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Mongolia pins coal export ranking hopes on railway: MMC
The landlocked country aims to regain the top position it lost in the first half by 2015 when transport link to major China market is completed
August 29 (South China Morning Post) Mongolia will have a better chance of regaining its position as the top exporter of coal used to smelt steel in China after a railway is completed in late 2015, according to the chief executive of Mongolian Mining.
"Competitiveness of Mongolian coal is strongest in the China market due to its geographical proximity, but it has been hampered by the major obstacle of transportation," said Battsengel Gotov. "With the expected completion of a railway by the end of 2015, Mongolia will make a comeback."
Gotov made the comment after the company posted a net loss of US$25.2 million for the first half of the year, against a profit of US$31 million a year earlier, due to lower coal prices and higher finance costs.
Mongolia lost its leading export position to Australia in the first half of the year with its coking coal exports to China falling 36 per cent to six million tonnes. Australia's exports to China doubled to 13.3 million tonnes.
Despite the shorter distance to China's steel mills, a lack of efficient transport by rail meant that Mongolian coal trucked to the Chinese border lost market share to seaborne Australian coal.
A large portion of imported coking coal is sold to coastal steel mills, with Mongolian coal requiring further rail transport after crossing the border.
Mongolia gained the top position in 2011 and retained it last year, after floods in 2011 and labour disputes last year reduced production and exports from Australia.
CLSA's head of resources equities research, Andrew Driscoll, said BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, Australia's largest metallurgical coal miner and exporter, had been ramping up production to achieve lower costs and productivity gains this year.
That had seen Australia's share of the Chinese market jump to 37.7 per cent in the first half of this year from 26.2 per cent for the whole of last year, while Mongolia's share had dropped to 17 per cent from 35.7 per cent.
Mongolian Mining was the only miner in the nation to have increased its exports in the first half, by 32 per cent, Gotov said.
It was more competitive than its domestic rivals because it had coal washing and processing facilities that added value to raw coal and helped it soften the blow from a 19.3 per cent year-on-year fall in average selling prices in the first half of the year to US$79 a tonne.
Driscoll said he expected Australia would continue to be competitive, helped by its depreciating currency.
To bolster Mongolia's competitiveness and help lighten Mongolia Mining's debt load, the Mongolian government has offered to buy the company's paved road, which Gotov said could bring in about US$100 million. He hopes to conclude talks on the road's sale by the end of this year.
Gotov also said the government had proposed to Beijing extending a Chinese railway into Mongolia, which could cut transshipment costs by US$9 a tonne.
Mongolian Mining's Jan-Jun hard coking coal sales rise 32% to 3.1 mil mt
August 28 (Platts) Mongolian Mining Corporation's (HKEx:975) sales of hard coking coal in January-June 2013 rose 32% year on year to 3.1 million mt, of which 2.2 million mt was washed coal, the Hong Kong-listed company said Wednesday.
The volume of washed coal sales rose 72.1% year on year and accounted for 87.3% of total coal revenues of $247.8 million for the January-July period. It received an average price of $98.7/mt for its washed hard coking coal over the six-month period compared with $138.7/mt in the same period of 2012, MMC said.
Most Mongolian coking coal arrives at the Chinese border unwashed, and is therefore of lower quality, which is one of the reasons the product receives a discount compared with Chinese domestic and seaborne coking coal. MMC has been improving its coal processing operations to be able to provide a washed product, and commissioned a third processing module in June, it said.
The first module began commercial operations in June 2011, and the second in February 2012, an MMC spokeswoman said Wednesday.
"Each of the modules has an annual coal processing capacity of 5 million mt, making a total of 15 million mt/year," she said.
MMC was able to reduce the impact of lower coking coal prices by cutting average production costs for run-of-mine coal by $2.7/mt, or 37.5%, to $4.5/mt, the company said.
MMC's exports to China in January-June comprised around 42% of Mongolia's total coal exports, according to the country's National Statistics Office.
It produced 8.6 million mt of coking coal in calendar year 2012 from its Ukhaa Khudag mine, which forms part of the Tavan Tolgoi deposit in the Southern Gobi region.
MMC CEO Battsengel Gotov said Wednesday the company remained cautious about the outlook for the coking coal sector but expected a gradual recovery in coal prices over the rest of 2013.
MMC posted a $2.5 million net loss for the calendar year 2012. Mongolia has been losing its share of the Chinese coking coal market this year, particularly to Australian exports. In July, China received 982,472 mt of coking coal from Mongolia and 2.6 million mt from Australia, according to China customs data.
MMC: RE-DESIGNATION OF CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AND APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
August 27 -- The board of directors (the "Board") of Mongolian Mining Corporation (the "Company" and together with its subsidiaries as the "Group") wishes to announce the re-designation and appointment of Ms. Ulemj Baskhuu ("Ms. Baskhuu") from her current position of Chief Investment Officer (the "CIO") to Chief Financial Officer (the "CFO") of the Company with effect from 27 August 2013.
Ms. Baskhuu, aged 34, joined the Company as a vice president in December 2008 responsible for investment of Energy Resources Rail LLC, an indirect-wholly owned subsidiary of the Company and was appointed as the Executive Vice President and CIO of the Company in November 2011 and her responsibilities were to oversee the liquidity, asset management and investor relations of the Company. Ms. Baskhuu obtained a bachelor's degree in business administration from the Mercer University, United States in 2001.
Prior to joining the Company, Ms. Baskhuu worked for major Mongolian banks and held various senior positions such as director of Financial Institutions at the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia between 2003 and 2007 and head of investment banking at Khan Bank between 2007 and 2008.
The Board wishes to express its gratitude to Ms. Baskhuu for her contributions to the Company during the tenure of her position as the CIO of the Company and welcomes her in her new role as the CFO of the Company.
Xanadu Mines targets copper-gold porphyry with new drilling in Mongolia
August 28 (Proactive Investors) Xanadu Mines (ASX:XAM) has commenced a second phase exploration program at its Oyut Ulaan copper-gold porphyry project in the South Gobi region of Mongolia.
The program includes 1,500 metres of diamond core drilling, 350 line-kilometres of ground magnetics and 1,000 metres of trenching.
Drilling is designed to confirm extensions to the goldrich porphyry copper mineralisation identified by reconnaissance work in May-June.
The project is located 60 kilometres west of the Trans Mongolian Railway, covers 40 square kilometres and comprising numerous mineralised porphyry centres.
Porphyry mineralisation at Oyut Ulaan is associated with late-stage monzonite and quartz diorite porphyry dykes on the flanks of the Oyut Ulaan Intrusive Complex.
Fieldwork should be completed by early October with results to follow shortly thereafter. Capitalised at $14 million and well-funded, Xanadu is potentially leveraged to exploration success.
SouthGobi's Aspire Mining Stake Falls to 18.76% from 20.2% on Dilution
August 27 (Cover Mongolia) Notice of Change of Interest of Substantial Holder filed by Rio Tinto today revealed SouthGobi Resources' (TSX:SGQ, HKEx:1878) stake in Aspire Mining (ASX:AKM) fell to 18.76% from 20.2% due to performance rights by directors and officers were exercised in May 23.
Prophecy Coal Signs Multiple Coal Offtake Agreements, Aims to Restart Mining at Ulaan Ovoo in November
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Aug. 28, 2013) - Prophecy Coal Corp. ("Prophecy" or the Company")(TSX:PCY)(OTCQX:PRPCF)(FRANKFURT:1P2) is pleased to announce that in the last 60 days, it has entered into binding coal sales contracts with a number of buyers which will involve the sale of over 30,000 tonnes of coal per month (annualized rate of over 360,000 tonnes) from the Company's Ulaan Ovoo mine.
The buyers include cement plants, a metallurgical plant, a heat plant, chemical plants and Russian traders. The off-take quantity and variety of customers reflect the Company's significant efforts to drive higher margin sales while satisfying government power plant needs, which are excluded from the 30,000 tonnes per month forecast. All sales require pre-payment, as has been the Company's practice since January 2013.
The mine and Prophecy's own mining equipment can support mining of up to 1 million tonnes of coal per year according to designed capacity. The Company continues to survey its existing 28 customers and talk to new prospects, anticipating further increases of monthly sales forecast as winter preparation begins.
The orders reflect strong demand in Mongolian and Russian markets, whereby economies are growing at double digit rates, and local thermal coal mine production is declining. The average sales prices are robust, in line with our news release dated June 24, 2013, and are materially higher than our average realized price in 2011 and 2012, whereby majority of the customers then were government entities.
The Company cautions that mining operation of Ulaan Ovoo mine has been curtailed since July 2012. Some orders will be delivered in August and September from the existing coal stockpile. Fulfilling all the off-take agreements is contingent on a mine restart, which requires time and capital expenditures. The Company has installed significant water-pumping capacity at the mine site and will soon start pit-dewatering, aiming to start mining fresh coal by November 2013 and thereafter on a continued basis.
The Company has appointed a new mines manager, transportation manager and government advisors to manage and operate the Ulaan Ovoo mine. The Company's 100% owned camp, mining equipment and transportation trucks are on in good condition and are on standby.
Chandgana Power Plant project update:
Prophecy made an amended Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) submission in June 2013 at the request of the working group appointed by the Energy Ministry. Several of the working group members were in summer recess. The secretary of the working group has been collecting comments from group members in the past week and has indicated to PCY that the working group session will be called to discuss the PPA at the earliest available timeframe.
Wolf Petroleum raising $2.6M for Mongolian oil and gas exploration
August 29 (Proactive Investors) Wolf Petroleum (ASX: WOF) will raise $2.6 million through a fully underwritten non-renounceable entitlement issue to carry out seismic and other exploration for oil and gas in Mongolia.
The company's ability to secure full underwriting for the offer is notable, given the current state of markets, and removes any risk that it would be unable to carry out its exploration program.
Proceeds will be spent on seismic acquisition, processing and interpretation ($1.2 million), drill target planning ($450,000), geological and geophysical surveys ($150,000) and geochemical surveys ($60,000). The remaining will be used to pay the expenses of the offer and for working capital.
Wolf's Sukhbaatar Block covers an area of 23,047 square kilometres of which more than 60% of the surface outcrops are Cretaceous in age and have a high potential for source reservoir rocks.
The non-renounceable entitlement issue of two options for every three shares held is priced at $0.015 per option. These are exercisable at $0.05 each on or before 31 July 2018.
CPS Capital Group is acting as lead manager and broker for the issue and will also underwrite the offer for 174,558,384 options.
Garrison Equities, which is controlled by Wolf directors Brian McMaster, Matthew Wood and George Tumur, has agreed to sub-underwrite the offer for up to $1.3 million.
Wolf Petroleum: Entitlement Issue Prospectus to Raise $2.62 Million
August 28, Wolf Petroleum Limited (ASX:WOF) --
OYU TOLGOI LLC ASSURES LABOUR MINISTER OT OPERATION CONTINUES
Ulaanbaatar, August 21 /MONTSAME/ The Minister and the state secretary of the Labour Ministry Ya.Sanjmyatav and P.Gantulga Tuesday received administrative officials of the Oyu Tolgoi LLC.
The visitors--Michael Beck, the vice president of Human Resources and Capability Development at Oyu Tolgoi LLC and R.Sodkhuu, the OT executive director-- said that open pit, concentrating plant and other sections and workshops are working normally, and that some 7 thous. Mongolians are working there so far.
"The information about firing some 2,000 employees at the LLC due to shutting of the underground mine was received rather negatively by our society," Sanjmyatav stressed and said he wants to get a real information on a present situation and to discuss matters that might be appropriate for it.
Mr Beck replied that a financial problem with additional financing for the underground mine made the company annul contracts with several executor companies, but 22 other companies are still working with the OT LLC. There is no information from them about canceling contracts or firing workers, he added.
The OT LLC decided to fire 61 employees but it is seeking an opportunity to transfer them to other sections or divisions, and, in accordance with the labor law, the company intends to run talks with the Trade Unions to discuss the compensation issues, Beck went on, adding again that he is not able to give details on the matter..
Ending the meeting, the Minister told the visitors to give him as soon as possible an information about number of the employees fired and to have the contractor-companies work with less risks.
Ivanplats Changes Its Name to Ivanhoe Mines
New name reflects the company's commitment to development as a leading international multi-commodity mining company
New trading symbol to be IVN on Toronto Stock Exchange
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 28, 2013) - Ivanplats (TSX:IVP) Executive Chairman Robert Friedland and Chief Executive Officer Lars-Eric Johansson announced today that the company has changed its name to Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. effective today. The trading symbol for the common shares of the renamed Ivanhoe Mines will be IVN on the Toronto Stock Exchange and is expected to be in effect for market open on Tuesday, September 3.
"As our company continues to advance our diverse, principal projects, we believe this is the right time to make the transition to a corporate identity that more broadly reflects the fact that Ivanplats has grown and evolved in recent years to become much more than a singularly focused platinum-group metals company," said Mr. Friedland.
"We have been expanding our Platreef Project in South Africa's Bushveld platinum belt for more than a decade. Encouraged by our progress, we began using the distinguishing Ivanplats name several years ago - before the fortuitous pace of events enabled us to announce our Kamoa copper discovery in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Katanga Province in 2009 and before our acquisition of a majority interest in Katanga's Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-precious metals mine in 2011.
"Today, we have turned a page and are proud to usher in the era of the New Ivanhoe Mines."
Mr. Johansson said that the Ivanplats name is being retained for use in the ongoing development of the company's Platreef Discovery of platinum-group elements, nickel, copper, gold and rhodium in South Africa.
The wellspring for the naming of the original Ivanhoe Mines entity in 1999 was Ivanhoe Capital Corporation, the private venture capital and project finance firm founded by Mr. Friedland in 1987. Ivanhoe Capital retained the right to the Ivanhoe name through a subsequent 2010 agreement with Ivanhoe Mines and Rio Tinto. This agreement required the relinquishment of the Ivanhoe name after Rio Tinto acquired control of Ivanhoe Mines in January 2012. Ivanhoe Mines shareholders voted in June to approve the change to the new name of Turquoise Hill Resources, which took effect in August 2012, directly aligning the company's name with its flagship Oyu Tolgoi Project in Mongolia.
"The original Ivanhoe Mines and its predecessor company, Indochina Goldfields, earned international recognition and respect over almost 20 years due in large part to the successes of its exploration and development teams, crowned by the discovery of Oyu Tolgoi's copper and gold resources over several years beginning in 2001 and the construction of the mine," Mr. Friedland added.
"We believe the discoveries that Ivanplats has made so far at Kamoa in the DRC and at Platreef in South Africa have the potential to be as significant, perhaps even more so, than Oyu Tolgoi. Our decision to reintroduce the Ivanhoe Mines name to the mining and investment communities better reflects our multi-commodity mine development portfolio. After 19 years of company-building experience in Africa, this is an appropriate time for Ivanplats to assume the Ivanhoe Mines mantle as we continue the fulfilment both of the company's potential and its commitments to all of its stakeholders - and our pursuit of opportunities across new horizons."
The common shares of Ivanhoe Mines will be identified by CUSIP number 46579R104, unless restricted by Rule 144A in the United States, in which case those restricted shares will be identified by CUSIP number 46579R203.
NatSec MSE Trading News: Top 20 -0.15%, Turnover ₮7.7 Million
August 27 (National Securities) The MSE TOP-20 Index dropped marginally by -0.15% to 13,750.73. 20,158 shares traded with a value of 7.7m MNT. Out of 17 companies that traded, 4 were up, 6 were down and 7 were static.
Telecom Mongolia (MCH) was the top gainer, up 12,89% to 1,130 MNT. The top loser was UB BUK (BUK), dropping -12.84% to 20,100 MNT. Other major losers were E-Trans Logistic (ETR) and Baganuur (BAN) down -9.17% and -6.02%. The most actively traded share was Hermes Centre (HRM), in which 10,800 shares were traded with a value of 1.1m MNT. It's price closed up +0.80% to 106.85 MNT.
Please click here to see the detailed news
Montsame MSE News, August 28: Top +0.74%, Turnover ₮19.4 Million
Ulaanbaatar, August 28 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Wednesday, a total of 38 thousand and 023 shares of 17 JSCs were traded costing MNT 19 million 376 thousand and 724.00.
Rates of shares of one company increased, of nine decreased and share price of seven were stable.
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 360 billion 310 million 277 thousand and 804. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,867.49, increasing by 101.90 per cent (Mogi: points) against the previous day.
Mongolia Is Feeling Friendlier Toward Foreign Investors
May Lift Restrictions; Foreign Direct Investment in Resources Sector Down 32% in First Half (Mogi: 42%)
BEIJING, August 28 (WSJ)–Mongolia may scrap a year-old law restricting foreign ownership of what it deems strategic assets including mines, as it struggles to reverse the effects of resource nationalism and a global commodity slump.
The proposal, which a senior Mongolian official said requires passage by Mongolia's parliament— with a vote likely in late December (Mogi: what? Thought it was to be discussed in September emergency session)—underscores the shift in the country's fortunes since the law was passed. Mongolia then was asserting national interest in its fledgling energy and mineral sectors as a tide of suitors washed in from China, Australia and elsewhere. But commodity markets have since turned south.
Under the changes, the landlocked Asian nation would lower barriers for foreign investors in "strategic" sectors including mining, telecommunications and finance—though it would still closely scrutinize deals involving government-controlled companies such as China's big state-owned enterprises.
"We are trying to cut the Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law," said Otgochuluu Chuluuntseren, director-general of strategic policy and planning in Ulan Bator's Ministry of Mining, in an interview on Wednesday. Under the amendment, he added, "there will be no more distinction" between foreign and domestic investors.
The law, enacted in May last year, requires that foreign investors get government approval for deals valued at more than $75 million that would give them 33% or more of a company in a strategic sector. Foreign bids for 49% or more require parliamentary approval. The proposed amendments would lift these restrictions.
A month before last year's law was enacted, state-owned Aluminum Corp. of China had said it would pay about $920 million for control of 800 million metric tons of Mongolian coal via a 60% stake in SouthGobi Resources Ltd. The deal fell apart four months later, after Ulan Bator suspended some of SouthGobi's mining licenses.
In a signal that its concerns on this front haven't abated, Mongolia plans to continue singling out bids by state-owned investors for special review, by setting up an official regulator modeled on Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.
"In Australia, they have this FIRB," Mr. Otgochuluu said. "Something like this will happen here in Mongolia."
Chinalco referred a call for comment to Zhao Zhengang, general manager of the Chinese metals giant's overseas investment unit. Calls to Mr. Zhao weren't answered Wednesday.
Mining accounts for a third of Mongolia's economic output, but official data show foreign direct investment in the resources sector in the first six months of 2013 was down 32% from a year earlier.
The proposed amendments to Mongolia's foreign-investment laws are a "long overdue significant message from Mongolian authorities that the country wants investment back, both foreign and domestic," said Dale Choi, analyst with Mongolian Metals & Mining Research consultancy.
They may also be aimed at assuaging worries among major non-state investors like Rio Tinto PLC, which owns a 66% stake in Mongolia's $13 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine. The government has never publicly challenged the extent of Rio's holdings, acquired before the May 2012 law, but it has in the past refused to support the company's subsequent fund-raising efforts to develop the project, and the two are in dispute over investment in and management of the project.
Earlier this month, Rio Tinto said it plans to lay off as many as 1,700 employees and contractors at Oyu Tolgoi. A spokesman didn't respond to a call for comment Wednesday.
Mongolia to scrap controversial foreign investment law -official
By Terrence Edwards
Aug 27 (Reuters) - Mongolia plans to scrap a controversial law designed to curb foreign ownership in what it considers to be strategic sectors, such as mining, a government official said, as the country seeks to kickstart its stalled economy.
The new measure, if passed, will replace the 2012 Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL), which analysts say has been partly responsible for a slump of 43 percent in overseas investment in the first half of 2013, on an annual basis.
Sereeter Javkhlanbaatar, director of foreign investment at the economic development ministry, said the new law would seek to allay concerns about limits in sectors such as mining.
"We won't separate the market between strategic and non-strategic," he told an audience of investors on Monday.
Sectors identified as strategic by the 2012 law include telecommunications, banking and finance, besides mining.
At the moment, companies looking to buy 33 percent or more of any company deemed to belong to a "strategic" sector must secure government approval. State-owned firms require government approval for any interest in a strategic asset, and full parliamentary approval for a stake of more than 49 percent.
The new law would continue to limit state-owned entities' efforts to acquire Mongolian assets, said Javkhlanbaatar, but would apply to all sectors, not merely strategic ones.
"We won't have approval systems for strategic sectors, but we will have for state-owned companies," he added.
Mongolia hopes to establish an approval board to review proposed acquisitions by state-owned firms, he said, along similar lines as one that already exists in Australia.
The country also planned to create an investment agency, Invest Mongolia, to lure foreign investment, he added.
SEFIL was introduced just before parliamentary elections in May 2012, as lawmakers sought to block a bid by the Aluminium Corporation of China Ltd (Chalco) to buy a majority stake in a Mongolian coal deposit, but analysts said the law triggered a slump in foreign investment.
"There's no doubt (the law) led to a more uncertain environment for foreign investors," said Nick Plummer, an analyst at the Economic Policy and Competitiveness Research Center in Ulan Bator.
But it was unclear if a new law could reverse the slide, he said.
Investors have also been put off by a stalemate between Mongolia and Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto over the development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, the country's biggest foreign investment project by far.
Javkhlanbaatar said the new law alone would not be enough to bring foreign investment back to levels in 2011, when Mongolia racked up world-beating economic growth of 17.3 percent.
He also noted that existing licensing systems governing sectors like mining and banking could be tightened to guarantee national security, which could raise concerns among investors.
Plummer said tougher licensing terms could actually increase uncertainty and extend delays, whether or not the distinction between "strategic" and "non-strategic" was removed.
"Until we see the draft legislation, we can only guess at what changes the government intends to make," he said.
Parliament will discuss the new law next week, Javkhlanbaatar said.
MNT/USD at 1,598.21 as of August 27 close
BoM holds FX auction
August 27 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on August 27th, 2013 the BOM has received bid offer of USD and CNY and ask offer of USD from local commercial banks. BOM has sold 16 million USD to the local commercial banks.
On August 27th, 2013, The BOM has received bid offer of 3 million USD for Swap agreement from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
BoM: Balance of Payments Report for First 2 Quarters, 2013
August 28 (Bank of Mongolia) Quarterly Balance of Payment (BOP) report alters from the monthly preliminary BOP report (April, May and June) as it is executed using the data from the quarterly report of enterprises, international trade, state budget, the information from the banking system and the balance at the foreign accounts of the Mongolian enterprises.
• Current account deficit stands at US$ 1768.5 million which is increase of 22 percent or US$ 317.2 million from the previous year. Of which (i) deficit of international trade account of goods increased by 1 percent to US$ 645.8 million; (ii) trade of services deficit increased by 33 percent to US$ 763.5 million; (iii) deficit of income account increased by 3 percent to US$ 417.9 million; and (iv) current transfer declined by 65 percent to US$ 58.6 million.
• Balance of capital and financial accounts showed surplus of US$ 924.2 million which is decrease of 55 percent or US$ 1121.2 million from the previous year. This is due to 42 percent decline of foreign direct investment from abroad to Mongolia, equaling to US$ 1040.7 million, share of portfolio investment decreased by 103 percent or US$ 624.5 million and US$ 560.7 million increase of other investments compared to a year prior.
Detailed information: Balance of Payment for First 2 Quarters of 2013
Total outstanding 1-week bills ₮952.6 billion, up from ₮855.1 billion on Monday
BoM issues 1-week bills
August 28 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 331.8 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
RESULT OF GOVERNMENT SECURITIES AUCTION
August 28 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 105 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 105 billion /out of 126.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 9.02%.
Tax breaks for environmentally friendly technologies and equipment
August 24 (Business-Mongolia) On 23rd of August, the cabinet issued a resolution to give tax breaks to the entities for their green equipment imports. The break is for equipments in 41 categories that will decrease the impact of non-recyclable waste and environmentally friendly. The list includes:
- Reneweble energy /solar, wind and hydropower/;
- Geothermal pump;
- Watering and heating systems for forestry and green development;
- Waste water treatment systems;
- Ozone friendly cooling systems and substances;
- Cold cathode fluorescent lights;
- EU's EN13240 standard furnaces, petrolium, and smoke decresing hydrogen generators.
Mining Minister of Mongolia: Economic conditions will depend on the mining sector
August 27 (Business-Mongolia) This is a translation by Business-Mongolia of the interview appeared on NewsWeek No.026 on 27th of August, 2013 with the Mining Minister Gankhuyag D.
Issues around Oyu tolgoi project has been a hot topic lately. Can the government and Rio Tinto find a common language? Is the underground mine really unprofitable for us? Is it possible to disclose the terms of the loan agreement?
The talks are still going on. Two sides agreed on solving the problem by negotiating it. The foremost issue is to make a decision on project financing or additional financing. We briefed the parliament on the matter last February. Thus, it is not an entirely new circumstance. The board and shareholders of OT LLC has a duty to make a decision on these matters in a timely manner. Last month, we agreed that the sides will not make press releases or public announcements on matters that has not been solved and agreed by two sides. The purpose is to preserve our reputation on both sides. Decision made by OT LLC and its' decision making structure must in compliance with the relevant laws, and of course has to satisfy the win-win end result.
For example, the agreement becomes valid after Mineral Resources Authority accepts the Feasibility study submitted by investors. The profitability schedule of the project is reflected on the Feasibility study and the financial model. Therefore, it is rational that two sides will give attention on preserving the schedule.
There are people say that how will the economy get better when a person who always opposed the OT agreement becomes the Mining Minister.
Criticizing and opposing have a different meaning. It is true that I held a position that parliament resolution must be realized. My position resulted amendments in Shareholders Agreement that the state's 34% will not be diluted, and decrease in shareholder loan. The Finance Minister stated that the decrease added over a USD1 billion in future earnings. This is the truth.
There maybe many people who interested in making me look like a person who is allergic to foreign investors. However, I am not that kind of person. The talks on additional financing and cost overruns of the initial investment has been going on for a quite long time. As both member of parliament and cabinet member I have different roles. A MP has a duty to draft and initiate laws, and monitor and control it. In the other hand, cabinet member has a duty to implement parliament decisions. I hold the principal of abiding law.
Director of Erdenes OT LLC Ts.Sedvanchig has been resigned because of OT related issues. What was the letter about? According to him, the letter was written by the Prime Minister's request. Then is the PM also has to bear a responsibility over this?
The content of the letter was about the additional financing. It is common that shareholders have disagreements on many array of issues. However, we have to be clear on one thing, a director of a company cannot express a position of the government. Ts.Sedvanchig himself has also expressed his stance on this.
Coal export and foreign investment has been decreasing. We talked enough about the causes. Thus, is there a solution to this?
There aren't anything insolvable in the universe. It is true that the mining sector is suffering. Comparing to the last year's same period the actual mining of coal is 90%, export is 70%, and revenue is about 40% due to the 40% decrease in coal price. Price was good in 2010 and 2011. We enjoyed a good window of opportunity when there was a flood in Australia which disrupted their export. Perhaps, there was a small bubble.
Therefore, the" government for change" is meeting the revenue creators to seek every possible solution. We are confident that we will have results. It is also true that our main exports – coal, silver, copper, molybdenum and iron ore prices fell by 13-40%. It's simply related to the demand factor. However, the situation is not as dim as it is being perceived by some. As end of half year, the planned revenue collection from the mining sector is completed by 75.5%. Investors make their investments on highly profitable, and stable businesses that has stable market prices.
The FDI has been decreased by 43% overall, and mining sector by 32% from the previous year. The 85% of the FDI goes to mining sector in our country. Therefore, we have a duty to work very hard and fast to improve the situation. The reasons are of OT's completion of the first phase, and in connection with implementing the Law on Prohibition of exploration, mining operations in the areas of water and forest reserve, the parliament and cabinet issued the second resolution covering over 1300 licenses. We witnessed a significant decrease in investment because of this.
I would say yes to the need of implement the "long named law". However, there are issues on method of implementation and compensation issues. Furthermore, the time has come for revising the Strategic Investment Law. Currently, resource dependent countries are facing similar issues like us, fall of export revenue and increase in foreign currencies. On top of these problems, we distributed the pre-payments from our buyers to the public in the previous years. If the government for change hadn't foreseen this and issued a bond in a short period of time, we would have faced a real crisis.
Tavan Tolgoi is stopped. Development of Oyu Tolgoi is also halted. What was the reason for all these? Why the government can't find a common language with Rio Tinto?
Tavan Tolgoi is still operational. It even increased the export target from 2.5 million tons last year to 7.5 tons. In relation to that relevant agreements are being made. A lot of work is being done to decrease cost. In other words, by exporting threefold coal from last year we will overreach our revenue target. To increase the value of Tavan Tolgoi JSC, a decision has been made on building a railroad and a powerplant from the bond fund. Also, the meetings on finding a good operator company is still in process.
Concentrator of OT is in operation and exporting their copper concentrates. Also, the working group on finding and verifying the Feasibility study and cost overrun calculations is working day and night. The OT LLC board has made a decision to halt the underground development due to the unsolved issues on additional financing. But, I mentioned that the sides are keen to talk. We have to solve the outstanding issues quickly.
Is there a strategic policy on developing the coal sector? Is it because we could not articulate a sound policy the coal sector is falling?
The sector didn't have a policy for a long period of time. By the initiation of the president relevant parties drafted a "Government policy on mining sector" till 2024. Also, we are drafting policies on projects that involve rare earth minerals, iron, and spar. I think it will be completed soon.
We heard that there are talks on forming a company with OT LLC's 34% and Erdenet JVC's 51% called "Mongol Copper". Can you please elaborate on this? You have also mentioned that the company will be able to raise capital from international equity markets?
This was my idea. However, it's not new. Highly industrialized companies raise capital to fund major projects. For this reason, Erdenes MGL LLC was formed in compliance with the Law of Human Development Fund. Ministry of Economic Development is doing the relevant studies.
Is it true and amendments will be made on Strategic Investment Law?
The plan is to change into an Investment Law. It will be discussed at the parliamentary special session. The main mission is to create a stable environment for depending on investment size.
Are confident that the foreign investors will return? Some are saying that Mongolia can be developed without foreign investment?
I am confident. We have to be optimistic of the future. There aren't any country that has been developed without investment. To form an appropriate trade balance we need to increase export revenue, and create a stable environment policy for quality investments. In a nutshell, our main purpose it to lay a foundation of competent investment and business environment in a short period of time. Our proximity to the biggest economy is an advantage for us.
What is your evaluation on the current events as a person who is leading the sector?
We can say that we have laid out the 4-year plan on the paper. Our ministry is doing an excellent job as a team. Wealth generators are also doing their best. It is important that all of our citizens to understand that in the coming few years our country's development will depend on mining sector. We have a need to develop a mining sector that is transparent, responsible and mutually beneficial. Also, we need to engage the public to direction that excludes misunderstandings about the sector. The government and our ministry will work in cooperation with the wealth generators.
There is a sufficient legal environment for the oil industry now. The parliament already begun discussing the Petroleum Law. The supply of petroleum is not depended on a single supplier like before. In the past the customs price of petroleum increased frequently, but now it depends on the market price. The interest rate has been decreased and there is a 2-month protection from the currency volatility.
Also, the law on giving a tax break support for coal liquefaction and oil shale extraction industries has been approved. It will give us the opportunity to become an oil exporter in the future.
And of course, we have immediate problems such as transporting coal and iron ore by vehicles which causes environmental damages, and increases the cost. The study proved that these costs are two times more than what it costs in Australia. We need to tackle the transit shipment issues to increase our competency. We need to strive on add value on commodities we export. If we wash our coal it will save us on transportation cost and at least USD10 will be added as a value. We need to implement latest technology, innovation and management methods to increase production and profit. The government, the ministry and the companies are working to tackle these issues. Thus, we will have a possibility to increase the export revenue by two fold in 2016.
Some of the Directors of Mineral Resource Authority are being investigated on illegal license issuance charges. There was a rumor that you are also involved?
I read the materials sent from the head of MRA to my attention. I understood that Civil Court revoked the case to get further information, then made a decision, and the decision is being implement by the MRA's relevant officers. Changing the status of a license or making changes is solely a responsibility of MRA. Therefore, the ministry has no relation to this. Relevant law enforcement agencies are investigating the case, and it will be apparent what was right or wrong.
Mogi: needs subscription, but a 7 day free trial was available
How Mongolia is regaining the frontier crown
Mongolia has been burnt by some populist and poorly planned policies. Here's how it's rebuilding an inclusive investment environment
By Darin Hoffman, Partner, MahoneyLiotta in Ulaanbaatar
August 27 (IFLR) Since its transition from a planned to market economy in the early 1990s, Mongolia's investment climate has experienced many highs and lows. Its history of investment gives some insights on what the future might hold for the world's least densely populated country, which possesses some of the largest mineral deposits in the world.
Investment framework Under its constitution, the Mongolian Parliament is the supreme governing authority of the country and consists of 76 elected members. Parliament normally convenes twice a year, in a fall session and a spring session, each lasting no less than 75 days. It has the power to enact and amend laws, approve budgets, ratify international agreements, and confirm the Prime Minister (proposed by the President) as well as other ministers. The Prime Minister is the head of the Government of Mongolia (GoM), and implements plans and policies by means of resolutions. The President is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, head of the national security council, and often proposes legislation.
Mongolia Coal Report: No easy road unlocking Mongolia's mineral wealth
Special report by John O'Neill
August 21 (Australian Coal Report) Mongolia's vast undeveloped mineral resources have provided foreign investors with the opportunity for high returns but the risks are also high.
In the past 18 months some of the gloss of Mongolia's mining boom has faded with the government enacting stricter investment laws and China's demand for its mineral wealth cooling.
Newly re-elected Mongolian president Tsakhia Elbegdorj is now in a balancing act between introducing new laws which encourages foreign investment and laws advocating a resources nationalism approach to give the country a bigger stake in its massive resource sector.
It's widely acknowledged the introduction of the Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL) in May 2012 resulted in a drying up of foreign investment and was largely responsible for the country's declining economic growth.
One of the main effects of SEFIL was that it required foreign investors to obtain parliamentary approval before they could take more than a 49% stake or invest more than 100b tugrik (about US$64m) in companies operating in Mongolia's strategic sectors such as mining and finance.
Amendments to the SEFIL passed on April 2013 removed the 100b tugrik threshold, as well as removal of parliamentary approval for any private foreign direct investment with the exception of foreign Sovereign Owned Enterprises.
However, Cabinet approval is still required for private foreign direct investments which fall under the scope of the May 2012 SEFIL.
The Mongolian government has indicated it will submit a draft Investment Agreement for Parliamentary approval in the coming months which aims to provide greater stability for foreign investments.
While these changes are positive steps in providing greater assurance and clarity of law for the six Australian companies developing coal projects in Mongolia, lack of infrastructure and reliance on the Chinese market for their coal is likely to provide them with a far greater challenge in bringing their projects to production.
This special report looks at the state of play of these six would-be developers.
In response to a lack of infrastructure, Aspire Mining is developing its own rail line to connect with an existing railway to rail coal to Russia's Far East ports for export.
To minimise its reliance on the Chinese market, Guildford Coal is looking at supplying thermal coal to Mongolia's domestic power plants.
Modun Resources is investigating upgrading its thermal coal to produce coal briquettes for both Mongolia's domestic market and export to China while Xanadu Mining had considered utilising coal-to liquids technology for its subbituminous coal before deciding to divest its thermal coal projects.
World Economic Forum Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 14-15 September 2013
Mongolia is currently one of the world's fastest growing economies, with GDP growth for 2013 forecasted to be between 14-16%. The country is benefiting from a booming mining industry, which is still far from realizing its full potential, and the government has strong ambitions to use this wealth to improve infrastructure and foster growth across different sectors, ultimately improving the lives of its people.
Given these positive foundations, Mongolia is at a crucial turning point. Its future prosperity is affected by highly uncertain drivers of change, from the reliability of foreign investments to fluctuating commodity prices and the future of geopolitical relations with neighbouring Russia and China.
The World Economic Forum Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Mongolia is an unparalleled opportunity to bring together the Mongolian government and other leading domestic and international stakeholders to explore economic pathways. The meeting forms an essential part of the World Economic Forum's project Scenarios for Mongolia, the outcomes of which will be presented at the Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, January 2014.
For more information, please contact: Mongolia@weforum.org. For further details on our Strategic Dialogues, please use the following link http://www.weforum.org/content/pages/current-projects-0.
Time for reflection
By B. Khash-Erdene
August 20 (UB Post) I used to wonder, like most people in Mongolia, how a nation with so many mineral resources and natural wealth can be so poor and underdeveloped. Coal, copper, oil, gold and silver – Mongolia has it all and yet, around a third of the nation lives below the poverty line, struggling to live day to day.
The middle class isn't doing well either. When it comes to high inflation, bad policies, corruption and bureaucracy, the regular folks operating small and medium sized businesses carry most of the load.
In every new term of an administration, the new government tries to undo what the previous one did with the promise to build things correctly "this time." The same old pattern is observed by everyone, and the nation has lost faith in its leaders. Some would say "this is democracy." These are the things so many gave their lives for so that the next generation could live better.
Recent events have had the authorities panicking. Government revenue is down because coal exports fell nearly 50 percent this year due to less demand from China, Mongolia's biggest buyer. Oyu Tolgoi, the biggest undertaking in Mongolia, is in dispute over finance and just laid off 1,700 workers, and Mongolia's currency value is falling rapidly. The development projects to be funded by the 1.5 billion USD Chinggis Bonds are experiencing delay after delay. And foreign investors are leaving the country because of political uncertainty. Some ministers are said to be losing sleep over these issues.
To the small folks who run roadside cafes and sell merchandise at the market, ministries have helped little, if at all, and their help would probably not be beneficial to those for which it was intended. Yet, these are the people who serve as the backbone of the country. For all its promises to support domestic companies, the state hasn't done much but talk. The talks only scared away the foreign businesses.
The only projects doing well from the Chinggis Bond money are the road constructions in the capital and provinces. The 200 million USD for the railways, 70 million USD for cashmere, 30 million USD for milk and dairy, 45 million USD for textiles, and the Sainshand Industrial Complex projects are all collecting dust.
And now the parliament is said to be holding an emergency session next month. No doubt, the irregular session will attempt to bring back foreign investors, but the talks of old men in white collars aren't going to bring help to suffering businesses all over the country anytime soon. Even if a well thought out "win-win" law is passed, it will be at least a good year before foreign investors start to come back, and another for their businesses to steady up. So, don't bank on the parliament to resolve the impending economic winter that is coming, ironically, with an actual winter.
The Anglo-Australian mining tyrant Rio Tinto, just put more than a thousand people on the unemployed list. The dispute over the project's revenue has taken its toll on Mongolia's business reputation. And the politicians screaming that Rio is turning Mongolia into Africa, where the top gets bribed and the bottom gets robbed, are not helping.
Politicians, such as Parliament Member S.Ganbaatar, scream loudly and proudly that Rio Tinto is a tyrant with more than a hundred years of experience in extorting developing countries. And it might be true, and the intentions of their critics might be good, but it's not helping the country since the deal is made and the pact is "legit." All Mongolia can do is keep a suspicious eye on Rio Tinto, so that they don't deviate from their contract.
I remember when Oyu Tolgoi was first discovered by Ivanhoe Mines, now Turquoise Hill Resources, in 2001, and then some ten years later the investment agreement was signed. All those who made the deal were telling everyone who would listen, that this mine would make Mongolians millionaires and ensure the future of the country, and most believed it. Even my grandmother, who's in her 80s, feels entitled to the wealth beneath the soil, to which she has contributed nothing, like so many others who blindly hope to become wealthy overnight without lifting a finger. This is the exact attitude Mongolia doesn't need and should shun.
It is true that Mongolia has vast mineral wealth and that it belongs to the nation, which means every Mongolian citizen, but we have to put in the work before we receive the goods. Unless Mongolians are putting in the work, we aren't entitled to a "good days are ahead of us" mentality.
We can't feel secure in our future just because we happened to be born in a resource rich country. Mongolia can't waste what was left to us by our ancestors and those who conquered and fought to keep this land. It would be the greatest dishonor to them if we squander our legacy, but that doesn't mean sit around until a sunny day comes when we can dig the wealth out, or give it to a foreigner at a cheaper price because we can't be bothered to dig it up and exploit the resources ourselves.
But Mongolia is so much more than mining, and again, to make Mongolia more than just a pit in the ground we have to work to make it so. We can't look up to someone else like the government, god, or whatever, to do everything. The voices of the people have more power than anything, since in a democracy, the people are just as responsible for their leaders as the leader is responsible for the people. After all, we choose them ourselves by voting.
Since it our responsibility, the tough economic times ahead can only be countered if the people take charge of their own lives and grind through the work ahead.
In the capital, the inflation rate is already rising. The prices of food and groceries are swelling up, along with housing prices among other things. We had a good summer this year, and now "winter is coming," so prepare to have a lighter wallet and tighter belt.
PRESIDENT OF MONGOLIA'S CHIEF OF STAFF MEETS PEABODY ENERGY'S PRESIDENT OF ASIA
August 28 (InfoMongolia) Chief of Staff of the President of Mongolia P.Tsagaan met with President of Asia and Trading for Peabody Energy, Christopher J. Hagedorn on August 26, and parties discussed Mongolia's mining sector development and investment.
During the meeting, P.Tsagaan stated, "Mongolia supports direct foreign investments, especially mining with transparent and responsible finances. An investor company can have assets exceeding the GDP of that certain country, but its activities must be within the frame of the country's laws and regulations. You must understand that the negative news that had been recently spread internationally about Mongolia's investment policy are exaggerated and conspired".
Chris Hagedorn is President - Asia and Trading for Peabody Energy. He has executive responsibility for Peabody's business and growth activities in Asia, including China, Mongolia, Indonesia and India; Peabody's global COALTRADE business, which includes global coal trading plus structured products and origination; Asian finance and administration; Asia business development activities; and the law function for Asia and Global Trading activities.
MINING MINISTER MEETS GOLD MINERS, SAYS AMENDMENT TO LONG NAME LAW IN THE WORKS
Ulaanbaatar, August 20 /MONTSAME/ The Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag Tuesday gathered delegates of gold mining enterprisers such as "Jump", "Shar Narst" and "Mondulaan Trade" and Mongolia's Association for Gold Miners.
The Minister and the guests exchanged views on urgent problems facing mining entities. The companies' leaders said the mining expenses have soared due to the ten-time increase of water price and a bureaucracy in state bodies. Many gold mining companies had to close after parliament had adopted the law on prohibiting extraction and exploration near sources of rivers and lakes.
In response, the Minister underlined that the government is supporting the wealth makers and said that a draft amendment to the above law is being worked out.
He also said he wants to reflect in official documents all proposals and opinions given by specialized bodies and professional associations.
Guest Post: Christopher Carter on the Role of Bag Governors
Christopher J. Carter is a Masters Candidate in Comparative Development Planning at the School of Regional and Urban Planning (SCARP) at the University of British Columbia. His 2013 participatory research on water development policy in Olgii Province is supported by a fellowship from BioRegions International.
August 27 (Mongolia Focus) This post features a new community character from Bag 4, Abu the bag governor. This summer alongside this community I experimented with a participatory planning tool that I hope to refine over the upcoming years at UBC. Participating clans were given a GPS enabled point and shoot camera with a prompt to capture the things that they value about a nomadic lifestyle in addition to where and how they use surface water resources during their summer at high mountain pastures or Jailao. Abu's family was one of the participating clans.
In a qualitative sense we learned that a majority of participants worry little about the quality of unprotected point sources and seldom discuss water resource development at bag meetings. However they retain a strong sense of ownership about protecting the water quality and using water efficiently. In a quantitative sense we learned the exact location and number of bastao (springs) accessed by the community at pasture and are now able to now fashion maps that merge the location and illustration of community water use alongside climate and LANDSAT data. This can illustrate a changing human resource relationship with surface water and be used by the community leaders to represent themselves in the policy arena.
My personal hope at the ground level is that participants gained a critical sense of their water resource capital and the potential for participation in the development in an era of emerging mineral resource extraction, desertification and glacial recession. In this transcribed interview I sat down with Abu to discuss his role as interim governor and the photos he and his family took over three weeks.
What's happening in this photo Abu?
Here we see traditional Kazakh culture, traditions, habits, our relatives and our neighbors Dairy products and fresh mares milk (Kumis) too. Only in the summer do Kazakh people milk horses and share tea once a year do we have this gathering. Also, this photo will be a memory of Cj and Emilie, our guests from Montana, and a memory of that day. I really like this photo.
Can you explain what you like about being the acting bag governor?
I enjoy working as bag governor because I get to communicate with many people in bag 4 everyday and then there is the salary.
How does nomadic bag 4 make decisions?
When I organize a bag meetings (4 times a year) we make decisions about the movement of this bag between pastures and the soum center and we ask the suggestions of the people. After hearing suggestions, we make a choice on the dates to move. We also vote then on decisions regarding foreign NGO projects as well as local development funding that is mostly used for livestock care.
What would you change about this organization of government?
I think the system is good because we are able to hear all of the people's ideas and address the problems that way at a small scale.
How many meetings do you hold a year?
Usually four times a year, but if there is a special problem, we meet.
What are your hopes for the future of this Jailao? Concerns?
I don't exactly know the future of this Jailao because the weather changes very quickly and it is sometimes very difficult with animals. However there is less water in the bastao (springs) some summers and I am worried that in the future they may run dry. If we fence around the bastao, or build a house to protect the source in all seasons, that that will protect it for future use. The families that are closest would have the responsibility to maintain it.
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EBRD TO DIVERSIFY IN MONGOLIA: FIRST VICE PRESIDENT PHIL BENNETT
The Bank will focus on sustainable mining but also support development of infrastructure, financial institutions and SMEs.
August 27 (EBRD) The EBRD's First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Phil Bennett, has said that the Bank is looking to increase investments in non-natural resource sectors, and especially to support the development of infrastructure, financial institutions and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), while maintaining a focus on sustainable mining.
"So far we've had a large participation in the mining and natural resources sector. By value about 60 per cent of our investments have been in that sector.
"Our goals going forward are to try to diversify away from mining and natural resources to build up our other businesses, while maintaining our focus on mining in a sustainable, environmental way.
"We want to foster private sector development, we want to foster infrastructure development, particularly in transport, heating and water.
"We also want to strengthen the financial institutions sector because that is the most effective, sustainable channel for investment into the economy".
Phil Bennett added: "The absorption capacity of this economy is growing quite quickly, so we are very confident that we can continue to build on some of the smaller enterprises and grow those slowly but surely into medium-sized enterprises.
"We have a lot of opportunity here; it's a very active economy, we are looking forward to staying committed and staying engaged across all of the economic developments".
The EBRD's President, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, will reaffirm the Bank's commitment to sustainable economic development in Mongolia during his first visit to the country as EBRD president from 30 August – 2 September 2013.
Since 2006 the Bank has invested about US$ 1 billion in about 60 projects across Mongolia, mobilising approximately twice that amount in further financing for those projects from other sources.
Australia finally beats Mongolia in internet speeds -- just
Australia still lags in upload speeds
August 27 (Computerworld) Australia has finally beaten Mongolia in average internet download speeds, according to the Net Index by Speedtest.net.
Australia now ranks 50th in the Households Download Index with an average speed of 13.64Mbps.
This compares to Mongolia, which ranked 52nd with an average download speed of 13.25Mbps.
Australia previously ranked 45th when it came to download speeds with 13.09Mbps, beaten by Mongolia which ranked 43rd with speeds of 13.80Mbps.
Luxembourg topped the download list with an average download speed of 115.40Mbps, while Burkina Faso in West Africa bottomed out the list at 0.20Mbps.
However, Mongolia trounced Australia when it came to upload speeds, with Mongolia coming in at 23rd with 10.40Mbps. This compares to Australia, which came in at 95th with a measly 2.42Mbps.
Luxembourg, which is one of the smallest countries in Europe, also topped the upload list with average speeds of 86.72Mbps and Burkina Faso recording just 0.27Mbps for uploads.
The index compares download and upload speeds around the world from February 2011 to August 2013 where the average distance between the client and server is less than 300 miles (483km).
NAMBC Investors Conference to be held in Ulaanbaatar
August 23 (news.mn) Ambassador Pam Slutz, Chairman of the NAMBC (North America-Mongolia Business Council), has announced that Dr. S. Oyun, Minister of the Environment, and UB Mayor/Govern E. Bat-Uul will be featured speakers at the NAMBC's 16th Annual Investors Conference, September 24-26, 2013, at the Kempinski Khan Palace Hotel. Dr. Oyun will be the lead speaker in the segment on "Green Development is Profitable Development" and Mayor/Governor E. Bat-Uul will kick off the segment on "Urbanization in Mongolia and the Transformation of Ulaanbaatar." Other conference panels will address "The Future of Mining in Mongolia" and "Investment and the Mongolian Economy."
The Investors Conference will also celebrate this year's 40th anniversary of Mongolia-Canada diplomatic relations. Full simultaneous interpretation will be provided. This conference is the oldest, longest-running international investors forum in or about Mongolia, held annually in UB since 1998, and one of the few organized by an independent non-profit NGO. Non-members from any country are welcome. Sponsors include the BCM; the exclusive media partner is Mongol Mass Media LLC. www.news.mn.
Dr. S. Oyun, the first Mongolian to earn a PhD from Cambridge University (UK) (Mogi: perhaps should've also mentioned it was in geology?, is Minister of Environment and Green Development and chairman of the Civic Will Green Party. She has been a Member of Parliament continuously since 1998, re-elected in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. She is also a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and is the current head of the Zorig Foundation. In 2003, Dr. Oyun held an Eisenhower Fellowship (US) and in 2006, was named as a rising Young Global Leader (YGL) by the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF).
Bat-Uul was elected Mayor of Ulaanbaatar and Governor of the Capital on August 7, 2012 by the City Council. An astrophysicist by profession, Bat-Uul was one of the leaders of Mongolia's 1990 democratic revolution. He served as chairman of the Democratic Party from 1990 to 1992, and as the party's general secretary from 1992 to 1996. He was elected to the State Great Khural in 1996, 2004 and 2008. Ulaanbaatar is home to over half the nation's population where Mayor Bat-Uul has laid out a vision for ambitious infrastructure projects and reforms in governance that are transforming the capital city while offering many opportunities for investors. For registration forms, go to www.nambc.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
GDF SUEZ preferred bidder status confirmed for 415MW power plant in Mongolia
August 28 (GDF SUEZ) GDF SUEZ is pleased to announce, together with its consortium partners, that its preferred bidder status for the combined heat and power plant CHP5 in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, has been confirmed. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the new Mongolian government allowing the consortium to begin talks on project agreements.
Following financial close the consortium will build and operate a coal-fired CHP plant with an electricity capacity of 415MW and a steam capacity of 587MW. The plant will have three circulating fluidised bed boilers that use efficient pollutant control measures to significantly reduce emissions of particulates.
The entire output from the plant will be purchased by the Mongolian government under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement. The steam produced will be used for city heating in Ulaanbaatar.
The new plant will support the rising energy demand in Mongolia, which is largely driven by the mining sector and the abundant supply of natural resources, together with a growing population.
The consortium comprises GDF SUEZ (30%), Sojitz Corp (30%), POSCO ENERGY (30%) and Newcom LLC (10%).
Background on consortium partners
- Sojitz Corporation: Japan's sixth largest trading corporation
- POSCO ENERGY: South Korea's largest private power producer
- Newcom LLC: leading Mongolian conglomerate involved in telecommunications, civil aviation, renewable energy, real estate and construction & mining equipment
About GDF SUEZ
GDF SUEZ develops its businesses (power, natural gas, energy services) around a model based on responsible growth to take up today's major energy and environmental challenges: meeting energy needs, ensuring the security of supply, fighting against climate change and maximizing the use of resources. The Group provides highly efficient and innovative solutions to individuals, cities and businesses by relying on diversified gas-supply sources, flexible and low-emission power generation as well as unique expertise in four key sectors: independent power production, liquefied natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency services. GDF SUEZ employs 138,200 people worldwide and achieved revenues of €82 billion in 2012. The Group is listed on the Paris, Brussels and Luxembourg stock exchanges and is represented in the main international indices: CAC 40, BEL 20, DJ Euro Stoxx 50, Euronext 100, FTSE Eurotop 100, MSCI Europe, ASPI Eurozone, Euronext Vigeo Eurozone 120, Vigeo World 120, Vigeo Europe 120 and Vigeo France 20.
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TAXI FARES IN ULAANBAATAR WILL BE INCREASED TO 1,000 MNT PER KM
August 28 (InfoMongolia) Director of the Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Rights O.Magnai and Deputy Director of the Transportation Department of the Capital City O.Tushig officially announced that the taxi fare will be a 1,000 MNT per km ride.
Currently, over 800 taxicabs of 16 entities are registered in Ulaanbaatar City providing services to citizens and these taxis use to charge 1,000 MNT for the first km and 600 MNT for the rest of the kms. From now on, the new fare will not charge a different fee for the first or rest of the km and is set at 1,000 MNT per km for the whole trip.
As for taxi call service providers, the first km will be 1,300 MNT (Mogi: actually ₮1,500) and the rest of the kms is 1,000 MNT per km. Taxi companies will be authorized to follow new fare rates once they have equipped their vehicles with same taximeters and same logo marks within 30 days starting from today, August 28. Therefore, cab fare will be 1,000 MNT starting in a month.
Also, unauthorized private taxis will be monitored by the Traffic Police Department and Transportation Department of Capital City in order to cease such action.
Chairman of City Council visits Ger District Redevelopment Project site
August 25 (UB Post) The Chairman of the Capital City Council, D.Battulga, in charge of implementation of the Ger District Redevelopment Project, visited the project site and met with project contractors. On Tuesday, he spoke with Ulaanbaatar's public relations department about the status of the project.
His first visit took him to the 8th and 16th khoroos of Bayanzurkh District, where Baganat Urgoo and Gangar Invest companies are working on 93.8 hectares of land near Defense University. Baganat Urgoo has so far cleared the lands of 32 households.
The company had already received approval for the planned schemes for redevelopment as part of the capital city's general plan and are waiting to sign a contract with the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development.
Gangar Invest will redevelop 39 hectares of land including the properties of more than 400 households, one general education school, and 30 businesses.
When the project is complete, it is expected to enrich the lives of residents by building pedestrian-only sidewalks, green space, schools, cinemas, and public pools. At the moment, 12 residential properties have been purchased and cleared to make way for a housing project. The initial part of the project will build three 12-story apartments by October of next year. A Gangar Invest spokesperson said that if there are no delays, the housing project could be finished even sooner.
"The families living in this region are very active, considerate and supportive of the development projects," the spokesperson added.
Beren Company received the rights to redevelop the general plan of the 9, 10, 11, and 12th khoroo's of Sukhbaatar District, around the 7th khoroolol.
The company had already signed commercial contracts with 150 households and started clearing the land for redevelopment. During the visit, they had been building on four blocks and made agreements with five households whose property will be used for the construction of roads.
Beren's spokesperson told the Chairman of the Capital City Council that if these families were relocated, around 700 meters of road could be built. The company is planning to build a school for 800 children, a kindergarten for 250 children, apartments for 360 households, roads, leisure parks, and green spaces in the 7th khoroolol.
Contractors, Asar Urgoo and Buural Sutai were given the rights to redevelop 15 hectares of land in the 13th and 15th khoroos of the Chingeltei District near the 72nd school. At the time of D.Battulga's visit, Buural Sutai had cleared the properties of seven households and was working on the foundation of an apartment building. The spokesperson for the company said that their schemes are being revaluated by the Capital City Authority for General Planning as the energy requirement figures were inaccurate.
Buural Sutai is planning to complete their first apartment building by winter of next year. Chairman D.Battulga said that all the capital city authority related issues are being resolved without delay, hence the contractors should focus on the quality of the buildings.
D.Battulga also told contractors that since the residents of the capital city entrusted them with their comfort, and health and safety of their living environment, they have a responsibility to complete their projects within projected timeframes.
First Roller Coaster opens to excited crowds
August 26 (news.mn) The National Amusement Park has been bustling with youths and children since it launched the first roller coaster in an opening ceremony on Friday, August 23rd. The opening ceremony started when Vice Director of the National Amusement Park, B.Batnyagt cut the ribbon on the new ride.
Since the first day of the launch the roller coaster has been in action over 1000 times. Many young people stood in queues to become the first users of the roller coaster on the first day of its opening. The roller coaster was successfully tested numerous times.
The roller coaster was manufactured in China and is 650 meters long, 40 meters tall and can reach speeds of up to 80 km per hour. The roller coaster has 24 seats per ride and a ride costs 6000 MNT per person.
The National Amusement Park has offered discount half price rides to the first users of the roller coaster at 3000 MNT per ticket.
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STATE HEAD MEETS JAPAN'S LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY DELEGATION
Ulaanbaatar, August 26 /MONTSAME/ The President Ts.Elbegdorj Monday received a delegation from Japan headed by M.Hayashi, the chairman of the Japan-Mongolia friendship group at Japan Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
The State Head said he is satisfied with meeting with the Japanese delegation, and thankfully received a letter from Mr Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. He also heard congratulatory words from Mr Hayashi on being re-elected the President of Mongolia.
The President congratulated Mr Hayashi's political party on gaining major seats at both houses of Japan's parliament, and said he is glad that this situation will help Mr Abe implement an action programme.
During a visit to Mongolia Mr Abe put forward the "Erch" (Vitality) Initiative that aims to activate the bilateral relations, Mr Elbegdorj noted.
The State Head said the political situation here is normal, Mongolia intends to focus a big attention to the great construction in next two years, besides, an upcoming visit of the Mongolian Premier to Japan will contribute to deepening the bilateral relations, and hoped that the countries will sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) within this visit.
Mongolia is supporting reforms of the United Nations (UN) and highly appreciates Japan's efforts in it, the State Head said and affirmed the Japanese side that Mongolia backs Japan's intention to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
He emphasized that the inter-parliamentary friendship groups play a big role in widening the bilateral relations, and said he is ready to closely cooperate with Japan.
The Japanese delegation consists of 53 business delegates and officials of infrastructure, agriculture, sports and tourism affairs.
PRIME MINISTER TO VISIT JAPAN, SEPTEMBER 11-14
Ulaanbaatar, August 21 /MONTSAME/ The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag will pay an official visit to Japan September 11-14 this year by invitation of Japan's government.
In a scope of the upcoming visit, the PM will be received by His Imperial Majesty Akihito, the Emperor of Japan, then will hold official talks with his Japanese counterpart Mr Shinzo Abe.
Our Premier will also meet with authorities of the Japan Business Federation (KEIDANREN) and delegates of Japanese companies who want to invest Mongolia.
After this the PM will meet with the Mongolians who live and work in Japan.
Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Mongolia likely to become SCO members
ISLAMABAD, Aug 28 (APP): Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Mongolia are expected to become full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at its next summit, said former Secretary General of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Akram Zaki on Wednesday. Speaking at an international conference entitled "SCO's Role in Regional Stability: Prospect of Its Expansion" organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute here, Akram Zaki said China and the Russian Federation had supported Pakistan, India and other countries's membership of the SCO.
The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and military organization, which was founded in Shanghai in 2001 replacing the Shanghai Five that came into being in 1996.
At present Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are members of the SCO while Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Iran have observer status and Turkey, Sri Lanka and Belarus are dialogue partners. The upcoming summit of the SCO will be held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on September 13.
Zaki said the criteria for admission of new members was decided in 2010 and 2011.
ELBEGDORJ MEETS WITH NORTH KOREA'S DEFENSE MINISTER
August 28 (InfoMongolia) President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj received a North Korean delegation led by Minister of People's Security of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK, Choi Bu Il.
At the beginning of the meeting, President Ts.Elbegdorj expressed he was pleased that the DPRK delegation is visiting Mongolia and conveyed his greetings to First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and First Chairman of the National Defense Commission Kim Jong-un. He also pointed out that this year marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations established between Mongolia and DPRK and the 25th anniversary of former leader of DPRK Kim Il-sung's visit to Mongolia.
Minister Choi Bu Il conveyed the greetings of Supreme Leader of DPRK Kim Jong-un to the President of Mongolia and noted that Mongolia and DPRK relations has long historical tradition. He added the two countries would further continue its traditional friendly relations for the bright future of its people.
President Ts.Elbegdorj noted the importance of mutual high level visits and political talks to develop friendly relations and cooperation, and mentioned the President has an invitation to visit DPRK this year and expressed he has plans to meet with the country's young leader Kim Jong-un and to exchange views on mutual and regional cooperation.
President also expressed he was pleased with the development of cooperation between the Ministry of Justice of Mongolia and the Ministry of People's Security of DPRK and noted the importance of further developing mutual trade and economic cooperation. He said the 9th intergovernmental committee meeting to be held in DPRK in September of this year, which is significant to the matter. He stated Mongolia and DPRK have the opportunity for mutually beneficial cooperation in exchanging trade and work force, tourism, physical culture and sports sectors on the basis of its own possibilities and advantages.
He also expressed his view on further strengthen and developing the traditional cooperation sectors such as culture, education, health and agriculture.
President Ts.Elbegdorj informed that Mongolia initiated the Ulaanbaatar talks on Northeast Asia security and expressed he was certain the visit made by Minister of People's Security of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK would contribute to strengthening the friendship and cooperation of the two countries and develop relations and cooperation between law enforcement organizations. At the end of the meeting President wished the delegation a successful visit to Mongolia.
RUSSIAN DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS IS TO VISIT MONGOLIA
August 28 (InfoMongolia) At the invitation of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D.Gankhuyag, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Igor Vladimirovich Morgulov is to conduct an official visit to Mongolia on August 29-31, 2013.
During his visit, Deputy Minister Igor Morgulov will meet with Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag, Deputy Minister and Chairman of the Mongolian side of the Mongolia-Russia Inter-Governmental Committee D.Terbishdagva, Deputy Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) and Chairman of the Mongolia-Russia Inter-Parliamentary Group L.Tsog and Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold and will hold a consultative meeting with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs D.Gankhuyag.
Morgulov Igor Vladimirovich, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Born in 1961, he graduated from the Institute of African and Asian Studies of the Moscow State University in 1983.
Joined the Foreign Service in 1991. Since then he has held several diplomatic positions both at the central office of the Ministry and overseas (China, USA, Japan).
2006-2009 - Minister-Counsellor (Deputy Chief of Mission) of the Russian Embassy to China.
2009-2011 - Director-General of the First Asian Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
Appointed as Deputy Minister in December 2011.
In May 2012, Mr. Morgulov was given a diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Speaks fluent Chinese and English.
Married with two children.
Agriculture Minister of Laos visits Mongolia
August 26 (news.mn) The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos, Vilayvanh Phomkhe is making an official visit to Mongolia over the next few days. During the official visit Vilayvanh Phomkhe will meet the Minister for Industry and Agriculture, Kh.Battulga, for talks on cooperation in the agricultural field.
Mr Phomkhe will sign a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between agricultural ministries today, August 26th. The two Ministers will also have bilateral talks over their opinions on mutually beneficial collaboration in agriculture.
Mongolia is willing to import rice from Laos to support the countries needs with guaranteed good quality rice. Also Mongolia is interested in lumber from Laos to supply the domestic wood industry. Mongolia can develop sheep farming in Mongolia with the investment of Laos in order to export Mongolian meat products to Laos and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries. The two countries can further exchange experiences in the veterinary and artificial selection fields.
Mongolia and Laos began collaboration in the agricultural and livestock husbandry field in the 1980s.
Bulgaria's Embassy to Mongolia to resume work
Sofia, August 28 (FOCUS News Agency) Bulgaria's Council of Ministers adopted a decision to resume the work of the Bulgarian Embassy to Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
The decision for the temporary suspension of the work of the Bulgarian diplomatic representation in Mongolia was made in 2011, the press office of the Bulgarian government announced. The current decision comes as a result of the need to bring new dynamics in the traditionally friendly relations between Bulgaria and Mongolia and the bilateral cooperation in the fields of mutual interest.
The merchandise exchange between the countries has increased two times in 2012 compared to 2011 and amounts to USD 3.9 million, comprised of entirely of Bulgarian export. The export to Mongolia consists mostly of medicines, cosmetics, wine, and food products.
Mongolia-Czech intergovernmental commission meeting takes place
August 26 (UB Post) Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from Mongolia to the Czech Republic D.Zumberellkham met with Vice-President of the Czech Chamber of Commerce Josef Cilek on August 22, reported the Press, Media, and Public Communications Division of the Mongolian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
At the beginning of the meeting, Vice-President Cilek congratulated Ambassador D.Zumberellkham for his appointment and emphasized his assurance to contribute in bringing traditional friendly and multilateral economic ties between the two sides into a new level. He also expressed his gratitude for the cooperation involved in organizing the Business Forum of Mongolia and the Czech Republic.
They then exchanged views on opportunities for collaboration in certain sectors of the business industry.
In response, the Ambassador expressed his gratitude to the Economic Chamber of the Czech Republic and Czech-Mongolian Chamber of Commerce for actively cooperating in the organization of the Mongolia-Czech Business Forum within the framework of the 5th intergovernmental commission which is being organized on August 26 and 27 in Prague. He also emphasized that organizing the business forum is highly important for economic and trade relations between the two countries.
The 5th meeting of the intergovernmental joint commission of Mongolia and the Czech Republic is co-chaired by Ts.Bayarsaikhan, the Minister of Construction and Urban Development of Mongolia, and Mr Hovorka, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic.
During the meeting of the intergovernmental commission, the two sides are expected to discuss issues on cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, investment, energy, urban development, etc. and will exchange views on strengthening cooperation in other fields. The Mongolian delegation will also be accompanied by more than twenty local businessmen, who are interested in attending the Mongolia-Czech Business Forum.
In addition, Minister Ts.Bayarsaikhan is planning to hold a meeting with the Minister of Industry and Trade and Minister of Regional Development of the Czech Republic.
Khaan Quest: Non-lethal weapons leadership seminar begins, field training ends
FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia, August 27 (DVIDS) – High-ranking military officials and delegates from 22 nations gathered here Aug. 26, marking the conclusion of the field training exercise and start of the three-day leadership portion during the Non-Lethal Weapons Executive Seminar.
"For well over a decade, the U.S. Marine Corps continues to advance the development and use – tactics, techniques and procedures – of non-lethal weapons," said Brig. Gen. Richard Simcock, deputy commander of MarForPac.
"As a Marine infantry officer, I am intimately familiar with the application of lethal force," Simcock said. "We all know that we must be able to apply lethal force when the situation dictates, but what is equally important today is how to de-escalate a potentially lethal engagement."
Non-lethal weapons are designed to disable equipment and incapacitate personnel but minimize permanent injury.
The intent of the NOLES series of exercises is to promote both the awareness and effective use of non-lethal weapons, which increases the options available to commanders during low-intensity conflict or civil unrest scenarios, said Col. Brad Bartelt, senior U.S. representative attending the leadership seminar.
Mongolia's top uniformed official praised the training and its relevance to his troops' current operations.
"Countries have increased their interest and efforts for keeping peace (in the region)," said Lt. Gen. Ts. Byambajav, Chief of General Staff, Mongolian Armed Forces. "We are confident that the NOLES exercises … will assist our personnel in carrying out (these mission) requirements."
MAF service members and Mongolian police personnel showed off what they learned during training through multiple demonstrations focusing on non-lethal tactics and weapon deployment, including one in which a combined platoon brought a mock riot under control.
After witnessing examples of effective non-lethal tactics, techniques and procedures, the more than 70 participants in the leadership seminar transitioned to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, to begin discussions on NLW's.
"Your presence makes this event special, but your active participation will make this event even better," said Simcock, addressing the leadership seminar participants. "We all have different perspectives, and I challenge each and every one of you to share your experiences and insight and contribute to make this 11th anniversary the most productive NOLES yet."
Marines Lead Multinational Nonlethal Weapons Training – U.S. Department of Defense, August 27
August 28 (The Diplomat) A Malaysian appeals court has of two police officers sentenced to hang for the murder of Mongolian model , but the local and international ramifications that came with her brutal killing will continue to haunt Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Shaariibuu was a 28-year-old former model and interpreter at the center of involving the Malaysian government's purchase of two French submarines in 2002 when current Prime Minister Najib Razak was the Defense Minister.
Those allegations are currently before the French courts, where civil society groups have pinned their hopes of finding an explanation for her death and the sordid unexplained details that linked her with Razak and his wife Rosmah.
Both insist they had nothing to do with the girl who in 2006 was taken to an isolated knoll, tied-up, shot, before having explosives attached to her body and detonated in a bizarre attempt, the courts heard, at destroying the evidence. She was pregnant at the time.
Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, members of an elite police unit responsible for guarding the country's leaders, including the First Lady, were convicted in 2009 of the murder amid accusations they were being made scapegoats for the real killers.
But in a move then won applause from the defense but shocked the prosecution and Malaysia's political opposition, a three-judge appeals panel had erred by failing to connect the men to explosives used to blow up the victim's body.
Shaariibuu had acted as a translator during the purchase of the submarines and had an affair with Abdul Razak Baginda, a former close associate of Najib, who arranged the kickbacks, and was charged with ordering her murder before being acquitted.
Prosecutors say they will appeal the decision, while the French courts remain in the early stages of their hearings. Human rights groups are calling for a further independent government inquiry while her father to intervene.
Human Rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) an end to the alleged harassment of its supporters. The group claimed that the harassment was deliberately designed to intimidate its supporters for exposing information about the ongoing Scorpene submarine probe in the French courts.
Righteousness and justice: Acquittal of Altantuya's Murder Suspects
By Lim Mun Fah
August 27 (Sinchew Daily)) The two alleged suspects of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu's murder were acquitted after they had brought the case to the Court of Appeal.
The outcome immediately sparked a chorus of controversy. But Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail informed that the prosecution would appeal, that said, this 159-day trial, has not yet come to an end.
This trial has since aroused global attention. The reason is two-fold. Firstly, Altantuya the deceased is a Mongolian beauty with a legendary and murky identity.
She was reported to have come all the way from Mongolia to meet her lover in Malaysia but ended up murdered, and her remains destroyed with C-4 explosives. This amorous, exciting and atrocious plot of the narrative is arresting at its best to the stalking-oriented public.
Secondly, there were three influential accused initially, namely, the then-defense analyst from the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre think-tank Abdul Razak Baginda, and two policemen, C/Insp Azilah Hadri and Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar.
The trial was tedious and teemed with surprises, but Abdul Razak was later acquitted without his defence being called for.
This verdict, to date, has raised an uproar as well as legal controversy. There were lawyers who pinpointed the unnecessary fallacy presented by the prosecution.
Accordingly, that was the cause of the loss. For instance, there were asymmetries in the various witness statements and evidence raised by the prosecution was falsifiable. The fatal blow being that there was no summons of questionings of the witnesses.
Former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was disappointed with the verdict. To him, the Court of Appeal should instead have ordered to review the case and not to pronounce acquittal. Furthermore, Pakatan Rakyat officials had called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry for further investigation to restore the reputation of our legal system.
Frankly speaking, legal system is generally Greek to many a member of the law-ignorant public. The verdict has all the more puzzled the general public and begs the question: Can righteousness and justice be upheld legally? Does the recurrent acquittal of the murderers uphold legal justice or reveal the impotence of prosecution?
Most common folks are kindhearted. They tend to sympathise with Altantuya the victim, albeit not knowing who she is since the murder is believed to be factual.
"A murderer must pay with his life" is their logic. When the verdict goes against their expectation, prevailing sense of disappointment and discontentment should be understood and justified.
Different stance would result in disparate interpretation. No sentence can be made without sufficient evidence and it is to the core an uncompromising principle.
Similarly, in the position of the family members, freedom retrieved to the alleged relative should be accredited to blessings from the cosmic power as well as the justice upheld by the court.
For Altantuya and her family, as long as the murderers are at large and not convicted, her apparition will always linger in the Malaysian sky.
In passing, I recalled the acquittal made to OJ Simpson for his alleged murder of his ex-wife and a waiter. After hearing the verdict the waiter's father said, "Today is not the day prosecution has lost the trial but the nation, as righteousness and justice was not upheld."
Indeed, to uphold righteousness and justice is the universal calling. It is also our expectation and hope for each and every trial.
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In Mongolia, men are demanding gender equality
"Women are favoured more by the bosses. They are considered to be more adaptable," says Gantulga.
By Stephan Scheuer
August 27 (Gulf Times) Mongolian driver Amarsaikhan Gantulga shifts down a gear. In the muddy ground of the capital Ulan Bator his car is making slow progress.
Repeatedly, the 34-year-old must steer away from the dilapidated street and make a detour over a pasture. While he is scraping by with odd jobs as a driver or maybe as a guard, Gantulga's wife is earning good money as the financial director of a hotel.
"In any case, it's not fair," he complains. Of course women's emancipation is important, but the situation has in the meantime become difficult for the men. A change is needed, toward equal gender opportunities — with the men receiving a helping hand.
His situation is typical of that of young men in Mongolia. Now, it's the women who dominate the universities, with various statistical data putting their share at 60 to 80% of graduates. In the meantime, the figure may even have gone higher. US academic researcher Linda Benson uses the term "reverse gender gap" to describe the situation in Mongolia.
Uyanga Tsogtsaikhan, working for the German educational foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Ulan Bator, commented: "For a long time many parents thought it very important for their daughters to get an education. "As to the boys, they think that they'll find work even without a university degree."
These attitudes have in the meantime begun to change, but for one generation of men, finding decent employment is now a major problem.
Up until 1990 Mongolia was a communist state and under the strong influence of the former Soviet Union. This has put its mark on the country to this day.
The communists glorified equal rights, and in doing so had destroyed a good bit of men's self-confidence, says a writer on Mongolia, Carl Robinson. "In today's world women have advanced even further. The boys were told to tend to the animals at home, while the women received the higher education."
Amarsaikhan parks his car on the side of the road and gets out. He stretches his back and takes some deep breaths. "I don't think this is so good," he said. For the time being, he's okay with his wife earning more money than he does, but he wants things to change soon.
He recently finished his university degree in mechanical engineering, but his job search is going poorly. "Women are favoured more by the bosses. They are considered to be more adaptable," he says.
A man does not let himself be pushed around so easily. Mongolian Health Minister Natsaq Udval sees things differently. It may be that women dominate in the high schools, but all the same there are many men holding the leadership positions. "Throughout my entire career I have had to push ahead against men," she said. "(German) Chancellor Angela Merkel is my ideal."
In June, Udval became the first woman to vie for the presidency, but lost to her male opponent, Tsakhia Elbegdorj. Mongolia expert Julian Dierkes of the University of British Columbia says that despite the quotas, the dominance of men in Mongolian politics has not changed much.
"The quota of female candidates in Ikh Khural for the parliamentary elections has been boosted to 11, from three previously. But this is quite evidently a low figure."
Dierkes also sees a responsibility of the men for their poorer prospects on the job market. "There are lots of jobs that Mongolian men quite simply won't consider. These are the 'Three-D jobs' — dangerous, dirty, dreary."
Amarsaikhan Gantulga also defends those friends whose wives bring home the money. "I also cook, and I gladly do it," he says, believing he can weather the dry stretch a bit longer until he finds a lucrative job.
And he can be there at home for his son. But Gantulga is firmly resolved about one thing: "Later on, my son must absolutely earn more than his wife does."
SEMINAR RUNS ON WAYS OF REDUCING SOIL POLLUTION
Ulaanbaatar, August 23 /MONTSAME/ A seminar themed "Reducing soil pollution by using biotechnology and introducing technology in Mongolia" ran Wednesday at the Ministry of Health.
This seminar aims to let its participants exchange information and collaborate in introducing and utilizing a technology that helps reduce soil pollution with a help of bacteria, under a project implemented by Prof. Tadayuki Imanaka at the Ritsumeikan University of Japan.
A scientist at the Geological Institute Ts.Bolormaa delivered a report titled "Introduction of the latest research on soil pollutions", a director of the "Monkhimo' LLC M.Ariunaa--a report themed "Opportunities to utilize progressive tech in soil improving", and Prof. Imanaka--a report named "Methods and technologies of reducing soil pollution by using biotechnology".
Apart of these scholars, the seminar brought together J.Amarsanaa, the Vice Minister of Health; G.Bolormaa, a head of the City's Department of Environment and Green Development; O.Enkhtuya, a scholar-secretary of the Botanic Institute, and others.
Education Minister: Almost 900 Thousand Children to Enroll in 2013-2014 Academic Year
Ulaanbaatar, August 21 /MONTSAME/ In the 2013-2014 academic years, 191 thousand and 815 children will go to kindergartens, 134 thousand 763 of them are to go to state-owned kindergartens, the rest (25,438)--to private kindergartens.
The Minister of Education and Science L.Gantomor Wednesday said it at a news conference, when highlighting a preparation for the academic year.
He said 504 thousand and 233 will enroll at primary and secondary schools, whereas 175 thousand and 591 students--at 99 state-owned and private universities, institutes, colleges and vocational training centers.
Then the Minister informed the media about the supply of textbooks and uniforms, construction and assembling works for school buildings, repairing, also about programmes being implemented by the Ministry and schools and kindergartens provision.
Revisiting the communities helped in Mongolia's 2010 disaster
August 27 (World Society for the Protection of Animals) What is the impact of a disaster on animals and the communities that care for them? Regional Communications Manager for Disaster Management, Scott Cantin, has re-visited Dundgovi, Mongolia, to learn more about the sustainability of our disaster response work.
In 2010, Mongolia suffered a summer drought followed by an extremely cold winter, resulting in a catastrophic loss of animal life for many communities. Find out more from Scott's blog below.
"We first met Odkhvu in 2010 when WSPA responded to the disaster unfolding across the country. Dundgovi, an area south west of the capital Ulaanbaatar and on the northern edge of the Gobi Desert was once of the worst hit areas. We were there distributing emergency feed and working alongside local veterinarians and the charity CAMDA who focused on the people's needs..." Read the full story on our Animals in Disasters blog.
August 28 (The Diplomat) When 19-year-old Briton Lara Prior-Palmer rode across the finish line of the fifth annual Mongol Derby astride a earlier this month, she became the to win the equine race, considered the world's longest and most grueling. While many would jump at the chance to ride across the vast expanses of Mongolian prairieland, the Derby is not for the faint of heart.
At 1,000 kilometers – or 833.2 kilometers, , which gave it the nod for the world's longest horse race – the Derby loosely follows the former routes established by Genghis Khan when he laid out the nation's once formidable postal system. In 1224 the great Khan established the world's first long-distance postal system with a system of horse stations.
In Khan's day, "They were travelling all manner of distances – some many thousands of miles," Tom Morgan, founder of The Adventurists, told . "We've heard it said that they could get a message from Kharakhorin (the ancient capital) to around where modern Poland is in about 12 days. But these message systems were still in use up to the 1960s in some form. We spoke to one of the old riders as part of our research for setting up the race."
Riders stop at a total of 25 stations, located every 40 kilometers, deliver their mounts (in mint condition), swap steeds, and recoup for the next arduous day. They risk life and limb as they charge across the grassland, which is carefully battle tested by members of , which puts on the race. Along the way, riders have a chance to get a taste of local culture too – if they don't opt to sleep beneath the open nighttime sky or dart ahead to keep a leg up on their competitors. Westerners who brave the steppe in the Derby are required to raise at least 1,000 pounds ($1,551) to be donated to a rainforest charity called .
"The riders can stay with local nomads who eat lots of meat – mainly mutton – and drink mare's milk," Shatra Galbadrah, a resident of Ulan Bator who works as the Mongolian liaison for the race, told . "If you're a vegetarian it's going to be a tough time."
A lack of access to organic greens is the least of the riders' worries. The official race website : "This is no guided tour, or pony trek. There is no marked course, no packed lunches, no shower block, no stabling. That's the whole point. It's just you, your team of horses and a thousand kilometres of Mongolian wilderness. And possibly a GPS."
Morgan added that the danger stems from "the combination of remoteness and the wild horses," Morgan said. "Horse riding at the best of times is pretty dangerous, but throw in the Steppe and the semi wild nature of these horses and it gets pretty risky. To date the worst injury has been a broken neck, but we get a large number of riders having to withdraw every year from injury. It's certainly not safe." Of 30 riders who competed this year, around half were injured – – and did not finish the race.
So imagine: you're in the middle of the Mongolian backwoods with a horse and a GPS. A 40-kilometer ride awaits you each day, followed by a succession of overnight stays in local families' (portable homes). Not to mention, Mongol horses are free-spirited in ways that Western riders are often unaccustomed to. The organizers wrangle 1,000 of the free-roaming stallions from the herds maintained by local nomads in the months leading up to the Derby. After giving them training, it's off to the races for the largely Western equestrians who turn up.
To be successful in the Derby, "I think it is much more about the mental profile of the rider than their physical size or shape," Morgan said. "It's the getting up early morning having had little sleep, spending all day in the driving rain, putting up with the pain and discomfort for days on end, that gets you up to the front of the field. The main thing is to get as many hours in the saddle as possible."
If anyone has put in the requisite hours for saddle mastery, it is the Mongolians, whose relationship with riding has been somewhat overshadowed by rapid modernization. But the link is still there. "It is definitely more popular to be on Facebook than on horseback," Morgan said. "Mongolian traditional culture is still a strong part of modern life in cities, and a lot of people head out to the countryside on a regular basis, but like anywhere that is growing so fast, tradition plays a decreasing part of everyday life – especially among the young."
Even novice Westerners are discovering the magic of Mongolia's plains. "Just jump on a plane and find yourself a horse," Morgan said. "It's pretty easy to go on a trek in Mongolia. Any number of travel agents will help you out. But if you want to take on the biggest and toughest horse race on the planet there is only one place to go."
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