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Turquoise Hill Resources Provides Update on Short-Term Bridge Funding Agreement With Rio Tinto
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - July 19, 2013) - As announced on June 28, 2013, Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ)(NASDAQ:TRQ)(TSX:TRQ) entered into an agreement with majority shareholder Rio Tinto for a non-revolving bridge facility for up to US$225 million (the "Bridge Facility") maturing on August 12, 2013. In the event the Bridge Facility is not repaid in full at the maturity date or in case of an event of default under the terms of the Bridge Facility, at such time, Rio Tinto may convert any outstanding amounts into common shares at a price per share equal to 85% of the then prevailing five-day volume weighted average trading price of the shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
With the objective of repaying the Bridge Facility in full prior to maturity, the Company continues to focus on completion of the Altynalmas Gold Ltd. Transaction (Mogi: worth $300m), and is exploring a private placement of common equity securities (Mogi: I'm sure other TRQ shareholders won't like this). In addition, the company maintains on-going discussions with Rio Tinto about alternative funding plans. No decision has been made to pursue any approach under consideration and the implementation of any such approach may require regulatory and other approvals.
The Company continues to engage with Rio Tinto and the Government of Mongolia to finalize project financing for Oyu Tolgoi.
Robert Friedland celebrates Oyu Tolgoi shipments with statement
July 11 (MINING.com) Robert Friedland penned a short statement about the first shipments from Oyu Tolgoi:
Looking at this week's photographs of a convoy of trucks heading out on the first delivery run of exports of copper and gold concentrate from the Oyu Tolgoi mine, I am reminded that it was almost exactly 12 years ago that Ivanhoe Mines announced the first of a series of five world-class mineral discoveries at Oyu Tolgoi.
On July 17, 2001, Ivanhoe Mines reported its deep drilling had discovered a zone of "potentially significant gold, copper and molybdenum mineralization" at Turquoise Hill (Oyu Tolgoi). This exploration breakthrough in Mongolia's South Gobi region by Ivanhoe's geological team opened the door to a decade of discovery and development that established Oyu Tolgoi as one of the great copper and gold discoveries of all time.
The first phase of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, now jointly owned by Turquoise Hill Resources and the Mongolian government, already has put Mongolia on the international resources map – attracting unprecedented foreign investment in the nation's future. That investment will underpin economic growth and pay direct and very significant dividends to benefit all Mongolians for generations to come.
The initiation of mineral exports gives the people of Mongolia one more achievement to celebrate at their traditional Naadam summer festival this week.
I am proud to salute all those who have been involved in Oyu Tolgoi's epic success.
Wolf: Commencement of 2D Seismic Acquisition on SB Block
July 22 -- Mongolian oil explorer Wolf Petroleum (ASX: WOF) is pleased to announce the commencement of 2D seismic acquisition on Sukhbaatar (SB) Block in Mongolia.
Ø 450km of 2D seismic data will be acquired on four (4) highly prospective sub basins identified on SB block.
Ø The seismic acquisition programme will assist with the identification of drillable prospects on the SB block and will also support upgrading of previous leads to prospects on the Company's nearby Baruun Urt (BU) block.
Ø The seismic acquisition programme has been awarded to Khet LLC, which previously successfully acquired 330km of 2D seismic data for Wolf on its BU block in 2011.
Ø 85 people have been deployed to the SB block. Seismic data acquisition will be conducted under Darren Gustavson's supervision and PAM's appointed local personnel control.
Ø Seismic data will be processed in the USA and interpretation will be undertaken by Tom Fasio of MHA Petroleum. The acquired data will be sent to the USA on a daily basis.
Ø In addition to the seismic acquisition program, Wolf is collecting more than 7,350 samples from shot holes for geochemical analysis.
Ø Wolf's management held meetings with local families prior to commencing the programme and received their support.
Ø The seismic acquisition programme is one of the most important milestones in Wolf's 2013 exploration programme and it is expected to be completed in late August.
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. Considers Disposition of Non-Core Business
Ulaanbaatar, MONGOLIA, July 19, 2013 /FSC/ - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK - TSXV)
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. ("MGG" or the "Company") announces that after a thorough review, Mandal General Daatgal LLC ("Mandal"), MGG's Mongolian insurance subsidiary, has been determined to be a non-core business in respect of the future strategic direction of the Company. The board of directors of MGG has authorized management of the Company to seek value creating alternatives to the ongoing ownership of Mandal.
Management of MGG believes that a disposition of Mandal will allow MGG to focus its energy, corporate resources and capital on its core real estate leasing business with the goal of creating the most successful institutional property company in the rapidly growing economy of Mongolia.
While divesting Mandal will prevent the Company from participating in the future growth of the Mongolian insurance market, the benefits of a divestiture are expected to include the following:
§ The release of capital to re-invest in the property business;
§ Annual cost savings in the form of reduced audit, compliance and other expenses;
§ Savings from the elimination of recurring marketing losses of Mandal;
§ More predictable revenues by redirecting MGG exclusively to the property sector; and
§ De-risking the business from the prospective of potential lenders to property assets.
"This was a very difficult decision," said Harris Kupperman, Chairman and CEO of MGG. "We are very proud of the success that Mandal has achieved. Unfortunately, an insurance business does not fit into the overall framework of our much larger property company. In addition, we expect that reductions in corporate expense from a divestiture of Mandal would help move MGG towards our long-term goal of being cash-flow positive on a recurring basis."
"Mandal no longer fits into the MGG portfolio" said Ganzorig Ulziibayar, President of Mandal. "MGG has been very supportive of us from the beginning. They have helped Mandal become one of the best insurance companies in Mongolia, and we are excited about our future as a standalone enterprise."
Kincora Script Payment of Convertible Loan Interest
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - July 18, 2013) - Kincora Copper Limited (the "Company", "Kincora") (TSXVENTURE:KCC) announces that it intends to issue 4,350,000 shares at $0.05 per share to Origo Partners PLC ("Origo") as consideration for annual interest relating to the $2,500,000 convertible note (the "Convertible Note"), subject to TSX Venture Exchange ("TSXV") approval. The Convertible Note was issued in July 2012 (refer to the July 23, 2012 press release), bears interest at 8.7% per annum, calculated and paid annually by way of the issuance of common shares of the Company with the principal convertible into common shares at a price of $0.25 per share before July 18, 2015.
Origo is currently the largest shareholder of Kincora holding 70,426,642 common shares or 34% of the Company, post the aforementioned issuance. Kincora's expanded issued and outstanding common shares are anticipated to be 207,293,975 with a cash balance of approximately $2.6 million as at April 23, 2013.
Aspire Mining signs MOU's for purchase of Ovoot coking coal
July 10 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining (ASX: AKM) has taken another step towards development and commercialising the Ovoot coking coal project in Mongolia, following the receipt of non-binding Memoranda of Understanding (MOU's) from four North Asian steel mills and coking coal buyers.
Within the Chinese market, Ovoot coking coal falls within the clean fat coal specification, a category of coking coal that is highly valued and in short supply in China.
Combined the MOU's total a possible commitment by Chinese customers to purchase up to 5.6 million tonnes per annum of coking coal, which represents nearly all of the planned total saleable production from the Ovoot Project's Stage 1 development.
The buying interest in Ovoot coal has been strong, with the buying interest also coming from many other large scale potential Chinese customers - as well as steel mills and coke producers in Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe.
David Paull, managing director for Aspire, commented: "We are very pleased with the initial interest received in Ovoot coking coal properties, given the relatively short time that preliminary marketing of the coal has been undertaken.
"It is clear that interest in North Asia is substantial and well in excess of the potential volume of sales from our first stage of development at Ovoot indicated by the non-binding MOU's signed to date".
Marketing efforts are still at a preliminary stage with only half of the Chinese target market approached to date.
Aspire continues to own 100% of the Ovoot Project, which is the second largest coking coal Reserve in Mongolia at 219 million tonnes.
Ovoot coal is highly-valued
The importance of the Ovoot coking coal being within the clean fat coal specification in China, is that this product is highly valued and in short supply - and is used to blend with lower quality, lower caking coals.
This replaces the hard coking coals in coke batches and therefore reduces batch costs and reliance on the seaborne traded hard coking coals.
Ovoot coking coal has an extremely high vitrinite content (97%) which lends it as one of the highest Gray King Coke Types (G11) along with high fluidity and excellent plastic properties.
Testwork of Ovoot coal
Recent testwork confirmed that Ovoot coking coal, when used as part of a coke oven feed blend, could replace the use of hard coking coals and improve the caking ability of lower quality coking coals and coke breeze, a recycled coke oven residue.
Aspire is considering a smaller scale starter pit road based operation whilst continuing to progress access to rail infrastructure and other regulatory approvals to support a larger operation.
The quality of the Ovoot coking coal is driving the interest from end users, with the MOU's a significant milestone from North Asian steel mills and coking coal buyers for future product from Ovoot.
The scale of the buying has increased following meetings with other large scale potential Chinese customers as well as steel mills and coke producers in Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe.
Interest would be expected to continue growing considering the highly quality of the Ovoot product, and with Aspire production of up to 12 Mtpa of saleable coking coal at full capacity over a 20 year life of mine - the company does have the potential to meet this demand.
Producing up to 12 Mtpa Ovoot could deliver the compelling metrics of US$2 - $2.4 billion per annum (at $160-$200/t).
While at non binding stage, the MOU's signal the potential demand for the high vitrinite Ovoot coal from Chinese customers, we consider this to be value accretive in the short term.
MIG: Annual Report 2013 – NEW PAGE for better development
July 12, Mongolia Investment Group Limited (HKEx:402) --
Mining Business in Mongolia
Resources and mining industry has been fueling Mongolia's economy growth in recent years. The Group currently holds four coal mining licences covering a 1,114 hectares coal mine at Tugrug Valley (the "TNE Mine"). Based on a report from an independent technical advisor in 2010, the TNE Mine has approximately 64.0 million tonnes of measured and indicated resources and an additional 27.9 million tonnes of inferred resources. For the year under review, there was no material change in the amount of the resources in the TNE Mine, compared with that of last year. Besides, the Group also holds three exploration licences in respect of coal deposits in DundGobi (14,087 hectares) located in Mongolia.
During the review year, the Group continued to focus on the preparatory work at the TNE Mine, including the leasing of relevant equipment and machinery, power supply commissioning, as well as dewatering process. Meanwhile, the Group's marketing team has been proactively approaching more potential clients to explore more business opportunities.
Recent developments in Mongolia with regard to the implementation of laws and regulations related to the mining industry such as the passing of the Resolution No. 194 in June 2012 imposes restrictions on mineral exploration and mining activities around water areas in Mongolia. Although the Group's four mining licences and two of the exploration licences ostensibly fall within the ambit of laws and regulations, the Directors believe the impact to the Group will be minimal based on the assessment as set out in note 18 to the financial statements.
As a result of the lower than expected market selling price of coal and the additional risk resulting from the recent developments in laws and regulations in Mongolia relating to the mining industry, a further impairment loss (net of deferred taxation) amounting to HK$117.5 million (2012: HK$1,268.1 million) on the mining rights of the TNE Mine is recognised to the consolidated result.
Regarding exploration activities, annual exploration report was submitted and has been approved by the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia ("MRAM"). Detailed environmental impact assessment has also been submitted to the Ministry of Nature and Green Development for further evaluation.
As a result of failure in discovering commercially viable quantities of minerals at the gold and copper deposits located in Gobi-Altai (44,016 hectares) and Zavkhan (15,517 hectares), an impairment loss amounting to HK$24.6 million on the exploration licences and related exploration costs capitalised is recognised to the consolidated result.
The licences of Zavkhan and Gobi-Altai have expired in March and April 2013 respectively.
NatSec MSE Trading News: Top 20 +0.81%, Turnover ₮10.2 Million
July 18 (National Securities) The MSE TOP-20 Index rose 0.81% to 14,864.08. 16 companies share traded with combined value 10.2 million MNT. The intra-day volume was 19,113 shares. The market capitalization was 1.47 trillion MNT.
Zoos Goyol (ZOO), a souvenir merchandiser, soared +14.94% to 1,185 MNT, and was the biggest gainer today. The State Department Store (UID) was also a major gainer, rising +4.98% to 419,93 MNT. The biggest loser was Mongol Savkhi (UYN), which makes leather clothes, and plunged -9.75% to 1,000 MNT. Durvun Uul (DRU) was the 2nd biggest loser, closing down -4.39% at 850 MNT. Again Remicon (RMC) was the most actively share with 8,237 shares at a value of 1.4 million MNT,. It's price rose +0.35% to 174 MNT. Remicon produces 5 kinds of concrete and it's market capitalization is 13.6 billion MNT.
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NatSec MSE Trading News: Top 20 -0.02%, Turnover ₮9.2 Million
July 19 (National Securities) The MSE TOP-20 Index was down marginaly -0.02% to 14,861.67. 20 companies share traded with a combined value of 9.2 million MNT. The intra-day volume was 11,058 shares. The market capitalization was 1.47 trillion MNT.
Again Zoos Goyol (ZOO), a souvenir merchandiser, was the top gainer today. It's price went up +5.49% to 1,250 MNT. And Ulaanbaatar Kivs (UBH), a producer of carpets, closed up +2.59% to 8,520 MNT. Mongol Nekhmel (MNH), the the biggest loser on the day, was off -4.41% to 6,500 MNT. Gazar Suljmel (SUL), from the B-board, edged down -3.45% at 28,000 MNT. The most actively traded share was Khukh Gan (HGN). It's price rose +1.74% to 141.46 MNT and in which 6,320 shares were traded with a value of 892,000 MNT.
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Mongolia grants 1-year contract to mine Tavan Tolgoi west block
July 19 (Reuters) - Mongolia has lined up three local firms to mine the West Tsankhi block of the giant Tavan Tolgoi coal mine for a year, an executive at the state-owned mining company said on Friday, as the country aims to boost coal output.
Mongolia is racing to start producing coal from the long-delayed project as it is under pressure to plug a budget gap and help pay down debt to Aluminium Corp of China (Chalco) amid a sharp downturn in coal prices.
Delgersaikhan Tsagaan-Uvgun, head of mine planning and technical coordination of state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, said the company has finalized a one-year contract for mining at the 888 million-tonne West Tsankhi block to a consortium of three local companies.
The Mongolian firms Khishig Arvin Industrial, Mera, and Mongolian National Miner make up the Mongol Uurkhaichid group, which means Mongolian Miners in English, and will together begin work at the deposit this weekend.
The deposit is owned by Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, which has contracted out work at its East Tsankhi deposit to Australia's Macmahon Holdings and Germany's BBM Operta.
The company said it expects to mine a total of 5-6 million tonnes this year at the east block and 2 million tonnes at West Tsankhi.
Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi owes Chalco $170 million, the outstanding amount from a total debt of $350 million from an off-take agreement it signed with Chalco in 2011 to be paid in coal exports.
The company expects to repay the sum by December this year, according to an interview with Chief Executive Yaichil Batsuuri on the news website Business-Mongolia.com in June.
Chief Financial Officer Batdorj Enkhbat told Reuters that the company was in talks to export coal to new international markets, such as Japan or Korea, as the landlocked country looks to ease its dependence on China.
Mongolia's massive neighbour consumes more than 90 percent of all minerals produced in the country.
Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has not yet given up on trying to come up with a strategic agreement with international stakeholders to develop the West Tsankhi block, but that plan has been held up by political debate over foreign investment.
The Mongolian government backtracked on awarding rights to West Tsankhi in 2011 to a consortium including Peabody Energy and China's Shenhua Group after rival bidders from Japan and South Korea branded the decision unfair.
Bank of Mongolia Monthly Statistical Bulletin, June 2013
July 16 (Bank of Mongolia) --
RESULT OF GOVERNMENT SECURITIES AUCTION
July 17 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 20 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 20 billion /out of 31.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 7.74%.
BoM issues 1-week bills
July 17 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 100 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM: Consolidated Balance Sheet of Banks
July 17 (Bank of Mongolia) --
Mongolia's Foreign Trade Review, June 2013
July 18 (Bank of Mongolia) --
BoM holds FX auction
July 18 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on July 18th, 2013 the BOM has sold 43.8 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1467.51 and 73 million CNY as closing rate of MNT 239.01 to local commercial banks.
On July 18th, 2013, The BOM has sold 183 million USD and 40 million CNY for Swap agreement to local commercial banks.
Chinggis Bond expenditure to be reported to investors on first anniversary
July 17 (UB Post) In November 2012, delegates from the Mongolian Government and the Bank of Mongolia (BM) traveled across Europe and Asia to sign investment treaties. As a result, 1.5 billion USD worth of Chinggis Bonds were successfully sold to investors.
Since then, the government and BM have been spending the Chinggis Bond funds on major development projects in Mongolia.
On the first anniversary of the Chinggis Bond in November 2013, government delegates are set to travel once again. This time they will report how the Chinggis Bond fund is being used, and for what development projects. The report will act as leverage to ensure investors' trust in Mongolia and keep bond interest low.
Mongolia Raises Electricity Prices for Miners by as Much as 30%
By Michael Kohn
July 19 (Bloomberg) Electricity prices for mining companies that tap into Mongolia's central grid will rise by as much as 30 percent in August, the country's Energy Regulatory Commission said today.
"The mining companies are using most of the energy in the country, around 40 percent of the total," Sainbuyan Otgonbayar, chairman of the commission, said at a briefing today. "So instead of increasing the price for citizens, we have decided to pass the biggest part of the cost increase to the mining companies."
The cost of electricity at peak times will rise 30 percent from current rates, with the average price increase at 24.86 percent, said Sereejav Tsetsgee, the head of the ERC's regulation department.
The new rates will go into effect on August 5, Tsetsgee said. The rates would not apply to mining companies that source electricity from outside the central grid. The Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold-silver mine is one such example as the mine -- 66 percent owned by Canada's Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) and 34 percent owned by the Mongolian government -- receives its electricity from China.
In addition to the rate increase on mining companies, businesses across the country will see their electricity rates rise by an average of 18.32 percent, Tsetsgee said.
Residential rates for apartments will remain at the current 79 tugrik ($0.0537 cents) per kilowatt hour up to 150kw of usage. If the usage exceeds 150kw the rate will increase to 96 tugrik, which could be an increase of up to 15 percent, Tsetsgee said.
Mongolian wind power plant swings into action
July 18 (Al Jazeera) Mongolia's first wind farm has switched on its turbines. The eco-friendly plant is expected to reduce pollution by cutting coal consumption by 150,000 tonnes each year. Al Jazeera's Divya Gopalan reports from Ulaanbaatar, one of the world's most polluted cities.
U.S. shows interest in Mongolia's renewable energy sector
July 17 (UB Post) U.S. representative for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the primary economic advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EPAC), Atul Keshap; along with a director of the Office of Economic Policy in the Bureau of EPAC, Raymond Greene, are paying an official visit to Mongolia.
Mongolia's wind reserve is 0.6 terrabytes (Mogi: bytes?) which is enough to generate power not only to Mongolia but also China. Thus, U.S. officials highlighted Mongolia's potential to fully supply its internal power consumption with wind power, and even export it to Russia and China.
They also agreed that Mongolia is a country of great importance for the renewable energy sector on an international scale.
The officials also expressed that American private sector and renewable energy sector companies conducting major projects in foreign countries, are willing to partner with Mongolia.
Research, IP, and equities – Oh my!
By Christine Westgate
July 21 (UB Post) A data analyst feels at odds without data. I'm glad I came to Mongolia to write, rather than as a data analyst.
Journalistic vacation aside, my primary career is, as a decision scientist, focusing on "pure" academic research. In the process, I "crunch" a lot of data – numbers and words. I've spent the last 18 years as a data analyst/programmer supporting research in health and mental health care, policy, business, economics, and finance. I've worked extensively with patenting data and other specialty business research databases such as those provided by the Center for Research in Security Prices and Compustat, as well as with using tools such as those for event studies (notably Eventus). All of these data sources are offered comprehensively through the Wharton Research Data Services (wrds-web.wharton.upenn.edu/wrds/about/WRDS FAQs.cfm) It wasn't always that way – used to be a do-it-yourself each-analyst-for-him-or-herself deal. Believe me, the new way saves a lot of time and money in conducting research. By the way, the WRDS subscriber map shows none in Mongolia, but plenty in Asia.
Here in Mongolia, I went on a hunt for the essential ingredients to solid research in economics and finance one would ideally have on hand, and in English. These are (1) prior work, (2) patenting and trademarketing data, and (3) stock market, securities, and company financial data.
1. Prior published research
I searched EBSCOHost, the world's foremost premium research database service, for peer-reviewed English language articles published in 2013 with the keyword "Mongolia" and got 630 "hits." Seems high, but hold your horses: many were about health, agriculture, history, anthropology, literature, meteorology, and archeology. Sixty-five fell into the vague categories of "research" and "research article" and another 13 into "Mongolia."
Only nine articles were specifically on "financial research" and six on "economic development" for a total of 15. Quite a few of these were miscategorized, such as "The Genus Cynomorium in China: An Ethnopharmacological and Phytochemical Review" and others overlapped with epidemiological and health studies. "Affordability of Water Supply in Mongolia: Empirical Lessons for Measuring Affordability" (DOI: 10.2166/wp.2012.192) was as close as the "hits" got to business. A majority of the rest related to China (for example, "Inner Mongolia") or comparative studies of poverty and/or gender, and health-related issues. There were no authors with Mongolian names among the articles in the listing.
I repeated the same search using JSTOR; a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources; checking the boxes related to Business, Economics, Finance, Law, Marketing, Management & Organizational Behavior, Public Policy & Administration, and Political Science. I got 18 "hits" – none by Mongolian authors, numerous articles related to China or Russia, and some comparative studies in which Mongolia was not the primary focus, i.e. "Bribes and Ballots: The Impact of Corruption on Voter Turnout in Democracies," "The Resource Curse Revisited: Governance and Natural Resources," etc.
2. Patenting and trademarking data
Intellectual property (IP) and branding/trademarking are often overlooked by researchers, but they factor largely in the bigger picture. Their importance is underscored in a June 4th White House blog article by Gene Sperling entitled "Taking on Patent Trolls to Protect American Innovation." It's worth reading and can be found online at whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/06/04/taking-patent-trolls-protect-american-innovation. In short, IP is essential for economic development.
I conducted an English language patent search of Mongolian inventors or applications using a courtesy research subscription to leading patent search and valuation database provider Pantros IP, Inc. I was among the first users of Pantros IP's advanced latent semantic/boolean search technology in 2006 when I was researching trends in nanotechnology and am authorized by Pantros IP to give complimentary demos of their patent searching and valuation web-based tools while here in UB. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I carried out three separate searches, one each for patents applied for and/or granted by the World International Patenting Office (WIPO, wipo.int),the European Patenting Office (EP, epo.org), and the USPTO (uspto.gov) without date restrictions. The number of patents returned was dismal: only four, one, and 22, respectively; and some of these belonged to the same patent family and/or were related patents by the same inventors and/or applicants. Many were corporate. Only one Mongolian inventor predominated, Enkhbold Chuluun. Unsurprisingly, patents registered to Mongolian entities relate to mining technology or the agriculture and energy sectors (aside from mining).
English-language information about Mongolia's IP protection can be found on the WIPO web site. Just enter "Mongolia" into the site's search engine.
The lack of a Mongolian inventor or applicant patenting at the WIPO, EP, and USPTO is not an indication that Mongolians aren't patenting. Mongolia does have an Intellectual Property Office and although an English-language link is provided for a Google search, the actual website (ipom.mn) is only in Mongolian. It even has a recently created Facebook page but, again, in Mongolian only. So it's difficult to tell how much patenting is being done in-country, and by whom (Mongolians or foreign entities).
As for protection of foreign-owned IP in Mongolia, that's a separate issue but clearly one that needs to be considered when valuing patents and their potential applications. A 2013 report by the US Embassy's Economic and Commercial section entitled "2013 Mongolia Investment Climate Statement" comments on foreign intellectual property rights protection in Mongolia.
3. Stock market, securities, and company financial data
The Mongolian Stock Exchange has a website (mse.mn) with an English-language option, and it has company financials for each of the 276 companies listed. But these are not all in English, and despite reports of a recent USAID project to standardize in English these financials, I was unable to obtain further information about this project. The MSE website has separate lists of companies that have stopped trading or de-listed, those with Initial Public Offerings or tender offers, government held companies, etc. But it's unclear how up-to-date this information might be. I couldn't figure out a way to download historical securities data. Not to say that there might not be a way to do so. As for getting records of dividends, splits, acquisitions and mergers, as well as spin-offs, good luck. Unless you actually work at the exchange, know someone who does or have the moolah to subscribe to Bloomberg Professional, it's unlikely an academic researcher – or any research analyst – is going to have data (let alone vetted data) to use to support hypotheses or to make well-informed decisions.
As a research data analyst, I'd have very little work to do here unless it was putting together a research data system. (And that's not a bad idea!) It's unclear to me how investment and development decisions will be made without solid, vetted data and research as a basis. Yes, there is some data available, but it seems geared at encouraging speculative investment based on only current data that's not easily compared with competing investments, or with adjusted (for factors such as exchange rate, policy/legislation, weather) historical data.
Fund managers and investors might as well gaze into a crystal ball, or become flies on the wall. In short, investment in Mongolia, which was supposed to start out as fair and equitable, strikes me as elitist. I could not make the kind of investment decisions here that I would be able to make with my money in other markets. I encourage readers to look at what's available from WRDS (http://wrds-web.wharton.upenn.edu/wrds/about/) and compare it to what's available in Mongolia.
One part of the issue might be the salaries (if you can call them that) of those who would conduct pure research in economics, finance, IP, and policy; thereby, creating a knowledge base on which an economic future for Mongolia could be built. Maybe the data sources don't exist because there's nobody who would use them, and the WIPO/EP/USPTO patents don't exist because there is no support for inventors to make their applications to these patenting offices and few guarantees that their inventions will be protected even if they do.
Mogi: One should take it as a sign that Mongolian people are THAT much intolerant of corruption. They should name this report the "Global Corruption Intolerance Barometer"
Transparency International: Mongolia, 2nd Most Corrupt Country in the World
July 14 (USA Today) More than half of the world's population believes corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem. Liberia and Mongolia are the two most corrupt countries in the world, according to a recent study. In both countries, 86% of residents believe corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem. Residents in the vast majority of countries around the world believe corruption has only gotten worse in the past two years.
Anti-corruption nonprofit Transparency International has released its 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, which surveyed residents in 107 countries. The world's corrupt nations differ in many ways. Four are located in Africa, three in Latin America and two in Asia. These nations also vary considerably in size and population. Mongolia has just 3.2 million residents, while Mexico, Nigeria and Russia are three of the largest countries on the globe, each with more than 100 million people. Based on the percentage of surveyed residents that reported corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem, these are the world's most corrupt nations.
What many of these nations do have in common is that their people are largely opposed to corruption. Globally, 69% of people questioned by Transparency International said they would report corruption if they encountered it. In seven of the nine nations with the worst corruption, residents were at least slightly more likely to oppose corruption. In Paraguay, one of the countries with high corruption, 90% of citizens said they would report corruption, while 87% and 86% said they would do so in Mexico and Russia, respectively.
Many of those surveyed in the highly corrupt countries also felt their governments were not holding up their end of the bargain. In seven of the nine countries, more than half of those questioned felt their government was ineffective at fighting corruption. In Liberia, 86% of residents surveyed said their government was ineffective at fighting the problem. This was the largest proportion of any of the 107 nations Transparency International surveyed.
While corruption appears to affect every part of the public sector, certain segments were much worse than the rest. Globally, at least 60% of respondents claimed political parties and police were corrupt. Additionally, more than 50% of people stated their legislature, their public officials and their judiciary were corrupt.
In the world's most corrupt nations, those institutions were, naturally, even worse. In Nigeria, 94% of people claimed their political parties were corrupt, the most in the world. Similarly, 96% of Liberians reported their legislature was corrupt, also the most in the world. In eight of the nine most corrupt nations, more than 80% of residents considered the police to be corrupt.
Many of these nations remain among the world's less-developed, and they lack the resources of the United States, Japan and the European Union nations. Among the most corrupt nations, only Mexico, Russia and Venezuela had an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) per capita over $10,000 in 2012. None were among the top 50 nations measured in GDP per capita. By comparison, the U.S. per capita GDP was estimated to be nearly $50,000.
Based on figures published by Transparency International, 24/7 Wall St. determined the nations with the highest percentage of respondents who claimed corruption was a very serious problem. Transparency International also provided other figures on corruption perception. Data on GDP by nation came from the International Monetary Fund. Population statistics are from The CIA World Factbook.
· Pct. saying corruption very serious: 86% (tied for the highest)
· Pct. claiming public officials corrupt: 77% (12th highest)
· Pct. claiming police corrupt: 66% (49th highest)
· 2012 GDP per capita: $5,372
Mongolia had one of the world's fastest growing economies in 2012, when its GDP rose an estimated 12.3%, according to the IMF. But corruption has been identified by USAID as a critical threat to the country's continued growth as well as to its democracy. Corruption has become pervasive in the country, after "rapid transition to democracy and a market economy created huge demands on bureaucracy that lacks the [means] to prevent corruption," according to the organization. Encouragingly, less than half of all people surveyed in the country said that corruption had increased in the past two years, versus 53% of respondents worldwide. Also, while 77% of people considered public officials to be corrupt, just 12% believed the country's government to be run by a few large, purely self-interested entities.
· Pct. saying corruption very serious: 86% (tied for the highest)
· Pct. claiming public officials corrupt: 67% (35th highest)
· Pct. claiming police corrupt: 94% (3rd highest)
· 2012 GDP per capita: $673
The vast majority of Liberians surveyed said they believed the country was run either largely or entirely by a few entities acting in their own self-interest. A world-leading 86% of residents who spoke to Transparency International claimed their government had been either ineffective or very ineffective at fighting corruption, while 96% of residents claimed Liberia's legislature was corrupt, also the highest percentage of any nation. A stunning 75% of residents surveyed claimed they had paid a bribe to secure some service, trailing only Sierra Leone. In all, 80% of the population had at one point been asked to pay a bribe. Recently, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf fired the country's auditor general for corruption.
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Mongol TV looks West again
July 19 (C21Media) Mongol TV has renewed a number of its US and UK imports as well as prepping a Dutch format as a daily strip and eyeing Korean opportunities.
The channel, currently transforming Mongolian television with a Westernised programming strategy, has renewed US dramas Homeland, The Good Wife and Hawaii Five-O from CBC Studios International, as well as UK hit Downton Abbey from NBCUniversal.
The acquisitions all debuted in February, when the four-year-old channel launched its refreshed programming schedule, with local productions, localised formats and acquisitions.
The network is also working on a second season of children's gameshow Go 4, based on a format from Belgian prodco Sultan Sushi, acquired via sister company Red Arrow International.
"We did 20 episodes of Go 4 in mid-season and we're now prepping another 20 for mid-season next year," said Michel Rodrigue, CEO of The Format People, who is consulting with the Mongol channel's CEO Nomin Chinbat on its new programming plans.
The channel is also adapting 20-year-old comedy quiz format Who Am I?, acquired from Dutch sales house Absolutely Independent, as a daily primetime strip debuting mid-September.
"It's an older format but it's a good one, and it will fill the 20.00-20.30 slot until the end of December," added Rodrigue, former boss of Distraction Formats.
"We're also looking at a Korean primetime reality format with a view to possibly doing a 'carousel production' deal with the producers. If that goes ahead, we'd fly our contestants, host and director to shoot our show using the Korean set."
As well as overhauling Mongolia's television landscape with its new programming strategy, Mongol TV has been instrumental in bringing a new audience measurement system to the country.
"A local franchise of Kantar Media has installed audience measurement boxes in 125 households in Ulan Bator and since we re-launched in February, we've become the number two network in Mongolia after the public broadcaster," said Rodrigue.
"There are plans to increase the sample size to 300 households by the end of the year. That would be one home per thousand, which is the international norm."
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Mongolia after Chinggis
By Claire Launay
July 21 (UB Post) The name of the international airport should have given me a hint, but I was probably too tired to pick up the clues at that time. Names given to international airports may say a lot about a country's eye on its own history, after all. In France, the biggest international airport is named after a president of the post-World War II era, Charles de Gaulle. Toronto's airport, Canada's busiest one, is named after a Prime Minister of the 1960s, Lester Pearson. And the list could go on, as the examples are numerous. Mongolia's international airport was named after Chinggis Khaan, who died in 1227. Don't get me wrong, the significance of Chinggis Khaan in Mongolian – and even world – history is hardly questionable. But he lived more than seven centuries ago!
Before coming to Mongolia, all I had heard about the country's history included Chinggis Khaan, a man who had founded the biggest empire in human history by uniting thousands of Northeast Asian tribes under its command. The information I had about him was somewhat tainted with negative connotations though, regarding the massacres that had happened in the run for expansion. What I thought then, as my plane was taking off in Beijing for Ulaanbaatar, was that by going to Mongolia, I would not only learn more about this great man – sometimes referred to as the "Man of the millennium" – but also about other important figures of Mongolian history since his time.
And so, I landed in an airport named after him. And then I headed to Sukhbaatar Square to be shown its namesake's statue. Of course, in my first week, I had my first taste of Chinggis Khaan beer and vodka as well. The airport's name had not been enough to warn me, but the rest of it should have. It shocked me for several reasons. I find it sad that hardly anybody after this grand leader's death was deemed significant enough to have things named after them. Yes, Ulaanbaatar's biggest and most famous square is named after Sukhbaatar, a revolutionary leader of the post- World War I era, but there are now talks about renaming the square after Chinggis Khaan, too. Why? No matter where one stands politically, Sukhbaatar is an important figure in Mongolian history, and his name should not be replaced by somebody that predates him. If anything, I think it should be the other way around.
I don't know much about Mongolian history, unfortunately, but this I know: at least during the twentieth century, Mongolia went through several major changes, such as the invasions by Chinese and Russian armies (as well as their liberation from them too), it experienced a period during which it was a satellite state of the Soviet Union, and of course, its transition to democracy. And this is just covering the last hundred years. Surely numerous important Mongolian people played a significant part in all these events, but it seems like on the surface (I have not looked at school textbooks), little reward is given to anybody who lived after the thirteenth century.
I come from a country that takes great pride in its history, its literature and arts: France. And if there was one person we should remember for its contribution to these fields, it would probably be King Francis I, who reigned in the early sixteenth century. His significance in France is comparable to Chinggis Khaan's in Mongolia, although his grandeur did not spread nearly as far as Chinggis'. A lot of streets, squares and schools are named after him in France, because it is understood that one must remember the great men of a nation. Men, not man. Other significant subsequent kings, generals and politicians of more recent centuries have also earned the right to have their names known by the general public. Just like significant Mongolians who participated in making the country what it is today.
Seeing only Chinggis Khaan's name everywhere gives me the impression, and I cannot be the only one, that Mongolia believes it has nothing to be proud of since him. Not only is this a very sad statement, but it is obviously wrong, especially considering the path on which the country has been since its transition to democracy. Lots remains to be done, but Mongolia can already pride itself on having successfully gone from a communist regime to a functioning democracy. Not a perfect one, in light of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights observations of the latest presidential election, but a more than encouraging one. Only about twenty years after its full independence from the USSR, this is quite an achievement.
Chinggis Khaan is known outside of Mongolia; he has contributed greatly to world history. But just like Francis I of France, whom most people outside of France have probably never heard of, Mongolia needs to pay tribute to those who've contributed to its modern history too, no matter how unknown they are to foreigners. On its incredible course of development, which seems parallel to some amount of Westernization, it should not forget its own culture and history. I believe this starts, not by forgetting about Chinggis Khaan, but by having some perspective and seeing other people who have contributed greatly to make the great nation that is Mongolia. Schools have started teaching the original Mongolian script; this sounds like a great start. Let's hope that the government puts more policies of this sort in place to make sure that Mongolian identity does not limit itself to some far-far-away hero, and does not get swallowed by either of its two big neighbors… or the "third one".
American Taxpayers Pay $240K to Help Improve Air Quality In Mongolia
July 19 (CNSNews.com) - The Mongolian government - in partnership with the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles - will spend $240,000 of American tax dollars to improve the eastern Asian country's worsening air quality.
The Mongolia/Southern California Environmental Health Research and Training Center (MSCEHRTC) partnership will focus "on the consequences of atmospheric pollution and the introduction of sustainable control technologies on environmental health across the lifespan in Mongolia," according to the grant abstract approved by the National Institutes of Health.
"We are training young American and Mongolian pediatricians and public health students to monitor personal exposure to air pollutants in children and various occupations such as ambulance drivers and traffic cops and compare this to exposure data in LA," said the leader of the project, Dr. David Warburton, Professor of Pediatrics, Surgery and Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the hospital.
Asked about using American tax dollars for such a project, Warburton said in an email to CNSNews.com from Mongolia that he believes "this international capacity is a great use of U.S. tax dollars" and "will have an important impact on health and air quality policy worldwide."
Awarded on February 14th, the $240,104 NIH grant will also provide research opportunities for individuals with the Health Sciences University of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar and the University of Southern California (USC).
"Only $65,000 of this award are spent directly in Mongolia on things like monitoring equipment and training. A lot more is spent on training and capacity building with U.S personnel," Dr. Warbuton told CNSNews.com.
"Mongolia is a friendly country with tremendous upside potential for U.S. business," he added.
"Advising and training them on how to approach the health effects of rapid urbanization is not only good for Mongolia, but also good for the U.S.' reputation and is a test case for our cities at home. We are applying much that we have already learned in LA, and so UB is a wonderful place to perfect our interventions in a challenging real world setting."
When asked whether the Mongolian government will be receiving any of the research funds, Warburton replied, "It will not. My contacts with the Minister of the Environment have been extremely welcoming, professional and helpful. Over the past 15 years I have never been approached for anything like that."
According to the abstract, "this program will be sustainable because in response to evidence-based approaches by ourselves and other collaborators, the Government of Mongolia has recently demonstrated its practical commitment to the reduction of air pollution."
A number of major Mongolian banks and government agencies will also participate in the research. They include Mongolia's Ministry of Mining and Natural Resources, Ministry of Energy, National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring (NAMEM), and National Office of Air Quality (NAQO) which is directly responsible for monitoring Mongolia's air quality.
A spokeswoman for the NIH did not respond to inquiries by CNSNews.com.
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Mongolian, US armed forces announce participation in multinational exercise
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, July 17 (DVIDS) - Mongolian Armed Forces and U.S. Pacific Command have announced their participation in Exercise Khaan Quest 2013, scheduled to be held at Five Hills Training Area, and the city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Aug. 3 to 14.
Khaan Quest is a regularly scheduled, multinational exercise co-sponsored this year by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and hosted annually by the Mongolian Armed Forces. KQ 13 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises designed to promote regional peace and security. This year's exercise marks the 11th anniversary of this training event.
Khaan Quest 2013 consists of a command post exercise (CPX) and field training exercise (FTX) at Five Hills Training Area, both of which will focus on peacekeeping and stability operations. During these portions of the exercise, Mongolian, U.S. and multinational forces will work to enhance regional interoperability and mission effectiveness, as well as develop common tactics, techniques and procedures.
Mongolian and U.S. armed forces, along with other regional partners, will also participate in Engineering Civic Action Program (ENCAP) projects, as well as Cooperative Health Engagement (CHE) events in Ulaanbaatar, enhancing joint Mongolian-U.S. medical capabilities and providing outreach to underserved communities.
The exercise provides an ideal platform for participating nations to demonstrate military-to-military interoperability, enhance relationships and increase multinational cooperation. In addition to Mongolia and the United States, military personnel from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, South Korea, Tajikistan, United Kingdom and Vietnam are also expected to participate.
Camp Eggers celebrates Naadam festival
KABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan, July 11 (DVIDS) –Naadam is one of the two largest festivals of the Mongolian year. It is celebrated nationwide on July 11 – 13. This year the Mongolian coalition celebrated Naadam at Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, with music, pass and review, a hand-to-hand combat demonstration, wrestling competition, native foods and awards.
The Mongolian coalition celebrated Naadam at Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, with music, a pass and review, a hand-to-hand combat demonstration, wrestling competition, native foods and awards. Naadam (pronounced naa-dm) is one of Mongolia's largest festivals celebrated nationwide July 11 – 13.
Naadam is properly known as "Eriin gurvan naadam" meaning the three games of men. The three games are wrestling, horse racing and archery. These games are the basic skills of Mongolian soldiers tracing back to Central Asian nomadic tribes such as Huns, Scythians and Turks.
Col. Sylvester Cannon, Commander of the Kabul Base Cluster and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Griffin attended with Camp Eggers Garrison Executive Officer Lt. Col. Kim Russell and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Grace all from the 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Alabama National Guard.
The invitation to participate in the celebration was extended by Lt. Col. B. Tumurpurev, Commanding Officer, Mongolian Expeditionary Task Force (METF)-VIII, and Command Sgt. Maj. N. Bat-erdene, Senior Enlisted, METF-VIII.
"The Mongolian army has a long history; this celebration is as much about freedom as it is the capability of a strong and proud nation. I appreciate the invitation Lt. Col. Tumurpurev extended to the Soldiers of the 226th MEB" said Cannon.
Tumurpurev acknowledged two soldiers of the 226th MEB for their assistance, Sgt. 1st Class Karl Kunkle NCOIC Department of Logistics and Staff Sgt. Joshua Stephens generator mechanic and supply sergeant, received certificates of appreciation for their work.
"We have many outstanding soldiers in the 226th MEB, Kunkle and Stephens are key examples of the values and standards we maintain" said Griffin.
The Mongolian ceremony is a colorful, dynamic event. It marks the 2222nd anniversary of the first establishment of Mongolia, 807th anniversary of the establishment of the Mongolian Empire and the 92nd anniversary of the People's Revolution.
Soldiers presenting and protecting the Mongolian flag wore the red, blue and yellow full dress uniform complete with the signature leather brown and tan boot curling upwards at the narrow toe.
Displaying their precision and weapon handling skills, Mongolian soldiers conducted the pass and review to the beat of a drum performing movements in succession and unison with both accuracy and skill.
Lunch was served after a breathtaking display of hand-to-hand combat. Guests were ushered into a yurt to partake of utz a steamed mutton back and airag which is a fermented mare's milk.
"I enjoyed the warm drink and the meat, but the fat is an acquired taste" said Griffin.
Mongolian, US engineers team up to renovate school
NALAIKH DISTRICT, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 20 (DVIDS) – Despite the generally arid climate in Mongolia's steppe, rain poses a significant threat to a high school here. A multinational team of engineers and construction specialists are working to solve that problem during exercise Khaan Quest 2013.
Marines with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, and soldiers from 96th Troop Command, Washington Army National Guard, have teamed up with the Mongolian Armed Force's 017 Construction Regiment to renovate Erdmiin Oyun High School, kicking off the project, July 20.
Cracks in the roof and walls have caused leaks into the school's classrooms and gymnasium and are starting to compromise the structural integrity of the building.
"The water is filling the cracks," said Army Master Sgt. Andrew Haas, site foreman and operations sergeant with 96th Troops Command. "In the winter this water freezes and expands which is causing the wall to break away.
"The roof is getting fixed, the application of the emulsion to the walls will keep rain from getting into the side of the building, and the new windows will help keep water from getting inside," Haas added. "All three together will slow down the decay of the wall and prolong the life of the building."
The team is also building a wheelchair-accessible ramp at the front entrance of the school.
"This project is very important, especially for the local people," said MAF 1st Lt. Tumurbataar Tulga, training officer for 017 Construction Regiment and Mongolian officer-in-charge at the site. "It's even better because it gives (our militaries) an opportunity to share our knowledge and learn how to incorporate our expertise."
1st Lt. Matthew Elliott, a platoon commander with 9th ESB and OIC of U.S. forces, has confidence that his Marines will not only play a large part in completing the mission, but that they will also learn from the experience during this year's Khaan Quest exercise.
"The (MAF engineers') work ethic is great, they come out here and they start working right off the bat," said Elliott. "They do things differently out here … and the way they design their roofs is something we've never seen before."
"Our precision will probably be impressed on them a little bit, and we're definitely picking up some things from them … they can make things work without the most state-of-the-art tools," said Lance Cpl. John M. Toniolo, a combat engineer with Alpha Company, 9th ESB. "We should both take away a lot from this."
Exposure to different tactics, techniques and procedures provides a valuable training benefit to the exercise participants, but it will also leave a lasting impression on the surrounding community.
"I see kids walking around here, and I know that I'm not just impacting the Mongolian Armed Forces," said Toniolo. "This is something that the local community needs to use, and they'll use it everyday."
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River Diversion Project Spells Disaster in Mongolia
By Michelle Tolson
SELENGE PROVINCE, Mongolia, Jul 19 2013 (IPS) - Tsetseghkorol, a Mongolian herder, stares out nostalgically at the Orkhon River, the longest in the country.
"In 1992, the river used to be wide, deep and clean," she says. "Now it is very polluted and small."
Sitting with her neighbour Dashdavaa in a 'ger', a traditional Mongolian yurt used by herders across this vast Central Asian country, Tsetseghkorol tells IPS she has lived alongside the 1,124-km-long Orkhon for 40 years, raising five children and a herd of livestock with little more than the natural bounty of the river basin.
Dashdavaa, also a herder, is in her 60s, with nine grown children. She moved closer to a tributary of the Orkhon River in 1992 after the collapse of socialism in Mongolia, when she lost her job as a kindergarten teacher.
Like many Mongolians at the time, she returned to her pastoralist roots to support her large family, and now views this river as a critical lifeline.
Though shrinking from climate change, the Selenge river basin, comprised in part by the Orkhon River, is still lush compared to the 72 percent of the country facing desertification.
Covering 343,000 square km, the basin provides a livelihood to 55 percent of Mongolia's population of 2.9 million people.
As idyllic as this valley seems, a threat lurks not too far away: the potential destruction of this ancient way of life by the proposed Orkhon River Diversion Project, which, according to the NGO Rivers Without Boundaries, is funded by the World Bank.
Currently in its feasibility-study phase, the project is a government scheme to build a dam several kilometres upstream from Tsetseghkorol and Dashdavaa, 35 km southwest of the northern city of Bulgan, in order to pump water through a 900-km-long underground pipeline into the parched Southern Gobi Region, which could run out of groundwater in the next 10 years unless additional water sources are promptly located.
A website detailing the Orkhon project revealed there is a possibility of building a reservoir with a capacity of 700 to 800 million cubic metres, as well as a 25-to-30-megwatt (MW) hydropower station on the river.
While this project intends to draw just five percent of the Orkhon River's total supply, experts say the percentage volume will vary depending on the time of year: the river is always much thinner during the dry season, while most of the surface water is frozen throughout the winter months (November through April); so the river will face a particularly heavy assault during those periods of scarcity.
"Given that the Orkhon, including Tuul [its tributary] is already the most exploited river basin in Mongolia, even an additional five-percent withdrawal may cause serious problems," Eugene Simonov, a conservation science specialist at Pacific Environment and coordinator of the Rivers without Boundaries coalition, told IPS.
According to a report from Mongolia's Water Centre, the water will travel south through eight population centres, with the final destinations being the massive government-owned Tavan Tolgoi coal mine and Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.
The latter, located 350 km from the capital, Ulaanbaatar, is expected to increase the country's gross domestic product (GDP) by 30 percent and is currently valued at 6.6 billion dollars.
Mining is taking a heavy toll on the region, with herders in the Gobi desert reporting that dug wells, their traditional water sources, are drying up as a result of the mines, which guzzle an estimated 191,230 cubic metres of water every day, far surpassing the combined consumption of livestock herds (31,600 cubic metres) and residents (just 10,000 cubic meters), according to the 2010 World Bank water assessment for the Southern Gobi Region.
Enkhat, director of the ministry of environment and green development, told IPS that the water shortage is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed "immediately", citing the diversion project as a step in the right direction.
While the ministry has identified herders and locals in the Gobi desert as the main beneficiaries of the project, feasibility reports show the mining industry is expected to swill no less than 50 percent of the water, while 30 percent will go to crop irrigation and only 20 percent to livestock, household use and environmental purposes.
This ratio bodes badly for an agricultural region that supplies 40 percent of the country's wheat needs and where 100,000 residents are dependent on the river to water their crops and their roughly 1.3 million head of cattle.
Furthermore, the project will solidify the region's relationship with miners by soliciting funds and contracts from extraction companies in order to meet the project's exorbitant costs.
Initially the cost of conveyance was found to be too high compared to the cost of accessing existing groundwater sources, making the project "unfeasible", but rising prices of groundwater over the last few years have made surface water projects much more attractive.
From about eight cents per cubic metre, the cost of groundwater has risen to 1.07 to 6.74 dollars for a single cubic metre, depending on the quality of the water source.
The price increase, implemented to prevent industrial overuse of the scarce resource, represents a major setback for the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, jointly owned by the Canadian corporation Rio Tinto (Mogi: mmmm, not exactly Canadian but yeah) and the Mongolian government, at 66 percent and 34 percent respectively.
The original mining contract stipulated that Rio Tinto would draw its water needs from a saline aquifer that the project's researchers located 35 km from the construction site in 2003.
The mining ministry confirmed to IPS that Rio Tinto had been granted the use of 20 percent of this aquifer for a 40-year period.
But according to Oyu Tolgoi's water resources principal advisor, Mark Newby, the price hike has resulted in the company footing a water bill that is "40 times higher than previously agreed."
Higher prices have also made alternative sources, such as water drawn from alluvial deposits, cost ineffective. Classified as 'groundwater' because it resides under the Orkhon riverbed, water extracted from alluvium would cost three times as much as surface water.
According to Simonov, this encourages reservoir construction, which obstructs the natural flow of the river and harms the fragile ecosystem.
The Taishir Dam, for instance, constructed against the wishes of the community in western Mongolia in 2008, has negatively affected indigenous nomads, endangered species like the Pallas's Fish Eagle, and led to the untimely deaths of livestock by drying out the Zavkhan River.
"Giant infrastructure projects for which international finance institutions are providing soft loans are the best option for corporations or contractors and lazy development organisations that derive a benefit from them. They [the projects] usually serve the interests of large businesses, not the local population," Simonov said, adding, "Prestige Group [the Mongolian engineering firm in charge of the project] has always favoured in-stream reservoir construction, the most costly and environmentally destructive option."
Dashdavaa and Tsetseghkorol looked stricken when asked for their opinion on the proposed project. Sitting in their gers without a television, they have been unaware of the broadcast advertisements proclaiming that water will be brought to the Gobi from the Orkhon.
These humble subsistence herders thought the project, already on the table for a few years, had been cancelled in response to the local outcry.
Though they understand that people need water in the Gobi, they said that if the project goes through, "We will become like the Gobi ourselves."
*The story moved on Jul. 19, 2013, incorrectly stated that the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine plans to take advantage of the Orkhon River Diversion Project. Mark Newby, water resources principal advisor for the mine, informed IPS that Oyu Tolgoi will not utilise water from the river diversion project for its operations.
Mongolia officially registers its 2,900,000th citizen
July 17 (UB Post) The Bureau of Population and Housing Census (BPHC) of the National Statistical Office (NSO) has officially announced that Mongolia's population reached 2,900,000 on July 10.
Chief of BPHC, A.Amarbal, said, "The Ministry of Health sends monthly data of mortality and birth rates to the NSO and according to the statistics, Mongolia welcomes a new citizen every seven minutes and 36 seconds, while one Mongolian citizen dies every 28 minutes and 36 seconds.
Projections of population growth are made based on a population's mortality and birth rate. Likewise, the NSO has started running a 'Population Clock' which estimated the birth on July 10.
As of the first half of 2013, the birth rate had already exceeded 38,000 , the same birth rate of the 1980s, when Mongolia's birth rate had reached its peak."
Mongolia: 4th Most Stressed-Out Country in the World
Mongolian Appointed Head of Asian Society of Dinosaur Studies
July 17 (UB Post) The Asian Society for Dinosaur Studies, established in cooperation with Mongolia, Russia, China, Thailand, Korea and Japan, has officially been inaugurated. Headquartered in Japan, the society has chosen R.Barsbold, professor at the Palaeonthology Institute of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, as its head.
The society, formed to deliver scientific and practical information on dinosaurs to the public, will hold an annual conference.
Mongolia: Celebrating Nadaam
By Pearly Jacob
July 17 (EurasiaNet) Every year in July Mongolians mark Nadaam, the national festival featuring what locals call "eriin gurvan nadaam," or the "three manly sports" of wrestling, horseracing and archery.
The festival dates back to the times of Genghis Khan, who supposedly introduced the competition as a means to keep his soldiers in fighting form during times of peace. This year's national Nadaam festival was dedicated to what Mongolians claim as the 2,222nd year of Mongolia's statehood.
Provinces and small towns across the country host their own Nadaam games throughout the month. The nationwide festival takes place in the capital Ulaanbaatar. The games are officially declared open after nine ceremonial white banners representing the nine tribes of Mongolia are brought from the government house and hoisted in the national stadium.
Wrestling and horseracing still draw the biggest crowds, but participation in archery remains strong. In 2001, a fourth traditional sport of knucklebone shooting or "shagai" was included in the Nadaam games. Shagai contestants compete to strike small targets made from goat or sheep anklebones with a striker made from polished knucklebones and flicked with the fingers through air from a distance of about five meters.
Women participate only in archery, and young girls can be jockeys in the horseraces but are not allowed in wrestling or shagai.
While the games have changed little over the years, the prize money keeps growing, along with the number of corporate sponsors. The winner of the national wrestling champion, for example, walked away with a Mercedes Benz G500 SUV, keys to a two-bedroom apartment in Ulaanbaatar's posh residential district of Zaisan and a cash prize of 15 million tugriks (about $10,000).
Mongolian child jockeys race to danger at Naadam festival
By NOMIN LKHAGVASUREN
July 11 (AAP) JUST before little Baasanjav Lkhagvadorj was lifted onto a horse for a race across Mongolia's open steppe, he asked his father to bless him with a kiss.
Minutes later the seven-year-old was killed in a fall, the latest in a rising toll among the country's child jockeys.
As Mongolia's biggest national festival, Naadam, begins on Thursday, controversy is mounting over the way unprotected young riders are risking injury and even death.
Horses are at the core of Mongolian culture - there are dozens of words for the colours of an equine coat, and children learn to ride almost as soon as they can walk.
Horseracing is one of the "three manly sports" - along with wrestling and archery - that make up the Naadam celebrations, where the races are among the longest in the world, up to 28km depending on the age of the horse, four times the length of Britain's Grand National.
The contests are a legacy of the nation's warrior past, when Genghis Khan's forces would cover vast distances to wreak havoc on their enemies.
Mongolian horses are sturdy creatures bred for endurance, but the demands are so tough that child jockeys are preferred for their light weight, and around 30,000 ride in competitive races every year.
A health ministry study showed that 326 children were treated for racing injuries at the National Traumatology and Orthopaedics Research Centre in Ulan Bator alone last year, up from 222 in 2010.
But accidents in the countryside, where most of the population live, often go unrecorded.
Lkhagvadorj's death was the third recorded child fatality so far this year, according to Baljinnyam Javzankhuu of the National Agency for Children, adding there had been more than 20 in the past decade.
"Competitions have become very cruel," she said.
As well as the official Naadam races, newly wealthy owners - reportedly including MPs and state officials - have taken to organising barely regulated competitions of their own in ever increasing numbers, particularly since Mongolia liberalised its economy after the advent of democracy in 1990.
Private races have looser rules, can be held in winter when conditions are more risky, and now that the country is enjoying a resources boom betting on them is said to sometimes reach as much as $US60,000 (A65,400).
But according to child rights defenders children can be hired informally to take part for as little as a bicycle, a set of schoolbooks, or up to 150,000 tugriks ($110).
Horses can be insured for millions of tugriks but their riders are either not covered - contrary to legal requirement - or only for a token amount less than $32, said Javzankhuu.
Helmets and protective gear are also mandatory, but the rules are often ignored.
Purev Oyunchimeg, one of Mongolia's three national human rights commissioners, wants parliament, the Great Khural, to class horseracing as child labour, or at the very least improve standards and raise the minimum age for Naadam riders from seven to nine.
"The rich should stop making children victims of entertainment," she said of the private races.
"When children die (the families) don't even get any compensation."
Mongolia's culture, sports and tourism ministry is preparing a new law that will ban children under 16 taking part in private events. But no decision has yet been made on changing the minimum age for official races.
"Mongolian traditional horse racing is the most democratic, liberal event," minister Tsedevdamba Oyungerel said.
"But when money gets involved the races become fiercely competitive and thus dangerous for children."
Traditionalists, however, defend the practice. Adya Bayarmagnai, advisor to the Mongolian Equestrian and Horse Trainers' Union, and an owner and trainer himself, said that only "a tiny percentage" of children have accidents.
"Children fall from horses - it's the only way to learn horse-riding," he said.
"A Mongol child is put on horseback at the same time as he or she learns co-ordination and walking. Thus a child and a horse become one harmonious entity."
Lkhagvadorj's father, a seasonal agricultural worker from Jargalant, 135km northwest of the capital Ulan Bator, is himself an ardent horse lover and had ambitions for his son to take part in bigger events.
It was an official contest, but the boy was on someone else's animal last week, uninsured and not wearing a helmet or protective gear when he fell and suffered a fatal head injury.
Fighting back tears, his great-aunt Norjin said: "All the right things are only being discussed on TV, but never implemented in real life. If he only wore a helmet..."
American Center of Mongolian Studies on the move, not just location but also direction
By Christine Westgate
July 21 (UB Post) The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) has played a leading role in my sanity maintenance during my stay here in UB. Lucky for me, it's right in my neighborhood, at least for now.
ACMS provides services to Mongolia researchers. To get my feet wet in Mongolia studies before coming here, I'd put together an analysis of the translated entries in an anthropological project entitled "The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia" which is maintained online at amantuuh.socanth.cam.ac.uk. There were only 17 subject interviews available for my use, sufficient to get me started.
My research was a linguistic theme-based analysis of the interviews. Sentiment or computational linguistic analysis is an important component of analytical toolkits in the discovery of solutions to societal and business issues, beyond traditional quantitative measures. It can provide an open-ended insight into how people relate to various aspects of a greater problem and to find areas of agreement among stakeholders with different agendas and responsibilities. It can reveal out-of-the-box win-win solutions and answer questions that nobody thought to ask.
Sentiment analysis is being used more frequently in business research and practice. In recent years, it's become a focus of my consulting and research work and has been rewarding in terms of solid statistical results in a variety of settings.
With regards to "The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia," I found that when people looked back at environmental topics during this period in the country, they were invariably interested in water. Using a web crawler to gather text, I also found that water issues figure largely in current Mongolian news articles, and I was also able to quickly identify key terms highlighting competing issues as well as key players.
My research, being anthropological in nature, is somewhat representative of the types of research that ACMS has historically supported. I presented the results of my research at a poster session at the ACMS annual meeting last March in San Diego. It was there that I met Marc Tasse who was just leaving to become the Resident Director of ACMS in UB.
Unlike former Resident Directors, Tasse's background is in business, economics, and project management. This is because ACMS is on the move, not just its offices, but its services and focus areas, too. Its current location in Room 306 of the Center 34 Building kitt-corner from The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts is temporary. One of Tasse's tasks is to find a new home for the center that will encourage the direction of the organization in expanding its services and research focuses.
The services offered at present are an often-undervalued resource for visitors as well as those in residence. Membership which ranges from only 10 USD annually for any Mongolian citizen, 20 USD for a US student to 500 USD annually for a gold-level corporate sponsor or patron is open to all, not just Americans. (Tasse, by the way, is Canadian.) Besides offering reliable and up-to-date computing and Internet services, ACMS has a subscription to JSTOR which is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources; translation services; fellowships for non-Mongolians and Mongolians alike; and more. ACMS seeks to build upon its success.
Tasse's goal is to promote more English-language research publications in peer-reviewed journals by partnering with institutions of higher learning both in Mongolia and abroad, corporate, as well as non-profit/NGOs and governmental agencies. Expanded services would include assistance for submitting research to English-language peer-reviewed journals as well as guidance on the protection of intellectual property in the global marketplace, namely patenting and trademarking. A particular area of interest in terms of research support is economic and financial research, to include the stewardship of underlying related data resources like stock market and company metrics, as well as other indicators critical to economic investment and development analysis.
ACMS' goals are well-aligned with need and timely as well. Besides semantics analysis, I've worked for many years as a data analyst/programmer in support of business, financial, and economic research. In a separate article here in The UB Post, I present the disappointing results of an inquiry I conducted into the availability of Mongolian business and economic research data as well as articles published in English using such data.
A letter provided to me by Tasse from Charles Krusekopf, the Executive Director of the ACMS and Associate Professor at Royal Roads University, and Julian Dierkes, the Vice-President of ACMS and Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, and intended for publication in The UB Post, sums up the organization's intent to remedy the lack of research data and research publications in Mongolian economics, finance, and policy.
The letter can be found online at mongolianstudies.blogspot.com. Parties interested in collaborating and/or partnering with ACMS's planned expansion can contact Tasse directly at email@example.com.
Cleaning Khuvsgul Lake
July 17 (UB Post) As part of the Eastern Power Union of Mongolia, experts from Russia, Korea, China and India have partnered up and headed to Khuvsgul Province to clean Khuvsgul Lake's bottom on July 16.
A team of ten experts, working for a "Clean Lake, Clear World", will work at Khuvsgul Lake between July 18 and July 21 and relieve the lake from ship and vehicle wrecks as well as other garbage.
They believe the lake's depth is 260 meters and have calculated that many vehicles and ships have sunk in the lake since 1960.
According to one study, around 60 to 70 percent of the vehicles in the lake had full fuel tanks before being submerged. Four Korean divers will dive to the bottom of the lake and assist in the removal of a 10 ton truck at the cost of two to three billion MNT. Secretary General of the union, Ts.Batbayar, pledged that it is only the start of a very big project.
Khuvsgul Lake holds four percent of the world's fresh water and comprises 65 percent of Mongolia's fresh water reserve. The lake was formed two million years ago and there are only 16 other lakes as old as Khvsgul. In total, 966 rivers flow into Khuvsgul Lake while it only flows to Eg River.
Life at Lotus 2013
(Lotus Children's Center)
The year began with the arrival of Mata, a French Volunteer, who helped create a sculpture made of snow, ice, dung, and branches. The goal was to improve imagination, learn how to think outside the box and to create a big Land Art sculpture for an exhibition in The National Gallery, together with 6 primary students in February. Tom, an Australian volunteer, came to reorganize and continue to expand the activities of the Lotus Bakery. Volunteers from the American School came to give the children another approach at learning English, as well as check their comprehension level. The children visited The Children's Book Palace adding to the diverse reading levels and interests at Lotus. A mining company donated carpet, which was of great in dealing with the cold. Six boys took their Land Art Sculpture to the National Gallery where it was displayed on the front steps. At the end of the month, all the children and staff joined in on the fun during a snow party.
Primary students began the month with a trip to the National Gallery of Ulaanbaatar where they were amazed by the varying exhibitions. The British School donated hats and fruits, are willing to renew the floor of the hall in the school, and chose The Lotus Centre for the three scholarships. Didi took the children to an art exhibition at the Russian Church, to let the kids see a proper art school, and see how their talents matched up, in hopes some could potentially join the school. Matt Alesevich arranged the sending of gifts from people around the world for Tsagaan Sar. Two basketball players came to visit lotus and invited the children to a basketball game as well as conduct some basketball workshops with them.
The children visited the British School for computer lessons, sports and games. Each house celebrated Women's Day, and all female children and teachers with birthdays in January-March received a present. Tom organized that each house baked a cake. Indian guests visited Lotus to teach the children authentic Indian dance. Mongolian volunteer Bazo taught music history during the afternoon schedule. Coca Cola Company came to donate gifts and to film diverse school activities. A Mongolian bank also came to donate gifts. Two American volunteers arrived at Lotus. Leanne teaches arts and science and Nathan teaches computer. Classmates from the local school and teacher Enkhgerel came to donate toys.
All the children attended the World Circus in UB on donated tickets. The creation of The Lotus Shop began: a place where guests, volunteers, and visitors can buy items made and sold by the children. The aim is to raise their awareness of money and the cost of various items. A group of Dutch volunteers arrived for a week with the goal of helping The Lotus Shop begin. Babita, an Indian dance teacher also arrived, to teach the children authentic Indian dance.
Everyone was sad to see Stanny and Fritz (Lotus Centre's fulltime and Head Volunteers) leave this May, but they were replaced by Angie & Will of Columbia, who have been phenomenal and very well received in their absence. Korean doctors and dentists visited Lotus to check all children and staff of Lotus. Many children received medicines for their health, which was good in general. Mongolian performing group came to visit Lotus. All performers were children they donated books and tickets to watch their performance in UB.
School holidays begin! Many volunteers arrived for the summer. Romain, a Frenchman, worked on planting a vegetable garden with the goal of saving a substantial amount of money spent on vegetables. All contributed in the firstLotus Film Festival. Each of the children acted, helped edit film, and created artwork and posters for their own short videos. The theme was "Zombie", and the event was a massive success with the kids and volunteers alike. On opening night, the kids gathered in the school, where red carpet led them to popcorn and drinks for the premiere of their movies. Houses also took part in camping trips with Joey, an American volunteer. Joey recently summited Mt Elbrus, Europe's highest point, as a fundraising initiative for Lotus, and is happy to report the project raised nearly 10,000$ put towards building a community centre.
To watch a short video made by Joey highlighting the kids summer activities, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exLSP_FWFXA
Didi leaves to take part in the Mongol Rally! Didi Kalika will drive from London to Mongolia in an effort to raise money and awareness for The Lotus Children's Centre. Didi and two other Australian London based adventurists will travel some 10,000 miles over some of the most remote terrain on the planet. The challenge is not a race, but instead a charitable adventure. Didi has her work cut out for her, as it is not a race for the faint hearted. In 2012 Lotus was designated the charity for which the proceeds from the Mongol Rally were donated.
Mogi: why not, it can be played indoors right?
Mongolia formally joining World Minigolf Sport Federation in August
July 19 (Minigolfnews) The full Delegates Conference material has been distributed by the WMF Headquarters to the member nations. In the 73 pages DC-material you can find some interesting facts.
* South Korea and Mongolia are approved formally by the WMF Board as new applicants of membership and are going to be proposed to the Delegates Conference in August as new member nations.
* Four of the current five ordinary board members will if they are re-elected stay in the WMF Board. WMF Finance Manger, Said Morell of Sweden, will resign from his position.
* Proposed new Finance Manager is Peter Joost Middag from the Netherlands.
* The financial result of the WMF was 2011 -23.445 Euro and for 2012 +277 Euro.
* The suggested budget for 2014 are 0 and 2015 are -7000 Euro.
* To secure the long time financial situation of WMF the Board suggest a small raise of the various fees in the fee-catalogue.
* Due to unpaid fees the current members in India and China are suggested to be expulsed. New members from these two countries are instead suggested for permanent membership.
The Delegates conference will be held the 18th of August in Bad Munder, Germany.
Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
Founder & CEO
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