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I'll be away on a business trip to North Korea from Monday-Friday and thus will be unable to send CoverMongolia NewsWire for the remainder of the week.
My sincere apologies.
Aspire Mining highlights potential for more cost savings at Ovoot rail line
September 20 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining (ASX: AKM) has received a report identifying potential capital expenditure savings for the Northern Railways Erdenet to Ovoot rail project that is key to commercialising its Ovoot Coking Coal Project in Mongolia.
The report also confirmed the project is viable from an engineering and railway operational aspect.
"This study further confirms the Northern Railways Erdenet to Ovoot rail project as a viable and efficient solution to bring Ovoot coking coal, and other resource and agricultural products from northern Mongolia to world markets," managing director David Paull said.
"The company continues to engage with the Government of Mongolia in its evaluation of the benefits of this rail project to the country."
The field inspection into the entire rail alignment by SMEC International was designed to confirm a number of key assumptions used in the Rail Pre-Feasibility Study Revision (RPFSR) that SMEC had prepared for Aspire.
It focused on the constructability of the alignment from the point of view of construction logistics, geotechnical, hydrology, environmental, river crossings, and railway operations.
Key takeaways from the field investigation include:
- The logging of 14 potential quarry sites for ballast across the 547 kilometre alignment. The spacing of these potential quarry sites is such that distances from the rail line are no more than 30 kilometres;
- The RPFSR included an allowance to engineer a protection against the impacts of permafrost on the formation. Field investigations have confirmed that the length of alignment potentially impacted by permafrost conditions is 139 kilometres which is substantially less than the 200 kilometres assumed in the RPFSR. No frozen ground conditions were encountered during the field visit.
- The field visit identified 12 locations where changing the alignment slightly should result in the reduction of three large bridge structures, reduce the length of a number of large bridges, avoiding swampy ground and route around a congested industrial zone of Erdenet city where the Northern Rail Line will connect and rail yards will need to be constructed.
During the field investigation the SMEC team "encountered nothing that would prevent the railway from being built, nor anything that would add significantly to the estimated cost".
It noted that some minor changes to the alignment would eliminate major river crossings and the associated bridges.
It was also noted that "permafrost, while still a potential hazard, appears to be receding and will probably prove to be not as significant an issue as anticipated and budgeted for."
In the overall conclusions to the field investigation it was noted that "the field inspection confirmed that the project is viable from anengineering and railway operational aspect, within the general budget guidelines as developed and contained in the PFS Report (RPFSR)".
Rail Pre-Feasibility Study Revision
The RPFSR released on 10 April 2013 had identified a lower US$1.3 billion capital expenditure for the Northern Rail Line – US$200 million savings – as well as reductions in operating costs.
This was achieved by taking a more direct route further to the south for the proposed rail line from the Ovoot coal project to Erdenet, Mongolia's second largest city.
Taking the southern route would also allow the company to take advantage of widespread sources of ballast, which has been confirmed by the field investigation, and potentially provide rail access to Zavkhan province to the south.
Ovoot Coking Coal Project
Aspire has progressed the Ovoot Coking Coal Project in recent months with:
- Signing port access agreements to penetrate the lucrative European markets and expanding its access to North Asian markets;
- Identifying a low capital development for the project by using contractors wherever possible for a 5 million tonne per annum initial project, reducing initial capital costs to US$144 million from the original US$459 million for a 6Mtpa Stage 1 plan;
- Financing support with the receipt of non-binding letters of intent from Deutsche Bank and BHF Bank to provide US$40 million and US$50 million respectively in Export Credit Agency backed loans;
- A US$20 billion working capital facility made available to the company from Noble Group;
- Interest from potential customers to acquire Ovoot Project coking coal; and
- Studies confirming Ovoot Coking Coal has superior blend carrying capacity and can be blended with coal from the Government owned Tavan Tolgoi mine in southern Mongolia to upgrade the latter's coking coal properties.
Ovoot has a Probable Ore Reserve of 255 million tonnes Run of Mine. It has Open Pit Resources of 253.1 million tonnes and underground resources of 27.9Mt.
Aspire has a 100% interest in the Ovoot Coking Coal Project in northern Mongolia.
Confirmation that the Northern Railways Erdenet to Ovoot rail project is viable from both an engineering as well as railway operational aspect along with further potential cost savings lends further support to the potential for Aspire Mining's Ovoot Coking Coal Project to be one of the lowest cost producers of coal into China.
The key point is the potential to further reduce the capital cost, which will lend further support towards infrastructure investment.
Sentosa Mining raises funds for copper / gold hunt at Darvii Naruu in Mongolia
September 20 (Proactive Investors) Sentosa Mining (ASX: SEO) is currently placing up to 22.2 million shares at $0.045 which will raise around $1 million, with the funds to advance copper and gold exploration at the Darvii Naruu project in Mongolia.
Sentosa plans to conduct up to 3000 metres of reverse circulation drilling at the project before the end of November.
For every two shares subscribed for in the placement, there will be one free attaching option exercisable at $0.15 before the 30th November 2016.
The company also plans to undertake a non-renounceable pro rata entitlements issue of options on the same terms as the placement free attaching options, which could raise an additional $130,000.
Rock chips of 5.8% copper and 34.4g/t gold
At Darvii Naruu, Sentosa has already completed an airborne aeromagnetic and radiometric survey, with interpretation of the data by Southern Geoscience completed.
Adding to the prospectivity of the project, it contains a broad copper and gold mineralised system with rock chips up to 5.8% copper and 34.4g/t gold from the Mushroom Reef prospect.
There are also numerous occurrences of outcropping mineralisation over extensive surface area on several additional prospects with consistent sample grades greater than 1% copper and +1g/t gold.
Draig Resources trims Mongolian coal tenements
September 20 (Proactive Investors) Draig Resources (ASX: DRG) has relinquished three of the eight licences its holds in Mongolia under a joint venture with Trinity Mongolia.
The company noted that exploration activities undertaken to date had indicated the 12000X, 10566X and 9116X were not as prospective for coal as was previously thought.
Draig subsidiary BDBL holds a 75% interest in the licence. The company also owns a 16% stake in Trinity.
The recent exploration program of mapping, magnetic survey, trenching and rotary air blast drilling had confirmed coal bearing sediments within the Teeg and Urtnii-Am licences.
Plans are being considered for further exploration on the two licences.
Prophecy Coal Appoints New Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Sept. 20, 2013) - Prophecy Coal Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY)(OTCQX:PRPCF)(FRANKFURT:1P2) is pleased to announce that it has made the following appointments effective immediately:
Irina Plavutska, CGA: Chief Financial Officer
Ms. Plavutska is a professional accountant with over 20 years of diverse international experiences in financial reporting, auditing, and accounting. She is a member of Certified General Accountants Association of British Columbia. Ms. Plavutska has been with Prophecy for nearly 3 years since 2010 acting prior as interim Chief Financial Officer and controller. Ms. Plavutska earned a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Business and Economics in Ukraine and is fluent in Russian and English.
Pat Purdy: Corporate Secretary
Ms. Purdy is a senior corporate and securities paralegal with over 20 years experience in regulatory documentation and filings with both TSXV and TSX companies. She also has significant experience in office management and office system implementation and coordination. She has been with Prophecy since April 2013.
Ms. Plavutska replaces Jeff Mason as Prophecy's Chief Financial Officer.
Winsway: 2013 Interim Report
September 19, Winsway Coking Coal Holdings Limited (HKEx:1733) --
· Turnover of the Group in the first half of 2013 was HK$5,815 million.
· Loss for the six months ended 30 June 2013 was HK$933 million. Loss attributable to equity shareholders of the Company amounted to HK$763 million.
· Diluted loss per share was HK$0.202.
· The Board does not recommend the payment of an interim dividend for the six months ended 30 June 2013.
In the first half of 2013, the Group recorded consolidated revenue of HK$5,815 million on 5.70 million tonnes of sales, out of which 2.52 million tonnes were Mongolian coal, 2.03 million tonnes were seaborne coal, 0.92 million tonnes were self-produced coal, and 0.23 million tonnes were iron ore. This is to be compared with a consolidated revenue of HK$6,614 million on 5.77 million tonnes of sales, out of which, 3.42 million tonnes were Mongolian coal, 1.83 million tonnes were seaborne coal, and 0.52 million tonnes were self-produced coal during the first half of 2012.
II. Mongolian coal Procurement
In the first half of 2013, the Group procured a total of 2.04 million tonnes of Mongolian coal, an 8.11% decrease from the volume procured during the same period last year. The decrease in our procurement volume was set to meet our goal of keeping a low inventory level, which would allow the Group to improve its overall liquidity and to avoid potential market risk.
Our top Mongolian coal suppliers during the first half of 2013 were Energy Resources LLC and Moveday Enterprise Limited ("Moveday") with procurement amount of HK$602 million and HK$326 million respectively. Coal procured from Moveday was mined by Tavan Tolgoi Corporation. Moveday also provided transportation services with a total consideration of HK$175 million to the Company for the six months ended on 30 June 2013.
Voyager: Annual Report, 30 June 2013
September 19, Voyager Resources Limited (ASX:VOR) --
Mongolia Investment Group sells civil engineering business for HK$354m
[ET Net News Agency, 17 September 2013] Mongolia Investment Group (00402) said it agreed to sell the entire issued share capital of Rich Path Holdings Limited and all the outstanding indebtedness owing by Rich Path for HK$354 million.
It is expected that, upon completion, an unaudited consolidated loss of about HK$4.86 million will be recognised from the disposal. The consideration will be settled by way of set-off in full against the outstanding principal amount of promissory note in the sum of HK$350 million, together with any interest accruing thereon from time to time under the promissory note.
Rich Path group recorded net losses for the two years ended 31 March 2012 and 2013. The Directors consider that the disposal will enable the Group to realise the relevant assets of Rich Path and reallocate its resources for and direct its focus to concentrate on other core activities in which the Group has competitive advantage and core competencies and improve the financial performance of the Group as a whole.
Rich Path group is principally engaged in provision of maintenance and construction work on civil engineering contracts in respect of waterworks engineering and slope upgrading for public sector in Hong Kong, the provision of water supply services in the PRC and the renovation services in Macau.
PM's 30 Minutes: Erdenes OT Mongolia members leaving for London on Saturday
Ulaanbaatar, September 19 /MONTSAME/ The PM N.Altankhuyag said his first foreign visit, paid to Japan, was successful.
He Thursday said it at the beginning of the "30 minutes of Prime Minister" weekly meeting with the media. Then he noted that the irregular session of parliament began discussing the five bills submitted by his cabinet.
He was asked about the 8% mortgage loan programme, "which might stop, as people are afraid", and influence of currency fluctuation on prices of consumer products, fuels and supply. He replied that the mortgage loan programme is running normally and it will continue, adding that a working group is working to deal with people's complaints and requests. The cabinet is pursuing a policy on keeping constant the fuels prices, and no price soar and fuel shortage will happen, he stressed.
Having admitted that the prices of some import products such as rice, sugar and vegetable oil went up a bit due to currency rate fluctuation, he said no further increase is to occur because these products' reserves are being added.
Apart of this, the Premier informed the media that three new members of the "Oyu tolgoi" company's board for the Mongolian side will leave for London Saturday to hold talks with the Rio Tinto Group. "These people are supposed to bring us a new information about an additional investment to a ground mine of the Oyu tolgoi and the cabinet stands for continuing the Oyu tolgoi project," the Premier emphasized.
Possible options to solve the OT debacle
September 22 (UB Post) As being one of the leading sources to report on Oyu Tolgoi project, we continue to perform our analysis on solutions to end the debacle. Our sole purpose aligns with the aim of making the project a success. However, we have to define the success first. A successful project for us is balanced and mutual-benefit. Rio Tinto must not lose their investment for choosing to invest in the deposit after their careful analysis which they concluded it will be one of the biggest copper mines in the world. Mongolia as a whole must not lose as a hosting country, because the reserve belongs to the people of Mongolia, and they have the equal rights to benefit from the project as much as Rio Tinto. This arises the question what is losing? Losing can be defined in many ways. But, more importantly, sides should know that any kind of unfair treatment or fraudulent act should not be considered. It must be deemed as unacceptable. Please, be aware that the following analysis is solely a research compiled by Business-Mongolia.com Research team.
Option 1. Swap the 34% with royalty increase.
If you read our article here, we suggested this solution in brief when we were informed that the policy makers are considering to make Erdenes OT a public company to fund its' operations. In fact, the current 34% share is yet to bring income to the shareholders. Instead it makes us bear the 6.5%+LIBOR interest rate debt, enormous amount of stress, and of course self-destructing PR. The main problem is that it is not a free-carry. Some may argue that the set standard in international practices are that shares must be bought, and risk must be shared. However, to share the risk, both of the sides have to be in control of the project. Despite having 3 members in the board, Mongolian side doesn't feel like it has control over the project or have sufficient information.
The engineering giant FLUOR and other Canadian, American and Australian companies get the major contractor jobs to build the mine. When the government side wanted to audit, FLUOR and other companies refused to show contracts and cost breakdowns to the auditors due to the reason of commercial confidentiality.
On top of that, Mongolian policymakers and leaders don't want the full benefits of dividends after 20-30 years. The people don't want the infrastructure and GDP growth after a decade which sometimes merely numbers, because the beneficiaries of these incomes would be a small number of people or companies. We could roughly calculate the worth of the 34% stake equals 10% royalty. Therefore, adding 10% on top of 5% that was in place. 15% is an agreeable solution for both sides. Turquoise Hill is getting 2% royalty that it had bought from BHP almost a decade ago.
In that way, Rio Tinto would not have to deal with the Mongolian government over petty issues such as increase in investment over USD200 million for a shaft soil calculation error or putting a milk and bread billboard for over thousands of dollars a day in central areas.
Option 2. Stretch the mine-life.
This is a strategy that has been used to milk the cash-cow Erdenet JVC back in the 70′s. You may haven't heard, but the original mine design was that the mining capacity was 2-3 fold from the current operations at Erdenet JVC. However, the officials at that time and the Mongolian engineers felt that it would be better to stretch the mine-life to benefit from for long-period of time. It worked, and we see the producing more than half of the country's GDP.
The halting of project financing and therefore, underground development might be a hint that the policy makers are willing to implement the same strategy mentioned above. After open pit depletes, the underground can be built, which is according to the technical report, in 20-30 years. Then, underground mine could be exploited for another 30-50 years or more.
For a country that had distributed the mining boom incomes to as low as 16$ a month to all of the population, it seems like a viable option. We need time and human capital to come up with a sound policy, and educate people that the fate is in their hands, not on the mining industry. We must admit and recognize our mistake. I would support this strategy.
Option 3. Project financing for expansion.
BM wrote a lot about the project financing for OT expansion. The loan would cost us so much that we would not be able to pay the debt even if we generate enough income to pay it before the loan-life. 15 years in minimum would be spent in paying the debt and interest.
It means that risk is not born by Rio Tinto or the government. It will be born by the banks and international financial institutions by taking the whole mine, license, and the feasibility study as a collateral.
It will not get approved by the government and by the people. The logic here is clear. You can't come in here, and pledge our land, then leave us in debt, when we don't even have access to what you have been spending it on. This is an impossible option, as former board member of OT LLC P.Tsagaan as also reiterated in his interview.
Mongolia government finalizes financial audit of Oyu Tolgoi
September 19 (news.mn) The Mongolian Government appointed working group has completed auditing the costs incurred during the phase one development of the Oyu Tolgoi project.
Some initial conclusions are already emerging. The head of the working group, Minister for Mining D.Gankhuyag has finalized the inspection. Soon it will be reported in a cabinet meeting.
Minister for Mining, D.Gankhuyag said the results of auditing indicated that over 80 percent of cost for the initial development and construction of Oyu Tolgoi are over the initially planned amount during the Standing Committee meeting on Economy.
G.Batsukh, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Oyu Tolgoi said that it has completed the first phase of development at the Oyu Tolgoi mine project.
However the first phase of development for Oyu Tolgoi overran the originally planned costs in the feasibility study. Oyu Tolgoi LLC admitted that the investment for the first phase of development for Oyu Tolgoi project jumped to 6.5 billion US dollars, 800 million US dollar higher than planned in the feasibility study. But the government of Mongolia estimated that it increased by 2 billion US dollars.
The auditing team consisting of 20 people from the government was appointed to investigate the costs incurred during phase one of development of the project last spring as one appointed by Oyu Tolgoi LLC.
Minister for Mining, D.Gankhuyag met the new President and CEO of Oyu Tolgoi Craig Kinnell on Wednesday.
Mongolia Accounts for 0.8% of Templeton Emerging Markets Income Fund Assets
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL--(Marketwired - Sep 19, 2013) - The Templeton closed-end Funds referenced below, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, today released portfolio allocation updates containing the following information as of August 31, 2013:
· Asset Allocation
· Ten Largest Positions/Portfolio Characteristics
· International Allocation/Net Currency Distribution
· Industry Allocation/Country Distribution
To obtain a copy of the updates, please contact Fund Information at 1-800-342-5236.
Templeton closed-end Funds:
Centerra Gold 2013 Third Quarter Results Conference Call and Webcast
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Sept. 19, 2013) - Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX:CG) will host a conference call and webcast of its 2013 third quarter financial and operating results at 11:00AM Eastern time on Thursday October 31, 2013. The results are scheduled to be released after the market closes on Wednesday October 30, 2013.
· North American participants should dial the toll-free number (800) 272-5460.
· International participants may access the call at +1 (416) 981-9095.
· The conference call will also be broadcast live by Thomson Reuters and can be accessed at Centerra Gold's website at www.centerragold.com.
Montsame MSE News, 19 September: Top 20 +0.07%, Turnover ₮26.3 Million
Ulaanbaatar, September 19 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Thursday, a total of 30 thousand and 972 shares of 19 JSCs were traded costing MNT 26 million 328 thousand and 065.30.
Rates of shares of seven companies increased, of eight decreased and share price of four were stable.
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 373 billion 142 million 338 thousand and 144. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,718.50, increasing by 9.12 per cent (Mogi: points) against the previous day.
Montsame MSE News, 19 September: Top 20 -0.82%, Turnover ₮2.46 Billion
Ulaanbaatar, September 20 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Friday, a total of 11 million, 764 thousand and 385 shares of 16 JSCs were traded costing MNT two billion 461 million 107 thousand and 039.60.
Rates of shares of three companies increased, of ten decreased and share price of three were stable.
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 363 billion 413 million 998 thousand and 521. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,606.65, decreasing by 111.85 per cent (Mogi: points) against the previous day.
LORD MAYOR OF LONDON VISITS MONGOLIAN STOCK EXCHANGE
September 20 (MSE) Lord Mayor of City of London Roger Gifford has made official visit to Mongolia by the invitation of Mongolian Stock Exchange to promote friendly relationship between Mongolia and UK and to promote trade and cooperation between the countries on 20th September 2013.
This is the second time that Lord Mayor of City of London paying official visit to Mongolia and it is especially important because it is taking place at the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between two countires.
Lord Mayor of City of London Roger Gifford has visited Mongolian Stock Exchange together with British Ambassador to Mongolia and more than 10 delegates and expressed his delight that MSE and LSE are working together and rang an opening bell to open securities trading. He got acquainted with MSE and LSE cooperation, implementation of Master Service Agreement and local securities market operation and exchanged his views on these matters.
This visit is a high level visit to further strengthen financial market cooperation and friendly relationship with City of London.
Mongolia Draft Minerals Policy Won't Attract Investment: BCM
By Michael Kohn
Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Draft minerals policy lacks incentives to attract foreign and domestic investment, the Business Council of Mongolia says in memo dated Sept. 17.
* Policy favors large-scale mining over medium and small projects, council says
* Policy fails to promote private sector development in minerals sector: council
* NOTE: Draft minerals policy introduced to parliament in July.
* NOTE: Business Council has 270 members in Mongolia
The Long Name Law Should Go!
September 19 (National Securities) Proposed changes to the "Law to Prohibit Mineral Explorations and Mining Operations at Headwaters of Rivers, Protected Zones of Water Reservoirs and Forested Areas (the 'Long Name Law'), which are being discussed at the extraordinary parliamentary session; have been the cause of protestors actions, including an attempted armed entry of the national Parliament building by several nationalistic group members.
National Securities believes it is necessary for the government to repeal the law, which was approved in 2009, and has restricted any mining activities near rivers, forests and protected areas. In effect it has taken away licenses from many mining companies and left most of them with no compensation for the losses incurred. Mongolia has proven it can repeal ill-thought out and hastily approved laws, having removed the 2006, 68% Windfall Mining Tax in 2009. We believe this can and will occur again for the 'Long Name Law'.
Since the adoption of the law it has done nothing but encourage illegal mining activities by so-called "ninjas" and resulted in a draining of the gold reserves of Mongol Bank from 25 to 2 tons since 2005. Much of the previously transparent gold market has gone under-ground. It has also resulted moreover, in environmental damage that remains after the illegal operators pack-up and leave without repairing mining sites back to legally required standards. This must be changed or much damage will be done to the environment with dire consequences on traditional life and the tourism industry.
Historically, Mongolian gold mining has been conducted in the river basins and forested areas for over 40 years, with technologies that were proven to be safe for the environment. Most of the gold reserves found in Mongolian are placer and hard rock deposits, mostly found in formations near river basins. If the law is to remain un-changed, an estimated 30,000 tons of placer and 90,000 tons of hard rock deposits will remain un-tapped.
Most people are aware that the mining sector will drive Mongolian economic growth and general development, as it accounts for 20% of the GDP, 40% of the budget revenue, 85 % of the total FDI flows and almost 90% of the total industrial exports of the country. Thus, any constructive repealing or fundamental changes to the 'Long Name Law' and introduction of a NEW FDI law, which is also under discussion at this extra-ordinary session of parliament, would be welcome.
These positive changes could include:
1. No differentiation between domestic or foreign investors
2. Laws only be change-able if more than 2/3 of the Parliament Members vote for change
3. No strategic industry classification
4. Foreign investors to be classified only as state and private
5. Give tax exemptions and discounts in order to attract specific types of investment
6. Establishment of an Investment and Business Development Agency to actively promote Mongolia as a FDI location
These are just the first steps that the Mongolian government is (and must) take in order to correct a string of recent policy and legislative mistakes made in the mad rush to appeal to populist interest groups and the reality of political life – elections, that were to elect parliament and the Prime-Minister in June, 2012 and the recent July 2013, Presidential election.
These changes and repealing of the above-mentioned laws could be seen as the catalyst for a change in perception and reality that Mongolia is playing for real and maturing. It may well be looked back upon as the time that politics matured in Mongolia and built a road for long-term, strong growth that can benefit all and not just the ruling elite.
Mogi: This is a recommendation memo on the proposed amendment to the "Law with the Long Name", protesting the unfair, biased changes being introduced from the Mongolian National Mining Association, Mongolian Geological Association, Mongolian Industrial Geologists' Association, Mongolian Drillers' Association, Mongolian Steel Producers' Association, and the Mongolian Geophysicists' Association.
Геологи хайгуул, уул уурхайн мэргэжлийн холбоодын санал, зөвлөмж
"Гол мөрний урсац бүрэлдэх эх, усны сан бүхий газрын хамгаалалтын бүс, ойн сан бүхий газарт ашигт малтмал хайх, ашиглахыг хориглох тухай хуулийг дагаж мөрдөх журмын тухай" хуульд нэмэлт өөрчлөлт оруулахаар УИХ-аар хэлэлцүүлэх гэж байгаатай уялдуулан геологи хайгуул, уул уурхайн салбарт үйл ажиллагаа эрхэлдэг аж ахуйн нэгжүүдийн төлөөлөл болсон Холбоодуудын зүгээс дараах санал ба зөвлөмжийг дэвшүүлж байна.
Улс орны эдийн засгийг хөгжүүлэхэд стратегийн ач холбогдолтой гэж тодотгосон, экспортын, татварын,төсвийн орлогын томоохон хэсгийг бүрдүүлдэг,нийгэм эдийн засагт чухал байр эзэлдэг уул уурхайн салбарын үндэс суурь болсон геологи хайгуулын өндөр эрсдэлтэй бизнэсийг эрхэлж буй хайгуулын тусгай зөвшөөрөл эзэмшигч аж ахуйн нэгжүүд нь өнөөгийн Монголын эдийн засаг дахь гадаадын хөрөнгө оруулалтыг татдаг гол салбар билээ.
Ашигт малтмалын чиглэлийн уурхайн үйлдвэрийг түүхий эдийн бааз суурь болох нөөцөөр ханган нэмэгдүүлж, ингэснээрээ уурхайн үйлдвэрийн урт хугацаанд тогтвортой ажиллах нөхцлийг бүрдүүлж байдаг, мөн түүнчлэн улсын эрдэс баялгийн санг бүрдүүлж мэдээллээр хангаж байдаг геологи хайгуулын салбарыг ялгаварлан хумих бодлого хэрхэвч байж болохгүйг мэдэгдэхийн зэрэгцээ энэхүү "урт нэртэй" гэгдэх хуультай холбогдуулан үүссэн хүндрэлтэй нөхцөл байдлаас гарах үндэслэлүүд болон зөв шийдэл бүхий дараах гарцыг санал болгож байна.
Хууль эрх зүйн үндэслэлийн хувьд:
1. Анх гарахдаа: "Аливаа хууль буцаж үйлчилдэггүй" гэдэг зарчмыг зөрчсөн.
2. Одоо уг хуулийг дагаж мөрдөх журамд оруулах гэж байгаа нэмэлт өөрчлөлтөөр болохоор: Ашиглалтын ("A") ба Хайгуулын ("X") гэж ялгаварласанаар "хууль бүгдэд ижил тэгш үйлчилнэ, ялгаварлан гадуурхах ёсгүй" гэдэг зарчмыг зөрчих гэж байна.
3. "Хөрөнгө Оруулалтын тухай" хуулийн шинэчилсэн найруулгаар гадаад, дотоод эсвэл том, жижиг гэж ялгаварлахгүйгээр дэмжих бодлогыг УИХ-аар хэлэлцэн батлах гэж байна. Тэгвэл "урт нэртэй" гэгддэг энэ хуулиараа "А" тусгай зөвшөөрөлд хөрөнгө оруулсныг нь дэмжээд, "Х" тусгай зөвшөөрөлд хөрөнгө оруулсныг нь ялгаварлан хохироож, тусгай зөвшөөрлийг нь "хурааж" цуцлах болох нээ!
<<Ингэж нэг гараараа хийсэн ажлаа нөгөө гараараа үгүйсгэх хэрэг байна уу?>>
Энэ хуулийн алдаа, хэрэгжихэд хүндрэлтэй байдал:
4. Уг хуулийн хил заагийн алдаанаас гадна нөхөн олговорыг төлөх санхүүгийн эх үүсвэрийн асуудлыг шийдэжчадаагүйгээс энэ хууль хэрэгжих боломжгүй өнөөг хүргэсэн. Одоо ч энэ хэвээрээбайгаа!
5. Энэ хууль гараад алтны тусгай зөвшөөрлийг хурааснаас үүдэн улсаас нэхэмжилсэн мөнгө 222 тэрбум төгрөг байсан! Тэгвэл одоо оруулж байгаа саналаар Хайгуулынтусгай зөвшөөрлүүдийг цуцлах бол хамгийн багаар тооцоход 660 орчим тэрбум төгрөгийн нөхөн олговорыг Төр татвар төлөгчдийн мөнгөөр төлөх болох нь!
6. "Х" тусгай зөвшөөрлийг нийт 9 жилийн хугацаагаар олгодог учраас уг хууль гарахаас өмнө олгогдсон хамгийн сүүлчийн тусгай зөвшөөрөл2018 онд дуусгавар болно. Энэ хугацаанд орд илрүүлж олоогүй, нөөц тогтоож чадаагүй нэг ньзах зээлийнхээ зарчмаар шигшигдэнэ. Тэгэхээр ердөө 4 жилийн дараа гэхэд ямар ч нөхөн олговор төлөх шаардлагагүй болж,энэ асуудлаар төсөвт үзүүлэх дарамт байхгүйболно!
Энэ байдлаас гарах гарц, зөв шийдэл:
7. Одоо нэмж өөрчлөх гэж байгаа журмын төсөлд тусгагдсан заалтад маш зөв, нүдээ олсон шалгуур нөхцлийг тодорхойлсон байна. Үүнд: "Ашиглалт явуулах нөхцөл хангагдсан, ордын тухайн жилд байгаль орчныг хамгаалах, нөхөн сэргээхэд зарцуулах зардлын 50 хувийг урьдчилан байршуулсан болон үлдэгдэл зардлын 50 хувьд дүйцэхүйц хэмжээний баталгаа гаргасан, хайгуулаар тогтоогдсон ашигт малтмалын нөөцийн хэмжээ, үнэлгээ нь олборлолтоос үүсч болох экологийн хохирлыг нөхөн сэргээхэд хүрэлцэх эсэх талаархи геологи, уул уурхайн болон байгаль орчны асуудал эрхэлсэн төрийн захиргааны төв байгууллагын хамтарсан дүгнэлт, ... тухайн аж ахуйн нэгж ордыг ашиглаад бүрэн нөхөн сэргээж хүлээлгэж өгөх баталгаа зэргийг үндэслэн ашигт малтмал ашиглах, байгаль орчны нөхөн сэргээлтийн талаархи Гэрээг ... байгуулна." гэжээ.
8. Орд болон нөөцтэй "А" тусгай зөвшөөрөл байхад мөн орд болон нөөцтэй "Х" тусгай зөвшөөрөл бас бий!Тодруулж хэлвэл, ашигт малтмалын орд нээн илрүүлж олоод, нөөцийг нь тогтоон түүнийгээ МУ-ын Эрдэс Баялгийн Мэргэжлийн Зөвлөлийн хурлаар хэлэлцүүлээд, тухайн нөөцийг нь улс Ашигт Малтмалын Нөөцийн Улсын Нэгдсэн Сан-д бүртгээд авчихсан байгаа "Х" тусгай зөвшөөрөл бий! Одоо хүчин төгөлдөр дагаж мөрдөж буй "А" тусгай зөвшөөрөл олгох журам нь ч ийм юм. Тэгэхээр "А" тусгай зөвшөөрөл авах нөхцөл нь бүрэн хангагдсан боловч зөвхөн "урт нэртэй" гэгдэх энэ хуулиас шалтгаалаад хүлээгдэж буй "Х" тусгай зөвшөөрөл гэсэн үг.
9. Тэгвэл уг журмын төсөлд заасны дагуу "А" тусгай зөвшөөрөлтэй мөн адил яг энэ шалгуураараа эдгээрнөөцийг нь Ашигт Малтмалын Нөөцийн Улсын Нэгдсэн Сан-д бүртгээд хүлээгээд авчихсан "X" тусгай зөвшөөрлүүдийгоруулаад энэ шалгуураартэнцэж байгаа, тавьсан нөхцөл шаардлагыг биелүүлж байгаа тусгай зөвшөөрлийг нь үлдээж үйл ажиллагааг нь үргэлжлүүлэн явуулах боломж олгоё!
10. Энэхүү хуулийн үндсэн санаа болон үзэл баримтлалыг бүрэн дэмжиж байгаа тул угхуулийн хүрээнд тогтоосон хил хязгаар бүхий газар нутагт дахин шинээр хайгуулын тусгай зөвшөөрөл олгохгүй байхыг дэмжиж байна.Гагцхүү дээрх шалгуураараа "А" эсвэл "Х" гэж ялгаварлах БУС, харин бүгдийг оруулаад тэнцээгүй тусгай зөвшөөрлүүдийг цуцлахад огт буруудахгүй.
<<Уг хуулийг дагаж мөрдөх журамдааингэж нэмэлт өөрчлөлт оруулбал "A", "X"гэж ялгаварлах шаардлагагүй болно! Энэ нь ч шударга болно. Бизнес эрхлэгчдэд "тоглоомын" дүрэм нь тодорхой болж, Монгол улсын Төрийн бодлогоч хөрөнгө оруулагчдадойлгомжтой болно.>>
Геологи хайгуулын салбарыг дэмжих бодлого, зөвлөмж:
11. Улс орны эдийн засгийг хөгжүүлэхэд стратегийн ач холбогдолтой гэж тодотгосон,экспортын болон татварын/төсвийн орлогын дийлэнхийг бүрдүүлдэг уул уурхайн салбарын үндэс суурь нь болсон геологи хайгуулын өндөр эрсдэлтэй бизнэсийг эрхэлж буй "Х" тусгай зөвшөөрөл эзэмшигч тэдгээр хөрөнгө оруулагчдыг харин ч дэмжиж урамшуулах нь зүйтэй баймаар!Ялангуяа уул уурхайн үйлдвэрлэлийн түүхий эдийн бааз суурийг бий болгон өсгөн нэмэгдүүлж, тухайн ашигт малтмалын нөөцөөр ханганнийлүүлж, ингэснээрээ уурхай үйлдвэрийн урт хугацаанд тогтвортойажиллах нөхцлийг бүрдүүлж байдаг геологи хайгуулын бизнэсийг эрхлэх хууль эрх зүйн орчныг нь харин ч улам сайжруулах, урамшуулахнь зүйтэй баймаар!
12. Энэхүү санал болгож буй гарц – шалгуурыг амжилттай хэрэгжүүлснээр Геологи хайгуулын салбарын нарийн мэргэшсэн өндөр боловсролтой инженер болон техникийн ажилчид, гэрээт ажилчидын орон тоо буурах биш өсөж ажлын байрууд баталгаажна. Байгаль орчны тухай багц хуульд заасан Дүйцүүлэн нөхөн сэргээх ажил хэрэгжиж, манай улсын ой модны хэмжээ ихэснэ.Хууль бус олборлолт багасч хууль ёсны үйл ажиллагаа бий болсноор хариуцлага өндөрсөж, татварын орлого нэмэгдэнэ.
13. Эцэст нь, нөхөн сэргээлтийн ажил гүйцэтгэх шаардлага, норм стандартаа өнөөгийн техник технологийн хөгжлийн дэвшил болон олон улсын жишигтэй уялдуулан илүү боловсронгуй болгон өөрчлөх, ялангуяа зах зээлийн орчинд ямагт үр өгөөжтэй байдаг эдийн засгийн арга хөшүүргүүдийг түлхүү хэрэглэх зэргээр геологи хайгуул болон уул уурхайн салбарын онцлогтой уялдаж зохицсон оновчтой бөгөөд зөв зүйтэй арга замуудыг сонгохгүй бол иймэрхүү байдлаар аль нэг журамд өөрчлөлт оруулснаар байгаль орчноо хамгаална гэвэл дэндүү өрөөсгөл бодлого болно!
Улс орны эдийн засгийн хөгжлийг хойш нь татаж чангаах ийм "ногоон" өөрчлөлтийг бид хүсээгүй!
Монголын Геологийн Холбоо
Монголын Үйлдвэрлэлийн Геологчдын Холбоо
Монголын Уул Уурхайн Үндэсний Ассоциаци
Монголын Өрөмдлөгийн Холбоо
Монголын Төмөрлөг Үйлдвэрлэгчдийн Холбоо
Монголын Геофизикчдийн Холбоо
Mogi: looks like this is first time BoM bought USD since June 11, 2013
BoM holds FX auction
September 19 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on September 19th, 2013 the BOM has received bid offer of USD and CNY from local commercial banks. BOM has bought 7.0 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1652.0 from the local commercial banks.
On September 19th, 2013, The BOM has received bid offer for Swap and Forward agreement from local commercial banks and did not take the offer.
First 48 Days of New Mortgage Program: ₮449.6 Billion Refinanced, ₮443.8 Billion Newly Issued
September 21 (Cover Mongolia) Bank of Mongolia announcement dating September 20 (in Mongolian only) reports that commercial banks have so far received requests to refinance ₮794.6 billion (same as 47th day) worth of old mortgages and accordingly have converted ₮449.6 billion (previously ₮449.1 billion) old mortgages of 16,080 citizens (previously 16,064) to 8%.
₮471.8 billion (previously ₮452.2 billion) worth of new mortgage requests were received and ₮443.8 billion (previously ₮438.5 billion) out of these of 7,821 citizens (previously 7,746 citizens) were issued at 8%.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
DE FACTO: A THOUGHT-PROVOKING SCENARIO
By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa
September 22 (UB Post) The World Economic Forum Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Mongolia was held in Ulaanbaatar on September 14-15. The opening remarks of this meeting were given by Ts.Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia, and Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
The dialogue was attended by representatives of business and international organizations from various countries, senior officials of the Mongolian government and leaders from the private sector and civil society. Three different scenarios for the future of Mongolia were explained and discussed thoroughly. These scenarios vary in the level of effort needed for Mongolia to extract and sell its mineral resources, and on how successful its economic diversification would turn out to be. Each scenario suggests where Mongolia could be by the year of 2040.
Economic expert B.Lagshmi came up with the brightest outlook into the future and explained a scenario in which Mongolia succeeds in both diversifying its economy and exporting mineral resources without barriers. Baabar, on the other hand, argued for a scenario that suggests Mongolia would face difficulties in selling its mineral resources despite carrying out successful economic diversification. It was followed by a scenario put forward by me, that Mongolia would struggle in both economic diversification and sales of mineral resources. The two-day discussion focused on these three scenarios of future.
In the course of the dialogue, the least promising scenario produced the most worrying thoughts and questions. As the entire meeting, with the exception of the opening and closing ceremonies, did not allow media coverage, I would like to share some of the discussions on the unpromising scenario I proposed.
The unpromising scenario
Let us assume that Mongolia will have underachieved in diversifying its economy and failed to remove obstacles in selling its coal and copper by the year 2040. What will happen then?
This scenario suggests that geopolitical conflicts will have slowed down economic growth in the region and reduced the demand for mineral resources. Furthermore, mineral resources might turn out to be a political tool. Also, due to fiercer competition in mining investment among other countries, Mongolia's mineral resources could lose its competitive edge and be turned down by investors.
With such fierce competition in mining investment, buyers might prefer purchasing raw materials and processing them in their own plants. It could have devastating effects on resource-based economies like Mongolia, and our aspirations to process mineral resources and produce value-added products might go up in smoke.
If our resource-based economy encounters such difficulties, it will be more costly for Mongolia to acquire foreign loans and raise capital from international markets. Consequently, it will slow down the process of economic diversification, as it will be more challenging to attract capital resources and skilled professionals from abroad.
Obviously, the proposed scenarios do not have to come true. However, such predictions attempting to anticipate the future in various ways will help us to identify potential challenges and opportunities correctly and formulate policy to achieve sustainable economic development.
What does it tell us?
A foreign businessman who has been living in Mongolia for many years also agreed that the scenario I put forward for discussion was plausible. He explained his response by drawing on the example of when China closed its border with Mongolia for three days due to "technical reasons" in protest against the Dalai Lama's visit to Mongolia. He also added that Russia has reminded Mongolia of its fuel dependency by increasing taxes on exports time and time again.
This scenario shows us many things to fix, such as removing the dependencies mentioned above. For instance, when building the Sainshand Industrial Park, we have to attempt to acquire a warranty letter for every factory so that there will be guaranteed buyers of its products. Furthermore, it will also be better if we manage to have the buyers make investments and establish an agreement that grants favorable conditions for the investors, such as allowing them to purchase a certain proportion of total products at market price.
By reminding us that the government must not acquire huge foreign loans, spend them to build some plant and then have the taxpayers carry the debt burden, regardless of the profitability of the plant, this scenario asks Mongolians to reflect on the objectives we have set. In this fashion, our government is paying back its foreign debts with the money collected from taxpayers.
What if our total exports become fully dependent on the market to the south and China can stop buying from us anytime they want? Why should Mongolia keep falling into huge foreign debt and lock our capital inside the country by not being able to sell our products despite having built the necessary infrastructure? In order to avoid a deadlock economy like Nigeria, we need to hand over every industrial project to the private sector, develop health, safety and environmental standards and fully implement them. Also, it might be a good idea to offer Chinese companies half of total output of products under the condition that they are required to make all necessary investments first.
Likewise, if we manage to obtain investment from China to build the Tavan Tolgoi power plant, roads and railway with the condition of paying them back with our products, there will be less risk and our government will not have to suffer from increased debt pressure.
What is the broader outlook?
The unpromising scenario mentioned above prompts us to do our best in researching and finding our place in other fields of international division of labor without focusing solely on mining.
We could remove the 85 millimeter difference in railway gauges that belong to our neighbors, two of the world's biggest countries, by building ports deep in the heart of our territory where trains can be loaded and unloaded in a very short amount of time.
This way, Mongolia can be the connecting point of two different railway gauges and the route could be used for transporting coal and other natural resources from Russia to China, and subsequently to India, with lower cost and faster delivery. If we successfully provide this service, Asia-Europe trade turnover will be accelerated with reduced costs.
A short, cheap route for air transport from Southeast Asia to North America crosses our territory, which means we could also establish an air transport hub here in Mongolia.
Furthermore, Mongolia could bring in necessary people from abroad and work together with them to provide health services and higher education offered in the United States and European countries, where Chinese and Russian citizens travel to get treated and to study.
We need to think about other opportunities rather than focusing only on extracting our natural resources. The scenarios discussed in the strategic dialogue on the future of Mongolia will aid us in formulating our development strategy and setting our vision for the future. The final dialogue on the scenarios will take place during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, by the beginning of 2014. In the meantime, let us hope that Mongolia will have time to achieve good results in bringing back the foreign investment that has been flowing out of the country.
Opposition Poses a Challenge to the Special Session
September 22 (The Mongolist) The special session of parliament started off last week with a bang--literally. The environmentalist group "Gal Undesten" (Fire Nation) showed up outside the parliament building on the first day of the session armed to the teeth with guns, hand grenades, and military grade explosives to protest the modification and repeal of environmental and investment laws on the agenda.1 Several arrests were made, and a national conversation began about the political fringe in the country. But, it also ended any speculation about whether PM Altankhuyag's government would have an easy time passing legislation with the expressed aim of demonstrating, as Foreign Minister Bold said at the World Economic Forum the weekend before, that "Mongolia is open for business."2 Instead, it showed that politically things are far from under control at a time when consensus and decisive action are sorely needed.
The big surprise of the week, besides the "Gal Undesten" scare, was being reminded that there is an opposition party in parliament. "Oh, yeah," you're saying to yourself. "There's the MPP. Where have those guys been?" Good question. The MPP has spent the last year fighting amongst themselves and trying to find their way after losing control of parliament after the 2012 elections. But, this week they appeared ready to come together as a team and make life miserable for the PM and his cabinet. Although still politically weak, the party gave a good effort at being a vigorous opposition. It reminded me of an old Mongolian proverb that I made up: Even a three legged wolf still has fangs.
And, did they ever flash those fangs. Here are a few quotes from the week.
In a press release from MPP to the government there was:
What has happened in the last year? Economic growth has unexpectedly weakened, FDI has declined by 42 percent. Our foreign debt has reached a historic USD 15 billion, reaching beyond a year's GDP. The tugrik buying power is reduced, passing 1,700 per USD...That said, there is no reason for the decline in foreign and domestic investment other than over-politicizing of the critical industry [mining], using it as a tool for winning elections and a platform for populist and one-sided promises.3
There was MP J. Enkhbayar (MPP) saying to Minister of Mining Gankhuyag (DP) in a parliament committee meeting:
If you personally resign, foreign investment may actually increase by 20 percent. That's the point, really. These problems were all brought about by your (party's) stupidity.4
DP caucus leader Erdenebat said, "I am tired of hearing you speak," after a long winded lecture from MPP senior leader Nyamdorj about the failures of the government, to which Nyamdorj responded:
Oh, you're tired, the people are more tired than you from asking how they are going to buy bread or rice due to the strengthening dollar.5
To add to the attacks from the MPP, the coalition government showed it was hardly unified about strategy and policy. The DP is divided by factions, and on the issues being discussed in the special session, there seemed to be tension among members of the cabinet around strategy, especially in terms of how to assuage the worries of foreign investors generally while addressing outstanding issues between Rio Tinto and the government over Oyu Tolgoi specifically. Then there were the junior members of the coalition government (MPRP and Justice Coalition) who were in many ways opposed to the policy goals of the special session, producing a fairly robust opposition within the government itself even without the MPP flashing their fangs. And, of course, one could not forget the deep back-bencher, independent MPs who derive much of their support from the sentiment driving fringe groups like "Gal Undesten" to round out the challenge faced by the government in trying to demonstrate to the world that things are under control.
If this week was any indication of things to come, this autumn's regular session of parliament will likely be an exercise in more raucous democracy. The description of "The Wild East" continues to be apt description of parliamentary politics in Mongolia.
1. See "Тэслэгч бодис нэмж илрүүлжээ", News.mn, http://www.news.mn/content/156628.shtml, 2013-9-19.
2. L. Bold, "Closing remarks by Minister L.Bold at WEF Strategic Dialogue on Future of Mongolia", http://boldlu.mn/en/english-closing-remarks-minister-l-bold-wef-strategic-dialogue-future-mongolia, 2013-9-18.
3. See "МАН-ын бүлэг дүгнэлтээ танилцуулав", News.mn, http://politics.news.mn/content/156500.shtml, 2013-9-18.
4. Video clip broadcast on several local news stations from a Joint Standing Committee meeting in parliament 2013-9-17.
5. Г.Наран, "Чамаас илүү ард түмэн ядарч байна", News.mn, http://politics.news.mn/content/156365.shtml, 2013-9-17.
Protest at the Government Palace leads to arrests and panic
September 19 (UB Post) A protest against amendments to the extraction law concerning river basins and forested areas resulted in the apprehension of 11 people and the confiscation of three guns, 36 bullets, nine grenades, and additional explosive devices, as well as the evacuation of five ministries and offices near the Government Palace
On the morning of September 16, delegates representing 11 non-governmental organizations protested outside the Government Palace against proposed amendments to the Extraction Law on River Basin and Forested Areas. The issue was under discussion in a parliamentary meeting. The reason for the protest was to prevent the approval of the amendment, as the 2009 law hasn't been implemented or enforced in its current form. Many protected lands have been mined despite the law meant to preserve the integrity of Mongolia's environment.
The protest started when delegates placed placards around the Government Palace which stated,"Around 40 percent of Mongolian territory should be protected by the state and 1,782 extraction permits should be terminated in accordance with the current Extraction Law on River Basin and Forested Areas." which The protesters were there to stop the amendment, fearing that once the law is amended, permit termination and state protection might become impossible.
Thirty minutes into the protest, a gunshot was heard in the public park behind the Government Palace, and the security division of the palace immediately announced an emergency lockdown, prohibiting all individuals from entering or leaving the palace. Soon after, over 30 officials from the General Police Department (GPD), General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia (GIAM), and Ulaanbaatar City Emergency Management Agency (UCEMA) arrived at the palace and scoured the back park.
Below is more information about the protest, what actions were taken, and related issues.
10:40 a.m. Head of the Ongi Gol movement, Ts.Munkhbayar, accompanied by G.Boldbaatar and G.Chagnaadorj, allegedly fired a gun in the park after refusing to disperse. Security officials arrested the three protesters and searched them for weapons. The were reportedly carrying a 7 round Makarov and an AK-47 with additional bullets and one active grenade, while nine grenades, and five explosives commonly used in mining were in their bags. Shortly after their arrest, talk of a grenade being placed in the park came led emergency officials to scour the park with bomb-sniffing dogs.
A criminal case was filed and the Sukhbaatar District Police Department is now working on it.
12:15 p.m. An emergency lockdown the Government Palace ended after two hours and police arrested nine more protesters. The remaining protesters dispersed.
Staff of 5 ministries and the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia evacuated
2:00 p.m. Before the disturbance erupting at the protest site had been settled, the staff of the Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Mining, and Ministry of Nature, Environment and Green Development evacuated their buildings under police protection as authorities responded to a report that bombs might have been placed in the ministry offices. At the same time, Central Tower, adjacent to the Government Palace, was also evacuated and placed under protection. Intelligence officers, police and emergency management searched the surrounding areas and buildings for explosives.
The evacuation started after 2 p.m. Vehicles parked outside the buildings were sent off the premises after being searched. The police recorded the state license plate numbers of all vehicles with unknown drivers, and checked the areas surrounding the buildings. The staff being evacuated said that the police let staff go after thoroughly checking their offices.
Explosive found in a garbage bin at Central Tower
3:30 p.m. At around 3 p.m., the road east of the square was closed while Central Tower was being inspected. The restricted zone also included the State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet and the park in front of the square. According to staff at Central Tower, the mass evacuation started after 2:30 p.m. During the evacuation, Deputy Chief of UCEMA, Ch.Namsraijav, said, "We found an explosive in a garbage bin at Central Tower, which was possibly intended for detonation. Thus, we placed the tower under protection."
As an explosive was found in Central Tower, the Ulaanbaatar City Governor's Office and other offices near the government palace were also scheduled to be checked for possible threats.
The police department has not made information public about who reported the explosive device at Central Tower.
Various media outlets are reporting that the delegates fired a shot on purpose, but the head of the Negdsen Mongol movement, Ch.Munkhbayar, one of the supporters of the opposition to the proposed amendment, said, "I arrived at the scene after the disturbance had ended. I understood that the protest participants united under Gal Undesten protested with guns just to express that they are ready to use weapons if the law is amended. The gunshot was not intentional. When government palace security officials tried to arrest them, they refused to be arrested and shot was fired unintentionally. It was an accident."
Head of the Ongi Gol movement, Ts.Munkhbayar, who is currently under investigation at GIAM, said in his testimony, "We didn't intend to hurt anyone. We just tried to issue a warning to government officials who do not give any thought to the interests of Mongolian people, but only their own."
GPD and GIAM are filing separate official reports about the incident and no officials were injured during the arrests or investigation.
Feasibility study for Tavan Tolgoi Power Station approved
September 19 (news.mn) A feasibility study for the Tavan Tolgoi Power Station mega project has been approved after it was discussed at a meeting of the Science and Technology Board at the Ministry of Energy of Mongolia. The Tavan Tolgoi Power Station mega project unit, energy and infrastructure MCS International LLC and the project technical assistant of Australian "WorleyParsons" jointly worked on the feasibility study since May.
The head of the Tavan Tolgoi Power Station project unit, M.Enkhsaikhan introduced the general progress of project, the main concepts and financing. Ch.Davaakhuu, the Vice President of Operations and Project Management of the Mongolian Mining Corporation representing MCS International LLC gave a presentation about the technical specifications and performance on the project. The Government of Mongolia authorized the construction of a 300 MW power plant based on the Tavan Tolgoi deposit in 2011 projecting in the Government's Action Plan to resolve the power supply to the Gobi region strategic deposits, cities and settlements.
MONGOLIA WANTS TO COOPERATE WITH USA IN ENERGY SPHERE
Ulaanbaatar, September 20 /MONTSAME/ Mongolia wants the US biggest companies such as the General Electric, Peabody Energy and Genie Oil & Gas to run business in Mongolia and make investments.
The Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold Friday said it at a meeting with a delegation led by Mr Christopher Smith, the U.S Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy.
He also noted that the Mongolia-USA relations and cooperation have been developing fruitfully since the establishment of the diplomatic relations. He said he had requested the Genie Oil&Gas company to assist us in a legal regulation of pyroschist, adding that a pending draft new wording of the law on oil reflects new clauses on non-traditional oil resources.
The Speaker also said Mongolia and General Electric Corporation are co-implementing the "Salkhit" project on wind energy in Tov aimag's Sergelen soum. Generated by this wind farm energy will satisfy needs of the whole region, he added.
Mr Smith reported that he is visiting Mongolia with key aims to meet with officials of Mongolia-based US companies, to collaborate with the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) and to exchange students, and said their side can cooperate with Mongolia in directions of technologies and investments.
The Speaker expressed a willingness of Mongolia to collaborate with US companies engaged in renewable energy, extraction and exploitation of schist.
GDM WINS AWARD AT THE ULAANBAATAR PARTNERSHIP 2013 INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR
September 20 -- Gateway Development Mongolia (GDM), a US-Mongolian joint venture company providing energy efficient infrastructure technologies to Mongolia recently won an award as the best thermally insulated building material manufacturer at the International Autumn Trade Fair organized by the Ulaanbaatar City Governor's Office of Ulaanbaatar City and the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Exhibiting at the Ulaanbaatar Partnership 2013 International Trade Fair at Misheel, GDM's CEO, Dr. Adam Saffer, said, "It is a pleasure and an honor to exhibit with other US-Mongolian investments such as Coca-Cola, Wagner Asia, Peabody Coal and Flour." He further stated, "Both the public and private sectors are now realizing that better building practices and energy efficiency as an important ingredient in Mongolia's goal to achieve energy self-sufficiency."
GDM technologies include a variety of polyurethane products such as "ThermoBlok", an insulated concrete form used in the construction of low rise buildings such as offices, schools, houses, industrial buildings, and "ThermoSeal", a suite of spray polyurethane foam products used to insulate and waterproof existing and new roofs, walls, and foundations. GDM is now introducing another globally proven technology called "ThermaCote", a ceramic-based thermal barrier which can best be described as an "insulating paint". ThermaCote is spray applied and looks like paint. However, it also serves as an exceptional thermal barrier for residential and industrial applications (including hot water and steam pipes). It also is waterproof, prevents corrosion, faster and easier to apply, and less expensive than the alternatives. For more information, please contact GDM on 9522.2701.
Mongolia's Nuudelchin imports 155 Montbéliarde dairy cattle from France
September 20 (UB Post) The Khishigten Nuudelchin company started a project to establish a dairy farm last year in Mongolia, and as a result, 155 Montbéliarde cattle were imported from the Montbéliard region of France. The cattle arrived at Chinggis Khaan International Airport via Beijing on a Qatar Airways airplane at 12:50 p.m. yesterday (Mogi: Qatar Airways?). The cattle were put in wooden enclosures.
The farm for the cattle is currently under construction in Arkhus soum of Tuv Province. Montbéliarde dairy cows gives 25 liters of milk high in protein per day, while Montbéliarde bulls are typically bred for beef.
The cattle sent to Mongolia are 20 months old, and the cows are all four months pregnant. They will calve in Spring 2014. The cows will give three tons of milk per day in total, and they eat alfalfa, bran, and silage. They are able to be used for dairy for nine years.
The dairy farm will be completed at the cost of seven billion MNT in total. If transportation expenses are added, each cow purchased is worth eight to ten million MNT.
CEO of Khishigt Nuudelchin, J.Battugs, said, "It is possible to export the Montbéliarde cattle if we breed enough of them. The farm complex will be operational in two months and then we will see our first products. The cattle has adapted to harsh climates, such as Russia, very well and they are therefore expected to greatly benefit Mongolia without much loss."
The company took a 1.8 billion MNT loan with a three percent interest rate for a four year term from the Ministry of Factory and Agriculture (MFA) to start its dairy farm. Chief of the Livestock Husbandry and Policy Implementation Managing Authority of the MFA, M.Ganibal, also said, "As part of our program to ensure sustainable prices for main food products, around 3,000 cattle will be imported. Most of them will be for beef. The reason for this plan to import cattle for beef while Mongolia has abundant livestock and dairy products is to develop intensified farming, keep meat prices sustainable and reduce beef shortages."
Khishigten Nuudelchin is a subsidiary of Nuudelchin Group, which owns mining prospecting, extraction and rehabilitation operaions, construction material manufacturing, flour mills, crop farms, and livestock sector companies nationwide and is now expanding its operation with dairy farming with a specific plan to develop cheese-making in Mongolia.
Malaysia-Mongolia Business Forum in Ulaanbaatar, October 1
Ulaanbaatar, September 20 /MONTSAME/ A Malaysian commerce support organization is planning to hold together with Mongolia's Commerce and Industry Chamber a petroleum and natural gas themed business meeting in Ulaanbaatar.
The meeting will run October 1 at the "Blue Sky" hotel with a participation of Malaysian leading companies, namely Alam Dingin Air Conditioning Engineering, Asia Management&Consultancy, Casa Armada, Education Malaysia Global Services, Esional, Innovative Fluid Progress, Romstar, and Star Kris Services.
Consul General Discusses Bringing San Francisco Brand Names to Mongolia with Assemblyman
September 20 (InfoMongolia) General Consul of Mongolia in San Francisco, USA N.Ankhbayar met with the member of the California State Assembly Tom Ammiano on September 19, 2013. Parties exchanged views about further developing the friendly relations and cooperation of Mongolia and the State of California, United States.
During the meeting, General Consul N.Ankhbayar gave a briefing of the current Mongolian social and economic state, the activities of the General Consulate, and the living conditions of Mongolian citizens in California and expressed the Consulate is aiming to develop mutual relations and cooperation in all potential sectors, especially in the agriculture, energy, tourism, and information technology sectors.
The sides agreed to cooperate in certain matters such as mutual visits by legislators to activate bilateral parliamentary cooperation and open branches of American clothing companies known worldwide for its Levi's and GAP stores in Mongolia in order to broaden trade and economic relations.
Smoke-free stove project update
September 21 (UB Post) It's been already two years since smoke-free stoves appeared in the Mongolian market. For the time being, 120,000 households have purchased the stove. Once 45,000 more smoke-free stoves are sold this year, around 90 percent of the 180,000 households in ger district areas will have acquired the stove.
As part of the "Ulaanbaatar Clean Air" project financed by the Government of Mongolia and the World Bank, smoke-free stove sales resumed on September 16. Minister of Nature, Environment and Green Development, S.Oyun; Chief of the National Committee for Reducing Air Pollution, P.Tsagaan; Chief of the Ulaanbaatar City Representative's Council, D.Battulga; and Resident Representative of the World Bank to Mongolia, Coralie Gevers, attended the start of this season's sale.
The smoke-free stove project now offers four types of stoves to six central districts of Ulaanbaatar. Apart from Ulzii and Dul stoves, Talst stoves by Elmeko LLC, and the Bekas 107 by Ikh Tengeryn Khuch LLC have passed laboratory evaluations and acquired a permit to be sold to citizens.
The structure of the Talst stove is the result of Mongolian engineering and domestic raw materials. Talst stove manufacturers claim that the stove is the most suitable for ger use, as it is able to heat even the biggest traditional pot.
Citizens are able to buy the stoves for 29,000 to 36,000 MNT, which is 93 percent cheaper than their original price. Full financing for the project is 17 billion MNT, and 50 percent of it will be provided by a soft loan from the World Bank. Coralie Gevers said that the project results will be announced in May 2014.
MAYOR BAT-UUL DISCUSSES ESTABLISHING FINANCIAL CENTER IN ULAANBAATAR WITH LONDON LORD MAYOR
September (InfoMongolia) On September 20, 2013, Governor of Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul met with Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Mongolia Christopher Stuart and Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Roger Gifford.
During the meeting, the sides exchanged views to establish a "Financial Center" in Ulaanbaatar City. At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor E.Bat-Uul said, "Ulaanbaatar is a city of centralized population and manufacturing. For the first time, we had the general development plan of Ulaanbaatar City until 2030 approved by the State Great Khural (Parliament). Within the framework, a metro system will be built along Peace Avenue and a feasibility study has been carried out. We are interested in attracting investors in these operations. We are also aiming to re-plan the Ger districts, which take up 78% of Ulaanbaatar City, and utilize renewable energy to change them into residential areas. Therefore, we will gladly receive your suggestions and cooperate".
Lord Mayor Roger Gifford stated, "Stock exchanges are crucial in developing financial activities and it is necessary to develop domestic bond markets. Also, a "Financial Center" is absolutely necessary in Ulaanbaatar City to carry out such large construction works. We will cooperate in these matters".
Governor of Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul expressed he supports the idea of establishing a "Financial Center" in Ulaanbaatar City and stated Mongolia is interested in cooperating with London.
Over 400 renters suffered losses in the Narantuul market fire
September 20 (UB Post) On August 23, a fire broke out in the food market at Narantuul market. One person died at the scene, and many others suffered the loss of their goods. With an order from the General Police Department's chief, a working group led by Chief of the Grave Offence Investigation Division of the State Investigation Authority, E.Idertsog, was formed and has since been collecting statements from victims and suspects.
According to the working group, the collection of statements has finished and over 400 people have been identified as renters.
The investigation of the fire and calculation of total financial losses is still underway. The cause of the fire is still undetermined. Investigators took several samples from the scene of the fire and submitted them for thorough research by specialists.
Nine people have been identified as suspects responsible for the fire, and last week, four people had been detained but eventually released on bail. These four were security guards, a custodian and electrical repairman working at the market and were scheduled for the night shift when the accident occurred. During the investigation, they were found to be under the influence of alcohol on the night of the fire and unable to fulfill their duties which resulted in great losses.
The investigation also revealed that prior to the August 23rd fire, two to three fires had broken out at the market but were not reported by market officials.
The victims of the fire claimed that they would not demand immediate compensation when they met with Narantuul market owner, Sh.Saikhansambuu. Instead they said, "We are requesting to have the new food market built as quickly as possible, as it is our source of income. We have to resume our sales first and foremost. We will talk about compensation after this."
Sh.Saikhansambuu said he agreed with their request wholeheartedly, but claims that related organizations have not approved the construction of a new food market.
Smugglers caught with 138 tons of raw material for mining explosives
September 20 (UB Post) With information from a citizen's report, 138 tons of raw material for mining explosives were found at the loading area of Ulaanbaatar Railway's Tolgoit Railway Station in the 11th khoroo of Bayanzurkh District on September 17. Suspects were loading the raw materials on to two nearby vehicles directly from the traincars when they were caught.
The police discovered that the raw material was imported from Russia and earmarked for mining explosives. The Bayanzurkh Police Department is now investigating the case.
Praise the traffic regulators
September 22 (UB Post) Owning a car in Ulaanbaatar is not what it used to be a couple of years ago.
According to the latest statistics, there are roughly enough vehicles for one in five people in the country and around 80-90 percent of them are used in Ulaanbaatar, which makes the traffic congestion and car related frustration in the city unsurprising.
There are so many car related problems, such as bad roads, finding parking spaces in the city, terrible traffic congestion, outrageous taxation, high fuel prices (compared to other countries), horrible drivers, and trying to find a warm garage in the winter, among other things.
While driving in the city lately, I noticed something rather pleasantly surprising – drivers seemed to be a lot more civil and adherent to traffic regulations. This was no coincidence however, as the traffic police have been avidly implementing the regulations which were largely perceived as mere suggestions rather than unbending rules.
This year, the capital city has been taking significant efforts towards taking control and managing the increasing traffic in the city. Mayor E.Bat-Uul and his fellow higher officials have received much criticism for their controversial license plate restrictions imposed on the city's car owners, where certain plate numbered cars cannot be used on particular week days.
Admittedly, I was also critical of the new regulations, which would limit some whose business is dependent on their vehicles. Each week day, around 20,000 cars are restricted from use between 08:00-22:00. Which means there are roughly 100,000 registered vehicles using Ulaanbaatar's limited road infrastructure and parking spaces.
After the installation of traffic cameras and speedometers in the heavily trafficked areas of the capital, hundreds of drivers were fined directly to their home address for speeding and red light crossing violations, according to the Traffic Police of Ulaanbaatar.
But despite the increasingly civil usage of vehicles and roads in the capital, drivers are more frustrated and critical of the new developments, which limit their ability to use their cars. They also note that traffic police are more ready to impose fines and tickets for the mildest of traffic violations.
The largest amount of road construction and reconstruction in Mongolia's history has been executed this year. Much to the frustration of drivers around the city, some critical central roads had to be reconstructed simultaneously. City administration assures that this year's reconstruction work has been done with high standards.
Due to the extreme climate, roads deteriorate rather quickly. Roads built just a year before are cracked and broken down by the next spring. This is usually observable and easily explained. Road construction projects that begin in late August tend to drag on until October for various reasons, and when the cold weather hits, the construction material used to build it has not properly cured. After an intense couple months of Mongolian winter, they are broken and in need of repair once again. Most roads in Mongolia aren't built with water removal systems. After a heavy rain, the roads are left with depressions and cracks as water floods and seeps through them.
There are other factors contributing to the fast deterioration of our roads, the above being the main one. With the development of mines and large scale construction projects, heavy trucks are used on roads not designed to sustain them, which contributes greatly to air pollution via dust as well as road deterioration. Road experts also claim that winter tires have deeper grooves, which also play a part in road damage.
Although rather extreme measures are taken on the part of traffic regulators, they are slowly paying off. Better roads are being built, and drivers are slowly beginning to adapt and follow traffic regulations, leading to altogether safer road and traffic activity. Managing traffic in a city that lacks infrastructure is not easy, and some sacrifices on the part of vehicle owners and traffic regulators have to be made to improve the system in the long run.
So, if the only good road leading to your home is closed at night for repair, take comfort in the knowledge that after a short period of time, getting home will be much easier than before.
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President Elbegdorj receives Lord Mayor of London
September 20 (news.mn) The President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj received the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Roger Gifford on Thursday September 19th.
At the beginning of the meeting Lord Roger Gifford said that "We deeply appreciate you're welcome to us. We came accompanied by representatives of banking, financing, law and business to Mongolia. London is the center of world banking, financing and the stock market. We are willing to share our experience and give advice on banking, financing and market shares here in Mongolia".
President Elbegdorj replied that "In Mongolia the financial market is underdeveloped. So we need your assistance and support to take the right path. I hope you have enough experience working with and giving assistance to developing countries who have recently transferred to a market economy like Mongolia. Mongolia holds an open policy in the international arena while keeping good relations with its two neighboring countries."
During the meeting parties had talks on legislation experience, in particular the English standard method that is used to make international agreements and negotiations. The parties also exchanged opinions on how to improve financial accounting and related legislation.
President attending UN General Assembly
September 19 (news.mn) The President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj, is to leave for high-level meetings of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly that will be held in New York, USA on September 23rd.
President Elbegdorj plans to have several meetings including a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly.
A declaration of Mongolia"s nuclear-weapon-free status was recognized by the P5 during the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly and Ulaanbaatar's declaration of "Community"s attainments and global challenges" on education for democracy were applauded by the international community.
President Elbegdorj will report on the national resolutions on improving the livelihoods of women in remote area and 10 years for literacy and the co-operative role in social development for discussions during the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly.
Mongolia is also expected to attend discussions on disability and development- "The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond" and on Sustainable Development Goals during the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly.
United States unequivocally supports establishment of OSCE mission in Ulaanbaatar
Response to the Report by the Director of the Conflict Prevention Center, Ambassador Adam Kobieracki
As prepared for delivery by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council, Vienna
September 19, 2013
Mr. Ambassador, we thank you for the CPC's support for the Chairmanship-led visit to Mongolia in late May, and we commend you for the CPC's readiness to assist in setting up a field presence in Mongolia. The United States unequivocally supports the establishment of a mission in Ulaanbaatar. Never before has the OSCE refused a request from a participating State for an OSCE field presence; we should not do so now. Mongolia's request is evidence of strong Mongolian commitment and leadership, as well as of the value of field operations and their appeal. There is much we can do to bolster all field operations; for example, the joint task force meetings in Tajikistan should be extended to other presences.
R.AMARJARGAL PARTICIPATES IN COD PARLIAMENTARY FORUM
Ulaanbaatar, September 20 /MONTSAME/ Representing Mongolia, a member of parliament R.Amarjargal took part in the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Democracies (CoD) which ran September 18 in Washington DC, USA.
The gathered considered all challenges and difficulties that are facing some countries in developing the democracy. Actions in the North Korea were in center of attention as well.
The forum attracted high-level officials such as Mr John Boehner, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives; Speakers of Lithuania and Morocco; PMs and FMs, and other officials.
Within the forum, Mr Amarjargal held meetings with Mr Emanuelis Zingers, the president of the CD's Parliamentary Forum; Mr David Dreier, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Republican Institute (IRI); authorities of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
Mongolia delivers food aid to North Korea
September 20 (news.mn) Humanitarian aid from the Government of Mongolia in the form of 1,850 tons of flour was delivered to North Korea.
The food aid was distributed to local communities and residents in villages where the help is most needed, particularly in areas that have suffered natural disasters in North Korea.
For instance, the Children`s Center for orphans, schools and kindergartens in Keson city, the maternity and birth center in Pyongyang and the Mongolia-North Korea friendship organization received the food aid.
The food aid dispatch was done under the control of the diplomats of the Mongolian Embassy and representatives of international organizations.
The Foreign Affairs Minister of North Korea expressed special thanks to the Government of Mongolia and the people of Mongolia for delivering food aid to the people of North Korea during a food shortage in a letter to the Foreign Minister of Mongolia.
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TYRANNOSAUR BATAAR TRANSFERRED TO DARKHAN FOR THE WINTER
September 20 (InfoMongolia) Chief of Staff of the President of Mongolia P.Tsagaan and Director of the Central Dinosaur Museum (former V.I.Lenin Museum but not converted yet) N.Javzmaa made a statement regarding the Tyrannosaur Bataar on September 19, 2013.
It has been 3 months the T-Bataar was placed for public view in the temporary museum on Chinggis Square (former Sukhbaatar Sq.) since June 08, 2013. During the first month, citizens were able to see the fossils free of charge and a total of 267,000 viewers had visited. In fact, 15,000 people visited the museum on the first day and 20,000 people on the second day of its opening. Next 2 months, museum charged an entry fee, and during this period about 320,000 visitors have contributed 120 million and 59 thousand MNT to the state budget. In total, half a million people have visited the Tyrannosaur Bataar museum in 3 months.
Chief of President Office P.Tsagaan stated, "It seems it's necessary to make investments in our historical and cultural heritage and establish a big museum to attract people. If we were to build the only impressive museum in the world, Mongolia will be well known throughout the world and more and more people will be attracted to visit Mongolia. Tyrannosaur Bataar has proved that Mongolians are capable of showcasing its historical and cultural heritage and raising money".
With request from Darkhan-Uul Aimag, Tyrannosaur Bataar is being transferred to Darkhan on September 20 and will be stayed there for public view this winter.
First ever Desertification Atlas of Mongolia published, desertification affects 78% of territory
September 20 (UB Post) The Ministry of Nature, Environment and Green Development (MNEGD) presented the public with Mongolia's first ever "Desertification Atlas" on September 18. With the atlas, Mongolia has now scientifically acknowledged desertification data, which will serve an important role in implementing practical, detailed and efficient measures against desertification in provinces.
Scientists and experts of the MNEGD and the Institute of Geo-ecology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences worked together to formulate the atlas. The desertification data and land degradation conditions of Mongolia are narrowly explained in the atlas with statistics, graphs, maps and locations. According to environmental officials, the atlas is also expected to be particularly useful in determining the main factors leading to desertification; assessing and formulating projections of desertification; reducing land degradation; as well as decelerating desertification in Mongolia.
Projections of desertification and land degradation are released every ten years and a second atlas will be published in 2020.
The atlas shows that 77.8 percent of total Mongolian territory has been affected by desertification to differing degrees. In detail, the vulnerability of 35.3 percent of land is low, 25.9 percent is moderate, 6.7 percent is high, while 9.9 percent is very high. In comparison to 2006, the statistics prove that the percentage of Mongolian land greatly vulnerable has now risen by two to three percent.
Places with the greatest evidence of desertification in Mongolia and in urgent need of rehabilitation are Myangad and Durgun soums of Khovd Province; Umnugovi soum of Uvs Province; Santmargad soum of Zavkhan Province; Khaliun soum of Govi-Altai; Galuut and Erdenetsogt soums of Bayankhongor Province; and most soums of Govisumber Province.
Places with steppe and the central regions are most affected by desertification in Mongolia.
Chief of the Nature and Environment Information Center, S.Khudulmur, reported that two factors are the primary cause of desertification and 40 percent of Mongolian territory has been affected by desertification because of natural causes, while the remaining 60 percent of desertification is the result of harmful human activities. Compared to desertification and land degradation conditions in 2006, lands with high, especially those with very high desertification vulnerability, have grown and new territories have been affected since 2006. For instance, the northern part of Bayankhongor Province, the area along the Orkhon River and the steppes of Dornod Province.
Mongolia joined the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in 1996 and reformed its national program to combat desertification in 1996, 2003, and 2006.
Building Mongolia's Future with Books
· A World Bank-supported project helped set up classroom libraries in all 383 primary schools in rural Mongolia.
· Integrating reading into the curriculum has helped improve overall primary education quality.
· Investing in improving education will help youth acquire skills and diversify the economy, needed for sustainable and inclusive growth
September 19 (World Bank) With the discovery of vast mineral resources, Mongolia has experienced unprecedented growth – and rural education is trying to catch up, to make sure children have the reading skills they need to tackle new challenges.
In the two decades after the country's transition to a free market economy in the early 1990s, enrollment in rural schools dropped rapidly and access to high quality learning materials diminished.
The Government of Mongolia has introduced a number of programs to improve the country's education system, including the World Bank-supported Rural Education and Development (READ) Project (2006-2013), funded by a $5 million grant from IDA to improve the quality of Mongolia's primary education system.
Reaching all rural schools
Before 2006, rural primary schools in Mongolia had almost no books.
To fill the gap, READ helped set up classroom libraries in all primary schools in rural Mongolia.
In the Murun county primary school, N. Enkhpurev, a teacher, talks about how books have fostered a love for reading among her students.
"Students who never liked to read now sit in the library all day," she says. "They have now developed a habit of reading books!"
After spending time in the library, students are encouraged to retell the stories they read to teachers, classmates and parents. To make this easier, they create "small books" of their own.
When Baatardorj, a 4th grader, goes home to the family ger (the Mongolian term for nomadic tent) after school, he pulls out a small book he just created and reads it to his father.
Gradually, students like Baatardorj have become "authors", also telling the stories of their lives.
"This is me going after the sheep. This is a house I made of stones," Baatardorj reads.
Inside these library books, references to local culture abound, helping educate children about Mongolia's cultural heritage.
To stimulate story-telling beyond the classroom, READ also introduced the method of "book bags", which enables students to take books home and share stories with their families. After they finish reading one bag of books, they return it to school to exchange for another bag.
Thanks to the project, families are buying more books.
"Mongolia, which is almost half of the size of India, is the least densely populated country in the world," says Prateek Tandon, who leads the World Bank's support to the project. "So the project helped build a voucher system to allow communities to buy additional books through the mail."
This delivery program became popular immediately, filling a hunger for reading materials that rural Mongolians had been suffering from for two decades.
Changing the way reading is taught
In addition to making books available, READ provided training for teachers on how to use these books and integrate reading into the curriculum.
Now, desks are arranged facing one another and teachers go around the classroom, emphasizing role-play and drama instead of instructing in the traditional style, with the teacher standing at the front. These techniques cultivated more sharing of ideas and individual expression in the classroom.
"Before we couldn't get up and move around the class. Class wasn't so fun," says Jalamjav, a 3rd grader at the Dadal County primary school. "Now we move freely and discuss back and forth. We work together on assignments. I like it this way."
To further improve students' reading skills, the method of "big books" was introduced. These "big books" are written by teachers and students together in class, based on the stories found in the library books and left open-ended with a big question mark on the last page to engage students.
"After making big books, my students always come to me and eagerly say 'teacher, I've come up with another ending to that story'," says D. Purevjargal, a teacher at the Murun county primary school.
The integration of student reading into the curriculum has helped improve overall primary education quality.
"Teachers report an increase in general aptitude. Students are making less spelling mistakes. They show greater ease in self-expression," says D. Khishigbuyan, coordinator for the READ project in Mongolia.
These methods became so popular that the government's teachers training colleges have incorporated them to make sure that all would-be teachers in Mongolia would master the READ pedagogical methods before they start working.
Expanding to urban schools
Children hold the key to the future of Mongolia, which has become one of the world's fastest-growing economies.
More efforts are underway to improve the country's education system for a sustainable future.
"Success in rural schools was so remarkable that the government has decided to replicate it in urban schools, using the same library and teaching methods," says L.Gantumur, Minister of Education, Mongolia.
By 2013, with the READ project:
· 3,560 classrooms in 383 schools in all 21 provinces of Mongolia received 160 books each
· 4,549 teachers have been trained in READ methods
· 130,000 children have used these classroom libraries
· 200,000 small books were made by teachers and students
· 10,000 big books were made and used in classrooms
Mongolia Prepares for UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development
Mongolia, September 17 (International Organization for Migration) - In cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IOM Mongolia has hosted a half-day national consultation in Ulaanbaatar in preparation for Mongolia's participation in next month's 2nd UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD).
Some 40 officials from Mongolia's Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Population, Development and Social Protection (MPDSP), Labour, Justice/Immigration and Health attended the meeting. Representatives from various UN agencies, embassies and NGOs also participated.
Since its democratization in 1992, Mongolia has witnessed record numbers of its citizens choosing to move abroad, including to the Republic of Korea, the United States and Europe. There have also been increasing numbers of foreigners choosing to move to Mongolia, attracted by booming mining activities in the South Gobi desert.
As a migration country of origin, key challenges for Mongolia are how to engage its diaspora and protect the rights of Mongolians abroad. As a country of destination, its key priority is how to manage increasing demand for foreign labour migrants against a backdrop of high national unemployment and skills shortages in the mining and construction sectors.
As the leading global agency on migration, IOM has been asked by its 151 Member States and the UN General Assembly to support regional preparations and regional consultative processes on migration for the HLD, in cooperation with the UN Regional Commissions and other relevant entities.
Presentations made by IOM and the MPDSP were followed by an open discussion during which a number of Ministries and NGOs raised issues as to how their respective interests would be represented at the HLD. The key outcome of the event was an agreement among the stakeholders on the need to increase the coordination and inclusiveness of preparations being led by the MPDSP and the MFA.
"This national consultation provided interested Mongolian stakeholders with the opportunity to discuss key migration issues, challenges and priorities for Mongolia, in preparation for Mongolia's participation in the HLD. It will feed into the formulation of Mongolia's objectives, strategy and positioning at the meeting," said IOM Mongolia Chief of Mission Pär Liljert.
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Immunization Financing in Mongolia: Thoughts from MP Zangad Bayanselenge
September 19 (Sabin Vaccine Institute) At Sabin's Second Sustainable Immunization Financing Colloquium, held in Dakar, Senegal on 5-6 August, 2013, we had the chance to get a few thoughts from Zangad Bayanselenge, Member of the Great State of Hural and Chair of the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science, on the country's efforts to scale up financing of their immunization program, as GAVI Alliance contributions are set to decrease.
How do you characterize Mongolia's EPI (Extended Program on Immunization)?
Mongolia has a very high-performance EPI program, [editor's note: currently the Mongolia EPI program finances five out of six vaccines] but there are a lot of things that can be done to improve it.
For example, we have high coverage and immunization officials are reaching nearly every child. However, we still need to focus on the quality, including reporting on side effects and ensuring that the vaccines are provided in a safe way. We had a case for example, where a child was malnourished and was not healthy enough to get vaccine. But they provided it, and afterward, the child became sick, which made the parents think this was caused by the quality of the vaccine.
Additionally, we'd like to focus on proper implementation of new vaccines and better public awareness and understanding of the program is important.
Why is developing sustainable financing for immunization so important in Mongolia?
It is very important to have sustainable financing for immunization. Currently for Mongolia, we have a co-financing agreement with GAVI, where we each pay 50 percent of the cost of the Pentavalent vaccine. But now as part of that agreement, GAVI financing set to decrease, which means that government financing needs to increase. So we need to have the proper plan to ensure we have enough funding for the program.
Any ideas on how to do that?
There is the separate fund from the state budget, which is called the health fund. This is financed by 2 percent of the excise taxes. Some of the portion of the health fund could go to immunization. That's what I am going to work on.
How long will it take for vaccinations to be fully financed by Mongolia?
I don't have a definite time frame. But, Mongolia has a parliamentary government, and it is likely to happen in 4 years, since that is the duration of the term for parliament.
Mass Hunnu grave discovered in Songinokhairkhan district
September 20 (news.mn) A massive grave site dating from the Hunnu period have been found in Zuun Salaa in Songinokhairkhan district.
An archaeological team from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) and the National University of Mongolia (NUM) have been excavating the site to save and protect the archaeological remains since September 6th.
It appears that the archaeological findings have been kept hidden under street 23 in Zuun Salaa where the mass graves were found for centuries.
Archaeological students have been cleaning up the stones of the graves and preparing for the excavation. Archaeologists have discovered 29 graves belonged to Hunnu who lived 2200 years ago. Most of the graves were buried under the yards of local residents. Some graves were partially or completely covered by buildings, toilets and dumb sites. Archaeologists are struggling to excavate the most vulnerable 15 remains that could be be lost before the end of the month. The excavation is being conducted in the busy street first.
Archaeologists uncovered findings from two graves and prepared one for excavation in the past 11 days. The Hunnu graves were accidentally discovered by Professor N.Boldbaatar from the School of Social Technology of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology last winter. The Professor suspected that the ordered stones might be Hunnu grave markers. Hunnu were known to erect stones when they conducted a burial. Even though the ancients graves were partially covered by soil, the Professor recognized the potential historical importance. The professor conducted the first excavation with the help of students during the winter. His guess was proved correct after the discovery of the first grave.
When the results of the first excavation emerged, it was revealed that the first three graves were robbed near the time of the burial. The skull and pelvic bones can reveal a lot about events even after many years. Two of the three graves were identified as adult males. One the two males had a broken nose. The second male had a complete jaw but seemed to have had toothache. The remains of the Hunnu bodies were positioned on one side of the grave which can be explained by the likelihood that thieves might have pushed the body aside in order to remove precious items.
Archaeologists believe that these graves belonged to ordinary Hunnu citizens. A bronze mirror, ornament, animal tooth, wares and a wooden bowl and even wheat kept in bag revealed much about the lives and culture of the Hunnu who were buried in Zuun Salaa. According to archaeologists ordinary Hunnu graves are not big and are usually only 2 or 3 meters in depth.
Archaeologists have so far discovered 29 graves but they believe there are more to be found at the site.
Mongolia's economy is soaring, but at what cost?
September 20 (Washington Post) The author asked Mongolians, including members of the art rock group Mohanik, how one of the world's fastest-growing economies can maintain its soul.
"Tradition," says Javhlan.
He was everywhere in Mongolia: On the metal light poles in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, amid the chockablock traffic, there were little tourist-friendly posters bearing the radiant, smiling image of Mongolia's premier folk crooner. You'd stroll past the Lego store, then past Hugo Boss, right into the chic, moneyed core of a nation that is now mining gold, copper and coal for Chinese consumption, and there he was again. Javhlan is 33. On the posters, his cheeks are ruddy, his eyes aglow with health. He seems well fed, and serene and bearish and strong somehow, and his costume carries a stately (if affected) grandeur. He is dressed 13th-century style, in a long flowing robe and a pointy helmetlike cap, as though he were just about to hop on a horse and join the old warlord Genghis Khan in battle out on the steppes.
Javhlan's music matches his getup. It is plaintive and patriotic, and his deep baritone voice resonates, manly and sodden with pathos, over tinkling electronic background beats. In one song, "Promise," he apologizes to his ancestors for how Mongolia has sold out to the Chinese and ensures the desecration will stop. "The land was given to us in one piece," he declares, "so we will protect it. Even if God asks for a piece of it, we won't give any away."
In Mongolia, I scarcely ever stepped into a taxi bereft of Javhlan tunes. When I tried to bond with one driver by asking if the singer on the radio was in fact Javhlan, he grew wistful and glassy-eyed, telling me that, like Javhlan, he hailed from the western province of Uvs. "Tiim," he affirmed, "Javhlan."
When I was in Mongolia, Javhlan was running for a seat in the Mongolian Parliament as a dark-horse third-party candidate. Though he would eventually lose, he campaigned with celebrity flourish, by giving away 100 tons of hay to the good herders of Uvs. He was earnest with reporters, stressing that it was mining — and its savage effects on the earth — that spurred him into politics. "Foreigners are digging up our land," he said recently, "and ruining our wintering grazing spots. I had no choice but to run." He added that he was old-school about child rearing. "My wife and I plan to have 15 kids," he pronounced. "We are real Mongolians."
On two separate occasions, I arranged a meeting with Javhlan. But then each time he canceled, last-minute. "Javhlan had to rush to the countryside," I was told, through his handlers. "It was an emergency."
It didn't matter, though, for I already knew that Javhlan was central to a vast social experiment. Mongolia was for centuries made up largely of nomadic herders. Its economy was almost static; in 2011, it achieved a 17.3 percent growth in gross national product. The World Bank has predicted that Mongolia will have one of the planet's fastest-growing economy over 2013, 2014 and 2015. The nation's largest mine, Oyu Tolgoi, which just began production in June, is believed to contain 81 billion pounds of copper and 46 million ounces of gold. Nearly all of it will go to China, and on some Chinese maps now, Mongolia is simply rendered as an Alaska-size Chinese province.
Meanwhile, rural Mongolians, enticed by the promise of a richer Ulaanbaatar, are now moving to the capital city, population 1.2 million, at the rate of 50,000 per year, and planting their round herders' yerts, called gers in Mongolia, willy-nilly on the city's fringes. The number of cars in UB, as it's known in Mongolia, has tripled in the past decade. And still a nomad vibe prevails: The city does not have street addresses. Locals navigate somewhat as herders do in the desert, studying the slant of the sun as they search for tall buildings. There aren't even any crosswalks — residents are obliged to dodge the oncoming cars, even if they just forked out 2.8 million tugriks, about $1,700, for a handbag at Louis Vuitton.
Amid all the newness and chaos, Mongolia is clinging hard to its past. Genghis Khan is resurgent here, and universally beloved. There is a new 131-foot-tall statue of him just outside UB, and the memory of his "Nine White Banners" flag, consisting of nine white horsetail plumes, is newly keen. Nine is a lucky number in Mongolia now.
Even the most avant-garde Mongolians are embracing old traditions. My interpreter, a heavy metal singer named Uugii, was letting his tiny son's black locks grow long, in anticipation of a lavish hair-cutting ceremony on the boy's third birthday. And everywhere a question looms: What does Mongolia need now, as it endeavors to step into the global fray, without losing its integrity and its soul?
All I really did, wandering about Mongolia, was ask that one question. I came home with a picture of a charming and fractious country, in the form of eight answers scrawled into my notebooks.
"Coal," says Shirendev. "Coal is our only option." Shirendev is 39 and sitting in a fashionable UB cafe. "I thought about it, and I decided, 'If we want to develop our country, we need to mine. I decided, 'I will get into this while I'm still young. Then when I'm old I can be proud. I can say, 'I was there when it started.' "
Shirendev (nearly all Mongolians go by a single name) is the community relations manager of a large Mongolian coal extractor, Energy Resources. He is also a Buddhist who, at age 20, went to India for six years to study the roots of his religion. "I wanted to find out the reason of life," he says. "All I knew is we are here and one day we die. I wondered, 'Why? For what?' " He came back versed in Sanskrit and ancient Tibetan, and these days, on his time off, he leads 10-day meditation classes in Ulaanbaatar. He has the soft lambent skin and the patient eyes of someone enlightened.
I tell him what I saw visiting his company's mine in the Gobi Desert 350 miles south of UB: a humongous open pit, a mile long and a mile wide; 240-ton coal trucks sputtering about like toys on the moonscape; murky gray dust everywhere; the workers' once-white gers as black as a smoker's tobacco-scarred lungs. The mining industry is now carving millions of tons of rock out of Mongolian soil each year, and using Mongolia's sparse water supplies to process the minerals. In many places throughout Mongolia, the water table is dropping, making it difficult to sustain livestock.
Shirendev acknowledges all this, but still he sees coal as justifiable. "In Buddhism," he says, "it is wrong to kill an animal for no reason, but if you are killing the animal to survive, that's another thing. We are helping Mongolia to survive."
But isn't Mongolia choking on coal? Locals heat with coal, and in winter, according to the World Health Organization, UB is the second most polluted city in the world.
"There are minerals in the ground here," Shirendev says. "They're going to be mined." For him, the most critical question is who does it.
Foreign prospectors have proved heartless. In 2005, after Robert Friedland, the chief executive of Canada's Ivanhoe Mines, arrived in Mongolia to develop Oyu Tolgoi, he seemed gleefully wanton. Speaking to a conference for investors, he said: "The nice thing about this, there's no people around. There's no NGOs." He called Oyu Tolgoi a "cash machine" and explained the profit margin thus, "You're making T-shirts for five bucks and selling them for $100." Friedland proceeded, in 2009, to strike a deal that saw the Mongolian government ceding Ivanhoe mineral rights in exchange for 34 percent of all profits. Ivanhoe has since sold most of its interests to the Aluminum Corp. of China.
"Mongolians will be working for the Chinese," says Shirendev in disgust. "It's like we're Algeria, like we're a colony. And it doesn't have to be this way. Mongolia is an educated country."
Shirendev joined Energy Resources 18 months ago because, he says, "it's almost 100 percent Mongolian-owned. It's a good idea — it's a company that can help Mongolians believe, 'We can build this country ourselves.' "
"Nothing," says Tserenbazar. "Nothing can save the real Mongolia. I feel like I want to die." Tserenbazar, 60, is a herder whose family has for 200 years lived on the patch of Gobi striped by a road that Energy Resources built to connect its plant to China, 150 miles away. He says that the road isn't working. "The coal trucks are supposed to drive on it," he says, "but Energy Resources charges the other mining companies a toll. So their drivers travel beside the road, right over the soil. There is dust. The animals cannot breathe. The grass is dirty. If the animals eat it, they get sick — cut open their innards, and they are black. And I am sick, too."
Tserenbazar is sitting cross-legged on the floor of a friend's ger. He has a long gray and white beard, and his skin is weathered and red, and so chapped it's almost a hide. "My lungs," he says. "The doctor told me I should not smoke."
Tserenbazar grins now, devilishly, for he is savoring a long loose cigarette rolled in old newsprint. "I should just die," he says. "I should die now." He is still smiling even as he says this, and five of his neighbors sit by him in the tent, laughing. Tserenbazar is their mordant old salt comedian. He taps the ash off the tip of his cigarette, slowly, milking dramatic tension out of the pause. "I am already dead now," he cracks.
Global climate change has dried up the desert. The coal trucks have come rumbling along over the loose soil, and now there are more cars, too, driven by newly moneyed Mongolian coal miners. The South Gobi is suddenly a world of swirling dust.
In January 2012, Tserenbazar, along with 30 other herders, tried to put the brakes on the change. For eight hours, they stood, arms locked, carrying sticks, in a chill 30 degrees below zero Celsius by the side of the road, blocking about 300 coal trucks from traveling over the dirt. The herders wanted local officials to force all truck drivers to stay on the asphalt — and by day's end the politicians promised that everything would soon be fixed.
"What happened?" I ask.
Tserenbazar shrugs, with comic exaggeration. "Nothing." He says: "And now I am grazing in a new place 15 kilometers from the road. A very small herd, and the animals are not used to the grasses there. I have to watch them all the time" — he jabs at his eye — "or they wander too far. I cannot do it. I am old. I am done."
Even as he says this, Tserenbazar is still smirking.
"Class warfare," says Galsansuh, except that I can hardly hear him as Kreator, a German thrash metal band, is screaming on the stereo of his Land Cruiser as we cut through the streets of UB. Galsansuh, 40, is a self-proclaimed "postmodern Mongolian poet"; the editor of Serious News, a UB broadsheet that rails with anarchist brio against corrupt politicians; and a mogul on UB's alt-rock scene. It is he who, 15 years ago, gathered the musicians for Nisvanis, a Mongol take on Nirvana. Lean and crew-cut, he speaks in harsh, vitriolic bursts.
"Class warfare," he says again, en route to a Korean restaurant, and I'm a bit bewildered. The underclass in Mongolia is disparate: 400,000 or so herders speckling the steppes and the desert. No one else I'll meet will speak of uniting them. But there is something absolute about Galsansuh. Driving through UB, he guns it wherever he can. He slams the brakes in advance of a pothole, then swirls right into a dirt alley to skirt a traffic jam and flies along through a parking lot.
Though he carries himself like a cartoon villain, Galsansuh is powerful, and connected. His good friend Kh. Battulga is a wealthy parliament member, a one-time national judo champion and the lead financier for the gargantuan Genghis statue 35 miles outside town.
"Mongolian national hero," Galsansuh says of Battulga as we settle into the restaurant. "He has no Chinese blood — he is pure Mongolian. And that statue of Chinggis Khan [Ghengis Khan], it's a tool we need to keep us from becoming part of China." Galsansuh laughs — a few bemused snorts — and soon he praises another Battulga scheme: The MP is pushing to build a $10 billion industrial city near Sainshand, a town in the Gobi, to process Mongolian coal and copper. He recently persuaded the Mongolian government to give him $1 million for preliminary planning.
"We need to build that city," Galsansuh says. Currently, Mongolia is mostly sending raw coal to China. "We have just a few corrupt people getting rich off our minerals. The government guys who made the deal to sell mineral rights to foreigners, a few families in business — that's about it. They're giving away $16 a month to every Mongolian, but that does nothing except shut everyone up for a while. Soon people will rise up and overthrow the government. Mongolia will regain its power."
In the meantime, Galsansuh is fighting. He opens his newspaper up on the table now, and all five guys on the front page look fat and pasty, like boiled fish. They radiate bad karma. I recognize one of the shysters as Mongolia's most recent ex-president, the imprisoned N. Enkhbayar. While he was in office, Enkhbayar secretly financed the construction of the 25-story Blue Sky Tower, a soulless glass building — blue-tinted and shaped like a sail — that sits in downtown UB, looming above the red-tiled roof of an ancient pagoda.
The Blue Sky Tower is on my Mongolian cellphone — the default screen saver is the glassy and glimmering flank of the tower. I show it to Galsansuh and ask, "Have Mongolians become too enchanted with glitz and material wealth to care?"
He is smoking now and clenching the cigarette in his lips, no fingers. "I don't have time for such silly questions," he says.
He snatches the bill and pays. Then we leave.
"Flexibility," says Ariunaa. "There is this idea that as Mongols we have to be masculine and tough — that history is made by people who ride horses into battle. But we have to enhance our other qualities now."
Ariunaa Tserenpil is the director of the Arts Council of Mongolia, and a wise and elegant presence. When we meet, she wears a black dress and a silver necklace shaped like a flowing river. She makes references to Picasso and Matisse, and to the documentary films she has produced. All of which makes me feel awkward, for I arrive at her office late and gasping for breath. Flummoxed by the no-street-address thing, I just sprinted to the fourth floor of three adjacent buildings, looking for her. "UB is still a nomadic city," she says, gently laughing at me. "Many people here drive as they ride horses — if they come upon each other, they'll square off to see who goes first. There is no sense of the collective. In my apartment building, you can tell when a nomadic family moves in. They just leave their garbage out in the corridor. At first, they don't even take it out to the bin. But then they adjust. They learn to live with their neighbors. They stop and negotiate out in traffic, saying, 'You can go first.'
"Mongolians can be flexible. It's in our genes. If this pasture's no good, we can just move to the next one. We need to bring such suppleness to the global context. We can't just say, 'We're going to close our border and shut down all the mines.' That's not going to work. We need to learn how to be neighbors, and can do that. We've done it before." In the 13th century, Ariunaa stresses, Mongolia was not a brutish power. "We developed the Silk Road," she says. "We were one of the first nations to have international trade and passports. We weren't afraid of the Chinese then. We were a strong nation with a diverse economy, and we can get there again, in time."
"The ger," says Munkhbayar. "The ger is the answer to all the questions we have."
I am on an overnight retreat now, an hour outside UB, visiting the country home of the world's most famous nomad/eco-defender. Munkhbayar, 46, founded the Onggi River Movement a decade ago. The river running through his central Mongolian village dried up then, thanks to gold mining, and children got liver disease as their parents dug new wells into soil contaminated by cyanide leaching. Munkhbayar persuaded the government to impose mining regulations. He brought the river back — and then National Geographic loved him. In 2008, it named Munkhbayar an "emerging explorer," celebrating him as "an ordinary herdsman" who believed "the environment has no border lines."
I guess I expected the Dalai Lama with a crooked shepherd's staff. But no, Munkhbayar has grown a bit fatter since his National Geographic days, and a little sententious. In the dim light of the ger, sitting cross-legged and all but whispering to me (Mongolian is a throaty language) before an altar bedecked with two sacred volumes of Genghis Khan's wisdoms, his words have an orotund air. "The problem with America," he says, "is late marriage. Americans should have more children." When I express shock, he addresses me with stern judgement: "You don't understand, because you are one of those who is lost. You are part of settled society."
Munkhbayar's credo is that all world citizens should live as Mongolia's remaining nomads do, in collapsible tents, as loyal family units that move nimbly about in tune with the weather, migrating 20 or so miles every season. Never mind that he and I came out here from UB in an SUV piloted by a guy in a Yankees hat, motoring right through the fender-high water of a river. "The life here in the ger is a natural phenomenon," Munkhbayar says. "We get our water from the river, not from bottles or factories, and a good herder acquires all the knowledge anyone needs. He's an astronomer; he can tell his location by looking up at the stars. And he is also very good at predicting the weather."
Munkhbayar is wearing a glimmery gold shepherd's shirt, and his ger is pristine, devoid of the usual clutter of stereo equipment and muddy water buckets. It's a dude ger, really. Munkhbayar brings so many foreigners out here that in one cabinet there's a couple of dozen pairs of loaner sandals. He's got a practiced spiel, and now he expresses frustration that very few Mongolians share his new passion for traditional garb. "They are lost," he says, "just like you."
In 2011, Munkhbayar took vengeance against settled society. He shot at a gold mine security guard, landing himself in jail for three weeks. "Mining has exceeded its limits, and we need to use whatever tools we can to stop it," he tells me. "I think of Chinggis Khan, of Attila the Hun. They achieved great change, and soon there will be another big change in Mongolia." The end of modern democracy, he means. "Democracy is based on consumerism, which is the thinking of animals," he says. "What we need is a leader like Chinggis Khan. Chinggis united the tribes. He was a real Mongolian. ..."
When I step outside, finally — and then leap across a small stream to stroll up into the snowy hills — I feel free, and happy to be released from Munkhbayar's tent sermon.
"The lights," says Sansarmunkh. "The lights of Ulaanbaatar."
Sansarmunkh lives in the Gobi desert, 350 miles south of UB. He is a 29-year-old taxi cab driver and the quintessence of cool. Every time I run into him, no matter the weather, he is wearing a leather jacket with no shirt, a pair of faded jeans cut to capris length, and blue-and-white, high-top wrestling shoes, no socks. He is lean and graceful and vain. He wears the collar on his coat up, and his black hair is spiky. Except for when he is larking about, his demeanor is sullen; he is a Mongolian James Dean.
A few years ago, Sansarmunkh was a herder, and a stud of his realm. He had 500 sheep and goats, and seven horses, and each July, when herders traditionally gather for the Naadam festival, he was a peerless jockey in horse races. But please — by 2008 he'd already he had been to UB several times. He had seen Asian lowriders pimped out with hydraulics and purple running lights on the undercarriage. He sold the last of his animals, and for 5.3 million tugriks (about $3,200) he bought a used Hyundai Accent and a box of small beads, which he used to render (in red, white and blue) the stylized Hyundai H on the cap of his rearview mirror. The vehicle has a miniature steering wheel and, on its windshield, a banner decal on which the word "MONGOLIA" is writ large between a pair of Mongolian flags. It may be the South Gobi's only lowrider taxi.
Sansarmunkh clears about $650 a month. And like hundreds of thousands of other Mongolians caught up in the tides of prosperity, he doesn't think about what that cash means, or how Mongolia's soul can be saved. He just goes to UB. Twenty times a year, for about $9, he makes the 12-hour trip north in a Russian jeep packed with a dozen other riders, everyone's heads bobbing as they rattle all night over the untracked desert. In UB, he stays with his great-aunt. As we're driving, I ask him to describe his city adventures, and he says, "Well, one time I was very tired when I arrived, so I went to the sauna and then I called one of my friends and ..."
Someone else in the cab makes a high, mocking noise, insinuating that there were women involved. Feeling shy, Sansarmunkh stops talking. Then there's a long convivial silence in which he is gamely smiling but saying nothing. I ask him how many girlfriends he has in UB. Sansarmunkh cocks his head back for a second, counting. "Six," he says after a while. "Well, five or six."
And what's your favorite part of going to UB?
"The lights," he says. "Coming out of the desert and seeing all those bright lights."
"We need," says Enerelt, "to sound like ourselves." It's a deep quest: Enerelt is the bassist for a UB art rock band,Mohanik , and of late he and his three bandmates (they're all 24 and just out of college) have been meeting daily in a battered UB warehouse and trying to hone a new Mongolian sound for their second album. "We want to make songs about what it feels like to live in Mongolia," he says as the band gathers in its industrial cave. "A lot of bands here just copy Americans — sometimes they're even copying a single artist."
"We hope to give a new feeling to people," says the lead guitarist, Tsogt. He is skinny kid, scraggly, with a wrinkled Sex Pistols shirt and an unkempt mop of curly black hair. "In the 13th century, Mongolians used to worship the blue sky and the earth. We still do, but it's different."
They have eight new songs, all based in tradition and nature. One, not yet named, evokes what it's like to ride a horse out into battle. Another song, much softer, is called "Buwei," which is the word that Mongolian mothers whisper to their children to mean, "Don't be scared." Another is just called "Wind."
"The lyric is like a poem," says the lead singer, Davaajargal. "Once suddenly I had a feeling like I was flying away. I felt so many things. Do you know how you feel when so much happens to you in such a short time? We hope that our music will have some soul and fly away."
"But we are not saying that our music is Mongolian," says Enerelt. "That is up to other people to decide."
Eventually, they stop talking. Then the room ignites with that archetypal, crackly total-noise sound of a garage band rehearsal. Tsogt, the guitarist, is curled into his instrument now and whaling at it, a small apostrophe of a person hailing us with a flurry of screeches and scratches. Enerelt, the bassist, is stands taller, stiffer — a tense presence on the periphery of the storm — and in time the singer's words begin: shouts, whispers, a hypnotic whirl over the slam of the drums.
Then Mohanik stops for a second, and Enerelt says, "We don't know the name of this next song yet, but it's the heaviest one at the moment." It's the battle song, and there is a great crashing of cymbals now, and then the guitars and the bass pile up on each other: a gratifying knot of staticky noise made propulsive by the beat of the drums. I imagine horse hooves pounding the dirt. And soon the singer is just yelling, screaming, with unhinged abandon, not even saying words, for there are as yet no words to this song. There is some Kurt Cobain at work here, and I can hear the wild braying in the songs sung by campfires at Native American powwows.
But I have never heard anything quite like this before, and for a moment I try to add up its constituent elements: Here is the old Mongolia, in the low tribal beat. Here, in the manic guitars, is a whole country frenetically changing. ...
In time, though, I decide: "This is impossible. So much is happening in such a short time." I give up, and I just let the music wash over me, feeding my blood like an anthem.
Bill Donahue is a writer in Portland, Ore., and a frequent contributor to the Magazine. E-mail comments email@example.com.
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