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Friday, January 3, 2014
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. Grants Restricted Stock Awards
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, December 30, 2013 /FSC/ - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK - TSX Venture),("MGG" or "the Company") is pleased to announce the issuance of 91,179 Restricted Stock Awards ("RSAs") to key members of its senior Mongolian staff as part of their 2013 bonus package.
The RSAs will vest over 2.5 years and will help to incentivize senior Mongolian staff of the company.
Undur Tolgoi Announces Continuance
ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA--(Marketwired - Jan. 2, 2014) - Undur Tolgoi Minerals Inc. ("UTM" or the "Company") (CNSX:UTM) is pleased to announce that, after obtaining the unanimous approval of the shareholders who voted at the special meeting held on December 18, 2013, in Vancouver, British Columbia, it has completed the continuance from the laws of the Province of British Columbia to the laws of the British Virgin Islands effective December 18, 2013. Shareholder participation was very strong, with approximately 81% of the Company's outstanding common shares having been voted at the special meeting.
Don Padgett, UTM's President and CEO commented; "We believe the very high level of support received at the special meeting indicates strong shareholder interest in the previously announced refocus in the Company's strategic business direction." James Passin, the Company's Chairman stated; "UTM is now in the position to capitalize upon the growing opportunity in the Mongolian infrastructure sector, with particular emphasis on road building. The Government of Mongolia is committed to a significant highway construction program to support the rapidly growing economy".
The Company was required to obtain a new CUSIP number for its common shares in conjunction with the Continuance. The new CUSIP number for the Company's common shares is G9311G 102.
TRQ closed -3.33% on Thursday to US$3.19
Second lawsuit filed against Turquoise Hill
Latest complaint without merit, says company
January 2 (The Canadian Press) A class-action lawsuit that accuses Turquoise Hill Resources of misleading investors over a 3½-year period has been filed in a U.S. district court in New York City.
The law firm Levi and Korsinsky filed the case on behalf of those who bought shares in the Vancouver-based company between May 14, 2010 and Nov. 8, 2013.
The case alleges that the mining company made false and or misleading statements regarding its financial performance and business prospects and overstated its revenue.
The allegations, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, have not been proven in court.
Turquoise Hill Resources was known as Ivanhoe Mines until 2012. The company was founded by billionaire investor Robert Friedland.
Rio Tinto Group gained control of the company and parted ways with Friedland in 2012 and the CEO is now Kay Priestly, an executive who came from Rio Tinto.
Friedland has since started another mining company that was initially called Ivanplats Limited, but that is now called Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.
Turquoise Hill said in November it would restate its results for the years ended Dec. 31, 2010, 2011 and 2012, as well as the affected quarterly financial results following a decision by its majority owned subsidiary SouthGobi Resources to restate its results.
The SouthGobi restatement was due to a change in determination of when revenue should be recognized according to international accounting standards.
Turquoise Hill said Tuesday it was aware of the complaint and believed it was without merit.
"We will vigorously defend against the complaint," a company spokesman said in an email.
The Levi and Korsinsky lawsuit is the second case filed against Turquoise Hill in recent weeks.
Another case was filed earlier in December by law firm Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd that also accused Turquoise Hill of "materially false and misleading statements" regarding its financial performance.
Turquoise Hill is developing the Oyu Tolgoi copper mining complex in Mongolia, including an open-pit mine that began production this year and an underground portion under development.
In November, The Sun reported that the company had suspended work on the mine after the Mongolian government said financing for the project would require parliamentary approval.
The company lost $94 million or nine cents per share in its third quarter compared with a profit of $112.2 million or 13 cents per share for the same period a year ago.
TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES, LTD. SHAREHOLDER ALERT: 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, December 31
ROBBINS GELLER RUDMAN & DOWD LLP FILES CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES LTD. - Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, December 13
Turquoise Hill Rights to Cease Trading on NYSE and NASDAQ on January 6, 2014 and on TSX at Noon on January 7, 2014
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Jan. 2, 2014) - Turquoise Hill Resources today reminded eligible holders of rights that the Company's current rights offering will expire at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on January 7, 2014.
Under terms of the rights offering, all registered holders of rights must either a) validly deliver their completed rights certificates to the Subscription Agent, CST Trust Company, before the expiry deadline on January 7, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. EST; or b) provide a notice to the Subscription Agent guaranteeing delivery of their rights certificates within three trading days of the January 7 expiry deadline, in both cases accompanied by payment of the total applicable subscription price.
Registered shareholders are encouraged to contact CST Trust Company at 1-800-387-0825 (in North America) or 1-416-682-3860 (outside North America), or by e-mail at email@example.com with any questions.
Registered shareholders resident outside of the US and Canada had until 4:30 p.m. EST on December 27, 2013 to satisfy the Company that the exercise of their rights will not be in violation of securities and other laws applicable in the jurisdiction where they reside. As of 9:00 a.m. on December 30, 2013 and until the expiry date of the rights offering, CST Trust Company will attempt to sell the rights of registered shareholders resident outside of the US and Canada on the market on such dates and at such prices as CST Trust Company may determine in its discretion.
An earlier deadline will apply for rights held through securities brokers, dealers, banks, trust companies or other custodians that participate directly or indirectly in the book-based systems administered by CDS Clearing and Depository Services Inc. or the Depository Trust Company. Holders of rights that are held through a securities broker or dealer, bank, trust company, custodian or other intermediary are encouraged to contact such broker or dealer, bank, trust company, custodian or other intermediary to determine how such rights may be exercised or with any other questions.
Details of the rights offering are contained in the final prospectus dated November 25, 2013, which is available on SEDAR and EDGAR. The rights offering was summarized in a news release issued by the Company on November 26, 2013. Key terms contained in the final prospectus for the rights offering include:
BDSec Daily Market Update, December 30: Top 20 +1.71%, Turnover ₮14.5 Million
December 30 (BDSec) The Mongolian stock market finished the first day of the new trading week with a modest increase. MSE Top 20 added 1.71% to 16,064.99 points. However trading volume dropped sharply to MNT 14.5 million today compared to the last week. Shivee Ovoo (SHV), 90% Erdenes MGL LLC owned coal miner, led gain with 10% increase. Tavantolgoi (TTL) bounced back 7.28% ending its 5-day losses. On the other side, Bayangol Hotel (BNG) lost 13% to close at MNT 52,000 while Darkhan Nekhii (NEH) and Baganuur (BAN) gave up more than 4% today.
Trading Value Leaders
Shivee Ovoo (SHV)
Sharyn Gol (SHG)
Shivee Ovoo (SHV)
State Department Store
Darkhan Nekhii (NEH)
BDSec Daily Market Update, December 31: Top 20 +2.15%, Turnover ₮15 Million, Top 20 -6.8% in 2013
December 31 (BDSec) The Mongolian stock market finished the last day of the year 2013 with a 2.15% increase. Market breadth was positive as 14 stocks advanced whereas only 2 stocks ended the session in red. Mongol Nekhmel (+14.81%) led the gain today followed by Telecom Mongolia (+7.00%) and Tavantolgoi (+6.70%). The benchmark index, MSE Top 20 is down 6.80% for the year to finish at 16,411.10 points.
Trading Value Leaders
Makh Impex (MMX)
Mongol Nekhmel (MNH)
Telecom Mongolia (MCH)
Bayan Aldar (VIK)
MSE News for January 2: Top 20 +0.98%, Turnover ₮74.7 Million
Ulaanbaatar, January 2 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Thursday, a total of 205 thousand and 865 shares of 26 JSCs were traded costing MNT 74 million 671 thousand and 739.00.
"Hermes center" /192 thousand and 703 units/, "Khokh gan" /5,667 units/, "Remikon" /4,000 units/, "Teever darkhan" /1,150 units/ and "Baganuur" /628 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value-"Hermes center" (MNT 31 million 794 thousand and 995), "Teever darkhan" (MNT 28 million and 750 thousand), "Talkh chikher" (MNT three million 153 thousand and 600), "Baganuur" (MNT two million 849 thousand and 985) and "Gan khiits" (MNT one million and 700 thousand).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 680 billion 348 million 569 thousand and 775. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,462.16, increasing by MNT 160.35 or 0.98% against the previous day.
BoM MNT Rates: January 2 Close
Total outstanding 1-week bills increase ₮238 billion to ₮1.6 trillion
BoM issues ₮632.1 billion 1-week bills
December 31 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 632.1 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM holds FX auction
On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on January 2nd, 2013 the BOM has received from local commercial banks bid offer of USD and CNY. BOM has sold 28.0 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1681.04 and 20 million CNY as closing rate of MNT 279.10.
On January 2nd, 2013, The BOM has received USD Swap agreement bid offer of 33.0 million USD and accepted the offer.
Balance of Payment Report, November 2013: Current Account Deficit $3 Billion, FDI -50%
December 30 (Bank of Mongolia) Current account deficit stands at US$3,008.6 million which is increase of US$13.8 million on a YOY basis. Of which (i) deficit of goods' trade decreased by 15 percent to US$1,276.1 million; (ii) deficit of services' trade increased by 23 percent to US$1,200.4 million; (iii) deficit of income account decreased by 17 percent to US$648.6 million; and (iv) current transfer declined by 50 percent to US$116.5 million.
Capital and financial accounts showed surplus of US$ 1,286.1 million which is decrease of 61 percent or US$2,052.6 million on YOY basis. This is due to (i) 50 percent decline of surplus on foreign direct investment from abroad to Mongolia equaling to US$2,084.7 million, (ii) surplus of portfolio investment decreased by 120 percent or US$ 1,020.2 million and (iii) deficit of other investments decreased by 59 percent or US$1,059.3 million compared to a year prior.
Mogi: ever the optimist, good one from Nick!
BDSec's Top 10 Surprises for Mongolia in 2014
By Nick Cousyn & Sales and Research Team
January 2 (BDSec) --
1. Foreign Direct Investment to Mongolia will increase by 40% in 2014, after having decreased 17% in 2012 and nearly 60% in 2013.
While most are still focused on the negative narrative surrounding FDI in Mongolia, few appreciate just how progressive and FDI friendly the new Mongolian Investment Law truly is. While it's true that investors in most foreign listed stocks have been burned badly, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea stand ready to collectively deploy billions now that an attractive legal framework is in place. Japan has established a new template for future large scale investment via the Samurai Bonds, whereby Japan guarantees 90% of the development bonds themselves, likely in exchange for exclusive contracts for Japanese vendors. Projects which need PPP (Private Public Partnerships) financing include a new power plant, Ger district redevelopment, Phase 1 rail expansion, a new coal to liquids plant and vast road construction projects, to name a few.
2. Mongolia's real GDP in 2014 will come in at 15% or higher, beating IMF estimates for 11.6% growth by 35%.
2013 was a year where coking coal prices and exports cratered, which coincided with a ~60% decline in FDI and a very public dispute with Mongolia's largest investor Rio Tinto. Despite all of these challenges, real GDP growth will likely come in at nearly 13% for FY '13, making Mongolia one of the world's 3 fastest growing economies for the 3rd straight year.
3. Mongolia will again become China's largest coking coal exporter after having lost that distinction to Australia in 2013.
Not only do we see Mongolia reclaiming the top spot as China's largest exporter of coking coal in 2014, but we expect they will maintain that position for decades. The average mining wage in Australia is over $50 USD/hour, with high skilled positions paying well into the 6 figure range. The northern most port in Australia (Port Darwin) is over 4800 km's from Shanghai and a 13 day voyage. On the other hand, Mongolia's largest coking coal mines sit ~250 km's from the Chinese border, with large scale rail projects about to break ground. With Mongolian GDP per capita of less than $4000 USD/year, the country is set to be THE low cost exporter for decades to come.
4. The Mongolian Tugrik will rally by at least 15% from recent lows of 1750 vs. the US Dollar.
We are establishing a 2014 target for MNT/USD of 1450 which we very much view as a base case. Sentiment on the Mongolian Tugrik is extremely negative and we know of no one choosing to hold large amounts of MNT vs. USD, despite 1 year Tugrik denominated savings rates paying 15%, which is 3x that of USD rates at around 5%. Sequential increases in FDI are pure leverage to a stronger MNT and the GOM has decided they will maintain their stated debt limit of 40% Debt/GDP.
5. Mongolia's proven oil reserves will increase by 50% in 2014 from 2.4 billion barrels to 3.6 billion barrels.
When negative headlines dominate the narrative in a country for an extended period, good news is almost impossible to find. At a minimum, there are 25 million acres identified as being highly prospective for oil exploration and production. 3 blocks owned and operated by Sinopec and Petro China comprises nearly the entirety of Mongolia's oil reserves. We think the potential exists for Mongolia's oil reserves to increase several fold from current levels, as extraction technology continues to evolve and Mongolia's rail networks are built out.
6. Mongolia will be host to multilateral talks in 2014, focused on lifting UN sanctions on North Korea.
In 2013, the framework for lifting UN sanctions on Iran were established to the chagrin of most of its neighbors. Conversely, North Korea remains generally isolated under UN sanctions, despite receiving large FDI flows from its neighbors, being South Korea, China and Russia. Japan is quickly coming to the realization that China, not North Korea, is their biggest military threat, this belief may occur to others as well. With 65 years of continuous relations with the DPRK, Mongolia may well host critical negotiations and play an important role in assisting the engagement of the DPRK by the international community.
7. The MSE Top 20 rallies by 50% to close the year above 24,000, a level not seen since early 2011.
The new Securities and Investment laws passed in late 2013 are very progressive and show to us, the GOM is aggressively trying to fix prior mistakes. International custodians should be in place by 4Q'14 and representatives from the MSE are diligently working on getting Mongolia added to various Frontier indices. Once this is accomplished, large pools of capital will be compelled to invest on the MSE. 2014 should also be a year where the GOM restarts its policy of privatization. It will come as no surprise to anyone that we see a distinct difference in the financial performance of State Owned Entities (SOE's) and their privately controlled peers. Should all of this be carried out in a timely manner, MSE 24,000 will be a level quickly surpassed while the index is on its way to new all-time highs.
8. Two of Mongolia's largest banks will go public in 2014.
On the surface, this may not seem an outlandish surprise to most, but Mongolia has not had a publicly traded bank following the high profile failures of Zoos and Anod Banks in '09 and '08, respectively. With Mongolia's sovereign credit rating languishing and the Chinggis Bond under pressure, large scale debt offerings would see limited demand at yields that would be unattractive to the borrower. We would also add that investors find it somewhat odd that Mongolia has a functioning stock market, with no publicly traded banks. The first bank that does a sizeable equity raise would have a distinct advantage, from both a balance sheet and confidence perspective.
9. Foreign entities will begin to acquire MSE listed companies in 2014.
The new Investment Law allows foreign non-SOE's to acquire 100% of Mongolian companies, regardless of industry and without government approval. Our in depth analysis of MSE listed companies has yielded a basket of stocks, which trade at a fraction of Book, let alone Replacement Value. Once the listed companies file their FY'13 financials with the MSE and FRC we will publish our second version of "A Quantitative Look at Mongolian Equities [here]." The companies highlighted in this last note which can be accessed here significantly outperformed the broader market, with many stocks doubling or tripling, while the broader market was down ~15% in 2013.
10. Despite only participating in one sport (Cross Country Skiing) in the coming 2014 Winter Olympics, Mongolia will earn a Bronze Medal.
Likely the biggest outlier on our list, but we have two chances as Mongolia is putting forth both a male and female participant. We wish them the best of luck!
In summary, after a year and a half of some very negative and unfortunate surprises, we see ample evidence to support a view that 2014 will be a good deal better for Mongolia than most think. The election cycle, which is counter cyclical and typically negative for the economy, is now behind us and the government has moved to a firmly pro FDI disposition. For those who are concerned about the political pendulum swinging in a negative direction in the future, bear in mind the new Investment Law requires a 2/3rd's Parliamentary majority to amend.
We conclude this list of Top 10 surprises for Mongolia in 2014 while keeping this quote at the forefront of our minds:
"To buy when others are despondently selling and sell when others are greedily buying requires the greatest fortitude and pays the greatest reward." -- Sir John Templeton
NEW YEAR ADDRESS TO THE NATION BY TSAKHIAGIIN ELBEGDORJ, PRESIDENT OF MONGOLIA
December 31 (President.mn) --
I convey to you, my dear fellow countrymen, my greetings for the New Year,
I am delighted to greet you on the eve of the New Year from a warm home of a happy Mongolian family in Chingeltei district, from the hearth of our motherland.
In just few moments, we shall bid goodbye to 2013 and enter the 2014. The 2013 has been an auspicious year of success and achievements for our country. It was the year of the 2222nd Anniversary of the Mongolian Statehood.
The 2013 was a year of assessment of the quality of the Mongolian democracy. Mongolia successfully hosted the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies and has proudly handed over the Chairmanship of the Global Community of Democracies.
The 2013 was a year of historic choice to consolidate achievements and aspire greater success with renewed zeal and dedication. I wish to reiterate my sincere gratitude to the people of Mongolia for entrusting me to continue the duties of the Head of State of the country. I have and shall serve the common interests of my people and the development and prosperity of my nation as a vigilant soldier on duty.
The 2013 was a historic year to lay down the foundation to the Smart Government policy and marked the start of many important reforms.
The 2013 was a year full of new records, new works and new creations of our talented citizens – scholars and scientists, artists and athletes.
In 2013 we were able to guarantee and consolidate our achievements in strengthening rule of law and justice. In the last two years, Mongolia was able to reduce corruption and advanced her ranking on anti-corruption drive by 36. Judicial reform is robustly underway.
The 2013 was a year of "Citizen Participation". Citizens' participation in policy formation and decision making level has increased.
The 2013 brought us not only success and achievements, but also challenges and restraints. But I am confident that learning lessons and meeting the challenges, all of us together will be able to build the path to lead us to development and prosperity.
My dear fellow countrymen,
Few seconds have now left for the New Year to arrive.
I do believe that the 2014 will be a wonderful year for my people. In 2013, many young Mongolians were born to our homes. Just a few days ago, on the eve of the New Year, we welcomed our quadruplets. Soon, there will be three million of us. We will grow many, and bigger a family.
The 2014 must become a year of drastic changes in reducing and eliminating violence against women, children, seniors.
I wish the 2014 becomes a year of inclusive economic prosperity, a year which sees an increase in our household savings. We shall pay concerted attention to achieve this goal. I wish it becomes a year of honoring not the populists, but the wealth creators.
The 2014 shall be a year of decisive role to craft a research-based, service-oriented and ruled by law State.
The 2014 shall be a year of solutions to air pollution, threatening the safe and healthy livelihood of our people; a year of progress in the fight against all forms of injustice that frustrate our people.
I convey my best New Year greetings to the entire people of Mongolia. I wish a Happy New Year to all Mongolians residing and studying abroad. Let us all keep the honor and dignity of Mongolia high, let us be a support, a friend and family to each other.
I convey my heartfelt New Year greetings and best wishes to all my fellow citizens on duty this night, at this moment of advent of the New Year.
I convey my warm greetings to Ambassadors and envoys of foreign countries and international organizations, working in Mongolia. I wish all the best to all partners and friends of Mongolia, working with us for Mongolia's development and prosperity.
May the 2014 be a happy and healthy year for our beloved little ones – our children, our honorable seniors, and for all the people.
May our hearty wishes and greetings to each other on this beautiful night come true in the New Year.
And with this, let me raise my bowl of milk to the happiness and wellbeing of every family and home. May the people of Mongolia be blessed and live a life full of happiness, joy and harmony.
Once again, I wish you a Happy New Year!
Have a fantastic New Year!
"Coal Mongolia-2014" conference set for February
January 2 /news.mn/ The annual "Coal Mongolia" International Coal Investors Conference and Exhibition will be organized for the fourth time on February 20th and 21st.
The 4th International Coal Investors Conference and Exhibition, "Coal Mongolia-2014", will be held to discuss the key topic of attracting foreign investment for coal exploration, mining and processing projects in Mongolia. The current development trends in the coal sector, future perspectives, investment, legal environment, infrastructure and latest technologies will also be on the agenda.
The International Coal Investors Conference and Exhibition is designed to increase the competitiveness of Mongolian coal in the Asian market. Last year, 2013, was a challenging time for the Mongolian coal sector even though coal mining companies made a historical record, mining 28.6 million tons of coal in 11 months and exporting 16 million tons of coal. This was more than 6 million tons compared to 2012.
"Coal Mongolia-2014" Int'l Forum Coming – Montsame, January 2
Bill on Index-Based Livestock Insurance Submitted to Parliament
Ulaanbaatar, January 2 /MONTSAME/ The Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan Thursday submitted to Z.Enkhbold, the Speaker of parliament a draft law on index-based livestock insurance.
The Minister said this draft aims to reduce the economic dependence of herders on natural disasters, to create a voluntary insurance protection for them to stay solvent, and to introduce a national insurance service beneficial for both the insured and insurers.
The initiator considers as important a correct regulation of the financial resources management and risk mechanism for the index-based livestock insurance at a sustainable level, because the dzud (natural disaster or extremely cold weather) usually causes big disasters to many in countryside and repeats several years. So it is vital to collaborate with a foreign insurance company in the reinsurance matter, the Minister underlined.
Under an experimental regime, the Mongolian government launched the system of index-based livestock insurance in 2005, now the time has come to create a legal environment for such kind of insurance, Ch.Ulaan said.
Mongolia to Support Exports with Chinggis Bonds
January 2 /infomongolia.com/ The first "30 Minutes with Prime Minister" meeting of the year was organized today on January 02, and during the meeting with journalists Premier N.Altankhuyag determined the Government's goals for 2014.
At the beginning, Premier N.Altankhuyag announced that the Government would pay significant attention to support domestic export manufacturers to replace import products and further said, "In 2013, Mongolia's total import reached to approximately 6 billion USD, of which more than half were imported products mostly minerals, plastics, leather, skin, chemical substances, machineries and electrical appliances.
Thus, we will support instantaneously the projects to replace such products.
Currently, Mongolia exports mainly two kinds of product as natural minerals and cashmere & wool, therefore in order to increase the export, we will bear these industries and plan to spend about 360 billion MNT (Tugrug) from Chinggis Bond. The project offers will be accepted open before January 17, 2014 and a workshop comprised of State Secretaries of affiliated Ministries would preliminary select the projects and introduce to the Cabinet members, after completion of selection process due on March 01, the finances will be allocated through the Development Bank.
Depending on project's capacity and specifics, the Bank will determine the loan interest and payment period variously.
Mongolia's GDP in 2013 preliminary estimates at 12%, however the Government aimed to keep inflation at one digit number,but we saw off the 2013 with about 11%. Nevertheless, we fulfilled to keep the budget deficit at 2% and the final socio-economic statistical reports for 2013 would be released in beginning of February 2014".
Premier: Cabinet to Support Export-Oriented Production – Montsame, January 2
Darkhan Oil Refinery to Supply 70% of Domestic Need
Ulaanbaatar, January 2 /MONTSAME/ An oil refinery with a capacity of producing two million ton oil will be accomplished here within 2016 at a decision of the government.
With the state property participation, the refinery will be funded by easy terms loan of Japan Bank for the International Cooperation and erected by technologies of "Toyo engineering" corporation.
It will also supply some 70 percent of the domestic need of fuel and 100 percent of bitumen.
Apart from this, the money, which flows abroad, will decrease 700 million USD.
Mongolia to celebrate 65th anniversary of ties with China
ULAN BATOR, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Mongolian government decided Saturday to host a series of cultural events in 2014 to celebrate the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties with China.
The celebration will include activities such as Chinese and Mongolian cultural days, youth sports matches and TV programs featuring the memoirs of former ambassadors of the two countries.
Investment forums and round table discussions involving scholars of the two countries will also be held.
The celebration will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Dendev Terbishdagva, and will run throughout the year.
China and Mongolia established diplomatic relations on Oct. 16, 1949, and China is currently Mongolia's largest trade partner and investor.
The two countries have also witnessed a rise in cultural exchanges. Currently, about 8,000 Mongolian students study in China.
Mongolian Leaders Send Greetings to Cuba on Anniversary of Revolution
Ulaanbaatar, January 2 /MONTSAME/ On occasion of the 55th anniversary of the Revolution of Cuba, Mongolia's powers Thursday sent congratulatory letters to their Cuban counterparts.
The President Ts.Elbegdorj noted that Mongolia greeted the Cuban revolution of national freedom 55 years ago and established the diplomatic relations with Cuba. Since then, the ties between our countries have actively been developing, he writes to Raul Castro, the President of the Council of State of Cuba.
The Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) Z.Enkhbold in a letter to Mr Esteban Lazo Hernandez, the president of the Cuban National Assembly, affirms Mongolia's willingness to cooperate in strengthening the traditional friendly ties between parliaments.
The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag and the Foreign Minister L.Bold also sent congratulatory letters to their counterparts.
Mongolia and Cuba established the diplomatic relations on December 7 of 1960. Cuba is the first nation to establish such relations with Mongolia in America. Mongolia opened its Embassy in Havana in 1967, whereas Cuba opened the Embassy in Mongolia in 1962.
In 2001, the countries established the visa-free agreement.
A link to Mongolia's future
By Piper Anne Wind Campbell, U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia
December 30 (Poverty Reduction Blog, Millennium Challenge Corporation) At the opening ceremony near the town of Ayrag in Dornogobi province on September 5, the American and Mongolian governments celebrated a major milestone—the successful completion of the Millennium Challenge Corporation's North-South Road Project connecting the cities of Choir and Sainshand.
Building on the success of the MCC project, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) completed a separate road project between Sainshand and Zamyn-Uud on November 20. For the first time in history, these developments allow Mongolians to easily travel across their country on an all-weather paved road, connecting them to their two neighbors, Russia and China.
MCC's North-South Road Project—funded by the U.S. Government and implemented by Millennium Challenge Account-Mongolia (MCA-Mongolia)—constructed 174 kilometers of road to reach key national and regional markets. Two link roads were also built to connect thousands of Mongolians to the main corridor, and the project provided road maintenance equipment to the Ministry of Roads and Transportation for the sustainable upkeep of the newly built road.
I'm proud of this project because it finished on schedule and will ultimately benefit more than 150,000 Mongolians. It is also an example of strong partnership and coordination: MCC and MCA-Mongolia collaborated with the ADB to assess road maintenance needs and received initial designs for the Choir-Sainshand road from the ADB.
In fact, I'm proud of all the good work produced during MCC's five-year, $285 million compact, which I've seen unfold firsthand during my 1½ years as the U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia. I've spoken with herders and urban beneficiaries who are receiving land titles for the first time, met students who intend to use their MCC-funded vocational education to find better-paying jobs and toured the newly equipped Cardiac and Stroke Intensive Care and Diagnostic Unit at Shastin Hospital in the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
The completion of the North-South Road Project is particularly impressive given the limited construction timeline. Implementation began halfway through the five-year Mongolia Compact, following a major restructuring. Adding to these challenges, the initial construction contractor experienced financial insolvency at a time when there were only two construction seasons remaining in the compact's terms.
Mongolia's harsh winters mean construction can only occur from April through September, and MCA-Mongolia worked diligently to keep the subcontractors from the initial contractor working to avoid losing a valuable construction season. After rebidding the contract, the two new contractors worked long hours to get work done on time, while adhering to the strict environmental and social standards set by MCC and MCA-Mongolia.
The road is also a remarkable achievement because it reflects high quality standards. Many Mongolians view the road as the best ever built in their country because of its international-standard quality and technical specifications. In its funding, design and construction, the North-South Road Project is an example of what international efforts and cooperation among various donors and contractors can achieve.
In all these ways, the road is more than pavement. It is a corridor to the new opportunities of economic development and growth. And, it will long be a symbol of a Mongolia on the rise and a testament to the power of partnerships to reduce poverty and replace it with prosperity.
American guilty of smuggling dinosaur fossils from Mongolia and China
CHEYENNE, Wyoming, January 2 (AP) A man pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony charge of conspiring to smuggle fossils from China into the United States. He also agreed to forfeit any claim to a Tyrannosaurus skull that likely will be heading back home to Mongolia.
Federal officials and a lawyer representing the government of Mongolia say the prosecution marks a continuing push to crack down on fossil smuggling.
Rick Rolater, 69, entered the plea Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Kelly Rankin in Cheyenne.
Rolater has sold fossils through two By Nature Gallery stores in Colorado. He faces a $25,000 fine and two years' probation under a plea agreement when he goes before U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl for sentencing March 18 in Casper.
Rolater agreed to forfeit a saber-toothed cat skull and three dinosaur fossils imported from China.
He also agreed not to contest forfeiture of two fossils from Mongolia, including the skull of a Tyrannosaurus Bataar, a close relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex. He didn't admit the Mongolian fossils were imported illegally.
The investigation into Rolater's operations began when federal officials received a tip that the Tyrannosaurus skull in his Jackson gallery came from Mongolia, according to a statement by Homeland Security.
The skull disappeared from Rolater's gallery after news reports that the agency had seized a separate Bataar skull in New York, according to the statement.
Federal authorities in May 2013 returned a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus skeleton to the Mongolian government.
The repatriated skeleton had been looted from Mongolia's Gobi Desert and illegally smuggled into the U.S. by fossils dealer Eric Prokopi, authorities said. Prokopi, who bought and sold dinosaur skeletons out of his Florida home, illegally imported the bones into the U.S. and assembled them into a skeleton, authorities said.
According to the Homeland Security statement, after the Tyrannosaurus skull disappeared from Rolater's Jackson gallery, federal agents secured a search warrant and recovered the skull in June 2012 from a residence he owned.
Federal prosecutor Stu Healy said in court that Rolater had received fossils from a man in China. Healy said they were exported from China and brought into the United States without regard for the customs laws of either country.
Cheyenne lawyer Pat Crank, who represented Rolater at Thursday's plea hearing, said Rolater originally thought he was dealing with a legitimate fossil exporter.
Under questioning from Rankin, Rolater acknowledged that as the relationship with the Chinese exporter developed, Rolater did try to violate federal laws.
Speaking after Thursday's court hearing, Crank said his client was caught in the federal government's zeal for prosecuting such cases.
"It's unfortunate that there are literally thousands of these things out there, and for years, no one regulated the importation or the sale of any of these fossils," Crank said. "Now all of a sudden the rules have changed, and real nice people like Rick Rolater get caught up in importing and selling what literally thousands of people do."
Houston lawyer Robert Painter represents the Mongolian government in trying to reclaim fossils that have been smuggled out of that country. He said Thursday that the Wyoming case got traction following the widely publicized return of the other Tyrannosaurus Bataar to Mongolia.
Painter said the Mongolian government has put the repatriated Tyrannosaurus skeleton up for display in a temporary structure in the capital city of Ulaan Baatar. He said than 750,000 of the country's roughly 3 million people had seen it by the end of last year.
Painter said Mongolia is working to convert a museum once dedicated to former Soviet leader Vladimir I. Lenin to house the Tyrannosaurus skeleton and other dinosaur fossils.
Courtenay Engelke: Finding friendship, hospitality, enrichment in Mongolia
December 25 (The Morning Call) As a student at Central Bucks East High School, Lehigh University and the University of Pennsylvania, I can't honestly say that I ever planned a future in Mongolia.
Perhaps my destiny was sealed when a classmate shared her photos and experiences from two years of Peace Corps service in Mongolia before turning to business school. I remember thinking at the time how fascinating and exotic it all seemed. I tucked it away in my memory in the event I might ever be so fortunate to visit such a distant land someday.
So maybe it was destiny that more than 10 years and hundreds of thousands of air miles later, Mongolia is precisely where I would be.
For the past eight years, I've been working for the Millennium Challenge Corp., a federal agency seeking to reduce poverty in developing countries through programs aimed at stimulating economic growth. The agency picks a small number of poor but well-governed countries and provides large, five-year grants. The idea is to find countries that share our values and that can become closer allies and trading partners of the United States — ultimately helping both us and our partner countries.
Mongolia started its Millennium Challenge program in 2008, but the program got off to a rocky start and needed to be partly restructured. I first traveled there in the summer of 2009 to try to facilitate the restructuring.
Because Mongolia, lodged between China and Russia, suffers from especially long, cold winters, summertime is the best time to visit. In July, the entire country celebrates the "three manly games" as part of Naadam, an annual festive celebration of horse racing, wrestling and archery. Mongolian wrestling is an entirely different spectacle which somewhat resembles sumo (though with slightly more, and significantly more festive, clothing). The opening ceremony was a sight to behold with spectators adorned in their finest traditional clothes. Somehow my plain white shirt and chinos seemed grossly inadequate.
The time pressures from Washington to develop a viable investment program coupled with the most remarkable hospitality I had ever experienced in my career allowed me to pack more into that first visit than any ordinary person would have thought possible. There were countless meetings, lunches, dinners and events, and with each I became further immersed in this country I had only dreamed about so many years before.
I met government officials, diplomats, donors companies and people from nongovernmental organizations. I rode horses, practiced archery, slept in a ger (a felt-lined tent), used the outdoor toilet (a first on a business trip), held an eagle and ate Mongolian barbecue (a wonderful mélange of boiled mutton, salt, and, if you're lucky, carrots and potatoes).
Ultimately, Millennium Challenge's five-year, $285 million investment, which already included vocational education, health and property-rights projects, was revised to include a program to reduce road and air pollution. My work on the air pollution reduction program brought me to Mongolia many more times. Each time I was drawn closer and closer to the people and the culture. I extended my business trips to vacation at Huvsgol Lake and to participate in the celebration of the white moon, known as Tsagaan Sar.
I visited countless homes, monasteries, energy centers and the Gobi Desert. My colleagues also visited America, and I did my best to extend the equivalent Mongolian hospitality at home, only to have surely fallen short of an art the Mongolian people have perfected over thousands of years. For my work and partnership on behalf of the American people, I was ultimately awarded a friendship medal by the president of Mongolia, the highest honor bestowed on a foreigner.
The Millennium Challenge program in Mongolia successfully drew to a close in September. It has left the Mongolian people better equipped to take advantage of the economic opportunity at their doorstep. The Mongolian people have enriched me with new perspective and lasting friendships.
Mongolia is rising. Change is galloping rapidly across the steppe. Thousands of years of tradition are still present, but they may be disappearing as quickly as the handbags at the new Louis Vuitton flagship store in Chinngis Square.
Courtenay Engelke is a director in the investment and risk management division of the Millennium Challenge Corp., Washington, D.C. She is a native of Doylestown.
Lessons From Wild Mongolia
For the past three months, I have had the strange pleasure of calling the world's coldest capital home.
Ulaanbaatar is the polar opposite of Mongolia's pristine countryside: gritty, gray, and dead-locked with traffic at all hours. Downtown bears the scars of a Soviet legacy through its decrepit Communist housing blocks and iconic central square.
Viewed from above, half-finished buildings and cranes dot the skyline, peeking through the thick brown pollution oozing out from coal-fired furnaces of the city's ambling ger districts, where one third of the population of Mongolia resides. Former camel herders cling to the edges of the only major urban center in their country.
Members of a distinctly Eurasian culture rooted in the legacy of Genghis Khan, Mongolians find themselves wedged between thousands of years of nomadic history and a modern world that urges them to become settled city-slickers. Perhaps because of this, Ulaanbaatar may truly be the wildest city in the world, life on the steppes transplanted into shopping malls and high-rises. It is the undeniable pulse of a country that has taught me just how much environment shapes existence.
A Cavernous Urban-Rural Divide
For starters, Mongolia is the world's least densely populated country and I would argue that there is no nation on Earth with an urban-rural divide like it. Mongolia boasts one single city of 1.5 million people (50% of the country's total population), which sits juxtaposed against the other half of the population who lives scattered across more than 1 million square kilometers of complete wilderness.
To offer a comparison, Mongolia's neighbor to the south, China, has approximately 415 cities with populations over 100,000.
Ulaanbaatar is the sole escape from endless nothingness. Driving across the country, you see no more than one or two gers dotting the horizon every hour. Apart from the horses and camels and flocks of sheep in the distance, the infinite emptiness is astonishing.
One story I will never forget came from my friend who served as an adventure tour guide in Mongolia. He once met a group of nomadic herders traveling for more than 2 months from western Mongolia to Ulaanbaatar with hundreds of horses and camels in their caravan. Their plan, they told him, was to sell off their animals and buy an apartment in the city. They had lived their entire lives in the western mountains and didn't know anything about the capital. The only thing they knew was that they didn't want to be nomads anymore and were prepared to give up everything, abandon nature and their livelihoods, and try to make it in the city.
Something about that story made me nearly burst into angry, hopeless tears.
Self-Sufficiency Through Nature
Extended camping trips through the Gobi desert and weekends spent living with nomadic families on the steppes has made me painfully aware of just how much I, and the billions of the other city-slickers on Earth, fail at achieving any degree of self-sufficiency compared to Mongolians.
Out in the countryside, the Mongolian people spend their entire existence surviving in the harsh climate, in impossibly isolated territory, with nothing but their ger and animals. Whereas I am completely dependent on money and millions of other people to create every single thing I eat, wear, and use, there are at least 1.5 million people out there who survive through nature.
I will never look at the humiliating ease of walking to the store to buy groceries the same way ever again.
Princesses of Mongolian Business and Politics
In the same city where you can rub shoulders with camel herders who just spent 2 months riding across the country in pursuit of a capital they had only heard rumors of, you have a 31-year old woman who is Vice-President of the third largest company in the country, a conglomerate with operations in mining, aviation, retail, trading, petroleum, and real estate.
Daddy started the company when the Soviets left and now his daughter is taking over the enormous "family business." In the adjacent office high-rise, you have another 28-year old running the country's only five-star hotel and its largest TV station. Her father is the CEO of the biggest agricultural company and Mom is in the government cabinet.
A select few families ("clans") in Mongolia own the vast majority of the nation's wealth and wield its political power, a common scenario in many developing countries, but one even more evident and appalling in a country with such a small population.
Interviewing the foreign-educated children of some of these families has provided a fascinating insight into what it would be like if your future was decided for you before you were born: that you would inherit the throne of one of the largest holdings in your country. In some ways, I would kill to be these women, but in many other ways it makes me deeply appreciate having to crawl, often blindly, to build my own success story.
Investing in People
Last but not least, I could not have asked for a better group of people to spend the past 3 months exploring Mongolia with. To those of you who shared this journey with me, thank you for being wonderful companions in such an obscure and isolating place on Earth.
I have learned it is important to just love, whether or not there will be another chapter of the story.
Indeed, I have loved Mongolia, and I have loved sharing it with you.
Moving with the Seasons: A Photography book on Mongolian Nomads
Moving with the Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family, is a visual and written portrait of life in a nomadic Mongolian family. Filled with photographs and personal perspectives on daily life, this book is an outgrowth of my relationship with the family who became my collaborators in writing this book. The family's willingness to share with the rest of the world the annual cycle of nomadic life on the Mongolian steppe makes for an unusually intimate portrait of a modern nomadic people. Much of the information found in my text and photographs comes directly from time spent with this family, and is not available in print elsewhere.
My goal was to capture the life and spirit of the Mongolian nomads and to present their lives with honor and integrity. Presented within the context of the often surprising blend of traditional and modern elements of nomadic life, the text and photos document the centrality of animals to the herding community, and their enduring traditions of hospitality.
The family, while retaining the essential ancient ways of living that have survived since the time of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, are already incorporating aspects of the modern world. Moving with the Seasons documents a traditional culture that still survives in a modern world even as it is under tremendous pressure to change. It is both timely in its appeal to the growing awareness in the West that we have a lot to learn from traditional peoples before their ways of life disappear, and timeless in its representation of the humanity of the nomadic family profiled in the book.
Moving with the Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family is a 200 page, four-color, photography book published by Saltwind Press.
Review by Michael Kohn, Author of Lonely Planet's Guide to Mongolia
"In an age when most travellers whiz about the globe at light speed, Liza Carter prefers a slower pace that has given her a rare and in-depth look at the fast-disappearing nomadic culture of Mongolia. Her timely book displays extraordinary passion and sensitivity for the people she meets and with a careful eye she brings her reader into the cozy felt gers that the Mongols have called home for centuries. The news cycle in Mongolia tends to focus on the country's mining boom, evolving business culture, and political tumult in the capital, but Liza Carter instead paints a portrait of a traditional nomad family as they struggle to survive the harsh landscape and unforgiving climate in a land once considered the greatest empire on Earth."
Fifty percent of the profits from Moving with the Seasons will be donated to hospitals and clinics serving nomadic children.
Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
Founder & CEO
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