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Monday, January 20, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Mogi: I'm counting at least 7 lawsuits filed in NY against TRQ, with 4 more firms "investigating" TRQ, and a separate class action filed against SouthGobi in Canada
TRQ closed -2.37% to US$3.70 Friday
SHAREHOLDER ALERT: Pomerantz Law Firm Has Filed a Class Action Against Turquoise Hill Resources, Ltd. and Certain Officers -- TRQ
NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Pomerantz LLP has filed a class action lawsuit against Turquoise Hill Resources, Ltd. ("Turquoise Hill" or the "Company") (NYSE: TRQ) and certain of its officers. The class action, filed in United States District Court, Southern District of New York, and docketed under 13-cv-8992, is on behalf of a class consisting of all persons or entities who purchased or otherwise acquired Turquoise Hill securities between May 14, 2010 and November 8, 2013 both dates inclusive (the "Class Period"). This class action seeks to recover damages against the Company and certain of its officers and directors as a result of alleged violations of the federal securities laws pursuant to Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder.
If you are a shareholder who purchased Turquoise Hill securities during the Class Period, you have until February 11, 2014 to ask the Court to appoint you as Lead Plaintiff for the class. A copy of the Complaint can be obtained at www.pomerantzlaw.com. To discuss this action, contact Robert S. Willoughby at email@example.com or 888.476.6529 (or 888.4-POMLAW), toll free, x237. Those who inquire by e-mail are encouraged to include their mailing address, telephone number, and number of shares purchased.
Turquoise Hill is an international mineral exploration and development company. The Company's principal mineral resource property is the Oyu Tolgoi Project located in Mongolia.
The Complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, Defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company's business and operations. Specifically, during the Class Period, Defendants overstated its revenues for the fiscal years 2010, 2011, 2012 and certain quarters of 2013; the Company prematurely reported revenues; and the Company lacked internal accounting controls.
On November 8, 2013, Turquoise Hill issued a press release disclosing that the Company would be restating its consolidated financial results for the years ending December 31, 2010, 2011, 2012 and the affected quarters, including 2013, due to errors related to the timing of revenue recognition from sales to certain distributors as a result of its SouthGobi subsidiary's decision to change the way it recognizes revenue. The Company further disclosed that some sales were booked after delivery to the customers' stockpiles at the Ovoot Tolgoi mine instead of upon customer collection. In addition, the Company stated that the financial statements should no longer be relied upon. On this news, the Company's stock price dropped from $4.87 per share on November 7, 2013 to close at $4.09 per share by November 14, 2013.
The Pomerantz Firm, with offices in New York, Chicago, Florida, and San Diego, is acknowledged as one of the premier firms in the areas of corporate, securities, and antitrust class litigation. Founded by the late Abraham L. Pomerantz, known as the dean of the class action bar, the Pomerantz Firm pioneered the field of securities class actions. Today, more than 70 years later, the Pomerantz Firm continues in the tradition he established, fighting for the rights of the victims of securities fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and corporate misconduct. The Firm has recovered numerous multimillion-dollar damages awards on behalf of class members. See www.pomerantzlaw.com.
Similar suits filed up till now:
SHAREHOLDER ALERT: Brower Piven Encourages Investors With More Than $100,000 in Losses from Investment in Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. to Contact Brower Piven Before the February 11, 2014 Lead Plaintiff Deadline - Brower Piven, January 6
Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Reminds Investors of Class Action Against Turquoise Hill Resources, Ltd. and Its Board of Directors and a Lead Plaintiff Deadline of February 11, 2014 – TRQ - Levi & Korsinsky, LLP, January 6
The Rosen Law Firm Announces Filing of Securities Fraud Class Action Against Turquoise Hill Resources – TRQ - The Rosen Law Firm, P.A., January 2
Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP Files Class Action Suit Against Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. - Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, December 17
Bernstein Liebhard LLP Announces That A Securities Class Action Has Been Filed Against Turquoise Hill Resources, Ltd. - Bernstein Liebhard LLP, December 17
ROBBINS GELLER RUDMAN & DOWD LLP FILES CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES LTD. - Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, December 13
Investigations announced that could lead to a suit:
Wolf Haldenstein Commences Turquoise Hill Resources, Ltd. Investigation - Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, December 19
Recover Losses: Ademi & O'Reilly, LLP Investigates Possible Securities Fraud of Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. - Ademi & O'Reilly, LLP, December 4
Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP Announces Investigation of Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. - Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP, November 22
Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC Announces Investigation of Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. - Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC, November 15
A separate lawsuit against SouthGobi directly:
FEO last traded at 4.1c on December 17
FeOre: Trading Halt
January 20, FeOre Limited (ASX:FEO) --
1. The reason for the trading halt is that the Company intends to make an announcement regarding a material transaction.
2. The Company requests that the trading halt continue until the earlier of commencement of trading on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 or when the announcement referred to in paragraph 1 is released to the market
Daily Trading Report, January 17: MSE Top 20 -1.43%, Turnover ₮49.37 Million
January 17 (MSE) --
MEREX JSC REGISTERS SHARES AT MSE, PLANS TO OFFER 40% OF SHARES RAISING ₮2.6 BILLION
January 17 (MSE) Based on Financial Regulatory Committee decree no.:514 from 18 December 2013, Mongolian Stock Exchange has listed "Merex" (MSE:MRX) JSC publicly offered 65,005,000 shares with face value of 100 tugriks to Mongolian Stock Exchange securities listing by 14 January 2014 according to "MSE" SOJSC Chief Executive Officer's decree. "Merex" JSC was established in 2012 to operate in foreign trade and construction materials field, and it is building a concrete mix factory with a mark of TW-2500, which was manufactured in Republic of Korea and with a capacity of producing 150 cubic meters concrete per hour, in Songinokhairkhan district.
The company plans to raise 2.6 billion tugriks from the market or will offer 40% of its total company's shares, which is 26,000,000 common shares to the public, and the funds will be used to smoothen its production and fully implement its business plan in the future and to successfully execute the company's operation. "Standard Investment" LLC is working as an underwriter for the company.
HEAD OF STATE MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT, BOLORMAA.D, HAS BEEN APPOINTED AS ACTING CEO
January 16 (MSE) Based on part 1 of clauses 9, 18 of Article 11 of "Law on State and Local Property", 76.1.8 of clause 76 of the "Company Law", request of Kh.Altai to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of "Mongolian Stock Exchange" SOJSC (MSE), by decrees of State Property Committee and MSE BoD decree no.:1 from 13 January 2014, MSE Chief Executive Director Kh.Altai has been released from his official duty effective from 15 January 2014. Until the Chief Executive Officer's competitive selection's official results are announced, State Property Committee's Head of State Management Department D.Bolormaa has been appointed as an Acting Chief Executive Officer of MSE, for the purpose of ensuring the uninterrupted operations of the company.
The State Property Committee's Working Group received Kh.Altai's work and Mongolian Stock Exchange Chief Executive Officer's competitive selection will be announced to the public and will be organized openly.
12 JSC's DELISTED FROM MSE SECURITIES LISTING
January 16 (MSE) Based on Financial Regulatory Committee decree no.:500 from 12 December 2013, and 58 and 59.1 of MSE "Securities Listing Rule", and by "Mongolian Stock Exchange" SOJSC Chief Executive Officer's decree no.:14 from 14 January 2014, following 12 joint stock companies and their securities were delisted from MSE securities listing.
These companies made breaches such as not implementing 10.1.3, 10.1.4, 10.1.5 of Article 10 of "Securities Market Law", not delivering information that must be delivered to the shareholders in accordance with approved rules of the Stock Exchange and Financial Regulatory Committee on legally stated time, not fulfilling duties and tasks given from the Committee repeatedly, and did not fully satisfy the criteria set by MSE "Securities Listing Rule"
№ Company name Code Symbol No.of Securities Nominal value
1 "Torgo ur" JSC 415 IBU 171,657 100
2 "Dornod noos" JSC 381 DNU 462,929 100
3 "Altai khaniin material" JSC 240 AHM 63,396 100
4 "Dar zam" JSC 470 DRZ 616,848 100
5 "Mandal Orgil" JSC 261 OZH 68,968 100
6 "Ulbaa" JSC 210 ULB 112,646 100
7 "Sumber-Ulzii" JSC 266 SUO 114,834 100
8 "Teever tuv" JSC 439 TEV 207,791 100
9 "Govi sumber" JSC 344 GOS 97,149 100
10 "Ulaan khotgor" JSC 422 ULH 97,322 100
11 "Jinchin" JSC 155 JNN 80,601 100
12 "Ariljaa" JSC 122 ARI 52,777 100
These companies can operate as a closed joint stock companies in the future.
Please view "Mongolian Stock Exchange" SOJSC Chief Executive Director's decree no.:14 from 14 January 2014 by clicking here.
FMG Mongolia Fund +3.65% in December, -34.86% for 2013
FMG Funds: The Case for Mongolia
January 17 (FMG) Mongolia remains one of the world's fastest growing economies and is predicted to stay among the top five over the next 10 years. With the new investment law in place we believe foreign direct investment will accelerate in 2014 and beyond. Over the next years we expect Mongolia to become a commodity exporting powerhouse and transition to a very rich country in the process. Mongolia has evolved from a backward communist country to a thriving democracy. In the past few months the pro-business government has:
• Passed the securities markets law, which will substantially modernize the financial markets.
• Initiated a program providing 20 year mortgages at 8% to home buyers (down from 17-20%).
• Embarked upon an aggressive anti-corruption campaign.
• Reduced government bureaucracy.
The FMG Mongolia Fund is well positioned to take advantage of today's exceptional value along with tomorrow's exceptional growth.
BoM MNT Rates: January 17 Close
January MNT Chart:
Total outstanding up 3.8% to ₮1.06 trillion
BoM issues ₮373.2 billion 1-week bills
January 16 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 373.2 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
8% Mortgage Program Update: ₮472.6 Billion Refinanced, ₮762 Billion Newly Issued, Total ₮1.23 Trillion
January 17 (Cover Mongolia) As of January 15, ₮472.6 billion (₮474.2 billion as of December 25) (Mogi: this number keeps going down for some reason, by December 16 the number was ₮481.8 billion) existing mortgages of 16,889 citizens (16,741 as of December 25) were refinanced at 8% out of ₮793.4 billion (₮792.9 billion as of December 25) worth requests.
Also, ₮762 billion (₮732.6 billion as of December 25) new mortgages of 13,215 citizens (12,682 citizens as of December 25) were issued at new rates out of ₮815.2 billion (₮789.5 billion as of December 25) worth requests.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Fiscal Stability Fund Estimated to Receive ₮29.8 Billion in 2014, Down From ₮49 Billion in 2013, ₮94.7 Billion in 2012
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ The Fiscal Stabilization Fund of Mongolia is estimated to collect 29.8 billion togrog in 2014.
The money accumulation to the Fund has been reducing year after year since 2012, due to mining sector's hardship and coal's lowering prices.
In 2012, when the fund was set up by the law on Budget stability, a total of 94.7 billion togrog was accumulated, but this sum reduced to 49 billion in 2013. The money, accumulated so far in the fund, has not been used yet.
2014 Index of Economic Freedom: Mongolia Drops 27 Spots to #97, from "Moderately Free" to "Mostly Unfree"
By The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation
Mongolia's economic freedom score is 58.9, making its economy the 97th freest in the 2014 Index. Its overall score is 2.8 points lower than last year, with deteriorations in the control of government spending, trade freedom, and monetary freedom outweighing small improvements in business freedom and labor freedom. Mongolia is ranked 19th out of 42 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is above the regional average.
Over the 20-year history of the Index, Mongolia has advanced its economic freedom score by over 11 points. Despite ups and downs, its relatively broad-based overall score improvement has been facilitated by advancements in seven of the 10 economic freedoms including monetary freedom, fiscal freedom, and trade freedom. The rule of law has lagged, however. Once considered a "repressed" economy, Mongolia had risen to "moderately free" before falling back this year.
Despite notable strides made over the past decade, the momentum for deeper institutional reform has largely stalled. Prospects for enhancing economic freedom remain curtailed by a lack of institutional commitment to strong protection of property rights and by ineffectiveness in fighting corruption. The judicial framework remains vulnerable to political interference.
Mongolia's transition from a Soviet Socialist Republic to democracy has been characterized by the gradual introduction of political and free-market reforms. Despite political tensions, the country has enjoyed relative stability in recent years. Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, whose Democratic Party coalition controls parliament, was re-elected to a second and final term as president in June 2013. Agriculture and mining are the most important sectors of the economy, although tourism and construction are growing in importance. With its abundant mineral resources attracting foreign investment, Mongolia has become one of the world's fastest-growing economies. While improving overall relations with the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, it has also sought to strengthen ties with Russia and China.
RULE OF LAW
Corruption is viewed as pervasive. Graft is endemic, and weak institutions do not enforce anti-corruption measures effectively. The judiciary is independent but inefficient and vulnerable to political interference. Corruption persists among judges. Property and contractual rights are recognized, but enforcement is weak. The government lacks the capacity to enforce intellectual property rights laws.
The top individual income tax rate is 10 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 25 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) and an excise tax. The overall tax burden is 33.1 percent of gross domestic income. Government expenditures equal 45 percent of GDP, and public debt stood at 41 percent of gross domestic income in the most recent year. The government receives substantial revenues from the growing mining sector.
Despite some progress in modernizing the regulatory framework, time-consuming and costly requirements continue to reduce overall regulatory efficiency. The labor market remains inefficient, and chronic unemployment and underemployment continue. At the end of 2012, the IMF noted a steady erosion of fiscal discipline as the government increased spending on subsidies such as costly universal cash transfers.
Mongolia has a 5.1 percent average tariff rate. It is costly and time-consuming to import goods. The "Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law," enacted in 2012, limits investment in strategic industries. The financial system has undergone rigorous modernization. Weathering the strain caused by the global financial turmoil, the banking sector has stabilized.
Ch.Otgochuluu: Reducing gold taxes will not affect Oyu Tolgoi
January 16 (UB Post) The following is an interview with a member of Oyu Tolgoi LLC's board and Head of the Strategic Policy and Planning Department of Mongolia's Ministry of Mining, Ch.Otgochuluu about Mongolia's mining prospects this year, tax reduction on gold mining and Oyu Tolgoi.
-In 2013, the price of Mongolia's main export goods dropped and state budget income decreased. What can be expected this year, in terms of price of main export goods such as coal?
-Coal prices has decreased 30 to 40 percent on international markets. So far, we haven't observed any indication that it will rise. This is connected to the rise in number of suppliers to our main trade partner, China. For instance, Russia and the USA are collectively supplying around many million tons of coals to China. Indonesia, Africa and Australia have increased their export amount in order to cut back on tax. In other words, coal companies are increasing their export amount in order to prevent crisis in case coal prices drop even lower.
Competition is increasing with the increase of suppliers. In market terms, there isn't any condition for prices to rise as there are more suppliers and not much increase in demand. Therefore, market analysts have concluded that there will not be an upsurge in coal prices this year.
In such situations, our nation has no choice but to cut back on spending to counterbalance the negative effects of low coal prices. This is the only way to profit from coal exports. Furthermore, we need to hasten the railway projects and get rid of port related bureaucracies. We need to formulate a long-term strategy and find partners immediately. We might lose our current market position if we don't come up with a solution for supplying quality products for stable prices in the long term.
-Many of our nation's biggest exporters have said that the negative prospects for coal producers might result in losses this year, and that the economic hardships will continue. What does the Ministry of Mining anticipate this year?
-The price of coal will change considering many factors. For instance, the economy of the USA and Germany are recovering. Thus, China's coal imports will increase as their exports recuperate. However, coal imports from our country must not drop as their coal consumption increases. We need to work to prevent this from happening instead of making unreasonable speculations about coal prices by cutting back on expenses and increasing the export amount.
Theoretically, as the USA and Germany recover, China will not only increase its exportation but also its western regions will develop faster. Considering the fact that it's already in the process of reconstruction, the use of steel and iron ore will increase. Hence, there is a possibility for coal demands to increase this year.
Moreover, Mongolia must receive more foreign investment, increase exportation, and decrease importation. For instance, there is no need to import products such as chalk in the mining sector. We can save some capital if we can produce it domestically.
-How is the copper outlook for this year?
-There's also a possibility for copper prices to rise. The poor economic growth in China directly effects coal prices in Mongolia. As China develops faster, copper prices increase. However, there is a surplus in copper supply to China's current demand. China is still importing copper when they have already accumulated an adequate amount for its current use. For these reasons, the competition for copper producers is getting fiercer.
China, Chile, Africa, Peru and Russia all supply copper to China and they all want to ramp up the amount. Mongolia's policy on copper export will be to increase it as much as possible to maintain our current position in the market. In general, it is safer to look for other markets in the long term. Countries such as (South) Korea and Japan have a high demand for copper. Thus the best long-term strategy for our nation is to figure out a way to supply copper to these countries.
-How much copper did Oyu Tolgoi export last year? How much will it export this year?
-In 2013, Oyu Tolgoi produced some 200 million tons of copper concentrate, and sold it in accordance with its contract. However, there were some problems at border ports last year. We are planning to at least produce and export approximately 600 to 700 thousand tons of copper concentrate this year. This estimation will depend on the capacity of our border points for shipments and road development.
-Shouldn't Mongolia be focusing on increasing competitiveness rather than price of raw materials?
-Mongolia isn't able to set prices in the international market or make an impact. Exchange rates fluctuate independent from our market. Our only choice is to enhance technologically to increase efficiency and cut back on expenses and increase productivity. We need to find cheaper transportation, water and energy sources.
-Last year, gold and petroleum exports increased dramatically and exceeded the expected income to the state budget. How are gold prospects for this year? How will the new law on reducing gold taxes, which is being debated at the parliament, affect gold prospects?
-The legislation to reduce royalty on gold is still under discussion. Overall, tax on gold is fairly high compared to other countries; around 10 percent higher than average. A close example is China. Their tax on gold is much lower than Mongolia's. But export tax on gold is very high in China. Big countries all around the world have similar policies. This means that they want to keep gold in their country as much as possible to stabilize and strengthen their currency rates. Mongolia's export tax on gold is very high compared to others which resulted in the rise of smuggling and illegal activities related to gold. If we can reduce illegal gold trades by for example, selling it to the Central Bank, exports will decrease.
-State revenue will decrease if gold exports decrease. Wouldn't this affect the economy negatively? In general, how does reducing tax benefit the economy?
-Gold and MNT are both indicators of Mongolian currency value. Mongolian currency will be more stable if more gold is reserved at the Central Bank which could also counterbalance USD to MNT exchange rates. This is the biggest benefit for the economy. We might lose around 40 million USD in royalty but gain two billion USD in monetary reserve. The biggest policy decision for us today is, whether we should export gold with or without tax, or should we stabilize our domestic currency value.
-How will tax reduction on gold affect Oyu Tolgoi?
-It will not affect Oyu Tolgoi. Currently, Oyu Tolgoi is producing copper concentrate, not gold. There are some contents of gold in the copper concentrate but it's hard to differentiate in its current state. In other words, concentrate which has some gold content is physically sold to Chinese copper refineries. It is possible to buy gold in a non physical form. The law on tax reduction on gold will reduce royalty to 2.5 percent, for a duration of five years. This was designed for smaller gold mines. If Mongolia can build a refinery in five years time, and gold miners refine their gold and sell it to the Central Bank, they could be exempted from royalties.
-The state policy for the mineral resources sector is being finalized. What was defined as the sector's main export good in the policy?
-We are currently debating whether to export some refined mining products and reserve some within the country. Strictly speaking, we can't export too much when prices are low and import back in ten years when industries recover. Therefore, we need to refine some products, and sell it not for 100 MNT, but for 300 MNT by adding value. This means that we exercise higher taxes on some products to reserve it in the country.
-Can you give any examples?
-It's not appropriate to export raw iron ore. Firstly, we need to process the raw product. Secondly, we need to reserve it for future domestic needs. But this needs to be decided after the law is approved. Mongolia supplies 20 million tons of coal to China every year. While small countries in Africa produce 200 million tons in a year. China has a large market and we only supply a small percentage.
Mongolia's approved coal reserve is 23 billion tons, and estimated is around 177 billion tons. It's more preferable to trade coal while it's expensive since we can't refine or consume it in Mongolia. The state income will multiply if we can export 100 million tons instead of 20 million in a year. Even if we sell all the coal in Umnugobi Province, we will still have plenty of coals left.
Mongolia has plenty of coal in reserve. Thus, it's essential for us to compete in the world market and make others dependent on us.
-There were many ups and downs for Oyu Tolgoi in 2013. When will the financial issue of the underground mine be resolved?
-There were many problems last year. We started exportation after launching the concentrator plant. As soon as exportation begun, we produced amounts equivalent to Erdenet and expanded the economy as much.
There were many pros such as completing the first stage successfully before schedule.
But we are stuck on the financing for the underground mine. The world economic crisis also played a part in this. Oyu Tolgoi project isn't alone responsible for the snag that the financing for underground mine caused. A large project is progressing smoothly as planned. We have plenty of time and we will start construction as soon as the financial issues are resolved. The discussions related to this issue are progressing well.
Mogi: looks like the policy still kept the "strategic deposit" concept, but does outline privatization of state-owned mining companies and also removed the clause where the state can arbitrarily take deposits into "state reserve"
State Policy in Minerals Sector Approved
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ A parliamentary session Thursday backed the State policy on Minerals sector for 2014-2015.
At a parliamentary level, a working group led by S.Odontuya MP had finalized the draft of parliament resolution of this policy. It defines a strategic mining deposit as to cover deposits that profit more than 5% of GDP in one year's time, highlighted S.Odontuya amid her presentation at the session.
As for the extractive sector, a clause stating rehabilitation and mine closure in accordance with international standards has been highlighted among others. The document also states a step-by-step privatization of state-owned and state-shared companies operating in Mongolia.
During previous discussions at parliament, a clause that foresees taking into reserves and storing deposits for future generations by State has been removed.
Premier highlights 2014 construction plans at parliament address
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ The cabinet for reforms has planned several works for this year under a goal called "Let us make in our Mongolia".
The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag said it at a plenary meeting of the parliamentary autumn session on Friday.
Saying that Mongolia will receive in this year its three millionth person, the Premier underlined it is time for Mongolians to produce and manufacture goods in their country because Mongolia imports 88% of consumer goods, and just 12% of total products is made in Mongolia. Although Mongolia has 45 million heads of livestock, the country imports 74% dairy products, 41% of flour and flour products, and 62% of knitted clothes, the Premier stressed.
"Money of 270 billion togrog from 'Chingis' bonds has been spent for supporting the productions of dairy and meat products and clothes. Another part of the money MNT 360 billion will be exploited for industries of construction materials, leather, wool and plastic products and foods," the Premier said, adding that paved-roads will be constructed from the city to centers of Dornod, Sukhbaatar, Omnogobi, Khovsgol, Gobi-Altai and Zavkhan.
The Premier reported that 15 crossroads will be repaired this year within the "Street" project, and construction of highways will launch. Construction works for the new railways and the international airport in Khoshigt valley will be accelerated as well. In addition, constructions of new apartments in aimags, and each aimag will have a model soum. Diagnostic centers will be established in 12 provinces, he added.
In frames of a goal of supporting livelihood of families, the cabinet will take a measure for the employment for people above 40 years old by creating 50 thousand new job places, and money of MNT 3.5 billion will be spent for this, the Premier said.
ARViN monspar: MAIDEN JORC COMPLIANT RESOURCE STATEMENT
Project Area A, Choir, Mongolia
January 7, ARViN monspar --
16.5 million tonnes grading 18.2% CaF2
Measured & Indicated category resources - 8.1 million tonnes grading 19.8% Caf2
Shallow Opencut, Measured & Indicated category resources - 6.1 million tonnes grading 19.9% CaF2
Resources remain open at depth and have been modelled only to 250m
Company's overall resource portfolio, is estimate at +27 million tonnes, grading above 23% CaF2, when including the other areas not yet completely drilled to JORC standards.
These results provide strong confirmation of the merits of the resource base which will underpin the development of the long life, high quality Acidspar export business in central Mongolia – the ARViN monspar Project.
Tax cuts aimed at SMEs to be discussed at parliament
January 19 /business-mongolia.com/ The Government for Change included a plan to promote SMEs through 2012-2016. In accordance with the plan the cabinet discussed amendments in VAT and Corporate Income Tax Law and decided to submit it to the parliament for discussion.
VAT Law was initially approved in 1998, and has not been amended or revised since then. The law states that those entities which have sales income of above MNT10 million (about USD5800) are subject to pay VAT. The amendment will raise the bar to MNT50 million and voluntary VAT registration will be MNT10 million. It has been calculated that 50% of the SMEs will be relieved of VAT duty.
According to the Ministry of Finance, at the end of 2013 most of the VAT payers have sales income of MNT50 million to MNT1.5 billion. In the last decade, Mongolian economy has expanded few folds, and business owners' income has also been increasing. Mongolian GDP was MNT1.2 trillion in 2000, and tax income was MNT222 billion. As end of 2013 GDP was increased by 14 times and tax income by 23 times.
Those which have MNT1.5 billion and below sales revenue will be subjected to tax return of 90% (Mogi: I don't get this part). However, mining and minerals, oil import and export, cellular services, alcoholic drink and beverage and tobacco are exempted from the law.
Government to Announce 129 Tenders Worth ₮522 Billion This Year
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ The Procurement Agency has informed that it will organize further Government biddings in a transparent and publicly open manner.
The above decision aims at prevention of fraud, waste, corruption and local protectionism.
Last year, the agency registered a total of 487 enterprises, while 724 enterprises entered Government bidding competitions. This year, the agency is planning to organize 129 tenders for goods (28), works (92), and consulting services (9), under a total cost of MNT 521 billion, 761 million and 200 thousand.
Mongolia seeks foreign investment
Predicted to become 2014's fastest growing economy, Mongolia is recognising its success lies in minerals
January 16 (Industrial Minerals) Mongolia has been listed as the world's fast growing economy for the second year running, providing hope for industrial minerals companies working in the region.
Yet questions still remain around the complicated infrastructure, regulatory restrictions and logistics setbacks.
The Economist has today published its 2014 projections ranking Mongolia at the top thanks to its booming mining industry.
In November 2013 the country's central bank head Naidansuren Zoljargal said gross domestic product could expand by as much as 17% this year from around 11% last year.
The mining sector accounts for 20% of the country's GDP and is located next to the largest commodity consumer in the world, China.
The Asian nation contains vast fluorspar deposits, as well as graphite and rare earths.
Mongolia produced 430,000 tonnes of all grades of fluorspar in 2013 with 70 exporters responsible for selling the material to a global market.
Accounting for over 30% of total annual sales of fluorspar in Mongolia is Mongolrostsvetmet LLC, the Russian-Mongolian joint venture.
The country's other major suppliers are: MonCzechMetal (11%), Kevin Invest (8%), Bayalag Jonsh (4%), and Naimgan Ord (4%). Just under 50% of products come from small scale suppliers.
There still remains over 140 known deposits of fluorspar with ore grading between 30-35% CaF2, which are yet to have an owner.
Despite the minerals extractions possibilities available in the country, foreign investment has fallen year-on-year in the country because of regulatory volatility.
Mongolia, which is dependent on the mining sector to fuel growth, is looking to turn around the slump in its economy and the fall in foreign investment.
Foreign direct investment in the country dropped by 47% during 2013, the value of the currency, the tugrik, is down 20% this year and the Mongolian central bank is burning through foreign reserves as foreign debts balloon to 55% of GDP.
Speaking to IM, James Rodríguez de Castro, managing director of Mongolian Minerals, said the government has not yet realised that foreign investment can be won by regulatory stability.
"The realisation that they [government] need to be more consistent has sunk in. They realise that they need foreign investment because they don't have enough capital," he said.
The government introduced legislation on minerals extraction in July 2013 but the policy is still under review with no clear date of the final draft release.
De Castro highlighted a series of corruption cases involving the suspension of 106 mining licenses.
The uncertainty associated with these cases has caused foreign mining companies to suspend investments in these areas for an indefinite period of time, he said.
Only 31 of the 106 impacted licenses, accounting for about $19m, has already been spent and a further $36m planned. The 106 licenses cover a landmass approximately six times larger in surface area than active mining licenses in Mongolia according to a new report by Independent Mongolian Metals & Mining Research.
While the new investment law has been universally hailed as a positive step issues around logistics, which need to be resolved before investor confidence can return to the country, remain.
De Castro said Russian influence on Mongolia's rail system is holding back logistical development.
Mongolia adopted the Russian rail standard but Chinese trains in contrast run on so-called standard gauge tracks used throughout most of the rest of the world.
This means exporting to China is more expensive than to Russia, because once goods reach the Chinese border either the train undercarriages will need to be changed or transferred to trucks, adding costs in delivering the cargo to Mongolia's biggest customer.
De Castro said: "They should have Russian gauge trains going north and Chinese gauge trains going south and get the best of both worlds."
But he did concede that "the infrastructure challenge is slowly improving".
"If it was easier to move ore then you would have more flexibility to have a central processing plant somewhere but because infrastructure isn't as well developed," said de Castro, "moving ore is a bit more expensive and complicated than it needs to be."
Another challenge for fluorspar extraction in Mongolia is that its deposits are distributed all over the country in small pockets instead of being concentrated in a few places, which makes it difficult to commercially mine, particularly with limited rail-road access.
De Castro said the small deposits of fluorspar could deter foreign investors.
"The challenge the industry has is that some of the small deposits are not large enough to justify a processing plant on their own but the total aggregate number of small deposits is definitely enough to justify a plant," he said.
"The ownership at the moment is dispersed so none of the owners of these small deposits are individually capable of getting the funds and building a plant but with a bit of consolidation and grouping the smaller properties into larger holdings processing plants start to become economical," he added.
Owners of small deposits of minerals also face problems from illegal miners.
"If you were only ever planning to mine the top 5m then sure they can do some damage but if you were going to be mining down one or 200m then they're not going to anywhere past five or ten [metres]," de Castro told IM.
"Sure they'll mess it up a little bit and leave a bit of an eyesore, but it isn't a tremendous problem and because they don't have the capacity to do serious damage they can only scratch at the surface," he explained.
Overall de Castro was optimistic about the future of the mining industry in Mongolia.
"The government realises the only way they're going to have a future is with mining. The direction is clear – no other direction is logical in Mongolia," de Castro concluded.
Mining Journal Awards 2013 Defying the Crisis
January 15 (Mongolian Mining Journal) Given the pall of gloom and uncertainty that hung over the whole mineral sector in 2013, we at the Mongolian Mining Journal were not sure if it would be right this year to organise the annual Mining Journal Awards. It was one thing to celebrate enterprise, performance and innovativeness when the going had been good, but would it not be ironic to seek to identify and acknowledge these at a time when most mining projects had been put on hold, survival had nudged out expansion, and goods and service suppliers vainly looked around for orders?
We left the decision to our panel of judges for the awards, and these wise people had no doubt that we should go ahead. A crisis in the mining sector was no more than a temporary setback, and should not hinder a tradition in the making, they said. And bad times bring out special qualities, not seen in better days, somewhat like stars sparkling only at night. Giving up on the awards would mean giving up the fight, they said, somewhat akin to abandoning the ship.
One of them, B.Purevtogtokh, was clear why we should organize MJA 2013 as usual. He told us, "The awards are for past performance but their true significance lies in how they encourage all of us to look to the future, giving us the determination to do better next year. Let us leave it to the companies. If we receive enough nominations, we shall assess their merits. If there are not enough competitors, or no real performance, we shall not announce a winner. Success comes in many forms, and our yardsticks in a year of crisis will be different from the usual. Not organising MJA 2013 would only heighten perception of the crisis. The players in the sector need to come out of the gloom, not be hemmed in further." This sane approach dispersed all our doubts and we set in motion the long process of selecting winners of the fourth annual Mining Journal Awards, to be a major footnote in the chronicle of troubled times.
Categories of Awards 2013: one in, one out
MJA 2013 had the same categories as in the previous year, except for the judges' decision to discard "The Supplier of the Year" award in favour of one for "The Best Stable Operations". Readers may recall that Wagner Asia LLC had won the supplier award in MJA 2012. They would face no real competition as every mine uses the Caterpillar equipment they supply. That was why the judges' panel decided to eliminate this category.
The new category, one earnestly hopes, will be a temporary inclusion. To justify the rationale behind its present inclusion, we have to go back four years when we said the following, while announcing the institution of the awards," At a time when, as elsewhere in the world, the mining sector in Mongolia faces challenges and obstacles, the Mongolian Mining Journal finds it all the more important to encourage individuals and organisations that are sustaining the industry and to publicly recognise their achievement." Now that the sector is in the grip of a post-boom gloom, it was important to acknowledge companies which have managed best to face hard times.
So "The Best Stable Operations" category is here, and the judges see it as a nonpermanent choice. D.Achit-Erdene, a financial expert who is also President of the MICC investment bank, was invited to join the judges' panel for this category.
And the Winners are…
The crisis has been seen as a challenge, and those in the mineral sector didn't stop working hard. The number of nominations showed a significant fall, but we had expected this, and the choices were from among contestants who tried to turn misfortune into opportunities.
Best Deposit: Baganuur coal mine. Others in the running were Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, Ukhaa Khudag coking coal mine, and Shivee Ovoo coal mine.
This award went to Mongolyn Alt LLC in 2010 and to Erdenet open pit mine in 2011. There was no award in 2012 as most coal and ore companies had been forced by circumstances to stay idle. The situation was similar, if not worse, in 2013, but the judges took note of the fact that Baganuur's output was the highest in its history.
Responsible Mining: Energy Resources. As the sole nomination in the category, the company could not be called the winner, but the judges noted how its performance easily met all the criteria. Having contested with outstanding scores for an award in all categories except Best Explorer in previous years, the company received the MJA Grand Prix on two consecutive occasions. This time, Energy Resources did not get chosen for any award, but its performance was noted and lauded.
Usually, this category sees the most exciting contest between heavyweights in the sector. The criteria are extensive: progress in processing,EITI report, adoption of international standards ISO 26000, ISO 1400, ISO 1900 and OHSAS 18001, and such. Almost all nominations in the first year were foreign invested companies, but it was gratifying to find several national companies feeling bold and confident enough to compete in 2011 and 2012.
The crown went to Energy Resources in 2010 and 2011, while last year's winner was Erdenet Mining Corporation.
Best Green Mine: Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine. The judges were impressed by the extent of studies, research and planning the company did before beginning to mine, and hoped these admirable standards would be maintained all through the mine's life.
With the spread of environmental awareness and understanding of how mines can rehabilitate ecological destruction,this has always been the most popular category, with the number of contestants reaching even 20 one year. This year, however, there were only six:Monpolymet Group's Toson gold placer mine, Shivee Ovoo coal deposit, Darkhan Metallurgical Plant's Tumur Tolgoi iron ore open pit mine, Oyu Tolgoi LLC with its Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, Energy Resources LLC's UkhaaKhudag deposit, and Mining National Operator's Bayangol gold placer mine. This was MNO's debut in the event. Its team consists mostly of Mongolian engineers who had earlier worked in Boroo Gold LLC and they are following western standards as MNO leads the project management team at the Baruun Tsankhi coalfield of Tavan Tolgoi.
The award went to Baganuur coal deposit in 2010, and in 2011to Erlian's coal deposit rehabilitated by Peabody Winsway Resources. Last year's winner was Boroo Gold.
Best Technology: Andritz Separation's technology at UkhaaKhudag coal processing plant that dehydrates the waste and recycles the water content of the waste.The award was a re-assertion that the Mongolian mineral sector can and does use the latest advanced technology. The judges found special merit in the Austrian company's technology that saves water, the most valuable resource especially in the Gobi.
The unsuccessful but worthy contestants were: HSE Systems with its software of labour safety and health management, Wagner Asia with its S-O-S liquid examination laboratory, and Energy Resources' advanced technology at Ukhaa Khudag.
Erdenet Mining Corporation won the award in 2010 with its new technology, and the next two years it was the turn, respectively, of Tavan Talst LLC's coal drying technology adopted at Shivee Ovoo deposit and Erdmin LLC's technology for cathode copper.
Best Stable Operations: Wagner Asia. In 2013, risk management was the need of the hour and name of the game. Did any mining-related company manage to grow when others were fighting to survive? Did any company make fresh investments during the year of challenge? What new management strategies were applied? The judges found Wagner Asia the best among four contestants.
The other companies considered were:Energy Resources, Shivee Ovoo and Baganuur LLC.
Explorer of the Year: No nomination, no winner. The category was introduced in 2011, during the boom years, when there was a rush for new exploration work. Many of them, both international and Mongolian, are still there but 2013 was a year of inactivity for all because of the ambiguous legal environment. Thus no company came forward with a claim to the award.
In 2011, the award went to Hunnu Coal for its success with 15 projects in Mongolia and for implementing the JORC standard in some of its estimated reserves. It also became the first company with Mongolian management and a Mongolian CEO to have an IPO in an international stock exchange. That IPO was the most successful of the year in the Australian Stock Exchange. Next year's winner was Centerra Gold Mongolia, operating in Tsagaan Ovoo soum, Dornod aimag.
MINING JOURNAL AWARDS chronicle development
The MMJ Awards were instituted to contribute to the positive atmosphere in the development of the mineral sector, by encouraging mining companies to act innovatively and responsibly. We also wanted them as active participants in the event.
With major companies sending in nominations, the stage was set for serious contests, demanding impartial and competent evaluation. As organiser of the event, we accepted the responsibility and we are grateful our role has been appreciated. Our hope is that in the years to come,the Mongolian mineral sector will have a place of honour among its global peers. The MMJ Awards are the milestones on that way.
MMJ is proud of the response the event generates, and congratulates winners and other contestants. Our job is to help make society develop the right and healthy understanding of the sector, how it works, the challenges it faces, and the joys of its success.
We wish to encourage our readers to go and visit Ukhaa Khudag complex deposit run by Energy Resources LLC and see the construction work taking place there. Check out the water recycling technology used there. Go and visit the site of Oyu Tolgoi and marvel at what now stands on what was bare ground. Go to any reasonably big mine and see for yourself the sophisticated equipment that Wagner Asia supplies. Go to Baganuur and see how extraction is done. Go to any mine named in this report and gain a new understanding of the sector that drives the national economy, thus playing an unacknowledged but crucial role in every individual Mongolian's life.
Khan Bank opens first mobile branch equipped with tellers in Mongolia
January 16 (Khan Bank) We are pleased to announce that Khan Bank has introduced a Mobile Branch for the first time in Mongolia. The Mobile Branch vehicle is safely secured and delivers comprehensive banking services to customers apart from disbursing loan services.
The opening ceremony of the Mobile Branch was held at Khakhorin market in Songinokhairkhan district and it was attended by Norihiko Kato, CEO of Khan Bank and T. Javkhlan, director of Khan Bank's Retail Bank Ulaanbaatar and other officials.
The Mobile branch, equipped in the same manner as other branches of Khan Bank, will deliver comprehensive banking services to where they are needed through its two tellers. The aim of introducing the Mobile Branch is to bring banking service to densely populated areas, open markets, public events and organizations.
The succes of any banking institution is defined by the efficient delivery of products and services to customers and Khan Bank continues to invest in new products and services such as introducing Mobile ATMs. Khan Bank is further establishing itself as a pioneer of the banking ector by introducing innovative banking solutions such as its new Mobile Branch.
Asian Fashion Week 2014 to Take Place in Ulaanbaatar in Coming August
January 17 (InfoMongolia) On January 17, it was announced the Asian Fashion Week 2014 will be organized in Ulaanbaatar on August 28-31, 2014, during a press conference held in Bly Sky Tower, Ulaanbaatar, where initiator of the event, President of "Group Fashion Weeks" Arwin Shama and Director of Foreign Relations Department at "Imex Corporation" LLC G.Shur-Erdene provided with comprehensive information.
The previous edition, Asian Fashion Week 2013, was successfully held in Japan, where designers and models from over 40 countries participated.
In the upcoming event, designers from over 50 countries will be attending, whereas about 30 representatives from Asian continent have notified to take part in this prestigious show. As of hosting nation, 50 models, 5 designers and 5 hairdressers from Mongolian leading beauty salons will be representing.
Moreover, during the Week, participating countries will be displaying exhibits promoting their culture and tradition.
New flight, new business
By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa
January 20 (UB Post) Air transport could have an important role in providing a direct connection between landlocked Mongolia and the rest of the world, expanding foreign trade and developing Mongolia's economy. We have seen it in the last 20 years, since an independent nation makes its own decisions without asking another country for permission to execute.
Today Mongolia has several operating airlines from the private sector besides MIAT Mongolian Airlines, which is a state-owned company. Private aviation companies are currently conducting all domestic flights and they also offer international flights. However, the reality is that Mongolia's air transport development has not simply reached a satisfactory level when you consider its potentials. The government exerts too much control on operations of aviation companies; the state determines their tariffs, sets air routes, limits the number of flights and grants advantages to state-owned companies. It also halts free competition by not allowing new players into the market and violates the interests of customers.
A year ago, the parliament announced the adoption of the State Policy on Civil Aviation through 2020 and stated that it would create free competition in Mongolia's air transport industry. However, on the very same day, they gave the status of "national airline" to MIAT and promised to provide "policy support" to its operations. It is a clear example of how our government always says that its would do one thing and end up doing the exact opposite.
CUSTOMERS ARE WINNERS OF FREE MARKET COMPETITION
If air transport regulations are reduced and simplified, there will be more competition between aviation companies, resulting in cheaper tickets. In that case, customers will come out as winners. It can also be seen from the example of a few private aviation companies competing on unequal terms with MIAT, which is fed by the public budget.
Eznis Airways and Aero Mongolia have been competing with each other in the domestic flight routes, while MIAT's domestic flights were cancelled as it resulted in deficits. As a result of the competition, Mongolians were given an opportunity to take flights as an alternative to driving to domestic destinations. Furthermore, when Hunnu Air entered the industry, ticket prices dropped significantly and customers increased considerably. In 2013, there was no price difference between airline tickets bought by foreigners and Mongolians.
Furthermore, the price of a round trip ticket from Ulaanbaatar to Khovd was reduced from 650,000 MNT to 400,000 MNT in the same year, while an Ulaanbaatar-Murun two-way ticket price dropped to 200 USD from 450 USD compared to the previous year. On top of this, airline customers increased by 30 percent in 2013.
It is hard to acquire a permit to establish an airline in Mongolia, and obtaining the right to conduct international flights is even tougher. The most profitable international flights are given exclusively to the national airline, which monopolizes the market. Things have been this way for many years and customers have managed to meet the requirements of such high prices. The Ulaanbaatar-Beijing flight accounted for 37 percent of total passengers in 2012, which decreased to 30 percent in 2013. The same thing was observed in the Ulaanbaatar-Moscow flight when the percentage contributed to total flights went down from 11 to 10 percent last year.
However, the Ulaanbaatar-Seoul passenger flow stayed the same in 2012 and 2013. These three international flights comprised 84 percent of the total passenger flow in 2012. The number dropped down to 77 percent in 2013.
Although MIAT is currently the only airline that conducts international flights on these three routes, they run deficits every year. Instead of competing with airlines from China, Russia and South Korea, MIAT chooses to make arrangements with them and share the seats. This arrangement is only beneficial to the two airlines and not the customers.
MIAT does not conduct any further flights from these three cities, they just hand over the passengers to other airlines. Half of the total passengers who are traveling from Ulaanbaatar to Seoul take such transit flights. If there had been free competition, the current Ulaanbaatar-Seoul ticket would have cost 30 percent less, and the Ulaanbaatar-Beijing tickets would have cost twice as less. MIAT currently has no competitiveness even on a domestic level. Nevertheless, MIAT's senior management says that their competitiveness will improve on an international level instantly and their operations will expand if government provides monetary support from taxpayers' pockets.
The government has been talking about preparing its national airline for the international market and increasing its value. However, our air transport service is slowing down the development and cannot even keep up with economic demands.
Neither new ideas nor innovations are created in an industry that lacks competition. Our experiences have already shown that state-owned companies, management of which is appointed by political parties, never operate as creatively as private companies do.
MIAT has recently announced that it will replace its flights to Berlin with ones to Frankfurt. It is not clear at the moment the kind of changes or advantages it will bring. The only clear thing is that MIAT will still be making up its deficits through the monopoly prices that they set in flights to Seoul and Beijing. To do this, MIAT alarms the government that it will go bankrupt if they had to compete for the two flight routes and that the government officials will have to bid farewell to their ride when that happens. These government officials will probably stay alarmed and provide financial support to MIAT and it will take another decade before there is competition.
Due to low labor productivity, all Mongolian state-owned companies run deficits. MIAT has four airplanes and 780 employees while Aero Mongolia has three aircrafts and 200 employees. Furthermore, Hunnu Air has five airplanes and the total number of their staff is 230. Eznis Airways recently had five airplanes, but they had to send three of them back because the government withdrew their permits. Eznis Airways is now operating with two planes and 220 employees.
More air routes and more airlines generally mean cheaper prices and expanded markets. Such conditions is the artery for increasing trade and developing tourism. When compared to other industries, Mongolia's aviators have a better chance of acquiring competitiveness internationally, the main requirement of which being free competition.
This industry needs to be developed with a vision to create every opportunity and condition that will help world-class passenger airlines and cargo carriers emerging from Mongolia. It is the airlines that lay the foundation for a country to become an international transport and tourism hub by setting standards and requirements of such services.
In Japan and Korea, it is widely said that Mongolia is a must-see place for young people from Asia. Furthermore, world famous magazines have recently announced that Mongolia will be a must-visit country in 2014. Unfortunately, Mongolia does not currently have air transport, hotel and tourism services to accommodate the demand.
The reason for lack of innovation and no new main routes is associated with MIAT's monopoly. When will MIAT change this situation where it cannot fully sell seats in winter but increases the prices when summer comes?
I have recently taken a Hunnu Air flight from Ulaanbaatar to Bangkok. In the past, in order to make the same travel, one had to spend a day and a night; flying to Seoul for three hours, waiting for six hours to make a connection, and spending another four hours to get to Bangkok. But now it is only an overnight trip. It opens up vast opportunities to bring foreign products, such as frozen seafood, flowers and other products that one cannot transport for longer periods of time, much faster and cheaper. It also allows structural changes to be made in the competitiveness of many industries while unlocking the door to Asia's highest growing economy with a population of 64 million. In addition, it makes it possible for Mongolians to visit a beach during winter vacations. On the other hand, more tourists from Southeast Asia can now be directed to Mongolia regardless of seasons.
The state policy on civil aviation states that by taking advantage of its geographical location, Mongolia will become a part of the global air transport services, a regional hub for international air passenger and cargo transport. However, it is unclear whether they are aware of the fact that this goal can only be achieved through reduction in regulations and creating free competition.
Translated by B.AMAR
Land of the blue sky?
Pollution responsible for up to 25% of deaths in UB
UB residents deserve better than a toxic city
By B.KHASH-ERDENE, E.DARI, M.ZOLJARGAL, U.ARIUNJARGAL, LISA GARDNER
January 20 (UB Post) Ulaanbaatar, home of over 1.2 million residents, is a booming economic hub full of potential to foreign investors but to most of its inhabitants, the wonder is lost in the smog caused by air pollution.
Ulaanbaatar is the world's second most polluted city. According to a major 2011 World Bank study on air pollution and its health effects, up to 25% of all deaths in Ulaanbaatar – that is, one in four of the citizen's residents – can be attributed to air pollution. While most industrial cities across the globe experience air pollution, here in Ulaanbaatar, the city's residents are at increasing risk of death and serious injury as a result of the air that they breathe.
Air pollution, in global terms, is by no means a 'new' issue. The dire health effects related to indoor and outdoor pollution, on an industrial and domestic scale, are long established. Neighbouring countries such as China are not only familiar with, but acting purposefully to diminish the widespread nature of the problem. Yet, here in Ulaanbaatar, we feel there is by no means genuine acknowledgement on behalf of government officials of the magnitude of the problem, nor enough sustained, consistent, research-led efforts to tackle it.
Over the course of this investigation, and in speaking with a range of local and international experts, our journalists have been shocked to discover the enormous 'untold story' of air pollution and its effects upon city residents. Many of us, prior to this edition, felt that expensive air purifiers, even masks, were just a waste of money. Instead, we discovered that air pollution presents one of the greatest threats that both our city and country has yet faced, perhaps in its history. (Mogi: well, even our journalists are only "shocked" NOW. Shows even we the citizens are not "shocked" enough at the situation and are angered when a politician says something stupid.)
Local residents often chitchat about air pollution, taking note of its patterns each year. Still, few realize the effects of pollution upon the body, while even less take active protective measures to prevent the devastating range of cardiovascular, respiratory and other diseases that come about as a result of such high levels of pollutant exposure. Instead our city's residents present with a range of harrowing symptoms, from coughing and wheezing, to heart attacks, strokes, and for women, even miscarriage.
We believe that air pollution emerges as the city's largest and most significant untold story. Not only is air pollution responsible for deaths, but countless lives are affected in a multitude of ways. Medical expenses alone are said to amounts to 463 million USD, or roughly one fifth of Ulaanbaatar's economic output, according to the World Bank. Yet we cannot quantitively measure the enormous cost to society and wasted potential that this represents. Such potential is vital to our society and though it cannot be measured, it can – under these circumstances – be irretrievably lost.
Despite their efforts so far, overall, the government is failing to effectively resolve the problem
Although, the issue has been receiving more and more attention in recent years from the government and international organizations, including the World Bank and World Health Organization, experts feel that air pollution should be the country's top priority as it is the biggest issue facing Mongolia today. After all, what's more important that the basic wellbeing and living condition of more than half of the nation's population?
When the new government was formed in 2012, Cabinet members agreed that the best way to tackle pollution over the long term would be to relocate those who live in ger district areas to apartments. Despite this, the sudden launch of the many billions of MNT worth of subsidies on construction material, and the issuance of low interest housing mortgages further fuelled real-estate prices that are already proving impossibly high for the majority of residents to afford.
Similarly, the "clean" stoves distributed by the government were to halve air pollution in the city over the short term. While more than 100,000 stoves have been distributed to households across the city, significant problems remain. Prof. Lodoysamba of the National University of Mongolia who studies pollution in the city said that the fuel available to ger districts, coal from Nalaikh and Baganuur mines, isn't able to fully utilize the stoves efficiently.
Elsewhere, the government has long since promised to eliminate air pollution via the instillation of electric heating systems for city residents, which in turn would require a new power plant to be built on the city's outskirts. Thermal Power Plant No.5 project is still in its preliminary stages and it is expected to commence operation in 2016.
Yet, as is well known, consecutive governments of Mongolia has a somewhat scattered history of not making good on their promises. The majority of the public remain sceptical that the project well be completed by its estimated date.
Finding data on air pollution from the government has proven difficult. The government's Clean Air Fund and the Ministry of Environment and Nature are both reluctant to give specific information and hard facts about the issue. This year, city and state authorities were quick to note that air pollution has dropped this year, but failed to provide specific information such as the exact percentage, causes for the drop, and the specific studies conducted on the matter.
In the Constitutional Law of Mongolia, it states that the people have the right to live in a healthy and safe environment, and be protected from natural disasters and environmental pollution. Yet the state fails to provide basic information on the extent of air pollution and its affects. The people of Mongolia deserve to know, and they deserve to live in a healthy and safe environment.
Mogi: I feel healthier already
Ministry guidelines to diminish the impact of air pollution
January 20 (UB Post) The Policy Implementation Agency of the Health Ministry of Mongolia has released a guidance and advisory on preventing air pollution related ailments on December 9, 2013.
According to the ministry's guideline, air pollution causes respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, allergic reaction, eye and vocal inflammations, cancer and even stagnate child's growth. Air pollution has severe affects on physiological development and function, and decreases the body's immune system. Children, elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases are most vulnerable to the affects of air pollution.
The ministry noted that everyone's participation is significant to reduce air pollution and prevent the illnesses caused by it. The Ministry of Health issued the following guidelines for reducing the impacts of air pollution:
1. Support projects and events that are being carried by the state to reduce air pollution, using improved stoves, smokeless fuel, increasing green areas near offices and homes.
2. Do not burn litter such as tyres, rubber and plastic materials around residential areas to keep warm.
3. To increase indoor air quality, prevent pollution to indoor spaces where most people spend the majority of their time. If families have small children, use air purifiers or high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA Filter). Clean your home with wet towels two times a day. Don't let children play in outdoor playgrounds and teach them the importance of regularly washing hands. Promote air circulation at home by opening windows during hours with less air pollution. Note that the most polluted part of the day is early in the morning and late at night.
4. Avoid walking with children along auto roads. Avoid going out with children in the morning and during the evening, when the air pollution rate is high.
5. Try to improve your immune system, managing work and rest, get plenty of sleep, and eat healthy food and supplements, especially Mongolian traditional products such as horse meat, mutton and beef as well as fruits and vegetables. Drink traditional yoghurt as it supports digestion and provides essential nutrition. Promote healthy lifestyle and exercise. Go hiking or jogging in the fresh air.
6. To reduce car emissions, use public transportation twice a week.
7. Cultivate new daily routines: switch off lights to save energy and wash hands regularly.
Ger districts: the main source of pollution, and its victims
January 20 (UB Post) Ulaanbaatar is the most polluted capital city in the world in terms of PM index, according to a study by Prof. Lodoysamba at the National University of Mongolia, who studies Ulaanbaatar air pollution and runs the UB Air Quality Facebook and Twitter page for regular updates on air quality.
"The concentration of particulate matter in the ambient air varies widely across the city but is, at its very best, several times the national standard limit of 25 µg per square meter for PM2.5," he explained. "One area of the city has an annual average PM level of 600 µg per square meters."
Yet it is in Ulaanbaatar's ger districts where more than 150 thousand households live that are often the most affected by the city's toxic air pollutants. Often, ger district residents burn raw coal or anything they can find to stay warm during the winter, given the unforgiving below -30 degree Celsius climate. The districts continue to expand rapidly, as former herders who have lost their livestock in dzud (harsh winter) and mining move to the city in the hope for a better life. In total, ger district homes burn approximately 660,000 tons of coal per year, averaging 4.5 tons per household. The combustion of raw coal makes up more than 60 percent of the microscopic dust or particular matter (PM) in Ulaanbaatar air.
Prof. Lodaysamba's study revealed that coal combustion in ger district stoves, which contributes most to the PM 2.5, emits most of its smoke during the ignition of the stoves. Once ignited, stoves produce relatively little pollution. "Our study concluded that 50 percent of PM concentrations correspond to ignition phase (cold start) and reloading of stoves," he said.
He also noted that, somewhat counter-intuitively, warmer days can see higher levels of pollution. As the ignition phase causes most of the smoke and dust in the air, relatively warmer days (-18 to -16 degree celsius) are more polluted than extremely cold ones (-30 to -32 degree celsius), as most households turn off their stoves on warmer days and reignite it multiple times throughout the day. Whereas on extremely cold days, households ignite their stoves only once and leave it on throughout the day.
By modifying existing stoves, Prof. Lodaysamba and his team was able to reduce emission of PM by 99 percent using raw coal. He did this by "channelling all emissions and flames into a pipe placed at the back of the combustion chamber. The fire was ignited next to this outlet so that all smoke produced by igniting coal would be mixed with flames and burn inside the pipe."
"PM emissions are so low that for much of the time the improved stove substantially cleans the ambient air that passes through it. The chimney gases are usually cleaner than the outdoor air," he added. "Brown coal is not an inherently smoky fuel. Conditions can be successfully created for burning wood and high moisture, high volatiles lignite with very low PM emissions in a practical device."
Prof. Lodoysamba said that the modified stove that his team developed is much cleaner than the government distributed "full-combustion" stoves developed in Turkey, as the ignition process very different. He noted that the full combustion stoves weren't designed for the fuel that is currently available to ger districts, and it is mostly ignited in the same manner as the traditional stoves making it inefficient.
As the modified stoves built by Prof.Lodoysamba require high grade ceramics and steel lids, it cannot be mass produced in Mongolia at an affordable price.
The full-combustion stoves aimed to decrease air pollution by up to 50 percent. As part of a government program to reduce air pollution, the 100 thousand full-combustion stoves were distributed to ger districts at a 93 percent discount, for around 35,000 MNT. The last batch, some 40 thousand will be distributed to ger district households by March, say government officials.
Although Prof. Lodoysamba said that air pollution has decreased noticeably this year, he admitted the possibility that this year's abnormally warm winter might be the reason for it. Meteorologists say that this winter is the warmest in 40 years.
To reduce air pollution, the World Bank has suggested that Ulaanbaatar reduce stove start-up emissions or replace stoves and improve fuel, build a new power plant and install electric heaters in gers, and relocate ger district households to apartments.
Prof. Lodoysamba made an assessment of annual health benefits from abatement scenarios. He highlighted that the annual health benefits of transferring to energy sources for heatings such as installing electric heaters or utilizing natural gas will be much more cost efficient than relocation to apartments in the short and long-term.In the near-term, the issue is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, but it is clear that certain measures can be made to fight the issue now.
An Insider's Look at the Mongolian Capital
January 17 (The Atlantic Cities) Kevin Vanier left shiny, pleasant Vancouver in 2010 for Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. The low density city of just over 1 million people boasts one of the world's fastest growing economies. But that dazzling expansion has led to an ad hoc landscape burdened with significant housing problems and dangerous pollution levels.
Despite its many issues, Vanier found much to admire within the streets of his home away from home, an affection that shows through in his photographs.
We talked with the Canadian photographer about his time in Ulan Bator, the problems the city faces, and what makes it so fascinating:
What brought you to Ulan Bator?
I hadn't thought of Mongolia much until a decade ago I watched the made-for-Canadian-TV documentary The Hockey Nomad. I saw the friendly people, a clear chilly day filled with people passionate for hockey, cheer, and drink. I read more about Mongolia. Years went by. In late 2010 I found myself with few ties to my current city and enough money for a plane ticket out. I arrived and started a couple of jobs quickly and stayed for two years. I had to leave because of an awful tenant I had back in Vancouver. But even if I didn't have my tenant issues I couldn't see myself staying beyond another six months. Ulan Bator's a trying city.
Did your expectations of the city before you arrived match up with what you ended up discovering?
Definitely not. Anything you read or watch of somewhere or someone -- it's never enough. You think you've managed your expectations but your mind has filled-in the details. Maybe I thought Ulan Bator would be greener and less chaotic; like the scene of a Hayao Miyazaki movie. It's hard to remember how I once envisioned something because my expectations are instantly erased by reality. But I do remember thinking I'd be snacking on exotic cheese every day and riding a horse through a valley on the weekend. Until recently most cheeses were difficult to find there and being on a horse for more than fifteen minutes turns out to be severely uncomfortable if you're inexperienced (like I was).
Were there things about the city that you found difficult to adjust to?
The racism and xenophobia that I encountered. There's a movement of nationalists that have the harebrained idea of keeping Mongol blood pure. They beat up foreigners while wearing replica SS Nazi uniforms. If they spot a male foreigner with a Mongol woman, they would target her too. In my experience, nothing physically harmful would happen usually but I always left these confrontations angry and disheartened.
What were the most interesting neighborhoods or buildings to shoot in the city?
Anywhere outside of the two square kilometers of the center is excellent for shooting. You can't really go wrong anywhere. It's intimidating at first but I doubt there's a more photogenic city than Ulan Bator. I found most people to be inviting and hospitable and when you start making a connection with someone, that's when you can start getting interesting photos.
From what you observed, what are Ulan Bator's most pressing issues and the best things it has going for it?
Two years ago WHO said that Ulan Bator had the second worst air pollution in the world. That's the city's biggest problem. It's smoke from burning coal and it gets on everything. When I came back to Canada my clothes had to be washed twice before most of the soot and stench left.
One of the best things about the city is that it's a frontier. The whole country is on the threshold of being rich and Ulan Bator is the center of it all. In three directions is the vast steppe. You can buy a horse and freely roam the countryside. To the south is the Gobi desert, one of the largest in the world. The place is an adventure, including my own difficulties there but I was always grateful to be in Ulan Bator.
Japan, Mongolia eye security cooperation to promote peace in Asia
January 17 (Kyodo) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj agreed Friday to boost cooperation in promoting peace and stability in East Asia, amid threats from an assertive China and North Korea's nuclear and missile development.
During a 20-minute telephone talk, Abe also called for a "multilayered and strategic" dialogue to enhance bilateral ties with Mongolia, the Japanese government said.
On the economic front, Elbegdorj praised Abe's economic policies, saying they have had "good effects" on the global economy, according to the government.
The "Abenomics" policy mix consists of bold monetary easing by the Bank of Japan, massive fiscal stimulus and a growth strategy.
Mongolian President phones Japan's PM – Montsame, January 17
Chinese leaders meet Mongolian foreign minister
BEIJING, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao and State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Friday respectively met with visiting Mongolian Foreign Minister Luvsanvandan Bold, reaffirming China's commitment to stronger ties with Mongolia.
Bold is the first foreign minister to visit Beijing this year, which will witness a trio of celebrations in China-Mongolia relations.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Mongolia relationship, the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Friendly Relations and Cooperation between Mongolia and China and the China-Mongolia Friendship and Exchange Year, Li said.
Both Li and Yang called on both sides to seize opportunities, implement important consensus reached by the two leaders, build strategic trust, enhance mutually-beneficial cooperation, deepen the bilateral strategic partnership, seek common prosperity and benefit the two peoples.
Bold said Mongolia gives top priority to developing friendly ties with China and sees the China's development as an important opportunity, pledging to deepen bilateral pragmatic cooperation in all fields.
In his meeting with Bold, Yang hoped the two countries would facilitate trade cooperation, and make arrangements for activities of the China-Mongolia Friendship and Exchange Year, to promote greater progress of bilateral ties.
Bold reiterated the importance his country attached to developing relations with China, vowing to cement substantial cooperation in various areas and promote common development.
Bold began his visit to China on Thursday. In the meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Bold on Thursday, they agreed to increase annual two-way trade volume to 10 billion U.S. dollars, and explore the feasibility of building a free-trade zone.
Foreign Minister L.Bold Conducts Official Visit to China – InfoMongolia, January 17
Foreign Minister L.Bold Visiting China – Montsame, January 17
China to bring 3 major opportunities for neighbors
January 17 (CCTV) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has emphasized his country's commitment to ties with neighboring nations and elaborated on the opportunities available to them in the new year. He made the remarks after a meeting with his visiting Mongolian counterpart Luvsanvandan Bold.
Wang Yi said China's reforms, regional development initiatives and hosting of two regional summits in 2014 will bring new opportunities to its neighbors and benefit the Asia-Pacific region.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meeting his Mongolian counterpart Luvsanvandan Bold in Beijing....
In their meeting, both sides agreed to boost economic cooperation and speed up collaboration in infrastructure, energy and mineral resources.
It marked Wang Yi's first meeting with a foreign minister in 2014.
Wang said the talks showcased the importance China attaches to Mongolia and also the neighboring region.
At a joint press briefing after the talks, Wang Yi went on to enumerate the three opportunities China will create for its neighbors in the coming year. First are those from China's reforms.
"China's reform and opening-up over the past decades have contributed greatly to the development of Asia's economy. In 2014, China will launch a new round of comprehensive reforms. Transformation of China's economy and exploitation of its market potential will bring new opportunities for the world and especially benefit neighboring countries," Wang Yi said.
The second are the opportunities from China's latest proposals on regional cooperation, which Wang says will benefit the region's development.
"Last year, China's new leadership advocated a series of mechanisms for long-term and common development of the region. These include the Silk Road Economic Belt and an updated version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. The implementation and promotion of these initiatives will inject great impetus for the economic development of countries in the region," Wang Yi said.
Third are the opportunities from China's hosting of two upcoming summits this year, namely, the APEC summit and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia.
"By hosting these events, China will play a positive role in boosting economic development and security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region," Wang Yi said.
Wang Yi acknowledged that due to historical reasons, China still has some disputes with its neighbors. He assured that China will handle disputes through talks with goodwill and in a candid manner, on the basis of safeguarding the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Wang also said that China will continue to play a constructive role in regional issues, including those of Iran and Afghanistan, in order to contribute more to regional peace and stability.
Mogi: not the kind of guys who have been supportive of Areva much I believe
Mongolian Parliamentary Delegation Meets Foreign Minister and Areva in Paris
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ Visiting delegation of the State Great Khural (parliament) comprised N.Battsereg, G.Uyanga and Ya.Sodbaatar were received Thursday by Mr Laurent Fabius, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, in Paris.
At the meeting, the parties exchanged views on the Mongolia-France cooperation in the spheres of economics, culture and education.
The same day, the parliamentary delegation met with authorities of the biggest companies such as the Astrium, Areva and Aerlink. The Astrium's president underlined that the bilateral economic cooperation have been brought into a new volume.
Mongolian Embassy in London One of Over 40 Countries Asked to Close Their HSBC Accounts
January 17 /news.mn/ The Mongolian Embassy in London, UK, Thursday released a statement after reports in local news released on January 15th with headlines that the bank account of the Mongolian Embassy in London had been closed down.
The statement says that the bank account of the Mongolian Embassy in London was located at HSBC. In June 2013, HSBC issued a decision to close down all bank accounts associated with diplomatic representative offices all over the world.
The decision by HSBC is not directed against Mongolia and over 40 diplomatic representative offices, only in London, had their bank accounts closed down according to the decision.
The Mongolian Embassy in London reopened a bank account in another bank in September 2013, which is now in effect.
HSBC closes bank accounts of 40 diplomatic missions – South China Morning Post, August 5, 2013
The Advocates Leads Momentum in Mongolia to Keep Women Safe
January 15 (The Advocates) The Advocates for Human Rights is in Mongolia this week to release a report and to lead presentations on that country's efforts to combat domestic violence.
One in three women in Mongolia was a victim of domestic violence in 2010, according to an estimate of the National Center Against Violence (NCAV), headquartered in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This statistic mirrors the United Nations' finding that as many as 70 percent of women are victims of violence at some point in their lives.
Developed by The Advocates and its partner, NCAV, the report, "Implementation of Mongolia's Domestic Violence Legislation," analyzes the real-life results that followed the Mongolian government's enactment of the Law to Combat Domestic Violence (LCDV) in 2004. The report's findings and recommendations are being discussed this week with Mongolian parliamentarians, Ministry of Justice officials, prosecutors, judges, and the U.S. ambassador to Mongolia and embassy personnel.
"Yesterday's meeting at Parliament was extraordinary," says Helen Rubenstein, deputy director of The Advocates' Women's Human Rights Program and the report's lead researcher and author. Seven parliament members were present, including chair people of the key committees that will be hearing proposed domestic violence legislation. Representatives of every government sector participated, and there was an impressive turn out of police, prosecutors, judges, social workers, teachers, and others.
"In particular, officials recognize the need for government agencies to be given specific responsibilities for the law's implementation," she says. "There was also recognition that the cause of domestic violence is attitudes toward women, not alcohol or the other 'reasons' typically given."
The timing of the report's release and the presentations is fitting; a particularly gruesome domestic violence murder shook the nation in December. Responding to the brutality, the president of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, delivered a powerful speech in which he labeled domestic violence a "scourge," and pointed to the need for government sectors to take responsibility for combating it. President Elbegdorj reasserted his pledge in his New Year's greeting to the country, promising that work to eliminate domestic violence will be a priority in 2014.
"It is so gratifying to see how our work is contributing to the sweeping momentum to make the necessary changes to finally achieve safety for women in Mongolia," says Rubenstein.
To study the LCDV's effects, The Advocates and NCAV led two fact-finding missions in January and March 2013, traveling to seven cities in Mongolia and conducting 137 interviews, including with ministry officials, non-governmental organizations, victims, social workers, police, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, governors, and health care workers.
The report outlines additional steps needed to protect women and to hold perpetrators accountable. Specifically, it points to challenges obtaining restraining orders; the consequences of domestic violence not being directly addressed by penal legislation; the barriers the country's Family Law poses to obtaining a divorce; and the consequences of the lack of shelters and essential social services and support for women.
While the LCDV contains many provisions for restraining orders to protect women, only a few restraining orders have been issued in Mongolia since the law took effect in 2005, according to the NCAV. Barriers impeding the issuance of restraining orders include:
· Pervasive lack of knowledge about domestic violence;
· Legal and procedural hurdles that make the restraining order process difficult, if not impossible;
· Lack of process for enforcing restraining orders and a lack of consequences for violating them.
In addition, offenders are not held accountable because domestic violence is not directly addressed by current penal legislation. Moreover, government actors do not place a priority on pursuing domestic violence offenses.
The report goes on to say that "[t]he futility of restraining orders and the lack of an effective criminal justice response lead victims to seek alternatives to be safe. Many women see divorce as a primary, and often the only, solution to domestic violence." However, Mongolia's Family Law poses barriers for a woman trying to obtain a divorce to escape domestic violence, including:
· Divorce is not an option for women who are pregnant or have a child under the age of one year;
· Many women find the cost of divorce prohibitive;
· Before granting a divorce, judges are allowed to impose a three-month reconciliation period for a couple. The reconciliation is eliminated by law where there is threat to life, however, judges do not consistently screen for domestic violence, nor is domestic violence necessarily discovered when a screening is conducted. Moreover, some judges impose a reconciliation period even if domestic violence is reported, creating serious safety concerns for victims.
"Now is the time to take the additional measures set forth in the report to more fully achieve victim safety and to ensure offender accountability," Rubenstein states. "We urge the government of Mongolia to execute the report's recommendations to continue this vital work."
Working with Rubenstein in Mongolia is Aviva Breen, a board member with The Advocates.
By: Helen Rubenstein, deputy director of The Advocates for Human Rights' Women's Human Rights Program, and Susan L. Banovetz, the organization's communication director.
Campaign to end child sexual abuse launched
January 17 /news.mn/ The "Princess center" and "Beautiful hearts campaign" NGOs with support of the Canada Fund Mongolia is to conduct a campaign called "Girls are a target of violation" to end child sexual abuse. The campaign against sexual abuse will be carried out until March 8th.
In order to raising public awareness about the violations that can happen to girls, a "Song about girls` rights" was created. Singer D.Maraljingoo and Honeymoon girl band are expected to sing the song. In a video clip for the song there will be over 4200 girls in a "flash mob" to call for more voices in the campaign.
For the campaign a four-day photo exhibition "Girls are not a target of violation" opens in the Red Ger Art Gallery on Friday January 17th. There will also be a forum "For girls` rights" that will involve 200 girls in Ulaanbaatar on February 24th.
Reports by the Ministry of Justice and the Metropolitan Police Department record that in August 2013, 109 child rape cases occurred nationwide. In the October report it revealed that 54 child abuse cases occurred in Ulaanbaatar City alone. This figure is has increased by 17 from last year.
Improving Life for Mongolian Youth
By The Mongolian Youth Federation, Youth NGO
January 17 (Sharnoff's Global Views) After the collapse of the Soviet Union, independent Mongolia faces several political and economic challenges. A youth NGO named the Mongolian Youth Federation helps support the rights and interests of Mongolian youngsters.
Mongolia has been in the midst of an important transition since the end of the Soviet Union in 1990. Creating a market-based economy that balances economic realities with social needs has been one of the greatest challenges facing the country. Some of these challenges include the pressure on rural herders to move to urban areas, the increasingly visible role of corruption, and the economic opportunities and challenges posed by world-class copper and gold mining operations.
While these issues affect everyone in the country, youth in particular are negatively impacted. In the employment sector, youth cannot be hired for jobs in the mines because their skills either do not match the technical knowledge required or they lack employment experience. It is also difficult for young people to secure housing for their families, since banks hesitate to give loans to unemployed people.
As a result, banks often charge extremely high interest rates that prevent families from securing safe, heated housing during Mongolia's notoriously frigid winters. These concerns also make Mongolian youth more vulnerable to alcoholism: men between the ages of 15 and 19 are the heaviest drinkers in the country (Mogi: don't hang around teenagers much but really?). In addition, the increasing prevalence of corruption in the political environment as well as on a smaller scale prevents the creation of programs to effectively address these problems.
Mongolian and international organizations are stepping in to help Mongolian youth
While there are many organizations involved in Mongolia (it is one of the most dependent countries on foreign aid in the world), some of the most effective are those that have arisen from the former socialist organizations. The Mongolian Youth Federation has instituted programs to address youth's main problems.
On January 18, 1991, The Mongolian Youth Federation arose from the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth Union that was founded on August 25, 1921, but has adapted to support youth in the market environment. Their Youth Labor Exchange began to discuss the gap in youth ability and the skills required by employers by creating internship opportunities and partnerships with organizations that could provide training. A more recent project aims to prevent the kind of bank extortion and corruption that raises the cost of housing loans. Other projects, like "Spirits or Sports?" organizes alternative recreational activities that provide youth with opportunities to socialize in a way that is beneficial to their health.
The Mongolian Youth Federation also impacts larger policy decisions within Mongolia to support youth. They established a parliamentary lobby group to represent youth interests within the main legislative body. As the Mongolian Youth Federation develops projects in response to the needs of young people, the lobby helps secure funding.
As an example, the Federation started an anti-corruption campaign in 2013 that included a survey of corruption in the capital Ulaanbaatar, distribution of information about how to identify corruption, and a pledge from politicians and citizens to fight corruption. All of these projects help Mongolian youth thrive despite the challenges of development.
The Mongolian Youth Federation is a national non-governmental organization of youth which organizes a range of activities with the ultimate aim at providing support and help in protecting common rights and interests of Mongolian youngsters.
Army Opens Door to Students
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ Under an initiative of the Mongolian Students Union, a 'Soldier-Student' program is planned to launch in March.
The program, backed by a presidential decree in last June, gives second -year university students a chance to voluntarily enlist into a two month's military service amid their summer or winter vacation.
The first shift of 500-1,000 new soldier-students will do a military duty at the Hujirbulan military facility in eastern Ulaanbaatar.
Teacher Development Website Launches
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ A "Development of Teacher" /www.teacher.sur.mn/ portal site launched on Wednesday.
The site intends to improve teachers' education and development, let them exchange experiences, prepare skillful specialists for education sphere.
The Minister of Education and Sciences L.Gantomor said teachers' development plays a vital role in quality improvement of education.
A national center of E-training created this site upon a request of the Ministry. The money came from the Asian Development Bank in frames of "Education sector reform" project.
Mongolia's largest university MUST plans consolidation of schools
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ The Mongolian University of Science and Technology is discussing a major structural change to slum down the number of its affiliate institutes.
Based on a relevant study, the management of the biggest university of the nation plans to integrate current 15 branch schools to eight.
Last year, the second largest National University of Mongolia lessened its branch schools number to 12, after lengthy discussion process among its managing board, teacher and students.
Mishicot, Wisconsin veterinarian planning mission trip to Mongolia
January 19 (Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter) Dr. Melanie Goble, of Mishicot Veterinary Clinic and Pet Care Center, is planning to travel to Mongolia on a Christian veterinary mission to teach and assist veterinarians and veterinary students in medicine, surgery and business skills.
Goble is raising funds to make the trip possible. There is a collection drop-off jar at the veterinary clinic as well as ways to donate online and by check. She also is selling blankets and jars of soup and dessert mixes.
Goble has a blog about her mission at melaniegobledvm.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/why-mongolia-where-is-that-again. There are directions on how to donate on her blog and well as on her Facebook page — Mission to Mongolia under the "About" heading.
SUMO/ Kakuryu stays 1 behind Hakuho as Kisenosato's hopes end on Day 8
January 19 (The Asahi Shimbun) Mongolian Hakuho stayed perfect at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Jan. 19 with compatriot Kakuryu remaining one loss behind, while ozeki Kisenosato suffered his third loss, ending his slim hopes of promotion.
For the first time in the tournament, which is being held in Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, yokozuna Hakuho appeared to almost be in trouble as No. 5 maegashira Shohozan launched into his attack. But the danger was short-lived. Shohozan tried to straighten Hakuho up with a thrust to the throat, and though it worked for an instant, Hakuho grabbed his arm and twisted it as he pulled Shohozan forward and out.
Despite the momentarily bumpy start, Hakuho was smarter and faster, as usual. If he can go the distance this tournament--and so far there is no reason to think he can't--he will claim his 28th tournament championship.
Kakuryu, who is shaping up to be Hakuho's most serious challenger, nailed No. 2 maegashira Ikioi with several painful slaps before nearly stepping out of the ring as his dazed but undaunted opponent chased him into retreat. It was a crucial hurdle for the ozeki, who is generally strong but not quite good enough to outshine his yokozuna compatriots. He has yet to win a title, a fact he is certainly hoping to erase from his resume.
His only loss so far was to Okinoumi on the opening day.
The big disappointment of the day was Kisenosato, who bumbled the face-off. Komusubi Tochiozan (5-3) rushed him, grabbing the belt with both hands and never looking back. The ozeki tried desperately to get back in the fight, but was off balance and out of position for a throw. In the end, all it took was a two-handed thrust to the chest to send Kisenosato over the edge.
Since he already has three losses, Kisenosato is in the odd position of needing at least two other wrestlers to defeat Hakuho if he is to have any chance of winning. With the tournament just heading into its second half, that is not a good place to be in for an ozeki who is trying to prove himself worthy of promotion--on his own merits. And with three losses, Kisenosato's chances of promotion this tournament are essentially gone.
Kotoshogiku held up like a brick wall when No. 3 maegashira Aoiyama hit him at the start of their bout and slapped the hapless Bulgarian to the dirt with ease. The ozeki hasn't been very consistent--he has lost three bouts and won one by default--but he was flawless against Aoiyama and can be a handful for his peers and even Hakuho when he is fighting at top form.
Sekiwake Kotooshu, meanwhile, came out somewhat tentatively at the start but kept No. 4 maegashira Takekaze off his belt and twisted him to the dirt for the Bulgarian's fifth win after a pair of defeats. Sekiwake Goeido, snapping a three-loss streak, drove forward for his fifth win, ushering out top maegashira Okinoumi, who has now lost three in a row after a fairly strong opening.
Yokozuna Harumafuji and komusubi Myogiryu are sitting the tournament out as they nurse injuries.
Mongolian Biker Advances Two Spots to 54th at Dakar Rally – Stage 11
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ At the end of the 11th stage of the Dakar Rally, Mongolian D.Boldbaatar was placed the 54th on Thursday.
D.Boldbaatar, only Mongolian continuing the rally, advanced his finishing by two spots since previous the tenth stage. His place has been progressing greatly after the fourth stage, which he had finished the race 100th among 174. After first 11 stages, the Mongolian racer has currently been ranked 61staccording to overall results.
Another two Mongolians Kh.Batbold and N.Lkhamaa had left the race at third and fifth stage respectively.
Red Bull Factory KTM's Marc Coma extended his overall lead in the 2014 Dakar Rally after winning Stage 11, a 375-mile ride from Antofagasta to El Salvador through the Atacama Desert. Defending Dakar champion Cyril Despres, of Factory Yamaha, finished second-fastest followed by his teammate, Oliver Pain, in third. Team HRC's Joan Barreda holds steady to second in the overall rankings, but his fifth-place finish in Stage 11 brings his deficit on the leader to over 52 minutes.
Mogi: this one left me confused
All Asia Polo Cup: India and Mongolia through in Group A
January 16 (LivingPolo) With 8 all national teams competing in this years All Asia Cup, the teams were divided into two groups. Group A started competition on 9 Jan 2014. Everyone expected Philippines and India to dominate the group after the first day of play, but on Day 2, there was a sudden surprise upset as Mongolia showed superb play and slipped past Mikee Romero's Philippines team 5-4. The Mongolian team, led by Harrow School player D'Artagnan Giercke (Mogi: HUH?), had settled down and started to turn early which gave them the advantage over the Philippines.
The next surprise came on Day 3 when Philippines pulled their team back together and gave India a serious thrashing under the lights on the VR Sports Club field near Bangkok. Antonio Veloso was playing very strong defense and Mikee Romero was on fire. India's 4 goal player "Abby" Abhimanyu Pathak had to return to India, so team captain Shyam Mehta had to slide back to the #4 position. Shyam played a very good game and India managed in the end to defeat Philippines 5-4 which allowed India and Mongolia to move into the Final.
One of the great joys so far of this tournament was watching the progress of the new Korean team. They have only been playing polo in Korea for just over 4 years, and J.B. Lee brought his enthusiastic team, well below the 2 goal entry level, to compete for experience. All six players took turns on the field, and under the expert tutelage of their Argentine coach Federico Bachmann, they improved day by day. Their final match on Day 3 against Mongolia was end-to-end action with long passes and runs the length of the field by both teams. The Mongolians were more successful in finishing their runs by putting the ball through the goal, but all the spectators were very impressed with the Korean performance. The highlight of the match came in the 4th chukka, as the 15 year old female Mongolian player, Doda, rode onto the field. She became the first female player to compete in the history of the All Asia Cup, and the Brunei team, led by Prince Jefri, welcomed her to the field with a standing ovation from the clubhouse balcony.
India and Mongolia have made it though to the final, and today concludes the play in Group B to decide the remaining two Asia teams that will compete in the Subsidiary Final and Final under the lights at VR Sports Club on 18 Jan 2014.
Ger now a realistic alternative, with building consent obtained in NZ
January 16 (Fairfax NZ) A new approach to affordable housing has come to Mapua via Mongolia, with a new yurt design having gained building consent.
The yurt, owned by freelance journalist Hilary Pedersen, is about to be given full consent by the Tasman District Council as a second dwelling on a rural property.
It is the first yurt design in the district to have been given building consent and one of a handful in New Zealand.
A yurt is a traditional home used by nomadic cultures in Central Asia, with the ones being built in New Zealand expected to last around 15 years.
Mrs Pedersen's yurt is made with a wooden frame, a polyester lining, has wool insulating the walls and ceiling and the roof is kept watertight with a PVC canvas.
Her yurt is 40 square metres, and comes complete with a small fireplace and mod-cons such as internet and Sky TV.
The project in total cost around $40,000, with the yurt itself being in the ballpark of $35,000.
Tasman District Council spokesman Chris Choat said past instances where yurts were classified as illegal dwellings have been due to lack of consent and zoning issues.
He said the reason this yurt had been allowed as a second dwelling on an urban rural site where others had not was because all the correct planning and building consents were applied for.
Mr Choat said "the fact that it was a yurt is not the issue", and that zones where dwellings were planned needed to be taken into consideration.
Council environment and planning manager Dennis Bush-King said the council had nothing against the construction of yurts, they just need to be built to code.
"If people choose to use that kind of construction, then that's fine by us," he said.
Mrs Pedersen said the relative cost-effectiveness of building a yurt could possibly be the solution to soaring house prices, and ease the demand for houses.
"I would like the yurt to be regarded as a credible form of dwelling, and if I can help that happen in a public sort of way then I'm happy to."
Mrs Pedersen, who learned to love yurts through frequent travels to Mongolia, said she was drawn to the spirituality that came with living in one. As a new permanent resident of a yurt, Mrs Pedersen treats her time in her new home as "an adventure".
She said getting to the point nearing the final tick of approval for the Hoddy Rd yurt was a "learning curve" for her, the builders and the council.
One of the main conditions for being granted consent was that Mrs Pedersen has to be living in it.
Another issue for the council was the visibility of the dwelling, so its natural colour is something Mrs Pedersen jokes makes it hard to tell apart from a dark green water tank.
She did manage to inject her own personal flair on the outside by making the window panels purple.
The yurt's designer and builder, Rowan Boot of Origin Tents in Motueka, said that having been through the process to gain consent meant he had a lot of expert backing behind his product.
"We can stand behind it with more confidence because we have other people saying it will stand up structurally and that the fabrics and methods we are using are suitable for the New Zealand market."
Origin Tents has been making yurts for several years, often as sleepouts, but the drive to gain consent for one as a permanent residential structure came from a client in Hastings. Their design for that yurt, their first to be given building consent by a local council, won an Award of Excellence from the Industrial Fabrics Association International last year, which cited the fact that the design met New Zealand's high thermal efficiency standards.
He said the process of gaining consent was not easy, and it quickly became clear they would have to work with engineers and an architect in order to satisfy the council that their yurts were structurally sound. The process took several months and overall, he found the staff of the Tasman District Council "cooperative and encouraging".
Consentable yurts cost about $1000 per square metre compared to at least double that for new home construction, he said.
He liked yurts because they are "a light and airy structure and they are full of really attractive timbers and they are well ventilated. They are always full of fresh air."
Mr Boot's partner Monique Patterson said they were popular with people who wanted their dwelling to "touch lightly on the Earth".
Experiencing the Nomadic Lifestyle in the Mongolian Countryside
January 14 (Equitrekking) Known as the land of the Great Genghis Khan, nomadic life-style, barren landscapes, rolling hills and rickety carts, the Mongolian countryside is not your usual tourist stop!
Mongolia certainly seemed like no other place I had ever been, and that's what made it such an appealing destination to me.
I spent 15 marvellous days in Mongolia: 3 days in Ulaanbaatar (the capital), 3 days in the Gobi desert and 8 days staying in a traditional yurt (a.k.a. ger) with a Mongolian nomadic family, which included horse trekking across central Mongolia.
The ger stay was arranged and organized locally with local guides in Terelj National Park.
Before travelling to Mongolia
Before travelling to Mongolia, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with basic Mongolian customs, ger etiquette and how to interact with nomadic Mongolians without coming across as rude. For instance:
• There is a proper way to enter a ger, which includes not stepping on the ger doorsill and entering the ger following a clockwise direction.
• It is considered rude to decline a food offering, even if you are not hungry.
• Nomadic Mongolians also do not knock on doors but rather yell out "no-khoi kho-rio", which literary translates to: "catch the dog or hold the dog". This is how the let you know that someone is at their door.
• Another ger etiquette no-no is walking thru the two man central pillars that hold the yurt and standing up while drinking tea.
Learn the ger etiquette
Learning the ger etiquette is, of course, just half the fun of experiencing the Mongolian nomadic culture. The other half of the fun is to:
• Sample nomadic food
• Engage in the daily chores of nomads, which included cleaning the poop, herding the livestock, milking the cows and goats, wrestling, sawing and hunting.
• Take part in traditional activities such as archery, horse riding and wrestling.
Just like sumo is revered in Japan, wrestling is hugely popular in Mongolia. Mongolians love wrestling with a passion and one of the best times to experience Mongolian wrestling it is during the Mongolian Naadam Festival, which is one of the events of the Mongolian calendar year.
Before nomadic Mongolians get on with their daily chores, they start off the day with a typical breakfast that consists of fresh cream and/or cheese on freshly made bread, and tea.
For lunch (their second most important meal of the day) they typically eat boiled or fired mutton dumplings (called "booz"), and then get on with more daily chores, though you will also be taught new skills like saddling a horse, horse riding, and even wrestling.
Mongolia Trip Highlight
The highlight of my trip to Mongolia was, without a doubt, horse trekking across Mongolia. The Mongolian terrain and weather are very demanding, and even more so having to get used to standing in the stirrups as Mongolian horses are not used to riders sitting in the saddle.
I enjoyed very much the long trots and canters along the Orkhon valley and the edge of Gobi Desert; while marvelling at beautiful rocky mountain scenery, sand dunes and waterfalls.
Mongolia is very much a place for the independent and adventurous traveller, especially staying in the Mongolian countryside with a nomadic family. Experiencing the nomadic Mongolian lifestyle is therefore off the tourist trail but a "must-do" experience nevertheless.
If you are looking for a sense of adventure and to immerse yourself into a fascinating and totally unique way of doing things, staying with a nomadic family in Mongolia is for you. Just remember to leave behind everything you know and keep an open mind.
How to get there: If you are travelling from the US, the best option is to base your flight from Los Angeles or Hawaii in the West Coast and fly with either Air China or Korean Air. Either option you choose, it is not a direct flight to Mongolia so you will need to book a second flight with MIAT Mongolian Airlines for the second leg of the trip.
If you are coming from the East Coast, you can fly from Miami, Florida with Aeroflot Russian Airlines to Ulaanbaatar via Moscow.
Organizing your trip: I organized my trip to Mongolia thru Altai Expeditions, and included a guest house, ger camp and fun activities such as jeep tour, climbing, and bird watching.
About the Author: James Jones is an energetic blogger who loves sharing his travel experiences with everyone. He has travelled and shared his experiences trekking the Amazon forest, touring the Salar de Uyuni and travelling to Mongolia.
Hollywood might produce comedy about pre-evolutionary Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, January 17 /MONTSAME/ Hollywood location manager Janice Polley is paying visit to Mongolia.
Her next comedy film will tell a transition story that takes place in the pre-revolutionary Mongolia. James Polley is planning to conduct pre-shooting researches in several provinces and the capital city, especially in historical sites for the pictures illustrating socialist era life in the nation.
Last June, the production crew that works with Janice Polley visited Mongolia to examine film production opportunity here.
Janice Polley got her industry break working as a producer's assistant on classic boxing sequel Rocky IV in the early 80s. She is one of several location managers who are used to coordinating work among multitude international locations. While distances may be difficult to deal with, they're not as daunting as differences in culture, language and available technology. Polley also has a lot of experience of action cinema, having worked on no fewer than 11 films with the late Tony Scott.
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