinet (Mogi: Mongolia is a parliamentary democracy) has floated a proposed law that would erase the need for private companies to petition for state approval of investments. The Mongolian deputy minister of development, Chuluunbat Ochirbat, has announced a plan to submit this legislation to Parliament by the close of the current session on July 10. Another law under consideration would allow for the dual listings of international companies with operations in Mongolia (Mogi: expected to pass next Thursday). And the president's controversial draft mining legislation now appears unlikely to reach the Parliament floor.
Passin believes much of the country's wealth remains untapped. He enthuses about a drilling operation that's exploring the Gobi Desert's copper belt. The Oyu Tolgoi gold-copper mine, whose development remains on hold, "is just the beginning," he says. "I think there could be three, four OTs just waiting to be discovered in the desert."
He climbs the stairwell up through the statue, reaching the top floor. We pass through a door and walk out onto the observation deck, a recessed platform carved into the horse's mane. The stern face of Genghis Khan, in immense proportion, looms over us. Over dinner three nights before, Passin compared himself to the Mongol warrior. "Genghis Khan was able to build an empire by not imposing a foreign culture. It was not built on his iron will but on astute politics.He didn't impose religion, diet. He imposed law; he imposed taxation. He understood their social needs. He instituted a meritocracy."
Passin adds, "I think what I'm doing is inherently Mongolian. The essence of what I'm doing is nomadic, the ability to rapidly increase equity value. I can't think of a place with more opportunities. I'll be here until I'm dead or no longer interested in continuing to invest."
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BoM sells $35m at 1,438.98 with 53.2m bids, accepts all $40m for swap requests
May 16 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on May 16th, 2013 the BOM received from local commercial banks bid offers of 53.2 million USD and 101.5 million CNY. BOM has sold 35 million USD as closing rate of 1438.98 and 101.5 million CNY as closing rate of 233.38.
On May 16th, 2013, The BOM received MNT Swap agreement bid offer of 40 million USD from domestic commercial banks and BOM has accepted all the offers for swap agreement.

Bank of Mongolia Monthly Statistical Bulletin, April 2013
May 17 (Bank of Mongolia) --

BoM issues 124 billion 1-week bills at 11.5%
May 17 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 123 billion at a weighted interest rate of 11.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

BoM deposits ₮50 billion from Chinggis Bond proceeds at banks for 1 year at 7%
May 19 (Cover Mongolia) According to a Bank of Mongolia release in Mongolian, but not in English, dating May 17, BoM placed 50 billion, that are pledged against the government's foreign currency reserves, at banks for 12 months at 7% interest on May 10, in accordance with the Financial Intermediary Agreement between GoM and BoM, which means the Chinggis Bond proceeds.
BoM states that this will help in providing cheap and reasonably long MNT sources in times when business activity intensifies.
Link to BoM release (in Mongolian)

Technical Advisor tender awarded to Japan's Nippon Koei for New Railway Project
May 16 ( The Mongolian Railway State Owned Share Holding Company signed with the Japanese consulting firm, Nippon Koei Group, that has been selected as the technical assistant company for a new railroad project on Tuesday March 14th. 
The "Mongolian Railroad" State Owned Shareholding Company was granted a special mandate to develop a project to build 1800km of railway. In accordance with international examples on large scale projects, a tender to select financial, technical and legal advisory companies was publicly and internationally announced by the Mongolian Railway State Owned Share Holding Company on February 2nd. 
Bidders from Japan, South Korea, USA, Australia, Canada and England delivered their bids to compete for the tender as the advisory company. A Japanese leading Consulting, Engineering, Research & Development company was selected from the 16 bidders as the technical assistant company for the New Railroad Project. 
The technical assistant area within the project is Ukhaa Khudad-Sainshand-Baruun Urt-Khuut-Choibalsan, Choibalsan – Ereentsav, Khuut-Bichigt, Khuut-Numrug
Nippon Koei Group was established in 1946 as the first independent engineering consulting firm in Japan. The firm offers a complete range of consultancy services to domestic and overseas clients for development projects in such diversified fields as given in "Fields of Activity". 
For the past five decades since its incorporation, Nippon Koei has expanded its activities overseas in 135 countries including Mongolia and completed over 3000 projects. 

Inner Mongolia imported 4.7Mts out of 5.5Mts of total coal in January-April 2013 from Mongolia
May 16 (CoalGuru) Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region imported 5.466 million tonnes of coal in the first 4 months of this year up 0.8% from the same period of 2012.
Industry sources said that the import average price from January to April was USD 81.7 per tonne down 8.1% YoY. Small amount trade of in Inner Mongolia's boarder areas during the period accounted for 85.8% of the province's total coal imports reaching 4.692 million tonnes.
Coal imports from Mongolia, the largest supplier of the fuel amounted to 4.728 million tonnes in the first 4 months an increment of 2.9% from a year earlier. The amount took up 86.5% of Inner Mongolia's total coal imports.
Inner Mongolia also imported coal from Canada and Australia from January to April which now became attractive destinations for its coal imports.
The import volume from Canada increased 3.3 times to 301,000 tonnes accounting for 5.5% of the province's total coal imports. Meanwhile, Inner Mongolia imported 245,000 tonnes of coal from Australia over January to April.

Ulaanbaatar, May 17 /MONTSAME/ A survey in family socio-economics for 2012 has been completed with a purpose to estimate Mongolia's economic growth, approximate incomes of families and poverty rate.
This survey has been carried out by the Mongolian National Statistical Committee (MNSC) and the World Bank (WB) since 1997 in Mongolia.
Indicators of the poverty and livelihood rates are estimated at each level of the city, provinces and regions. It is very important to assess planning of the country's development and effectiveness of state policy and various programmes.
The previous surveys show the poverty rate was 38.7 per cent in 2010, and it declined to 33.7 per cent in 2011. It also went down to 27.4 per cent by the year 2012, meaning that the poverty rate has been gradually declining here. A family with a total monthly income of MNT 118 thousand 668 or below is considered as a low income or poor family.
Country Director of the WB for Mongolia Coralie Gevers said, "It is important for any country to estimate its poverty rate because the policy-makers draw decisions based on this rate. Mongolia does not have a specific and concrete method to estimate its poverty rate, so Mongolia should choose the most appropriate one  which meets international standards.".
"Since 2010, the poverty rate has been gradually decreasing in Mongolia. It seems that the goals on reducing poverty rate are succeeding, but Mongolia must not forget that the poverty rate is still 27 per cent. Mongolia faces a requirement to implement an appropriate policy focusing on the poverty. The WB will pay great attention to this matter" Ms Gevers said.

Tapping the Mongolian hoard
May 17 (The Australian) ON the streets of Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar, the distinctive sound of the Australian twang is never far away.
Inside the Grand Khaan Irish Pub, a popular downtown bar, it's common to spot Australian expats sharing a Jacob's Creek red and enjoying some wagyu beef.
Mongolia's rich and largely untapped natural resources have attracted a diverse array of Australian businesses, including miners, suppliers, construction and engineering companies and firms from the legal and financial sectors.
More than 650 Australians live in the country and more than 45 Australian businesses operate there, with many other staff working on a fly-in, fly-out basis from China and Australia.
"With strong skills and experience in the mining sector and related services industries, Australian firms have played a large role in the development of this sector," says Australian ambassador to Mongolia Sam Gerovich, who is based in Seoul.
In 2011, Mongolian GDP stood at $13.4 billion, with analysts predicting foreign investment will top $10 billion over the next five years in the minerals sector alone. And Australian investment is expected to be a significant contributor.
Rio Tinto's $6.6 billion Oyu Tolgoi project, the huge copper and gold mine in the south Gobi Desert, is predicted to increase Mongolian GDP by one third when it reaches full production.
Oyu Tolgoi has already paid $US800 million in taxes to the Mongolian government, including $US280 million in national and local taxes and other government fees last year.
However, as Rio has found out, doing business in Mongolia isn't all smooth sailing. Oyu Tolgoi operator Turquoise Hill Resources, which is controlled by Rio, is battling renewed political interference over development costs, royalties and ownership of the project, of which the government has a 34 per cent stake.
The Mongolian mining boom also cooled last year. The 2011 record GDP growth of 17.3 per cent (Mogi: 2011 GDP growth was revised up to 17.5%) slowed to 12.3 per cent last year. Decreasing exports to China and foreign investment concerns over a tightening of the mining regulatory regime sent shock waves through the expat business community.
The Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law introduced last May added to the uncertainty. "Institutional shareholders have been less interested in Mongolian-related stocks because of legislative volatility," Aspire Mining managing director David Paull says.
According to Paull, Aspire (which operates Ovoot, the second largest coking coal deposit in Mongolia) experienced more than 50 per cent under performance last year as a result of parliamentary elections and changes in the foreign investment law. While the effect on Aspire was significant, Paull reckons the company got off fairly lightly. "We were the lucky ones. We didn't have to go to market and we already had our discovery. If you were a junior exploration company with a lower share price at that time, it would have been very difficult."
John Miragliotta is the environment manager at Sustainability, a Perth-based consultancy firm specialising in occupational health and safety and environmental issues and with clients including the Oyu Tolgoi and Ovoot operations. "The past six months have been challenging for us," he says. "While that has been across the board, it has been amplified in Mongolia on two fronts - the changes to the minerals law; and the uncertain stability of the Oyu Tolgoi investment agreement."
Last month, the Mongolian government changed the Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law. Analysts have welcomed the changes, and noted that the law was originally introduced as a means to block China's state-owned Aluminum Corporation of China Limited from purchasing a controlling stake in South Gobi Resources (Mogi: correct spelling SouthGobi Resources). "The Chinese SOEs [state-owned enterprises] are so large that they could potentially take control over all the major strategic businesses in Mongolia if not prevented from doing so by an effective legal framework," says one source in Ulaanbaatar.
However, doubt about the terms and conditions of Rio's Oyu Tolgoi agreement continues to concern investors. "The investment agreement is a milestone for Mongolia and for that project," Miragliotta says. "Investors are concerned when they see moves to adjust these agreements."
Gerovich says many new laws are unclear and have created tremendous uncertainty for all businesses operating there. "The Australian government has urged the Mongolian government to continue to support the Oyu Tolgoi investment agreement, which would demonstrate that Mongolia is a good place to do business."
With first production at Oyu Tolgoi scheduled for next month, Rio Tinto and other Australian businesses are hoping that next month's presidential election won't add further complications. "The government and the people are aware they need to strike that balance between attracting foreign capital and the country gaining the right value from the involvement," Paull says.
"Australians haven't necessarily been put off by the unpredictability," Miragliotta says. "A lot of [Mongolians rely directly on mining] and are mostly pragmatic in their thinking ... they don't want to lose the gains they've made in the past 10 years."
Despite its mineral wealth, Mongolia remains a poor country. The World Bank estimates 29.9 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. While foreign financial critics may complain about "resource nationalism", Mongolians see the right balance as one that preserves the resource wealth of their country and reaps the appropriate benefits for future generations.
The Australian government's interest in Mongolia is focused on encouraging the minerals sector, sustainable mining practices and overall economic development. According to AusAid, Australia is providing $14.2 million in development assistance in 2012-13. Part of that contributes towards the well-publicised Mongolia Australia Scholarships Program, which brings master's-level students to Australia each year. Alumni include a cadre of parliamentarians, former ministers and senior public servants.
Unurjargal Lkhanaa, one of 38 students in Australia this year, is studying international development at Murdoch University in Perth.
"I can apply the skills I get here in my home country to support growth and development," she says. "We have many challenges, including not having any real benchmarks for, or experience of, what is a fair and reasonable international investment context. I hope to take this knowledge back and help to make changes."

Good Times are Coming for Corporate Governance in Mongolia
May 15 (Mongolian Economy) One good aspect of the Company Law that took effect in October 2011 is that it outlines the requirements for the corporate governance embedded in companies registered with the Mongolian Stock Exchange (MSE).  
According to those involved in the drafting of the law, more than 400 amendments and alterations were made so it would conform to international corporate governance principles. Although many agree that the law has been improved upon from past versions, it is important, of course, to know if there have been any results since the law took effect. Thus, Parliamentarian R. Amarjargal delivered a query to the State Great Khural in January regarding how well the law was being enforced. 
Under development are comprehensive investment and dividend schemes for Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi. There are 80 types of mineral resources below Mongolia's soil. It has become clear that the mining sector is strongly tied to Mongolia's future, but due to inexperience and a lack of knowledge the country decided to allow Rio Tinto to lead the operation. 
Many were shocked at the thought that they might lose this resource to mining giants. These emotions have incited repeated disputes over whether to replace the three independent members of Oyu Tolgoi's board of directors or not.
The idea of corporate governance is taking hold here in Mongolia, and this law provides guidelines to how it can be introduced to a company. 
What Determines Good Governance? 
According to a study by the Financial Regulatory Commission (FRC), there are 216 companies registered with the MSE, of which fifty percent have not held stockholder's meetings thus far, and more than 20 companies had not yet presented their financial statements before they were due. 
"Corporate governance is a broad concept that covers many different activities for efficiency and organisation. This is a system that regulates relations between a board of directors, a chief executive, and stockholders of a company", states the Corporate Governance Development National Programme, passed in March last year.  
"My understanding about corporate governance was incomplete. Now I understand well how difficult it is because of my experience issuing Energy Resource's (Mogi: MMC) initial public offering on the Hong Kong Exchange", said J. Odjargal, president of MCS Group at the Mongolia Economic Forum two years ago. 
This is true for anyone serving in management of a Mongolian company, said B. Ayush, a national consultant to the Multi-Sectoral Technical Assistance Project
"What company has good corporate governance in your opinion"? asked Ayush while addressing an audience of board members and board secretaries from various companies. After a few attempts to answer the question, she replied, "A company that is trustworthy to all stakeholders has good governance".  
With 216 companies listed on the MSE and at least nine board members per company, it is reasonable to estimate there are 1,944 board members in total operating within the regulations of Mongolia's stock market. All of them are required to receive training on corporate governance as soon as possible, yet only 5 percent have done so. 
Last year, 70 organisations and teachers prepared to give training on corporate governance. Some training sessions were organised by the National Council on Corporate Governance (NCCG) and the Mongolian Association of Securities Dealers in association with the FRC. Some nine organisations including the Banking and Finance Academy, Mongolian Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry have cooperated with NCCG for this aim. 
Meanwhile some companies are developing their own evaluation methods for corporate governance and are vying for a spot on the MSE Top 20. 
Conflict of Interests 
The Company Law defines the specific rights and duties of the board of directors and management. The role of stockholders, too, is clearly explained there. In Mongolia, the board chairman and board members also often have roles in that company's management. But there is a conflict of interest there, say expert observers, as a board member is most interested in satisfying shareholders and achieving long-term goals while management is likely more interested in short-term profit gains. The Company Law demands independent board members and secretaries participate too.  
Three committees exist under a board of directors: the auditing committee, nomination committee and compensations committee. The rights, duties and responsibilities of each committee are clearly specified within the law. The independent board members are appointed by the nomination committee. The law also instructs that the auditing committee is only to be chaired by an independent member. The board secretary is appointed based on a proposal by the chairman. The secretary is responsible for preparatory work for shareholders' meetings and board meetings, writing meeting agendas, and other responsibilities outlined by the Company Law. However, finding a secretary among MSE-listed companies is rare, with this role usually fulfilled by an executive assistant or a similar employee. However, this role is defined by the law as one with responsibilities over creating company policies, more than what is expected from a mere assistant.  
Surely, it will take many years before management at Mongolian companies learn to fully bear their responsibilities. But the time is approaching for the country to create a system of controls for companies to encourage transparency and maintain their responsibilities.

Ulaanbaatar, May 17 /MONTSAME/ The national competition for launching a satellite "CanSat" will take place at horse racing center on May 19. 
It will be organized under the auspices of the PM AltankhUyag. He will attend the opening ceremony.
The event will demonstrate model airplanes and small rocket and satellite launch organized by Mongolian air sport federation.
A "CanSat" is a type of sounding rocket payload used to teach space technology similar to the technology used in miniaturized satellites. No CanSat has ever left the atmosphere or even orbited earth.

Mogi: maybe I should create a dedicated section for Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar, May 16 /MONTSAME/ The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city E.Bat-Uul received a delegation of "Hitachi" company of Japan May 16.
The delegation put forward a proposal to cooperate in increasing a fresh water supply. They said that Mongolia will have an enormous water supply of fresh water if to purify and recycle rain and snow waters. 
The visitors also said that their company has been providing an activity in many spheres "but we are attending more on water infrastructure." They said that want to collaborate in carrying out a research into possibilities of introducing the latest hi tech which purifies water.
Mr Bat-Uul received their proposals with gratitude and said he is ready to cooperate with them. He also added that a water consumption is extremely high in Ulaanbaatar but water management is poor, the technology is out-dated and that water resources are not enough. 
Hitachi has delivered some 550 water treatment plants, 2,800 sewage treatment facilities, and 900 monitoring and control systems to locations across Japan. Hitachi offers a diverse range of technologies for water treatment systems and their control and operation.
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Three candidates to run for Mongolian president
ULAN BATOR, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia's electoral authorities identified Friday three candidates, including incumbent President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, for the presidential election on June 26.
Elbegdorj was nominated by the ruling Democratic Party and supported by two minor parties in the parliament -- the National Democratic Party (Mogi: Mongolian National Democratic Party) and the Civil Will Green Party (Mogi: Civil Will-Green Party).
Local media has speculated that Elbegdorj, with rich experiences in politics, is most likely to win the election.
Health Minister Natsag Udval, the first woman to run for the country's top post, was nominated by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party.
A staunch supporter of jailed former president Nambar Enkhbayar, Udval actively took part in demonstrations demanding his release.
Baterdene Badmaanyambuu (Mogi: if to follow above Xinhua name system, it's Badmaanyambuu Bat-Erdene) was nominated by Mongolia's largest opposition, the People's Party (Mogi: Mongolian People's Party).
A former champion wrestler and popular in rural areas, Badmaanyambuu has been a lawmaker since 2004 for three consecutive terms.
According to Mongolian law, the president can serve two four-year terms at most.

Mongolian judicial reform conference stresses "rule of law"
ULAN BATOR, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia officials on Friday attended a national conference on judicial reform.
Nearly 800 representatives from the Justice Ministry, police headquarters and other departments attended the conference, whose theme was "Rule of Law and Justice."
During the meeting, the participants were briefed on a summary of the government's anti-corruption measures.
Prime Minister Norov Altanhuyag (Mogi: Altankhuyag) said in an address to the conference that his government's main task in reforms was to eliminate bureaucracy and corruption and establish fairness and justice in Mongolia.
In recent years, Mongolia has been vigorously promoting judicial reforms and trying to rebuild its judicial system.

Media to be monitored during Presidential Election campaign
May 17 ( The Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection along with the Press and Media Council of the General Election Commission has been authorized to take control for the upcoming Presidential Election campaigns. 
The Council is to be a collection of representatives from professional press and media bodies and NGOs who will conduct observation on how law is obeyed by press and media over the Presidential Election period. 
The budget for observation and monitoring to be conducted was approved by Parliament during a plenary session meeting. 
The Council will regulate that if a press or media body violate the Presidential Election law during the period of the campaign it`s activity will be halted for at least three months.
According to the Presidential Election law no online or physical press should insult or release slanderous comments related to candidates during the period of the Presidential Election. 
If the law is violated, fines will be imposed based on the minimum labor wage; to an individual 2-3 times, for a candidate or election campaign personnel 3-5 times, to a party or legal party 8-10 times the minimum labor wage. 
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Mongolia's Erdenes TT to Mine Coal Coveted by Peabody, Shenhua
May 15 (Bloomberg) Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi LLC will begin this year to mine Mongolia's West Tsankhi coal area as part of the debt-laden company's plan to ramp up output and pay off money owed to Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd.
Erdenes TT, as the state-owned company is also known, will pick a contractor in the next few months to start work at West Tsankhi with target output of 2.6 million metric tons for 2013, Chief Executive Officer Yaichil Batsuuri said yesterday in an interview in Ulaanbaatar. Erdenes TT will also mine as much as 5 million tons at its main East Tsankhi site this year, up from 2.5 million tons in 2012, he said.
The move marks a turnaround in Mongolia's policy two years after the nation named China's Shenhua Group, OAO Russian Railways, and Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) of the U.S. among companies due to develop West Tsankhi, which is part of the 6.4 billion ton Tavan Tolgoi coal basin. Companies from Japan and South Korea also bid to help develop West Tsankhi.
"Many parties could not find a common language, that's why the consortium didn't work," Batsuuri said, referring to initial plans for the foreign companies to work together as a group. "Just in order to increase our output and get over our current financial problems" Erdenes TT will begin to mine West Tsankhi by itself, he said.
A number of companies have already expressed interest in buying Erdenes TT coal from West Tsankhi, he said. Erdenes TT plans to announce its contract miner for West Tsankhi at the end of the month, he said.
Repaying Debt
Mongolia's biggest state coal miner is seeking to boost output as it needs to repay Aluminum Corp., or Chalco as the Chinese company is known, $186 million with deliveries of the fuel. Erdenes TT stopped coal shipments to Chalco, its only customer, for three months this year in a dispute over price. The Mongolian miner resumed deliveries last month and may be able to repay Chalco about six months from now, he said.
Erdenes TT also owes about $200 million to Development Bank of Mongolia LLC, which is also state-owned, he said. The company shipped less than it planned to China last year as growth in Asia's biggest economy slowed.
"If we compare the financial problems with the overall picture of the project, the debt problem is small," Batsuuri said.
Erdenes TT envisions increasing output to 15 million tons next year and more than 30 million tons by 2017, he said. That would be more than Mongolia exported last year after output fell 7.7 percent to 28.6 million tons on a slowdown in Chinese demand, the World Bank said in an April report.
Partnership Eyed
As production rates increase, Erdenes may still pursue some form of partnership with foreign companies as Mongolian coal miners have no experience producing more than 10 million tons a year, he said.
"We would like to work with one of these international mining companies" such as Peabody, Anglo-American Plc. (AAL) and Chinese firms including Shenhua, Batsuuri said. "They have good management, engineering, and equipment. We need them. We would like to work with them on marketing."
Erdenes TT has scaled down its investment program as the rail line the company needs to reach Chinese buyers will be built by other Mongolian state entities, he said. A rail line could cut transport costs by half since 40 percent of Erdenes TT costs are currently tied up in paying for trucks to take the fuel about 260 kilometers (162 miles) south to China, he said.
The state will also take responsibility for adding power capacity that the company can tap, he said.
Washing Facility Builder
This leaves Erdenes TT to focus on a $400 million plant to wash coal, which produces a more value-added product, and a $100 million water supply project, he said. The company plans to pick the builder for the washing facility this year and start operating it in two or three years, he said.
"We urgently need this project," which will produce 20 million tons of coal a year, he said. "When we have this plant ready, the price for our coal will double."
Once Erdenes TT increases output, adds the washing plant and other infrastructure, and improves management and efficiencies, the company will return to the idea of an initial public offering, Batsuuri said. The share sale, which was initially planned in 2011 and estimated to raise $3 billion, is still about a year or two years away, he said.
Mongolia has distributed 1,072 shares in Erdenes TT to each of its almost 3 million citizens in anticipation of the IPO that was slated for Hong Kong, London and Ulaanbaatar.
"We're working hard" on the IPO, which will help to finance the company's expansion and increase the value of the stock held by Mongolian citizens, he said.

JCB, Bank of Mongolia and Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia Sign Master Acquiring License Agreement
Tokyo and Ulan Bator, May 16, 2013 - (ACN Newswire) - JCB International Co, Ltd. ("JCBI"), the international operations subsidiary of JCB, Bank of Mongolia ("BOM"), chair of the nationwide payment network, and Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia ("TDBM"), a major commercial bank in Mongolia, are pleased to announce the signing of a Master License agreement for merchant acquiring. The new agreement enables all merchants in Mongolia to accept JCB cards.
BOM, as the country's central bank, started setting up a countrywide payment network in 2010 in order to cater for the rising demand for international and domestic payment card acceptance. TDBM had a partnership with JCBI since 1994 and offered to act as the gateway to the JCB network.
Kimihisa Imada, Deputy President of JCBI said, "I am very pleased to be able to strengthen our business in this country through the partnership with BOM and TDBM. We foresee that the card market in Mongolia will be growing even faster thanks to the country's strong economic development. Together with BOM and TDBM, we are eager to aggressively expand our collaboration in this market."
Batshugar Enkhbayar, Deputy Governor of BOM said, "As we are aware, the central bank's role in the payment system is to promote its primary function of providing payment, clearing and settlement service; in this context, cashless payments are one of the important functions for the financial system and the economy as a whole. BOM started payment card clearing network in collaboration with major member banks in 2010. Since this historical event, both domestic and international card payment volume has been rising continuously. We believe that JCB card acceptance in the country will expand both economic and financial cooperation between Japan and Mongolia." 
Medree Balbar, Chief Executive Officer of TDBM said, "It is a great honor for me to have a partnership with JCBI and BOM. JCBI and TDBM have enjoyed a long standing relationship with each other from 1994. Over the last decades, our connections and JCB card transactions have been growing, significantly. Looking to the future, we will be able to achieve more and to be able to continue to develop even stronger relationships between the people of Mongolia and Japan through our broad cooperation."
The new agreement between JCBI and the two Mongolian institutions will significantly improve the payment environment for JCB cardmembers visiting the country. With the card acceptance made wider through this deal, JCB is looking to start the card issuance with banks in Mongolia in the near future.
About JCB
JCB is a major global payment brand and a leading credit card issuer and acquirer in Japan. JCB launched its card business in Japan in 1961 and began expanding worldwide in 1981. Its acceptance network includes over 23 million merchants and over a million cash advance locations in 190 countries and territories. JCB cards are now issued in 16 countries and territories, with more than 79 million cardmembers. As part of its international growth strategy, JCB has formed alliances with more than 350 leading banks and financial institutions globally to increase merchant coverage and cardmember base. As a comprehensive payment solution provider, JCB commits to providing responsive and high-quality service and products to all customers worldwide. For more information, visit:

Capital Bank Joins IFC's Mongolia Corporate Governance Program, 3rd After XacBank, Khan Bank
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, May 17, 2013 (IFC) -- IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement with Capital Bank LLC to improve its corporate governance practices, which will help boost its operational efficiency. 
IFC will assess the bank's existing corporate governance practices and help align them with international best practices. IFC will also advise and train directors, managers, and major shareholders in the key areas of board functions, internal control and disclosure. 
"Good governance will increase Capital Bank's operational efficacy and transparency," said Ariunbold Agvaanjamba, the bank's executive director. "As a member of Bishrelt Holding Co., one of Mongolia's largest trading and services companies, we are committed to bringing our corporate governance practices to the next level to support Bishrelt's and our future growth." 
Driven by its natural resources sector, Mongolia grew 12.5 percent last year (Mogi: unless it was revised its 12.3%) and is one of the world's fastest-growing economies. Mongolian businesses are eager to strengthen their institutional capacity in order to cope with the rapidly changing market. 
Capital Bank, the first commercial bank in Mongolia with 61 branches (Mogi: first commercial bank with 61 branches? Sounds ridiculous), is the third bank to join IFC's Mongolia Corporate Governance Program, following XacBank and Khan Bank
"Improving corporate governance is one of IFC's global priorities in emerging markets like Mongolia," said Ian Crosby, IFC's manager for sustainable business advisory in East Asia and the Pacific. "Mongolia's banking industry plays an important role in the economy and has set sustainable business models for more local businesses to follow." 
In partnership with Japan and the Netherlands, IFC has organized training and consultations for more than 300 Mongolian companies and banks since 2009

Mogi: interesting how Xinhua chose not mention that the crude used to make the gasoline is Mongolian crude
Chinese gasoline imports enter Mongolian market
ULAN BATOR, May 16 (Xinhua) -- The first batch of 5,000-ton Chinese gasoline imports entered the Mongolian market on Thursday.
The imports, known as "Mongolia No. 93 gasoline," were part of an agreement reached earlier in the year by the Mongolian government and the China National Petroleum Group, Mongolian officials said.
Under the cooperative project launched at the end of March, Mongolia will import a monthly total of 10,000 tons of gasoline from a refinery in Hohhot, the capital of China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous region.
More than 10 companies are currently exploring for oil in Mongolia, a country with an estimated 1.6 billion tons of petroleum reserves.
Russia has long been Mongolia's major oil supplier. Having suffered acute oil shortages in recent years, Mongolia began to seek imports from China.

Made from Mongolian crude in China "Mongol 93" petrol will be available from today
May 16 ( The Mongolian Government made the suggestion to take petrol from Huhhot oil refinery, which imports Tamsag oil from Mongolia, during an intergovernmental meeting on minerals and energy between Mongolia and China earlier in 2013. 
As a result of the negotiation the Government signed a deal last April  with Huhhot oil refinery, a subsidiary of Chinese "CNPC" company, to take a ten thousand ton delivery of petrol per month. 
Mongolia buys the delivery of petrol "Mongol 93" in return for importing Tamsag oil. Mongol 93 will be sold via filling stations of petrol companies NIC, Shunkhlai and Magnai Trade LLCs
Mongol 93 petrol processed from Tamsag oil will be available at filling stations from May 16th. 
The ceremony for the delivery of the Mongol 93 petrol will be held at Petrovis gas station in Zuun 4 zam
Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag and other officials will attend the ceremony.

Mongolian Airlines to become Hunnu Air; to seek Skyteam membership
May 18 (ch-aviation) Mongolian Airlines (MR, Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan (ULN)) is set to change its name to Hunnu Air (MR,Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan (ULN)) and will apply for Skyteam membership following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China Eastern Airlines (MU, Shanghai Hongqiao International (SHA)) which will see the Chinese carrier aide Hunnu Air in bringing its service delivery and corporate culture up to international standards.
Under the MoU's provisions, China Eastern will provide catering, ground support and maintenance service for Hunnu Air at Shanghai Pudong International (PVG) as well as providing comprehensive crew training.
In return, Hunnu Air stands to gain a codeshare deal on a possible Shanghai Pudong International (PVG) to Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan (ULN) route but this, however, is dependent on it passing its IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).
Additionally, Hunnu Air will provide ticket sales for China Eastern in Mongolia, while China Eastern will help Hunnu Air gain market presence in China. Mongolian Airlines Group mentioned the similarity of its current brand name as the key reason for adjusting its name to Hunnu Air.

Ulaanbaatar, May 17 /MONTSAME/ The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city E.Bat-Uul submitted Thursday a final revision of the "Ulaanbaatar Metro" project to the President, the Parliament Speaker and the Prime Minister.
A feasibility study for the project was performed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) from September 2011 to March 2013, and it has been introduced and approved by the Citizens' Representative Khural of the city. Now, it is submitted to the highest authorities.
The research team worked on the feasibility study, aiming to reduce both traffic jam and a pollution. It included all necessary researches in the city's population, socio-economic situation, environment, geology, soil, image of the city, investments, finance and technology matters.
According to the feasibility study, the 17.7 km metro line will range along the Peace Avenue, and will have 14 stations. It will be constructed underground from the West cross road to the East cross road, other parts will go above ground.
The metro line will be also connected to routes of the city's railways, buses and trolleybuses. According to  financial calculations, USD 1.5 billion will be required for the UB metro, and it is projected that the expenses is possible to be recovered in a short time if the country exploits correctly know-how of both domestic and foreign private sector and attracts investments for the infrastructure.

HK's Golden Network acquires international rights to Queen Anu
May 16 (Screen Daily) Hong Kong-based sales agent Golden Network Asia has picked up international rights to historical epic Queen Ahno - Spirit Of A Warrior, which is one of the most expensive films ever produced in Mongolia.
Based on the best-selling Mongolian novel, Legendary Queen Ahno, written by B. Shuudertsetseg, it tells the story of a 17th century warrior princess who fought alongside her husband against Manchurian troops invading her country.
Filmed entirely in Mongolia with local cast and crew, the privately-produced film depicts the Battle of Zuunmod where Ahno died protecting her husband and sons. It became Mongolia's highest-ever grossing film when it was released earlier this year.  

May 17 (InfoMongolia) The highest award of Mongolian National Film Academy, the "Academy Awards" presenting ceremony was held for its third consecutive year at the State Academic Drama Theatre on May 16, 2013.
The best films were selected in 18 nominations and in the Best Picture category was selected "Aravt" or "Ten Soldiers of Chinggis Khaan", which was created by "Mongol Film" Group in association with Inner Mongolian "Nuudel Soyol" Production in 2012.
The "Aravt" movie was awarded with 2013 "Academy Awards" Prize and accompanied with 5 million MNT.
Also, during the ceremony a "Promising Producer" award named after the French Embassy in Ulaanbaatar was handed to M.Enkhdalai for his "Yerunkhiilegchiin Tuslakh" or "Assistant to the President" movie.
Winners of 2013 "Academy Awards"
<![if !supportLists]>1.    <![endif]>Best Picture - "Aravt"
<![if !supportLists]>2.    <![endif]>Best Leading Role Actor - Ts.Tumurbaatar, "Ulaan Durvuljin"
<![if !supportLists]>3.    <![endif]>Best Supporting Role Actor - S.Ariunbyamba, "Any Khatan"
<![if !supportLists]>4.    <![endif]>Best Leading Role Actress - A.Mungunzul, "Duulen Nis"
<![if !supportLists]>5.    <![endif]>Best Supporting Role Actress - D.Gantsetseg, "Aravt"
<![if !supportLists]>6.    <![endif]>Best Director - D.Zolbayar, "Aravt"
<![if !supportLists]>7.    <![endif]>Best Cinematographer - G.Gantulga, "Aravt"
<![if !supportLists]>8.    <![endif]>Best Art Director - J.Tsog, "Aravt"
<![if !supportLists]>9.    <![endif]>Best Music Original Score - B.Chinbat, "Aravt"
<![if !supportLists]>10.  <![endif]>Best Music Original Song - B.Batchuluun, "Durlalyn Gemt Khereg"
<![if !supportLists]>11.  <![endif]>Best Editor - B.Baatar, "Duulen Nis"
<![if !supportLists]>12.  <![endif]>Best Sound Editor - Michael Kao, "Big Fish"
<![if !supportLists]>13.  <![endif]>Best Screenplay Writer - B.Togtokhbayar, "Anu Khatan"
<![if !supportLists]>14.  <![endif]>Best Visual Effects - Sh.Tansag, "Duulen Nis"
<![if !supportLists]>15.  <![endif]>Best Make-Up - Ts.Delger, "Duulen Nis"
<![if !supportLists]>16.  <![endif]>Best Documentary (feature) - E.Khurelkhuu, "Neriig Mini Khelj Uguuch"
<![if !supportLists]>17.  <![endif]>Best Short Film - I.Nyamgavaa, "19"
<![if !supportLists]>18.  <![endif]>Best Investor D.Boldkhuyag, "Anu Khatan"

Ulaanbaatar, May 16 /MONTSAME/ A ceremony will run May 17 to demonstrate the "Caterpillar" brand's equipment.
It will be organized by its official dealer "Wagner Asia Equipment" company in Mongolia.
During the event, visitors will be shown a quality of the Caterpillar mechanisms that are widely used in mining, construction, road and railroad construction, infrastructure, agriculture, energy, and industrial spheres in Mongolia.
In addition, the equipment will be put  up for auction.

May 16 (InfoMongolia)  On May 15, 2013, ETV HD television has announced that the company was granted an official right to broadcast live the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The 20th FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in 12 cities of Brazil from June 12 to July 13, 2014 and a team of ETV HD will report the biggest event of football fans from the host nation.
ETV HD Director General Ts.Enkhbat said to reporters, "We are glad to receive the special rights and this means not only to broadcast via TV, but also through FM, radio, newspaper, website and mobile internet. In the scope, we also plan to set up a Fan Zone in 21 Aimags of Mongolia to watch live and we invite best football commentators to join us".
ETV HD will also transmit live the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup to take place in Brazil on June 15-30, 2013.
This is the second time Brazil has hosted the FIFA World Cup competition, the first being the 1950 FIFA World Cup.

Ulaanbaatar, May 16 /MONTSAME/ The Mongolian scientists have done an experiment for producing toothpaste with nano-calcium extracted from horse bone.
Using this nano-calcium, the "Monchemo" company has invented a technology of producing toothpaste with  this nano-calcium.
A director of "Monchemo" M.Ariunaa says, "We have produced the calcium from horse bones. The European countries and S.Korea and Japan manufacture their toothpastes with nano calcium too but derived from chemicals. A principal difference is that we derive a pure nano calcium from the animal byproduct."
She added that her company intends to produce not only toothpaste but also other products with nano technology.
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Ambassador to Australia: Investors tell me if Mongolia can't work with its biggest investor, there isn't much we can do
May 17 (Mongolian Mining Journal via --
The board's non-responsiveness is a sign of refusal, but this is a very rare case.
We interviewed the Mongolian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Australia Mr. R. Bold.
What are the main relations and sectors developing between the two countries? What is your opinion on how the trend will change in the future, and likely to deepen? 
During our Prime Minister's official visit to Australia back in 2011, two countries agreed to cooperate mainly in education, science, mining, agriculture, and tourism sectors. The peacekeeping operations will be added on these. If the geographical distance didn't exist, it is a rare bilateral relation between countries that could be very successful and mutually beneficial. Thus, the future looks as a sunny day.
Do the two countries have similarities?
We could name a number of commonalities in forms. Australia is surrounded by ocean, whereas Mongolia is surrounded by land, Australia is a country of agriculture and livestock husbandry, thus, there are some similarities in the mentality, and also, Australia has a beautiful wild nature and so on. Also, there seem to be some similar behaviors in political and ordinary Australians life.
Australia is an industrialized country. In Mongolia we talk about Australian model. What are the main lessons and experience of Australia in mining sector for Mongolia?
It is a good thing that people in Mongolia talk about Australian model. Mining and extractive sector accounts for 10 percent of Australia's GDP, the trend is also likely to remain the same with a rapid development in the sector until 2020. Mining projects in Australia is operated by private companies, whereas the government is only a benefactor of the taxes, and responsible for stable legal environment to promote more jobs. The approach how Australians solved the infrastructure in this vast country is a good lesson for us. For a country that has a small population, the utilization of modern technology is important. If we are keen to follow other's examples, there are already proven standards and methods on training and specialization in mining sector.
How would you describe the Australian mining policy?
Australia has a federal governance system. The country has six states, and each state has a power to decide on its own on many matters, such as issuing a mining license. Mining sector accounts for majority of the jobs in the country. Taxes from mining sector is being spent on mega-infrastructures, people's health, education, pension, and welfares. The policy can be described as mining projects strive to be environmentally friendly, relies on technology, and takes into account that the mining boom is temporary. However, the sector has taken its course, clear and understood, and recognized by everyone. The main point is that its economical power is sufficient enough to transfer itself from mining sector dependency.
Coal market will not be exhausted soon
Australia doesn't support the processing of raw materials. It prefers to export its vast coal resources unprocessed due to environmental reasons. What is your opinion on this?
Coal fired power sources account for 75 percent of its electricity demand. Thus, the government created a carbon tax from 2012 to minimize the effect on climate change. Therefore, the miners are forced to export raw coal. The coal to liquids industry is developing very slowly. However, the government supports the renewable energy industry. The goal is to account the renewable energy supply 20 percent in 2020, and 40 percent on 2035 from wind, solar, and other renewable sources. Australia is a member of non-nuclear zone of the south. It is the leading country that has uranium deposits. However, it will not build nuclear power plants, and exports only yellowcakes. I think it is a suitable policy for us to follow as we are keen to talk about uranium.
What is Australians approach on the new competitor on coal market, particularly on Chinese supply?
Indeed, a competition is a basis of success. However, I do not agree that Mongolia and Australia are competitors. On top of that, looking at us nobody will consider us as a competition. Australia exported 170+ million tons of coal. 60 percent of this export is for two main established markets, particular Japan and South Korea. The remaining 20 percent went to China. It's 16 percent of the China's overall coal imports. Australia and Mongolia accounts for only one fourth of the China's coal imports. Thus, maybe there is a perception that the two countries will compete for China's coal market. China is expected to grow further, and the electricity production will increase, it is not permanent, but there will be a midterm stable growth. In other words, the market will not be exhausted soon. Thus, the two countries can work collaboratively on Chinese coal market by coordinating its operations.
Do you agree on that Australian experience on managing foreign investment is needed for Mongolia? Also, it is interesting to hear about the Foreign Investment Review Board, and their decision making process.
Australia's engine of development is foreign investment. The foreign investment reached over 500 billion USD in 2011. The 32 percent of this was invested in mining. The Foreign Investment Review Board is operated under the Finance Minister. The board is composed of only 5 members, and the members are not directors and chiefs like in our country. If the state-owned enterprises are buying real estate, land or certain part of Australian companies, an approval is needed from this board. The second economic driver is agriculture, thus the land purchase is always under control. Foreigners can own a land, but a permit is required. If the privately owned enterprises are investing an excess amount of 244 million AUD, an approval is also needed from the board. We are told that the Board responds to over four thousand requests. The board is responsible to respond in 30 days after the request. Non-responsiveness is a sign of refusal, but it is a very rare case. 
Half of 200 companies are Oyu Tolgoi suppliers
There are many Australian exploration companies in Mongolia that owns a license. By the effect of law that limits foreign investment, many of them are leaving the country. Do you have intelligible information on that? How the Australian investors evaluate us? Are there any change of evaluation due to the recent drafts on Foreign Investment and Minerals Law?
There are over 200 hundred small and mid-size companies doing business in Mongolia directly and indirectly. I think half of them are Oyu Tolgoi suppliers. 45 Australian companies have representatives in our country. It means they have established operation in the country which is a very promising result. It is promising in terms of third neighbor policy perspective.
After approving the "Law on Regulation of Foreign Investment in Business Entities Operating in Sectors of Strategic Importance" Australian government officially expressed their discontent in 2012 and again in 2013. Generally it can be viewed that the foreign investment activity is trailed out. Some tell us that if you can't work with the only biggest investor what can we do. Some expresses their opinion by saying what have we done. It is hard to hear such things from the investors. Mongolia is not well known in Australia. There isn't much information on Mongolia. It is our big mistake to think that we have vast resources and world knows us. Thus, we are concentrating on promoting to introduce ourselves. It is hard to explain the mentality differences between the foreign investors and ourselves, thus, our democracy, market economy, free competition, and APEC membership goals do seem as an empty slogan.
There is a planned meeting between the Australian Minister of Resources and Energy and Mongolian Mining Minister. Can the meeting be seen as it is seeking to solve the dispute between Rio Tinto and the government of Mongolia in a friendly manner? 
Former Australian Minister of Resources and Energy Mr. Ferguson had planned two trips to Mongolia which both were unsuccessful. One was delayed because of MIAT, and the other was from the Australian side. Australian Minister of Resources and Energy is also responsible for tourism. It is not very pleasant to hear that we came to Incheon Airport and waited for the Mongolian plane for hours, then it didn't come, so we decided to fly back. Australian Minister of Resources and Energy Mr. G. Grey will met our Minister Mr. D. Gankhuyag in Sydney. Also, the two cooperation working group of two ministries' will meet for the second time.
Window: After approving the "Law on Regulation of Foreign Investment in Business Entities Operating in Sectors of Strategic Importance" Australian government officially expressed their discontent in 2012 and again in 2013.
Window: It is not very pleasant to hear: we came to Incheon Airport and waited for the Mongolian plane for hours, then it didn't come, so we decided to fly back.
Window: Some tell us that if you can't work with the only biggest investor what can we do. Some expresses their opinion by saying what "have we done". It is hard to hear such things from the investors.

Implicit Interests of Mongolia's Two Neighbours – Beyond Visits
May 15 (Mongolian Economy) Last week on May 8-12, Mr. Yang Jiechi, the Foreign Minister of China, and Mr. Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin, the President of JSC Russian Railway [JSC RZD] paid official visits in Mongolia. Their visits' purposes were to meet with the President, the Parliament Speaker and the Prime Minister of Mongolia for discussions. During the meetings, the two neighbours' interests were crashed against each other on a point where the Government of Mongolia plans the construction of its new railway.
For Mongolia, whether to construct the new railway with a broad gauge or a narrow (standard) still remains unresolved as the issue has been politically motivated. Perhaps, this has quickly brought these express delegations from the two neighbours. Indeed, Mongolia's State Policy Document on Railway Sector states "In Mongolia, the broad gauge is subject to the construction of the new railway". Also the resolution has been made that if necessary, some railway gauge-related issues shall be discussed by the State Great Khural. In this regard, there has been already a divide between Mongolian politicians. "Considering the geopolitics and the national security, the broad gauge is better. But economically, the standard gauge is more beneficial", argued the politicians for a long time. Finally, they came up with a solution which is the broad gauge. During the official visits by Mr Yang Jiechi and Mr. Yakunin in this critical moment, what they have discussed with Mongolian political leaders has not yet publicly announced and still remains unknown.
Russia's railway is subject to the broad gauge which is exactly the same as Mongolia's. But China's 91,000 kilometres railway network has the standard one. In fact, Mongolia is in a dilemma over which one to choose for further expansion of its railway network. What were the delegates' whispers for the Mongolian top officials? But obvious thing is that their visits were aimed at bolstering their own countries' interests.
Mongolian-Russian strategic partnership started long ago. Russia already owns some 51 percent of the Ulaanbaatar Railway Mongolian-Russian Joint Venture (UBTZ), the only railway network which is being used in Mongolia.
Prior to his visit, Mr. Yakunin sent an official letter to Mongolian Premier expressing Russia's interest in investment of the new railway and increasing its stake in UBTZ. His request was sent through the Minister of Road and Transportation of Mongolia as Mr. Yakunin's present position was not higher enough to directly set up a meeting with the Premier. Thus, his arrival was aimed at having a meeting with the Premier in person. According to a source, most likely a promise was given to make amendment in the Agreement on Ulaanbaatar Railway Mongolian-Russian Joint Venture (UBTZ) that was made in 1949 between the two countries, with a condition to reflect Russia's interest in the construction of the new railway in Mongolia. If it turns this way, the ownership status is likely to be shifted which will enable Mongolia to own 51 percent of UBTZ. From government to government, Mongolia has been seeking an opportunity to update the Agreement. However, it was not considered by stakeholder. Today, Russia has a "furtive wish" to be the only partner of Mongolia in the construction of the new railway.
The new railway will be connected with UBTZ's railway. The Government of Mongolia is now more focusing on the new railway and the solution of its investment. Mr. Yakunin expressed his concerns over stagnancy of construction of another railway in the northern Mongolia from Erdenet city to Murun town. Accordingly, Mr. Yakunin asked the Premier to delay the current railway-related misunderstanding between Mongolia and Russia, and to give an extra attention to co-launch of the construction of the two railways at the same time.
But the strategic partnership between Mongolia and China was established a bit later. Mr. Yang Jiechi, therefore, openly expressed that his purpose was to raise the strategic partnership ties between the two countries. "Either China or Mongolia should benefit from their relations", he said. In the past five years, China has already spent USD 182 billion for expansion of its railway network. Its railway is subject to the standard gauge (1435 mm). Of this huge network, the closest part to Mongolia is Jinbao railway with a length of 833 km that locates between Beijing and Baotao city of Inner Mongolia. By using this network, China is willing to contribute Mongolia to export its mining products to the third markets including Japan and Korea. This is what Mr. Yang Jiechie promised Mongolia. They managed to present Mongolian leaders that, through China, there is a chance to export Tavan Tolgoi's coal to the other countries except Russia. This suggestion has one condition in which to enable Chinese participation in more investment and the construction of the railway and roads. China is the main purchaser of Mongolia's mineral resources. Chinese delegates, therefore, argued that there would not be a better progress in the purchase of the mineral resources without enabling China's participation in the transportation.
Russia sent its Railway Man who is closely knit official of the President Vladimir Putin while China sent its Foreign Minister, one of its top ten officials. At a glance, these official visits were the discussions over the construction of the new railway. Beyond it, apparently there have been "implicit interests" in participation of Tavan Tolgoi. It means that both neighbours have a chance to get more positive resolution on the new railway issue. But one of them, who could make it happen, would benefit from Tavan Tolgoi's coking coal more than the other.

May 17 (InfoMongolia) Few days ago, the 10th consultative meeting between the Defense Ministry of Mongolia and the Pentagon, United States Department of Defense was held in Washington DC, where Mongolian delegation led by Deputy Minister for Defense Mr. Avirmed BATTUR made a statement regarding the meeting summary on May 17, 2013.
In his statement, Deputy Minister A.Battur said, "The consultative meeting was concluded very fruitfully and the United States Department of Defense highly values Mongolia's participation in peacekeeping operations. Pentagon affirmed its readiness to further support and to cooperate with Mongolia at all potential levels. Moreover, backed our initiation to change the status of Mongolia's Peacekeeping Center into International-level organization. Also, parties exchanged views on involving Mongolian staff to work at the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping.
During the bilateral talks, the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping expressed its willingness to deploy Mongolian troops in the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, besides to participate in the Rural Rehabilitation and Development Program in Syria and Mali, in particular to send staff including medical, engineering and air force sector personnel. The next consultative meeting is scheduled to take place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia".
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Social, Environmental and Other
Mogi: seriously, I should have a dedicated section for UB
Ulaanbaatar: A City Built for 400,000?
May 17 (The Mongolist) This morning I was reading an article which contained the following statement, "The Soviets engineered Ulaanbaatar for a population of 400,000. Now the city holds three times that number."1 I have seen variants of this statement in other articles over the last few months, and there is something about it that seems dubious. It has the feel of something that was first expressed informally as way of conceptualizing the extraordinary population growth and poor city management in Ulaanbaatar over the last few years, and then morphed into a "fact" in its subsequent retelling. Employing an apocryphal story of my own, I imagine there once was a group of professionals at Millie's Cafe discussing the deteriorating infrastructure and over-population of the city and someone chimed in with, "Just think, when the city was originally built it would have been for a population of 400,000 or so." To which everyone at the table nodded their heads knowingly, because that made perfect sense as an explanation for the world they perceived just outside the cafe's doors. Not too long after that one of the professionals at the table relayed this "fact" to a journalist doing a story on Mongolia. Yet, does comparing the city today with some alleged Soviet plan in the past make sense? I don't think so, and here's why.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>According to the Capital Statistics Office, the population of Ulaanbaatar reached 400,000 in 1979.2 By 1990 the city had a population over 560,000. Then about 1998 the annual rate of population growth in the city significantly increased, rapidly pushing the population to 1.2 million by 2012 (see Graph 1). So, if the Soviets engineered the city for 400,000 people, when did this happen? In 1960? Maybe. That would mean that they were over engineering given that the population was 145,000 that year. In 1980? Maybe. But, that would mean that they were building a city already at its population capacity. Is this evidence that Ulaanbaatar was "built" by 1980 even though the population grew another 40 percent over that decade? Or, maybe I have completely misunderstood. Is it that the heating and power infrastructure constructed during the Socialist period was designed with a theoretical capacity of 400,000 people connected to the grid, and the apartment building boom of the last few years has taken the infrastructure well beyond this theoretical limit? But, isn't that something different than saying the city itself was designed for 400,000 people, especially given its long history of supporting outlying ger districts off the grid? A lot of questions with few good answers.
It is said that Rome was not built in a day. The meaning, of course, being that something as large as a city develops slowly. It is not the product of a single decision or plan executed over a finite period but rather the product of dynamic interactions unfolding continuously over time. I understand the sentiment behind the Soviet-engineering statement. Ulaanbaatar's infrastructure development has not kept pace with its population growth over the last fifteen years, and the city today is a treasure trove of examples of urban planning and civil engineering gone horribly wrong. But, the statement just doesn't withstand even lightweight critical analysis even if one accepts the premise that somewhere in an archive there is a city plan for Ulaanbaatar with a population of 400,000 in mind. Ulaanbaatar today is the product of complex actions and reactions played out over several decades--not a single plan made by Soviet engineers. The point the statement is trying to make, I surmise, is that the city seems to have stopped being planned in the not too distant past and subsequently turned into the chaotic urban landscape visible today. That is fair enough, but is it necessary to express that sentiment with allusions to Soviet planning? After all, Ulaanbaatar does have a city planning office (see here), and it has had a democratically elected mayor and city council for more than two decades.
There is no argument that Ulaanbaatar has changed dramatically over the last few years, in some ways for the better and in others for the worse. Wind the clock back twenty or thirty years, and many parts of it are physically unrecognizable. It is true that the city's layout and much of its heating and power infrastructure were first established during the Socialist period, but much of the city's skyline and surrounding ger districts have sprung up in just the last fifteen years. Plans drawn up decades ago in the heady days of the Socialist era may have lingering impacts on the city today, but they are only part of a very complex story.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>This is exemplified by the city's roads where past design has arguably hampered contemporary function. Yet, is the problem a decades old Soviet design that failed to scale, or the unregulated construction of buildings in the city's previously abundant open spaces without regard for critical secondary infrastructure such as roads, power, heating, and sewage? As Prime Minister Batbold pointed out in parliament in 2011, although Ulaanbaatar's building and housing capacity had grown 3.5 times since 1980, the major road system had basically remained unchanged to that point.3 Graph 2 shows the number of passenger vehicles (cars, trucks, buses; etc) in Mongolia from 1991 to 2007. The number grew by almost four times over that seventeen year period to over 160,000 vehicles. Compare this with 1980 when there were approximately 32,200 vehicles in the entire country, and the majority of those were cargo trucks.4 In Ulaanbaatar there were 108,000 vehicles by 2008, and this nearly doubled to 210,000 vehicles in the city by August 2012.5 Ulaanbaatar's population has increased significantly since 1980, but this is nothing in comparison to the increase in vehicles on the city's roads in just the last few years.
Whether or not one accepts that Ulaanbaatar was designed at one point for 400,000 people, today it is most definitely not a city of Soviet design. It retains some elements of its Socialist past, but for better or worse it is the capital of democratic, free-market Mongolia. The lack of regulation in producing secondary infrastructure to support the growth in buildings around the city is a better explanation of the city's current and inadequate layout than irrelevant allusion to Soviet engineering. The problem isn't that the city was designed for another population, in another economy, in another time. The problem is that the city's development over the last two decades has not adequately adapted to its present population, in the current economy, now. Of course, I think that is what is meant by the Soviet-engineering statement, but it goes about it all wrong by making it seem as if the central planning of the Socialist period is more relevant than the lack of regulation in the democratic, free-market era in understanding Ulaanbaatar's complex urban environment today.
1. Brett Forrest, "James Passin, the American Who Bought Mongolia", Business Week,, 2013-05-16.
3. "Монгол Улсын Ерөнхий сайд С.Батболдын Улаанбаатар хотын авто замын сүлжээнд 2008-2011 онд хийж гүйцэтгэсэн ажил, цаашид авах арга хэмжээний талаар УИХ-ын чуулганы хуралдаанд хийсэн мэдээлэл", Mongolian Embassy in the United Kingdom,, 2011-11-19.
4. "1929-2008 ОНУУДАД МОНГОЛ УЛСЫН ХЭМЖЭЭНД ТООЛОГДСОН АВТОМАШИНЫ ТООН ҮЗҮҮЛЭЛТ", Mongolian Traffic Research Institute,, (accessed 2013-05-15).
5. "Автомашины тоо эрс нэмэгдсэн нь замын насжилтад нөлөөлж байна гэв",,, 2012-08-15.

7 year old Mongolian boy wins World School Chess Championships 2013
May 16 ( A seven year old Mongolian chess player, Yesuntumur  Tugstumur, won the World School Chess Championships 2013 in Porto Carras, Halkidiki in Greece, held on 6th to 15th May. Esuntumur Tugstumur, who competed in the under seven boys open category, came up against chess player Zhao Haolin (England) and won the game, winning the World School Chess Championships 2013 by scoring a point for the final board. 
Yesuntumur Tugstumur is gold medalist of the 2012 Asian Youth Chess Championships for the age group under-6.

Ulaanbaatar, May 17 /MONTSAME/ A Mongolian outstanding painter Ch.Khurelbaatar opened Thursday his oil painting exhibition in the Fine Art Gallery of Bangkok, Thailand.
This exhibition is mounted with participation and support of the Mongolian Embassy in Thailand, the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI), the Thailand's Serindia Gallery and some enterprisers and companies, such as, Mongolian APU, Khaan Khuns, and Thailand's Banpu.
Opening remarks were made by Mr Ch.Battomor, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Thailand; L.Delgertomor, the MNCCI Representative to Thailand; and Mr Shane Suvikapakornkul, the Gallery's director.
The Ambassador underlined that this exhibition is mounted before the 40th anniversary of the Mongolia-Thailand diplomatic relations to be marked in 2014, and noted its importance to propagandize each other's culture and arts.
The oil painting exhibition will be open until June 30.
Khurelbaatar Choindon is one of the most acclaimed painters from Mongolia. Graduated from the Ilya Repin Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, he studied under one of Russia's most renowned painters Victor M. Oreshnikov (1904–1987). Decorated with the Polar Star Order, he has been invited to exhibit in major cultural cities around the world. His much sought-after oil paintings are unmistakable — the stillness of his fine brush and the sense of colours emote spiritual calmness of the grasslands of Mongolia, the land where he was born.

Mongolia: Protecting the Saker Falcon
May (UNEP) Among the rich fauna and species found in Mongolia is the iconic Saker Falcon, which, through conservation management techniques, is being protected and bred sustainably.  One such effort is a project providing 5,000 artificial nests throughout 2o districts in the country.  This initiative was started in 2005 by the then Mongolian Ministry for Nature, Environment and Tourism (MNET), the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI). 
The sustainable management of Saker Falcons enables the trade of the species while minimizing threats to their survival in the wild. This process also contributes towards their conservation while benefiting local communities. The breeding population of Saker Falcons is increased using artificial nests.
Other special wildlife species found in Mongolia include the Prezelwalski Horse and the Gobi Bear. 

Peace Corps volunteer works to help others in Mongolia at age 70
SWAMPSCOTT, May 16 (The Daily Item)  — As a college student when the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, Judy Gates promised herself that one day she would join.
In 2008, at the age of 65, she did.
Leaving the comforts of her Marblehead home behind, Gates found herself in Mongolia drinking fermented goat's milk (Mogi: must be fermented mare's milk airag) and learning to split wood to build a fire to cook and keep warm in sub-zero temperatures, all while helping her town establish small businesses in a traditional herding society.
But if you ask Gates what her biggest challenge was during her 27-month service, she will shake her head. "This may sound strange, but nothing," she said. "It's a hard place to live, certainly, but I just loved being there so much."
Now, at age 70, Gates is planning to head back to Mongolia to bring back knitted items for her friends to protect themselves against the frigid winters. On Tuesday night, Gates brought knitting materials to the Swampscott Public Library and spoke to seniors about how it's never too late to make a difference on a global level.
Gates said that while the Peace Corps has a reputation for being a program for recent college graduates, the federal service program is actively seeking potential volunteers over age 50.
"I think it'd be wonderful if more people over 50 got involved," said Gates. "I think more life experience and skills are needed in the Peace Corps today."
Gates admitted that she didn't take to the language as well as her twenty-something fellow volunteers, but that's where her weaknesses ended. When someone in the crowd asked her how long it took her to get used to eating mutton fat and dried milk curds, Gates revealed her edge on the youngsters.
"Immediately," she said without hesitation. "I think, 'I'll eat just anything you give me.' I used to be finicky about food growing up, but at one point, I said, 'Why? Why eat this and not that?' That was the difference between me and the kids ... they wouldn't eat the fat. I thought, 'Just do it.'"
That was her attitude from the beginning, said Gates. She described how when the corps had asked her if she had any preferences about where to serve, she replied, "'Send me where you want to send me.'"
Gates said though it took some adjusting for her children to know their mother was milking a yak halfway around the globe, her grandchildren were fine with it.
"They love telling their friends that their grandmother is in the Peace Corps," she said. "They think it's cool."

Woodbridge resident begins Peace Corps stint in Mongolia
May 18 (The Amity Observer) David Meeske, 21, of Woodbridge, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Mongolia on June 1 to begin training as a secondary education English teacher volunteer.
Meeske will live and work in a village with members of his community to teach English as a foreign language to high school students and develop effective teaching methods with other English teachers.
Meeske is the son of John Meeske and Nancy Woodington and a graduate of Amity High School. He currently attends Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, where he will earn a bachelor's degree in international studies. Meeske has previously worked with several non-profit organizations, including the San Antonio Center for Refugees and Each One Teach One Adult and Family Literacy in San Antonio, along with Homework @ First tutoring program and New Haven Reads, both located in New Haven.
Last spring, Meeske taught English to high school students in Vienna, Austria, an experience that encouraged him to think more seriously about the Peace Corps.
"Peace Corps was always one of those things that was in the back of my mind, something I may want to do, but I wasn't really sure about it," said Meeske. "I got the opportunity to teach English in an Austrian high school, and both the teachers I worked with were just fantastic. So I decided I'd give Peace Corps a try, and as I learned more about the developing world, I realized that international development was something I was interested in, and I was hooked on the idea of Peace Corps from that time on."
During the first three months of her service, Meeske will live with a host family in Mongolia to become fully immersed in the country's language and culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills necessary to assist his community, Meeske will be sworn into service and be assigned to a community in Mongolia, where he will live and work for two years with the local people.
"In addition to living in the U.S. and living in Austria last year for almost six months, I lived in Berlin, Germany over the summer. I've had experience with Eastern Europe before, but Mongolia is going to be a completely different ballgame. I'm looking forward to the challenges and the new things I'll run into there."
Meeske joins the 136 Connecticut residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 3,204 Connecticut residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

Ulaanbaatar, May 16 /MONTSAME/ The spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will visit Mongolia on May 22-23. This is the fourth visit of him to Mongolia.
In accordance with the visiting programme, he will hold a public meditation called "Chakra kriya" May 22 in the "Buayn-Ukhaa"  complex, and then will meet the public at 5.00 pm. On May 22, he will give a lecture in the Central Palace of Culture.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar founded the Art of Living Foundation, which aims to relieve individual stress, societal problems and violence. It has branches in 152 countries now.
In 1997 he established a Geneva-based charity, the International Association for Human Values, an NGO that engages in relief work and rural development and aims to foster shared global values.
He is laureate of prizes of many countries including the Polar Star Order of Mongolia.

Mogi: Apparently the concert was held in April 24 and I'm only hearing of this just now, hmmm, too bad
No sleep till Ulan Bator!
UK band Is Tropical are trying to 'build up little gangs' all over the world. But, in a city previously only visited by Smokie and Boney M, will anyone turn up?
May 17 (The Guardian) It looked exactly like a Caramac." Is Tropical's Gary Barber is recalling, with creeping terror, his visit to Mongolian capital Ulan Bator's Black Market, where he encountered a local delicacy: a solid bar of fermented horse milk. "I was tricked into having a bit, and in the middle of the market. I just went phuuut and spat it all over the place. It's probably quite disrespectful."
It's fair to say that Is Tropical aren't terribly enamoured with Mongolian cuisine. But it's probably the only aspect of the culture that the three-piece haven't hurled themselves at with gleeful abandon. Wrestling, horse-riding, sleeping in a yurt next to a mewling newborn calf: they've tried the lot.
Is Tropical, like so many of their peers, are out to make a name for themselves but they've chosen an unusual route to indie stardom. Rather than the continual trudge around mid-level UK venues, the band have blown their money on playing in the furthest reaches of the planet. Since forming in east London in 2009, they've performed at Venezuelan rock festivals, Russian house parties, and toured Brazil, south-east Asia and much of mainland Europe. It's a mindset consistent with the iridescent, synth-flecked dance-rock of their 2011 debut Native To, recent South American-themed EP Flags, and new album I'm Leaving, which feels as likely to get feet moving in Caracas as it would in Coventry.
This latest expedition is their boldest, or perhaps stupidest, to date. The band – Gary (guitars/vocals), Dominic Apa (drums) and Simon Milner (also guitars/vocals) – are sitting cross-legged and bleary-eyed in a downtown Ulan Bator car park with the Guardian, recalling a week in which, as well as outdoorsy activities and unpalatable scran, they've joined the very small list of western acts who have performed in Mongolia. It's a list that doesn't extend far beyond forgotten Yorkshire dinosaurs Smokie, Dutch easy-listening group Michael Learns To Rock and Boney M.
It might sound like something dreamed up at last orders, but Is Tropical's Mongolian jaunt was inspired by a conversation with US expat journo, event organiser and self-proclaimed "first DJ in North Korea" Brian Offenther. The band met Offenther in Shanghai and told him they were looking for somewhere more unusual to perform. Offenther, familiar with the country from his time in the UN peace corps, suggested Mongolia. Despite knowing little about the place – Gary's education consisted of an episode of Ewan McGregor travelogue Long Way Round and "a little bit on An Idiot Abroad" – the wheels were immediately set in motion.
Aside from providing the answer to a handful of pub quiz questions – it's the most sparsely populated country in the world and the second-largest landlocked one – Mongolia is largely ignored by the west. There's Genghis Khan, of course ("One hard dude," notes Simon) but modern Mongolia remains, even in the age of TripAdvisor, a bit of a mystery.
A satellite state of the Soviet Union until 1990, the country has recently undergone a period of rapid industrialisation, catalysed by the discovery of huge mineral reserves. In Ulan Bator, referred to locally as UB (Mogi: and actually spelled Ulaanbaatar),  brutalist Soviet architecture sits next to soon-to-be-completed skyscrapers, faux-Irish pubs and shopfronts adorned with cartoon versions of South Korean pop star Psy. Not everyone has been invited along for the ride, though; in UB's vast, impoverished shanty towns, over half the city's population make do without running water and basic sanitation.
Away from the hum of the city, however, an entirely different lifestyle persists. Mongolia still contains significant nomadic populations, who regularly shuffle around to escape the region's bitter shifts in climate. After a jetlag-ridden first day in UB spent speaking to the local and national press, plus a visit to an orphanage, Is Tropical venture off into the wilderness to enjoy the hospitality of a yurt community. There, they don skimpy ceremonial costumes, have a bash at wrestling and horse-riding, learn some basic Mongol, and witness the killing and dismembering of a sheep, which is then cooked and served to them in a sort of Mongolian version of a hotpot. Apparently, it's easily the best thing they've eaten so far. "I'd make it at home," says Dom, "but I don't have a sheep to slaughter."
There's a danger that such antics might come off as somewhat "gap yah", a bit of fun before the real work of promoting I'm Leaving begins. Yet, however naive it might seem, the band genuinely believe they can find an audience here, and are hopeful of amassing what Dom refers to as "little gangs in different parts of the world". While the band are willing to concede there's an element of publicity stunt to this endeavour, they're equally adamant that the experience has been completely authentic. "Watching your reflection in the eyes of the sheep that's been ritually slaughtered in your honour, it's hard to think about the publicity," suggests Dom.
Neither is the trip without its risks. Funding it has been a challenge: as well as dipping into their own finances, the band have had to find sponsorship. This includes a Mongolian beer company, who get the band to pose with pint glasses in their factory. All this effort for a gig that, as the band concede, might yet be in front of next to no one.
Fortunately, Mongolian gig-goers are an enthusiastic bunch. Since the end of Soviet occupation, the UB music scene has taken off, with homegrown trance, death metal, hip-hop and garage rock scenes springing up. Even so, gigs are still scarce; few venues can accommodate live performance, and those that do often consider the process to be a lot of bother for little reward. Offenther tells us of a recurring problem, whereby high-profile western acts such as Pitbull and Nicole Scherzinger announce dates in Mongolia, only to cancel at short notice after realising that the venues can't accommodate their equipment.
All of which means that an actual appearance by a western band, particularly one that appeals to a younger demographic than Boney M, is a big deal. So there's a healthy crowd present at UB's trendy iLoft venue as Is Tropical take to the stage. More surprising is just how many in attendance are familiar with Is Tropical's tunes. Put it down to the proliferation of music in the age of social media, or simply the enthusiasm of a Mongolian crowd towards a band who've actually followed through on their promise to turn up, but a scarily significant number of the assembled throng are belting out the words to tracks from IT's debut album, as well as new single Dancing Anymore. For Is Tropical, it's vindication of their "go anywhere, do anything" ethos. The gig ends with Simon shouting, "This is the best night of my life!" and hurling himself into the crowd. It feels like the start of something.
Is Tropical must now return home to promote and tour their record in the UK. Already, though, they're plotting a second sojourn to Mongolia, a charity single for a local orphanage, even a full-scale British invasion. "Instead of coming to a country to observe it, you come to be part of it," says Simon. "We could bring bands over to Mongolia. We could be part of the growth of this culture." Just remember to pack the Caramacs next time.

Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
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