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WOF trading flat at 5.5c after trading halt lifts
WOLF PETROLEUM: UNDERWRITTEN NON-RENOUNCEABLE ENTITLEMENT ISSUE OF OPTIONS
August 12 -- Wolf Petroleum Limited ("the Company," ASX:WOF) is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with CPS Securities to underwrite a non-renounceable entitlement issue of up to 174,558,384 options at an issue price of 1.5 cents each to raise approximately $2.618 million before costs ("Offer").
This Offer to shareholders will be on the basis of two (2) options for every three (3) shares held in the Company at the record date. The options will have an exercise price of $0.05 expiring on 31 July 2018.
The offer will allow all shareholders the opportunity to maintain exposure to the significant upside presented by the Company's highly prospective petroleum assets in Mongolia. Mongolia remains open for business and supportive of foreign investment.
The Company has completed its 2013 contract commitments during the first half of the year and has identified the largest sub basins that have the potential to be the main petroleum generation source of Eastern Mongolia.
Funds raised under the entitlement issue will be primarily used to complete the Company's 2014/2015 contract commitments in the second half of 2013. This next phase of exploration activity will focus on confirming encouraging results made earlier this year, completion of 450km of 2D seismic data acquisition, geological and geophysical surveys, geochemical surveys and identifying drilling targets on the Sukhbaatar Block.
A Prospectus setting out the details of the offer will be lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Securities Exchange on or about Monday 19 August 2013.
Wolf Petroleum remains in a position of strength with an enviable land position in Mongolia of over 18 million acres across three petroleum exploration blocks.
Mogi: the proposed IPO is of a combined OT+Erdenet stake
Mongolia Studying IPO of Stake in $6.6 Billion Rio Mine
By Michael Kohn
August 9 (Bloomberg) Mongolia is studying converting its shares in the Oyu Tolgoi mine into a public company, giving citizens a stake in one of the world's largest copper deposits.
A proposed new company would hold the state's 34 percent interest, said Chuluuntseren Otgochuluu, director-general of Strategic Policy and Planning at the Mines Ministry. Ten percent of the company would be made available to the Mongolian public and 10 to 20 percent more may be sold on the domestic market.
The potential initial public offering may aid a planned expansion of the mine, which has been held up by disagreements over costs and revenues. By giving a stake to Mongolian citizens who have complained that the project only benefits foreign investors, the government will find it easier to negotiate with partner Rio Tinto Group, according to brokerage BDSec.
"Citizens would be able to think like shareholders," Nick Cousyn, chief operating officer of BDSec, said today. "It would change the adversarial opinion of the OT project to one that is focused on the success of the project. It would align the interests of average Mongolians with the interests of all the shareholders."
Rio, which controls the rest of Oyu Tolgoi through its majority stake in Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ), started shipments from the mine last month following delays as Mongolia sought to ensure revenue from the $6.6 billion project passed through domestic banks. The country earlier pushed for a bigger stake and new royalty rates, which the company rebuffed.
Rio's planned extension of Oyu Tolgoi would include an underground mine. The company said July 29 it was delaying work on the expansion pending financing approval.
"We want to see the project move forward," Chief Executive Officer Sam Walsh said yesterday in London. "We continue to discuss a range of matters with the government of Mongolia, but progress has been made on several fronts."
A spokesman for London-based Rio declined to comment today.
Mongolia is also considering an IPO of its 51 percent stake in the Erdenet copper mine, Otgochuluu said in an interview in Ulaanbaatar. The sales of both project stakes would echo a similar government plan for state-owned coal company Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi LLC, in which more than 1,000 shares will be issued free of charge to every Mongolian citizen.
"Something like that can also happen at Erdenet and Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi," Otgochuluu said. By setting up a public company, the government would be able to issue bonds and shares and accrue funds, he said.
The proposed new company may be called Mongol Copper. An international IPO may follow a domestic offering, according to the ministry official, who said the location and size of such a sale were yet to be determined. The government's initial goal is to put state assets in the hands of the public, he said.
"If we gradually change from state ownership to public ownership we can improve the efficiency and governance," Otgochuluu said. "State-owned enterprises can be controlled by government officials for their benefit."
Mongolians could have a stake in one of world's largest copper mines – MINING.com, August 10
D.GANKHUYAG: GOVERNMENT PINS HOPES ON OT LLC
Ulaanbaatar, August 9 /MONTSAME/ Price falls of coal and a few numbers of minerals at the international market as well as a decline of the coal demand in China have influenced Mongolia's economy.
The Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag said it Friday at a news conference held due to a soar of the US dollar's rate against Mongolian Togrog (MNT).
He said the Government for reforms is doing all its best to form the state budget income and to pay off the USD 800 million debt which has been made by the previous cabinet.
"The mining sector is making up today 20 percent of the total economy, 40 percent of the budget income and 90 percent of the export. In conjunction with current situation, we should wait until the 'overheated' economy cools down and turns back to a normal condition, instead of making fuss about this fluctuation's causing economic crisis,' the Minister emphasized.
"The minerals prices have been declining last two years at the international market, for example, the coal price fell almost as much as two times. The sharp economic rise of 2011 and 2012 was actually an effect of the coal price increase, it was a short phenomenon due the price at the both China's and international markets," Mr Gankhuyag stressed.
He said that the inflation rate, calculated through the Consumer Price Index (CPI), was 8.8 per cent this June, indicating a decrease of 5.9 unit against the previous year. In addition, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) went up 7.2 per cent in a first quarter of this year against the same period of 2012, and this became the lowest economic growth since a fourth quarter of 2010, he said.
The GDP also increased 14.6 percent in the same period of previous year, he went on. However slackening is the speed of the economic growth of Mongolia, this is still higher of that of other countries, the economic growth of most countries is less than three percent, even some have negative indicators, he said.
"Although the rate of US dollar is soaring these days, the economic growth rise is very likely in near future because the Oyu Tolgoi LLC is able to earn about one billion US dollars if it sells 300 thousand tons of copper concentrate this year. It is obvious that this will need time, but the Mongolian GDP is bound to increase thanks to various projects that are to be implemented with financing from the 'Chingis' bonds," the Minister emphasized.
PM: Mongolia is exporting, but with no income, Rio copper chief arriving Monday
August 8 (Business-Mongolia.com) In the weekly PM's 30 minute conference with press PM N.Altankhuyag presented some answers on current issues.
Price of real estate has been rising since the implementation of 8%+ mortgage. What is the policy for holding the price increase?
Government made a decision to implement the 8% mortgage program. We also took all the possible measures to prevent the increase in real estate price. Government provided soft loans for the construction companies for their incomplete constructions. Construction material price level rises in the summer and spring. We have implemented a prevention program in cooperation with the Bank of Mongolia. We also warned the companies that if they rise their prices there will be consequences of eliminating them from the program. Thus, we have two companies facing this consequence. We cannot decide or instruct on the companies that has not participated in the program and control the price.
There is a rumor on the financing of 8% mortgage is exhausted?
We worked for many years to form a reformist government that does not implement short-sighted policies. The rumor is a lie. Due to these kind of news people panic and there is a empty demand. The program will be in place for a long time. If there are apartments, there will be a mortgage program. There is no fear of exhaustion.
Please express your position on pause of the underground development of OT project. There is a rumor that because of this, 2000 Mongolian employees will lose their jobs?
Mining Minister will make a statement this issue. To be brief, there aren't any blockage from the Mongolian side. As a Prime Minister I participated in the first export ceremony. The work is being done in accordance with the Investment Agreement. Yes, there are things to talk about. It doesn't mean that we have to halt or stop the mine.
There is a letter from Erdenes OT CEO Ts.Sedvanchig to Rio Tinto. Slightly, misunderstanding statement was included in the letter indicated that: Perhaps the government will take this issue (project financing) to for parliamentary approval. The Mining Minister affirmed with a letter that a company CEO doesn't express government or SGK's position.
Tomorrow, the Mining Minister will show this letter. We are affirming as a government that we will continue to support OT project. But, we will talk about the issues we have to solve. There is no issues of Mongolian employees losing their jobs. In the coming Monday, Head of Copper Group of Rio Tinto will have a talk with the relevant officials. We have received a letter with 4 points. First, copper export will continue. Second, let's decide on the project financing. Third, let's talk on unsolved issues. Fourth, let's talk on addition financing.
What is reason of the USD increase against MNT? What is your conclusion?
There are many reasons. The Bank of Mongolia will make a official report on this. In fact, there will be a joint report from Bank of Mongolia, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Mining. After the report is released, we will decide on further actions. Perhaps there will be a session in cabinet meetings as well as in SGK session.
For example, Mongolia is exporting copper, coal and gold etc. However, there is no income. Economic units are working and exporting, but cannot bring in a single dollar home. The reason being is that the money is already pre-spent. USD250 million from OT (Pre-tax and IoU), USD350 million from Chalco (pre-payment of coal from TT) has been distributed to the population. USD170 million is the outstanding amount from Chalco debt. We exporting coal, but it just pay off of the loan. Thus, TT will continue to work to pay off its debt. Also, the Erdenet has been put in a difficult situation. Before exporting their copper, they received a prepayment and also it has been distributed through Human Development Fund. So, if we add 250+350+300 million dollar will equal about trillion MNT in minus.
Because we realize the consequences, we will try to expand TT operations. East Tsankhi will end up paying its debt this year, where West Tsankhi should commence operations. We need to export at least 2 million tons to start receiving some revenue. Also, we need to stop purchasing unnecessary goods in USD. Some schools demanded the students and pupils to pay their tuition in dollars. We have stopped this. We need to stop creating unnecessary demand for USD. As for the government, we will try hard to increase the export. After the joint report, further actions will be apparent.
Is there enough currency to make intervention. Thus, will the bond money be used for that purpose?
We will not spend the Chinggis Bond money on these kind of events. It will be spent on development and infrastructure. Those things that will make a dollar into two.
The Finance Minister will make a statement on bond related updates soon.
BDSec: RIO Extends Bridge Facility to TRQ and an Olive Branch to Minority Shareholders
August 8 (BDSec) In a surprising and very positive announcement, RIO announced they will extend the bridge loan to TRQ until the end of 2013 and increase the funding agreement to $600M from the current $225M. Most importantly, RIO has waived its right to convert the outstanding loan amount from the Short Term Bridge Loan AND the new Bridge Facility is not convertible into the equity of TRQ. The new facility carries a $6M upfront commitment fee with an annual yield of LIBOR +5%.
Impact: Very Significant
TRQ investors were facing meaningful dilution (as much as 15% or more) as TRQ equity was going to either be placed privately or converted from debt by RIO. RIO waiving its right to convert and offering the new and larger Bridge Loan to TRQ (with no conversion provision) is a big positive for TRQ equity holders. We would also add that the interest rate on the new Bridge Facility (LIBOR+5%) is quite fair, if not favorable to TRQ and its shareholders. Should this new Bridge Facility allow TRQ the needed time to turn operationally positive and avoid further dilution, we would consider shares of TRQ substantially undervalued at their current $4.36/share.
As investors are aware, Phase 2 construction has been suspended, pending the status of Phase 2 financing and whether Parliament approval is needed for that loan to be funded. RIO contends they were told Parliamentary approval is necessary and PM Altankhuyag has since said financing could be approved by OT's board or at the cabinet level. President Elbegdorj came out yesterday (following a special meeting with PM Altankhuyag and Parliament Speaker Enkhbold) saying they would convene a special session of Parliament, if necessary, to approve "urgent issues" (read Phase 2 financing). It seems obvious to us Mongolia's highest ranking political leaders recognize the importance of timely approval for Phase 2 financing and are pursuing its passage with a sense of urgency. The GOM currently faces a crisis of sorts, as the Mongolian Tugrik and sovereign bonds have sold off drastically in response to the suspension of Phase 2 construction at OT. Based on the current YTM of the 10 year Chinggis Bond (~7%) and the 11.9% depreciation in the Mongolian Tugrik since 12/1/12, Mongolia's implied sovereign borrowing costs are currently 40%-50% higher in USD terms, when compared to Chingiss Bond 1. That said, we think this trend can (and will) be quickly reversed, through the timely passage of Phase 2 financing, along with new Mining and SEFIL laws due to be passed in October/November. We've spoken with representatives from several of the largest mining companies in the world, who stand ready to invest Billions of USD$ into Mongolia as the regulatory environment improves. Many of these companies have full time people on the ground in UB actively looking at potential projects.
As perhaps RIO & TRQ's earliest and loudest critic following the poorly conceived short term Bridge Loan announced July 1st, we've changed our opinion following the favorable terms of the current financing. Minority investor's benefit greatly under the new agreement and the positive aspects associated with avoiding dilution cannot be emphasized enough. TRQ shareholders had two major headwinds to contend with, the politics surrounding OT and a potentially predatory majority shareholder in RIO. We think the latter headwind has been mitigated and that TRQ now has the ability to reach profitability without dilution. As to the former, we will go on record and predict the timely approval of Phase 2 financing. The GOM has proved its ability to move quickly and decisively in the past in response to crisis, this time should be no different. If we're correct, the low for TRQ shares is in and the stock will re-rate significantly higher. While we have held a variety of opinions on shares of TRQ as of late, those opinions have always been in reaction to changes in facts surrounding the company and its prospects. The volatility in the stock (and our opinion) reflected various uncertainties surrounding the company, not the least of which was the question of what share count to use when estimating future share value. Since that question now appears to be answered, we expect to remain structurally positive on TRQ for the foreseeable future.
Turquoise Hill Resources secures $600m from Rio Tinto for Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine – Proactive Investors, August 9
What the PM really said about OT
August 7 (NAMBC via Business-Mongolia.com) PM Altankhuyag says no need to submit OT financing package to parliament or the cabinet for approval – In the western news media, Mongolia occasionally suffers from under-reporting, over-reporting and late reporting of news developments. That was the case with the recent short-lived anxiety about whether the GOM had actually told OT that the financing package for the underground mine had to be submitted to parliament.
At his press conference in UB on Thursday, August 1, Prime Minister Altankhuyag said it did not have to go to parliament or the cabinet. He made the following comments about Oyu Tolgoi and the relationship between the GOM and Rio Tinto/OT. The excerpts below are a rough and unofficial translation of the Prime Minister's remarks. Boldface emphasis is added.
"There are times when parties may agree or disagree on an issue. The same thing before the export started — Prior to [the commencement of ore] exports, we wanted to clarify 'where will the money from the export revenue be received? Which bank? What is the sales price of the concentrate?' So we discussed this issue together and were able to reach an understanding, enabling exports to go forward.
"At present, there are many pressing issues that are awaiting resolution with respect to OT, including budget increases, etc. We will need to discuss them. But OT is in need of the second-phase additional financing which is required to undertake the underground mine development. We proposed to Rio Tinto that we should discuss and agree on the best, most mutually beneficial scenario for the project financing. In a letter dated July 29th, Rio Tinto's CEO also communicated to us that they are ready to sit down for a discussion on this matter.
"So I had a talk with Gankhuyag Minister yesterday. Our position is this: Let's discuss and resolve the issues as we go. We have no intention of stopping the underground mine work. The work must continue as it should. In the meantime, we will resolve the issues as we go on a parallel track.
"We are inextricably connected to the global economy…For that reason, we are inevitably exposed to various influences coming from the outside world. There are some people out there who are, either inadvertently or intentionally, are promoting the [false] message that 'OT is not going to go forward' or 'OT's value is falling.'
One reporter asked Altankhuyag about news reports that the GOM informed OT that the financing package had to be submitted to parliament for approval. The Prime Minister replied that there was no such requirement:
"There is no such thing as 'has to be brought to Parliament" or "Oyu Tolgoi and Rio Tinto must be discussed at the Parliament" or anything of that sort. The Parliament has already made the decision and signed the Agreement.
"In fact, the Cabinet doesn't have to be involved. All issues can be discussed and decided at the [OT] Board of Directors' level. The Cabinet is not an institution with a mandate to be deciding what is working and what is not. We did not make such a decision [that the financing package must be approved by parliament.].
"One shortcoming we've observed with regards to OT is that its Board of Directors is not very good at discussing its issues. The Government of Mongolia is saying that, as a shareholder [in OT] ), you should make your decisions at the Board level.
"A letter [to OT/RT] was sent by Sedvanchig [executive director of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC]. The idea actually expressed in Sedvanchig's letter was that 'In the event the Cabinet is not able to make a decision on a legally disputed issue, the issue may be brought to Parliament for a decision'. Sedvanchig is a CEO of a company. There is Board of Directors above him. There are shareholders above the Board of Directors. The Cabinet is above the Board. Then there's Parliament above the Cabinet. There is a very, very long way to go before it reaches the Parliament all the way, you see? So we remain in the position that we should sit down together to discuss these matters.
"As for the [second-phase] loan financing, the only issue is that the financing issue has not been thoroughly and fully discussed at the [OT] Board Level. It's just a matter of technicality. Otherwise, there is no serious conflict with OT at all.
"What I told the OT management during the first shipment ceremony was that 'There is no such thing as "You" and "Me". There is only "us"' We are on the same side. Both sides should benefit. We will collaborate in the future. That was the official, firm position of the Government I communicated.
"That said, it does not mean we are going to abandon the many outstanding issues between us awaiting resolution. We will continue to discuss and resolve them in parallel as we go forward. In other words, gold [sic] will continue to be exported. Copper concentrate will continue to be shipped. In the meantime, let's sit down at a table together to discuss the additional financing and collectively decide what is the best most mutually beneficial option. There is nothing complicated, you see."
Turquoise Hill Resources to Announce Second Quarter Financial Results on August 12, 2013
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Aug. 8, 2013) - Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX:TRQ)(NYSE:TRQ)(NASDAQ:TRQ) will announce its second quarter financial results on Monday, August 12, 2013 after financial markets close in North America.
The company will host a conference call and webcast to discuss second quarter results on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 11:00 am EST/8:00 am PST. The conference call can be accessed through the following dial-in details:
North America: 416 340 8410 - 866 225 2055
International: +1 416 340 8410 - 800 6578 9898
The conference call will also be simultaneously webcast on Turquoise Hill's website at www.turquoisehill.com. An archived playback of the call will be available on the company's website.
DRAIG: AMENDED EXPLORATION PROGRAMME UPDATE
August 12, Draig Resources Limited (ASX:DRG) --
As previously advised, the Company recently implemented an exploration programme across a number of licences in Mongolia with the objective of confirming the prospectivity of target areas for coal.
Exploration undertaken at the licences of Teeg and Urtnii-Am in the Ovorhangay region was the most successful component of the overall exploration programme, with the confirmation of coal-bearing sediments within the two licence areas.
Outside of the favourable results at Teeg and Urtnii-Am, no new coal discoveries were made during the exploration programme.
Exploration results from other target areas indicate that some of the licences have low prospectivity.
Entree Gold Reports on Second Quarter 2013
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Aug. 7, 2013) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG)(NYSE MKT:EGI)(FRANKFURT:EKA) - "Entrée" or the "Company") has today filed its interim operational and financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2013.
Greg Crowe, President and CEO commented, "In the second quarter, we continued to execute our strategy of advancing the Company's key assets. In the US, we made additional progress on our Ann Mason Project in Nevada, refining the project's potential and scope. We also remained focused on furthering our interests in Mongolia and engaging in discussions with Oyu Tolgoi stakeholders regarding the joint venture's mining licences. Given the importance of Oyu Tolgoi, we are hopeful that matters will be resolved satisfactorily. Financially, we are continuing to ensure that all of our activities are done in a measured, cash conservative manner. With approximately $52 million of cash, we are well capitalized and in an excellent financial position from which to pursue our strategic goals."
Highlights for the quarter ended June 30, 2013 and beyond include:
Ann Mason, Nevada
Oyu Tolgoi Project Update
· First shipment of copper concentrate left the Oyu Tolgoi open pit mine on July 9, 2013.
· Incumbent Mongolian President Ts. Elbegdorj, of the Democratic Party, was re-elected on June 26, 2013.
· On July 28, 2013, Turquoise Hill announced that notification had been received from the Government of Mongolia that project financing for Oyu Tolgoi will now require approval by the Mongolian Parliament. As a result, funding and development of the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine will be delayed until outstanding matters with the Mongolian Government can be resolved and a new timetable has been agreed.
· Entrée continues to actively engage with relevant parties in discussions to resolve the issues surrounding the temporary restriction of the Shivee Tolgoi and Javhlant mining licences from transfer. The mining licences are subject to the joint venture with Oyu Tolgoi LLC.
Denison Mines Corp. Reports Second Quarter 2013 Results
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 8, 2013) - Denison Mines Corp. ("Denison" or the "Company") (TSX:DML)(NYSE MKT:DNN) today reported its results for the three months and six months ended June 30, 2013. All amounts in this release are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.
Mineral Property Exploration
In Mongolia, exploration expenditures on the Company's Gurvan Saihan joint venture ("GSJV") properties totaled $56,000 and $397,000 for the three months and six months ended June 30, 2013, compared to $2,516,000 and $2,822,000 for the same periods in 2012. Exploration activities have been reduced in 2013, as the Company focuses on completing the field programs and studies necessary to convert the Company's exploration licenses to mining licenses. By comparison, the Company completed a 29,600 metre drill program on the Urt Tsav and Ulziit properties in the second quarter of 2012.
The Company and Mon-Atom LLC, the Mongolian state-owned uranium company, are continuing to pursue restructuring of the GSJV to meet the requirements of the Nuclear Energy Law. The Company currently has an 85% interest in the GSJV, with Mon-Atom LLC holding the remaining 15% interest. Depending on the amount of historic exploration that was funded by the Government of Mongolia, Mon-Atom LLC is entitled to hold a 34% to 51% interest in the GSJV. Discussions with relevant government agencies are on-going, and the timing for completion of the restructuring is uncertain at this time.
In Mongolia, mining license applications for its four license areas were submitted in 2011 and the Company is continuing to work to restructure the GSJV to meet the requirements of the Mongolian Nuclear Energy Law. The focus in 2013 will be on the ongoing restructuring efforts and the work necessary to obtain mining licenses. The Mongolian project budget has been reduced from $1,700,000 to $1,400,000 for the year.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION: LAW OF MONGOLIA ON THE SECURITIES MARKET, 24 MAY 2013
(Hogan Lovells) --
This English translation of the revised version of the Law of Mongolia on the Securities Market, enacted on 24 May 2013 (the "Revised Securities Market Law") has been prepared by Hogan Lovells (Ulaanbaatar) LLC at the request of the Mongolian Stock Exchange. As our readers will appreciate, there is no perfect translation of a Mongolian law document into English, and vice versa. The translation of legal documents is more an art than a science because of the terminological and conceptual differences between the English and Mongolian languages as well as the differences between the legal systems of Mongolia and common law jurisdictions.
The Mongolian Stock Exchange and Hogan Lovells (Ulaanbaatar) LLC wish to remind the readers that the Mongolian version of the Revised Securities Market Law is the sole official, authentic and enforceable version of the law. The English translation has been prepared for reference purposes only and does not carry with it any warranty or representation. Readers are urged to consult with Mongolian qualified lawyers, Mongolian officials as well as Mongolian-English linguistic experts should they have any questions regarding the law and its translation.
NatSec Daily MSE Update, 7 August: Top 20 +0.22%, Turnover ₮23 Million
August 7 (National Securities) The MSE TOP-20 Index, which dropped for last 9 working days, finally rose +0.22% to 14,304.83 points. Although trading volumes were lower, trading values were however higher day-onday.
A total of 9,407 shares in 21 companies, valued at 23m MNT were traded today. Out of 21 companies that traded, 11 share prices increased.
Today's top advancer was Zoos Goyol (ZOO), closed at 1,186 MNT, by rising 14.92%. It's a souvenir merchandiser. Conversely, the major losers were Bishrelt Industrial (HHC) down -14.91% and Shivee Ovoo (SHV), a thermal coal miner, down -11.76%.
Today's 3 most active stocks were APU (APU) with 3,158 shares, Hermes Centre (HRM) with 2,110 shares and Nako Fuel (NKT) with 1,000 shares.
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NatSec Daily MSE Update, 8 August: Top 20 -0.94%, Turnover ₮34 Million
August 8 (National Securities) The MSE TOP-20 Index edged down again -0.94% after just one up-day in 10 trading days, to 14,169.89. Trading volumes were 44,602 shares and the trading amount was 34m MNT today.
The most active share was Silikat (SIL) with 37,294 shares traded at a value of 5.9m MNT. This single share represented 83.6% of the total volume. Mongol Savkhi (UYN), was the top gainer of today. It's price went up +10.80% to 1,108 MNT. Following UYN, Aduunchuluun (ADL) and Durvun-Uul (DRU) rose 4.17% and 5.88% respectively. Sharyn Gol (SHG), Buhug (BHG), E-Trans Logistics (ETR) dropped between -6% to -9%.
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NatSec Daily MSE Update, 9 August: Top 20 -0.95%, Turnover ₮7.2 Million
August 9 (National Securities) The MSE TOP-20 Index dropped again -0.95% to 14,034.91 points. 4,308 shares in 11 companies traded on the exchange with value of 7.2m MNT. There was block trade for Gobi Financial Group (GFG) of 100,985 shares with a value of 14.5m MNT. The combined value was 21.7m MNT.
Interestingly there were no gainers today and no action for any B-boarders on the exchange. Out of 11 companies 6 shares were decreased and 5 shares were static. The biggest loser was Khukh Gan (HGN), the iron-ore processing plant, which closed at 125 MNT, dropping -11.35%. Also Mongol Savkhi (UYN), Telecom Mongolia (MCH), Gobi (GOV), and Tavan Tolgoi (TTL) were major losers today. They plunged -9.21%, -8.5%, -4.17 and -3% respectively.
Remicon was the active share on the day, with 1,628 shares traded for a paltry value of 289,000 MNT. It's price edged down -0.56% to 178 MNT.
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MONGOLIAN STOCK EXCHANGE WEEKLY REVIEW: TOP 20 -1.7%, TURNOVER ₮102.9 MILLION
Ulaanbaatar, August 11 /MONTSAME/ Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange on August 5-9, 2013.
In overall, 187 thousand and 973 shares were sold of 37 joint-stock companies totaling MNT 102 million 881 thousand and 014.45.
"Gobi Financial Group" /100 thousand and 985 units/, "Silikat" /37 thousand and 494 units/ and "Remikon" /21 thousand and 617 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"APU" (MNT 52 million 496 thousand and 492.00), " Gobi Financial Group " (MNT 14 million and 511 thousand and 544.50) and "Silikat" (MNT five million 999 thousand and 040.00).
BOM: RISE OF US DOLLAR RATE WAS CAUSED BY NEGATIVE RUMORS
August 9 (InfoMongolia) During the regular foreign currency auctions (Tuesdays and Thursdays) organized by Central Bank of Mongolia on August 08, 2013, Bank of Mongolia sold 62.7 million USD at a closing rate of 1,571 MNT (Tugrug) and 155.5 million CNY at a closing rate of 255.59 MNT to commercial banks. A week ago, on August 01, US dollar rate was 1,501 MNT.
Advisor to the President of the Bank of Mongolia and General Economist S.Bold commented about the rapid rise of US dollar rates and the current economic situation.
Advisor S.Bold stated, "The rapid rate changes in markets in the past few weeks were caused by negative rumors. First of all, there was the spread of never before heard news related to the debt from the Standard Bank of South Africa. Second is the Khadgalamj Bank (Savings Bank) matter. However, due to fast measures taken by the Central Bank to merge with Turiin Bank (State Bank) prevented any service hold-ups and operations are continuing normally without any setbacks in any transactions.
Therefore, there were no major changes in the currency market.
Third, news are circulating the market, such as the Oyu Tolgoi project funding and investment may be decided by the State Great Khural (Parliament) session, in other words, the issue may be postponed without any decisions until October and whether investments besides Oyu Tolgoi will fully stop, resulting in no currency income. News with similar content were published in international publications as well. This caused the drop of Chinggis Bond and Savings Bank value and the stock prices of foreign invested entities plummeted. These factors influenced the abrupt fluctuation of rates in currency markets.
The official foreign currency reserve of Mongolia is 2.8 billion USD and also a resource of Chinese Yuan equal to 2 billion USD in swap currency. Not only the stability of currency markets, but the Central Bank is also capable of providing financial stability.
We have no doubts that the Government will make important decisions in the near future to support foreign trade, foreign investment, and export, improve competitiveness, restore investments, and clear the Oyu Tolgoi project matter".
BoM issues 1-week bills
August 7 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 301.8 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
RESULT OF GOVERNMENT SECURITIES AUCTION
August 7 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 52 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 10 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 10 billion /out of 10.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 9.75%.
Mogi: wow, $62.7 million!
BoM holds FX auction
August 8 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on August 8th, 2013 the BOM has received bid offer of USD and CNY from local commercial banks. BOM has sold 62.7 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1571 and 155.5 million CNY as closing rate of MNT 255.59 to the local commercial banks.
On August 8th, 2013, The BOM has sold 100 million USD for Swap agreement to local commercial banks.
First 35 Days of New Mortgage Program
August 8 (Cover Mongolia) Bank of Mongolia announcement dating August 8 (in Mongolian only) reports that commercial banks have so far received requests to refinance ₮788.2 billion worth of old mortgages and accordingly have converted ₮412.7 billion old mortgages of 14,620 citizens to 8%.
₮268.4 billion worth of new mortgage requests were received and ₮195.5 billion out of these of 3,692 citizens were issued at 8%.
MONGOLIA WILL GIVE JAPAN PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT IN MINING SECTOR UNDER EPA
August 7 (InfoMongolia) The August 04 edition of Japan's Nikkei Newspaper reported, "Consensus will be reached on majority of the issues of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Governments of Mongolia and Japan in September. Mongolia will give Japan privileges in the mining sector".
The article said, "There are plans to include articles in the EPA that provide Japanese private sectors with stable conditions to extract coal and copper in Mongolia. During the visit of Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag to Japan in September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will establish an agreement.
Japan has currently established Economic Partnership Agreement with 13 countries and regions, Mongolia will be the 14th country. As for Mongolia, it is the first Economic Partnership Agreement.
Mongolia has a 60 billion ton coal reserve (Mogi: 6Bt I'm sure) in Tavan Tolgoi mining (equal to Japan's 30 year import) and the world leading Oyu Tolgoi copper mine. Although the Mongolian legislation allows foreign invested private sectors to conduct mining extractions, they face risks to lose these rights due to sudden changes made in the laws. However, the agreement will include the rights of Japanese private sectors to continue their operations in accordance with the EPA, even if changes are made. Besides prohibiting high export taxes on natural resources, sides are also discussing to not include Japan in laws and regulations to limit foreign investment in the financial and communications sector. On the other hand, Mongolia is interested to increase the export of sheep wool and woolen products and agriculture products".
Mining the Gobi: The Battle for Mongolia's Resources
August 7 (Spiegel Online) --
Part 1: The Battle for Mongolia's Resources
The construction of a huge mine in the middle of the Gobi Desert was supposed to catapult Mongolia toward rapid economic growth. But an ongoing conflict over profits from the gold and copper mined there threatens to capsize the young democracy.
Mongolia is over four times the size of Germany, with nearly 3 million inhabitants and a GDP of $10 billion (€7.5 billion) in 2012.
British-Australian mining corporation Rio Tinto employs 71,000 people in more than 40 countries and is worth about $60 billion.
These two unequal partners -- a poor, potentially rich nation and the second largest mining corporation in the world -- have joined together to mine one of the globe's largest deposits of copper and gold. But will they be capable of distributing this wealth fairly?
The mine in question lies an hour's flight south of the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, near the border with China. There is enough copper in the ground here to build the Statue of Liberty more than 800,000 times over. Once the planned mine goes into full operation, it could increase the country's GDP by a third. It could, at least in theory, bring prosperity to this country where many people still live in simple yurts and huts.
But in practice, the transaction between this global corporation and this country that is poor but rich in raw materials looks quite different. In fact, the project serves as a prime example of what is happening in a growing number of newly industrialized and developing countries.
Here we have a weak country that needs the help of a business that is economically far more advanced to tap its own natural resources. One side has raw materials everyone wants; the other has the necessary technical expertise, as well as a great deal of money and smart lawyers. How can the inexperienced country benefit from this relationship without being taken advantage of? And how can the government of this frail democracy explain to its people that in the coming boom years, a few people will get rich very quickly, while most stay poor?
Custodians of the Mine
The conflict surrounding the Oyu Tolgoi mine, which is named for the turquoise-colored copper ore found in the Gobi Desert, began about four years ago. In order to acquire a 34 percent share in the mine's construction, the Mongolian government had to take out a loan. This loan came from Rio Tinto, the company that operates the mine. When news of that deal emerged, people in Mongolia started asking who will ultimately get more out of the mine, Mongolia or Rio Tinto.
Geophysicist Samand Sanjdorj is the mine's vice president, making the 67-year-old the highest ranking Mongolian on site. His office is in an air-conditioned glass building that rises out of the Gobi Desert like a blue spaceship. Every few weeks, a company jet flies him and his colleagues back and forth between the capital and the mine. Asked whose side he is on -- his country's or his company's -- Sanjdorj takes a long time to answer. Finally, he says, "I'm Mongolian first, but this mine is my baby."
One of the men in the capital responsible for the copper mine is Chuluuntseren Otgochuluu, the 35-year-old head of the Mining Ministry's planning department. His office is on the fifth floor of an aging Soviet building with no elevator and creaking floorboards.
'The People Haven't Benefited'
It isn't far from Otgochuluu's downtown office to the bleak hills north of the city center, where 800,000 rural refugees have settled -- nearly a third of Mongolia's population. They live in gers, a Mongolian style of yurt, and have no running water, no sewage systems and only sporadic electricity. Even in winter temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit), they go outside to reach their outhouses. And they fuel their heating stoves with anything that burns, including carpeting, tires and plastic waste. The air in Ulan Bator in winter is even more polluted than in China.
"So far, the people haven't benefitted from the mine," Otgochuluu says. "Our deal with Rio Tinto hasn't been a fair one. Rio Tinto is doing great work in the desert here, but if they want to cheat us when it comes to money, then we can't be friends."
This is how things have gone all along. The government accuses Rio Tinto of breaking agreements and rejects the company's future plans for financing the mine.
How this dispute ends will have a decisive impact on Mongolia. The country, whose economy has been growing faster than almost any other, is almost entirely dependent on the export of raw materials. Mongolia has things everyone wants -- coal, copper, gold, uranium, rare earth minerals -- and that potential wealth is reflected in the high-ranking visitors it draws. Donald Rumsfeld has been to Ulan Bator, as have Angela Merkel and several Japanese prime ministers. Beijing especially is making an effort to reach out to its northern neighbor.
One hundred percent of the materials from Oyu Tolgoi are exported to China. This July, four years after the mine's construction began, the first flat-bed trucks set out from Oyu Tolgoi to China, each bearing 36 tons (36,000 kilos) of a brown, cement-like powder, from which copper and gold would be extracted on the other side of the border. It was a historic day, whose date had been postponed several times. Geophysicist Sanjdorj had begun to fear he wouldn't get to experience it before his retirement.
Mapping the Ore
Sanjdorj steers his Land Cruiser to the top of the highest slag heap and points out Oyu Tolgoi's open-cast mine, as well as the headframe and ventilation shaft for the underground mine, and a crusher the size of an ocean liner, for grinding the copper ore into dust. The first time he stood on the spot, looking for copper, was over 20 years ago. "The Russians didn't leave us much," he says. "But their geological maps were good. We knew where we needed to look."
In the mid-1990s, shortly after the release of those Russian maps, Australian mining giant BHP obtained the first mining license for Oyu Tolgoi and spent several years digging for copper deposits. Sanjdorj and his colleagues worked there in 40 degree Celsius heat in the summers and minus 40 degree Celsius cold in the winters. If they had dug just 30 meters (100 feet) deeper, they would have reached the richest layers of ore back then. But they didn't, and in 2000 the Australian company lost interest for good, selling its license to Canadian mining company Ivanhoe for about $40 million. The price of copper at that point was $1,700 per ton, a quarter of its value today.
Ivanhoe's founder, American mining tycoon Robert Friedland, had made a great deal of money through a project mining nickel in Canada and a copper mine in Burma. He continued the drilling at Oyu Tolgoi and soon reached his goal, when geologists found a kilometers-long, banana-shaped copper deposit that extended as far as 2,000 meters into the earth and had a very high copper content. Now Friedland just needed people with the skills and means to excavate that banana.
Part 2: 'Cash Flow Engine'
By 2005, the price of copper had exceeded the $3,500 mark and Friedland attended an investors' conference in Florida, where he gave a speech that international mining company managers still rave about -- and at the same time made him the most hated man in Mongolia.
"Our lands" -- as Friedland referred to the claim he had purchased -- "are the largest land position in the mining industry." The method he planned to employ there, he said, was so easy that "kids with joysticks can be running these things from the surface." Then he offered an analogy: "So you're in the T-shirt business, you're making T-shirts for 5 bucks and selling them for 100 dollars."
"And the nice thing about the Gobi," he added, "there's no railroad tracks in the way, there are no people in the way, there are no houses in the way. There's no NGOs." Oyu Tolgoi, he said, is a "cash flow engine," every investor's dream.
After that speech, says Davaasambuu Dalrain, who at the time was Mongolia's ambassador in London, "It wasn't easy to trust Friedland." But Friedland wasn't the only one in need of a company capable of turning the discovery of Oyu Tolgoi into a functioning mine. The Mongolian government was in the same boat. "So we both turned to Rio Tinto," the former diplomat explains.
Where Were the Profits?
In 2006, Rio Tinto bought shares in Friedland's company. By early 2012, when the corporation took over the majority, miners had dug more than 1,000 meters into the earth, and thousands of workers had conjured a small city out of the Gobi Desert, with an airport, a track for vehicles and power lines connecting the mine to China. The price of copper at this point was over $8,000. So much investment was pouring into the country that for a time its economy was growing at a rate of more than 17 percent.
But when Mongolia held parliamentary elections in June 2012, the victorious Democratic Party, until then only the junior party in a coalition government, found itself gazing into yawningly empty government coffers. How could that be? Why hadn't the country earned its share during the boom?
"The main problem is the loan," says Mining Ministry planning head Otgochuluu. Rio Tinto, he says, has exceeded the mine's originally estimated construction costs of $5 billion by hundreds of millions of dollars. He believes Rio Tinto managers' salaries are too high and that the company deducts consulting and materials costs that don't make sense.
Because the Mongolian government committed to bearing 34 percent of all the mine's costs, as costs rise so do the country's debts with Rio Tinto. "It will take us decades to pay back the loan," Otgochuluu explains. "We expected to see the first dividends on the mine in 2019. But it turns out it will be 20 or 30 years before we receive a share of the profits."
Empty Mines, Bad Experiences
Rio Tinto vehemently denies having broken any contracts. The costs, the company says, are only $786 million higher than agreed upon with the government in a 2009 feasibility study. "By any measure, this is effective cost management for a project of this size," says a representative for Rio Tinto. Besides, he adds, the government has received "over $1.1 billion in taxes, fees and pre-payments so far," with the corporation paying more taxes in Mongolia than in many other countries where it operates mines.
Otgochuluu smiles bitterly. "We've had bad experiences," he says. A Canadian company that set up a gold mine north of Ulan Bator in 2004 insisted on being exempt from taxation for seven years, on the grounds that geological conditions in the area were supposedly very complicated. "Four years later," Otgochuluu says, "the mine was depleted." As for Rio Tinto, he estimates the company will earn around $1 billion with its sales of copper concentrate from Oyu Tolgoi this year and $2 billion next year. The corporation declines to comment on these figures (Mogi: Centerra's Boroo mine).
"We will end up with $70 million this year and perhaps $200 million next year in licensing fees," Otgochuluu says. "But that's not enough. We need at least $700 million to fund our budget."
Public Distrust Grows
That the government can't get its budget under control and fails to distribute the country's resources fairly can hardly be blamed on Rio Tinto's managers. It is more likely due to incompetent, corrupt government employees such as the former head of Mongolia's Mineral Resources Authority, who was sentenced to several years in prison, or the country's ambassador to Germany, who was for a time under investigation by public prosecutors in Berlin for suspected money laundering.
Still, the language used by foreign mining company managers who like to regard the country as a "cash flow engine," as well as the non-transparent deals they conduct, are increasingly turning the Mongolian people against them.
Sanjaasuren Oyun, Mongolia's minister of the environment and tourism, says she doesn't like the term "resource nationalism," but believes her country unavoidably had a great deal to learn on its way to becoming a raw materials giant, and needs to take a much more self-confident stance.
"Twenty years ago, we thought mining was a business like any other -- you sell your natural resources and collect the fees," Oyun says. In 1997, the 49-year-old explains, the government opened up nearly half the country for mining licensing. That's a geographical area nearly equivalent to the entirety of Turkey. "We fell into the same trap as many others before us -- dig now and clean up later."
Part 3: The Downside of Dependence
As the protests grew louder, the country's cabinet froze all licenses that had already been issued. Last year, when a foreign company wanted to sell a coal mine to a Chinese corporation, Mongolia's new government temporarily halted all foreign strategic investment in the country.
Environment Minister Oyun describes herself as a staunch economic liberal, but believes that in the case of poor but resource-rich countries such as Mongolia, liberalism needs some limits. "It isn't good to make yourself dependent, whether on a large neighboring country, on a company or on natural resource price cycles."
In late July of this year, the price of copper was around $7,000. Under the shimmering sun of the Gobi Desert, Rio Tinto's drilling machines had surrounded half of Oyu Tolgoi's banana-shaped deposit with a dense network of tunnels and shafts. Another seven years and a further $5 billion would make this the world's most modern copper mine, extracting ore from every shaft and making its owners rich.
The Tug-of-War Continues
At least, that's what the company's stockholders thought until last week, when the British-Australian corporation suddenly halted work, saying the Mongolian government had announced that not only the cabinet, but the parliament as well, needed to approve funding for the mine. "In view of the current uncertainty … all funding and work on the underground development will be delayed until these matters are concluded and a new timetable has been agreed," the company stated.
That didn't just sound like a threat, it was a threat. Shortly after the company's announcement, raw materials analyst Tony Robson warned that, "Mongolia's reputation for mining investment has been destroyed."
Later last week, the government tried to calm mining investors' worries: "Parliament has already made the decision and signed their agreement," Prime Minister Altankhuyag Norov said at a press briefing. Not even the cabinet would have to be involved. "All issues can be discussed and decided at the board of directors level," he explained.
The tug-of-war between the poor, rich country and the corporation will go on.
Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein
Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar Wrestles with Dutch Disease Dilemma
By Pearly Jacob
August 9 (EurasiaNet.org) Ochir Damchaa chuckles as he drives his second-hand Toyota sedan through the alleyways of Nalaikh, a ramshackle town 35 kilometers east of Ulaanbaatar: "There're just two kinds of jobs here: drive a taxi, or dig coal."
Nalaikh was once a major Soviet-era industrial hub, and the site of Mongolia's first mine. Today, though, the town is littered with ruins of former factories, such as Mongolia's only glassworks. Residents continue to work as freelance miners on the grounds of the former state-owned coalmine. But jobs are scarce in Nalaikh, as in every other small town across Mongolia.
Despite rapid, mining-driven economic growth, Mongolia is experiencing persistent unemployment, a widening income gap, and a 30 percent poverty rate. The country's leaders are now promising to diversify the economy, aiming to create jobs that push more people above the poverty line.
Mongolia's massive Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine started shipping copper concentrate to China in early July. By 2020, the joint-venture between Canada's Rio Tinto, Anglo-Australian firm Turquoise Hill and the Mongolian government is projected to account for about 35 percent to GDP, according to Oyu Tolgoi's website.
Mongolia at present appears to be at high risk of suffering from so-called Dutch Disease, an economic condition in which a nation's economy becomes overly dependent on the export of natural resources. Mining currently contributes about a third of GDP and accounts for 89.2 percent of the country's total exports, according to data compiled by Oxford Business Group. But the sector employs only about 4 percent of the entire workforce. Inversely, the traditional agricultural sector – livestock for meat and wool – employs about 40 percent of the workforce and contributes less than 15 percent of GDP, according to the same data.
The transition from a largely agricultural economy to one dominated by mining has contributed to disproportionate growth and exacerbated a problem in Mongolia, dubbed the "missing middle," says Saurabh Sinha, senior economist at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Ulaanbaatar. "On the one hand you have the mining sector which is running away and driving the entire economy and on the other hand you have the agriculture, the livestock and nomadic lifestyle. And between these two, the urban manufacturing sector is really scant and limited," Sinha says.
This wasn't always so. Mongolia's manufacturing sector comprised about a third of the economy in 1988, just before the collapse of communism. In 2011, the figure was 7 percent, according to Oxford Business Group. The decline, Sinha points out, is partly due to the collapse of many state-owned factories following the transition to a market-oriented system. He believes options for reviving manufacturing in the country are limited given the small population and poor infrastructure.
President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, re-elected for a second term in early July, has promised to promote economic diversification policies, but years of talk about the development of non-mining sectors have produced little, says Sukhgerel Dugersuren of OT Watch, a non-profit that monitors the impact of Oyu Tolgoi: "Ten years ago Mongolia started talking about economic diversification: improving its competiveness, developing the IT sector, developing eco-tourism." But she believes the attention on mining has adversely affected growth in other sectors over that period.
"Economic diversification simply means not putting all your eggs in one flimsy basket," Dugersuren says, referring to the Oyu Tolgoi mine. "A nation that is dependent on one corporation for 35 percent of its GDP is not in a safe place."
In April, Ulaanbaatar demonstrated its support for agricultural development with $86.2 million in soft loans for cashmere companies, garment industries and dairy producers. But limited private investment and scant infrastructure continue to check the agriculture sector's growth potential, according to French entrepreneur and dairy expert Didier le Goff, who started a cheese factory on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar in 2010.
"Mining is fast money for a short time, agriculture is slow money forever," says le Goff. He believes Mongolia has a unique potential to become an exporter of "organic bio-products" given the country's nomadic heritage. But he admits sourcing local milk year round is difficult and enormous challenges still exist to rebuild and streamline supply chains in the vast country. A 2009 report from the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) noted that 70 percent of milk consumed in urban Mongolia was reconstituted from imported milk powder, despite a livestock population of over 30 million animals – or about 10 animals per every Mongolian citizen.
Jim Dwyer, director of the Business Council of Mongolia, a private business lobby, agrees that developing the agricultural sector is Mongolia's best bet to diversifying its economy. He argues the government must reinvest mining wealth in infrastructure and social services to generate broad employment.
There are some signs authorities are listening. Earlier this year, Ulaanbaatar raised $1.5 billion in its first-ever bond offering. Though authorities announced plans to spend a large share of the money, about $850 million, on improving infrastructure across the country and to support the mining sector with construction of a new power plant and a new railroad, about $145 million was earmarked for improving cashmere production technology, dairy production and wool industries.
"Agriculture is one thing we do have here. When the Russians left in 1990, the country was self-sufficient, even exporting various food products. There's tremendous opportunity here with the [mining] money to bring that back to life," says Dwyer.
Photos Show The Stark Contrasts Of Mongolia's Economic Boom
August 7 (Business Insider) Mongolia is in the middle of an economic boom. In the last ten years the GDP has more than doubled, and Marc Faber has said it could be the "Saudi Arabia of Asia" due to its tremendous mineral resources.
But all this growth hasn't come without problems, namely the "resource curse" where economies become unstable because of overreliance on one sector. Political problems are emerging, and neighboring China's thirst for gold is leading to so-called "ninja miners" who work, dangerously and illegally, under the cover of darkness.
Meanwhile the economic disparities are glaring. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria recently spent some time documenting the ger districts of capital city Ulan Bator.
Despite the gleaming skyline of Ulan Bator in the background, people in the informal ger districts often live in the traditional Mongolian gers, also known as yurts. The New York Times notes that the circular structures have been used since the time of Genghis Khan.
In the picture below, Baljirjantsan Otgonseren, 32, stands inside her family ger.
Some 60 percent of Mongolia live in the ger districts, many living with limited access to basic services such as water and sanitation. The districts are growing, too — Reuters reports that a 2010 National Population Center census showed that every year between 30,000 and 40,0000 people migrate from the countryside to the capital.
This is all despite Mongolia having is one of the world's least densely populated countries — just 2.8 million people are spread across an area around three times the size of France.
A Wild Ride Through Mongolia's Resource Boom
A huge country with a tiny population navigates the problems of modern development
ULAN BATOR, August 9 (Circle of Blue) — A hard rock and coal mining boom that really got rolling about a decade ago is literally leaving Mongolia's capital in the dust. It's also yielded 1) an aged Communist-era airport that is too small for the rapid rise in passenger traffic, and 2) monstrous traffic jams on the official two-lane highway leading from the airport to downtown.
Human ingenuity and need being what it is, Ulan Bator's taxi drivers developed a solution: a single lane bypass atop the levee that protects the city from the Twl River's springtime floods. On Thursday my taxi driver scooted off the jammed dirt and rock main highway onto the even more pitted and rough dirt and rock levee road. He rushed at near highway speeds past brush and old factories and waste dumps. Maybe 8 kilometers down the levee he stopped, stepped out of the car to open a white metal gate that led to an apartment complex parking lot, drove through, stepped out of the car to close the gate, and then wove through heavy traffic to deposit me at the entrance to the Puma Imperial Hotel. It's an early 20th century brick and stucco homage to 70 years of Soviet influence — ornate cornices, big windows, and a bit in tatters.
"Welcome to Mongolia," he said, grinning.
I am on assignment for Circle of Blue, reporting on the contest for Mongolia's water between this nation's nomadic livestock herders and the international mining companies that are consuming groundwater and polluting surface water to keep their operations in business. In most developing countries the contest is a mismatch as economic goals outcompete resource safety.
It's not clear yet though whether that is the case in Mongolia. On Monday I leave Ulan Bator to interview herders and mining executives in Mongolia's south Gobi desert, where the world's second largest copper mine just started producing copper concentrate for the market. Based on the interviews I've done in the capital, the herders and their allies in the domestic and international NGO community are doing a pretty good job pushing the government and the big mining companies to be much more careful in using water and land than they otherwise would be.
Much of that has to do with the magnificence of Mongolia's natural treasury and the herding culture that makes its protection a national value. Mongolia has under 3 million residents living in a region of grasslands, steppes, mountains, deserts, and forests that is larger than Alaska. Forty percent of the country's people are still tied to the land as nomads and herders managing a national livestock herd that numbers 40 million animals. The north is rich in water. The south is dry. And the grasslands to the east cover 69 million acres and support 2 million Mongolian gazelles, the third largest wild migrating herd in the world behind African wildebeest and North American caribou.
Outside of the capital city, Mongolia is one wild ass place. It's been that way for centuries. The nomadic culture keeps the grazing animals moving, which also keeps the grass alive at the roots and perennially healthy. Herders have historically been so focused on the condition of their animals, the land, and the water that Mongolia established water protection standards as far back as the 13th century.
Enkhtuya Oidou, the Nature Conservancy's Mongolia program director and an American-educated economist, told me today that Mongolia also lays claim to developing the world's first national park in 1778, under the country's religious leadership, to safeguard Bogd Khan mountain and the high forested mountain range that flanks Ulan Bator's southern boundary. Though history scholars in the U.S. could argue the point, that's still almost a century before Yellowstone National Park was established by Congress in 1872. Yellowstone is commonly regarded as the world's first national park.
Inside the capital city, the streets are a rapidly changing mix of dusty streets, tattered Communist designed and built apartments, and steel office tower superstructures under construction and topped by sky cranes. Following the Soviet collapse in 1989 Mongolia went through a rugged economic transition shaped by free market reforms and economic pain. The first democratically elected government took office in 1990 — led by a prime minister and a parliament. Gold mining emerged in the 1990s, followed by hard rock and coal mines. Those mines are now driving the country's economy, which has been expanding rapidly.
In an interview today Orchibat Chuluunbat, the 55-year-old deputy minister for economic development and a veteran banker trained in the Soviet Union, said that mines and mine-related activity accounts for half of Mongolia's $10 billion annual economy, and half of the $4 billion national government's revenue. When I asked him about how much priority the government gives to managing the water used by the mines, Chuluunbat said that issue is gaining higher priority. He also said Mongolia needs to do a better job of quantifying national water supply, as well as water use by the mining industry.
He closed by noting that Mongolia needs more people. "We work hard to increase the population," he said, smiling, "day…and night."
Keith Schneider is a Traverse City-based senior editor for Circle of Blue. He has reported on energy, water, and climate change from four continents.
FINANCIAL REPORT OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RELEASED
August 7 (InfoMongolia) The General Election Commission reported the aggregated financial report of the June Presidential Election to the public.
In accordance with the Presidential Election Law of Mongolia, the Democratic Party, Mongolian People's Party (MPP), and Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) audited and submitted their financial reports, which was then integrated.
Democratic Party spent 6.632 billion MNT, MPP spent 5.068 billion MNT, and MPRP spent 815 million MNT on election campaign and activities.
Candidates employed their rights to receive donations from citizens and legal bodies.
In this case, the Democratic Party received a donation of 6.632 billion MNT from their candidate supporters, citizens and organizations, MPP received 3.23 billion MNT and MPRP received 795 million MNT. The Democratic Party's election expenditure was all from donations, where as MPP spent 1.838 billion MNT and MPRP spent 20 million MNT from the Party funds.
MONGOLIA'S LAW ON NUCLEAR WEAPON-FREE STATUS NOMINATED FOR INTERNATIONAL AWARD
Ulaanbaatar, August 8 /MONTSAME/ Mongolia's nuclear weapon-free policy and a law on nuclear weapon-free status have been nominated for the Future Policy Award.
This award is presented by the World Future Council (WFC) every year.
This time, the WFC is aiming to highlight disarmament policies that contribute to the achievement in peace, sustainable development and security. Such policies can originate in different policy arenas, including foreign affairs, defense, education, policing, constitutional reform, development aid, finance, human rights and the environment.
Disarmament issues have featured regularly and prominently in the headlines, drawing public attention to concerns such as the on-going threat posed by nuclear and chemical weapons as well as the historic passing of a UN Resolution on a global Arms Trade Treaty. Weapons of mass destruction continue to pose a threat to all life on Earth while the trafficking of small arms and light weapons fuels tensions, undermines peace, and incites armed violence.
With global military spending currently exceeding $1.7 trillion annually, a billion people continue to suffer from hunger. More still have no access to safe water, food, adequate health care or education. By promoting the exchange of best practices, the Future Policy Award showcases a range of innovative policy approaches to advance disarmament and celebrate policies that create better living conditions for current and future generations.
The aim of the award is to raise global awareness of these exemplary policies and speed up policy action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies. It is the first award that celebrates policies rather than people on an international level.
Winners of this year will be announced at the UN Headquarters in New York on the eve of the UN Disarmament Week, October 24-30 of 2013. The announcement will be followed by the awards ceremony, convened by the WFC in partnership with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) the same week.
The Future Policy Award is designed to alert policymakers and the public to the importance of best practice in lawmaking and highlight outstanding examples of regulatory vision. The Award draws attention to existing sustainable policies and demonstrates that when political will is asserted, positive change can happen.
Celebrating visionary policies raises public awareness, encourages rapid learning and speeds up policy action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies. That is why each year the World Future Council calls for the nomination of policies that are inspiring, innovative and influential.
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RPM TEAMS UP WITH MONGOLIAN IT SYSTEM INTEGRATOR AS IT EXPANDS ITS MARKET REACH IN MONGOLIA
RungePincockMinarco (RPM) has today signed a strategic partnership agreement with Information Technology Experts LLC (IT Experts), a Mongolian-based mining software consultancy firm. Under the agreement, IT Experts will further expand RPM's reach into Mongolia by selling and supporting RPM's leading suite of mining software through their broad distribution channels.
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (August 8, 2013) RPM's Regional General Manager – Australasia, Russia & CIS, Philippe Baudry, said, "This is an important relationship for us as we look to broaden our software distribution channels and market share in Mongolia. IT Experts are a highly respected supplier to the Mongolian mining industry and nicely complement our existing operations in Mongolia which have been in place since 2010."
Commenting on this strategic partnership, RPM CEO Richard Mathews said: "This calendar year, we have launched a raft of new software products to the mining industry whilst also strengthening our core existing product base with extensive releases. Following on from these product releases we are now working to expand our distribution channels particularly in the emerging markets, where we have continued to invest. This agreement with IT Experts will broaden our network, increase the accessibility of our products and expand our presence in Mongolia."
Munkhbadral Algaa, CEO of IT Experts commented on the partnership, saying, "It makes sense for us both to align our offerings and partner to service the Mongolian mining sector. The combination of our understanding of local customer needs and RPM's industry proven products means we can jointly provide solutions that meet the Mongolian mining industry's unique challenges. IT Experts already sell and support the Maptek Vulcan mine design product range. With the recent release of RPM's XPAC 7.13, which features integration between the Vulcan products and RPM's scheduling products, IT Experts can now offer and support the two industry leading software packages that work together to deliver the best Mine Planning solution into the Mongolian mining market"
RPM's partnership agreement with IT Experts follows RPM's recent partnership agreement with NVision Group in Russia and the CIS, as well as the formation of an Indian-based joint venture with Deepak Mining Services.
Belarus businessmen to visit Mongolia 4-8 September
MINSK, 7 August (BelTA) – The Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) organizes a business trip to Mongolia on 4-8 September, BelTA learnt from the BCCI.
The program of the visit envisages the first Belarusian-Mongolian business forum and a business matchmaking session between Belarusian and Mongolian business circles. The parties are expected to discuss the ways to establish bilateral trade and investment cooperation, supplies of Belarusian products to Mongolia.
The organizers of the business trip are the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry jointly with the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mongolia. The visit will take place as part of Belarus' National Expo in Mongolia.
MILK PRODUCTS FROM NEW ZEALAND BANNED
August 6 (InfoMongolia) New Zealand's Fonterra products contained bacteria that can cause botulism and recalled up to 1,000 tons of dairy products across China, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Viet Nam, and Saudi Arabia.
In relation to this matter, the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture of Mongolia made a statement today, saying that risk assessment of children's products produced in China, Australia, Viet Nam, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia with milk powder from New Zealand need to be made as soon as possible and products in Mongolian markets need to be recalled immediately. Official documents have been submitted to the General Agency for Specialized Inspection, General Customs Authority and the Ministry of Health to ban the import of these products for a certain period, return, recall the products already in markets in order to decrease levels of food safety threats.
In 2012, Mongolia imported 24.9 million USD worth of milk and milk products. Out of which 17.5 million USD was 4.7 thousand tons of milk powder, 5.0 thousand USD was 2.3 tons of powdered yellow milk, and 2.7 million USD was 388.5 tons of formula were imported. 90% of the total milk powder import was milk and milk products from New Zealand which causes alarm, said the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture of Mongolia.
Mongolian designers re-introducing traditional attires
August 10 (fibre2fashion) Going back to traditional roots seems to be the norm these days as more and more people from different nationalities and communities are constantly trying to adopt their long forgotten age old customs and dressing styles into their everyday lives.
Inspired from this recent interest in reviving anything that belongs to the bygone era, Mongolian designers are trying to bring back the nation's ethnically diverse fabric designs and decorations into modern day attires.
Be it the different shapes of hats or the stitching styles of robes and images on ribbons, the designers from varied Mongolian tribes are making clothes that resonate with the distinctive cultures of their respective ethnic groups.
In their effort to make the elaborate costumes more appealing to the urban crowd, the designers are also infusing modern variations, such as the size of the heavy floor length skirts are being cut short and blouses without sleeves have been introduced to make them more comfortable and easy to wear.
Apart from Mongolia, the irresistible charm of the colourful conventional costumes has also taken the international runways by storm.
Recently at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo 2013, the Mongolian born young fashion talent Ariunaa Suri garnered a lot of appreciation from the fashion media for her eclectic Spring/Summer 2014 collection, which was a fusion of traditional Mongolian designs and modern day styles.
Mongolia is a land-locked country in East and Central Asia. It borders Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west.
ULAANBAATAR & INCHEON EAGER TO COOPERATE ON URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Ulaanbaatar, August 9 /MONTSAME/ A delegation headed by Mr Song Young-gil, a Mayor of Incheon city of the South Korea, started Thursday a visit to Ulaanbaatar by invitation of the Minister of Environment and Green Development.
On Friday, the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul received the delegation.
They shared views on cooperating in urban development, construction, great construction and green parks and on realizing a programme of exchanging state servants and students. Mr Bat-Uul expressed a willingness to implement a project on making the Dream Grove of Incheon.
Mr Bat-Uul noted that Deputy Mayor in charge of economic and financial affairs Mr N.Bataa participated in the Forum of Cooperation Cities held last year in Incheon city, and then agreed with the South Korean side to organize a forum of businessmen and investors of Korea and Ulaanbaatar in Incheon.
Ulaanbaatar and Incheon cities established the friendly ties in 2008 in the fields of culture, arts, health and education.
The South Korean delegation will visit here until August 11.
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Mongolia travels the distance to its magic moment
August 6 (The A-List, Financial Times) There are few places on earth as beguiling to visitors as . Virtually everything about the place represents a seeming contradiction and a rare potential. Surrounded by undemocratic Russia and Communist China and with virtually no legacy of pluralism, Mongolia has nevertheless and this year played successful host to a global gathering for the Community of Democracies. Now a peaceful nation with a small military that has supported 15 peacekeeping missions around the world over the past decade, Mongol hordes under the command of Genghis Khan once conquered most of the known world.
Mongolia has moved exceedingly slowly to develop the most extensive and high quality coal that it possesses. The nation recognises that responsible exploitation and management of these reserves will make it a wealthy country able to spread prosperity to its people. And despite a heritage distinct from much of Asia, Mongolia nevertheless has become a vibrant member of the continent's emerging community.
All of this is attractive or intriguing to outsiders, and indeed Mongolia has served as an unlikely magnet for modern American diplomats. The former US secretary of state James Baker fell in love with the country while practising Mongolian archery out on a vast steppe and would find regular reasons for consultations with leaders there. Mongolian officials held a festive dinner with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in a traditional ger in 2010. And Vice-President Joe Biden is still trying to figure out what to do with the Mongolian horse given to him by the president of Mongolia during his visit there last year.
It is true that other stops on the continent's new silk road have received more attention as part of the American pivot to Asia – , an unprecedented opening to Myanmar, closer dialogue with allies such as Japan and South Korea, and a comprehensive engagement with southeast Asian nations, including Indonesia and Vietnam. However, few countries have been lavished with more US attention and encouragement than Mongolia. There were several senior official trips to the respective capitals, formal strategic dialogues were inaugurated, and had an overnight stay at Blair House in Washington and a meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
Much of this intense diplomatic activity was predicated on supporting Mongolia's "third neighbour" policy, a determination on the part of Ulan Bator to diversify its foreign policy engagements beyond the occasionally constricting and oppressive interactions with its near neighbours, Russia and . The US made clear its strong desire to work more closely with Mongolia on promoting business and commercial ties, at integrating the country more into the global mainstream of diplomacy, and to find opportunities for more cultural and personal ties. Both sides remain optimistic about the potentials in all these areas.
Still, after a few false starts and fitful progress, there is a renewed energy in Washington to take the relationship to the next level. Negotiations on a Transparency Agreement, a hallmark of Mongolia's effort to confront corruption and promote greater openness in business practices, have languished (despite regular reassurances that it is almost done). A diverse collection of companies in the mining and extraction industries have negotiated in good faith for years with little apparent progress on equitable and environmentally responsible arrangements that would bring remarkable growth to Mongolia. In many ways, a stronger and more durable US-Mongolia relationship will be underwritten by the success and investment of American companies. In almost every case progress has been stymied, and even many earlier agreements and legally binding contracts have been challenged.
There are many reasons for some Mongolian hesitation to embrace closer relations with the US, ranging from some jealousies in Moscow and Beijing, a rise of resource nationalism, and a period of intense political infighting. However, Mongolia has just emerged from a decisive . Early signals coming out of Ulan Bator indicate that the re-elected president and his team of ministers and senior government officials want to finally move consequentially to develop stronger ties with the US and other key nations such as and South Korea.
This is a welcome turn but in truth we have heard much of this before. The US has made clear its desire to partner with Mongolia, and underscored that it wants to work with China and Russia to help unlock the country's potential, so there is no reason to see the proud desert nation as a point of strategic competition. Washington stands ready to take the next steps; is Mongolia finally ready to respond?
The writer is chairman and chief executive of The Asia Group and on the board of the Center for a New American Security. From 2009-13 he served as the assistant US secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs
HH the Amir of Kuwait leaves to Mongolia on private visit
KUWAIT, Aug 8 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah left Sunday to Mongolia on a private visit.
HH the Amir is accompanied by Deputy Chief of the National Guards Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and a delegation.
His Highness was seen off at Kuwait International Airport by HH the Deputy Amir and Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, National Assembly Speaker Marzoug Ali Al-Ghanim, senior Sheikhs, HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, HH Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and senior State officials.
Full Report: Mongolian delegation visits Hawick
August 7 (ITV) It travels all the way from Mongolia to the Scottish Borders - and from the Scottish Borders it is exported around the world.
Last year 1.4 million pounds worth of cashmere came to the country, and such is its importance that today the region was visited by the Mongolian ambassador and the Central Orchestra of the Mongolian Armed Forces.
Watch the full report from Andy Burn below.
Countries come together in classroom, clinic during exercise Khaan Quest
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, August 10 (DVIDS) – Military medical professionals from Canada, India, Republic of Korea and the U.S. teamed up with their Mongolian Armed Forces counterparts and local healthcare providers during a Subject Matter Expert Exchange and Cooperative Health Engagement at the MAF's Central Clinical Hospital and Golomt Elementary School here, Aug 5-9.
"This year begins the transition in the medical community with the way we approach medical missions," said Navy Lt. Randy Gire, lead U.S. medical planner for the exercise. "This is the first time we've done both the subject matter expert exchange and worked in the clinical environment."
The medical portion of this year's Khaan Quest expanded on those of previous exercises by striking more of a balance between classroom learning and practical experience, allowing the multinational team of doctors to exchange their notepads and pens for scrubs and scalpels, giving them an opportunity to work together through real-life, clinical situations.
"Just doing the lectures alone is good, they can talk about the things they do at their own hospitals," said Gire. "But when they get side-by-side and work with a patient, they are able to share information, diagnose problems together, and it's more of an interactive environment."
One MAF surgeon, who in the past had worked professionally with SME's from other nations, appreciates the value added by exercises like Khaan Quest.
"I've had an opportunity to work alongside an Indian surgeon before," said 2nd Lt. M. Battulga, with the Department of General Surgery, Mongolian Armed Forces. "I've gained a lot of experience working with him, and with doctors like him."
During the 5-day CHE event at Golomt Elementary School and 4-day SMEE at the MAF hospital, the practitioners discussed topics ranging from medical logistics and triage procedures, to traumatic brain injuries and the use of virtual reality during physiotherapy.
While the classroom portion undoubtedly exposed the team to a range of relevant tactics, techniques and procedures in the field of military medicine, the benefit of working with one another to treat patients cannot be understated.
"I think that we've accomplished a lot on the medical side of Khaan Quest," said Gire. "We've all learned a lot, it's been a very professional event, and we look forward to building on this in the years to come."
Khaan Quest is an annual peacekeeping operations-focused, combined training hosted annually by the MAF, and co-sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.
MAF, US Marines exchange expertise through survival training – DVIDS, August 9
Alaska National Guard Supports Peacekeeping Exercise in Mongolia - Alaska Native News, August 7
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National Campaign to Restore Source of Tuul River
August 7 (InfoMongolia) The "Ikh Ust Tuul" NGO (Bountiful Tuul) declared they are to begin the national forestation campaign to restore the source of the Tuul River.
During the press conference held at the meeting hall of "Puma Imperial" Hotel on August 06, Minister of Nature, Environment and Green Development S.Oyun, Head of the "Ikh Ust Tuul" NGO A.Oyunsaran, CEO and President of "Oyu Tolgoi" Cameron McRae, and Advisor to the President of Mongolia on Ecology and Environmental Policy E.Zorigt were present.
Within the campaign framework, "Ikh Ust Tuul" NGO and the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Green Development drew a contract and the campaign will continue for 3 years.
During the press conference, Ms.A.Oyunsaran stated, "This forestation campaign is the first time containerized trees are planted in Mongolia. Containerized trees are a progressive method highly accepted in the world and is more advantageous than the traditional way of planting trees, being able to be planted during any season of the year".
Oyu Tolgoi Company declared they will take part in this forestation campaign and CEO and President Cameron McRae presented Head of the "Ikh Ust Tuul" NGO A.Oyunsaran a donation of 600 thousand USD.
Oyu Tolgoi donates 600,000 USD to Tuul River restoration effort
August 11 (UB Post) The non-governmental organization (NGO), Ikh Ust Tuul, celebrated the August 6th launch of the second stage of a project to afforest 2,400 hectares of land at the Tuul River's tributary. The project is in its second year in Mongolia.
Oyu Tolgoi joined the project this year and announced a donation of 600,000 USD, or over 900 million MNT, towards the project. President and Chief Executive Officer at Oyu Tolgoi, Cameron McRae, said during the ceremony, "The Tuul River is an inseparable part of Mongolia that supplies water for almost half of Mongolia's citizens. We'd like to express our sincere gratitude for the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Green Development [MNEGD], Ikh Ust Tuul NGO and Tree Global Mongolia NGO for carrying out such a significant project."
The donated funds will be spent for afforestation at 2,400 hectares of land in Shar Shuvuut of Erdene soum in Tuv Province. Minister of the MNEGD, S.Oyun, also said, "Mongolia spends five billion MNT for afforestation every year. However, most of the funds are used for fighting against forest insects, pests, and for supporting environmental cooperatives, while only one billion of it is used for the afforestation of 8,000 to 10,000 hectares of land, which is not a remarkable amount at all.
Increasing the forest reserve is not an activity that the government can pursue alone. Therefore, we are focusing on attracting investment from private sector companies to form other economic leverage for the project."
Ikh Ust Tuul NGO's CEO, A.Oyunsaran, said, "Investment from companies will turn into larch forests and will recover the Tuul River's flow, which will supply water for all Mongolians."
Picture imperfect: helping Mongolian families access social services
August 5 (UNICEF) Someone is missing from four-year-old Naranzul's family. She lives in a wooden house in Arbulag soum (village) with her mother Otgontsetseg, grandmother and 11-month-old baby sister Saranzul. But she has no father. He was killed in a traffic accident over a year ago, when Otgontsetseg was three months pregnant with Saranzul.
"It was a real shock for me when my husband died. It happened so suddenly," Otgontsetseg says, her voice trembling as she speaks. "My relatives helped a lot in those difficult days. At first Naranzul didn't understand what had happened but now she is starting to realise. She says 'my father has turned into a picture'."
The family were left without a breadwinner. They moved in with Naranzul's grandmother and tried to make ends meet with her pension plus benefits for the two children. "It was very difficult for us. We struggled to buy enough wood, clothes and food," Otgontsetseg continues. "When my daughters got sick, we couldn't afford medication for them."
Arbulag soum is in a remote area of Khuvsgul province, northern Mongolia. Although it is June, the rains have not yet arrived and the landscape is bare and brown. The soum has few facilities – just a handful of general stores, a billiard hall and a petrol station. It is a full day's drive to the provincial capital Murun, through windswept valleys without any roads.
UNICEF is working with Arbulag soum government, and others throughout the province, to provide basic health and social services for at-risk families like Naranzul's. This is part of our Reach Every District and Soum (REDS) initiative and broader strategy to address inequality by targeting the most vulnerable children and communities.
"We've provided training for teams of local officials from health, education, child protection and other services," Zoya Baduan, UNICEF community development officer for Khuvsgul, explains. "They conduct house-to-house visits and look out for issues in the family. Do they need vaccinations or birth registration? Are the children getting enough to eat? Do they go to kindergarten or school? It's a multi-disciplinary approach."
Otgontsetseg's family were visited by one such assessment team, including soum doctor Uyanga. She noticed that baby Saranzul was very small for her age. She then measured her height and weight, and found that she was malnourished. Uyanga prescribed a course of therapeutic food, provided by UNICEF to the local health centre. Saranzul has now been taking this along with breast milk for one week.
Although the family is struggling financially, Uyanga doesn't think this is the main reason Saranzul was malnourished. "I think it was the shock to Otgontsetseg of losing her husband," she says. "She didn't pay enough attention to feeding Saranzul in the first few months."
At the health centre, a nurse weighs and measures Saranzul to see how she is responding to the treatment. She finds that she has gained 150 grams and now weighs 6.3 kilograms. "Saranzul is making good progress but she should be 8.5 kilograms," she says. "It will take another two months to get her to a healthy weight."
Arbulag health centre provides primary health care and public health services to everyone in the soum and nearby areas. It is in a well-equipped building, with computers for the doctors, beds for the patients and a vaccination fridge provided by UNICEF. There is even a maternity cottage for expecting mothers to stay in. "We can deliver babies here and do emergency operations like removing an appendix," Uyanga says. "But for more complex operations we transport patients to the provincial hospital in Murun."
Back in the soum centre, Naranzul is attending summer kindergarten. She joins an art class with other children and starts drawing a picture. "I like singing and playing with toys or puzzles," she says. "We went to see the forest yesterday, so today I am drawing lots of trees."
Naranzul, for one is optimistic about the family's future. "When I grow up, I want to go to school," she says, perhaps misunderstanding the question. "And then my sister Saranzul can go to kindergarten."
Back of beyond
Further out from the soum centre, conditions are more challenging. Families live in traditional 'ger' tents, spread out over a wide area. The health centre provides 'bagh feldshers', mobile doctors who do outreach to the families by motorbike. UNICEF pays for their petrol and travel expenses.
Ulaankhuu is an 18-year-old single mother. She lives with her own mother and two-month-old son, Bayarsaikhan. She doesn't know who his father is. Ulaankhuu had her first child when she was just 15, but he choked and died while feeding. They are one of the poorest families in the district. "We have a few goats and sell the wool to relatives," she says. "We mostly live on bread and water. We have meat maybe once a week."
Ulaankhuu has never been to school. The family live in a makeshift ger, made from rope and animal skins. During the winter they ran out of fuel and burned the wood from their animal shelter. Now they share the ger with their goats. Other families have solar panels, electric lights, radios and fridges in their gers. But there is nothing modern in Ulaankhuu's ger. It is small, drafty and dirty, with animal hair and dung on the floor.
"It is very difficult to see that human beings live in a place like this," bagh feldsher Otgonbayer says. "In April we took Ulaankhuu to the provincial hospital to give birth. She needed a caesarean section but every time the ambulance came, she would run away on her horse. We had to come early in the morning and catch her asleep."
Thankfully, things are at last looking better for the family. "I visit Ulaankhuu once a month to make sure her son is vaccinated and teach her how to feed him properly," Otgonbayer continues. "So far, he is healthy. His weight is OK and she has enough milk."
As well as helping Ulaankhuu look after her son, the soum government has bought a new ger for them, which will be delivered in a week's time. For Ulaankhuu, this will be a life changing event. "It was very hard being pregnant last winter. It was so cold in our ger," she says. "I am very happy and excited to hear that we will get a new ger. I have never lived in a new ger in my whole life."
Andy Brown is Communication Consultant for UNICEF East Asia and Pacific
Natural History Museum Building Can't Withstand M3 Earthquake, Shutdown Indefinitely
August 11 (UB Post) Journalists recently interviewed Director of Department of Cultural Heritage Ts.Tsendsuren about the Natural History Museum as well as the issue of Mongolian cultural heritage.
Why was the Natural History Museum closed during the peak tourism season? Please enlighten us on this situation.
Related organizations and a state inspector reached the conclusion that the building of the Natural History Museum can't withstand a 3.0-magnitude earthquake. Therefore, we took measures to prepare containers and packages to keep museum exhibits as well as to decide on the financing of strengthening the museum's structure. In addition, the public operation of the Natural History Museum was stopped for the purpose of ensuring the visitors' safety in accordance with the order from the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism dated May 31. Preparations for transferring the museum's exhibits will continue for a long time. A museum's operations include many tasks such as collecting, studying, registering, storing, protecting, and advertising its exhibits. Hence, experts of the Natural History Museum are doing research and exploration in local areas and carrying out a national census of cultural heritage. Moreover, the guidelines to relaunch the Natural History Museum are being drawn up.
It is said that this substandard museum building will be demolished. So where will the new building be constructed?
We sent an official letter about this issue to the State Property Committee. Experts deem that this building needs to be demolished. The building is still substandard even if it is repaired. The museum's administration presented a proposal for demolition and the construction of a new building. We're doing research and exchanging opinions with museum officials and workers on how to relaunch the museum and make it meet international standards.
It is believed that museum buildings weren't built in accordance with a proper standard. Is this true?
There are very few museum buildings that meet this set standard. The Lenin Museum and National Museum are museum purpose-built buildings. The same thing goes with the Museum of Victory in Khalkh Gol Soum in Dornod Aimag. Unfortunately, the heating of this large building was cut off due to the administration's failure to pay the bill. Hence, this building got frozen last winter. Although the Museum of Bayan-Ulgii Aimag is a fine building, other organizations and companies have been using most of the spaces of this museum rent-free for the last 10 years. There is almost no office left for the workers of the museum. Only one building which complies with up-to-date requirements is the building of the Kharkhorum Museum in Uvurkhangai Aimag. This museum was built through the Japanese government's assistance and the Museum of Khushuu Tsaidam, through the assistance of the Turkish government. The Mongolian government hasn't built any museum with its own investment within the last 20 years except for the State Historical Museum. Above all, we need a museum purpose-built building which satisfies international standards and has laboratories for restoration. There is an old government-made blueprint of the Center of Cultural Heritage and its building work will begin soon. If this building is put into operation, we will have a laboratory to restore any museum's exhibit and any relic of our intangible cultural heritage.
Where are the intangible and tangible artifacts of cultural heritage stored? What can you say about the building for restoring them?
Artifacts of cultural heritage are stored in the Consolidated Fund of Registration and Information of the Mongolian Cultural Heritage as well as the Center of Cultural Heritage. Because we had to store them in buildings that were not built for this purpose, models of monuments and khun chuluus (stelae) in Mongolia are stored in the Center of Cultural Heritage which were destroyed by fire during the riot of July 1, 2008. The scripts on the khun chuluus are becoming indistinct and their shapes are slowly being deformed over time. And models of monuments which were made in order to protect and preserve them got burned. The storage and protection of over 500 thousand exhibits in the National Museum are in a very difficult situation. For instance, a total of 11 organizations have boilers for centralized heating in a cellar which stores these exhibits. What will happen if water will leak out of these sets of equipment? Therefore, these stored cultural heritage artifacts face a very risky situation. In order to resolve this issue, we need a large building for storage. For instance, there's no place to store archeological and paleontological findings. Although the Archeology Institute of the Science Academy is operating a little museum in a cellar of an apartment building, currently most of its findings are stored in containers. Also, there's no archeological laboratory in Mongolia. Even though universities and colleges do archeological excavations, they store their findings in teachers and researchers' safes or places which don't meet proper storage requirements. This issue is always criticized by both the domestic and foreign press. Hence, we painfully have the necessity of building a laboratory to restore and preserve these artifacts as well as of gathering funds to create reliable conditions of storage with up-to-date facilities and equipment. Remnants of our history will be destroyed over the years if we don't take any action.
Are there any pressing issues right now?
Today, the work on cultural heritage restoration is in a crisis. A roof of Makhranz Monastery in Bogd Khan Palace Museum got punctured due to constant raining. As an urgent measure to restore this part of the monastery, a tender should be announced according to the law. Therefore, this problem won't be solved in a short time. Secondly, only few companies which have permission to restore cultural heritage artifacts can participate in this offer to bid. In other words, there are only two or three companies which have been doing restoration work on monasteries and temples since the privatization of the Authority of Cultural Heritage Restoration in 1990. They can't handle a lot of strain because their workforce is lacking. Therefore, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is reconsidering the privatization of this authority by doing some relevant research and reflecting on the new draft bill of the Cultural Heritage Protection Law. This authority has to be a large organization in charge of restoring cultural heritage and museum exhibits; repairing monuments, sculptures, and khun chuluus; as well as providing packages, containers, and equipment for transferring exhibits. Repair work of the fence in the Choijin Lama Temple hasn't been done in the last 20 years. This year, "Suld Uul" LLC was working on restoring this temple with the Ministry's funding. But this work has stopped because people were opposed to restoring an old memorable place with red bricks. However, there's no factory which makes blue bricks in Mongolia. There's financial difficulty in buying those bricks. If the fence completely falls down, what should we do? And what about other museum exhibits that are "in trouble"? Who will take responsibility in these situations? It is said that dried wood is used for restoration. But there's no company which provides this type of wood in Mongolia. For the purpose of solving these problems, establishing a new authority of restoration is absolutely necessary. There aren't even positions of restorer in monumental places such as Amarbayasgalant Monastery, Erdene Zuu Monastery, and Bogd Khan Palace Museum. In any case, the department or working group in charge of restoration should be working hard in these places.
How many restorers are working in museums? Typically, how sufficient is the trained staff?
There isn't any position of restorer in both state and local museums. A lot of museum exhibits are becoming damaged and losing their unique qualities because of the lack of financing for their restoration and the museum staff's inability to do primary restoration work including conservation and repair. Over 200 museum exhibits are restored in the Center of Cultural Heritage every year. In such cases, we have to expand the function of this center with the aim of full restoration and set up a unit which is responsible for restoring artifacts of tangible heritage, museum exhibits, and monasteries; as well as transporting museum exhibits and providing the materials, techniques, and equipment to promote our cultural heritage. Reestablishing the Center of Cultural Heritage with the status of State Factory is a complex measure to improve conservation and the storage of historical and cultural exhibits of monumental value. Having a position of restorer as well as training and educating him or her abroad are very necessary. Therefore, firstly, we're working on creating a position for a restorer in each of the 21 aimag museums. Museum workers do not have the right to repair an exhibit that has defects or is damaged. For example, because museum workers can't fix a broken arm of a statue of a god in the Museum of Govi-Altai Aimag, they kept this broken arm and waited for an expert restorer given that only professional restorers can do so. We should resolve this issue. We should train experts and give them government scholarships to study abroad. And even if these people graduate in foreign countries, they still won't return to and work in Mongolia because of the low salary. We have to expand the Center of Cultural Heritage to a national center by increasing its employees. For instance, it is very important to involve the public to contribute to the Registration and Information Fund. The Historical and Cultural Heritage Protection Law of 1994 refers to setting up this fund in every soum, aimag, and city. This resolution can't be implemented fully up to now. As a result of the 2005-2008 program of registering our country's cultural and historical heritage by the decision of the government, the museums of 21 aimags and state museums are now connected to the Internet and have an online Registration and Information Fund. Now, we should decide on the issues that remain in 330 soums.
Today, how many places are there which aren't included in the state's protection list? How can we protect them?
According to the government's 175th resolution, there are 450 places that should be under national and aimag protection. But this protection is only on "paper." Recruiting a contracted custodian in a museum, putting up a fence, being included in the tourism route, as well as advertising and restoring cultural heritage are the real forms of protection. The Ministry, governors, and state inspectors can't protect it. We have an obligation to hand down our cultural heritage to our descendants. We should circulate information on cultural heritage violation. According to a study in one aimag from the Archeology Institute of Science Academy, about eight to 10 thousand artifacts and places of historical and cultural heritage were registered. Therefore, there are still thousands of unregistered remnants and sites in Mongolia. We need a museum purpose-built building and laboratory for the purpose of registering, collecting, and protecting them.
Survival guide: Mongolia on a shoestring
There is raw and authentic adventure to be had just a short flight away, writes Phillippa Stewart
(South China Morning Post) One flaming ger, two offers of marriage, and three breakdowns (the jeep, not me) - my first trip to Mongolia was certainly eventful.
Mongolia is not for the faint hearted, especially if you're travelling on a budget. Bone-rattling roads, little choice of food (great, however, if you like yak, yak cheese, or yak milk) and lack of access to running water in the countryside are all things to consider before setting off to one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth. But those willing to take the leap will be rewarded. Basic but beautiful, Mongolia's fledgling tourism industry has much to offer the adventurous, only a short flight away from Hong Kong.
Friends and I hired a 4x4 and a driver from the capital, Ulan Bator. We drove, and at times pushed our jeep, over muddy, bumpy, dirt roads north to "the Blue Pearl of Mongolia", the ancient Lake Khövsgöl, - the country's deepest lake - and then onto White Lake in central Mongolia, a region made up of lava flows and near the Khorgo volcano.
At our destination, we abandoned four wheels in favour of a furrier form of transport - horses. As it turns out, they're more reliable and less likely to break down. Horseback tours are popular for seeing the so-called "land of the blue sky" and getting out into the lush forests and misty hills of the country. It's also a great way to meet many of the nomadic locals.
Mongolians are famous for their hospitality and they didn't disappoint. Weary travellers are often ushered into their gers (large tents that function as their homes) and supplied with fermented horse milk (airag) as well as whatever food is available. The generosity of people, many of who live a basic existence, is humbling.
The sense of pride in their homes also extends to the country as a whole - national flags are everywhere. I even spotted one on a machine filling in potholes in the roads.
It wasn't just sustenance I was given by Mongolians. I uncovered pearls of wisdom such as: "Mongolian meat is bloody meat", "in Mongolia, every man wrestles" and "if women want their baby to milk calmly they should put cotton wool in the baby's ears to keep out the wind".
I also got an unexpected lesson about dating from my trip.
Apparently if you're looking for a man, the best place to start is with a grandmother - the unassuming wrinkled, wind-burnt, matchmaker rolling a homemade cigarette with a grandson up for grabs. It turns out a strong-looking woman who can ride a horse is a hit in the countryside. So much for dating websites. And in a land where livestock outnumber the nearly three million people, it is little wonder that nature has even penetrated the dating lexicon. My favourite chat-up line: "I like you. Fancy coming with me for an hour and having a ride on my horse?" I declined.
Of course, there are luxury gers and companies that can organise tours (and showers!) for you, but then you'd miss out on sleeping on the floors of gers, butchering your own food, eating yak cheese for what feels like an eternity, and washing in freezing cold lakes - all part and parcel of a tough but memorable Mongolian experience.
Just one piece of advice: don't put too many logs on the fire before bed. Burning down your ger in the middle of the night is never a good idea - especially if you've just sent a manly Mongolian riding off into the rolling hills.
How to get there
Mongolian Airlines miat.com/en/home and Hunnu Air hunnuair.com/en fly direct from Hong Kong to Ulan Bator. Flights take about four and a half hours.
HKSAR passport holders don't need a visa for a stay less than 14 days. For stays longer or for other passport holders, check with the Mongolian Consulate. The visa process can take a few days.
What to eat and drink
Mongolia isn't known for its cuisine, most of which tastes very earthy. Don't expect fancy restaurants and lots of choice, especially when you leave the capital. Mostly it's a case of eating whatever's cooking in the ger that day - meat (usually mutton), dairy and animal fats are staples. Khuushuur, a type of fried meat dumpling, is a popular dish and you'll undoubtedly encounter airag, fermented horse milk.
If you're visiting a Mongolian family and they offer you food it is extremely rude to reject it. Don't feel the need to finish it all, just try some to be polite.
When to go
You can visit Mongolia all year round, though high season in Mongolia is typically the summer (mid-May onwards).
It's bandied about in travel literature that Ulan Bator is the coldest capital city in the world. In winter temperatures can reach minus 40 degrees Celsius. But many locals claim November to February is a great time to visit Mongolia - especially if you want to try ice skating, skiing or dog sledding. You may want to organise accommodation in advance - many ger camps close, and it's not the weather to be pitching tents.
Avoid March and April as dust storms and wind set in.
Where to stay
Because of the vast, sprawling nature of the country, travel times are not always guaranteed. Drivers will often make suggestions about where to stay that night based on road conditions. Those who like planning: plan not to have a plan. That being said if you're staying in Ulan Bator, the Chingeltei District is a good place to head if you're looking for budget accommodation.
We stayed at the UB Guesthouse. It's extremely basic and slightly rundown but it's a great place to meet fellow travellers and organise a jeep or a budget tour. www.UBGuest.com. Prices range from US$6 for a dorm room to US$20 for a double room.
In Lake Khövsgöl we stayed at Mongol Ujun, a family fun ger camp run by a friendly English-speaking woman called Davaa. email@example.com; tel: (976) 9906 1921, or 88848588
• Gers. For basic gers, expect to pay around 6,000 Mongolian tögrög (around HK$32). This usually includes breakfast and dinner.
• Horses. Expect to pay anything from 10,000 tögrög per horse per day to 10,000 tögrög per hour in more touristy places. Guides charge around 20,000 tögrög.
• Jeeps. Around HK$543 per day for a car and driver is average; you will need to pay extra for fuel. To save money buy fuel before you leave the capital and carry it in canisters.
• Taxis. Negotiate the price with drivers before you travel. To ensure you are delivered to your destination, do not pay upfront.
• Carry a first aid kit. Because of the remote nature of the country, this is a must.
• Bring emergency US dollars. You do not find ATMs in the countryside.
• Stock up on food and water before leaving major towns. Shops are few and far between and water is also much cheaper in Ulan Bator.
• Bring warm clothes. Even in Mongolia's summer it gets extremely cold at night.
• Forget the outside world. You can find internet connections in Mongolia but the connection is inconsistent.
• Bring loo roll and wet wipes. Many of the cheaper ger camps don't have showers or toilets. Embrace nature.
Backpackers' diaries: a nose for reindeer people in Mongolia
Strange 'dung' remedies to cure a champion wrestler result in slow progress … but the ride across the plains to stay with Mongolia's reindeer people provides plenty to drink in
August 3 (The Guardian) Baatar, our guide, double-fists the mound of fresh, steaming horse dung and squeezes it into one of the tea bowls we've been drinking from. "Very good!" he says, as his sister cracks another bottle of Mongolian vodka. "Horse very good! Genghis Khan! Very good! Genghis Khan!"
"Oh god," says Zac, as the golden-brown juice trickles between Baatar's fingers. "He isn't going to drink that, is he?"
Marha, a champion wrestler at Mongolia's Naadam games, is not well. A visit to the shaman has not settled his stomach, so horse dung juice is, Baatar insists, the way forward – the fresher, the better.
Zac, Baatar and I have fallen in with Marha, his brother, and the guys they're guiding, as you do when you're in the middle of nowhere, you've been on a horse for a week, haven't seen a soul for two days and a night, and a bunch of charming chaps show up headed the same way as you. Further, after a less-than-magical moment when Satan the packhorse spearheaded a bid for freedom on a snow-clad mountain pass, our horses behave better in a herd. Zac emerges from the ger(yurt) to build a log fort with Baatar's great-nephew. "He did it," he cries. "He mixed it with vodka and he drank it!"
Amid this fuss, it seems like we'll never make it to the focal point of this long ride: the reindeer people. Yet after a day's ride across the vast plains, the sun illuminating stark, snow-streaked mountains, over an easy pass we're almost in sight of Tsagaannuur, a lakeside town, its bright log cabins boarded up as the populace tend their flocks in summer pastures. Another day, and we are camped by a meander of a flawless stream.
As we climb into the mountains, the temperature drops 20C in half an hour and we slip down jackets over our T-shirts, pick wild spring onions to eat with bread and sour yak cheese, and ride through purple scrub and forbidding skies into the taiga.
And then … bristling apexes of tepees emerge from the scrub, spindly, long-nosed reindeer quack from beneath velvety horns, a small boy rides a reindeer bareback through the larches and Om, our host for the night, welcomes us with salty, creamy reindeer-milk tea.
As with many of the reindeer people, Om has a small solar panel by his tepee. His is hooked up to a small lantern and his daughter's mobile phone. Our soundtrack for the evening? Lady Gaga.
• To arrange a similar trip, contact Ganbaa on +976 9979 6030 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Theodora blogs at escapeartistes.com. Zac blogs, rather less frequently, at kidventurer.com; Zac blogs, less frequently, at Kidventurer.com
SERGEI BODROV ANNOUNCES SEQUEL TO "MONGOL"
August 6 (InfoMongolia) Russian movie producer Sergei Bodrov announced that he will make a sequel to the movie "Mongol".
The 2007 film "Mongol" was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. With invitation from close friend Minister of Defense D.Bat-Erdene, Sergei Bodrov visited Mongolia during this year's National Naadam Festival and watched the Festival of Three Manly Games. He reported to journalists, "The production of the sequel to "Mongol" has started. The script is ready and the casting is currently in progress. Both Mongolia and China are requesting to film the movie in Mongolia and China. Decisions haven't been made yet".
"Mongol" (Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan) was a co-production film between Russia, Germany, and Kazakhstan. The film was produced with a 20 million USD budget and won the Russian film award, Nika Award in 2007 for Best Picture and Best Director. Mongolian, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese actors played in the movie. The film was nominated and won several awards in 2007–09. Various critics included the film on their lists of the top 10 best films of 2008. Mike Russell of The Oregonian named it the 5th best film of 2008, Lawrence Toppman of The Charlotte Observer named it the 8th best film of 2008, and V.A. Musetto of the New York Post also named it the 8th best film of 2008.
Mogi: the vocal for the famous tune provided by a Mongolian
The Dark Knight - Hans Zimmer - Live! Official Video
The ending of "The Masterpiece" show.
Ethnic Mongolian Voice: Uyanga
Electric Cello: Tina Guo
Producer/Conductor/Piano: Ciprian Costin
Bucharest Symphony Orchestra and Choir
Photos by Sorin Onisor
Live @ The Masterpiece, March 23, 2013
Steppe Sisters: Consolata Missionaries Celebrate 10 Years in Mongolia
The missionary order is fulfilling a 700-year-old request from Kublai Khan to evangelize the Mongol people. (Mogi: tell me it ain't so!)
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, August 8 (National Catholic Register) — For the past 10 years, the Consolata Missionaries have been the sisters of the steppe, evangelizing a people searching for God and helping improve their lives in Mongolia, where more than 20% live on less than $1.25 a day.
"People here naturally have been searching for God and looking for meaning to their way of life," Sister Sandra Garay, an Argentine member of the Consolata Missionaries serving in Mongolia, told Catholic News Agency. The community is celebrating a decade of their presence in Mongolia, bringing the consolation of Mary to those in spiritual and material need.
The ancient homeland of Genghis Khan and the Golden Horde of centuries past, Mongolia more recently was a satellite state of the Soviet Union until its collapse. Mongolia's non-religious population stands at 39%.
Sister Sandra said the Consolata Missionaries have a "fervor of evangelization" and that their mission in Mongolia "started from scratch."
The Consolata community is one of religious priests and sisters consecrated to God for the evangelization of peoples, especially wherever the Gospel is not yet known. It was founded in 1901 by Blessed Giuseppe Allamano.
"It's a new beginning in the pastoral mission of Mongolia," Sister Sandra said.
The Consolata Missionaries are meeting a 700-year-old request for Catholic missionaries to Mongolia. Kublai Khan, leader of the Mongol Empire, had personally asked the pope in 1271, through Italian adventurer Marco Polo, to send 100 missionaries to convert his people to Christianity. Khan (Mogi: hehe, Mr. Khan, yeah, that's right, just like Mr. King) made his request after the first Catholic mission to Mongolia set up by Franciscan friar John of Pian of Carpine in 1245 ended in failure.
Sadly, Pope Gregory X only sent two Dominican friars, who never completed the journey, and so missed the chance to bring the Mongol Empire into the Catholic faith (Mogi: haha, "missed" the chance, thank god, … oops).
The first modern mission to Mongolia was the establishment of a mission in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, in 1922, entrusted to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
But the People's Republic was set up two years later under Soviet influence, and religious expression was suppressed until the communist government's fall in 1992.
A little over half the population is Buddhist, and most of the remainder is non-religious. Islam, shamanism and Christianity have mere footholds among the people.
"It is a difficult terrain, but God works wonders. And the Year of Faith encourages a hope for our people," Sister Sandra said.
In 2002, the Ulaanbaatar mission was elevated to a prefecture apostolic. The prefecture covers the entire country, and the mission's superior, Father Wenceslao Padilla, a priest of the Immaculate Heart Congregation, was appointed prefect.
He was consecrated a bishop in 2003. Bishop Padilla oversees the 13 religious congregations that have more than 80 missionaries serving in Mongolia.
Sister Sandra said the nation of 2.9 million has about 1,200 Catholics, 870 of whom are native Mongolians.
The Church encounters tremendous challenges in a nation covered by steppes, which experience frigid winters. Nearly half of the country's people live in Ulaanbaatar, and many of the rest are nomadic.
"Naturally, coming from a different climate, culture, language and topography, initially it was tough," Sister Sandra explained.
"But as a missionary, God takes control, and we get adapted."
With the first 10 years behind them, Sister Sandra said the Consolata Missionaries had confidence for the future.
She said, "We shall continue the pastoral plan of evangelization in welcoming people searching for God and empowering them with education and fostering basic needs."
Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
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