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Rocky road for Rio in developing world
June 15 (WAtoday.com.au) When Rio Tinto's top brass reflect on June 2013, they're likely to see a month where they took one step forward and one step back in their mission to create a foothold in the developing world.
As the company prepares to cut the ribbon on a massive new money-maker in the middle of Mongolia's Gobi Desert, its dream of replicating its Australian iron ore business in the wilds of West Africa looks further away than ever.
The Simandou iron ore project in Guinea has been sliding from prominence for some time within Rio's portfolio, and on Wednesday its development was revealed to be even more unlikely when Guinean Mining Minister Lamine Fofana revealed costs could be double previous estimates.
The $US20 billion price tag he implied remains a guesstimate; studies are continuing and further talks between the government and Rio are due to take place next week.
But Mr Fofana was certain of one thing: Rio's 2011 vow to start exporting from Simandou by 2015 will not be met.
On the surface, the major problem at Simandou is the disagreement between Rio and the government over how much financing Guinea should bring to the table.
In reality, Simandou would struggle to win approval from Rio's board even if all its ducks were in a row. Rio is in money-saving mode, and is already over-reliant on iron ore.
If there was money to spare on further iron ore developments, it would surely be spent on the long-planned expansions to the Pilbara iron ore division, which was described by former Rio boss Tom Albanese as the second-best business on earth behind Apple's iPad.
With the peak of the iron ore boom almost certainly behind us, Simandou is starting to look like the sort of project that won't happen - not this decade anyway.
All the more reason for Rio executives to savour the ribbon-cutting ceremony that is expected to be held in Mongolia in the next fortnight.
First sales from Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine were expected to be celebrated on Friday, after Rio staff sent out invitations to guests - including the Mongolian Prime Minister - to attend a ceremony for the milestone.
Rio has had to fight all the way for Oyu Tolgoi, through a bitter takeover of Robert Friedland's Ivanhoe Mines, shortages of infrastructure and water, and numerous attempts by the Mongolian government to nationalise more of the mine's wealth.
Apart from the first sales, the ceremony was seen as a proxy for demonstrating improved relations between Rio and the government, as Rio had previously warned that strained relations could delay first shipments beyond the June target.
By Wednesday the ceremony had been cancelled, with Rio refusing to explain why. But sources close to Oyu Tolgoi suggest a ceremony is still likely before June 30.
Some believe the delay has more to do with public relations than any rising geopolitical tensions.
Rio's performance in developing nations carries extra importance given it is one of several differentiators between it and BHP Billiton.
While Rio has played major hands in Mongolia and Guinea, BHP's operations in northern Africa and Asia are trivial to its bottom line.
BHP's most important operations are found in wealthy, developed countries such as the US and Chile, while its best growth prospects are in Canada and Australia.
Rio needs success in places such as Mongolia to balance its failures in Mozambique and, in all likelihood, Guinea.
But bringing Oyu Tolgoi into production this month will not be the end of the road for Rio in Mongolia.
A bigger prize looms in the $US5.1 billion second stage of the project, which would turn the mine into the third-biggest copper producer on earth.
That goal has been another source of tension between Rio and the Mongolian government, with the latter recently commissioning an audit into major cost blowouts in the plan.
As a partner in the project, Mongolia is increasingly worried about the cost it might have to bear to make the project go ahead.
Rio responded by scaling down the design for stage two, which will see the mine costing more to operate, producing less copper each year, and duly creating lower dividends for the government.
Logic suggests Rio will prevail and Oyu Tolgoi eventually will be expanded to its full potential. Despite concerns over the environment and its impact on local herders, the mine will be just too big a part of the Mongolian economy for the government to stymie it forever.
But shareholders can be sure there will be a few more backward steps before the day is won.
Mogi: my understanding seems to be correct, the issue with the delay is dispute over where the sales revenue are to be directed.
Oyu Tolgoi copper concentrate shipment delayed
June 14 (Business-Mongolia.com) In a weekly press conference “30 minutes with Prime Minister” – Oyu Tolgoi related issues were discussed.
Oyu Tolgoi LLC was scheduled to commence its first copper concentrate shipment today. However, we heard that it was delayed. What is the reason for this interruption?
The initiation to delay the shipment commencement came from Oyu Tolgoi LLC itself. Also, we have issues to resolve.
Does this mean the delay is caused by a certain demand from the government?
I think Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar can answer this question in details. However, we didn’t demand any documentation or special procedure. The most important request was that the sales income must be positioned in Mongolia.
A working group was formed on amending the OT Investment Agreement. What progress has the group made on it?
We realize that it is hard to amend an already signed agreement. We have worked in a very hard condition to amend the Chalco – Erdenes TT agreement. The OT Investment Agreement amendment was formed by four ministries. The working group met the investors numerous times. There are many issue we need a clarification. Therefore, I think there are progress on this issue. It is a hard situation when we have disagreements while shipment is about to commence.
VOYAGER RESOURCES PURSUES KEY POSITION IN BRAZIL
June 17 -- Voyager Resources Limited (“the Company” or “Voyager,” ASX:VOR) is pleased to provide the following update on recent activities.
· An agreement has been entered with Xstrata Do Brasil Exploração Mineral Ltda, a subsidiary of Xstrata Copper Limited (“Xstrata”), to transfer licenses from its claims in the Carajas region of Brazil to the Company.
· In consideration for these licenses being granted the Company shall commit to a minimum $1,000,000 mineral exploration programme in the next two years.
· Xstrata retains a back in right, in the event of a large copper discovery made by the Company (minimum 750,000t contained copper).
· Key licences located within close proximity to the world class Salobo 1.122Mt at 0.72% Copper, 0.38 g/t Gold mine, and the Sossego 150.68Mt 0.79% Copper 0.23 g/t Gold mine*.
· A Strategic Alliance has been signed with Avanco Resources Limited and FFA Legal Ltda.
Mogi: scratch my head thinking Montsame is the only reliable MSE reporter. Wish they would also mention movement of TOP 20, not what it changed to.
STOCK EXCHANGE NEWS FOR JUNE 13
Ulaanbaatar, June 13 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades on June 13, a total of 20 thousand and 378 shares of 17 JSCs were traded costing MNT 26 million 776 thousand and 101.26.
Rates of eleven shares increased, of three shares decreased, of three were stable.
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 434 billion 121 million 462 thousand and 893. The Index of Top-20 was 14513.30.
STOCK EXCHANGE NEWS FOR JUNE 14
Ulaanbaatar, June 14 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades on June 14, a total of 19 thousand and 515 shares of 26 JSCs were traded costing MNT 29 million 647 thousand and 523.82.
Rates of 16 shares increased, of five shares decreased, of five were stable.
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 441 billion 036 million 860 thousand and 670. The Index of Top-20 was 14618.80.
Erdenes TT Wash Plant Feasibility Study Approved
June 14 (Business-Mongolia.com) The Feasibility Study of East Tsankhi, Tavan Tolgoi coking coal mine washing plant has been approved by the Minerals Council yesterday. Feasibility study estimated that 459 million tones of coking coal and 29.4 million tones of thermal coal will be processed in 15 years.
Also, the study indicated that the overall cost will be MNT 17.5 trillion and overall profit will be approximately MNT 24.6 trillion. The payback period of the plant is 4.2 years according to the team that conducted the study.
The team included IMK LLC, Grand Power LLC and professors of Science and Technology University of Mongolia.
BoM issues 1-week bills
June 14 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 150 billion at a weighted interest rate of 11.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Mongolia back on dealmakers’ radar
June 15 (IFR Asia) Financial institutions are sizing up their prospects in Mongolia’s emerging capital markets weeks before a presidential election that is expected to restore some confidence in the largely mining-based economy.
After a period of little political progress, this month’s election may be another positive development for would-be dealmakers after the Mongolian parliament passed a revised securities law late last month.
The new rules are intended to make it easier for multinational companies – especially those with interests in Mongolia’s vast mining reserves – to list on the Mongolian Stock Exchange by allowing dual listings with overseas bourses. That would also make it easier for local investors to maintain a stake in the country’s resource stores and in its economy, which the IMF says will grow by 14% in 2013 and 11.6% next year.
The law will take effect at the beginning of next year. Until then, a lot of details still have to be sorted out, said Altai Khangai, CEO, Mongolian Stock Exchange.
“There are many companies with mining operation in Mongolia that are listed outside the country but local citizens would like to buy their shares,” he said. “The provision for dual listing can enable this.”
The first major company to list is expected to be Erdenes-Tavan Tolgoi (Mogi: no “–“ here). Mongolia’s largest coalminer has been preparing an IPO for multiple exchanges since at least last year. It plans to list in Mongolia, where it is domiciled, and London. The issuer has tentative plan to list shares in Hong Kong, but the stock exchange there still does not recognise Mongolia as a qualified jurisdiction for a foreign listing.
BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Macquarie have been mandated to lead an IPO that was initially set to price as early as last year.
A Hong Kong listing would allow Mongolian natural resources companies – not only Erdenes-TT – to tap investors in neighbouring China, where most of their production is likely to end up.
Once the election has been completed, the new law is expected to reinvigorate the volatile Mongolian equity markets. The Mongolian Stock Exchange’s Top-20 Index rose more than 400% from January 2010 to February 2011 before falling 56% to 14,618.8 as of last week.
Exchange officials are optimistic about valuation and new listings.
“Ultimately we would like to see the market go from just over US$1bn to about US$30bn in the next five to 10 years,” Khangai said.
Typical of other frontier markets, however, the level of uncertainty in Mongolia’s economy and political system has given investors and issuers pause before going ahead with bigger plans.
“One thing that has slowed things down in Mongolia has been political uncertainty. Liquidity has plunged,” said Lee Cashell, CEO of Asia Pacific Investment Partners, which invests in Mongolian property development and cement production. “It should pick up after the presidential elections.”
The MSE has been working on upgrading its capabilities for years. In January 2011 the London Stock Exchange signed a strategic partnership with the MSE to improve the latter’s technology, management and market expertise. The full benefits of that partnership have still not fully developed, sources said.
Meanwhile, the new law encourages foreign and local companies to list in Mongolia and abroad. It updates practices for public and private placement of securities so that they are in line with international rules in terms of corporate governance and transparency. It modernises payments systems related to listing and buying securities and allows the local regulator to communicate with foreign and multinational counterparts.
Bonds and equities
As the equity markets and overall sentiment improve, APIP’s Cashell expects a more liquid term debt market could develop as well.
“This will improve the prospects for the bond market, for bonds and mortgages,” he said. “Smaller corporations are going to be talking to ratings agencies. This could be the right time for some Mongolian corporations to start to issue some bonds.”
Yet, this will take time, in part because a lot of companies that would want to issue bonds or raise debt outside the small bank market need to get their financial statements in order.
“Due diligence is the problem,” he said. “I don’t think there are 100 companies that could do [price a bond]. There are 100 companies that would want to issue, but there five to 10 that could. It would be useful. To get a bank to lend US$5m–$10m is next to impossible.”
The Mongolian Government, for its part, has already attracted attention from bond investors with a popular debut in the US dollar market last November. The US$500m 4.125% five-year and US$1bn 5.125% 10-year attracted US$6bn and US$9bn, respectively, from investors.
Still, the equity market will probably have to develop first. Now that the new law is in place, there is a lot to do before it goes into effect next year. Even then, however, it will still be difficult to attract a lot of interest in the market without more local demand and liquidity first.
“The idea is getting people to do a dual listing rather than just go abroad,” Cashell said. “But it’s difficult to convince someone to do a US$150m listing in Mongolia. The top 10 brokers can’t place US$150m.”
Mongolia shows the birthing pains of a green economy
June 14 (New Scientist) AS WE drive across the Mongolian steppes, the contrasts are striking. A nomadic horseman herds cattle among shadows cast by the nation's first wind farm, while a few hundred metres away, a train with more than 60 carriages ships coal from an enormous mine. Back in the capital Ulan Bator, most polluted city, lives President , one of five UN Champions of the Earth for 2012. Mongolia is not alone: these trials face all nations seeking a green path to rapid economic growth.
The wind farm at Salkhit Uul, or "Windy Mountain", opened on 5 June, coinciding with World Environment Day. This year, the occasion was hosted by Mongolia, a country the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says is setting an example for how to roll out sustainable development. In 2012 the country's GDP grew 12.3 per cent, making it .
Building the was no easy task. The site is too windy for workers to safely erect turbines for more than a few hours a day. Once up, harsh winter temperatures, which can reach -40 °C, are problematic. "If it's humid, the blades can frost," says site operation manager Joeran Buethe. This changes their aerodynamics, and power is lost.
Mongolia is the first nation to create a ministerial portfolio of "green development". It has taken steps to protect certain lands and water, and it has put a moratorium on new mining exploration licences. But it isn't all good news. The 50-megawatt wind farm will save 18,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 1.6 million tonnes of water each year, compared to coal power. It's a start, but pales in comparison with the impact of three planned coal-fired power stations with a combined generation of 1650 megawatts. , minister for environment and green development, speaks passionately about her mission, yet her nation's development depends on income from mining. So she is overseeing operations at one of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world, using methods that could leave the site unable to be rehabilitated, and depleting aquifers that the Gobi desert herders rely on. to balance its economic needs with green ambitions is exactly what's happening across the developing world, says renewable energy consultant Jigar Shah. The country is at a cross-roads, says UNEP's executive director, Achim Steiner. "[It has] a fundamental choice between a development path that triggers increasing social exclusion, environmental degradation and significant economic costs. Or one that recognises that vast mineral wealth and abundant potential for clean energy can be engines for poverty eradication, decent jobs and sustainable development."
Civil service in Mongolia transferring to transparent “Glass Account” system
June 16 (UB Post) Chief of Staff of the President of Mongolia O.Tsagaan, Legal Policy Advisor to the President Ch.Unubayar, and the Senior Legal Consultant G.Munkhtulga called on a press conference on Wednesday at the Citizen’s Hall on behalf of the President of Mongolia.
During the press conference, the newly issued decree by the President on making the civil service transparent and providing the public with budget transparency was introduced.
At the start of the conference, P.Tsagaan mentioned in his speech, “The President of Mongolia has signed his decree to steer the direction of the Government of Reform and Innovation towards total transparency in compliance with his full rights stated under the Constitution of Mongolia. The decree will go in force along with the approval of the Prime Minister. The brief concept of the decree is about transferring the income and expenditure transactions of governmental organizations and state-owned entities to a ‘Glass Account’ system.
“According to the decree, all of the information on the budget income, expenditure statement, as well as the reports of state-owned organizations financed from the state and local funding and of local government-owned entities will become open to the public from September 1, 2013. As stated in the current law, the state budget is enacted before December 1. The one in-charge of the budget draws an annual report within the first quarter of the next year and this report is examined by the National Audit Authority and is then introduced during the adoption of the following year’s budget. But starting in September, the present system will become much more transparent.
“Henceforth, all of the transactions of an entity or organization will become transparent and accessible to the public. Along with these changes, a significant reform is needed in how the budget is spent, which is the money of taxpayers. As of today, conducting an examination of and supervising the budget spending after 12 to 24 months gives rise to certain disputes. But with the adoption of this system, it will become available for the public to keep an eye on improper acts of how the budget is spent, which means that corruption will be curbed by ordinary citizens, not by a government administration or an official.
“In a previous effort towards transparency, starting from April 15, 2013, court decisions already became open to public in compliance with the newly adopted law, benefiting the citizens. As of today, some 77,600 of these decisions have been uploaded on the Internet and disclosed to the public. Previously, unfair and non-standard court decisions were followed by loads of complaints; while nowadays, the extent of the people complaining has been radically reduced.
“It is obvious that disputes over the budget and its spending will be diminished by making the financial transactions of state organizations also open to the public. With the adoption of the ‘Glass Account’ system, a state-owned entity or organization will have to post the breakdown of its income and expenditures online.”
Mongolia President to Fight Graft by Devolving Power Over Budget
June 14 (Michael Kohn, Bloomberg) -- Mongolia will battle corruption by giving more power to communities to decide how money is spent, President Tsakhia Elbegdorj said in an interview less than two weeks before elections in which he’s the front-runner.
Communities will get 270 billion tugrik ($188 million) to spend at their discretion, Elbegdorj said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar today. The government will also require all agencies to report their finances on the Internet to foster transparency, he said.
“Once the citizens start to control their own budget, they will be able to see what was spent wrongfully and the next time they can have their input,” Elbegdorj said. “Even the citizens will be able to have their say in their own budget.”
Elbegdorj, who led his nearest rival by 13 percentage points in a May public opinion poll, is seeking to address corruption concerns and the wealth gap in a country where a fifth of the almost 3 million citizens get by on $1.25 a day. He said tackling graft is a crucial issue as the government seeks to instill confidence among investors looking to tap the country’s $1.3 trillion trove of resources.
Companies such as Rio Tinto Group, Mongolia’s biggest investor, and Peabody Energy Corp. are seeking to export more of Mongolia’s coal, copper and gold. Mongolia’s economy grew 12.3 percent last year, compared with 17.5 percent in 2011, according to the central bank.
“If we continue to fight corruption, there will be money in Mongolia and it is clear there will be confidence in Mongolia,” Elbegdorj said. “Mongolia fights corruption, it moves toward good governance, its money won’t be expropriated by the officials.”
Mongolia holds presidential elections June 26. A poll released last month by the Sant Maral Foundation found that 19.2 percent of people would choose Elbegdorj as president. Former President Nambaryn Enkhbayar, who is serving two and a half years in jail, was second with 6.2 percent, according to the poll.
Elbegdorj’s anti-corruption effort has included a number of investigations last year, among them into Enkhbayar, who argues that the verdict against him was politically motivated.
Elbegdorj said he would consider amending laws to restrict imports and boost domestic producers of items such as clothing and dairy and meat products.
Mongolia must take advantage of its strategic location between China, the world’s second-biggest economy, and Russia, a gateway to Europe.
“If we renew the railroad and build a parallel road we will be able to transport not just 18 million tons of goods but 100 million tons of goods,” Elbegdorj said.
(on the web yet, on Bloomberg Terminal)
Mogi: wow, not sure how to make of this.
Ahead of polls, Mongolian President accused of defrauding a Korean investor out of $7 million
Ulan Bator (Mongolia), June 16 (Asian News International): In a daring act of fraud that has the potential of jeopardising his re-election in the June 26 presidential polls, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and his close associates ingeniously duped a South Korean investor into buying a license for a gold mine that, after due diligence, was discovered to have no gold value at all.
This deception was carried out in mid-2012, but the Mongolian Government was able to use its influence to keep it under the wraps until now.
Mongolia's economy is growing rapidly as a result of a mining boom.
Leading investors describe Mongolia as the "Kuwait of Central Asia", but rampant corruption, political infighting and a still-incipient judicial system could hold its development and progress back.
The country has vast and largely untapped mineral deposits of copper, gold and coal, but until recently, has remained largely on the breadline.
With several big mining projects on the horizon, there is scope for an economic boom through foreign investment. Such a scenario also paves the way for opportunists to exploit for personal and political gain.
According to reports, a South Korean investor was approached by President Elbegdorj's men, who offered their support and services on behalf of the government.
As a goodwill gesture, the investor offered humanitarian assistance by helping to reduce Ulan Bator's winter smog problems by installing electrically heated floorboards for traditional Ger (Yurt) dwellers, who normally burn coal to escape the frosty conditions.
The head for Ulan Bator City Environment issues met the South Korean investor and informed her that the Mongolian Government wanted to show its appreciation by offering her a gold mining license with high-quality gold reserves for five million dollars.
It was a steal, they emphasised, as they had planned to offer the mining rights to a German company for 10 million dollars.
The trap was set. There was also a hidden agenda. The investor was politely asked to top it up with a two million dollar 'political donation'. Seven million was still a good deal.
President Elbegdorj's coffers for the 2013 presidential election had begun to swell.
Thereafter, it was all about co-ordination and strategy.
Sources say Mongolia's Charge d Affaires in South Korea, Mr. Sukhee, met the investor and asked her to make the financial arrangements.
The head of the presidential administration, Mr. Tsagaan, and the foreign policy advisor of President Elbegdorj, Mr. Purevsuren, later arrived in South Korea and picked up four cashiers' cheques, amounting to 150 million Won each, and a cheque for 100 million Won. This was approximately 650,000 dollars.
The investor had also transferred three million dollars and began a due diligence of the mining area. Exploration studies were conducted at the cost of 400,000 dollars, which the investor and the Korean State Mineral Corporation (KSMC) financed together.
To their utter shock, there was no sign of gold anywhere in the region. They realised they had been hoodwinked by the Mongolian Government.
What is most shocking is that the gold mining site had been proposed to the investor by state officials. They were ordered by President Elbegdorj's foreign policy advisor, Mr. Purevsuren, to market the mining license.
Everything was official and left little room for doubt regarding the deal's authenticity.
The dumbfounded investor is said to have accosted Mr. Sukhee, but now we hear that he has been conveniently appointed as Mongolia's Ambassador to Kazakhstan.
This is a matter that needs serious investigation and a closer looking into.
Otherwise, a country that under Genghis Khan ruled most parts of Asia, will simply wither away due to such corrupt practices.
Meanwhile, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has added the mineral rich backwaters of Mongolia to his portfolio of multi-million-pound business interests.
Under the terms of his contract, Blair will advise the Mongolian Government on its economic and business decisions.
However, with rampant corruption and pegged contracts staring at incumbent President Elbegdorj's face, it remains to be seen how successful he is in steering Mongolia's promising economy to its deserving heights.
[This post was researched and co-written by Brian White at The Mongolist blog.]
Ten days before the election, President Ts Elbegdorj is considered the clear favourite. In the absence of further polls, this appears primarily based on the conventional wisdom that incumbents enjoy an advantage over challengers. In the case of the Mongolian presidency, it is difficult to say whether there is truly an “incumbency effect” given how few races there have been in the democratic era.
N Bagabandi is the only incumbent to win two elected terms, but there have only been five elections since 1993. P Ochirbat served two terms, but one was an appointed term after the dissolution of the socialist government and the other through popular election under the current constitution. He lost his bid for a second elected term (third term overall) to Bagabandi. N Enkhbayar won his election in 2005 running against non-incumbents. Elbegdorj then played the spoiler defeating President Enkhbayar in 2009.
Whether there is any truth to the wisdom regarding incumbents in Mongolia, it does makes intuitive sense in the absence of other data. Elbegdorj already holds the office and has a proven track record, so voters know what they’re getting. He just has to show he has earned another term. His challengers, on the other hand, have to not only prove that they deserve a chance at the position but also that they have the experience and skills to do better than him.
Five Broad Areas of Policy-Making
Elbegdorj’s platform is divided into five board policy areas: 1. rule of law, 2. local participation in solutions, 3. support for producers, 4. environmentally friendly development, and 5. internationally respect for Mongolia. Unlike his challengers’ platforms which take a more negative approach to framing issues, the president’s tone is positive and assertive focusing on areas of past success and future opportunities for improvement. Of course, as incumbent he is afforded the luxury of pointing to past successes to promote his qualifications, but he also must put a positive spin on his record in order to effectively argue that he deserves another term.
Rule of Law
“Rule of law” is an area the president has promoted in the past, and it is one area where he has constitutional authority to directly implement change. He gives it extensive treatment in his platform with 12 policy points under this section focusing on judicial reforms and fighting corruption. The president seems to envision establishing a legal culture and environment in the country that will elevate Mongolia to international democratic standards. The other candidates also discuss some of the same policy issues in this area such as promoting an independent judiciary or tackling corruption, but they are not bundled together as tightly as in the president’s platform.
The “local participation in governance” section includes proposals to devolve budget management further to local jurisdictions and to provide special administrative status to large towns and provincial capitals. Udval also touches on this area, but she only promotes the direct election of provincial and city governors.
Support for Producers
Under the “support for producers” section, he not only promotes government getting out of the way of “producers” but also specific policy reforms that will encourage small and medium-sized business growth. For example, he suggests strictly limiting state budget expenditures to domestic suppliers of goods or services whenever and wherever possible. Bat-Erdene also describes policies to support domestic production, but he focuses more on rural industries. Elbegdorj also includes policy ideas about managing the country’s mineral resources, but he does not mention Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi, or other strategic deposits by name, something that both his challengers do. The over all emphasis in this section is on creating a fair and competitive environment for investment and business in all industries.
Environmentally Friendly Development
The “environmentally friendly development” section includes standard ideas about protecting the countries natural resources. There are also some unique policy suggestions around refining laws to protect the environment from extremely hazardous activities such as handling chemicals or toxic waste. Moreover, he goes out of his way to state flatly that Mongolia shall not become a dump for nuclear or other waste.
The last area of the president’s platform, like the rule of law section, is a place the president has a direct ability to actively influence policy. This section includes 14 policy points with several points focusing on Mongolia as a diplomatically active member of the international community. The president seems keen to promote his international prestige and his success as head of state. However, his policies in general are not significantly different from his challengers in several areas. Just like his challengers he supports a continuation of the country’s foreign policy stance vis-a-vis Russia, China, and “third neighbours,” programs aimed at reducing alcoholism, and engaging Mongolian ex-pats in other countries to encourage them to contribute to the country’s development.
The look of Elbegdorj’s campaign website harkens back to his 2009 campaign which in itself was clearly inspired by the 2008 campaign by President Obama in the U.S. The most obvious marker here is the image of Elbegdorj himself here which is done in a style resembling that of the now iconic poster of President Obama.
Other than some cartoons that are interspersed into the listing of campaign foci, the webpage is quite text-heavy and very calm in its presentation, i.e. there are no moving parts or a twitter feed for example.
Elbegdorj’s campaign is clearly the campaign of an incumbent. Relying on his record as president that is not marred by any particular scandals, crises or major mistakes, Elbegdorj highlights areas in his election platform where he can point to his record, but also legitimately claim to have a further program. With these focus areas, he sticks closer to the areas where the president actually has some influence and power (judiciary, foreign policy) or where he has had concrete achievements (the establishment of citizens’ halls for local participation).
Mongolians Abroad To Cast Votes On June 14-16, 6,233 Registered to Vote
ULAANBAATAR (Mongolia), June 14 (Bernama) -- A total of 6,233 Mongolians abroad will exercise their rights to vote in the Presidential election on June 14-16 at all Mongolia's diplomatic missions, Mongolia's MONTSAME news agency reported.
The voter's registration was held from May 5-19 through 39 sub-commissions, and 6,478 people had earlier been listed to vote in the election. However 240 of them were "crossed out" due to some documentation problems.
The largest number of voters was registered in Seoul, South Korea with 1,454 people and in Washington DC, United States, with 838 people.
The voting process will be held until 10pm at all diplomatic missions, and the ballot papers will be sent to the General Election Commission (GEC) before being sent to Mongolia.
These papers will be counted together with the ballot papers from the polling stations in Mongolia.
Instructions on how Mongolians abroad will vote was also given Thursday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Registration (GAR) and General Election Commission (GEC).
Dr. Julian Dierkes Tweet-Up in Ulaanbaatar, June 21
June 13 (Mongolia Focus) I am looking forward to meeting some of my Mongolian Twitter followers on Friday, June 21st at 16:30h in the premises of the American Center for Mongolian Studies (Rm 306, Center 34 Building, near Zanabazar Museum, location).
Topics I will be happy to discuss:
· this blog/my tweets: areas we should write more about, analyses that we’ve got wrong, etc.
· the election
· graduate study in Canada, at the University of British Columbia, and especially in Asia Pacific Policy Studies
Advice to retailers: Put Mongolia on your map. And Botswana
June 14 (MarketWatch) As western retailers reach beyond their home markets in search of emerging-market consumers, the so-called BRIC countries of Brazil, China, India and Russia should not be the only ones on their radar screens.
In the 2013 A.T. Kearney Global Retail Development Index report published this week, Armenia jumped for the first time to the top 10 most attractive country list. Mongolia rose to the seventh place from ninth place, the second time it’s landed among the top 10. The sub-Saharan African country of Namibia made the top 30 list for the first time while Botswana jumped to No. 25 from No. 20.
By region, Latin America appears to present the best opportunities, with seven countries in the top 30, with Brazil, Chile and Uruguay taking the top three spots.
China dropped one place to No. 4. However, for apparel retailers, the country remains the most attractive, partly because of its growing online sales, of which 75% is apparel, Althea Peng, a partner at A.T. Kearney and co-author of the study, said in an interview.
She added Internet sales account for about 6% of China’s retail industry, compared to less than 1% of sales in most emerging markets. Wal-Mart has called out China as a big online investment focus.
Mongolia, thanks to its copper and coal mining industries, has become Asia’s fastest growing economy, ripe with opportunities for both general merchandise retailers and specialty retailers, Peng said, adding French big-box chain Carrefour has entered the market, along with other high-end brands including LVMH and Apple Inc.
As for Armenia, she said rising income and a government supporting foreign investment has led to the entry of brands including Gap Inc. and Spanish retailer Zara.
Mongolia and Armenia are some of “those gems,” she said, adding Sub-Sahara Africa is also more attractive because of its young, increasingly urban population.
Meanwhile, India and Russia have lost some of their appeal. India dropped to the 14th place from No. 5. Russia was in the 23rd place as its economy slows, Peng said.
“While Indian consumers are hungry, India still has challenges in getting product to stores because of infrastructure,” Peng said. “More retailers are taking a wait-and-see approach.”
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ECONOMIC AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION AGREEMENT SIGNED BETWEEN CHINA & MONGOLIA
Ulaanbaatar, June 12 /MONTSAME/ An intergovernmental agreement on the economic and technical cooperation has been established between Mongolia and the People's Republic of China (PRC).
It was inked June 10 in Ulaanbaatar by N.Batbayar, the Minister of Economic Development, and by Wang Xiaolong, the PRC Ambassador to Mongolia.
Mr Batbayar said Mongolia intends to implement projects vital for the Mongolian socio-economy with the capital given by the agreement. He also mentioned that buildings of the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the "Buyant-Ukhaa" sports complex and a central laboratory of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection have been constricted with non-refundable aid from China.
The government of Mongolia aims to improve benefits of loans and assistance given by foreign countries and organizations, harmonizing them with the developmental policy and planning, and to exploit them in realizing projects and programmes in priority.
Mogi: wonder which gold mine in Umnugovi. Doesn’t mention who or which country gave the false promises
Chinese miners return to homeland after alleged Mongolia scam
CHANGSHA, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Ten Chinese gold miners who were allegedly tricked into working illegally in Mongolia returned to China on Friday, confirmed the labor federation in central China's Hunan Province on Saturday.
On June 6, netizens reported on the official website of the Changde Municipal government in Hunan that false promises had been used to lure some Chinese to work in a gold mine in South-gobi Aymag in Mongolia, said the Hunan Federation of Trade Unions.
The miners said the business visas with which they traveled did not entitle them to work in Mongolia, and "we can not get the promised minimum wage, insurance and labor contract. Besides, our passports were also seized by the boss."
Learning this news, the Hunan Federation of Trade Unions initiated an emergency mechanism to help the miners return to China and offer them legal assistance.
About 50 Chinese miners from five provinces work in the gold mine, whose contractor is a company from east China's Shandong Province.
NEWLY ELECTED CZECH PRESIDENT EXPRESSES INTEREST IN MONGOLIA’S MINING AND ECONOMIC SECTORS
June 14 (InfoMongolia) On June 11, 2013, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Czech Republic Dorjdamba ZUMBERELLKHAM has presented his Letter of Credence to the President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman.
After credential handing ceremony, newly accredited envoy Ambassador D.Zumberellkham conveyed Mongolian President’s greeting to the President Milos Zeman and affirmed Mongolia’s satisfaction on current Mongolia-Czech relationship and cooperation following the recent high-level mutual visits and pledged to work to enhancing the collaboration.
President Milos Zeman expressed his interest to partner with Mongolia in particular to co-develop Mongolian economy, increase investments and improve environmental issues as well as deepen the cooperation in mining sector, President also highly praised Mongolia’s recent successful socio-economical changes.
Head of the State Milos Zeman noted that Mongolian Ambassador D.Zumberellkham becomes the first envoy to present his credentials since the term of office, March 08, 2013.
Mongolia and the Czech Republic have established the diplomatic relations on January 01, 1993. Meantime, Mongolia had also established the diplomatic relations with the Slovak Republic on the same day.
Historically, diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of Mongolia (existed in 1924-1992) and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1918-1992), were established on April 25, 1950. In the 1980s, Czechoslovakia was Mongolia's second largest trading partner, behind the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1922-1991). After the 1992 dissolution of Czechoslovakia, Mongolia reaffirmed its relations with the newly formed Czech Republic and Slovak Republic in 1993.
France Expresses Interest in Opening Paris Street in Ulaanbaatar
June 14 (news.mn) The Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Erdene Bat-Uul, received Yves Delaunay, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from France to Mongolia on Friday June 14th.
Ambassador Yves Delaunay expressed French investment companies interests to cooperate on water purification and metro projects with Mongolia to Governor Erdene Bat-Uul.
Ambassador Yves Delaunay also asked to organize a meeting in September between representatives of Paris city, students of French architecture schools and Mongolian students about construction in Ulaanbaatar. The aim of the joint meeting is to express the willingness to open a street of Paris in Ulaanbaatar to Mayor Erdene Bat-Uul.
The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Erdene Bat-Uul said “I think it is significant to share Parisian experience and route that is rich with history and culture. It was a dream for us to have a Parisian cultural center and street. Ulaanbaatar city administration will cooperate with you on a wide range of things and will give their support..
Mayor Erdene Bat-Uul gave directions to officials to arrange a meeting for French architecture students and Mongolian students to cooperate on the blue print of the re-planning of ger district areas.
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A week filming in Mongolia: local change-maker to bring global change in health
June 15 (Dr. Alessandro Demaio, PLoS Blogs) Wrapping-up after a sensational week in Mongolia. Here to film a short-film for our recently-launched health advocacy initiative, we have spent the days profiling a young, inspiring, local, health change-maker – Byambaa.
NCDFREE is a global social movement against the world’s leading cause of death: NCDs (or Non-Communicable Diseases). Founded earlier this year, NCDFREE sets out to change the way societies world-wide think about diabetes, heart disease, cancers, lung diseases and mental health (NCDs).
But also the way we communicate them.
As an academic, I traditionally communicate through scientific journals. As a branding and design expert, co-founder Giuseppe uses very different tools to connect with society. Our idea is to use the latter, to “rebrand” this global health challenge and paint an accurate face of the global epidemic.
You see, when people think of these diseases, they think of old, fat people in rich countries. Actually, 80% of disease occurs in the world’s poorest nations, where the burden is rapidly rising.
The true face of the global epidemic is in fact, likely to be Asian, below 70, female and impoverished.
The film follows a young female cardiology-trainee, who has seen the transition from communism to democracy in her lifetime. She has seen a city double in size and a GDP more than quadruple. But with this, she has also seen a change in the nation’s diet – in fact just this month the first KFC store opened in UB – and a change in the lifestyles of the populations as they replace the horse for an SUV. Transition from a ger to an apartment, and from the steppes to a dense, urban centre.
30% of the population may still live in poverty, but this is a 25% drop from 1 year earlier.
Rapid change is occurring.
“And although this all represents important and needed progress for Mongolia” describes Byambaa, “it has also brought major changes in the health of the population”. As infectious diseases and childhood illnesses dive – obesity, hypertension and NCDs have skyrocketed.
Through the story of this young community advocate and doctor from Ulaanbaatar, NCDFREE plans to change the way people think about these diseases. Connecting NCDs with the reality of poor, marginalised people – often facing a lack of health-promoting opportunities.
Byambaa is confident – in the future and in the health trajectory of her nation.
Spend much time with her, and you will be confident too.
She sees great potential in her colleagues and peers, and tells of a young generation that is very different from the one before. One that is globally connected, globally educated and passionate for change in their country.
Change that will not only see a continuation of economic prosperity and development, but one that will also empower and enable a population to live healthier and longer lives. Free from chronic, debilitating disease.
Well, we’ve been here a week and today we’re finishing up. Packing away the cameras and with it, footage of nomadic families, Ulaanbaatar’s poorest districts, the beautiful countryside, the generous locals, the rapidly transforming city and the optimism of a young generation.
Footage which will not only show a stunning and fascinating journey of a young leader and passionate health-promoter, but also rally a global community to action on a group of largely ignored, mostly-preventable yet highly deadly diseases.
Mongolia battles rise in western non-communicable diseases with fast track healthcare – Dr. Alessandro Demaio, Women News Network, June 14
Focus: Animal Communication Could Support Efficient Foraging, Mongolian Gazelles Show
A model mixing Brownian motion with purposeful movement guided by vocal signals suggests that Mongolian gazelle herds may have developed an efficient foraging strategy.
June 14 (APS) Animals communicate in many ways for many purposes. In Physical Review Letters, a team of physicists and ecologists presents a simple model demonstrating how a herd of animals might use vocalizations to help each other find food. Applying their model to data on Mongolian gazelles roaming the Asian steppe, the researchers find that the typical distance over which the gazelles communicate is roughly what’s needed for an efficient search strategy that allows all herd members to reach grazing areas.
A team of physicists and ecologists led by Ricardo Martínez-García of the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, says that researchers have previously studied how communication among animals is used to establish and maintain groups. (“Where are you?” ”I’m over here!”) But there has been little research on how and whether communication aids specific activities that might benefit members of the group, such as finding food.
The team modeled a herd of animals as “particles” moving in a two-dimensional space. The equation of motion for the animals had three terms. One term related to the richness of vegetation across the landscape and caused each animal to move in the direction of better grazing. The second was a communication term, causing each animal to move in a prescribed way depending on what sounds it heard from other animals. Finally, there was a “white noise” term that mixed in an element of random or Brownian motion.
Constructing the communication term required further assumptions. The researchers proposed that an animal would emit a continuous signal only when it encountered vegetation with richness exceeding some critical value. These signals diminished with distance not only through the standard inverse-square dropoff in intensity, but also due to the effects of air temperature and humidity, which vary with sound frequency. In reaction to these calls, a given animal would move in the direction of the greatest average sound, which the team calculated as the vector sum of the sounds from other animals, accounting for both loudness and direction of each.
The researchers applied their model to the Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa), which roams the Eastern Steppe of Mongolia. From satellite imagery the researchers generated a map of vegetation richness across this area. They used tracking studies showing that the gazelles typically move about 10 kilometers per day to calibrate the magnitude of the white noise element in the model. The range over which Mongolian gazelles can communicate is not directly known, but given the usual climate conditions in the open steppe landscape, the researchers could relate range to the frequency of vocalizations: lower pitched sounds travel farther.
To run a simulation, the team placed 500 gazelles in an area about 100 kilometers by 200 kilometers and let them roam for a month. When the communication frequency was high (15.8 kilohertz), significant numbers of animals were still wandering in vegetation-poor areas at the end of the simulation because they hadn’t been within earshot of other animals signaling the presence of food. But low frequency (0.1 kilohertz) sounds, with longer range signals, produced a cacophony with little directional information, so animals also had trouble finding food. The best results—with all animals finding rich vegetation in a reasonable time—came about for a communication frequency of just over 1 kilohertz, comfortably within the range of sounds the gazelles are known to produce, and corresponding to a plausible communication distance of a few kilometers. In this optimum case, the mean time for animals to find new food was about 40 hours—an acceptable figure, the researchers say, given what is known of gazelle behavior in the wild.
Although the result that both an excess and a lack of information worsens search efficiency is not surprising, devising “a concrete, tractable model that is biologically realistic [and] sufficiently detailed” to make quantitative predictions is rare and noteworthy, says Andy Reynolds of Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, UK. Intuition is not always a reliable guide when it comes to animal behavior, he adds.
David Lindley is a freelance writer in Alexandria, Virginia, and author of Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr and the Struggle for the Soul of Science (Doubleday, 2007).
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