Tuesday, July 23, 2013

[BDSec puts TRQ management into question, State Bank takes over Savings Bank, and Moody's raises Mongolia country ceiling]

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Mogi: spot-on Nick!

BDSec: TRQ Provides Update on Bridge Financing, Management Appears Intent on Dilution

By Nick Cousyn

July 22 (BDSec) Following the announcement of a potentially dilutive bridge loan from Rio Tinto (RIO), Turquoise Hill (TRQ) provided an "update" this last Friday, July 19th. The update was typically vague and seemed to imply a private placement of shares, or an alternative financing arrangement with RIO were the two funding options they were pursuing. Shares of TRQ sold off 8.25% to $5.23 on the news. TRQ continues to mention (also in vague fashion) the $300M sale Altynalmas Gold, which was due to close in Q2'13, but so far has not. Given the general lack of color on the RIO bridge loan, or the Altynalmas Gold sale from TRQ management, investors are generally left to come to their own conclusions as to where things stand and what to expect. It's worth noting that Jr. Gold Mining stocks have sold off heavily since the agreement to sell Altynalmas Gold, with the GDXJ down some 50% since the announcement back in February.

It looks to us that TRQ has forsaken the idea of raising debt in the capital markets, mezzanine or convertible, in favor of selling equity in a private placement, or to RIO. Typically, when managements make the decision to sell equity, they seek to minimize shareholder dilution and raise at as high a share price as possible. In this case, the opposite seems to be true, as any offering will likely be near multi year lows. By announcing a short term bridge loan to RIO, with a provision of dilution at a 15% discount, TRQ management showed the market they do not put a high value on their equity and were ill prepared for any delay in the closing of Altynalmas Gold. Since management did not tap debt markets when "Junk" yields hit all-time lows in May, equity holders may now bear the brunt from their apparent lack of planning and foresight.

Should the Altynalmas Gold transaction be delayed further, TRQ's funding needs may well surpass the $225M owed to RIO by August 12th. This could increase the level of dilution to TRQ shareholders, assuming management is intent on selling equity. As we mentioned in this note dated July 1st [note link], many investors were speculating that RIO wants TRQ shares lower, allowing them greater control at lower prices, should the bridge loan not be repaid. Investors also point to a general lack of enthusiasm and promotion by TRQ management, following concentrate shipping from Oyu Tolgoi. This perceived lack of promotion and enthusiasm is especially odd, since TRQ is supposed to be actively engaged in raising money to replace the emergency bridge loan from RIO.

In summary, minority shareholders of TRQ should be asking some tough questions of management to establish if there is indeed a coherent strategy to create shareholder value and whether the company is sufficiently independent from its majority shareholder RIO. We would defer additional purchases of shares until these questions are answered and the level of dilution (if any) is established. Many viewed shares of TRQ as a proxy for the Mongolian story, which we think is no longer the case. We would advise investors to get their Mongolian exposure elsewhere and focus on ideas leveraged to the local economy, which remains very, very, strong.

Link to report


Mogi: another bullcrap piece of writing from Emmett, can't even spell IVN correctly, mistakes $4B for $4.5B, thinks Elbegdorj runs the government

Rio Tinto And Turquoise Hill Hit By More Mongolian Demands

By Emmett Kodesh

July 19 (Seeking Alpha) In my recent articles on Rio Tinto's (RIO) company profile and adventures in Mongolia, primarily at its great site at Oyu Tolgoi in the South Gobi region just 50 miles from China, I warned investors that while the twice-delayed first export of copper concentrate on July 9 was a welcome sign, it would take two years of stable production to allay investor fears and uncertainty about GOM (government of Mongolia) eruptions regarding more revenues and control of the project.

It took one week for my cautionary words to be borne out by events. On July 17, GOM stated that it has "22 points of dispute" with RIO about higher pay for Mongolian workers, RIO's purportedly inefficient site development, cost-overruns, more GOM review of tax payments and repatriation of profits to Mongolia.

In short, the situation is a mess. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose for RIO and Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) in Mongolia and all investors and potential investors in the nation need to take note.

Early in 2012, RIO acquired 51% of TRQ (formerly Ivanhoe Mining) (Mogi: can't trust anyone to speak intelligently about OT if you can't spell IVN correctly) and TRQ co-owns OT (Oyu Tolgoi) 66-34% with the GOM. The mine is a fabulous treasure: if operations ever get up to speed, and at this point the timeline on that is fuzzy, annual production should be stunning: 1.2 billion lbs Cu (copper)/year, 650k oz. Au, gold / year and 3 million oz. Ag, silver/year. This is phase one above-ground production into which RIO has poured about $6.6 billion. Phase 2, the underground section of operations will cost about $5 billion to develop. RIO already has secured c. $4.5 billion (Mogi: $4B, Emmett) funding pledges from the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), a host of European and Australian banks, and the US Ex-Import Bank to achieve Phase 2. TRQ CEO Kay Priestly had just announced on July 15 the 80k ton 2013 copper ore concentrate production when the latest brouhaha hit.

One cannot understand RIO's situation at Oyu Tolgoi without following Mongolian politics. It also helps to have some familiarity with how business is conducted in East Asia ("beware of 11th hour surprises" a former colleague told me. From personal experience I would add, "beware also of 12th hour surprises." A friend, an Indian businessman who has traveled the region for decades added, "there's always a problem and it's never their fault"). The current snafu falls into the category of 12th hour surprises.

How so? On June 26, Mongolia completed a six-week Presidential campaign. It was a 3-way contest with the incumbent, Tsakhia Elbegdorj of the "Democratic Party" facing former wrestling champion Bat-Erdene and Health Minister, Dr. Natsag Udval. Some observers suggested that Dr. Udval's candidacy may have been designed to split the opposition vote and help Elbegdorj. Perhaps: in any case, the incumbent won a bare majority of 50.2% which obviated the need for a run-off election, further posturing and turmoil. RIO, TRQ and Mongolia's take from OT was a big issue in the campaign (Mogi: NO, it wasn't. OT was barely discussed, if not not discussed at all) and RIO twice acceded to requests from President Elbegdorj that it delay export (Mogi: again, the president is not the one that runs the government) of its first copper concentrate till silly-season ended.

On July 9, the first concentrate export occurred to general joy and shareholder relief. Some opined that a new day was dawning for TRQ's share price. I wrote my cautionary piece a week ago and here we are back to the same old. TRQ shares leaped on the announcement that export would occur and then subsided even before the latest GOM gambit. Where does that leave us? TRQ closed July 18 at $5.70, 12% above the four-year low it set in mid-April.

As it does in these periodic incidents, the GOM professes lack of clarity about the extent of Ivanhoe - TRQ's initial investment at OT and declares the investment agreement of 2009 is misleading, unfair and generally inadequate for their desires. They did acknowledge that they let initial exports of concentrate proceed because they need the $100 million in royalties this year. RIO has noted repeatedly that capex rose in the past 4 years as development costs have increased the world over. RIO also has agreed to notify GOM of all bank accounts anywhere into which it deposits proceeds from OT (Mogi: all proceeds were agreed to go through the Mongolian banking sector). Other than that, it had no comment on the latest eruption.

In recent years, patent and copyright infringement and product re-packaging in China have occasionally been a leading story in America. My experience is that in East Asia there is extreme suspicion about such matters (bank deposits, actual capex costs, validity of diplomas) because they themselves are lax: there is a lot of forgery and routine violation of copyright laws to a degree that would shock Westerners (Mogi: alright, I think we can now agree this guy is a bigot). It is possible that this is what RIO is going through in regard to OT. It looks that way from here and that's a pity.

OT Executive Director Tserenbat Sedvanchig declares that if RIO does not reimburse GOM for elevated and purportedly wasteful capex (to which Mongolia contributes a %) then "21 other points of dispute" will come to the table, that is, the entire project will "be hindered": implicitly, the entire leasing agreement will have to be re-drawn or there will be no phase 2 development. This is familiar stuff, but it is unclear how much is posturing, how much is real and in any case how much the delays, hassles, ruffled feathers, threats in the media, etc. will cost. Again, what a pity it is. Please look for the other articles on RIO-TRQ and Mongolia in my archive for details of the past year of this story for the merry-go-round appears to be accelerating as happened at the end of Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train." Jon Springer's blog is useful for earlier events in the saga.

The July 17 piece linked above notes that "Mongolia has long coveted a bigger slice of the mine and has twice in the past couple of years floated proposals to take majority control." That well may be what is happening now (Mogi: no it is not). Based on experience and RIO's new management team put into place beginning mid-2012, this entire exercise will merely delay revenues for deficit-spending Mongolia, harm GDP growth, discourage foreign investment and postpone any gains for TRQ's hopeful, often disappointed and long-suffering shareholders. Again I suggest that $5.50 is a good entry level, but patience is essential if one is to taste any of the project's long-term potential. OT could be one of the five great mines in the world along with Freeport-McMoRan's (FCX) Grasberg Minerals District in West Papua, Indonesia, Escondida in Chile, Barrick Gold's (ABX) Pascua Lama when it gets built and ABX - NovaGold's (NG) 50-50% site at Donlin Creek in Alaska that ABX will fund. Donlin Creek and NG are waiting on other ABX developments (e.g. progress on addressing water issues at Pascua Lama) and the price of gold for development to proceed.

Some who follow the RIO-TRQ-Mongolia saga closely have suggested many interesting theories for the recurrent crises and outcries. Some suggest that Robert Friedland, CEO and founder of Ivanhoe Mines and OT and still a major shareholder in TRQ (Mogi: No he is not anymore, Friedland dumped his shares early in the year and is now under 10%) wants to regain some control. Some suggest that RIO wants to flush out Friedland and increase its stake and control (Mogi: this sounds more plausible). Both views have some plausibility. Some say it is mainly, but not only Mongolia doing what it does: that is clear. The upshot is that OT is a great story, a fascinating, promising and frustrating site and that tempests there are among the last things a world going through the birth pangs of new monetary and socio-political arrangements needs. But that's how it is.

Please review my previous pieces on RIO for perspective on the economic, financial and diplomatic resources: also their heft and patience with what at this point is a recurring and irritatingly familiar and wasteful situation. Like other observers, I believe this project will go forward and produce great wealth for all involved as well as life-enhancement for Mongolians. When there is an end to these periodic demands, usually following long-awaited progress and expressions of gratitude and pleasure, Oyu Tolgoi will achieve the greatness and contribution to world industry, company and Mongolian prosperity that is within view.

Shareholders, be patient and newcomers may enter. If, after a nice period of gains you see quickly declining price action don't hesitate to exit while green. Such has been the history of this fabulous but ill-starred project. My hope and belief is that it will be in due course a blessing to all involved. Its ripening will be hastened if the GOM can relax its demands for a "do-over."

Link to post


Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. Publishes June 2013 Monthly Letter to Shareholders

Ulaanbaatar, MONGOLIA, July 22, 2013 /FSC/ - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK - TSXV) is pleased to announce the release of its June 2013 letter to shareholders. 

June 2013 Shareholder Letter 

To the Shareholders of Mongolia Growth Group Ltd., 

During the month of June, we made one small addition to one of our redevelopment land packages and we sold one apartment unit as part of our plan to continue disposing of residential apartments. We anticipate that by year end, we will have disposed of almost all of our apartments with the exception of those needed for our employee housing needs. We remain focused on a number of sizable potential acquisitions-but there can be no certainty that any of these transactions will happen. 

The big news this month is the newly created government program to issue 8% residential mortgages with 20 year duration. For a point of reference, previously most Mongolian Togrog denominated mortgages were at rates of around 20% annually with amortization schedules of 5-15 years. The reduced interest rates and substantially elongated principal repayment structure of these new 8% mortgages means that most borrowers will see their monthly mortgage payments drop by 50% to 70%. 

This reduced monthly payment now allows families that previously could not afford a mortgage to enter the property market. It will also allow families with existing mortgages to be able to pay down their mortgages and build up equity. Of all of the news stories thus far during 2013, this is probably the biggest one for Mongolia-yet it has gotten very little attention from the foreign media. Here at MGG, we are watching this 8% mortgage plan closely as we believe that a liquid and functioning residential mortgage market is a harbinger of the creation of a sizable middle class in Mongolia. In addition, in the shorter term, it has unleashed quite a lot of capital into the consumer economy-which is good for everybody, particularly our retail tenants. 

While we've seen the consumer economy spring to life, it is worth noting that we are in the very early stages of this re-invention of the consumer with access to affordable credit. According to government data, the 8% mortgages only became available starting on June 17th. In the first 15 days of their existence, 327.1 billion ($228 million USD) of existing mortgages were refinanced and 61.5 billion ($43 million USD) of new mortgages were issued. This brings the total size of the program in the first 15 days to 388.6 billion MNT (approximately $268 million USD). While accurate data on the size of the consumer economy is not available, it cannot be much larger than USD $3 billion and it is likely a good deal smaller. Needless to say, the magnitude of this program is truly massive and bound to have many very positive knock-on effects for any business that is tied to the consumer economy. It goes without saying, that given our heavy exposure to retail space, our company is already seeing sizable benefits from the added liquidity in the economy. 

On a side note, we built this company based on the very firm belief that the mines being built in Mongolia would have an unexpectedly large impact on the wealth and disposable incomes of the majority of its citizens. We felt that this increase in wealth would be most evident in an increased level of spending power for the Mongolian consumer. Recent declines in mortgage rates seem to have accelerated this trend-even before the large mineral assets could spread their wealth into the consumer economy. If recent evidence on the streets of Ulaanbaatar is indicative of the future trajectory of consumer spending growth, these 8% mortgages are going to accelerate our thesis's timeline. For a point of reference for investors who do not spend much time in Mongolia: the first two weeks of July were the most crowded and busy that I have seen the restaurants, bars and shops of Ulaanbaatar since I started spending time there in 2010. These 8% mortgages are creating their own consumer boom. 

Returning to our portfolio, June saw us hit a new monthly high in revenue collected-even as we continue to slowly sell off non-core property assets. The increase in revenues is largely the result of leasing up certain assets that were undergoing substantial re-development. We have just begun one very sizable additional re-development and are in the planning stages of an even more substantial one. In total, we intend to spend in excess of USD $1 million during 2013 on renovations and re-developments. These projects will complete the program that we began in late 2012 to modernize 5 sizable assets to substantially improve their yields. 

By year-end, we expect that these last two re-developments will be completed and that the properties will be leased up. In Mongolian Togrog terms, by year end, we expect our monthly rental revenues to increase by approximately 40% from the June level and over 50% from our January, 2013 level due to a combination of leasing-up these properties plus some moderate rental increases on other assets. This rental increase also takes into account the fact that we intend to continue selling non-core assets. Moreover, this increase in revenue will come without any substantial increase in expenses. Based on our current expense levels and assuming that these two properties are leased at market rates; we would expect to become cash flow positive on a monthly basis by year end. 

Link to release



July 23 -- This announcement is made at the request of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited and pursuant to the Inside Information Provisions (as defined in the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited) under Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap.571 of Laws of Hong Kong) (the "SFO").

The board of directors ("Board") of Mongolia Investment Group Limited ("Company," HKEx:402) has noted the recent increase in the price and trading volume of the shares of the Company. Having made such enquiry with respect to the Company as is reasonable in the circumstances, the Board confirms that save for the acquisition of an aggregate of 104,080,000 shares of the Company (representing approximately 4.6% of the issued shares of the Company as at the date of this announcement) by China Environmental Investment Holdings Limited, a substantial shareholder of the Company, on 19 and 22 July 2013, it is not aware of any reasons for these price and trading volume movements or of any information which must be announced to avoid a false market in the Company's securities or of any inside information that needs to be disclosed under Part XIVA of the SFO.

This announcement is made by the order of the Board. The Board collectively and individually accepts responsibility for the accuracy of this announcement.

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Local Market

NatSec MSE Trading News: Top 20 -0.12%, Turnover 11.2 Million

July 22 (National Securities) The markets took a breather today, with the MSE TOP-20 Index marginally down -0.12% to 14,811.25. Trading was very thin, with just 17 JSC's shares traded and a value of 11.2 million MNT. The market capitalization was 1.47 trillion MNT.

Today's the biggest gainer was Bayantooroi (BTR), a B-boarder. It's price soared +14.80% to 1,435 MNT. And Zoos Goyol (ZOO), which was the top gainer the last 2 days, continued it's rally, up strongly again by +13.12% to 1,414 MNT. Agrotech Impex  (ATI), the biggest loser on the day, plunged -4.82% to 1,125 MNT. Tavan Tolgoi (TTL), the coal miner, closed down -2.44% at 4,000 MNT. APU (APU) with 1,388 shares and a value of 5m MNT was the most actively share.  It's price rose +0.59% to 3,750 MNT.

Please click here to see the detailed news

Link to update


Mogi: a little late I know. Still playing catch-up after a week break during Naadam

MSE: a frontier exchange's road to success

By Ashley Lee

July 10 (IFLR) Mongolia has had a turbulent year following the passage its foreign investment law in May 2012. But sentiment has improved since the passage of its new securities market law amendment. The Mongolian Stock Exchange's (MSE) deputy chief executive officer, Saruul Ganbaatar, explains why.

Legal uncertainty over Mongolia's Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (Sefil) has greatly affected foreign investor sentiment. How has this impacted the MSE and do you expect improvement?

In our view, it wasn't the original intention of Sefil to negatively impact overall foreign investment sentiment. From our understanding, initial intentions were to establish an equitable balance between local government and foreign investors in the decision-making, preservation and promotion of long-term policy in strategic areas of economic development.

In spite of original goals, however, the law was drafted in a hurry without much-needed public hearing process, and the final shape of the law passed by the parliament developed into a form that was immensely nationalistic and restrictive in terms of investments from overseas.

After the passage of Sefil, everyone in financial circles started noticing the differences – including the MSE. We saw lower trading volumes, lesser activity in public offerings, the postponement of major public and private entity projects – including initial public offerings (IPOs) and secondary offerings – and the sliding of Top-20 index, which is predominantly comprised of mining related assets, year-over-year.

Nevertheless, we remain optimistic about future economic growth expectations. We believe that the new Securities Markets Law will make up for some of the lost interest and negative feelings shared amongst foreign investors and will assist in improving the expectations about Mongolian growth and overall sentiment.

We've already started noticing some positive shifts at the policy making level. The new draft of the Foreign Investment Law, which is likely to replace Sefil, has been proposed, and it is under preparations of being reviewed by the Cabinet and, subsequently, by the Parliament.

The language of the new law appears to be much more practical with an aim to equally safeguard legal rights of both local and foreign investors.

There has been some positive feedback from the public and the private sectors regarding the draft of the law, as well. We believe it will bring back the confidence we need at this point.

Describe the regulatory environment for the country's capital markets, and what could be done on that front to attract foreign investors?

The Mongolian capital markets are predominantly governed by the Companies Act and the Securities Market Law – the introduction of which is the first and foremost step in opening the capital markets to international investors. The new law will be followed by the adoption of several new regulations to be drafted by the MSE and the Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia (FRC).

One of the critical milestones to accomplish this is to enhance transparency of publicly traded companies' operations through ongoing application of strict disclosure and compliance requirements. For example, information with regards to companies' financials and operations would need to be disclosed periodically on a continued basis, and any information which may appear to be material enough to affect the share price would need to be communicated with the shareholders without delay.

In line with an adoption of newly amended law, we have begun drafting regulations for custodian banks operations and issuances of depositary receipts (DR) in Mongolia.

Since it is not our end goal to reinvent the wheel, we are spending most of our time researching other markets, and gathering knowledge and expertise from the regulations passed by other exchanges – in particular the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) and the Hong Kong Exchange (HKEx). These exchanges appear to be closer to Mongolian markets in terms of synergy, which we believe is critical in our efforts to modernise our legal framework and create an attractive environment for foreign investors. Both Hong Kong and London seem to have an investor pool with great interests in investing into Mongolia. Further, being located in the same time zone as Hong Kong alongside our partnership with LSE is an interesting mix that is likely to provide another layer of support to the synergy story.

As a result of our research, we are looking to build a legal framework model that will work for the Mongolian legal system and enable us to strengthen our ever-increasing ties with international regulations. We envision the regulations to be in line with the recommendations issued by G30 countries and ISSA requirements.

Which of the new products made possible by the Securities Market Law are most exciting for the development of Mongolian capital markets?

The introduction of DRs is an exciting new addition. This will provide domestic companies with an opportunity to seek listings in overseas exchanges with an option of executing those transactions in form of either DR or common shares and vice-versa.

Dual listing opportunities appear to be especially interesting for local companies which have already listed in overseas markets since the newly amended law will provide them with an opportunity to have an easier access to a domestic pool of investors.

One of the new features of the Securities Market Law is a provision for rolling settlement. Until recently, trades used to be pre-funded, and MSE operated on T+0 basis. With the new law, we are given an option of moving to T+3 standard, in which participants have three days at their disposal to settle trades. It is a crucial arrangement that will allow sophisticated institutional investors and mutual funds from overseas to begin investing in Mongolian publicly traded companies.

The adoption of a newly amended law also introduces a much-needed legal framework for the operation of local commercial banks as sub-custodian banks of global custodian banks, which we believe will assist in improving our post-trading environment and enhancing services in line with global institutional investors' expectations.

Explain the results of the MSE's partnership with the LSE, and do you expect that relationship to continue?

We certainly believe that we will continue our partnership with the LSE, which has already facilitated crucial changes, including the installation of a new system.

The Millennium IT trading and post-trading system is a highly sophisticated technology. It has enough capacity to handle high trading volumes and to trade a variety of financial instruments.

We envision that we will be able to fully utilise the system once the law goes into effect on January 1 next year.

Before the law is enacted, we have to put together the rules and regulations to ensure that the legal framework exists for this new technology to work successfully.

Further, I certainly expect a lot of MSE companies to take advantage of dual-listing opportunities in LSE, as part of our partnership. It will provide a unique opportunity to have exposure to European investor pool.

Dual-listing will also provide active trader-participants interesting arbitrage opportunities between two to three markets, especially, when the listing is done using DRs and when the shares become fully fungible between exchanges.

What are some of the challenges ahead for the MSE's development?

We believe challenges are opportunities for further growth. It is critical that our trading volumes increase by at least 20 to 50 times the current volume to make this market much more attractive to participants. We also need to establish a constant flow of newer IPOs.

What is essential is the presence of sophisticated investors, such as mutual and pension funds and institutional investors. With that in mind, we are working on drafting a new law that lays out the legal framework for investment funds, which are also referred to as collective investment schemes in Europe. The law will provide Mongolians an option of investing their capital in publicly-traded stocks and bonds via sophisticated investment funds that are managed in accordance to the strict standards described in the law.

Another challenge is a necessity to amend regulations in line with the passage of the new Securities Markets Law. It will require a lot research and a lot of writing.

Once finished drafting, we are planning on circulating them among domestic and foreign participants for comments and providing opportunities for public remarks to be submitted as well.

Only when all comments are collected and necessary revisions have been incorporated, will the regulations be formally adopted.

How important is the IPO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (ETT) to the MSE's success?

This is an important IPO. Not only is it important for the company but for MSE, as well. ETT has been announced around the world as potentially one of the largest IPOs in coal industry.

If they do succeed in getting listed in three exchanges simultaneously, including the MSE, as originally envisioned, it will certainly provide a huge boost to our credibility.

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Mogi: buy a bank, lend yourself money, then declare bankrupt. This is more of a case of Just Group's utter incompetence, rather than a sign of anything in the sector.

Mongolia to Take Over Savings Bank as Fifth-Largest Lender Fails

By Michael Kohn

July 22 (Bloomberg) Savings Bank, Mongolia's fifth-largest lender, has been declared insolvent after affiliated companies defaulted on loans, and will be taken over by a state-owned competitor, the central bank said.

State Bank will take over Savings Bank's 503 branches starting today, Danjilaa Ganbat, director of the banking supervision department at Mongol Bank, said at a press conference in Ulaanbaatar yesterday. Savings Bank was owned by Just Group, a holding company based in the capital, whose other assets include Just Oil LLC. The takeover is the first by the government since 2009.

With 1.7 million customers in a nation of 2.9 million, Savings Bank accounts for about 8 percent of active banking assets and 55 percent of government financial services, such as disbursement of pensions and payment of utility bills, according to the central bank. Other lenders are healthier, said Dambadarjaa Jargalsaikhan, an economist and commentator on television show De Facto.

"The central bank now has things in control," Jargalsaikhan said. "I don't think all the banks are like this but we should draw certain lessons. There was too much risk on one individual and there was a problem with poor corporate governance and conflicts of interest."

Sharavlamdan Batkhuu, Just Group's controlling shareholder, and other companies in the group have defaulted on loans since 2011, Ganbat said.

Batkhuu didn't reply to an e-mail seeking comment. Savings Bank didn't answer a phone call or comment when a reporter visited the lender's office yesterday.

Coal Exports

Mongolia's resource-based economy has been hit by a decline in coal exports, which plunged to $542.4 million in the first six month of the year from $1 billion a year earlier. Total first-half exports fell 10 percent from a year earlier.

The World Bank in April cut its forecast for Mongolia's 2013 economic growth to 13 percent from 16 percent, citing declines in exports and foreign investment. FDI in the first five months of the year reached $1.21 billion, down from 1.47 billion during the same period last year.

Savings Bank is the third lender to be taken over by the government, following Anod Bank JSC in 2008 and Zoos Bank JSC in 2009. The lender has losses of 180 billion tugrik ($122 million) and its working capital is 94 billion tugrik lower than its assets, the central bank said.

All 503 Savings Bank branches of Savings Bank were closed yesterday as the assets moved to State Bank, Ganbat said. While the process should be complete by 9 a.m. today, there may be some delays, he said.

State Bank was formed by the government in 2009 to hold Anod Bank and Zoos Bank and functions like a commercial lender. Mongol Bank is the nation's central bank.

Link to article


Moody's adjusts country ceilings for Thailand, Oman and Mongolia

Singapore, July 22, 2013 -- Moody's Investors Service has today adjusted the local currency (LC) country risk and foreign currency (FC) bond and deposit ceilings for Thailand, Oman, and Mongolia. The sovereign bond ratings are not affected by the changes in the ceilings.


The change in ceilings mean that the highest rating that can be assigned to a domestic issuer in these countries, or to a structured finance security backed by local currency receivables, is now as follows:


1) The long-term LC bond ceiling was changed to Ba3 from Baa1;

2) The long-term LC deposit ceiling was changed to Ba3 from Baa2;

3) The long-term FC bond ceiling was changed to Ba3 from Ba2;

4) The long-term FC deposit ceiling remains at B2;

5) The short-term FC bond and deposit ceilings remain unchanged at NP

Moody's decision to adjust the LC country ceilings for Mongolia is based on application of the rating agency's Currency Country Risk Ceiling for Bonds and Other Local Currency Obligations methodology published earlier this year.

The adjusted local currency ceilings are consistent with the methodological framework which positions the ceiling against Mongolia's Sovereign Bond rating of B1 and Sovereign Bond Methodology factor scores, three of which are the key drivers of the ceiling. In Mongolia's case, these consist of a 'low' assessment of Economic Strength, a 'low' assessment of Institutional Strength and a 'high' assessment of susceptibility to political, economic or institutional event risks.

Moody's decision to adjust the LC country ceilings for Mongolia is also influenced by specific risks inherent in the country's operating environment: a history of boom-bust economic cycles and uncertainties affecting the predictability of the foreign investment regime.

FC ceilings were adjusted to reflect Moody's assessment of moratorium risks given the country's ability and willingness to service both its public and private cross-border debt obligations. The ceiling takes into account Mongolia's sizeable financing needs on the one hand, and its traditionally open economy with few capital controls on the other.


Moody's country ceilings capture externalities and event risks that arise unavoidably as a consequence of locating a business in a particular country and that ultimately constrain domestic issuers' ability to service their debt obligations. As such, the ceiling encapsulates elements of the economic, financial, political, and legal risks in a country, including political instability, the risk of government intervention, the risk of systemic economic disruption, severe financial instability risks, currency redenomination, and natural disasters among other factors, that need to be incorporated into the ratings of even the strongest domestic issuers. The ceiling caps the credit rating of all issuers and transactions with material exposure to those risks -- in other words, it affects all domestic issuers and transactions other than those whose assets and revenues are predominantly sourced from or located outside of the country, or which benefit from an external credit support.

The methodology used in this action is Local-Currency Country Risk Ceiling for Bonds and Other Local Currency Obligations published in March 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on for a copy of this methodology.

Link to release


First 23 Days of New Mortgage Program

July 23 (Cover Mongolia) Bank of Mongolia announcement dating July 23 (in Mongolian only) reports that commercial banks have so far received requests to refinance old mortgages worth 776 billion. Banks accordingly have converted 368.3 billion of these mortgages of 13,021 citizens to 8%.

192.7 billion worth of new mortgage requests were received and 105.2 billion out of these of 2099 citizens were issued with new rates.

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De Facto: Fair distribution of natural resources

By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa

July 22 (UB Post) We are living in a historic era, where Mongolia is striving to develop its economy by extracting natural resources. Natural resources are created by nature itself, not humans. Therefore, every Mongolian should benefit equally from the income generated by the natural resources in our land. However, the investors, who despite facing enormous risks (spending a fortune to explore and extract natural resources, process them and deliver the products to the market), are the first recipients of the profits generated, and the revenue is allocated in proportion to the ownership percentage of each investor. The citizens get their share afterwards through the public budget.

It does not necessarily mean that every single person shall receive perfectly equal benefits from natural resource revenue. Nevertheless, if the distribution of natural resources is not completely unequal and the gap between the received benefits by different parties is not increased, but actually reduced over time, it would be regarded as fair.

In order to ensure fair distribution of natural resource revenue, the four following steps should be taken.

1. Investment in infrastructure and social services

It is time to assess the availability of infrastructure, including electric power lines, water supply, roads and transportation services in each aimag and region, and research comparisons to their respective population. The same thing goes for Ulaanbaatar and all of its districts and the suburbs. Let us now look into what impact the lack of infrastructure has on the cost of business.

For example, building bitumen roads will save time, reduce operational costs and improve labor productivity. The completion of the hard surface road connecting Tuv aimag with Dundgobi aimag is the start of a historical chapter in the development of the southern region of Mongolia.

On the other hand, the railroad that goes from Tavan Tolgoi to the Chinese border is being constructed with broad gauges, which is going to increase the cost of export and decrease our earnings, as China employs narrow gauge railway at the border.

Public budget spending in social services, including public administration, infrastructure, health and education, needs to be calculated in proportion to GDP. Furthermore, public budget expenditure per capita has to be estimated as well. These calculations will help us understand how efficient projects such as building apartment blocks, which is intended to reduce poverty and fulfill one of the basic necessities of human life, prove to be. Then, the expenditure analysis has to be compared with that of other similar economies in the world.

In order to establish the efficiency of basic investments in human capital (e.g. public programs concerning food, health, education and prevention of contagious diseases), a wide range of "per capita" data needs to be collected. We also need documented data and statistics that show the overall level of work ethic, business skills, professional capacity, education, salary and income by each aimag and soum.

There is also a need to push the government to provide the public with reports of national debt and debt underwritings, regardless of its inclusion in the public budget. All infrastructure projects are incorporated into the public budget. Therefore, the government must calculate the amount of national debt not only for this current year, but also the year our country is required to clear its most long-term debts.  

2. Capacity building in public governance 

Mongolia is originally a country that chose the rule of law over the rule of political parties. However, in the past, everyone  – depending on their social status, wealth and connections – was treated differently by the law. Fortunately, the winds of change have been blowing since last year. Today, the citizens of Mongolia expect their recently re-elected President to continue the change and ensure that the law is applied to everyone in a fair way, regardless of what political party affiliations one might have.

A merit-based system has to be introduced in our public sector so that public servants ("government workers", as we call them) will be promoted and hired on the basis of their intelligence and skill rather than their political connections.

Mongolian citizens are demanding every single government institution to operate in a way where there are clear policies with consistent rules and regulations, and a business environment that is easy to understand.

It has been a year since the Democratic Party won the general elections by pointing out that the government had no longer been able to operate in a fair, proper way, and had failed to work for the sake of its people with Mongolian politics being mixed up with the business sector. The parliament then passed the Conflict of Interest law and made amendments to the anti-corruption and criminal laws. As Kh.Temuujin, the Minister of Justice, proposed, we must start holding those who accepted bribery accountable for their unlawful actions and leave those who gave bribes to them go unpunished. The current law sets out that both the giver and the receiver are punishable for bribery. Therefore, it is difficult to acquire secret information about corruption and discover who bribed whom.

In order to ensure transparent public governance that reports to the public, we need citizen involvement and supervision. President Ts.Elbegdorj accurately described it, saying, "The distribution of natural resources without citizen involvement ends up turning into theft." 

3. Increasing the competitiveness of the private sector

Competitive capacity shall be increased only when the private sector of Mongolia becomes advanced enough that some companies start selling their products in the worldwide market.

Instead of aiming for expansion by focusing on a certain sector or industry, our companies are operating in many sectors at once. On one hand, it shows that our domestic market offers a vast range of business opportunities that allow one company to work in different sectors. On the other hand, it indicates that our companies do not possess the capacity to enter big international markets. Also, there is not enough competition in our economic sectors to push companies to achieve more. When it comes to competition, no company can be on par with a company that is owned by the minister who leads the government branch that regulates the industry those companies operate in.

The biggest factor contributing to increased business cost is the interest rates of bank loans. The rates are never lower than 20 percent a year. A more advanced capital market is the most plausible way to reduce interest rates. Developing the capital market will allow entities with a surplus of money to have a choice when placing their capital in the capital market. Although the infrastructure essential to trading within the capital market is already formed, the biggest investors (the pension and insurance funds), are reluctant to take part in it. The public budget owed the pension fund about two billion MNT in 2011. Even though the authorities are fully aware of the situation, they still have not cleared this debt and act like they know nothing about it.

Owners of small and medium enterprises have always had a hard time in business due to the enormous pressure from value added tax, which takes away ten percent of their income. Nevertheless, the government is preparing a new package of laws that impose greater tax rates on companies that are already having difficulties with their operational cost and loan payments.

What happened to the proposal that was going to provide subsidies to small and medium businesses that create jobs, and employ older women and disabled people?

4. Establishment of a sovereign wealth fund

Establishment of a sovereign wealth fund has helped many countries ensure fair distribution of resource revenue. Mongolia needs to do the same, and support the proposals that have been discussed to establish such a fund.

Mongolia can have a sovereign wealth fund that is intended for both saving and stabilization purposes. One half of the fund could be dedicated to enhancing the development of economic sectors (especially infrastructure and the social sector) with the exception of the mining sector, while the other half could be used for stabilizing the budget revenue and preventing it from being influenced by the potential price fluctuations of the natural resources we export on the international market.

The four steps mentioned above will help Mongolia to have a fair distribution of natural resources, and ensure that anyone who works hard will receive their deserved benefits and improve their livelihood. All in all, the ultimate purpose of economic development is improving the livelihood of every citizen.

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Mongolian meat exports decline while prices rise

July 16 (UB Post) The Mongolian meat industry's hygiene standards have not improved and its exports have begun to decline. In order to develop and improve the sector, Mongolia's Meat Producers Union and MCRC, a non-governmental organization, are working on a study of meat and meat products.

Below is a short interview with G.Bat-Ochir, director of MCRC.

-Why do Mongolian meat prices keep increasing every year despite all the programs and money spent to keep them stable?

-The main reason is inconsistency in the proportion of supply and demand. Also, an increase in the migration of province residents to the capital has caused over population in Ulaanbaatar. Thus, the price of meat has been increasing dramatically in the city as the demand for meat and meat products has greatly increased, while the demand has a tendency to decline in the western and steppe region provinces of Mongolia. Though there are storage facilities with cooling systems, they are mostly outdated. All these [factors] contributed to the meat price incease.

-Why can't Mongolia meet the demand for meat when we have over 40 million livestock?

-Supply becomes short depending on different meat consumption. For instance, Mongolians don't eat camel and horse meat that much and we don't use young livestock or breeding livestock for the meat trade. Thus, the amount and variety of meat being supplied becomes more narrow. By 2017, we will consume 288,800 tons of meat according to our study. But Mongolia is only able to supply 228,000 tons.

-Is the demand for meat likely to increase in the future?

-By 2020, 301,400 tons of meat is estimated to be consumed nationwide. We also compared the demands of numerous regions of Mongolia. In 2013, Mongolia is estimated to consume 273,700 tons of meat.

-Mongolia's meat export has declined in recent years. What is the reason for the decline?

-Yes, the export has declined dramatically in the past few years. The amount of exported mutton, beef, etc. differs from one another. In 2011, Mongolia exported 5,000 tons of beef while it decreased to 965 tons in 2012.

The reason for the decline in export: first, meeting the domestic demand is quite difficult now, second, most citizens use beef for their meals. Out of 40 million livestock, there are only two million cattle which makes it obvious that beef demand is high.

Despite that, Mongolia set its meat price so high in the world market, that it also caused the export decline. For instance, Mongolia sold one ton of frozen beef with bone with 3,400 USD. This is more expensive than Australia's or Argentina's meat price.

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Mongolia's war against corruption

July 18 ( Recently, Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer surveyed that 86% of the residents think that government officials are corrupt ranking Mongolia into second place after Liberia. It is a disappointing result for the young democracy as it is warring against corruption for some time even creating an independent agency dedicated fighting corruption in the country. President Elbegdorj Tsakhia promised to intensify the fight on his inauguration recently after he was re-elected for the second term.

Perhaps the biggest fish was the former president Enkhbayar Nambar, a MPP member. The corruption cases increased after the DP won the parliamentary election. Shocking numbers were reveled on these cases. USD17 million was found in the apartment of former State Secretary of the Ministry of Health, MNT14 billion recovered in the account of former department head of Tax Authority, also former MPP secretary had 26 accounts that had transaction of over USD300 million over the years.

On one hand we can see these corruption cases as fight against corruption, however, in the other hand, it can be seen as a fight against the former ruling party, MPP. Practically, MPP has dominated the political scene for over a decade. The mess, mismanagement, and corruption of the past years is being reveled.

However, we cannot avoid mentioning MP S.Bayartsogt, who have admitted of having an undisclosed Swiss account and a company in BV. He is a long-standing DP member, and a former Finance Minister when the OT agreement was signed. After it was revealed that he didn't disclose the account in his income report, he was just resigned from his position as a vice speaker. The Prosecutor's office denied his revocation from the parliament. Still, the president publicly announced that S.Bayartsogt should resign from the parliament and go through the investigation voluntarily.

Another MPP member T.Bilegt who was a Chairman of City Council a close affiliate of N.Enkhbayar is being accused of state property embezzlement. He ran away after N.Enkhbayar was arrested and came back after two years after those charges were dropped from N.Enkhbayar. Few hours after his return he was arrested and put under investigation. He claimed that he never knew that he was wanted by police and interpol. In connection to his return, N.Enkbayar's wife O.Tsolmon was questioned and all of N.Enkhabyar's family properties are sealed. Journalists are reporting that perhaps there were new developments on T.Bilegt's charge.

Before the presidential election, some MPs have asked to audit Erdenet JVC as it is a giant state-owned mine that has been in operation for years. Ch.Ganzorig, General Director of the company has been arrested recently after Naadam festival. The assumed charges are guaranteeing loan for private companies in the amounts of millions.

Mongolia's war against corruption continues in the scale that has never been seen before.

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Bureau Veritas Enhances Mineral Testing Capabilities in Asia with New Coal Laboratory in Mongolia - Company further establishes Asian footprint with state-of-the-art testing facility in Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (JUNE 20, 2013) - Bureau Veritas announced today during a speech at the Coaltrans Mongolia conference the opening of a new state-of-the-art coal testing facility for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Bureau Veritas will service the technical needs of the Mongolian coal industry by providing analytical facilities, technical support and consulting services.  The new laboratory houses the latest equipment and techniques, and will ultimately employ more than 30 dedicated professionals to provide leading Exploration and Borecore Testing Services, Superintending and Production / Supply of On-Site Laboratories.

"Mongolia has vast untapped coal resources and its proximity to China, the world's largest coking coal importer, marks this expansion as an essential part of our global coal strategy.  We are proud to expand our services and network capabilities into this region" said Sebastian Dannaud, Vice-President North Asia.

"Our Ulaanbaatar coal testing facility is the first dedicated coal laboratory in Mongolia that focuses on the coal exploration, mining and trade industries," said SM Rao, Country Manager, Bureau Veritas. "Our goal is to provide timely and accurate data safeguarding the client's interest and minimizing associated risks." 

About Bureau Veritas' Commodities Division

Bureau Veritas' Commodities Division provides independent inspection, sampling and testing services 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Our network of laboratories, strategically located in key trading locations around the world, provide precision analytical testing to both internationally recognized standards and customer-specific methodologies.

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Korea's Caffe Bene Inks Deal to Plant Flag in Mongolia, Cambodia

July 23 (The Chosunilbo) Caffe Bene will expand its business into Mongolia and Cambodia after the U.S. and China. The coffee chain on Monday said that it signed a franchise deal with local companies in the two Asian countries and plans to open stores there within this year

It will open two outlets, one in downtown Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital, and the other in the Boeung Keng Kang area, which is filled with fancy restaurants and cafes in Phnom Penh. 

Caffe Bene now operates seven outlets in the U.S., 55 in China and two in the Philippines. It also plans to open shops in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia within this month.

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Ulaanbaatar launches night trolley bus service

July 15 ( Mongolian Electric Transportation Company has launched a night trolley bus service under a project called "Night eco transportation". Four night trolleys on two routes came into service on July 11th.  

Night trolleys will be available to passengers between 23:00 and 5:00.  The night trolley service will charge adults 1000 MNT and children 500 MNT. The night trolleys will serve on routes between "ХМК – Офицерүүдийн ордон – Ботаник" (HMK – Officers Palace – Botanik) and "3,4 хороолол – БММЗ" (3rd and 4th khoroolol – BMMZ).

During a period of testing the trolley buses providing the night service will stop at every bus stop. Security cameras have been installed for the trolleys providing security for the passengers. 

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Bahrain: HM the King congratulates the President of Mongolia on his country's National Day anniversary

Manama: July 11 -- (BNA)-- His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa dispatched a congratulatory cable to H.E. President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of the friendly Republic of Mongolia on his country's National Day anniversary.

In the cable, HM the King expressed utmost felicitations and best wishes of abundant health and well-being to His Excellency President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj on this national occasion. (IY)

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Kuwait congratulates Mongolia on Nat''l Day

KUWAIT, July 11 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent on Thursday a cable of congratulations to the President of Mongolian, Tsakhia ElBegdorj, on occasion of his country's National Day celebration.

HH the Amir wished the Mongolian President everlasting health and continuous development and prosperity for his country.

Their Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah both sent similar cables to Mongolia.

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Social, Environmental and Other

CSU's Dennis Ojima Awarded 'Champion of Nature and the Environment' Medal by Mongolian Ministry

FORT COLLINS, July 19 (Colorado State University) Colorado State University professor Dennis Ojima has been awarded Mongolia's "Champion of Nature and The Environment" medal, one of the highest honors given by the Mongolian Ministry. Ojima was presented the medal by S. Oyun, Minister of Nature, Environment and Green Development, at a ceremony at the State Palace in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

Ojima is a senior research scientist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, both part of CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources. He is also university director of the North Central Climate Science Center, and senior scholar at the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment at CSU.

"This award is a fantastic recognition of Dennis' outstanding work and contributions that are having a worldwide impact on the advancement of natural resource science, education and outreach," said Joyce Berry, Dean of the Warner College of Natural Resources at CSU.

Ojima studies effects of global climate change on ecosystems, carbon accounting methods for forest sequestration, and adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change collaboration. For the past two decades, he has led and supported social-ecological research in Mongolia, focusing on protecting fragile and endangered ecosystems and pastoral ways of life. His collaborative work has helped Mongolian scientists to increase their skills in natural resource research methodology and management, and he has supported Mongolian scientific contributions to research efforts on a global scale.

During the past 20 years, Ojima has taught courses on ecosystem modeling, remote sensing, GIS, and social-ecological approaches to assist the Mongolian Agency of Hydro-Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring in natural resource management. He has supplied computers and GIS/RS/ecosystem software to the agency as well as to the Mongolian Academy of Science's Biology and Geo-Ecology Institutes. He has also taught Mongolian experts how to use the CENTURY ecosystem model.

Ojima continues his contribution in Mongolia by providing guidance for climate-compatible development strategies and mentoring Mongolian graduate students and young scholars. He is leading a project which seeks to better understand the vulnerability of pastoral communities to climate change and how sustainable development strategies can be used to meet these challenges. He is working closely with his longtime collaborator in Mongolia, Professor Chuluun Togokhyn, science advisor to the Minister of the Environment and Green Development and former director general of Green Development Policy and Planning, as well as an affiliate member of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory.

Togokhyn attended the award ceremony for Ojima in Mongolia. He has been associated with Colorado State University since 1993, when he initially came to work with Ojima and Jim Ellis at the NREL. Since then he has actively developed shared research and training programs between CSU and Mongolian institutions.

Ojima received his bachelor's and master's degrees in botany from Pomona College and the University of Florida; he completed his Ph.D. in ecosystem science at Colorado State University in 1987. After being awarded his doctorate, he spent three years with the International Geosphere Biosphere Program in Stockholm.

Ojima is an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow and serves on the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change and the Board for International Scientific Organizations for the National Research Council. He received the 2005 Zayed International Prize for the Environment for his involvement in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as part of the International Panel on Climate Change.

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Wild Horses Returning To Mongolia -- By Jet

July 20 ( The last of Mongolia's Przewalski's wild horses was seen on the steppes there in 1969. Since then they have existed only in captivity. A breeding program in the Czech Republic is striving to return the animal to its native habitat. From cave paintings found in France, it is believed that the horses lived throughout Europe 20,000 years ago, but climate change pushed them back into Asia, which became their permanent home.

In 2011 four mares were sent back to the Mongolian steppes to be released into the wild. Two of those four have foaled as a part of producing a whole new generation of the horses in the wild. This year four more mares, aged three to five, will be loaded up in wooden boxes and flown to Bulgan. Bulgan is about 200 miles north of the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator. From there they will travel by truck to Gobi B, a national protected park. 

Their survival is not a sure thing. During the severe winter of 2009-2010 the population of the endangered horses in the wild was decimated, going from 150 to just 49. 

The horses slated to be returned to Mongolia are selected to be the right age, strong genetics, and excellent health. They are also selected for being unlikely to be adversely affected by stress. All of these characteristics help to create a successful transition into the wild. The goal of the program is to create sustainable conditions for the horses, as well as for the people who live nearby.

Most wild horses in the world today, such as Mustangs in the U.S. and the Australian Brumby, are actually feral horse populations descended from domesticated horses, rather than being a native wild horse. Przewalski's wild horses are the last surviving subspecies of wild horse, and were never successfully domesticated. Recent DNA analysis suggests that the modern domestic horses and the Przewalski's horse parted genetic ways about 160,000 years ago.

Europeans only discovered the stocky little horse with the thick neck and large head late in the 19th century. The Russian explorer and geographer Nikolai Mikhailovich Przewalski was the first to find them in the mountains bordering the Gobi Desert and it was for him they were named. It was hunting and loss of habitat that brought the horses to the verge of extinction during the 20th century. The dawn of the 21st century has seen them upgraded from extinct in the wild to seriously endangered, and now to endangered. It remains an uphill climb for both the horses and conservationists.

There are now about 1,500 Przewalski's wild horses in the world today, most in zoos and captive programs. Of those, about 250-300 live in the wild.

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Glyncoed Primary School makes links to Mongolian school

July 19 (South Wales Argus) AN EBBW Vale primary school is the first in Wales to link with a Mongolian school in a bid to raise awareness of wildlife and conservation in the country.

Glyncoed Primary School will become one of 20 international schools to link with 20 Mongolian schools as part of the Mongolian Artificial Nest Project school links programme.

Year 5 and 6 pupils at Glyncoed have been learning about falconry and why 5,000 artificial nests have been erected on the Mongolian Steppe.

They have linked with Bayan School in Tov Aimag, Mongolia, where 250 artificial nests have been put up near the school in order to create a sustainable population of the birds, which are widely traded in the Arab market.

The students have sent drawings, letters, and Powerpoint presentations to each other and are learning about each other's culture and country.

Pupils at Glyncoed prepared an assembly about their link with the Mongolian school which was held on Wednesday.

Nicola Dixon, the project manager with International Wildlife Consultants Ltd, said she hoped more Gwent schools will join those in Chicago and Abu Dhabi to link up with Mongolian schools.

To sign up your school to the project, you can email

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Better assessments for better inclusion in society of people with disabilities


July 17 (UB Post) It only took five minutes for Enkhtuyaa (not her real name) to be assessed as a mentally-challenged child with low IQ. And yet, those five minutes could have been those that would take her to a mental hospital where she belongs, according to the Ministry of Health. If it had not been for the work of several social workers, she would be there now. Unfortunately, a lot of other children were not as lucky as she was.

At the previous meeting of the Social Work and Disabilities Forum in June 2013, several social workers from different organizations and universities pointed out the problem of a proper assessment of disabilities here in Mongolia. Indeed, although the government has been gradually allocating more and more resources to try to deal with the different disabilities that people suffer from, it seems that the lack of training of special education teachers and of government officials themselves prevents significant advances in the field.

For measurements of IQ for example, the Ministry of Health came up with a scheme that divides people into three groups according to their five minute-long test results. This means that mentally-challenged children can only fall in three different categories of disability, for which the solution is probably not appropriate because the reality is much more complex than these limited categorizations. The government knows it needs to improve its assessment methods but lacks the proficiency to do so, for now. Alexandre Balson, who was hosting the meeting, made it clear that measuring the IQ of a child was nothing near enough to assess his or her mental condition.

A stigma that begins at home

The most important problem linked to this issue is the schools those children eventually go to, according to their results in the assessment. Not only do most of these children go to schools that are not suited for them, but the teachers themselves in these schools are not properly trained, making the task even harder. Moreover, special education is only provided at the primary school level and the legitimacy of the degree they get is highly questionable. They are then left by themselves, too young to find an actual job but still a financial burden for their families. For now, there seems to be a good number of good schools for children with speech or hearing impairment. However, physically or mentally-challenged kids are too often sent to mental hospitals for lack of anything better, or even worse, than left on the streets. Obviously, it does not help in transforming the stigma that people with disabilities are still surrounded by. According to T.Kimiko, a worker at Sujatashand NGO, the stigma grows from the parents themselves. "They keep insisting on what their kids are not able to do, and forget or do not see what they can actually do," said the kindergarten teacher who goes from one kid with disabilities' home to another to ensure they are not left out by the educational system. "It is not because their kid has trouble reading that he or she is unable to resolve simple math problems, for example."

It is not only in Mongolia that society has trouble accepting disabilities, especially mental ones. In France's capital city of Paris for instance, known for its beauty and haute-couture fashion, very little is done to accommodate wheelchair users and it is quite rare to encounter mentally-challenged people on the public space because they face harsh discrimination. In Mongolia, it is not that different. It is not hard to understand how society in general has trouble coping with people with disabilities if their own parents do, too. But according to several workers present during the meeting, the social challenges that children with disabilities face are sometimes even more important than the health factors which put them in this position in the first place. Facing discrimination leads them to gradually isolate themselves from others, which also hinders their own personal development.

A need for a common understanding of terms associated with disabilities

The solution, according to D.Odgerel, a professor of Special Education at the Teachers' University of Ulaanbaatar, starts with the proper assessment of disabilities and a better training of teachers, in line with recent research studies about disabilities. There needs to be a standardized Mongolian classification, too, which will draw on the abilities instead of disabilities of people, in order to find them a proper place in society. Indeed, if their abilities are correctly assessed, then they could get into vocational schools adapted to their capacities and get a job, which would significantly lessen the financial burden they sometimes represent for their families. Right now, a lot of children with various disabilities are put in the same classes for the only reason they cannot be part of a regular school, but they have very different abilities that are all ignored for lack of a proper structure.

As Mongolia finds itself in an impressive course of development, its government should not forget citizens that require special needs. If it takes the necessary steps to improve the criteria for assessment of abilities of people with impairments, every single one of them in a different way can participate in Mongolia's economic growth. This will be of benefit to themselves, their families, and the market in general, as they will fill jobs which require low or moderate skills. Empowering people with disabilities is one of the many ways by which the government can show their citizens they are willing to distribute the benefits they ripe from the economic development the country is undergoing.

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Mongolian Costume Festival held in Ulan Bator

July 21 (Xinhua) --

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Naadam closes with a new champion, faster race horses and skilled marksmen

July16 (UB Post) The 2013 National Mongol Naadam Festival, or Eriin Gurvan Naadam (the Three Manly Games) was dedicated to the 2222nd Anniversary of Mongolia's First Statehood, the 807th Anniversary of the Great Mongol Empire, and the 92nd Anniversary of the People's Revolution. This year's festival embraced a new wrestling champion, fast race horses and skilled marksmen, and has been brought to a successful end.

Events of the National Naadam Festival took place at the horse racing field of Khui Doloon Khudag, Central Stadium, and Sukhbaatar Square. Naadam Festival attendees wore beautiful traditional clothes garnished with Mongolian tradition, national script and patterns, making the event a stunning visual treat.


The Naadam Festival opened with the Archery Tournament at the Central Stadium, where the state's best marksmen competed. State Marksman, L.Otgonbayar won the National Men's Archery Tournament, proving his skill for the second time at the National Naadam Festival, fulfilling the conditions of Twice Champion Marksman of Mongolia.

State Twice Champion Marksman, Ch.Baasankhuu also participated in the tournament, followed by Kh.Ulziikhuyag and B.Bayarsaikhan.

First place in the National Women's Archery Tournament went to L.Oyuchimeg. She won at the Naadam Festival for the first time and was awarded with the Second Marksman title of Mongolia. The best female markswoman was followed by Ch.Erdenetuya, E.Zaya, D.Punsaldulam and M.Munkh-Amgalan. This t Naadam Festival Archery tournament embraced three new sportsmasters, a sub sportsmaster and three Twice Champion Marksmen.


One of the Three Manly Games, which gains the most public attention, is the wrestling tournament. G.Erkembayar, resident of Selenge aimag, Mandal soum became winner among 512 wrestlers and B.Gonchigdamba, resident of Zavkhan aimag, Ikh-Uul soum, became runner-up and awarded the Garuda of the Nation.

The winner of the 2013 Naadam Festival Wrestling tournament, G.Erkembayar, was awarded a three-room apartment in Mogul Town and a Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The runner-up, B.Gonchigdamba, was awarded with a two-room apartment as well as a Lexus-570.

The rules of wrestling are rather simple: anybody who touches the ground first is defeated. The rules are demanding ones, as neither wrestler's weight nor height is accounted for. Each Mongolian wrestler has a title of his own: Lion, Elephant, Falcon, – a sophisticated hierarchy of ranks bestowed based on the wrestler's past performances. Categories such as Steady, Mighty and Strong are usually added to wrestler rank, to reflect their specific wrestling style or quality.

Horse Racing

The horse racing tournament of the Three Manly Games was held in Khui Doloon Khudag for three days. A dun, two-year old owned by N.Amarbayasgalan from Khanbogd soum of Omnogobi province, ridden by the nine-year old girl, M.Oyungerel,took first place in the race of Daaga (2 year-old horses).

A chestnut owned by D.Odkhuu (Baruunburen soum, Selenge aimag) won the Shudlen (three-year old) race among 266 horses. Furthermore, a light bay owned by D.Khishigjargal came first in the Khyazaalan (four-year old) race; a fallow horse owned by Sh.Adishaa from Khovd province took first place in the Soyolon (five-year old) race; and a bay horse owned by Kh.Bat-Erdene, took first place in the race of horses more than five years old.

The race of stallions was topped by a horse named "Uls" owned by D.Bat-Erdene, the Vanguard Horse Race Trainer title holder, from Tsogttsetsii soum. This horse topped the races in the State Festival for the third time.

Knucklebone Shooting

The finals of the Knucklebone Shooting Tournament were held at the Shooting Field next to the Central Stadium in Ulaanbaatar.

This year, over 360 contestants from 42 teams competed, and a team from the "Ajnai" Club, led by Ts.Idermunkh, came in the first place after the scores were totaled. A team from "Ovoogiin Govi" LLC from Umnugovi Aimag with Captain S.Bat-Erdene also placed in the tournament.

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