Friday, October 25, 2013

[Golomt becomes AmEx issuer, US' OPIC providing $10m SME loans, Chongryon purchase has business potential says buyer, and Canada GG on visit]

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, 2013

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Overseas Market

Mogi: last hurdle my …

With Resolution Of Customs Dispute, Rio Crosses The Last Hurdle At Oyu Tolgoi

October 24 (Trefis) In a positive development for Rio Tinto (RIO), customers of its copper output from the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia have resolved a month-long dispute with the Chinese customs authorities. This will allow Rio Tinto to finally start recording revenues for its sales from Oyu Tolgoi. Rio operates in Mongolia through its subsidiary Turquoise Hill Resources, in which the Mongolian government owns a 34% stake.

The $6.2 billion Oyu Tolgoi project has been marred by many controversies and delays on account of a number of different factors. After overcoming various hurdles and objections from the Mongolian government and the Chinese authorities, there are signs that the project will now stabilize.

Since the production from Oyu Tolgoi has been substantial this year, Rio is expected to report record revenues from the copper business in the fourth quarter. The company said that production and shipment rates are likely to be aligned by the end of 2013.

We have a Trefis price estimate for Rio of $55, which represents 5% upside to the current market price.

See Full Analysis for Rio Tinto Here

Many Ups and Downs At Oyu Tolgoi

Rio's Oyu Tolgoi project has been marred by delays and controversies throughout. The Mongolian authorities initially sought to renegotiate specific clauses of the contract, much after they had been agreed upon. With a change in the political regime, the new legislators who had made resource nationalism a key poll plank, pressured the government to seek more royalties from Rio as well as a higher equity stake for the government. However, Rio held out in face of a deadlock and was eventually able to thwart these initiatives.

Next, putting in place a power supply agreement with China proved quite difficult. Without this agreement, Rio would have had to spend additional time and money to establish its own power generation capabilities. This would have led to cost escalation and delays, as there is an absence of any alternative power supply in the region. The Chinese were unhappy with the Mongolian government for thwarting an attempt by Chalco, a Chinese firm, to acquire a large coal mine in Mongolia. This may have made negotiations more difficult because the Mongolian government has a significant stake in Oyu Tolgoi and would have played a part in the final agreement.

First Shipment Took Place In July

After the power supply agreement was put in place, Rio started producing copper a few months later. Its first shipment was delayed by about 20 days due to some pending issues with the Mongolian government. The first shipment from the mine was finally made in July this year, but in absence of customs clearance at the Chinese border, the metal had to be stored at a warehouse in China near the Mongolia-China border. The documentation issues at the border took a long time to resolve and all further shipments had to be stored in the warehouse, pending resolution. Rio was unable to record sales revenues on its books in this duration because it is permitted to do so only once the customer has received the shipment.

Rio has produced approximately 160,000 tonnes of copper concentrate from Oyu Tolgoi and shipped 38,000 tonnes to the warehouse since July. At full production levels, the average annual production is expected to be 450,000 tonnes of copper and 330,000 ounces of gold. ((Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi Customers Get Chinese Customs Approval For Copper, WSJ))

For 2013, Rio expects a company-wide production figure of 590,000 tonnes for mined copper and 270,000 tonnes for refined copper. ((Third quarter 2013 operations review, Rio Tinto Media Release))

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Positive Seismic Indicators Continue at Ulaan Tolgoi Indicating Potential Strike of Over Two Kilometres

October 25 -- Newera Resources Limited (ASX: NRU) is pleased to provide an update on its Ulaan Tolgoi project seismic survey.  

Newera reports that it has received a preliminary modelled image of the seismic data acquired for Lines E and F of the survey.  

Lines E and F were completed following encouraging results for Line B of the survey. Lines E and F were located one kilometre either side of Line B to test for continuity of the prospective and potentially coal bearing strata indicated in Line B and previously reported on.  


·         Initial interpretation and modelling suggests a continuation of the interpreted coal prospective P2 Permian strata in an east west orientation through Lines E and F of the survey.

·         The indicated continuation of the prospective strata through Lines E and F gives encouragement that any coal seams located within the prospective strata would potentially have a strike in excess of two kilometres.

·         Whilst the southern extremity of lines E, B and F abut the southern boundary of the Ulaan Tolgoi Licence, it is now anticipated that the interpreted coal prospective Permian strata will extend for a significant distance to the west of line E, to the east of line F and to the north of the northern ends of all lines E, B and F.

·         Interpretation of the seismic data collected and modelled for Lines B, E and F will allow for the optimal location of drill hole ollars for future exploration drilling.

·         Complete data and imagery for seismic Lines A, C and D have yet to be returned to Newera for analysis.

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Prophecy Coal Accepts Offer to Purchase Additional Prophecy Platinum Shares

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 24, 2013) - Prophecy Coal Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY)(OTCQX:PRPCF)(FRANKFURT:1P2) announces that it in addition to the 17,300,000 shares being purchased, as announced on October 17, 2013, the Company has accepted an offer to purchase an additional 1,225,000 shares of Prophecy Platinum Corp. Closing of the purchase and sale has been scheduled for October 30, 2013.

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Solartech: Annual Report 2013

October 22, Solartech International Holdings Limited (HKEx:1166) --


The Group has been engaging in mining business since 2010. During the year under review, the State of Mongolia implemented the new Foreign Investment Act, including the prohibition of mineral exploration and mining operations in headwaters, reservoir preservation areas and forest regions. A new draft minerals act is also in the course of consultation for revision, which focuses on the regulations governing mineral resources in order to control or impose limited restrictions on the prosperous mining industry. The Group expects that the time required to obtain necessary approval for developing copper mine projects would increase in the future.

The global mining industry entered into a downturn since the third quarter of last year. According to the latest statistics released by the Mongolian Ministry of Economic Development, direct foreign investments of the State of Mongolia decreased by approximately 43% during the first half of 2013, among which direct investments in geology, mining and petroleum industries decreased by a third.

The Copper Mine Project in Dundgobi Aimag

During the year under review, the demand for copper in China and international markets was affected by various factors, among which, the tight monetary policy of the Chinese government slowed down the overall economic growth. Coupled with the mild global economic recovery and lingering impacts of the financial crisis in Europe, international copper prices dropped by approximately 8% to approximately US$7,000 per ton during the year. In addition, the latest pre-feasibility report revealed an increase in capital expenditure and operating costs. Within the scope of the capital expenditure budget, the maximum capacity of the project was adjusted to 20,000 tons per year from the original 30,000 tons per year. The Group also needs additional time for preparation before mining operations. These factors have also affected the future cash flow valuation model of mining right and resulted in recognition of an impairment loss of HK$360,600,000 on mining right during the year.

The Group believed that the estimates and assumptions adopted in the impairment analysis were reasonable. The major estimates and assumptions used in the valuation model included capital expenditure, international copper prices, output over the life of the mine, operating costs, discount rate, etc.

Our subsidiary in Mongolia has completed the necessary environmental impact evaluation report and quarry extraction planning report before mining. It has to further carry out hydrogeological works in the mining area. Those works include impact evaluation of topography, climate, characteristics of surface water, characteristics of water aquifer and aquiclude, geological structure and fault belt on deposit water filling. The Group will also seek suitable partners to cooperate in the development and construction of Dundgobi Aimag copper mine project.

The Copper Mine Project in Bayan-Ulgii Aimag

The development of the copper mine project in Bayan-Ulgii Aimag, Mongolia, which the Group owned a 10% equity interest, had been progressing slowly. Pursuant to the sale and purchase agreement and the supplementary agreement, the preparation of the technical report in respect of the mineral resources of the mine and the final valuation report of Mongolian Copper Mining LLC ("MCM"), which is a company incorporated in the State of Mongolia with limited liability and the holder of the mining licence for an area of 527.4 hectares, has to be completed on or before 30 April 2013. During the year under review, we introduced a national enterprise engaging in the survey and design and resource development of non-ferrous metals such as gold, silver, copper and molybdenum to carry out additional exploitation work for the project. Such experts preliminarily advised that the scale and potential value of the mineral reserves were large, however the geological conditions of the mining area were complex. As this mine is located in north-west Mongolia, the annual workload is largely subject to weather, and therefore the time required to complete additional exploitation work is uncertain. On 29 April 2013, the purchaser and the seller agreed to adopt the exploitation report dated 15 May 2011 prepared by the Mongolian consultants and the valuation report dated 28 February 2013 in respect of the mine to be the final valuation report. It showed that valuation of MCM amounted to US$177,770,000, which was higher than the amount of US$175,200,000 revealed in the preliminary valuation report. As a result, adjustment of consideration was not required and such acquisition was considered completed. The Directors are of the view that this agreement in relation to the final valuation report is in the interests of the Company and the Shareholders as a whole. Details regarding the interests of this jointly-controlled entity were set out in note 22 to the Financial Statements.

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Local Market

NatSec MSE Trading News, October 24: Top 20 -0.18%, Turnover 26.9 Million

October 24 (National Securities) On the bourse today, the MSE TOP-20 Index went down -0.18% to 14.112.26.  The total number of shares was 26,932 and total value was 26.9 million MNT.

The major gainers today, were mostly traded on the B-board. Ulaanbaatar Khivs (UBH), Takhi-Co (TAH), Undraga-Umnugobi (UND), and Bulgan Guril Tejeel (GTJ) soared between 13.73% to 14.98%. On the decliners side, Mongol Nekhmel (MNH) dipped -14.86% to 4,700 MNT. Genco Tour Bureau (JTB) closed at 85 MNT, down -4.58% on a volume of 3,460 shares. This was the 2nd activist on the day.

Also mining companies, Sharyn Gol (SHG) and Berkh-Uul (BEU) dropped -3.9% and -3.51% respectivelySilikat (SIL) was the volume leader with 9,999 shares traded. It's price was 197 MNT and market capitalization 9.1 billion MNT.

Please click here to see the detailed news

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October 24 (BDSec) Mongolia shares inched lower on Thursday after 4 consecutive days of trading in the green. MSE Top 20 index edged down 0.18% to 14,112.26 points. Mining companies and "Board B" companies were actively traded on the exchange. Out of 34 stocks traded, 23 stocks advanced whereas only 7 stocks ended the session in red.

Thermal coal miners performed well during the trading session with Shivee Ovoo (SHV) up 6.95%, and Baganuur (BAN) up 2.50% while Sharyn Gol (SHG) gave up 3.90% to finish at MNT 7,400. Tavantolgoi (TTL) climbed 1.47% to advance for an eighth day on MSE.

Corporate headlines

-       "Famur" LLC from Poland will supply $100 mn mining equipment (Today). Over 40 business representatives accompanied Polish president's official visit to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Famur LLC made preliminary agreement to supply  mining equipment to Baganuur JSC (MSE:BAN), "Tsagaan Shonkhor Holding" LLC, "Tsetsen's mining and Energy" LLC. This year Poland export to Mongolia was EUR 23 mn (22% increase YOY), and Mongolian export to Poland was only EUR 36k.

-       Uranium miner Areva LLC is to start the drilling again (Zuunii Medee). Areva LLC, French entity doing uranium exploration in Dornogobi aimag is to start the drilling again. According to the locals, the company placed 6 mining & exploration purpose drills nearby the Zuuvch Ovoo deposit.  In the past, the company temporarily stopped their operation because of a local's complaint about the dead calves. However, a working group, formed by the decree of Mongolian prime minister, found the reason for death of the calves' to be Selenium not Uranium.

-       Concrete road is being built in Khanbogd sum with OT LLC's financing (Today). OT LLC and Khanbogd sum made an MOA to have OT LLC execute and/or finance major 5 projects in Khanbogd sum.  OT LLC built 10 kilometer concrete road in Khanbogd sum last year. This year, the company is building 5 kilometer concrete road in Khanbogd. The road will be accessible this mid-November if there's no weather challenges.

Macro headlines

-       Premier: My country is full of business opportunities (Montsame). Invited as the key guest, the Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag has taken part in the 14th Western China International Fair /WCIF/ at the Century City International Convention and Exhibition center. Prime Minister underlined that "Mongolia is full of business opportunities, and is open for investments not only in the mining sector but also in light industry, "also, our government is ready to collaborate in developing a long-term mutually beneficial and win-win ties."

-       Ex-CEO of OT Cameron McCrae will stay in Mongolia (Today). Mr. McCrae worked as a CEO of OT for the last 4 years. Looks like, he will not leave Mongolia now that he's resigned, but will work in investment sector.  In a recent interview, he said  that he'd stay in Mongolia and is currently busy doing some research on which sector to get involved in.

-       Mongolians will visit Turkey and Brunei without visas (Montsame). Ordinary passport holders of Mongolia and Turkey have become able to visit each other without visas for up to 30 days. Apart of this, diplomatic and official passports holders of Mongolia and Brunei Darussalam can visit each other visa-free for two weeks in accordance with a note exchanged between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries.

Top movers

Trading Value Leaders

Close (MNT)

Value (MNT)

Makh Impex (MMX)



Baganuur (BAN)









Top Gainers

Close (MNT)

% Change




Makh Impex (MMX)



Shivee Ovoo (SHV)






Top Losers

Close (MNT)

% Change

Mongol Nekhmel (MNH)



Genco Tour Bureau (JTB)



Sharyn Gol



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BoM Exchange Rates: October 24 Close



















October Chart:

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BoM holds FX auction: CNY 60.4 million, $87 million swap agreements

October 24 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on October 24th, 2013 the BOM has received bid offer of USD and CNY from local commercial banks. BOM has sold 60.4 million CNY to the local commercial banks.

On October 24th, 2013, The BOM has received bid offer of USD for Swap agreement from local commercial banks and sold 87.0 million USD.

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/2013.10.23, Ulaanbaatar/ -- National Council for Private Sector Support (NCPSS), Business Council of Mongolia and CEO Club joins with business executives for the first roundtable discussion on equalising the role of private sector in developing the Mongolian economy, in light of increased governmental regulatory pressure.

The roundtable was part of a key effort by the private sector supporters to propose an official and open partnership with the government, with an underlining objective of developing the private sector, which generates 77 per cent of the wealth in the country.  In addition to this, the private sector representatives pledged to bring their voices forward in a fresh attempt to keep the state involvements in private sector at bay and to develop an ongoing active partnership between the private sector and the government. 

During his opening remark given at the roundtable meeting, Mr Ganbold Davaadorj, the Chairman of NCPSS, said "The private sector in Mongolia is acting in unison for the first time after a number of discussions among the business councils and professional associations. All of these attempts are geared towards bolstering the role of the private sector in the economic development".

The discussion also pinpointed the current policy gaps and strategic planning in key economic growth sectors including infrastructure, energy, tourism and air transport, and highlighted the government's need to work with the private sector in tacking the policy roadblock.

Morover, private sector members and representing councils proposed the current government to immediately establish a partnership council and allow the private sector to ease the government's increased burdens during the accelerated economic growth, whilst committing to the implementation of the private sector development strategy document approved in 2011 by the previous government. 

For more information please contact Sainbayar Beejin on 89112028 or Gerel Orgil on 88779173.

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MPP Conference Scheduled October 26

Ulaanbaatar, October 24 /MONTSAME/ The Board members of the Mongolian People's Party decided to hold the party conference on October 26, a day before the party Congress.

The board members assembled Tuesday afternoon to discuss the opinions of the province members on amendments to their party rules.

They also touched upon an issue of re-shaping the party composition with "clean handed, young and competent staff".

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October 23 (Golomt Bank) American Express and Golomt bank have signed a partnership agreement to extend the scope of their current  relationship, with Golomt bank becoming an American Express card-issuing partner in Mongolia.

Partnership between American Express and Golomt bank started in early 2008 when American Express  partnered with  Golomt bank as the exclusive American Express merchant acquirer in Mongolia.

The new cards issued by Golomt Bank will be designed to meet the financial requirements and lifestyles of its customers.  Under the agreement Golomt Bank will be responsible for creating the products, issuing the cards, overseeing the credit management and managing customer accounts and billings.

With the signing of this partnership agreement, several years of successful cooperation between two companies is stepping up into the next level acknowledging Golomt bank's leadership and reputation in both domestically and internationally. Golomt bank successfully launched the first international smart card payment system in Mongolia followed by the first e-banking services and products in the country. In 2013, Golomt bank received the "Best Internet Bank" of 2013 award from Global finance magazine, after having introduced first international card payment system, Internet banking service, Self-Service banking and banking application for smart phone users in Mongolia.

Mike Trattles, Vice President, Partner Card Services, American Express, commented, "We are very pleased to expand our partnership with Golomt Bank, reflecting our strategy of building relationships with the best partners around the world. We look forward to working with Golomt Bank to bring new benefits and services to their customers which reflect our commitment to outstanding value and first class service."

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OPIC Providing USD 10 Million in Loans to Mongolian SMEs

Ulaanbaatar, October 24 /MONTSAME/ The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), an independent U.S. government agency, and the Schulze Global Investments-Mongolia signed an agreement on October 22.

Accordingly, the OPIC will give the Mongolian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) a 10 million USD loan. The money will be regulated through Schulze Global Investments, an emerging markets private equity firm.

As supposed, the loan will support the Mongolian businesses outside of the mining industry and will strengthen Mongolian and U.S. economic and commercial relations. 

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Asia Foundation: A Conversation with Capital City Governor and Ulaanbaatar Mayor Bat-Uul Erdene

October 23 (The Asia Foundation) --

On Friday, the Ulaanbaatar city municipality will celebrate Ulaanbaatar City Day to highlight the various works being undertaken to improve the capital of Mongolia, home to more than 50 percent of the population. The Asia Foundation's country representative in Mongolia, Meloney Lindberg, recently interviewed Capital City Governor and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Mr. Bat-Uul Erdene, on the occasion of the Foundation's 20th anniversary in Mongolia. Read the full publication, "20 Years in Mongolia: Perspectives of 20 Mongolian Leaders," which is also available in Mongolian.

You have a long and distinguished career in politics, and in 2009, you were awarded the title of Hero of Mongolia for your leadership in the democratic revolution. In what ways has Mongolia changed since that time?

The most important achievement of the last 20 years is that our elections, by which the people of Mongolia directly elect their own government, have become routine and customary. We have had six presidential elections, as well as parliamentary elections and local elections.

You have been elected to Parliament three times, yet during the last parliamentary election in 2012, you decided not to run for Parliament but instead for mayor of Ulaanbaatar. Why did you make this decision?

I began to worry about poor governance in local communities, and I began to understand that the most important starting point to improve and protect democracy is governance at the local level. For example, in Ulaanbaatar there has been a growing influence of powerful, elite groups who pursue their own personal and private interests. They kind of forgot to represent the people of the local communities. In order to improve that situation, I decided to run for mayor.

In the year that you've been mayor, we have seen some dramatic changes in Ulaanbaatar –improved leadership, improved infrastructure, and improved transparency. What are some of the achievements of your first year as mayor, and what challenges do you see going forward?

The most worrying thing has been about the state of poor governance over the last decade. The purpose of a local government is to serve the people of the local communities – in a transparent manner, without excessive bureaucracy, like the service provided by commercial banks and shops. Nowadays, citizens are changing. They truly believe that the Ulaanbaatar City government is here to serve the public. People are now actively participating in government functions related to construction permits, land use, and budget issues. For example, we are currently planning to make the construction permit process open to the public. We have a construction permit technical committee that meets on a regular basis, and we are planning to broadcast these meetings live to the public in order to increase transparency and openness. We are making similar plans regarding land use decisions.

During your election campaign, you focused a great deal on revitalizing the city's ger areas, and The Asia Foundation has supported the city municipality with our Urban Services in Ger Districts program. What is your vision for revitalizing these areas, and how can the Foundation support the improvement of ger area services?

First of all, I would like to express my thanks to The Asia Foundation for helping us and providing us with the community mapping tool, which will be an important basis for our other planning activities. The Foundation has extensive experience in improving local government services. You were the first to understand that the issues of Ulaanbaatar could not be resolved without solving the problems in the ger districts. The Asia Foundation is helping to build the capacity of newly established ger area units, and this is an important job. So, I am very happy that The Asia Foundation first identified these issues, even before we did, and began working to improve these things.

We are also working with the Ulaanbaatar City municipality to develop anti-corruption action plans. What is your view of corruption in Mongolia now, and what are your key priorities for reducing or eliminating corruption?

In recent years, under the leadership of H. E. President Elbegdorj, anti-corruption activity has really improved. Parliamentary anti-corruption legislation has helped strengthen a number of laws. In terms of preventing corruption in Ulaanbaatar, the most important step is to involve citizens in decision-making. For example, budget planning and implementation, or granting a permit to build a building or sell alcohol in a local community, now requires citizen participation. At the same time, we will have transparency with the objective of keeping the public informed. In the past, for example, heating pipelines and sources of electricity were concealed from the public, and there was corruption in relation to that. We must improve government services so that bad service won't make the public start giving bribes.

It is a reality that in any government there will be some selfish people who take bribes. In most foreign countries they have a few corrupt people, but they have learned to hold them responsible for their actions. In Mongolia, however, corruption is so common that it has become a kind of social norm. In the end, it makes the state turn against the interests of the public. The state becomes the enemy of its own people. It ruins the main principles of democracy. So, I would advise the young generation that if they choose a political career, they must use it to serve the public. Because a politician is like a monk: monks don't serve their own interest; they serve the people and think about their welfare. Politicians, like monks, must think not only of themselves but also about the public good. They should understand that you will be successful and live better when other people around you live better.

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Chongryon's Tokyo HQ has business potential: Mongolian buyer

ULAN BATOR, October 24 (Kyodo) – The mysterious Mongolian company that recently made a winning auction bid for the Tokyo headquarters of a pro-North Korean association did so purely for business reasons, its president claimed Thursday.

Chuvaamed Erdenebat, who heads Avar LLC, told reporters in Ulan Bator that its participation earlier this month in the bidding has "no links with any governments in Mongolia, Japan, North Korea and South Korea."

The Mongolian firm, little known at home and abroad, won an auction for the headquarters site and building of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) with a bid of ¥5.01 billion.

Chongryon serves as North Korea's de facto mission in Japan in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Depending on the situation, the association needs to leave the building and there is a possibility that it cannot avoid scaling down its operations.

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday postponed a decision on whether to approve the sale, as it is apparently examining if Avar has hidden financial ties with Chongryon. Earlier reports said the Ulan Bator address the firm provided did not exist and suggested there were other murky factors in play.

Erdenebat said the ¥5.01 billion will be financed by "a foreign investment fund."

"I will reveal the name of the fund after the Tokyo court makes a decision," the 47-year-old president said, adding that the Mongolian company took part in the auction through a Japanese law-related firm.

The court decided in July 2012 to auction the headquarters in central Tokyo as demanded by the government-backed Resolution and Collection Corp., which is owed about ¥62.7 billion by Chongryon following the collapse of financial institutions in Japan for pro-North Korean residents.

Mongolia and North Korea have had friendly relations for many years.

Next Monday, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is scheduled to travel to North Korea to discuss bilateral and regional affairs with the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.

Elbegdorj will be the first head of state in the world to hold talks with Kim since he took up the post of first secretary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea in April last year, after the death of his father and longtime ruler, Kim Jong Il.

Japan and Mongolia have good relations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has been especially counting on Mongolia's role in making progress on the issue of North Korea's past abductions of Japanese nationals.

Last month in Tokyo, Abe discussed the abduction issue with his Mongolian counterpart, Norov Altankhuyag.

On Sept. 29, Elbegdorj informally visited Japan and met with Abe for about an hour.

The abductions remains a key stumbling block in establishing Tokyo-Pyongyang diplomatic relations, with North Korea claiming the issue has been resolved and Japan calling for a reinvestigation into the fate of those abducted in the 1970s and 1980s.

Japan officially lists 17 nationals as having been abducted by North Korea, but suspects Pyongyang's involvement in other disappearances. Five abductees were repatriated in 2002.

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MIAT Mongolian Airlines starts N. Korea flights ahead of leadership meeting

Flights likely related to forthcoming Mongolia - DPRK leadership meeting

October 23 (NKNews) The national airline of Mongolia is to operate a brief schedule of direct flights between Mongolian capital Ulanbatur and Pyongyang, airline news website Routes Online reported on Sunday.

The development comes as news surfaced Tuesday that the President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is to visit North Korea for a meeting with Kim Jong Un, on October 27. The visit comes following the recent 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and North Korea, MN News reported.

MIAT Mongolian Airlines scheduled three return flights to Pyongyang, two of which took place last week on board a Boeing 737-800. An additional flight is scheduled to take off on October 28th – one day after Elbegdorj's announced arrival in North Korea – and return to Mongolia on October 31.

Given the announced meeting between the leaders of North Korea and Mongolia, it is likely that the three flights have been scheduled primarily to help prepare for and facilitate the presidential visit.

David Thompson of Juche Travel Services, a tour agency that specializes in aviation tours to North Korea, told NK News that there is no indication that this schedule is related to North Korean national airline Air Koryo, despite it being announced on the airline's Facebook page. "It looks like it's going to be a Mongolian flight and a Mongolian aircraft, it just sounds like the Mongolians opening up a flight to Pyongyang".

"It's not DPRK actioned," he told NK News, "it's just another airline opening up a new flight…from what I gather it's not really an Air Koryo related initiative".

In 1948 Mongolia was the second country to recognize North Korea after the Soviet Union and North Korea – Mongolia relations have been undergoing a resurgence in recent months, with the Korea Central News Agency increasing its reporting on Mongolia significantly.

The Mongolian president will be the first head of state in the world to hold talks with Kim since he took up the post of first secretary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea in April last year.

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Hunnu Air Launches Ulaanbaatar-Choibalsan-Manzhouli Direct Flights

October 24 / Mongolian "Hunnu Air" company has commenced a new route to Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the PR of China starting from October 21, 2013.

The Company has performed its first Ulaanbaatar - Choibalsan - Manzhouli direct flight last Monday and expected further to conduct twice a week on Mondays and Fridays by its F-70 aircraft with 50 passenger seats.

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Foreign Ministry issues travel warning for India over outbreak of dengue

October 24 / Due to the dengue fever outbreak that has caused 109 deaths in India, where more than 50 thousand people have been affected this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia has issued a travel warning for travelers to India.

Cases of dengue fever usually escalate during and just after the rainy season, normally lasting from June to September, but this year the outbreak has extended until October in some Indian states. 

A large proportion of the casualties of dengue fever are foreign tourists and travelers. Therefore the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suggested that travelers from Mongolia to India do not travel if it is not necessary or if travel is necessary to avoid walking near still water and to use mosquito repellent in order to prevent mosquito bites. 

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Premier Addresses International Fair in China

Ulaanbaatar, October 24 /MONTSAME/ With the official visit to the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag Wednesday delivered a speech at the 14th Western China International Fair.

The fair is taking place in Chengdu city of Sichuan province, bringing together representatives of five countries, with a theme "Balanced development and common prosperity".

Noting that the Asian region and its countries have been provided with a balanced condition of developing themselves, the Prime Minister said he is satisfied with China's leadership in that  developmental step. 

"The place accumulating the latest knowledge and information always gather the world's scholars and manufacturers, producing valuable initiatives and proposals. As the Premier of China's neighbor country, I see this region as a big chance for a development," Mr Altankhuyag emphasized.

The Premier also said China has been the largest partner of Mongolia's trade and investment for  over a decade, and that the countries lifted their relations into a strategic partnership. "There are many projects and programmes the countries plan to co-implement in the infrastructure, mining and energy fields, so the western region of China has been forming opportunities to boost the mutually-beneficial collaboration with southern and western regions of Mongolia," he said.

He went on that Mongolia can be a reliable partner for those willing to run business in Mongolia, which is guaranteed by the newly adopted law on investments initiated by the government. This law has made the process of investments registration more prompt, abolishing bureaucracy in it, he underlined.

Ending his speech, the Premier stressed that there are many business opportunities in Mongolia in the sectors such as agriculture and light industry, and that Mongolia also has a willingness to develop win-win cooperation with businessmen.        

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Sukhbaatar Aimag, Mongolia & Liaoning Province, China Establish Memorandum of Understanding On Cooperation

October 24 / Mongolian delegation led by the Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag is conducting an official visit to the People's Republic of China until October 26, 2013.

Following his meeting with Governor of Sichuan Province, Premier visited the Liaoning Province and met with the Province Governor Chen Zhenggao on October23, 2013.

During the meeting, Governor Chen Zhenggao emphasized, "Our residents have big interests to travel to Mongolia but they face with numerous of difficulties. Although there are great possibilities and exits in the trade and economic partnerships between the two countries, transportation logistics on infrastructure does not exist, and we ask your support to co-resolve these matters potentially. Also, direct flights to establish between Shenyang and Ulaanbaatar, and railway road to connect Baruun-Urt, Sukhbaatar Aimag and Shenyang, Liaoning Province are being discussed today".

In response, Premier said, "The Short and Medium Term Programs for Strategic Partnership will be signed in the frameworks of this visit and the program attaches agendas to broaden trade and economic cooperation in order to increase the participation of the two countries' regional administrations. Moreover, Liaoning Province is a subsidiary place to stretch thebilateral trade between the two countries".

In the frames of Mongolia-China Strategic Partnership, Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between Sukhbaatar Aimag and Liaoning Province was established, co-signed by the Sukhbaatar Aimag Governor J.Batsuuri and Liaoning Province Governor Chen Zhenggao.

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Event: Mongolia's Development Strategy as a Landlocked Eurasian Nation

Monday, October 28, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT), Fairfax, VA

Event Details

Virginia International University Center for Democracy and International Affairs is happy to announce the first in a series of International Development lectures, which focus on economic, political and cultural development of countries around the world. The first event will focus on a country very relevant to our students – Mongolia. As a land-locked nation between two great powers, Mongolia is in the process of determining its own identity. Will Mongolia favor Russia and the West or China and the East? Mongolia's Development Strategy as a Landlocked Eurasian Nation will feature Dr. Alicia Campi, a former Foreign Service Officer and Mongolia expert. The event will take place on Monday, October 28th, 2013 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm in Waples Mill Conference Room. 

Dr. Alicia Campi has been researching all aspects of Mongolian Studies, Northeast Asia, and Sino-U.S. relations—historical and contemporary, for over 35 years. She has an A.B. from Smith College, M.A. from Harvard University, and Ph.D. from Indiana University. In her 14 year diplomatic career with the U.S. Department of State, she was posted in Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, UN Mission in NYC, and Ulaanbaatar. In the mid-1980s in Tokyo she conducted negotiations leading to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Mongolia. For her diplomatic service and support of democracy-building in Mongolia, Dr. Campi was awarded Mongolia's "Friendship" medal by President Bagabandi in 2004, the "Polar Star," Mongolia's highest medal, by President Elbegdorj in 2011, and in 2007 an Honorary Doctorate from the National University of Mongolia. Her book on The Impact of China and Russia on United States-Mongolian Political Relations in the Twentieth Century (2009) combines her own personal diplomatic experience with new research on the topic.

In 1991 Dr. Campi began full-time business consultancy and research analysis on the Sino-Mongolian region. She has been an expert witness on 15 Mongolian political asylum cases, and has been teaching U.S.-Asian relations and Chinese at The Washington Center and Marymount University for 15 years. In 2012 she received a fellowship from the East West Center on the potential impact of new Mongolian mineral development on NEA economics and politics. Presently, she is a Visiting Fellow at the Reischauer Center at SAIS/Johns Hopkins University from 2013-2015 to research and teach on Mongolian energy resources and integration into Central and Northeast Asia, and each month writes about Mongolia's relations with NEA for Jamestown Foundation. This September she participated in the World Economic Forum (Davos, Switzerland) Strategic Dialogue on Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar. In early 2014 Dr. Campi will publish a study on Korean-Mongolian Trans-Border Transportation Passages for Korean Economic Institute.

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Mongolia Supports Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

Ulaanbaatar, October 24/MONTSAME/ A Deputy Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations (UN) Ms G.Battungalag Wednesday delivered a speech at a meeting of the Fourth Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space at the UN General Assembly session.

Ms Battungalag expressed a position of her country over peaceful uses of outer space, applauding actions of the UNGA's Fourth Committee. She underlined an importance of an effective exploitation of space sciences and technologies in ensuring the economic and sustainable developmental goals.

She mentioned that international high-level measures and discussions have been organized in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the first space traveling of woman, and underlined these measures have significantly contributed to the goals of using outer space for peaceful purposes.

She also informed the gathered that the government of Mongolia last year approved a national programme on launching a space satellite with aims to develop space sciences and to exploit space technologies, and now it boosting a cooperation with international and regional organizations in this field.

Battungalag said Mongolia backs an initiative on establishing the regional training center of outer-space and its technologies in Beijing.    

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7 yrs ago, this month, Altantuya was killed: Who is responsible, WHAT HAS NAJIB TO SAY?

October 25 (Malaysia Chronicle) Seven years ago, this month, a lovely Mongolian woman was brutally murdered on Malaysian shores. Her death was linked to those in the highest echelons of power and a few months ago, the former bodyguards of Prime Minister Najib Razak were controversially acquitted.

The Malaysian police do not seem to have any answers. The Home Minister does not know too. And the Palace of Justice seemingly has made a 'hands-off' on the case.

Now that the Prime Minister of Malaysia has weathered his political party's battles with potential contenders from the Tun Dr Mahathir's faction, would he now kindly spare the time and energy to direct the nation find the answers to the brutal slaying of a fragile lone woman from Mongolia?

As the leader of this nation of people whom he has branded under his 1Malaysia sloganeering, would he put his best foot forward and demand on behalf of all the concerned and caring citizens of Malaysia and the curious outside world for an answer to the still illusive question of who killed this woman, mother, daughter and citizen of a foreign land in our own backyard?

Or is he not going to be perturbed by the fact that not only was Altantuya murdered but done so in a manner that even war crimes pale in comparison?

Is he also not curious to want to know how come the annihilating C4 bombs were taken out from the safe and used to blast-off the murdered body into nothingness?

There is more YAB Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak. Are you, as the leader of a nation also not wanting to get honest accountability to help establish how come the immigration records of Altantuya went missing?

And Honorable Prime Minister, how about even being curious to know why did the courts deem motive as non-essential in this particular case?

Why is Zahid dragging his feet too?

You have been teaching us to be responsible. You have been asking us through your Palace of Justice to respect court verdicts and not run foul for contempt of court. You have been re-branding your political leadership as a moderate Statesman who is concerned for creating a progressive nation.

You preached about "You help me, I help you" remember Sir? Now can you through leadership by example please help us to redeem our honor, integrity and pride in the eyes of Mongolia and the world at large by pinning this mother of all crimes?

But the again Sir, how come you are so tight-lipped in so far as the Altantuya murder goes?

How come you as the Number One man of this nation are not in a position to openly demand that this long outstanding case that has not found any killers nor motive for killing but only established with an unprecedented legal record that motive 'tak pakai' and set free those on the hangman's noose, be investigated at all cost and justice rendered?

What about your right hand man in charge of the Home Ministry? Are you not going to tell Zahid Hamidi to get cracking on the case and leave no stone unturned as it involves the sanctity and honor of this country?

Eyes of the world on the murder

Please Mr. Honorable Prime Minister, the world is anxiously waiting to hear from you. If your publicist advisors are not telling you this, then there is a dead rat somewhere and you must deal with it Sir!

The fight for justice for Altantuya and Mongolia is a national concern and certainly your men need to be told by you Sir that it is harbors on national security. Surely your senior advisors in the Cabinet should know.

Or shall we just dismiss this whole episode as a non-issue and with that attitude that after all it was only one miserable woman who deserved to die at our hands?

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Youth, Digital Infrastructure and the Future Success of Mongolia

By Giavanna Mingarelli, Technology Entrepreneur, Public Speaker and Writer

October 23 (Huffington Post) It was my last night in the capital city of Ulanbaataar (UB) (Mogi: Ulaanbaatar) during my first visit to Mongolia. I had spent an evening at a private reception generously hosted by the President of Mongolia, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, taking part in some of Mongolia's older traditions -- like trying my hand at the Mongolian bow and enjoying a bowl of fermented mare's milk.

My visit also included a day at the stunning Terelj Resort in Mongolia's National Park; strolling the semi-arid steppes of the country's highlands; and checking out the breathtaking statue of Genghis Khan seated on horseback, the largest statue of its kind in the world. Overall, I had spent four days exploring the many faces of the country, engaging in discussions about the future of this most ancient nation.

The value of the country is indescribably vast, and for those who know it, the possibility for gainful success is great -- if the country can move in the right direction over the next several decades.

With a population of three million people, Mongolia is currently one of the world's fastest growing economies, with GDP growth for 2013 forecasted to be 14 and 16 percent (with a value of USD $10 billion) and a natural wealth valued at more than USD $3 trillion.

Landlocked between China and Russia, the country is benefiting from a booming mining industry, which is still far from realizing its full potential. To this effect, the government has strong ambitions to use this wealth to improve infrastructure and foster growth, ultimately improving the lives of its people.

I had been invited to participate in the World Economic Forum's Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Mongolia. This forum brought together 150 Mongolian government and other leading domestic and international stakeholders to develop a set of scenarios that explore the different ways in which Mongolia's future might develop.

These scenarios were used at the Strategic Dialogue to explore policy options in three decision areas: managing the mining industry and its revenues; encouraging economic diversification; and pursuing essential trade and investment relationships. See the World Economic Forum's final event report for details.

Sitting in a jeep, humming over the city's bumpy roads, I was deeply engaged in a discussion with an executive from Mongolia's Central Bank and one of the World Economic Forum's UB Global Shapers, Gantig Batsaikhan.

Our talks centered around perhaps one of the most important scenarios that had yet to be discussed or explored during the meeting: the role of the country's 1.6 million youth in the next 20 years as Mongolia grows. A staggering, 60 percent of the population of Mongolia are under the age of 30.

This group is increasingly interconnected and wired. Some 75 percent of people under the age of 30 have a cell phone and 45 percent have smart phones (namely iOS and Android). What's more, in the last few years, more than 300 computer/video gaming centers have been created across UB to cater to an increasingly demanding gamer culture.

However, according to the World Economic Forum's UB Global Shapers Hub (a community of leaders between the ages of 20 and 30 dedicated to improving the state of the world starting with one's local community), the central problem here rests in a digital divide. Simply put: most young people in UB have access to cell phones and the Internet - but many, especially outside the nation's capital, do not. In fact, by the end of 2012, the household penetration of Internet access was only one percent outside of UB.

There is a very clear indication that the youth who have access to wireless connectivity are using it and thriving as a result. However, in order for the country to grow, there needs to be a significant investment in digital infrastructure and education for the whole country, including rural and remote areas. There are several groups, companies and organizations already leading the charge in this respect.

For instance, the Ulaanbaatar Shapers are tackling the growing digital divide and lack of access to information between the urban and rural area of the country by visiting 330 town centers to offer short-term training on the importance of Internet access to children.

Mining company officials are also deeply aware of the growing importance of the relationship between young Mongolians and digital connectivity. The largest of the companies, Oyu Tolgoi, just funded the modernization/refurbishment of a street in UB -- colloquially called "student street" -- to include public WiFi. What's more, Oyu Tolgoi has focused attention on connecting with Mongolian youth through digital platforms, and has 80,000 likes on Facebook.

There are also groups of young entrepreneurs exploring how to engage youth from across the country. According to Enkhtur Zurgaanjin, co-founder of the leading Mongolian app-development company, Slide, ltd., he and his brother have been developing mobile applications to connect youth, such as: pica and pica social. The apps aim to make live easier for youth to connect with one another in UB.

The Mongolian government, company executives and incoming foreign investors must be attuned to the need to support local connectivity and corporate social responsibility campaigns targeted to youth.

As the country strives to maximize its vast potential over the next two decades, such awareness and engagement must be at the very heart of its growth strategy.

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Land of Gengis Khan ambitious to make its mark

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, October 21 (FIBA Asia): A little more than a year ago, Mongolia put its name on the international basketball map hosting the 22nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship in Ulaanbaatar. The Mongolian Basketball Association has ever since gone on an ambitious route.

Known worldwide for its expansive blue skies, vast green rolling countryside, wild horses, wresting and the great Emperor Genghis Khan, Mongolia now wants to be known for something else: basketball.

The Mongolian Basketball Association (MBA), under new leadership since January of this year, has great expectations for the future basketball in the landlocked country of just under three million people sandwiched between China and Russia.

Led by the dynamic Ganhuyag Hutagt as president with Secretary General Orgil Bathuyag and Special Advisor Eddie Ganbat providing the necessary support, the MBA is developing ambitious plans to remake the MBA a player on and off the court in the East Asian and Asian basketball scenes.

The MBA's main project is completely rebuilding from the ground up the National Teams programs from U16 to Senior teams for both men and women.

Undertaking this challenge is the recently hired American coach and consultant Alan Walls. With 19 years of coaching experience around the world on the youth, high school, college and professional levels, Walls was the Director of Instruction and Head Coach with Five-Star Basketball China before landing in Mongolia.

The ultimate goal of the project is to transform Mongolia into a regular participant at the FIBA Asia Championship starting with 2015. Mongolia has never qualified to compete in the championship.

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Successful completion of Japanese backed school building project, building 55 schools

October 24 / The four phase project of a general education establishment (primary schools and secondary schools) building project that was financed by the Japanese Government`s free grants program has been successfully completed. The project will officially end during the opening ceremony for 123rd school in Ulaanbaatar on Friday October 25th.

The large scale project was designed to meet requirements of a master plan for the Mongolian education sector that was approved first in 2006 to create a comfortable study environment. The first phase of the project was launched in 1999.  Since then the project has run through four phases. During all four phases a total of 55 school buildings and 668 classrooms have been built. The total cost of the project is estimated at 10 billion 700 million yen or 178 billion 380 million MNT.

Now over 40 thousand students go to the 45 schools that have been built as part of the project only in Ulaanbaatar.

During the first phase of the project 16 schools and 182 classrooms were built in Ulaanbaatar and handed over with all facilities. During the second phase of the project a total of 117 classrooms and facilities including 3 schools in Darkhan-Uul province and 7 schools in Orkhon province were built and handed over to its principle.

In the framework of the third phase of the project 17 schools and  214 classrooms were built and handed over with the facilities.

In the final phase 12 schools and 155 classrooms were completed and project developers handed over the buildings with the facilities to the school's administration in Ulaanbaatar.

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Meet Mongolia's Sumo Babies

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) –- In the latest installment of Bloomberg Television's "Further East" series, here's a taste of David Tweed's visit to Mongolia. Tweed meets one of the world's most famous sumo wrestlers -- Asashoryu -- and spends time with the sumo babies who dream to be just like him. 

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Mongolia's Wild Asses Cornered From All Sides

By Michelle Tolson

SOUTHERN GOBI REGION, Mongolia , Oct 24 2013 (IPS) - Decades of international and local collaboration have brought the Tahki (Mogi: Takhi) or Asian Wild Horse back from the brink of extinction and reintroduced herds to Mongolia's Gobi desert and grasslands. However, the country's other wild equine – the Mongolian Wild Ass or Khulan – is fast disappearing.

It was put on the IUCN red list of endangered species in 2008.

"The Khulan (Equus hemionus hemionus) get less attention compared to the Tahki , which is nationally cherished," says Mongolia-based French ethologist Anne-Camille Souris, who has worked on wild equine projects such as the International Tahki Group since 2003.

"There is research," she tells IPS, "but little action." According to her, there are 2,000 Tahki worldwide and 14,000 Khulan. But while the former's population is growing, the numbers of this subspecies of the Asiatic Wild Ass are falling steadily.

In 2007, Souris co-founded the not-for-profit organisation Goviin Khulan. "We cooperate with local scientists and specialists, authorities, rangers, governors of each administrative subdivision, schools, Buddhist monasteries and the local population in our study area," she says.

The organisation's research area falls in the Southern Gobi Region (SGR), home to the largest population of Khulan. Two smaller and more remote populations are found in the Dzungarian Gobi and Transaltai Gobi to the west, but are cut off from the SGR population.

Most of the country's mining activity takes place in the SGR, a mineral-rich region. But while the Mongolian government has designated special protected areas in the southwestern Dornogovi province and the southeastern Omnigobi province, the Khulan range extends far beyond them.

The Khulan are also facing competition from domestic livestock, which are depleting foraging and water resources.

Climate change has affected Mongolia's ecosystem significantly in the past two decades. The Mongolia: Assessment Report on Climate Change 2009 showed a 19 percent loss of surface water, a seven percent loss of grassland and 26 percent loss of forest, with "barren land" tripling from 52,000 sq km to 149,000 sq km. Of the 1,800 dug wells in the Dornogovi province, only about 1,000 still have water.

As a result, Khulan are now perceived as a threat by herders, who might often assist poachers who sell their meat. According to a national survey, the market-based economy spurred the rise of poachers – from 25,000 during the socialist days to 245,000 by 2008.

Souris, however, says that rather than a threat, Khulan are beneficial to domestic livestock as they are able to dig under the soil to find groundwater. Her organisation has documented domestic animals drinking from watering holes created by the Khulan.

Livestock population in the region increased considerably after the collapse of socialism in 1990 – from 762,000 to over five million currently.

The Gobi is the centre of Mongolia's cashmere industry, which proved a lifeline after the switch to a market-based economy. Disadvantaged by China's subsidised cashmere industry in Inner Mongolia, herders increased the number of goats to hedge against loss.

2010 World Bank report counts these among the factors contributing to an alarming decline in Khulan numbers, from 40,000 in the 1990s to 14,000 in the last count in 2009. Recent figures suggest a decline of 10 percent each year.

Another report, by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Convention on Migratory Species and the WWF Mongolia Programme Office, studied the impact of roads and train tracks on Khulan and other migratory species in Mongolia.

Titled Barriers to Migration; Case Study in Mongolia, the 2011 case study said how train tracks running north to south, from the Russian border to China, bisect the Gobi, thereby shrinking the Khulan's range.

Herds on the eastern side of the tracks vanished after the railways were built. And with eight large mines in the region producing and transporting coal, one road to the border had a reported traffic of 500 coal trucks daily. The report concluded that the Khulan needed underpasses to travel safely.

The Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, one of the largest extraction projects in the country that is run jointly by the Mongolian government with private interests, plans to build a few such underpasses. However, its principal water adviser Mark Newby maintains that their current impact is small compared to coal transport.

Copper concentrate shipments, he tells IPS, "occur in convoys of 16 trucks, with up to three convoys currently going to the border per day." That makes up about 50 trucks currently, with an increase of "up to six convoys" in the future.

Newby also says that paving what used to be a dirt road has not only improved the dust situation for herder families living alongside, but Khulan crossings too have been recorded. Twenty Khulan were collared for the project to track their movements.

Oyu Tolgoi also conducted an aerial survey from May to July. "In 2008, academics, researchers and world experts on ungulate species suggested [doing an aerial survey]," Dennis Hosack, principal adviser in the Biodiversity Offsets at the Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, which has a controlling stake in the mining project, tells IPS.

Currently in the data analysis stage, its progress can be followed on a blog on the subject.

By contrast, the largely government-owned Tavan Tolgoi coal mine has yet to collaborate on Khulan preservation, although Souris says she hopes it will.

To raise awareness on Khulan vulnerabilities, the Goviin Khulan association has also been partnering with the monks of Ulgii Hiid in Dornovobi province since 2008, as well as with the monks at Khamariin Khiid near the Dornogovi provincial capital Sainshand, and the Tributary Fund and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, using Buddhist principles to preserve natural resources.

It also dedicated a day in September - Sep. 18 – to "bring in Mongolian artists and act as a bridge to Mongolian culture and natural protection," says Souris. "There are very few paintings of wild species; mostly they show nomadic, domestic life," she adds.

Choimjants, a monk at Ulgii Hiid, donated a work of art featuring camels, Khulan and two famous monks. "These monks have worked on their own initiative, but it shows the important impact our work to protect the Khulan has locally," Souris adds.

Local artist S. Tugs-Oyun, celebrated for her paintings of Mongolia, is excited about the initiative. "People want money these days, but we have to take care of nature," she tells IPS.

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Burmese Beauty Receives Honor From Mongolia

RANGOON, October 24 (The Irrawaddy) — Burmese beauty queen Nang Khin Zay Yar was on Tuesday given an award by Mongolia's beauty pageant association for her charity work since becoming a well-known figure.

The 25-year-old shot to fame after winning Miss Myanmar 2012, and subsequently winning the People's Choice and Miss Internet awards at the Miss International contest in Japan last year. Since then, she has publicly dedicated herself to charity work.

The Miss Mongolia Association awarded Nang Khin Zay Yar the title of Miss Humanity for her humanitarian efforts. The award was presented by Mongolia's Miss International 2012, Dolgion Delgerjav, at a promotional concert in Rangoon for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games, which featured Thai rock star Carabao.

"I was so surprised and so glad when Miss Mongolia presented me the award on the stage. At the same time I wanted to cry with happiness and I felt honored," Nang Khin Zay Yar told The Irrawaddy.

The Miss Mongolia Association has organized Miss Mongolia beauty contests since 2004, and has sent Mongolian beauties to international pageants.

Nang Khin Zay Yar uses her Facebook page to inform fans about her charity work and to invite the people to donate to good causes. She has volunteered at a free funeral service in Rangoon and collected donations for orphanages and old age homes and for children from poor families.

She said that she would not be participating in the upcoming "Miss Humanity International" contest, although she was invited. Instead, she said, receiving the honorary award would encourage her to do more work for charity in Burma.

"I usually post my charity work, written in Burmese language [on Facebook], and I wonder how they know everything about me and what I'm doing here. But I'm so happy to know that they acknowledge my charity work," she said. "This honor will motivate and encourage me to move forward in helping people in need."

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