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UPDATE 1-Chinese firm offers $160 mln for Turquoise Hill's Inova
* Chinese firm picks up 14.9 pct stake from Turquoise Hill
* Turquoise Hill willing to sell out if no higher offer
* Inova shares have lost two-thirds of their value this year
MELBOURNE, Aug 21 (Reuters) - A private Chinese coal company said it plans to launch a $160 million offer for Inova Resources Ltd, offering a 29 percent premium for the Australian copper and gold miner controlled by Rio Tinto's Turquoise Hill Resources.
Shanxi Donghui Coal Coking & Chemicals Group said on Wednesday it had secured a 14.9 percent stake from Turquoise Hill, which said it has promised to sell all its shares to Shanxi Donghui in the absence of a higher offer.
Turquoise Hill, majority-owned by Rio Tinto Ltd, owns 56.2 percent of Inova Resources, which has effectively been on the block for more than a year.
Inova said its independent directors were reviewing the announcement from Shanxi Donghui and declined to comment further.
The deal would shore up Turquoise Hill's funding as it faces a Dec. 31 deadline to repay up to $2.4 billion in debt to Rio Tinto, which has been funding Turquoise Hill's costs at its biggest asset, the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia.
Under a recent deal with Rio, Turquoise Hill has agreed to sell new shares at a massive discount to cover any shortfall in its debt repayment.
Shanxi Donghui, owned by two brothers, offered 22 cents a share for Inova, compared with its last trade at 17 cents. The stock has lost two-thirds of its value this year.
The coking coal, coke and chemicals producer said it would fund the deal from its cash holdings of more than 1 billion yuan ($163.28 million).
"Shanxi Donghui's offer provides Inova shareholders with certainty of value at an attractive, risk-free, cash premium for their investment," the Chinese firm said.
Inova owns the Osborne copper and gold mine, the Mount Elliott copper and gold project and the Merlin molybdenum and rhenium deposit, all in the state of Queensland.
Citi is advising Turquoise Hill, UBS is advising Inova and PwC is advising Shanxi Donghui.
Government ousts Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi chief after mine delay
Aug 19 (Reuters) - Mongolia has sacked the head of the company that owns its stake in the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, in a move designed to appease Rio Tinto , the global miner and its partner in the operation.
A company official at Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi, who declined to be identified, said on Monday that politician Davaadorj Ganbold had been named as chief executive, replacing Tserenbat Sedvanchig, who had been in place only since December.
Sedvanchig's departure comes after a damaging confusion over necessary approvals at Oyu Tolgoi that led Rio to put a $5 billion underground expansion on ice, a move that has shaken confidence in the country and resulted in 1,700 job cuts.
The government last week called an emergency session of parliament from Sept. 2, looking to fend off an economic crisis sparked by uncertainty over the mine and falling foreign investment.
Sedvanchig has been blamed for triggering a misunderstanding after he sent a letter to Rio last month saying the financing of that project could go to parliament for approval.
Rio Tinto, whose Turquoise Hill Resources unit owns 66 percent of Oyu Tolgoi, warned at the time parliamentary approval would be a complex process that would take some time.
The government later clarified that parliamentary approval was not needed, although the government did have questions about the project financing for the project, which is expected to boost the country's economy by 35 percent by 2020.
"I think the sacking of Sedvanchig was a result of the letter he sent to Oyu Tolgoi, that Rio interpreted as Mongolia's official position on project financing," said Badral Munkhdul, head of Cover Mongolia, a market intelligence firm.
"We later found out that was not the case - but it led to more uncertainty for OT, a drop in the tugrug (currency), and, ultimately, the call for an extraordinary session of parliament."
Sedvanchig said last month that the government still has 22 points of dispute with Rio Tinto, operator of Oyu Tolgoi, including what he called violations of the Mongolian legislation and their investment agreement.
Rio Tinto had no immediate comment. A spokesman for Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi was not immediately available for comment.
Oyu Tolgoi LLC Executive Director Fired Following Rio Dispute – Bloomberg, August 19
Mongolia cedes to Rio demands – Dow Jones, August 20
Da.Ganbold to head Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi – news.mn, August 19
SouthGobi granted pre-mining agreements in Mongolia, drops investment dispute notice
The miner says it will withdraw a notice of investment dispute it filed against Mongolia in 2012 related to the agreements.
August 22 (REUTERS) Coal miner SouthGobi Resources Ltd said it was granted three pre-mining agreements by the Mongolian government, about two years after the company applied for them.
The miner said it would withdraw a notice of investment dispute it had filed against Mongolia in 2012 related to the agreements.
The pre-mining agreements bring SouthGobi one step closer to applying for mining licenses.
Mongolia, home to some of the world's biggest unexploited mineral deposits, has become one of the hottest destinations for billions of dollars of mining investment.
"The granting of the (pre-mining agreements) is an important step for SouthGobi, and signals its improving relationship with key stakeholders in Mongolia," the company said in a statement on Thursday.
State-controlled Chinese aluminum giant Chalco's $926 million bid for a majority stake in SouthGobi Resources fell apart last year after stiff political opposition strained the company's relationship with the Mongolian government.
Rio Tinto, which controls SouthGobi Resources through Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd, and the Mongolian government have had a rough relationship over the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine. The mine started exporting copper in July after securing government approval with difficulty.
SouthGobi has been struggling with weak demand in China and withdrew its full-year forecast for steel-making coal last week.
Mongolian Govt may buy Mongolian Mining's (00975) assets
[ET Net News Agency, 20 August 2013] Mongolian Mining Corporation (00975) said according to the news published on the official website of the Government of Mongolia, the Government discussed at its cabinet meeting held on 16 August 2013 the measures to support coal exports from Mongolia.
Among other matters discussed, the Government, recognizing the importance of Ukhaa Khudag - Gashuun Sukhait paved road (UHG-GS road) to coal exports, has resolved to purchase the UHG-GS road from Gobi Road LLC, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Mongolian Mining Corporation, and the infrastructure built under the Border Crossing Expansion project by Energy Resources LLC, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Mongolian Mining Corporation, with an aim to decrease transportation costs, an important factor for coal export support.
The purchase amount payable to the Group by the Government in respect of the above resolutions has not yet been discussed. The Board believes that the cash received will allow the Group to maintain strong cash position until end of 2013. The Group will continue to have unrestricted access to this transportation infrastructure.
Also, in order to lower coal transportation costs, the Government resolved to initiate process to allow Chinese railway network cross-border access to Gashuun Sukhait and Shivee Khuren border crossing points.
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. Publishes July 2013 Monthly Letter to Shareholders
Ulaanbaatar, MONGOLIA, August 23, 2013 /FSC/ - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK - TSX Venture),is pleased to announce the release of its July 2013 letter to shareholders.
July 2013 Shareholder Letter
To the Shareholders of Mongolia Growth Group Ltd.,
During the month of July, MGG disposed of 2 assets representing approximately 11.4% of the total value of assets that we have been looking to dispose of. We anticipate that we will complete a number of additional sales in the next few months. We did not purchase any assets during the month of July.
Some of you may be unaware, but the vast majority of the buildings in Ulaanbaatar are heated from a central grid system using steam. Recently, the city of Ulaanbaatar announced that there will be a moratorium on new heating permits for commercial buildings while some recently issued heating permits will be cancelled. This is due to an over-taxing of the existing heating system due to the rapid expansion of the city. While this will not impact us, as all of our buildings already have their heating permits, it will clearly impact people who are looking to build new buildings over the next few years.
The Amgalan "Thermal Only" Power Plant, and Fifth Thermal and Electricity Power Plant are planned for completion in winter 2015 and winter 2016 respectively. These additional facilities will fix the heating shortage issues facing the capital city. However, until these facilities are completed, we do not anticipate many new commercial buildings getting heating permits. From a supply standpoint, this will likely serve to further amplify the already severe shortage of usable commercial space in Ulaanbaatar.
At MGG, we have been planning certain renovation projects to reduce our own heat usage. We want to be seen as promoting lower energy consumption as it helps the environment and also as it helps the city to deal with the severe lack of spare heating capacity. Starting in August, we will be modifying certain heating equipment in seven of our buildings which will entail replacing obsolete equipment with modern Danish apparatuses. These fully computerized modern systems will maximize the heating system efficiency and eliminate unnecessary heat loss which, in turn, will result in significantly lower on-going building management costs. Finally, we will have automated systems that will serve to reduce our heat usages at night and at other times when full heat isn't required. In total, we anticipate that these renovations will reduce our own heat usage by approximately 30% and likely have a payback on the capital investment of under 3-years, due to lower heat usage in our buildings.
As can be seen by the last few monthly letters, our goals at MGG are beginning to shift. During our company's the first two years, we were focused on learning about the Mongolian market, acquiring assets and building the needed infrastructure to manage our company. Increasingly, our focus is shifting towards finding ways to improve the returns on our existing assets, dispose of underperforming and non-core assets, better manage our costs and generate cash flow that can be re-invested in our core property business. Simply stated, cash flow is now becoming our focus.
On a final note, the Mongolian economy continues to outperform almost all other countries and GDP growth came in at 11.3% during the first half of 2013, according to the National Statistical Office of Mongolia.
Chairman & CEO
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd.
Khan Files Third Quarter 2013 Financial Results
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 23, 2013) - Khan Resources Inc. (CNSX:KRI) ("Khan" or "the Company") announced today that it has filed its financial statements and management's discussion and analysis for the nine months ended June 30, 2013 on SEDAR and has posted these documents to its website www.khanresources.com.
Highlights for the quarter include:
· International arbitration action against the Government of Mongolia - A submission on the merits and damages arising from the Mongolian Government's expropriatory and unlawful treatment of
Khan was filed with an International Arbitration Tribunal by the Company on December 7, 2012. With that filing, Khan's claim was revised upwards from $200 million to $326 million. A Statement of Defense and Counterclaim by the Respondents was submitted to the Tribunal on April 5, 2013. The Company submitted its response to the Statement of Defense and Counterclaim on June 28, 2013. Additional information was provided to the participants of the International Arbitration action by the Company on July 28, 2013. The Government of Mongolia's response to the Company's June
28 submission is due in early October, 2013. The formal hearing by the Tribunal on the merits and damages for the case is scheduled for November 11 through November 15, 2013.
· Atomredmetzoloto ("ARMZ") litigation - On April 2, 2013 the Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed Khan's appeal to validate, substitute or dispense with service of Khan's Statement of Claim against ARMZ, its Russian partner in Mongolia. ARMZ had avoided service of the Statement of Claim as the Russian Ministry of Justice had invoked Section 13 of the Hague Convention which allowed Russia to refuse to serve ARMZ as a matter of Russian sovereignty or security. Khan has decided not to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
· Khan holds 15.5 million common shares of Macusani Yellowcake Inc. ("Macusani") which represents 9.7% of the 159.5 million Macusani outstanding common shares. The value of the Company's investment in Macusani as at June 30, 2013 was $931,000, a decrease of $1,242,000 from its value at September 30, 2012.
· The following table summarizes financial results of the Company for the three and nine months ended June 30, 2013 and 2012.
In thousands of dollars
Three months ended June 30
Nine months ended June 30
Basic and diluted earnings per share ($)
Three months ended June 30
Nine months ended June 30
Nine months ended June 30
Cash and cash equivalents
As at June 30
Khan Investment Management Update (08/21/2013)
August 21 -- For the month of July the Khan Mongolia Equity Fund was up 9.6%.
According to the National Statistics Office of Mongolia, GDP grew 14.3% in the 3 months from April to June, compared with 7.2% for Q1. The boost in growth was driven largely by a significant increase in government spending on key infrastructure projects. H1 expansion was 11.3%, compared to an annual pace of 12.4% in 2012. In July, the Mongolian Tugrik (MNT) fell 3.4% against the USD and recently hit 4 year lows. Year to date the MNT has fallen over 13% on the back of plummeting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the injection of local currency into the monetary system as part of the Government of Mongolia's (GOM) Price Stabilization Program.
The marked reduction in FDI (down 43% YOY), decreasing export revenues and falling MNT prompted the GOM to call a special parliamentary session to be held from September 2nd to 6th ahead of the scheduled October parliamentary session in order to discuss the current economic situation. Mongolia clearly wants (and needs) investors back. It is widely expected that that the controversial Strategic Enterprises Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL) will be repealed along with the old Foreign Investment Law. Parliament is expected to discuss the proposed new "Law on Investment" which aims to protect all investors, foreign and local, big and small, through tax and investment stability measures.
During last week's cabinet meeting, the GOM committed to do more to support coal exports and announced several initiatives including the potential use of narrow-gauge railway (Chinese) across border crossings to China and the proposed acquisition of Mongolian Mining Corp's private road and border infrastructure connecting part of the Tavan Tolgoi coal basin to China.
A number of international listed Mongolian equities have recovered from recent lows although still continue to trade at significantly depressed prices. Of the 14 positions in the portfolio, 9 gained, 1 remained unchanged, and 4 lost ground throughout July. Xanadu Mines (XAM:AU) gained 110% to AUD 0.08, Haranga Resources Ltd (HAR:AU) was up 29.63% to AUD 0.07 and Eumeralla Resources Ltd (EUM:AU) rallied 47% to AUD 0.125. Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ:US) fell 32% to USD 4.03 on the back of conflicting statements from management, Rio Tinto (RT) and the GOM, and confusion surrounding bridge financing and Oyu Tolgoi (OT) Phase 2 Development. The net effect of TRQ's sell off on portfolio performance for July was -6.11%. Feore Ltd (FEO:AU) lost 36.67% to an all-time low of AUD 0.03. The MSE Top 20 Index was flat for the month, however the 3.4% depreciation in the local currency had a negative on the portfolio of 1.17%.
The Khan Mongolia Equity Fund performance for July was 9.60%.
The Net Asset Value as at 31 July 2013 was USD 30.88
The July Factsheet can be downloaded by registered users of the Khan Investment Management website – www.Khan-Management.com
The TRQ rollercoaster continues, however we believe the upside potential outweighs current risks given a number of recent positive developments. The company has sold its Kazakhstan assets for USD 235M, has signed a new attractive binding agreement with RT for USD 600M financing until 31 December 2013, removing any option of equity conversion and thus avoiding dilution to current shareholders, and the OT concentrator is now consistently producing at over 80% of design capacity.
Whilst the board of OT have agreed to temporarily halt construction of the underground mine and Phase 2 financing while outstanding issues with GOM are being resolved regarding cost overruns, the open pit is still producing, OT is exporting, and we believe a resolution that will see Phase 2 Development proceed will be reached in the near term. Reportedly, GOM is considering listing its share of OT and giving Mongolian citizens a stake in one of the world's largest copper deposits.
Aspire Mining (AKM:AU) has revised the mine plan for its Ovoot coking coal project, significantly reducing costs, and has also increased its coal resource by 10.3%, confirming it as Mongolia's second largest coking coal reserve after the massive Tavan Tolgoi deposit.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC) has received approval to establish a representative office in Ulaanbaatar, the first Japanese Bank to do so, and will provide a range of funding solutions for development of natural resources and infrastructure. International Power LLC and Samsung C&T have won the tender to build Ulaanbaatar's highly anticipated and much needed 5th power plant (Mogi: on the final list, one of them to be selected it seemed). Sainshand Industrial Park's prep-work is advancing rigorously and GOM has agreed with the German government to collaborate on a coal-to-gasoline plant project to be built in Mongolia.
Following my visit to Mongolia last month, we have gained access to a number of attractive block parcels of stocks. We are actively raising capital for the Khan Mongolia Equity Fund to acquire these positions prior to significantly improved foreign investor access to the local market in early 2014.
We believe that Mongolian equities have bottomed and are expectant of improved price performance over the coming months as investor perceptions and confidence improves. We encourage investors considering Mongolian exposure to invest now and take advantage of what we perceive are still very attractive entry prices. An improving investment climate combined with additional legislative progress aimed to attract investment is likely to improve stability and confidence in the burgeoning economy over the coming months.
Please be sure to have a look at our new website which will be live next week.
I thank our investors for their continued support and I look forward to updating you further of our developments next month.
KHAN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT LIMITED
Mongolia, Rio Tinto playing high stakes on copper mine
By Clyde Russell
Aug 19 (Reuters) - Is Rio Tinto's dispute with the Mongolian government over the expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine the signal that the nation's commodity boom is over, or is it just a hiccup?
Certainly, Mongolia's reputation as a desirable investment destination and one of the few remaining countries ripe for developing natural resources has taken a battering recently.
Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest mining company, said on Aug. 14 that it will cut 1,700 jobs at Oyu Tolgoi after a $5 billion expansion of the project was put on hold last month.
The dispute is over how the expansion gets financed, and the Mongolian parliament has been recalled from its summer recess for an emergency session to try and deal with the matter.
But the real issue is how long it will take for Mongolia to get significant amounts of money from the mine, which is slated to boost the economy by 35 percent by 2020.
Rio Tinto's Turquoise Hill Resources subsidiary owns 66 percent of the mine, while the government owns the other third.
The government has said Oyu Tolgoi, which has an operating open pit and a planned underground expansion, is at least $2 billion over budget.
The higher the capital cost of the mine and any expansion, the longer it will take to pay off the investment, thus delaying returns.
The Mongolian authorities are also said to be concerned about the management fees charged by Rio Tinto for operating the facility, and whether local workers should be on the same pay scales as foreigners.
So far Rio Tinto has played its cards close to its chest, saying publicly that both it and the government remain committed to expanding the project and resolving any issues.
The stakes are high for both parties, thus increasing the likelihood of an eventual compromise and resolution.
For Rio Tinto, Oyu Tolgoi represents one of the world's largest untapped copper reserves, and its development will lessen the global miner's reliance on its iron ore mines in Western Australia.
Longer term, copper may be a better bet than iron ore, given the paucity of new copper reserves, the aging of existing mines and still strong demand from industrialisation in China and India.
In contrast, iron ore supply looks set to swamp demand in the next few years as Rio Tinto, its Australian competitor BHP Billiton and Brazil's Vale all increase capacity, while demand growth in top consumer China is expected to taper.
MONGOLIA NEEDS MINES
For Mongolia, the development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine and the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine is the ticket to economic prosperity, with export earnings forecast at a combined $7 billion by 2020, a huge amount for a country whose gross domestic product was $10.2 billion last year.
It's no surprise that both the Mongolian government and Rio Tinto want to secure the best possible terms for themselves in developing the Oyu Tolgoi deposit.
But both will have to be wary about escalating the current dispute to the point where the viability of the investment is called into question.
Firing some 1,700 workers is a fairly dramatic step by Rio Tinto, and the company appears to be betting that the Mongolian authorities need it more than Rio needs them.
There may be some truth to that.
If the Rio Tinto investment does go sour, it would put Mongolia off the map for virtually any Western company for decades.
Given the lack of a good relationship with China, it's unlikely Mongolia wants to become dependent on investment from its giant southern neighbour.
In fact, landlocked Mongolia would love to be able to sell its resources, such as coal, to countries other than China, but a lack of infrastructure to ship through northern neighbour Russia is a major obstacle.
Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, who won re-election in June with a slim majority, is keen to exert more control over foreign mining investments.
What this is likely to mean in practice is that the government wants a bigger share of the revenues without having to stump up capital for development.
While this can certainly be legislated, it will alter the risk-reward equation for assessing resource projects and potentially discourage new investment.
Both the Mongolian government and Rio Tinto have too much at stake to endure a protracted dispute.
But this doesn't mean that both parties will work quickly to resolve the issues. This will take leadership on both sides.
The upcoming emergency sitting of parliament on Sept. 2-6 sets the stage for compromise all round.
But the government is likely to be feeling more pressure than Rio Tinto, given lower commodity prices and a 43 percent slump in foreign investment in the first half of this year, both of which hurt the budget.
Short-Term Pain for Long-Term Gain
August 20 (National Securities) The news of "Oyu Tolgoi" LLC (OT) and its contractors stopping the development of underground mine and putting on paid-leave or laying-off 1,700 to 2000 staff, depending on the source, is creating quite a resonance in Mongolian society. A lot of conflicting information has surfaced over the last couple of days influencing investors' and ordinary people's expectations and perceptions alike.
The immediate reaction was that it will somehow spillover to the economy in the forms of higher unemployment and non-performing loan rates which have reached 5% of the total loan portfolio as of July, 2013 without the help from such events; and lower consumption, also spelling trouble for downstream industries.
Sources at OT confirmed that the workers were given 3-months paid leave and will be back as soon as some understanding is reached between Mongolian government and Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX:TRQ , NYSE:TRQ), a partner of Mongolian government in OT project owned by Rio Tinto. This and the fact that the open pit mine is operating in normal conditions have eased the concerns temporarily. However, the source had no comment in relation to contractor companies.
Most analysts, myself included, agree that it might be a clever ploy of Rio Tinto to remind the unruly Mongolian government just how important this project is to the Mongolian economy. When both open pit and underground mine start commercial production the OT mine is estimated to generate 1/3 of Mongolian GDP and double export revenues by 2020.
The OT investment agreement was signed in 2009. Since then the relationship between Mongolian government and Turquoise Hill Resources have soured; most notably due to the increase in costs in the pre-production phase beyond initial expectations. The Mongolian government negotiated a very impressive 34% of revenues, but the catch is they are forced to cover 34% of the costs of what to-date is a roughly U$6.7bn outlay.
The Mongolian government has been demanding explanations on the cost over-runs beyond the initially agreed US$ 4.7bn and is insisting that they haven't received any comprehensible report which admittedly is a fair demand. Also Mongolian government is accusing OT of having violated the investment agreement by laying off significant number of employees without prior notice to the Mongolian government.
The biggest concern is the harm that it will do to the image and perception of Mongolia as an investment destination and raises the question, 'what if the government and Turquoise Hill Resources are unable to reach an agreement within 3 months?' Certainly the whole Mongolian economy will be affected and development could be set back development 5-10 years before anyone will come again seriously to invest. On the other hand, even though RIO could take the hit it would assume in dropping the project stone-cold, this surely would not be their first preference. NatSec does not expect anything but tough love, but any short-term pain can result in long-term gain and as such, we believe this approach is a must to get over this hurdle. We expect the development of underground mine and correspondingly the subsequent delay in commencement date will further increase already ballooning costs.
The wider investment community is expecting that the parties will achieve come to a mutually acceptable solution in the very near future. Furthermore, such turn of events might be the better outcome in the long run as it will help the government and TRQ to work out their differences in regard to the investment agreement and prevent further complications in the project's execution.
Haranga Resources Half-Year Financial Report
August 21, Haranga Resources Limited (ASX:HAR) --
Guildford Coal Investor Presentation, 26 August 2013
August 26 --
Guildford Coal Ltd (ASX: GUF) is today hosting an Investors presentation in Ulaan Baatar, capital of Mongolia. The presentation is being attended by the major investors in GUF as well as representatives of financial institutions, coal traders and Mongolian Government officials.
The presentation was delivered by Peter Westerhuis (Group Managing Director), Julien Lawrence (Chief Operating Officer), Allan Dawson (General Manager Marketing), Mike Wotherspoon (Chief Financial Officer) and Tsogt Togoo (Non-Executive Director).
The presentation is appended to this announcement. The key points of note are:
1. Development activities at the mine site are progressing satisfactorily and remain on target for coal extraction to commence in Q4-2013.
a. Overburden stripping volumes are on target;
b. Approximately 50,000 tonnes of coking coal is exposed, ready for mining;
c. The program to introduce the purpose built, large scale earthmoving fleet is continuing;
d. Mine facilities including accommodation, workshop, crushing plant and stockpile areas are under construction.
2. Government approval for construction of the new haul road to connect with the existing border crossing road is imminent.
3. Current projection is for first exports to commence in December 2013.
4. Coal production is planned to stabilize in Q4-2014 at a 3Mtpa rate and a minesite cost in the order of US$35 to US$40/tonne.
5. GUF and Noble, under the auspices of the Sales and Marketing Agreement, are combining efforts to establish off-take agreements with Chinese customers, some of whom are undertaking mine visits.
6. Metallurgical testing confirms coal quality specifications indicative of Hard Coking Coal, allowing GUF to differentiate its product from other producers in the region.
7. GUF is entering the market at a time when global market conditions are very challenging and coal prices remain under strong pressure. Current industry benchmark price indices infer a mine site sale price in the range of US$55 to US$60/tonne.
8. GUF and Noble are pleased to advise an in-principle agreement to extend an existing debt facility that will provide GUF with sufficient capacity to construct the unpaved haulroad, complete mine development works and commence coal production.
9. Based on assumptions outlined in the accompanying presentation an additional capital raising of US$45M to US$55M is forecast for December 2013. This will secure a positive cash balance during the period in which market penetration is obtained and coal sales escalate to match mine production levels.
10. GUF will source an optimal financing solution which could include accessing debt capital markets. Once secured these funds will provide greater certainty and flexibility in executing our business plan.
Manas Petroleum Corp. Files Quarterly Report Q2 2013
BAAR, Switzerland (ACCESSWIRE) 8/20/2013 6:30:00 AM - - Manas Petroleum Corp. ("Manas") (TSX-V: MNP; OTCBB: MNAP) has filed its quarterly report on Form 10-Q for its second quarter ended June 30, 2013 on EDGAR and on SEDAR. The report is available on the Manas website at http://www.manaspetroleum.com/ and at http://www.sedar.com/ or http://www.sec.gov/.
About Manas Petroleum Corp.
Manas is an international oil and gas company with primary focus on exploration and development in Central Asia and Mongolia. Through its 14.4% equity interest in Petromanas Energy Inc., a Canadian public company, Manas participates in exploration projects in Albania, France and Australia. In the Kyrgyz Republic, Manas has a 25% working interest in the Tuzluk exploration block. In Tajikistan Manas owns 90% working interest in a Production Sharing Agreement covering the license areas Zapadnyi and Severo-Zapadnyi in the Soughd region through its wholly-owned subsidiary DWM Petroleum AG. In Mongolia, Manas owns 74% working interest in two Production Sharing Contracts covering Blocks XIII and XIV through its wholly-owned subsidiary DWM Petroleum AG.
Winsway (01733) interim loss widens to HK$763m; no div
[ET Net News Agency, 21 August 2013] Winsway Coking Coal (01733) said its loss attributable to equity shareholders for the six months ended 30 June 2013 widened to HK$763 million from HK$444 million for the same period in 2012.
The basic and diluted loss per share was HK20.2 cents.
The turnover was HK$5.82 billion, a decrease of 12.1% from a year earlier.
The weakening coking coal market, the impairment of investment in upstream resources and the heavy financing costs of both senior notes and Minsheng Bank loan contributed to the majority of Winsway's losses.
No interim dividend will be distributed.
Winsway ratings cut to "CC"' & "cnCC" by S&P; Outlook negative
[ET Net News Agency, 21 August 2013] Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it had lowered its long-term corporate credit rating on Winsway Coking Coal Holdings Ltd. (01733) to 'CC' from 'B'. The outlook is negative. At the same time, the agency lowered the rating on the company's senior unsecured notes to 'CC' from 'B-'.
S&P also lowered its long-term Greater China regional scale rating on Winsway to 'cnCC' from 'cnB+' and on the notes to 'cnCC' from 'cnB'. Winsway is a China-based coking coal supply and logistics provider.
"We downgraded Winsway because we view the company's recent tender offer on its senior unsecured notes as constituting a 'distressed exchange' tantamount to an immediate default," said S&P's credit analyst Huma Shi.
"The negative outlook reflects the likelihood that we will lower the corporate credit rating to 'SD' (for selective default) and the issue rating on the notes to 'D' if the proposed transaction is completed," she added.
Moody's downgrades Winsway (01733) bond rating to "Ca"
[ET Net News Agency, 23 August 2013] Moody's Investors Service has downgraded to Ca from Caa1 the US$500 million 8.5% senior unsecured notes due April 2016 issued by Winsway Coking Coal Holdings Limited (01733).
At the same time, Moody's has downgraded Winsway's corporate family rating to Ca from B3. The outlook for all ratings is negative.
The rating action follows Winsway's announcement on 20 August 2013 that it is commencing an exchange offer and consent solicitation for the 2016 Notes. The exchange offer, which is subject to consent from 75% of the company's bondholders, includes (i) amendments eliminating substantially all of the restrictive covenants and certain events of default contained in the existing bond indenture; and (ii) agreeing to one of the two settlement options by 5 September 2013.
CNNC International Interim Results 2013
August 20, CNNC International Limited (HKEx:2302) --
MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION & ANALYSIS
Since the Group commenced the uranium products trading business to broaden the revenue base in the second half of 2012, the Group has made significant increase in the volume of uranium products trade. Although the market price of uranium products continued to decline in the first half of 2013, the Group was able to secure sale contracts with reasonable premium and to source supplies at the most favourable prices. As the global demand for uranium products are expected to increase given the number of new nuclear power reactors being planned for or under construction, the Group is well positioned to further expand its uranium trading business. The Group has also made significant progress in the application of mining license for its Mongolian uranium mining project. All the required documents for the license application have been lodged and are being reviewed by the Mongolian authorities. Negotiations to form a joint venture company with the Mongolian Government to develop the Mongolian project have been taken place. Both sides have agreed on a common goal to develop the project as soon as possible.
NatSec MSE Trading News, August 20: Top 20 +1.06%, Turnover ₮7.8 Million
August 20 (National Securities) The MSE TOP-20 Index rose +1.06% to 13,708.82 points. Today's volume was 5,707 shares and the trading value was 7.8m MNT.
The top gainer was Gobi (GOV), the cashmere clothes producer, which soared +14.88% to 4,400 MNT. The second biggest gainer was Material Impex (MIE), which rose +4.92% to 12,590 MNT. Zoos Goyol (ZOO) which is souvenir merchandiser, was the biggest loser, plunging -13.33% to 1,300 MNT. Mongolian Development National Union (HAM), dropped -5.06% to 7,500 MNT.
The most actively traded stock was Nako Diesel (NKT), with 3,100 shares traded at a value of 641,000 MNT. It's price was un-changed. Another higher volume stock was the State Department Store (UID), with 1,149 shares traded and a value of 487,000 MNT.
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NatSec MSE Trading News, August 21: Top 20 -0.24%, Turnover ₮448 Million
August 21 (National Securities) Today was VERY impressive day on the MSE. The MSE TOP-20 Index dropped just -0.24% to 13,676.54, however trading volumes were like pre-MIT days at 176,404 shares and the value was 448m MNT. It was the 1st time, over the 400m level since June.
Interestingly, there were 3 major volume leaders. Jenco Tour Bureau (JTB) 63,758 shares traded at a value of 5.2m MNT, Bishrelt Industrial (HHC), 52,000 shares traded with a value of 161m MNT, and Mongol Nekhmel (MNH) traded 43,961 shares at a value of with 262m MNT. These 3 stocks represented 90% of total volumes and 95% of the total Tugrig value.
The top gainer was Khargia (HAR), which is traded on the B-board, which went up +9.43% to 5,800 MNT. The top losers were Suu (SUU), which plunged -14.10% to 67,000 MNT and Bluesky Securities (BSK), which dropped -14.79% to 2,160 MNT.
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NatSec MSE Trading News, August 22: Top 20 +0.05%, Turnover ₮30.1 Million
August 22 (National Securities) The TOP-20 Index rose slightly to +0.05% to 13,683.38. 7,892 shares in 17 JSC's traded with combined value of 30.1m MNT. 5 shares were up, 5 shares were down and 7 shares were un-changed.
Bayankhairkhan (BHR) was the top gainer of today. It's price was limit-up to 345 MNT. Another block-trade in BHR's was conducted on the MSE, with 63,897 shares traded at a value of 19.1m MNT. The major gainer was Material Impex (MIE) rose +7.23% and E-trans Logistic (ETR) rose +7.14%. Zoos Goyol (ZOO) was limit down to 1,105 MNT and was the most traded stock. 3,110 shares traded with a value of 3.4m MNT. Bayan-Aldar (VIK) was the 2nd biggest loser down -4.18% to 1,100 MNT.
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Montsame MSE News, August 23: Top 20 +0.91%, Turnover ₮27 Million
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Friday, a total of 66 thousand and 062 shares of 31 JSCs were traded costing MNT 27 million 647 thousand and 267.00.
Rates of shares of 16 company increased, of eight decreased and share price of seven were stable.
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 367 billion 927 million 989 thousand and 545. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,808.10, increasing by 124.72 per cent (Mogi: points) against the previous day.
RESULT OF GOVERNMENT SECURITIES AUCTION
August 21 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 28 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 17.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 8.41%.
BoM holds FX auction
August 22 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on August 22nd, 2013 the BOM has received bid offer of USD and CNY from local commercial banks and sold 18 million USD.
On August 22nd, 2013, The BOM has received bid offer of 95 million USD for Swap agreement from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
Mogi: total outstanding 1 week bills at ₮1.066 trillion, why so much MNTs in banks?
BoM issues 1-week bills
August 23 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 337.3 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
De Facto: Hungover Mongolia
By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa
August 19 (UB Post) Mongolia had a hot craze over its mining income in recent years and has been continuously throwing parties and celebrations. Those in high ranking seats were eating and drinking on an endless spree. Citizens joined the government and went on a binge like there was no tomorrow.
Even fairytales come to an end though, and so did Mongolia's party, when midnight came and mining income declined. Mongolians found themselves suffering from a dreadful hangover when they wearily woke up with a stinging headache. The wallet that was so thick the day before became flimsy and thin, it barely held enough money for food for the day. Then everyone started blaming anyone but themselves for this unfortunate situation.
Partying with loan money
During his "PM's 30 Minutes" conference with the press, Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag said, "Although our coal, gold and copper are being extracted and exported, we are not seeing any money coming in. The government borrowed a total of 800 million USD -received 250 million USD from Oyu Tolgoi, 350 million USD from Tavan Tolgoi and 200 million USD from Erdenet in advance- and allocated the money to its citizens." He explained that this loan that was allocated came to be the reason why our economic growth has been slowing down and why the Mongolian tugrug was in decline.
Our current Prime Minister, who is also the leader of the Democratic Party, worked as the First Deputy Prime Minister in the coalition government and was seated in the top seat at the table during the boom-time party. However, now he seems to have forgotten that the two political parties had conspired to borrow such a great amount of money in order to fulfill their election promises and hand out free cash to the people.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, G.Zandanshatar, who was settled next to the top seat during the party, said: "Populist decisions brought the investors an enormous amount of loss in time and money," on the Daily News (Udriin sonin) newspaper's August 12, 2013 edition. It was the same G.Zandanshatar, the current General Secretary of Mongolian People's Party, who initiated the strategic investment law just before the 2012 parliamentary elections. Because of his attempt to play a national hero, many foreign investors suffered from real losses and have been leaving Mongolia ever since. In his statement in the newspaper, he tried to represent the opposition by criticizing the Democratic Party and demanding an urgent, irregular plenary session of parliament.
In order to retain their political power, one or two political parties with unclear opinions and several politicians who lost their sense of responsibility, gambled with the country's natural resources to acquire a loan only to spend it on luxury. And now that it is time to repay the debt, they are avoiding the problem and blaming it on one another. This ridiculous spectacle of theirs is only beginning and shall continue until the bond repayments have to be made.
The government forgot about the cycle where the price of minerals is not always high and has fluctuations. On the basis of their arrogant belief that there would be consistently high economic growth and a continuous flow of budget revenue, the government started mistreating its foreign investors.
Therefore, it led to a point where the government could not take any good measures in response to the dropping price of minerals, reduction of the budget revenue, decrease in exports and the tugrug's decline. On top of that, the series of Oyu Tolgoi Board of Directors meetings resulted in a decision to stop its underground project. A daily investment of one million USD is now frozen and 4,000 Mongolian employees are being laid off.
The Prime Minister stated that Tavan Tolgoi had already gone bankrupt. It looks like the huge open-cut mine with seven billion tons of coking coal beneath the ground could actually go bankrupt if the government deceives its people by distributing shares, receives a part of future sales income in advance, and spends that money on election campaigns.
Discussions have recently started about establishing a new company by combining 51 percent of Erdenet Mining Corporation shares with 34 percent of Oyu Tolgoi shares. According to these discussions, shares of this new company would then be sold publicly. It is obviously another fairytale, yet the notion is good. Generally speaking, it is a logical step to transform all state-owned companies into public ones and offer their shares on the domestic and foreign capital markets. Looking at the conditions we have in Mongolia, this is the only way to put an end to the theft that is taking place under the name the government.
Nevertheless, the first thing that needs to be done is to make changes to the part in the mining law that states that 34 percent of any strategic deposit shall be owned by the government. Afterwards, shares can be sold to the public. Instead of being stakeholders, the government could just double the taxes and royalties that they collect. However, the Mongolian economy is now suffering from the real consequences of the existing subjectivity among politicians when it comes to actual decision making.
Mongolian lawmakers today have an opportunity to project long-term development by having better organized assembly and alignment among different sets of laws, supporting investment that can improve the business environment and streamlining the required processes.
There is also an opportunity to boost economic independence and protect our economy from potential fluctuations in the price of minerals by re-arranging the dozens of funds established at ministries and centralizing them in a Sovereign Wealth Fund.
All in all, we, the Mongolian citizens, have the power to decide whether we are going to live a nice life or not, regardless of what internal and external conditions may arise. We possess the power to do so because we can replace any politician or political party that is disrupting the normality of our lives.
Suffering from a dreadful hangover, Mongolia once again faces a need to acquire another loan to recover from the consequences of our excess and to pay for daily expenditures. It is time for us Mongolians to learn the culture of knowing your limit in everything we do.
Experts say railway development is the bridge to prosperity
August 25 (UB Post) A research conference titled "Mongolian Railway Development Issues" took place at the State Palace on Wednesday. The conference brought together experts, researchers and scholars to evaluate the current shortcomings of the railway system, discuss railway infrastructure development, the railway's current state, near and long term policy development, and provide information to the public.
The conference was organized by decree of the Speaker of the Parliament, a Parliament task force responsible for the expansion of transportation and logistics policy, the International Study Center of the Science Academy, Cambridge University in Great Britain, and the Union of Mongolian Railway Engineers.
The event hosted more than 150 delegates from around 30 organizations including parliament, government, the National Security Council, science and research institutions, labor unions, and private sector agencies in the railway industry. The delegates discussed the outlined agenda topics and also talked about the significant role of railways in Mongolia's development. Cambridge University and the Science Academy presented projects and studies that are being conducted concerning Mongolia's mining, railways and geopolitics.
The shortest route linking Asia to Europe is through Mongolia. The delegates talked about using this advantage in the future by forming a "bridge" to link our neighboring countries, connecting Siberia's vast mineral wealth to Chinese industries. "Mongolia's railway has enormous potential and can play a vital role in the economic development of the nation if it efficiently utilizes its potential as a transportation network. The development of railways will not only improve infrastructure but provide the opportunity for sales of petroleum, natural gas, communication and an energy network, and improve foreign investment by increasing regional transportation capacity," said delegates at the meeting.
The parliament is paying special attention to the State's railway policies as well as civil aviation sector policies to form a unified network in the near and mid-term future, said the public relations department of the Office of the Parliament. The government is currently implementing the Transit Mongolia National Program, which was approved in 2008 and focuses on trade and reducing transportation fees. The program will end in 2015.
The Office of the Parliament reported that a task force of 11, led by parliament member G.Batkhuu, was assigned to form a unified long-term action plan for the government on the development of the transportation network used by the private sector for cross country shipping, communication and electric transmission networks, as well as transportation policy based on the experiences and solutions of other countries.
The Office of the Parliament said that the railway conference was extremely significant in solidifying cooperation between the government and experts to inform all those who are concerned about the programs being implemented, learning from the experiences of other countries, and openly sharing views on the development of the nation's railway infrastructure and network.
Mongolia, Russia, China Discuss Issues On Railway Transportation
ULAANBAATAR (Mongolia), Aug 20 (Bernama) -- A meeting was held here on Monday to resolve some issues in rail transportation for freight and passengers between Mongolia, Russia and China, Mongolia's MONTSAME news agency reported.
During the three-day meeting, the parties seek to find solutions to the problems faced by the Mongolia-China and Ulaanbaatar-East Siberia railway transportation.
Among issues that will be discussed are reducing checking time of the Ulaanbaatar-Irkutsk (Russia) train at Naushki station in Russia and Mongolia's keenness to reach an agreement with Russia on creating a route between Naushki and Sukhbaatar (Mongolia) beginning January next year.
The two sides are expected to present the trilateral agreement and to ink it on the last day of the meeting.
Mongolia first established the trilateral intergovernmental agreement with Russia and China in 1952 on creating the direct railway networks.
To date, the Ulaanbaatar Railway has 1,815 km rails divided into 80 stations across the country. The Mongolian section of the line, connected to Russia and China, runs for 1,110 km.
According to statistics, the freight size and number of passengers by railway has been increasing recently.
August 22 (Oxford Business Group) The government in Mongolia is taking steps to clean up its reputation when it comes to the environment, with a green development policy planned, a huge wind farm opening and the Ministry of Environment and Green Development confronting the mining industry. However, balancing growth with green objectives is still proving a challenge.
On June 24, the minister of environment and green development, S. Oyun, unveiled a development policy that identifies objectives towards 2030 and economic measures to be taken until 2020. The programme is part of the government's Green Civilisation strategy.
The ministry, the first in the world to have a portfolio of "green development", has already taken steps since its creation in 2012 to protect certain lands and water, and it has placed a moratorium on new mining exploration licences.
In June the ministry further displayed its growing clout by announcing the closure of a key route for coal transport to China, citing environmental damage. Specifically the ministry said it would shut down the Tsagaan Khad Customs stockyard, through which all coal from the Tavan Tolgoi mine must pass on its way to China.
Just a week earlier, Oyun and M. Sonompil, the minister of energy, led the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $122m Salkhit wind farm. Salkhit covers an area of 12,000 ha and has an installed capacity of 50 MW. With a potential to meet about 5% of electricity demand, it will provide some 100,000 residents with daily electricity – equal to a decrease of 18m tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year. The government has signed a power purchase agreement with Clean Energy, Mongolia's first wind energy company, agreeing to pay 9.5 cents a KWh.
By 2020 the government has targeted 20-25% of the energy mix to come from renewable sources; coal supplies about 80% of the country's energy.
"For the government of Mongolia, green development is not a choice; it is something we must do," the president of Mongolia, Ts. Elbegdorj, told a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) official in May.
However, the country has met obstacles in pursuing its green agenda and still plans to build three coal-fired power stations with a combined capacity of 1650 MW in the next decade. Meanwhile, gold, copper and coal mining continues to take its toll on the environment, with negative side effects including polluted water, soil compaction and harm to vegetation.
Smog from burning coal has choked Ulaanbaatar this year. In 2012 the World Health Organisation named it the second-worst city for air quality behind Ahvaz in western Iran. Residents use coal to heat homes when winter temperatures plunge to -34°C.
International observers say that the despite the country's resource-based, breakneck growth, its leaders have to act now to avoid long-term harm to the environment.
"Mongolia has a fundamental choice between a development path that triggers increasing social exclusion, environmental degradation and significant economic costs or one that recognises that vast mineral wealth and abundant potential for clean energy can be engines for poverty eradication, decent jobs and sustainable development," UNEP's executive director, Achim Steiner, told New Scientist in June.
While the government's steps will improve the county's green credentials in investors' eyes and contribute to reducing carbon emissions, it needs to develop a wide-ranging set of subsidies and incentives to get business leaders and the public on board.
Invest Mongolia 2013 to be held next month
August 25 (UB Post) Frontier LLC, a pioneer among investment professionals operating in Mongolia, will organize the Invest Mongolia 2013 International Conference on September 2 and 3. The conference will be held at the Chinggis Khaan Hotel in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
This year, the conference will be organized by the Ministry of Mining, the Ministry of Economic Development, and the Ministry of Environment and Green Development.
The event aims to facilitate foreign investment in Mongolia by giving investors insight into the opportunities available for investment, while streamlining capital internationally. The concept of Green Mongolia will be introduced, discussing the transition of the country from a "Brown" to "Green" economy.
This year's event will host 40 Mongolian and international speakers. The focus of the event will be on improved government policies and the government's commitment to restoring investor confidence. The investment environment has been turbulent in recent months, creating a need to clear out the obstacles the country is facing due to diminishing foreign investment.
When most analysts and investors talk about investing in Mongolia, they talk about the mining sector. However, the conference will have extensive insight on non-mining sectors, such as real estate, agriculture, and infrastructure. The Chinggis Bond, as an entrant to the global debt markets, will be also discussed at the conference. Therefore, the Mongolian banking industry will also be at the center of the agenda.
D.Sodnom: We should concentrate on developing our national industry
August 22 (UB Post) The following is an interview with former prime minister D.Sodnom about recent financial and economic issues grappling the country.
- A meeting with the National Security Council (NSC) was held last week. What issues were discussed and what conclusions did they reach during the meeting?
As the Head of the NSC, President Ts.Elbegdorj held a meeting and invited former members of the council. The meeting lasted for about four hours. During the meeting, Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar; Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan; and Director of the Bank of Mongolia N.Zoljargal reported on Mongolia's current economic and financial situation.
The participants then put forward their recommendations on how we should tackle Mongolia's current economic situation and which spotlight the government should turn on. I'm so glad that the President organized this meeting. Mongolia's foreign trade deficit is growing. Exports have decreased in both quantity and price. As a result of the reduction in the purchasing power of the tugrug, the price of imported goods has increased. Finally, this has affected people's life negatively. Everyone said that our economy was very close to having a crisis. Afterwards, they expressed their opinion regarding proper measures to take in this kind of situation. Anyhow, I hope that the Parliament and the government ministries will take immediate measures to solve this problem.
- What recommendations did you put forward during the meeting?
I said that we should concentrate on developing our national industry. Tax receipts and exports won't increase unless national industry develops. In fact, the basis of everything is the country's national industry. Some Mongolian national companies implement programs to increase exports and manufacture products which can replace imports. But the government doesn't support them even though they try to develop national industry. Our national industry needs more support. There are too many bureaucratic deadlocks in getting permission to construct infrastructure or approvals related to the workforce. It takes too much time for governmental authorities to decide on them. The government should act on this issue much faster. It is important to decide quickly on infrastructure financing. It is hard to develop industry and expand sales if there are no roads and infrastructure.
For instance, we haven't constructed a new railway yet. We have been discussing its construction for about four or five years. But it hasn't been realized due to the government's bad policies. It was decided before to construct a broad gauge railway to China. Because of this, we can't construct new railways both in the direction of China and Russia.
Secondly, there are many projects which are important in increasing exports and decreasing imports. For example, I'm currently working on the Mongolyn Alt group's (Mogi: MAK) project of the Tsagaansuvarga copper field in Mandakh Soum, Dornogovi Aimag. This field has 300 thousand tons of copper concentrate reserve which is equivalent to 60 to 70 percent of Erdenet copper field's reserve. The government should provide credit from the Chinggis Bond for this kind of project.
A part of the Chinggis Bond was spent on road and infrastructure construction. But we can't pay back the bond by constructing roads. Therefore, we should spend this money on projects which can make products and gain profit. One of these projects is the copper concentration plant. Moreover, a cement factory with a capacity of one million tons is being built in Dalanjargalan Soum, Dornogovi Aimag. Mongolia uses 2.5 million tons of cement in a year. We import a greater part of this from China. Hence, the government should support the financing of this project which can produce a million tons of cement. The most important step to get out of this difficult economic situation is supporting national industry. All participants in the meeting agreed with this opinion of mine.
After the meeting, President Ts.Elbegdorj said that the Parliament and the executive branch of the government should work together in supporting national industry. Now we should just wait for their actions. Some people actually criticize them a lot. They say, "The government should solve problems, not make trouble."
- What can you say about the government's actions?
I prefer advising and giving recommendations rather than criticizing.
- What should we do in the future? Did they decide to spend the remaining part of the Chinggis Bond to support our national industry?
President Ts.Elbegdorj said that they should spend not less than 70 percent of the bond for national industry projects. I also put forward a recommendation to select projects which can increase exports and reallocate the Chinggis Bond for specific purposes. The government needs to find good projects and finance them.
- What about the progress of the Oyu Tolgoi project? Does the government agree with the demands of the investors of this project?
We have discussed this issue for a long time. According to the contract with Oyu Tolgoi, we won't get anything in the coming years. It is said that they tend to reduce the royalty, profit, tax, and dividends for the government. Therefore, we should find a reliable way for Oyu Tolgoi to rightfully pay back Mongolia. So we should change the contract by adding terms about payments.
- People think that the management of Rio Tinto is blackmailing the Mongolian government and blocking the operations of Oyu Tolgoi. How should we deal with them?
We don't need to be in conflict with them. First of all, we should discuss and formulate changes in the contract carefully. Everything will be ruined if we don't make any of these changes. The Oyu Tolgoi project will last for 30 years at least; therefore, we can't always argue with them in these 30 or 40 years. Hence, we should come up with a clear and confidential contract that the parties are mutually confident in. The Mongolian government has to do this, not the company's Board of Directors. Mongolia's three representatives in the Board of Directors can't decide on this issue. They didn't sign the Oyu Tolgoi contract. Therefore, the government should grab the initiative, take action, and work out an amenable solution.
- What is the stance on this issue of former president N.Bagabandi who is a representative of Mongolia in the Board of Directors of the Oyu Tolgoi company? Isn't his stance important?
N.Bagabandi is one of the representatives of Mongolia in the Board of Directors of Oyu Tolgoi. Therefore, he is not in charge of changing the contract. The government with the ministers has to solve this problem.
- The rating of the Chinggis Bond in the international market is dropping. Mongolia will issue 3.5 billion USD more worth of bonds. What should we do in order to increase the rating of our bonds?
The rating of the next bond will depend on the previous bond's expenditures and result. It is right to issue bonds in the world market. But we should issue them in a new form. Before issuing a new bond, we should estimate how to spend the money and figure out what projects we should implement.
- There are a lot of government projects under way such as constructing the new railway and supporting national industry. What is the most important sector which needs support aside from mining?
During the meeting of the NSC members, participants recommended that the more important thing to do is extract mineral resources as well as develop the agricultural sector. Building a tannery and manufacturing industry of livestock products is also very promising. Extensive products from livestock have the best quality in Mongolia. Developing tourism is also important.
- The future of the coal sector has been uncertain in recent years. Is it right to find a way to export to other countries aside from China?
Coal is and will be an important source of energy. Therefore, it is necessary to use this resource in Mongolia. On the other hand, Mongolia has a consolidated policy of coal exporting. This current policy is very insufficient. I think that it is wrong to have state-owned coal mines.
- China constructed a railway to Mongolia's border. But Mongolia's railway construction from its side has been unsuccessful. Shouldn't we construct a railway from Tsagaan Khad to China's border instead?
It was agreed upon to construct a 30-km broad gauge railway from Tsagaan Khad to China's border. If I had been the one who made this decision, I would've constructed a narrow gauge railway instead. A broad gauge railway is not a smart decision. But constructing a new railway and not relying heavily on road transportation is good though.
PM: Cabinet paying big deal of attention to drop in FDI & currency
Ulaanbaatar, August 22 /MONTSAME/ The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag Thursday held a weekly "30 minutes with Premier" meeting with the media.
He spoke about some urgent matters and economic situation by a first half of this year. The Premier said the economic growth increased by 11.3 percent in the first half of 2013, whereas this stood at 12.4 percent in the same period of 2012.
"The inflation rate was 14 percent last year, now it is 8.3 percent this year, meaning that the government's policy on declining the price soar of consumer products is successful," the Premier emphasized.
He went on that the unemployment rate is also decreasing thanks to creating of jobs within the governmental programme called "Let's live in our motherland". By the first half of this year, 37 thousand vacancies have been created, he said.
The Premier underlined that the cabinet is paying a big deal of attention to a decline of foreign investments and to changes in currency rates. Investments for the Oyu Tolgoi project have been completed, now Mongolia is awaiting a new investment for an underground mine of the OT mine, he said.
The decline in foreign investments may be caused by ceasing investments in some gold mining companies due to implementation of the law on prohibiting mineral exploration and extraction near rivers and water sources, he noted.
Currency rates usually change in this period of every year, the Premier said.
He also said that the cabinet does not intend to increase the tax. The price of fuels will not go up, and the eight-percent interest mortgage loan programme will continue normally, the Premier stressed.
Mongolia plans to put foreign investors on equal terms
By Michael Kohn
August 19 (Bloomberg) A parliament session was called after Rio Tinto said it will cut 1,700 jobs at its Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold mine.
Mongolia plans to put investors from overseas on equal terms with local companies and improve the tax environment by passing a law next month after a dispute with Rio Tinto Group over funding the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine.
The parliament will hold an emergency session Sept. 2 to 6 to pass the legislation, according to a statement today on its website. The investment law won't discriminate between "large or small, foreign or domestic companies," according to the statement, which didn't provide any details of tax changes.
The parliament session was called after Rio said it would cut 1,700 jobs at Oyu Tolgoi and following months of talks over a disputed $5.1 billion financing package for its second stage. Foreign direct investment into the country has also slumped 43 percent in the first half, according to Bank of Mongolia data.
The announcement was a "significant message from Mongolian authorities that the country wants back investment, both foreign and domestic," Dale Choi, the founder of Independent Mongolian Metals & Mining Research, said in a note to clients.
The legislation, superceding the Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law adopted in May 2012, may help stem a weakening in the economy. Expansion slowed to an annual 11.3 percent in the first half, from 12.4 percent in 2012 and 17.5 percent in 2011.
"It's a positive development but it will take a lot of time for investor confidence to return to the Mongolian market," said Oscar Mendoza, managing partner at Mongolia Asset Management, an investment advisory group based in Ulaanbaatar. Legislation needs to work with a proposed mining law that may be adopted by parliament in the session starting October, he said.
"Most of the investment is in mining," Mendoza said. "If the minerals law does not go on par with the investment law then no, you are not going to see lot of investment coming in."
Tax Law Renewal Under Discussion
August 20 (news.mn) The Government is preparing to renew a set of tax laws to be ready to be passed during the Autumn session of Parliament according to resolution 37th of Parliament dated 2012.
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development are in charge of the renewal. Currently the first version of the laws are being reviewes.
The Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) and the Silk Road Mongolia Fund are responsible for promoting and collecting public opinions and conducting public discussions to gauge public views for Parliament"s information.
The discussion on the set of tax laws will be held at 4:00 pm on 20th, 21st and 22nd August at the Conference Hall of Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI). The fist discussion will take place today in the Conference Hall.
ELBEGDORJ MEETS OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS PRESIDENT
Ulaanbaatar, August 16 /MONTSAME/ State Head Ts.Elbegdorj Thursday received Mr Christopher Stone, the president of the Open Society Foundations (OSF).
The latter spoke about his organization's activities, stressing that its main purposes are to increase a civil participation in making policies and monitoring their implementation, to promptly deliver information on policy, and to improve the quality of policy research works.
In turn, the leader of Mongolia noted that our country is successfully realizing court reforms, and that parliament adopted a package law on court, worked out by him. He hopes that these actions will contribute to making the Mongolian court and its procedures more transparent.
The State Head also pointed out that the budgetary capitals started to be spent under the civil initiatives, its participation in localities for realizing the direct democracy, and on civil participation principle. "This is very helpful for making the consumption of budget more effective and fruitful," he said. Mongolia is sharing its experience with Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar, the newly developing democracies, he added.
Mr Stone expressed a readiness of the OSF to release a related recommendation with a participation of these countries and to render assistance to Mongolia in training students.
Mr Stone is an American criminal justice expert, he was selected the OSF president in July of 2012. Prior to assuming this position he served as the Guggenheim Professor of the Practice of Criminal Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School from 2005 to 2012.
The OSF has been running activities in Mongolia since 1990s.
T.Khaltar: Hackers do not have accountability in Mongolia's criminal law
August 20 (UB Post) Journalists have recently interviewed Head of the Mongolian Center Against Cyber Attacks T.Khaltar on the issues of hacking and information security in Mongolia.
- It is believed that hackers are saboteurs. Why are these people considered "bad"?
A hacker is someone who enters your computer system and network illegally. These people came into being when the information system was invented. They can do any action by entering through "holes" in the world information network. Some of them do nothing, some copy information, and some make computers stop operating. Over the years, this action further developed as crimes which include robbery and illegal transactions. There was no one who knew about information security breach in the USA during the 80s. Therefore, they started to hire people after that decade to protect and maintain their computing network and systems. In other words, some hackers began to use their knowledge for the greater good and became experts on information security. Conversely, some hackers became criminals by propagating viruses, spying, and stealing money. So hackers were divided into two categories – "white hat" and "black hat." These names were again eventually changed. "White hats" are now called hackers and "black hats," crackers.
- How many hackers are there in Mongolia? Crackers, more specifically?
It is hard to say exactly. The Internet is now full of hacker "tools." Any child can stop a computer's operation by clicking and running these "tools." Definitely, "hackers" are professional and high-level people. It is impossible to estimate how many hackers there are in Mongolia.
In fact, with the Internet, no country can avoid a cyber attack. The number of cyber attacks is rising day by day in places which are connected to the World Wide Web. Cyber attacks give anyone an opportunity to make a profit as well as spy. Hence, there are thousands of people who want to take on a chance like this. That's the reason why hackers attack Mongolia. Some hackers use Mongolia as only a transit country. Hacking includes many tasks such as entering an organization's computer network or stealing the stored information in its servers. In reality, the number of hackers is increasing more and more.
- How can one ensure security of information? Is there a computer program which hackers cannot enter?
Firstly, it needs legal protection. This is more related to the government's operations. There are so many things involved here including adopting a law, implementing regulations on this issue, and setting standards, which the government should act on. In addition, protection measures on computer programs should be taken – like having a special program which detects every hacker who attacks Mongolia's cyber space. It is possible to protect a computer's network and system from hackers using highly developed technology. It needs only "thinking."
- Is it possible to determine where cyber attacks come from?
Of course, yes. We can determine which country that cyber attack comes from. But this has become harder to determine in recent years. Nowadays, the IP (Internet Protocol) address of a computer used for hacking becomes a "zombie." In short, it's a dead end and it is close to impossible to determine this number.
- What is an IP address?
Most computers and computers which are connected to one network have their own special codes which allow them to enter the Internet. This is called the IP address. Hackers are revealed through this address. But the latest hackers use another person's IP address instead of their real IP when they do cyber attacks. It is not common for every computer in Mongolia to have a separate IP address. Most organizations have one or two IP addresses among many computers.
- How reliable is the security of websites and organizations' computer networks in Mongolia?
Really unreliable. A hundred of cyber attacks threaten Mongolia's one Internet server within a day. There's a possibility for any hacker to enter the "secure" sites of every state-owned entity. These public sector websites include that of the Communications Regulatory Commission, ministries, President, and tax departments of districts that use "Joomla," a content management system. This system is very unsafe. Many years ago, the President's site was hacked. Moreover, Turkish hackers attacked Mongolia's four ministries' sites and wrote, "We hacked the Mongolian government." About 30 percent of Internet flow into Mongolia is used for checking mail, sending data, copying files, and downloading. The remaining 70 percent can be used for attacks. In actuality, information security means national security. Everything is computerized in this information and technology century. Unfortunately, we forgot about ensuring information security even though we have computerized everything.
Our center was established in 2002. We receive information about cyber attacks and keep statistics. Secondly, we render assistance to companies with problems in their computer networks. We give advice on how to improve one's security system. Lastly, we investigate where cyber attacks come from, as well as monitor and detect the source of these attacks. However, we need international cooperation, too.
- There are experts who are responsible for programming in every company. What do they do?
There are too many "holes" in a limitless computer network. A Mongolian site's average probability of being hacked is 85 percent. It means that our websites only have 15 percent protection. It is difficult to determine a cyber attack as well as detailed mistakes and operation failures of an ordinary person. Therefore, companies should recruit experts on information security. Our center established the "Security Solution Service Company" as a means of financing because we are actually a nongovernmental organization. Our company fixes and re-establishes websites and computer networks.
- Can your company offer 100-percent protection?
We're experts. Hence, we can give a guarantee of 90 to 95 percent. Unreliable computer networks are caused by the people who did it. Companies always hire people without enough knowledge as website makers. But only experts who are officially certified do network jobs in many foreign countries. Centers which are identical to ours operate in many countries. Companies turn to those centers and recruit them to make computer networks and systems.
- How about the information security of state-owned and financial organizations?
Banks take appropriate measures. They have to protect themselves because they have online banking systems. I don't know how small banks protect theirs. Today, every company, not only banks, should have knowledge of information security. They think that when a computer turns off automatically is normal. But this is most probably a cyber attack.
- Is there any legal punishment against cyber attacks?
Our current law is obviously out-of-date. Hackers do not have accountability in Mongolia's criminal law. There's only one article about this issue in the Law of Administrative Responsibility. Attacks won't disappear unless the government adopts a new law on information security and cyber safety. For example, a citizen of Argentina hacked the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA and other governmental organizations, stole secret files, and made them public. As a result of this crime, America suffered huge losses. America searched for this criminal for about a year and found him. But there's no law against hacking in Argentina. It was impossible to punish him because he did not commit any crime in Argentina. I'm afraid that Mongolia won't be able to punish hackers because we have the same case. Hackers can enter all of the companies' networks. Actually, one company had equipment which costs 9,999,999 MNT as inputted in its financial system. But someone hacked their system, changed the equipment's cost to 9,999 MNT, and bought it. There are many hackers who hack systems this way.
- Last year, the websites of the Police Authority as well as Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology were hacked. Who hacked these websites?
I don't know who hacked them. We did find out about the many IP addresses that were traced to Malaysia, Iran, and Indonesia. But it is impossible to know whether these IP addresses are true or not. There's no hacker who attacks from his or her real IP address in the world. They use fake IPs or hack through somebody else's computers.
- Which countries are hackers from who tend to attack Mongolia?
Mostly China. Also, Russia and the USA.
- Why do they attack Mongolia? Is it possible to determine what their real purpose is?
We can't find out the purpose. They might attack government websites in order to get information. On the other hand, they might be doing research to know Mongolia's "holes" in the Internet. Moreover, most hackers propagate viruses and pressure companies by breaking down their networks.
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POSCO seeking to develop clean energy in Mongolia
SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's leading steelmaker POSCO said Sunday it is moving to develop a new type of clean energy in resource-rich Mongolia together with a local company there.
POSCO said it has joined hands with MCS Group, one of the largest private companies in Mongolia, to start a coal-to-liquid (CTL) business in the country and is in the process of obtaining approval from Ulan Bator.
MONGOLIA'S CASHMERE FASHION SUCCESS
EBRD helps Mongolia's cashmere industry grow at home and reach new markets abroad
August 22 (EBRD) Just as Mongolia is one of the world's largest producers of cashmere, Ulaanbaatar, with its showrooms piled high with cardigans, dresses, scarves, hats and pashminas, can claim to be the fibre's fashion capital.
The quality of Mongolian cashmere is excellent, and its price very competitive compared to other producer countries. Mongolia may be far away from the luxury fabric's main consumers, wealthy Westerners, but the world's fashion industry is increasingly interested. And Mongolian cashmere garment producers are trying to seize the moment.
"Cashmere is probably my favourite Mongolian business success story," said Olivier Descamps, the EBRD Managing Director for Turkey, Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. "We were one of the first international lenders to get involved in the industry. The EBRD saw its potential right away, after the beginning of our operations in the country in 2006.
"Apart from mineral resources, cashmere is Mongolia's only other significant export. What they needed was to raise the quality of their product. And we thought of several ways to help."
Mongolia produces about a fifth of the global supply of raw cashmere. At about US$ 45 per kilo of raw material, it is a reliable source of income for nomadic herders, bolstering traditional lifestyles threatened by rapid urbanisation. In fact, the ratio of goats to people in the country has quadrupled since the fall of communism and now stands at around six to one.
But because goats, unlike cattle, can graze a pasture to death, there is a clear limit to the sustainable production of raw cashmere.
So the industry started to look for ways to add value by increasing the quality of manufactured garments. For that, factories needed to buy better equipment and improve skills, in particular in the design and finishing of clothes.
The EBRD has been an important player in advising the local industry. Aza Ulziitogtokh, a principal banker in the Bank's manufacturing and services team, said: "We reckoned that after the financial crisis, global players in luxury products would be looking to outsource even more of their garment manufacture to emerging markets.
"Mongolia has one of the best-quality cashmere fibres and a significant potential to develop brand differentiation from China. We decided to try helping our clients, Ezio Foradori and Gobi, to increase the value on their exported cashmere products".
Set up in 1981 and privatised in 2007, Gobi is fully vertically integrated, purchasing raw materials from farmers, cleaning wool, spinning yarn, weaving fabric and then making garments, both knitted and tailored. Today, it produces as many as half a million pieces of knitwear each year.
In the past, the company made most of its garments to order for foreign clients. But the new management decided to add value by increasing production of higher-quality clothes made to their own design.
The EBRD financed the purchase of Italian equipment, and through its Small Business Support team, the Bank brought in international experts to advise the company on how to improve their quality control.
Gobi also started collaborating with an Italian designer, Saverio Palatella, and began moving away from dated 1970s patterns. While not sold under its own brand in Liberty or Bloomingdale's, Gobi cashmere is increasingly popular worldwide, especially in Russia, and can even be found in a small shop in Washington, DC.
But rising domestic sales are the greatest source of pride for Gobi's CEO Baatarsaikhan Tsagaach. The increase has been driven partly by foreigners working in the mining sector, and partly by the purchasing power of the growing Mongolian middle class.
"Mongolians have global tastes now and our domestic customers have grown to expect the best, so we are going for more fashionable designs and cooperating with designers like Saverio Palatella not only for export but also for our domestic sales," he said. Thanks to these improvements, Gobi's sales doubled between 2007 and 2012.
Some companies have built their business strategy purely around export. At the smaller end of the industry is another client of the EBRD, a local garment manufacturer with an Italian name – Ezio Foradori – which shows the direction of the company's thinking.
The company makes knitted menswear for Dunhill. Recently, Max Mara paid an introductory visit to the manufacturer. Apart from showing in one store in Ulaanbaatar, most of Ezio Foradori's output goes abroad.
Cashmere begins life as the downy winter undercoat of a goat. One animal, shedding its winter coat from March to June, produces about 150 grams of fleece. While Mongolian cashmere fibres are one to two microns thicker than the finest varieties from China's Inner Mongolia, they are also about 10 to 15 per cent longer as a result of the harsher winters.
This is why China – a global leader in the supply of cashmere – imports Mongolian raw cashmere which it then mixes with its own, shorter-fibred variety, to improve strength.
Herders and cooperatives sell raw cashmere to factories like Gobi where it is graded, washed, de-haired and processed to produce beautiful white or grey clouds of fluff, lighter than a feather and luxurious to the touch.
As for every agricultural commodity, quality dictates price and depends on seasonal conditions. In response to increased interest from abroad, Mongolia is establishing an internationally-recognised certification for cashmere.
Of course, not all Mongolian factories work with international houses. Not all herders comb baby goat cashmere for luxury brands, and as yet few companies can afford to hire Italian designers. But times are changing. In addition to the Saverio Palatella range, Gobi has launched a separate collection of organic cashmere clothing.
"My parents always dressed me in Mongolian cashmere as a kid," said EBRD analyst Enerel Tumendemberel, a stylish woman in her 20s. "I've had Gobi clothes all my life. Now that I work for the EBRD, I am very proud that we can help the factory move towards higher quality.
"Mongolian cashmere needs more international recognition, so it would be great if more foreign fashion houses discovered it, but I also hope more Mongolians can afford to wear it every day."
World-leading laboratory giant opens Mongolia branch
August 25 (UB Post) The global laboratory giant, Bureau Veritas, officially opened its comprehensive laboratory in Ulaanbaatar last week. It is one of the largest multinational inspection, testing, and certification companies in the fields of quality, health, safety, and environment.
Bureau Veritas Inspection and Testing Mongolia Laboratory is the first coal laboratory in Mongolia which is fully under direct expatriate management and supervision. The coal laboratory as well as coal sample preparation facilities will initially be headed by expert laboratory managers from Australia to ensure that the laboratory operates at international standards.
The Ulaanbaatar Laboratory is supported by skilled, competent samplers and analysis personnel. It is due for ISO IEC 17025:2005 accreditation, and will meet the NATA Supplementary Requirements for Chemical Testing.
The comprehensively equipped coal testing facility is the first dedicated facility of its kind in Mongolia which will focus on the coal exploration industry to provide timely and accurate data that are required for the evaluation of new resource areas for both Greenfield and Brownfield projects.
The President in charge of North Asia for the Bureau Veritas Commodities Division, Sebastian Dannaud, said that all of the employees will be Mongolian in the near future.
Currently, new Mongolian employees are being trained by experts who have worked in the industry for over 25 years. President Dannaud added that the current facility built in Mongolia has state-of-the-art equipment. The laboratory can cover the full cycle of coal from exploration to commercial export. The comprehensive range of tests for coking coal includes its washability test, according to standards recognized by the major international capital markets.
B.Altsukh, the Director of the Coal Division of the Mineral Resource Authority and one of the distinguished guests at the laboratory's opening, said, "There are over 200 samples sent abroad for testing and confirmation. With Bureau Veritas in Mongolia, these samples don't need to be tested overseas because all of the services can be performed locally." He welcomed both Bureau Veritas' technical and monetary investment in Mongolia amid a turbulent economic environment. "I am confident that the Mongolian coal industry will have brighter days ahead with Bureau Veritas."
Aside from testing, inspection, and certification services, Bureau Veritas offers services and solutions to ensure that their clients' assets, products, infrastructure, and processes meet standards and regulations in terms of quality, health and safety, environmental protection, and social responsibility. At the end of 2012, the group had more than 59,000 employees in more than 1,330 offices and laboratories located in 140 countries.
Originally formed in Antwerp in 1828 as "Bureau de Renseignements pour les Assurances Maritimes" (Information Office for Maritime Insurance), the Bureau Veritas name was adopted in 1829. The company has its headquarters in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris-La Defense in France.
The core business of Bureau Veritas Mongolia is to service the technical needs of the local coal industry by providing analytical facilities, technical support, and consulting services. The new laboratory in Ulaanbaatar will ultimately employ more than 30 dedicated professionals. From this facility, they will provide various analytical and technical support services to the coal mining sector and other industries. These services include Exploration & Borecore Testing Services, Bulk Commodities Certification and Production, or Supply of On-Site Laboratories.
Mongolia is estimated to hold a geological coal reserve of 173.3 billion tons. At the moment, a total of 21.5 billion tons of coal have been confirmed, of which 2.6 billion tons were only from the first half of this year marking Mongolia among the top ten coal nations of the world. Mongolia excavates around 30 million tons of coal each year. Around 20 million are exported and the rest used for domestic power generation. Despite its vast mineral reserves, Mongolia only has around 20 laboratories that are recognized by international standard checkers, and only 10 can be used at the request of the private sector.
We asked Seetepalli Rao, the Country Manager of Bureau Veritas Mongolia, a few questions about their investment in Mongolia.
-What is Bureau Veritas Mongolia's advantage over other similar laboratories and companies?
-This is the first time Bureau Veritas is investing in Mongolia and we are happy to provide services for the Mongolian coal sector. Bureau Veritas is the leading coal analyzer in the world and is the leading coal laboratory in around 60 countries including Australia, Indonesia, India, Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, and USA. We are also present in the African region. We are famous for our services in mining sample study and analysis, as well as export standard regulation. I'm also proud to say that we are the leading coal laboratories in the world's biggest coal mining countries such as Australia and Mozambique. The laboratory that is opening in Mongolia will be equipped with all of the latest technology. We will verify standards for all stages of coal development, from exploration and excavation to production and sales. We will adhere to international standards all the way through.
-As far human resources are concerned, where are your specialists trained? What will be the contribution of local specialists?
-In the initial phase of the laboratory and in coal testing, we will employ laboratory specialists and experts from Australia. We will employ more than 30 graduates from Mongolia and train them so that, in the future, they will able to work in any laboratory around the world. We brought two specialists from Australia as trainers. They have worked in Bureau Veritas in Australia and Mozambique, and have 33 years of experience.
-In terms of capacity, what is the laboratory's advantage?
-At the moment, Mongolia is lacking in coal analysis in many ways. Compared to other laboratories, Bureau Veritas specializes in thorough analysis. The laboratory will have equipment from the top manufacturer, the Leco firm. This means that sampling and cataloguing will be very accurate. Our laboratory has the capacity to analyze around 400 samples. We have received quite a lot of pre-orders; the analysis work is just the beginning.
-Will there be more investment in Mongolia in the future?
-Of course, there will be further investment, but first we have to train our staff. Bureau Veritas will not just stop at a coal laboratory but plan to establish metallurgy, petroleum, and mineral laboratories. We will also specialize in risk management, and help companies meet international standards.
-Bureau Veritas is a very prestigious company in the world. Do you think the samples you analyze and verify will have a better market value?
-Bureau Veritas is the leading mineral analysis laboratory in the world. We always issue a certificate verifying the quality and standard of the product, so it will instill trust among buyers and help our clients reach and expand to other markets as well.
Association of Corporate Travel Executives reaches out to emerging Asian economies
August 22 (TTG Asia) LEVERAGING its network strength of Fortune 500 companies and multinational corporation members interested in expanding to emerging Asian economies, Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) has moved into markets such as Mongolia, Pakistan and Kazakhstan.
Benson Tang, regional director, Asia, ACTE, said the association had signed up conglomerates in Mongolia and Pakistan as new members, and he was participating in a global travel industry conference in Kazakhstan in October.
Tang said: "ACTE members such as Rio Tinto, Microsoft, Simons, for example, have organised education tours to Ulan Bator in Mongolia, while we are using our connections in India to move into Pakistan.
"There are a number of conglomerates in these emerging markets which do not understand why it is important to manage corporate travel yet, and ACTE will be organising events and seminars to educate them."
In Kazakhstan, Tang said he would be meeting a representative of Astana Airlines to introduce the national carrier to ACTE and the global corporate travel community.
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Mongolian Properties Real Estate Report 2013
HALLA GONSOL LLC TO CONSTRUCT NEW UB ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
Ulaanbaatar, August 16 /MONTSAME/ The "Halla Gonsol" LLC has been selected as an executor of the project on constructing a new office for the Ulaanbaatar city Administration.
The tender has run in accordance with the action rule of redeveloping ger (national swelling) areas.
Accordingly, the new office will consist of four blocks to shelter the Citizens' Representative Khural, the Administration Office, a Conference Hall and associated agencies. Near the building, 50 thousand square meters' car park and 125 thousand square meters' green parks will be created.
The Administration building will be erected in the 6th khoroo (smallest administrative unit in city), Songinokhairkhan district, pursuant to the 2013-2016 Action Programme of City Mayor on decentralization of the city and developing multi-centered city.
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Expert calls for adjusting China's investment mode in Mongolia
August 23 (China Daily) China should adjust cooperative strategies with Mongolia to promote relations between the two countries, officials and experts urged.
The government should help improve infrastructure in Mongolia and help large Chinese enterprises establish a presence in the country, said Gao Shuqing, former ambassador to Mongolia.
Gao was speaking at the Fifth Economy and Trade Fair between China, Mongolia and Russia in Erenhot, in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Tuesday.
The event saw the participation of 376 enterprises from China, Mongolia and Russia and 25 cooperative agreements, worth $1.58 billion, were signed .
It is estimated that Mongolia will register a 15.2 percent growth in GDP by the end of the year, according to The Economist magazine, which will make it the fastest growing economy around the world.
Gao also called for further contact to help build greater awareness and trust between China and Mongolia to avoid misconceptions toward Chinese enterprises. He expressed hopes that the Mongolian government will continue to develop a market-friendly economy.
The region, in northern China, borders Mongolia and Russia and has many advantages, said Li Xin, director of the Russia and Middle Asia Research Center of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.
"If we could enhance border transportation, trade and cooperation would be made even more convenient and efficient," said Li.
The region has a 9,000-km border, of which 4,700 km is shared by China and Mongolia.
China to cooperate in the protection of Mongolian merchants
August 20 (news.mn) The Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection have signed an agreement to help regulate Mongolian merchants whose rights have been violated in China.
The Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection, a regulatory agency of the government of Mongolia, largely focuses on observing obstacles during the realization of fair competition law. It learns lessons from practices in foreign countries, updates information and improved the potential of qualified personnel in the sector.
As a part of the actions undertaken by the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection, the Deputy Head of the Authority, A.Ariunbold, and the Chinese Commerce Vice Minister signed a cooperation agreement between the two organizations in Beijing.
During the meeting the Chinese counterpart promised to consider protecting Mongolian merchants who run business in China if their rights are violated.
The two organizations first started their collaboration in 2008. Since then Chinese representatives have visited Mongolia several times making various efforts to adhere to the duties outlined in the agreement.
Malaysia court overturns Mongolia model murder convictions
August 23 (BBC) A Malaysian court has overturned the convictions of two police officers for the murder of a Mongolian woman linked to a senior political aide.
The woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, a model, was shot dead and her body blown up with explosives in 2006.
The two policemen, who were members of a high-security detail for leading Malaysians, were subsequently sentenced to death in 2009.
The Attorney General's office said it would appeal against the ruling.
Correspondents say the acquittals are likely to revive allegations of a political conspiracy.
A former associate of Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged in connection with the murder but later acquitted. The associate, defence analyst Abdul Razak, had admitted to an affair with the victim.
Malaysia's opposition had repeatedly sought to link Mr Najib to the case but in 2007 he denied any connection, saying he had never met Ms Shaariibuu.
The two policemen, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, had been acquitted and discharged, their lawyer said.
"They are free men now," defence lawyer Hazman Ahmad told AFP news agency.
Ordering the two men to be released, the Court of Appeals ruled that gaps in the evidence had been overlooked in their trial.
These included whether the officers had access to explosives, whether they intended to kill her and whether they were even present at the murder site, Associated Press reports.
Malaysia sets free two in Mongolia murder scandal - Bikya Masr, August 24
Lawyers of Altantuya's kin to speed up civil suit after murder trial sentence overturned - The Malay Mail Online, August 23
Altantuya's dad very UPSET over acquittal of Najib's bodyguards – Malaysia Chronicle, August 23
Altantuya's father upset over acquittal, wants Mongolia to intervene – The Malaysian Insider, August 23
'Endless Possibilities' let convicted Altantuya killers walk, infers Kit Siang – The Malay Mail Online, August 23
Belarus to showcase over 120 solutions in Mongolia
MINSK, 19 August (BelTA) – Belarus will present over 120 technical and engineering solutions at the national exhibition in Mongolia, BelTA learnt from Yuri Lukashevich, Aide to the Chairman of the State Committee for Science and Technology of Belarus.
"The solutions will be presented by means of samples, tablets, multimedia presentations and advertising materials," Yuri Lukashevich said.
The exposition will feature new solutions in mechanical engineering, new technologies (including laser and nano-technologies), materials, manufacturing equipment and instruments, construction and power engineering, software, healthcare, agriculture, fertilizers, treatment of organic waste, science and education.
A Belarus-Mongolia business forum and a business match-making session will be held within the framework of the national exposition of Belarus in Mongolia.
The national exposition of Belarus will be held in Ulan Bator on 5-8 September 2013. Belarusian scientists will present over 120 projects, of which 96 projects will be presented by the Education Ministry, 26 by the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. The collective booth of the State Committee for Science and Technology will comprise 17 organizations, including 12 organizations affiliated with the Education Ministry and 5 organizations affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences.
CPC official meets Mongolian delegation
BEIJING, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Zhao Leji met with a delegation headed by Mongolian Democratic Party general secretary Ts.Oyundari here on Wednesday.
Zhao, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said he was appreciative of the Mongolian Democratic Party's contribution to friendly cooperation between the two countries.
The CPC as well as the Chinese government looks at China-Mongolia ties from a strategic perspective and will make joint efforts with the Mongolian side to advance the strategic partnership between the two countries in a healthy and stable way, said Zhao, also head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.
Oyundari said the Mongolian Democratic Party attached great importance to the friendship with the CPC and is willing to expand exchanges and cooperation with the Chinese side to further enhance the bilateral relationship.
ACWF VP, Mongolia Democratic Party Leader Discuss Women's Work
August 23 (All-China Women's Federation) Vice President and Member of the Secretariat of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) Meng Xiaosi exchanged opinions on women's development with a delegation from Mongolia's New Democratic Party (Mogi: New? Just Democratic Party), headed by the party's General Secretary Ts. Oyundari, during their meeting in Beijing on August 22, 2013.
Meng introduced the current situation in Chinese women's development and the ACWF's recent important efforts. She emphasized that Sino-Mongolian women's communication and exchanges play a positive role in promoting Sino-Mongolian ties. She added that China is looking to strengthen Sino-Mongolian women's cooperation and communication in the future.
Oyundari said that Mongolia's New Democratic Party attaches great importance to family construction and women's and children's development. She added that she hoped women's organizations in China and Mongolia will have more opportunities to work together.
The delegation visited China at the invitation of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Kuwait Amir thanks Mongolian Pres. for hospitality
KUWAIT, Aug 19 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Amir of the State of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable to Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj on Monday to thank him for the hospitality and warm reception during his stay in Mongolia.
Sheikh Sabah appreciated Elbegdorj's acceptance of his lunch invitation and the brotherly meeting they held, during which they exchanged views over issues of mutual interest and how to boost bilateral ties.
MONGOLIA TO COLLABORATE WITH RUSSIA IN REGULATING RADIO FREQUENCY
Ulaanbaatar, August 18 /MONTSAME/ The cabinet backed six draft agreements and then decided to have the PM release an order on authorizing a related official to sign them.
These agreements will be established between Mongolia's Information, Communications Technology and Post Authority and Russia's monitoring services of the communications, IT, social communications sectors at the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media.
In accordance with these treaties, the two countries are to cooperate in delivering the high quality and reliable services of radio, television, mobile phones near Mongolia-Russia border, in regulating and monitoring together a radio frequency, and in creating a reliable network of communications.
FOUR VIETNAMESE DEPORTED
Ulaanbaatar, August 15 /MONTSAME/ On Thursday, four Vietnamese citizens were deported after the Immigration Agency had carried out its routine inspection in some places.
These Vietnamese had been working in car repairing shops with no legal right to work here.
By first eight months of this year, a total of 951 foreigners from twenty countries have been deported because they had counterfeit documents, breached visa terms, overstayed the visa period and were working illegally.
Confucius Institute looks to local recruitment in Mongolia
July 10 (CCTV) While some students are learning traditional culture on their home soil, a lack of Chinese teachers abroad continues to be a problem. The shortage is a lingering issue for Confucius Institutes which have opened internationally.
Cui Batu is teaching Chinese here in Mongolia. Sent to the country due to his prior understanding and knowledge of Mongolian culture, he says that his experience at the Confucius Institute has been hard work.
Cui Batu said, "I've been here for three years. But my schedule is so full that I haven't had a single night out to see Ulan Bator. I can only look through my window."
For the past three years, Cui's everyday life in Mongolia has been nothing but commuting from school to his dorm. However, he and his friends always manage to use homesickness as fuel for work.
Ma Xiujie, Martial Arts Teacher, Confucius Institute, Ulan Bator, said, "The move you have just seen is inspired by the Chinese poem 'look down and see my homesickness'. This is really something I came up with when I was missing home. But this is the life that I've chosen."
A fixed international living subsidy is another issue for these teachers who have to deal with varying, and often inflated, prices in different countries. An apple that costs one or two yuan in China may cost 10 in Mongolia.
Xu Haiyan, volunteer of Confucius Institute, Ulan Bator, said, "Fruit and vegetables are much more expensive here than in China. Fruit is sold in number rather than kilo. So I eat a lot less here."
The Confucius Institute in Thailand's Chulalongkorn University was co-founded with Peking University. The shortage of Chinese teachers is a difficult problem to solve.
Fu Zengyou, dean of Confucius Institute of Chulalongkorn University, said, "The workloads are heavy here. Teachers have to give lessons and host extra-curricular activities. Meanwhile they have to make time for their own research and papers."
Confucius Institutes are implementing initiatives to ramp up the scale of local recruitment. A training program involving 300 people has already started in Thailand, so hopefully in the future these issues can be resolved.
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A Tank of Warm Water Brews a New Development Tea in Mongolia's South Gobi Desert
Circle of Blue senior editor Keith Schneider wraps up his recent trip to Mongolia.
KHAN BOGH, Mongolia, August 19 (Circle of Blue) — "And this," says Battsengel Lkhamdoorov, a South Gobi herder who once managed 600 animals, "is our new spring."
Laughing, he lifted the lid of a brown steel box, its hard lines unusual in a landscape of layered sand and rounded clouds. The tank rests on four metal legs, contains about 1,000 gallons of water, is filled twice a week, and is small enough to fit in the bed of a pickup. It's located along the south fence guarding the 80-square-kilometer Oyu Tolgoi hard rock copper, gold, and molybdenum mine.
Had the tank been set in one of the dusty towns in the South Gobi it would not have attracted much attention. The fact that it's here — in a landscape of sand, tufted grass, and hot sun — and that it was brought here by Rio Tinto, one of the world's largest mining companies, has turned the unadorned brown metal box into an object of regional significance, and perhaps a lesson in the new principles at work in 21st century water management and resource development.
Last month the 80-square-kilometer Oyu Tolgoi mine delivered the first shipments of concentrated ore to market, the product of an expanding open pit. The shipment culminated a decade of mine development and would not have been possible without the state-of-the-art water supply, treatment, monitoring, and recycling system that Oyu Tolgoi installed.
That closed loop system was designed and engineered under the oversight of Mark Newby, Oyu Tolgoi's 42-year-old environment manager and a British-trained civil engineer. I talked to Newby on Thursday and learned that water supply and management are viewed by mine managers as a priority equal in importance as digging and processing the ore.
The brown tank, though, lies beyond the closed loop. It is an outlier that is giving the mine's leadership and a number of the region's herders a shared headache. It is part of a much disputed water management project to divert the ephemeral rain-fed flow of a dry stream bed, the Undai River, away from the mine's open pit. Right now, early in the mine's development, the river's dry channel skirts the pit's edge. But as the mine expands over time and the pit widens, its southeastern edge will eventually meet the Undai's path and the river's waters will pour into the mine.
Oyu Tolgoi set out to fix that problem by digging a new channel that bypasses the mine pit. But doing so also means halting the flow of water to Boor Ovu, a natural spring in the river channel that herders have used to water their livestock for generations. Newby and his staff proposed to fix that problem by developing a manmade spring several kilometers downstream and outside the mine's fence line.
The company's consultants suggested placing the manmade spring 500-meters from the fence so that wild animals could take a drink. That spot is now marked by the brown water tank, which makes it a bit of an eyesore, and a summary of distaste for the mine and its effect on their lives that some herders here openly express.
Local government officials also aren't thrilled. The region's governor recently stopped construction of the Undai diversion pending a review by a citizens working group of the manmade spring.
Oyu Tolgoi had already built most of what was needed to change the river channel, and a year ago it closed the spring. Six weeks ago, the company completed the construction of wells and a pipeline that delivers the waters of the ruined natural spring to a spot in the Undai channel just outside the perimeter fence.
The new wells provide a light stream of water to the riverbed. They also make the brown water tank superfluous.
"The tank was put as a replacement water source until we finished," Newby told me on Thursday. "We have a new water source there now inside the mine's licensed area. Maybe we need to see whether the tank serves any additional benefit."
But the tank remains, heating up in the desert. Until its fate is decided it will attract attention and ridicule. On the day of my visit, Battsengel showed me the tank's interior. Desert light reflected from the water surface. On the outside a stopcock valve and a faucet curved over the closest end of a steel watering trough. Battsnagel leaned down and turned the valve. Solar-heated warm water ran out, more brown than the desert sand.
"Our new spring," Battsengel said again. This time he wasn't laughing.
Almost 20 years ago, western mining companies began probing the mineral-rich ground of this part of the South Gobi, not far from the border with China. The main elements of the economy and human culture at the time were goats, sheep, horses, camels, and considerable financial stress. Mongolia was emerging from decades of socialist government and building a new market-based economy.
Through all of the stress, though, herders here could count on having enough water, especially at Boor Ovu. The spring was almost sacred, said Battsengel, a place where mothers gave birth and children played in shallow water. The water's temperature and flow also resisted the brutal Gobi winter and did not freeze until January. That made it possible to water livestock through some of the coldest months.
Shutting off Boor Ovu's flow and moving it south is viewed as more than an insult by some herders. They say it's an outrage.
On Wednesday this week Battsengel stood beside the mine's tall, barbed wire-topped metal fence, and showed me the two wells that replace the natural spring. They produced a small stream of fresh water that drained into the Undai's dry river bed, generating a shallow and temporary pond. A hundred meters from the well the pond turned to mud. A bit further, the mud-dark surface vanished in the light brown sand of the Gobi.
Perhaps at its core, there's nothing terribly new about the basics of this narrative. The story of a big resource company pushing native people around is as old as western civilization. The United States, after all, was built with slave muscle and on land seized from Native American tribes. The U.S. industrialized in the late 19th and through 60 years of the 20th centuries without giving much thought to the consequences of its plants and their massive wastes to human health, land, or water.
Except the brown water tank, the new wells, the local government oversight, and Rio Tinto's responses indicate that resource development in the 21st century looks to be different. Just how different was displayed in full on Thursday here when Rio Tinto, the mine's controlling partner, announced it was laying off 1,700 of its 5,000 Oyu Tolgoi mine workers because it has not gained national government approval for a $5 billion mine expansion.
Battsnagel and the other seven members of Gobi Soil, their year-old non-profit, as well as their allies in Ulan Bator, can legitimately lay claim to having a tiny bit of influence in that decision. Here in Khan Bogd, a former herding town that has become a dusty mining town of perhaps 800 residents, the new rules of industrial development are in full view.
With instincts and toughness honed by the desert, and with remarkable persistence, Battsengel and his herding friends here have been leaning hard on the owners of Oyu Tolgoi, and the local and national governments. They have been helped considerably by the national and global networking made possible by the Internet, and by technical expertise provided by non-profits outside Mongolia, particularly the
Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque. I'm traveling here with Paul Robinson, who's worked at the center since 1976 and is one of the most expert mining policy and reclamation experts in the U.S. Paul is helping Gobi Soil understand the dynamics of drilling, soil, hydrogeology, mining, and reclamation.
Gobi Soil's goal is to significantly improve how the giant mine manages its water. They are making headway. The newly elected Democratic government earlier this year expressed concern about the $5 billion mine expansion, which involves a form of underground mining that, among other things, could leave a deep crater in the desert large enough to swallow most of Manhattan.
Rio Tinto, faced with the government delay and softening of global metals prices, announced last week that they had put off the expansion indefinitely.
Mines are an issue in Mongolia, arguably the biggest issue at the moment. This week, a member of the Mongolian Parliament held a news conference to report on steps his committee is taking to more tightly manage environmental protection measures in the mining sector.
And prompted by a letter from Battsengel and the other members of Gobi Soil that critiqued Oyu Tolgoi's environmental management and the damage they said it was causing to water resources, one of the mine's largest global funders is convening a Compliance Assessment group. Among the presumed tasks of the gathering is for mine and environmental experts to review how well mine officials are adhering to water and ecological safety standards required by Mongolia and the international banks that financed the mine's construction and operation.
Gobi Soil receives a minimum of three seats on the compliance assessment panel. It's not satisfied, and is calling for the same number of seats promised to the Oyu Tolgoi ownership group.
What's so clear to me after decades of reporting on these sorts of struggles in the United States, and more recently around the world, is that new norms are in effect for resource development in Mongolia.
They are much different than those that operate in China and India, two other developing nations where I've spent time on assignment for Circle of Blue, and where we discovered massive disregard for communities, public health, and the environment.
Here in Mongolia the principles and values of civic and economic fairness, and ecological safety, are alive. They reach more deeply into native communities, governments, and front offices than the world yet recognizes.
The basic formula of the old 20th century debate, environment versus economy, seems to have evolved here. New ingredients are being added in the first decades of the 21st century to produce something important and nuanced. Caveats abound and will be included in upcoming reports for Circle of Blue. Still, success here has the real potential to be measured as much by ecological security and cultural longevity as it is by jobs and economic wealth.
The desert south of Khan Bogh is a proving ground, and a lone brown water tank is its apt symbol. It's where a tiny group of herders is challenging their national government and global mining companies to operate with new priorities. Both are responding. It's where the world might see a developing country come close to actually achieving a new environmental and financial order.
MTU AUTHORITIES MEET ILO REGIONAL DIRECTOR
Ulaanbaatar, August 15 /MONTSAME/ Vice president of the Mongolian Trade Unions (MTU) S.Erdenebat and the MTU secretary-general G.Adiya met Thursday Mr Yoshiteru Uramoto, Regional Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) for Asia and the Pacific.
The sides shared views on a present situation of employment in Mongolia and other related issues. The sides concluded results of their cooperation, which started in 1990s, and designed further cooperation mattersl.
Present at this meeting were Ms Anna Herbert, a Director of ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia; Min King, a senior adviser to the Regional Director, and P.Bolormaa, the ILO Representative in Mongolia.
Mongolia: Contortionists Aim for UNESCO Recognition
By Pearly Jacob
August 23 (EurasiaNet) For some, a contortionist is nothing more than a freak-show act, doing something unnatural, not a thing of grace or beauty. But in Mongolia, flexing and bending the body into seemingly impossible positions has been perfected into what some call a uniquely Mongolian tradition. And these advocates of the art form are seeking international recognition.
Contortion is a highpoint at daily hour-long recitals of Mongolian traditions at the State Drama Theatre, a stout ornamental Soviet-era building in downtown Ulaanbaatar. The applause begins when a female contortionist opens her act with a perfect handstand, her lower back arched until it almost touches the back of her head, legs delicately curved in the air with toes stretched to form an elegant "S" shape.
The clapping grows louder as the contortionist, gripping a mouthpiece mounted on a pole with her teeth, twists her body until her legs hover in front of her face, arms outstretched to maintain balance. "Mongolian contortion performances are choreographed to show the beauty of the human body. We want contortion to be perceived like a classical art form, just like ballet," said Norovsambuu Budbazar, one of Mongolia's best-known contortion trainers.
Norovsambuu, who goes just by her first name, believes that Mongolians have honed their contortion skills over hundreds of years, linking them to a local folk dance called Biyelgee, which requires kneeling dancers to bend backwards until their upper backs nearly touch the floor.
"There are records from the 17th century about the first theater called 'Saran Khukhuu' started by Dazanravjaa. It's said that this theater had women who could move like they had no joints," said Norovsambuu, referring to a historical Buddhist lama respected as a saint, poet and playwright in Mongolia.
But opinions differ on the historical legacy of Mongolian contortion. "It's not exactly something we inherited for hundreds of years, but we did manage to adopt it and turn it into a national art from," said Nomintuya Baasankhuu, a former contortionist and art historian at the Arts Council of Mongolia.
Baasankhuu believes contortion really emerged as a performance act with the establishment of the Mongolian State Circus in 1941, which introduced its first official contortionist, Tsend-ayush (who like most Mongolians at the time used only a single name). "She is the one who really started the first contortion school in Mongolia. Later there was Majigsuren, the second contortionist of Mongolia. With her contortion became enriched, not only with flexibility but also with being strong and being able to balance the body," Baasankhuu said.
In 1958, Norovsambuu joined the circus as a nine-year-old after being spotted by Majigsuren as a potential talent. "All the different techniques we have, different positions and choreographs, really come from these three people," said Baasankhuu, the historian.
Today at 65, Norovsambuu is known as the last living legend of Mongolian contortion. She believes Mongolia's dedication to contortion has given the art a unique place in the world.
Mongolian contortionists have become headlining acts in world-famous circus companies like Canada's Cirque du Soleil. Since 1994, a total of 37 Mongolian artists have signed on with the Cirque du Soleil, of whom 29 were hired as contortionists. By email, a Cirque du Soleil spokesperson wrote that while Mongolia has a strong circus heritage in several acrobatic disciplines including teeterboard and Russian bars, the country's contortion tradition is unique. "Mongolia has a specialty of contortion that we understand to be a result of physical aptitude and strong traditional coaches," he said.
American artist Nancy Kate Siefker, a trained gymnast and ballet dancer, started contortion classes in San Francisco in 2008 after locating a Mongolian trainer in the city. This year she made her second trip to Mongolia for a short intensive training session following her teacher's advice. Siefker admits that watching Mongolian contortion dispelled notions of what she previously viewed as a sideshow act.
"It's not about the sideshow aspect of contortion – it's not about dislocating your arm or fitting into a box or fitting through a tennis racket. It's about dance, it's about telling a story […] it's about evoking emotion," Siefker said.
While Norovsambuu is happy for the recognition Mongolian contortion is gaining internationally, she is increasingly worried that Mongolia will lose its claim to the art form because hundreds of Mongolian contortionists now work as performers and trainers abroad. "Other countries learn contortion from Mongolia," she said. Contortion by itself might not disappear, but Mongolian contortion might. There are many countries that want to claim contortion as their own."
In 2011, Norovsambuu headed a steering committee to nominate Mongolian contortion for inclusion in UNESCO's list of intangible heritage, a UN program that allocates funds to safeguard and raise awareness about the significance of cultural traditions around the globe. UNESCO has yet to make a decision on the Mongolian application. A UNESCO spokesperson did not respond to EurasiaNet.org's request for comment.
Baasankhuu from the Arts Council, who helped draft the UNESCO bid, believes that though many people in the performance arts world already accept contortion as a Mongolian art form, a nod from UNESCO would be a boost. "UNESCO recognition can reassure [the world] that there is dedication from the people of Mongolia to contortion and it should be recognized as a Mongolian heritage," she said.
Play for today: supporting children with disabilities in Mongolia
August 21 (UNICEF) Temuulen is a nine-year-old boy with disabilities living in Nalaikh, a small town near Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia. It is a coal mining district, with a mixed-ethnic community including Mongolians and Kazakhs. Temuulen has a rare genetic condition that causes muscle wasting. The symptoms started when he was three and have got progressively worse.
Once a week, Temuulen attends a playgroup for children with disabilities at the local hospital, run by the Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities. There is one room with toys and learning materials for the children, and another for the parents to meet and socialise. "I like playing with toy cars. My best friend is Zulbayar," he says.
A few months ago, Temuulen won second prize in a 'shagai' competition. This is a traditional Mongolian game played with the ankle bones of sheep or goats. The bones are painted in bright colours and thrown like dice. Each bone lands in one of four positions, called horse, camel, sheep and goat. "I won a silver medal in the ankle bones competition," he recalls. "It was a lot of fun and I was excited to win. The competition was on a winter day. There was a great snowstorm outside."
Tumuulen lives with his mother Tuya, who cares for him while his father goes to work in Ulaanbaatar. The family used to have their own 'ger' tent but lost it in a fire three years ago. Temuulen was at home at the time but luckily he was in the outside toilet and survived the blaze. Since then, they have lived in a ger belonging to another family. Tuya has four other grown up children. She used to be a librarian but left work to look after Temuulen. Now, the family has a small business making wooden furniture.
Tuya is an active member of the Parents' Association. She comes regularly to the playgroup, which provides a break from her and Temuulen's daily routine. "The club helps the parents and children forget their problems for a while," she says.
Tuya has many problems to forget, not least her son's life expectancy. "My oldest son had the same condition," she says. "He was bed ridden for five years. Eventually his heart stopped and he died. He was only 13 years old. I'm really afraid the same thing will happen to Temuulen. He has the same symptoms and the doctors say there is no cure."
UNICEF is supporting the local government and Parents' Association to help children like Temuulen and their families. "In Nalaikh, we provide training for parents in the association to become peer counsellors," Mandal Urtnasan, head of the child friendly communities programme at UNICEF Mongolia, says. "Each parent 'adopts' ten other families. They provide them with advice and support, and make sure they are able to access social services."
In other districts, UNICEF provides equipment for family doctors to help them diagnose disabilities at an early age, improving the child's chance for effective treatment. "We also work closely with local authorities and policy makers on the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream health, education and family support services," Mandal adds. "This is part of our strategy to address inequality by targeting the most vulnerable children and communities."
Nine-year-old Zulbayar is Temuulen's best friend. The boys met at the playgroup for children with disabilities. As a baby, Zulbayar had a stroke that paralysed the left side of his body. He is now confined to a wheelchair and moves in a jerky, uncontrolled manner. But his mind is sound and he can communicate with his family and friends.
Zulbayar shares a ger tent with his parents and five-year-old sister Hulan, in a yard next to a meat processing factory. His mother Oyunchimeg is now expecting her third child. Outside the ger, a new road is being constructed. Despite the noise and the dust, the family are happy at the prospect of more business. "We receive animal hides from herders and sell them," Oyunchimeg says. "We plan to open a small shop along the new road."
Oyunchimeg runs a local NGO called 'Fire and Spirit' for children with disabilities, and is also a member of the Parents' Association. She helps organise events for children with disabilities, including ankle bones games and chess competitions. "The children are very talented," she says. "They have a lot to say and like to sing and dance."
UNICEF helped the Parents' Association do an assessment of children with disabilities in the district. "Some parents hide their disabled children away because they feel ashamed," Oyunchimeg continues. "The UNICEF tools helped us reveal more children. We now know there are 80 children with disabilities in this district."
Although at the moment Zulbayar's disability is more severe than his friend's, there is one crucial difference between the two boys: while Temuulen is getting worse, Zulbayar is getting better. "We sent Zulbayar to a rehabilitation centre in Ulaanbaatar," his mother says. "It helped a lot. Now he can sit up on his own and speak. He says: 'Mum, I finished my exercises'. The doctor says there have been a lot of improvements. Eventually he should be able to stand up on his own."
With his future looking brighter, Zulbayar is due to start boarding school in Ulaanbaatar in the autumn. "He is very excited about going to school," Oyunchimeg says, smiling. "He already has his notebooks and school bag."
Andy Brown is Communication Consultant for UNICEF East Asia and Pacific
UK Boy Band "Blue" to Play in Mongolia
August 22 (UB Post) World-famous English band and Brit award winner "Blue" will come to Mongolia. The "Blue" band, which is well-known by their "All Rise," "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word," and "Fly by" singles, will give a concert in Ulaanbaatar upon the invitation of the "EVENTO" company. The concert, where "Blue" will sing their hit songs, will take place at the Central Stadium on September 14.
On February 26, 2013, their London concert was scheduled to be held in the "Hammersmith Apollo" theater for only one time. But the concert tickets were sold out after only two minutes. Their producer then decided to organize a world tour instead.
Producer and media magnate Simon Cowell put the band together with Lee Ryan and Anthony Costa in 2000. With Duncan James and Simon Webbe joining, the band was officially formed. They released their debut single "All Rise" in May 2011 and it reached number four on the UK chart. Their "Too Close" single peaked at number one on the UK chart for seven weeks. Their album "All Rise" sold over 1.8 million copies in the UK. "Blue" split in 2004 to concentrate on their solo careers only to reform in 2011 and return onstage.
The band also worked alongside artists such as Stevie Wonder, Elton John, RedOne, and Bruno Mars. They released their fourth studio album "Roulette" on January 25, 2013. The band has sold over 13 million records worldwide.
Mongolian girls drawn to contortionism
August 19 (CNN) CNN's Nick Glass talks with the contortionists and stars of "O," a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Movie maker endured hardship in quest to capture ancient art of falconry
August 3 (Indianapolis Business Journal) There's not much Indianapolis outdoor filmmaker Eddie Brochin won't do to get his footage.
In March 2011, Brochin endured a 48-hour sojourn to Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; took another hour-plus trip on a prop plane that landed on a bumpy dirt airstrip in the Bayan Olgii province near the Mongolian borders with Kazakhstan and Russia.
After that, a 3-1/2-hour car ride and a 3-1/2-hour horse ride were needed to reach the tiny village of the eagle masters Brochin wanted to film.
"Just another day at the office," the 42-year-old said with a laugh.
Except this day required an escort from a military policeman and a bulky bodyguard. (Mogi: military escort?)
"It's not the safest place in the world," Brochin said, the smile fading from his face.
An accomplished outdoorsman, hunter and falconer, Brochin had dreamed for years of filming hunters whose descendants invented the techniques of hunting with falcons and eagles. His resulting documentary, "The Falconer, Sport of Kings," was 3-1/2 years in the making.
Brochin wasn't about to let a few obstacles—big or small—stand in his way of meeting, following and filming Hamshibai Elik and Baimandai Sakal and their families, descendents of Genghis Khan, the legendary leader of the Mongol Empire almost 800 years ago.
"The way these people hunt with eagles is totally awe-inspiring," Brochin said. "It was even more awesome to hunt alongside these people who gracefully use these ancient techniques."
Little did Brochin know his travel-day difficulties were just the beginning of the hardships he'd endure to complete his movie.
For more than a month, Brochin lived with his Mongolian hosts, along with two translators (one Mongolian and one Kazak), three cameramen, the military policeman—mandated by Mongolian authorities—and the bodyguard.
Most of his hosts had never seen a car, live without electricity, and encounter few—if any—foreigners, let alone Americans.
But they were far from barbaric.
"Their customs and way of living are certainly different from ours, but they were extremely hospitable," Brochin said, treating the visitors "like family."
The weather Brochin encountered was far less hospitable. In that mountainous desert region, temperatures exceed 85 degrees during the day and plunge below 25 at night.
The sun sears exposed skin in less than an hour. With no electricity and only small, temporary structures for shelter, staying warm after sunset is tough. Since there are so few trees, animal manure fuels fire in the round, portable housing structures known as yurts.
So it's no surprise that Brochin is one of the few Americans to journey to this region.
He is only the second foreigner ever to hunt with the Mongolian falconers—a term used for people who hunt with not only falcons, but also eagles and other birds of prey—and film their techniques.
Even Brochin—a falconer for 12 years, a fifth-degree black belt, U.S. Coast Guard-approved maritime captain, and veteran of hundreds of hunting expeditions—had his mettle tested.
"Some days you wondered what the heck you were doing," he said. "But the experience of hunting with these majestic birds and the Mongolian people made it all worthwhile."
The toughest day came midway through the trip. Five tornadic dust storms hit the crew's camp in a single day.
"We were sitting huddled in our [tent] watching it fill up with sand and dust and not sure what is going to happen next," he said.
Though sand storms are common in the area, Brochin said even his Mongolian guides were shaken by the ferocity of those storms.
After the storms subsided, the crew's attention turned to the camera and computer equipment needed for filming.
"It's not the best place to keep electronics functional," Brochin said.
Since there was no electricity, his crew used solar-powered batteries.
"We did a lot of backing up of our videos and data to make sure we never lost anything," he said. They shot 27 hours of raw footage.
Brochin never ceased to be amazed by his hosts' graceful calmness.
"No matter what was going on around us, we always stopped to have our goats-milk tea," Brochin said, a smile returning to his face. "There's a lot to be learned from the Mongolian people. They have such grace in the face of what we consider hardships."
Camels and horses
Brochin said hunting with eagles is similar to hunting with hawks and falcons, except the quarry can be much bigger, including foxes, badgers, mountain sheep and even wolves.
Hunters have to be more careful with an eagle than a falcon or hawk, Brochin noted, because eagles "have enough strength to break your wrist or even kill the handler if something goes wrong."
The Mongolians, Brochin said, are largely subsistence hunters. They live off the animals they kill as well as off the herds they are able to maintain in the barren mountains.
"They eat a lot of meat and not many vegetables," Brochin said. "The climate isn't suitable for growing much, so there's no vegetation."
Nothing, Brochin said, is wasted by the eagle masters and their families, and even hardships are turned into blessings. On the seventh day of their two-plus-week hunting expedition, one of their horses collapsed and died.
"For several days after that, there was an abundance of horse meat to eat," Brochin said.
The cast and crew also subsisted on goats, sheep and camel meat, he said.
The result of his trip is a 70-minute documentary detailing the lifestyle of the regional people and showcasing "the hunting prowess of the eagle masters of Mongolia," Brochin said. The movie was completed in May and debuted for a one-night showing at the Keystone Art Cinema on June 26.
"It was a packed house," Brochin said. "And we sold every DVD of the documentary that we had there."
Since that premiere, Brochin said, he's sold a steady stream of DVDs for $25 each, $35 for a Blu-ray version.
Brochin this year has entered his documentary into 11 film festivals—including the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis and the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in Wyoming, the biggest platform for outdoor and wildlife productions.
Brochin hopes exposure at the festivals will help him land a distribution deal.
But there were times, Brochin admitted, where he thought the movie might not get made. The first challenge was raising the $132,000 he needed for production. Much of that came from royalties from his now-discontinued TV show "Ultimate Outdoors with Eddie Brochin."
Brochin also had "a couple" of minority investors and a handful of relatively small sponsors, whose products he used in making the movie.
He tried to differentiate his documentary "by making it more of a story which will appeal to a broader audience," he said. "The biggest challenge was to create a movie that would be entertaining to the non-falconry viewers and also be technical enough to appeal to hardcore falconers."
The thing that sets Brochin's documentary apart "is how the story of the people blends in with the animals," said James Swan, a co-executive producer of the "Wild Justice" TV series, which airs on the National Geographic Channel. "He really does a great job of showing the emotions of the people involved in this ancient hunting technique."
Swan, who has served as a judge for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, said Brochin's movie stacks up well against the competition in U.S. film festivals.
Due to the stiff competition at these festivals, bringing home a top prize will be a tall order for Brochin, movie-industry insiders said. But Swan said he wouldn't bet against the Indianapolis TV producer and movie maker.
"Eddie is up against people and companies with huge budgets and I think he will be a finalist in many of these competitions, and he could really surprise some people and win some of these."
Swan said he could envision Brochin's movie "on TBS, Discovery Channel or any of the major TV channels.
"To me, it's not just a movie; it's a story that will inspire people," he added.
Brochin's true talent is his ability to teach, said Keith Passon, general manager of WHMB-TV Channel 40 in Indianapolis, which has aired Brochin's TV series.
"I've been hunting and fishing for 45 years, and I wish I had one-fourth the knowledge he has," Passon said. "He's a multi-faceted person who can teach people on a lot of topics. He's not just some guy chasing animals through the woods."
Mongol Derby: 'Like the Tour de France crossed with Snakes and Ladders'
August 23 (CNN) -- Wild horses, raging winds and energy-sapping heat in the land of Genghis Khan; welcome to the Mongolian steppe.
This vast expanse of savannah and grassland is the setting for the world's longest horse race -- the Mongol Derby.
Equestrian's toughest test is perhaps the last place you'd expect to find a teenager from the English county of Hampshire.
But Lara Prior-Palmer isn't like other teenagers.
The 19-year-old is the youngest winner -- and first female victor -- in the five-year history of this most arduous of contests.
"It is the most extraordinary and bizarre race, it's like the Tour de France crossed with Snakes and Ladders," Palmer told CNN from a victory party in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator.
"It was really dramatic, it would be first-degree heat and the horses would be sweating, then suddenly the air would cool with wind blowing super hard.
"I wanted to do something that was going to put me out of my comfort zone I guess. Mongolia sounded like a really cool country."
The race, officially recognized by the Guinness Book of Records in 2011 as the world's lengthiest, takes its inspiration from the Mongol Empire's pioneering postal service.
The fearsome Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongols between 1162 and 1227, established and expanded the "Ortoo."
It was a messenger system which saw riders travel on horseback between outposts, stopping to either rest, swap horses or pass the message onto another rider.
Forty horse stations, "urtuus" to use the Mongolian name, line the race's 1000-kilometer route.
Not that there is a course set out for the 30 competitors, who use anything from a compass, GPS or good old-fashioned intuition to traverse the landscape between each resting spot.
As the race's official website puts it, "this is no guided tour, or pony trek."
Each urtuus is manned by local nomads and furnished with tents, beds and food for man, woman and horse alike. Riders must change horse at each urtuus.
It is the nomadic tribes who provide the horses for the race and equine welfare is one of the organizers' highest priorities.
A vet is stationed at each urtuus and if the horse's heart rate is above a certain level, the rider is given a time penalty.
There is also extensive medical support for the jockeys, half of whom withdrew from the race before the finish line this year.
"There were 30 at the beginning, but not at the end," explains Prior-Palmer. "My body got really cross with me the day I finished, I slept all day.
"I'm lucky because I'm young. Any problems I had were really painful but didn't get that bad. I got really swollen ankles, chafing, a few other things, blisters and other stuff.
"The worst thing is the exhaustion, sitting on a horse may look easy but you've got to keep them cantering. Thirteen hours a day I was on a horse. At lunchtime you'd want to sleep but you can't because there's another 120 kilometers to go that day."
Prior-Palmer's determination paid off, although her joy came at the expense of another rider's despair.
American Devan Horn was the first rider to finish the race, but her horse failed a post-race medical inspection.
A two-hour penalty ensued and Prior-Palmer was named as the winner.
"It was a strange way to win and I didn't feel very good about it because the other girl was super upset," said Prior-Palmer. "It's slowly sinking in."
So what next for the teenager who made history?
The answer, it would seem, is more history.
"I begin university in September, I'm going to study history in Edinburgh or maybe at Trinity College in Dublin, I haven't decided," she said.
"It's a terrible future for me because everything else is really boring. I'll have to knuckle down with some work."
Official Race Preview: Mongolia Bike Challenge 2013
Deep International Field Descending on Mongolia to Battle for the Pink Jersey
August 23 (Mongolia Bike Challenge) The 2013 Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge presented by Orbea has attracted a deep field of endurance mountain bike racers from 23 countries to compete in the fourth edition this September 1st to 7th in Mongolia.
Leading the list of names taking part in the MBC this year is returning Champion, Canadian Cory Wallace of the Kona Factory Team. After a second place finish at the race in 2011, Wallace returned in 2012 with his Kona teammates and brought the MBC title to North America for the first time. Wallace, a former Canadian 24-hr and Trans Rockies Champion also placed second at the 24-hr World Championships in 2010. Most importantly, Wallace knows what it takes to win in Mongolia and riders will have to be on form if they want to dethrone the champ.
Others making the flight across the Pacific include Jason Sager and Thomas Turner of Team Jamis. The American duo won the BC Bike Race together in 2012. Sager has a long list of wins and stage racing experience while Turner is the reigning Cyclocross World Champion (30-34). In addition, Team MBC's Carter Hovey of Canada is back for his second MBC having finished fifth last year with one stage win.
There is a notable European contingent with talent and experience as deep as the Atlantic heading to Mongolia at the end of the month. Topping the list of challengers has to be Ondrej Fojtik (X-sports Cannondale Koma/Crocodile Trophy) who just won Iron Bike in Italy for the fifth time. He won the Crocodile Trophy in 2008 and came second in 2012 – ahead of Cory Wallace. Wallace has clearly stated that Fojtik will be the man to beat this year in Mongolia.
A rider that both Wallace and Fojtik know to keep their eye on is the young, fast, Wolfgang Krenn (Zwillingscraft/Sc Knauf Liezen) of Austria. He finished second at the Crocodile Trophy in 2011 and third in 2012 - behind Fojtik and ahead of Wallace. Krenn is a smart, tactical rider and is sure to be in the mix over the 7-day race.
Returning rider Pau Zamora (Buff-Niner) of Spain is looking for redemption this year as he was shut-out of a podium position last year by the three Kona riders. This year he is bringing a little help in the form of his brother, 5-time Ironman France Champion Marcel Zamora (Buff-Niner). With a year of experience and a little help inside the peloton, Pau has a good chance of improving on 2012's fourth place result.
Also pushing the pace at the front of the pack should be veteran Spanish racer Antonio Ortiz (Selle SMP), and Portuguese racer João Marinho (Douro Bike Race) who finished second to Pau Zamora at Transpyr last month.
An exciting late entry to this year's race is former European 24-hr Champion Matthew Page (ACycling-Pivot). Page is an experienced stage racer who is heading into the MBC in good form, recently finishing a strong fifth at Iron Bike.
Australia has always been well-represented at the MBC and this year the men will be led by Mike Blewitt (Subaru-MarathonMTB.com). Blewitt has represented his country at the UCI Marathon World Championships and won in the team category at the Crocodile Trophy.
There will also be strong challengers coming from around Asia. One of the top contenders will be Kyosuke Takei (Team Forza) of Japan who finished sixth at the Leadville 100 this year followed by an amazing week at the Breck Epic where he got progressively stronger and won the final stage.
In addition, returning Malaysian rider Razif Salleh (Chiru Endurance), Taiwan-based Lee Rodgers (Lapierre Asia) of the UK, and Taiwanese superstar Fan Yung-Yi (Orbea Taiwan) will all be looking for a strong showing in Mongolia.
As always, there will be a handful of elite Mongolian riders who will put constant pressure on the international field.
Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon) of the U.S.A. won the Yak Attack again this year and is in great form coming into Mongolia. Looney is at home in far-flung locations and extreme conditions, possibly giving her an edge on the Mongolian steppe.
Jessica Douglas (Giant Australia) is a two-time World 24-hr Champion and has also won the Crocodile Trophy showing that she is about as tough as it gets. Success at the Croc is a good indicator of potential in Mongolia.
Catherine Williamson (Bizhub-Energas) of the UK has had success in triathlon, road and MTB in her career. Most notably, she just came off victory at the 2013 Cape Epic with Energas Teammate Yolanda Speedy.
Italian Giuliana Massarotto (Rudy Project Pedali Di Marca Team Performance) was her country's 24-hr National Champion the past two years and came fourth at the 24-hr World Championships in 2012.
New Zealand's Erin Greene (Endura NZ) finished fifth at the 2010 24-hr World Championships, 1st in the New Zealand SS Championships in 2013 and will compete at the 2013 24-Hour World Championships in Australia this October.
Rounding out the elite women's field is Canadian Jennifer Schulz (Balance Point Racing) who won the BC Bike Race in 2011 and came 3rd at Trans Rockies in 2012.
Again, expect the local Mongolians to start a strong team and pressure the rest of the field on their home course.
Behind the lead riders you will find high level amateurs from 23 countries who are there to test themselves in the wild, remote, staggering beauty of Mongolia. The level of competition has gradually increased since the first edition as the Mongolia Bike Challenge has cemented its status as one of the 'must do' international events on the racing calendar. Riders will face a total distance of over 850 kilometres with 14,000 metres of climbing on the newly redesigned 7-stage course.
While the long daily stages and tough competition will be a huge challenge for all, racers will be rewarded each day with catered meals, massage service, and indoor yurt accommodation. Breath-taking landscapes, cultural experiences, and spending time away from city-life in the company of like-minded people from around the world, are just a few of the other rewards during this 7-day challenge.
2014 Early Bird Registration is open from 12:00pm Madrid Time, September 8th to September 15th, 2013.
Nora Dagva: Everything I have right now is the result of my everyday effort and untiring work
August 18 (UB Post) Below is an interview with a well-known and professional model, Nora Dagva. She has recently set up the "Unique Models Management" agency.
- Can you tell us more about the work of your "Unique Models Management" agency?
Establishing the agency is still in progress right now. Actually, it's not set up fully. Establishing a modeling agency is not like opening a cafe or shop, it takes a long time. The agency is now 70 percent complete. The most important part of the work is choosing models. I need to work with models for a month or so, then I can have a better idea of their experience, willingness, consistency, and ability, because I cannot know who can become a model at first sight. I'm actually concluding the signing of contracts with some of them. I prefer to have few professional models. I don't want to make my agency a training ground for models or like a big circle with lots of models in the industry. The opening ceremony of our agency will soon be held and we will officially introduce our new models eventually.
- Is there a difference between being a model and running a modeling agency?
Of course, there's a huge difference. Before, I was being myself without depending on anyone. Now I face a big responsibility because this work relies on my experience over the years. My experience is needed to work closely with new models and help them in their future career. It is nice to do any business with full sincerity. Although it's hard, I'm really happy to run this business because this is my desire and my own work.
- Every girl wants to become a model. For you, is this really a dream job?
Like other girls, I used to want to become a model when I was little. I watched "Goyol" and other foreign fashion shows. I was about eight or nine years old. I never thought I would be so tall. People said that I would become a basketball player and my sister would become a model, all because I was a "tomboy." But I started to be interested in fashion and art instead of sports during my teenage years. I liked geography and handicraft subjects when I was in high school. I used to sit and stare at the globe for a long time and for a number of times. I was really interested in what this country is, what a wonderful name it has, why it is situated here, etc.
There was no Internet; therefore, I had no way else to know except to read geography books and just imagine. I'm fulfilling my hopes and dreams to travel abroad by becoming a model.
If I had chosen another path, everything would've been so different. But now, I can't imagine my life without being in the fashion world and having the life of a model. Being a model in Mongolia is rather hard. There's a one-sided attitude among people that every model is flirtatious and has gone the wrong way. Society makes people think that way in Mongolia. However, a professional model is a prestigious job with a high salary in foreign countries. This job moulds models to become strong individuals. I'm establishing an agency in relation to this point of view. I intend to make people understand that modeling is a high-level job.
- What made you work so passionately like this? Was it your dream or your purpose in life?
Both my dream and purpose, as well as my aspiration. Everyone imagines what their future life would be like. I can see my dreams when I close my eyes. I'm going to direct my life this way. I don't think that I became a model accidently. I'm doing this kind of work because this job is meaningful for me. Therefore, I always go forward because there is no going back.
- Generally, there's a difference between reality and a dream. Is there a difference between the girl who dreamed of becoming a model and the present you?
I have gone so far to fulfill my dream. I just wanted to become a model and travel abroad, and I never thought about being onstage in Milan or wear Chanel when I was a model in 2003 or 2004. Then I could do it. And I realized that there is nothing impossible if I exert a lot of effort and try hard. Opportunity is everywhere. It is very important to spot these chances.
- Was there an event or a person that mostly influenced you to become the present Nora Dagva?
My life. I lost my dad when I was a kid and grew up with my sisters. My mother used to go abroad frequently. My sisters weren't close to me. Therefore, I never felt the warm atmosphere of family. When I graduated from high school, experience taught me that your whole life and future would ride on your actions – that no one would help you so you have to be strong.
I went through my successes and failures alone. Even though my mother and sister helped me a lot, it has always been me. Everything I have right now is the result of my everyday effort and untiring work.
- Have you planned on and thought about establishing the "Unique Models Management" agency for a long time? Or did you start this agency because it was the time for that?
If I had started this work at the age of 20, I couldn't have done it. But now, "this is the moment." I have worked as a model for a long time. My age now of 30 is the time to make something more. Business is a battle field. I have to be strong and to start everything right in order to win this battle. Working properly with the right marketing is very important, as well as being strong especially in the fashion business. I don't even know what will happen after five years, but I'm very happy with what I'm doing right now.
I still received an offer from Milan to work as a model. But I don't want to work as a model until the age of 35. Therefore, I'm starting right now.
- We gain experience from life events from time to time. When things go bad, we sometimes lose our faith and naivety. Do you have anything from your personality which you don't want to lose?
Trust in others and kindness. I'm still naive. Sometimes, I make mistakes by helping others because I trust them. But it's one of my most necessary characteristics where I get pleasure from – from helping others. What would happen if everyone was coldhearted? Moreover, I don't want to lose my personal freedom and space. I don't like to become popular among people. I can't lose my own freedom because of others.
- We usually don't choose our name, and the person who gave us our name had a very big hope and wish for us. Who gave you your name?
My father gave me the name of "Oyunnomin." My sisters' names all include "Oyun." I think my name is very beautiful and it is a tender name. Hence, I used to feel like I'm a princess when I was a little girl. Even though my stage name is "Nora Dagva," my close friends call me Oyunnomin. Nora is short, easy to memorize, and is a noticeable name. But I always prefer my father's name which is "Dagva." I think people should recognize me immediately when they hear "Nora Dagva." That's why I also named my company "Nora Dagva."
- Do you have any habits before going onstage and having your photo shoot?
I love having a nice meal, having fun with my friends, and being myself before a photo shoot. I don't like to start any work hungry, cold, or angry. I attach importance to sleeping well at night before a photo shoot.
- Being tall and thin is an advantage in the modeling profession. But are there disadvantages for you?
There are quite a few disadvantages of being tall and thin. I always feel cold in winter and get tired easily. Moreover, I have to eat little portions of food.
- What is your height?
- About 181 to 182 centimeters.
- When are you very proud of your job?
After work. Tall, thin, and beautiful models participate in the selection process. If I'm selected from hundred of them, I'll be like, "Wow!" It is a real success. They will pay you and make you feel like a queen until the show or photo shoot. Models can earn a lot of money if they work as professional models.
- We are often upset about something or someone. What makes you so upset?
I get angry when people don't understand and value my work and effort.
Modern Mongolia: From Genghis Khan to Traffic Jams
By Jonathan DeHart
August 22 (The Diplomat) In today there are reminders everywhere of the nation's nomadic past. Upon arriving at Chinggis Khaan International Airport – the nation's only international transit point – visitors are greeted by a statue of the fearless wandering conqueror of yore. Traditional portable homes – – of Ulan Bator and fill the landlocked country's vast steppe, ready to be folded up and carried to better pastures at a moment's notice. And if you head out beyond the yurts into the hinterlands, three million wild Mongol horses can be seen running free – that's .
While the itinerant lifestyle still persists in much of the country, today has settled in Ulan Bator – a city where "new buildings are rising all the time and traffic has become a major problem," Shatra Galbadrah, a resident of Ulan Bator who works as the Mongolian liaison for a 1,000-kilometer horse race called the , told . (More on the Mongol Derby in the coming days.) Indeed, the has risen over the surrounding steppes to dramatic effect in just over two decades. Galbadrah added, "Because of the mining industry the city is really booming. Now there are also famous brands opening stores."
that Ulan Bator's Sukhbaatar Square – where a bronze statue of Lenin once stood – is now home to a luxury mall featuring outlets for Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Zegna, Emporio Armani and Hugo Boss. The nation has gotten rich quick – well, at least its elite have – because of the vast mineral wealth buried in its ground, comprising deposits of 80 different minerals from coal and copper to gold and uranium. Not to mention oil. And there is plenty of land to explore. Describing the view of Mongolia's prairieland, which is twice the size of Texas, travel writer : "Taking in the Mongolian steppe is like looking at Kansas on steroids — a joyous Wagnerian symphony of blue sky, open spaces and grassy curves stretching out to everywhere."
The lives of Mongolia's countryside dwellers offer a stark contrast to the hubbub and runaway growth of Ulan Bator. "People can still be seen wearing (traditional garb) and eat mostly meat. There are not many vegetables that can grow in Mongolia due to the extreme winters," Galbadrah said. "Pretty much everyone lives in gers. They are surprisingly comfortable. And for people who live in the countryside they are homes."
She touted their "functionality," adding, "People put beds and other furniture in them and even build fires in the bitterly cold winters (known to drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius)."
The one drawback, she says, is the lack of privacy. "Everyone sleeps in the same space. But the functionality is what matters to people who are often herders and need to move frequently. You can take one down and move within a day. Their lives depend on their animals so they need to move wherever the best grass is. Traditionally, herders move around five to six times per year." The most common livestock includes horses, cows, sheep, goats, and camels, which are native to the Gobi Desert. A video of nomads moving their ger can be seen .
The clearly visible divide between Mongolia's haves and have-nots has arisen only since 1990, when the nation ushered in democracy and bade farewell to 200 years of dominion under China followed by 70 years as a Soviet satellite. Under Soviet rule, economic disparities were not the only aspect of Mongolian life hidden from view. During the Soviet period, Buddhist monks were killed (in the 1930s), temples burned, and mention of the nation's most iconic figure – Khan himself – was banned and all but snuffed out.
"When I was growing up I didn't even know who Genghis was," Galbadrah said. "In schools we learned mainly Russian history, the Russian language. Then, in 1990 when communism fell, there was a period of maybe 10 years when the nation slowly began to reconnect with its past. It didn't happen at once, but interest in Genghis began to trickle back."
She added, "Now we have a big Genghis statue at our national airport, you see Genghis pubs (), Genghis restaurants, streets named after him – Genghis everything. You could definitely say there is a kind of Genghis Khan renaissance that has taken place since around the year 2000."
For good measure, one of the country's richest men also built a of the great Khan on the outskirts of Ulan Bator. It may seem hard to believe that a nation could be forced into a state of amnesia about its most prominent historical figure – a man who practically defines the nation's identity – but there is one factor that should be considered.
Galbadrah explains, "He (Khan) didn't leave behind any large monuments or buildings like other great leaders of past civilizations normally do. There's not that much left due to the fact that Mongolia is traditionally a nomadic culture."
While Genghis may not have left behind a Forbidden City or Great Pyramid, there is one constant of Mongolian life that has remained unchanged through successive foreign occupations and continues today: horsemanship. Tomorrow we look at the Mongols' special relationship to the animal that is so integral to both their past and present
The Mongol Horse: Supreme on the Steppe
By Jonathan DeHart
August 23 (The Diplomat) Yesterday we considered the and the nation's post-1990 boom. With so much in flux these past few decades it is difficult to find elements of continuity – especially in the nation's capital, Ulan Bator, where one-third of the Mongolia's population lives and continues to build this young, burgeoning urban center.
But beyond the urban sprawl and clusters of (traditional portable houses) that fan out beyond the city's limits it does not take long before the concrete gives way to grass and the crowds of people give way to herds of quasi feral herds of Mongol horses.
"They're everywhere, as common as cows on Western farmland," Shatra Galbadrah, a resident of Ulan Bator who works as the Mongolian liaison for a 1,000-kilometer horse race called the , told . "There is one main breed seen all over Mongolia. If you go 20 kilometers from any town they're all over the place."
She continued, "Mongol horses are semi-wild. In the West horses are treated more like pets. But here, herders will have maybe 200 horses. Of course, they don't ride them all every day. But they choose some to selectively train, while others go for long periods of time without being ridden. They become more wild again, so the herders will break them in when the time comes."
For Westerners this implies "saddling up," but in Mongolia – though a small wooden saddle is often employed – horsemanship is different. These horses are particularly small in size and are not built to bear a heavy burden. But this need not be seen as a drawback. An article titled sings the praises for this unique breed: "Diminutive, sturdy, fearless, wild and unbelievably tough, they are revered in Mongolian culture, and have changed very little over the centuries, remaining essentially free from human interference." The article notes that although they are pony-sized, steeds of Mongolian stock are known to work up to the age of 18.
The article continues: "Mongolian horses are not monitored by any kind of breeding society or registry. Mother Nature is pretty much the registry association for the breed. If they can't survive the weather, the terrain and cannot exist on available plants, then they won't survive to breed."
Not that the steeds need any help from their human neighbors. Mongol horses have made a home on the steppe, surviving in temperatures that dip to minus 40 Celsius in winter and climb to plus 30 in summer. The terrain is dry, barren, and yet the nation's three million steeds manage to nourish their muscular frames with little more than grass and water. And they are renowned for their unfaltering ability to go the distance, running up to 40 kilometers a day.
Mongolians have historically been equestrians almost from birth. Perhaps nowhere else on earth has horsemanship been elevated to such an art. As the saying goes, "A Mongol without a horse is like a bird without the wings." Genghis Khan is widely quoted as having said, "It is easy to conquer the world from the back of a horse," which is exactly what he and an army of Mongol warriors did, as they rode halfway around the globe astride their homeland's steeds in the pursuit of empire.
That was the male horses – which are also turned into meat on occasion. The females (mares) on the other hand, are not ridden as often; but they are readily used for milk up to six times on a summer day. While the stallions roam free, they tend to stay within a 10 kilometer range, which allows herders to keep tabs on them as they scout out the choicest patches of turf to graze. Herders tend to pick favorites to do work, milk and breed, while rounding up the rest as symbols of status. They are also given as gifts. In short, horses are deeply embedded in the lives of Mongolians from cradle to grave.
"We have really skilled horsemanship. It's different compared to Western horsemanship," Galbadrah said. "It's very common to begin riding horses from a young age here. I used to ride with my grandparents in the countryside during summer. I remember learning to ride without a saddle…that's normal. In July there is a very famous race with six age groups of children jockeys from the ages of 6 to 12. People are amazed as they watch from a distance when they find out that it's actually kids riding."
She continued, "During my grandparents' generation almost everyone knew how to ride horses. In Mongolia today most people can still ride, but not like they used to. Many kids are born in the city and just don't have a chance to learn."
This, however, is beginning to change. Now that the country is opening up, people are beginning to travel again and are "taking much more interest in going out to the countryside for vacations and riding horses."
Mongolians are not alone. Now that the country's doors are wide open to visitors from abroad, travelers have also begun to explore the steppe. And in the popular imagination this often means racing. Next week we look at the Mongol Derby, a grueling 1,000-kilometer race that traces the postal route once laid out by Genghis Khan.
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