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Monday, February 3, 2014
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The colour of money in Mongolia? Turquoise
By Dan McCrum
January 30 (FT Alphaville) What follows concerns the likely actions of the government in Ulaanbaatar, which is pretty much the definition of a frontier market and all the perils that go with it. With that warning, come with us to Mongolia.
What we hear, from sources with a record of reliability, is that the government is strongly considering the purchase of a small stake in Turquoise Hill, the mining company controlled by Rio Tinto.
A stake of 2 to 3 per cent is thought highly likely, and local politicians and businessmen have been buying in advance of what would be a very important signal about the legal and financial prospects of the country's giant mining project, Oyu Tolgoi.
To understand just what such a purchase will signal, some background is necessary.
Turquoise Hill (TRQ) is a Vancouver-based miner, which owns a 66 per cent interest in Oyu Tolgoi in the Gobi Desert close to Mongolia's border with China. The government of the Asian nation holds the rest.
In terms of the potential, here's how Rio Tinto describes it (with our emphasis):
"Oyu Tolgoi is one of the most exciting developments in copper and gold mining for several decades. As well as containing reserves and resources that make it one of the world's largest copper-gold deposits, Oyu Tolgoi will have a transformative effect on the nation and the people of Mongolia and is an important long term partnership with the Government of Mongolia. By the time it reaches full production in 2021, the International Monetary Fund estimates that Oyu Tolgoi will generate up to a third of Mongolia's GDP."
So, a massive copper deposit right next to the Chinese border. Rio Tinto first took a stake in what was then called Ivanhoe Mines back in 2006.
Ivanhoe was run by its founder, Robert Friedland. However as he developed a project likely to cost around $6bn the company intermittently required cash, and a series of rights issues allowed Rio to increase its stake. In late 2010 and 2011, when Rio took its stake from 22 per cent to 49 per cent, the Turquoise (then Ivanhoe) share price was north of C$25 per share.
In terms of the value of the project, Net Present Value calculations could reasonably put a C$30 to C$40 per share price tag on it, possibly more if Rio Tinto were keen on those long dated (2021 onwards) cash flows in a take-out scenario.
However, in 2012 Rio managed to creep up to majority control in another financing package once a standstill agreement expired, without paying a control premium (something Canadian law allows). Robert Friedland was replaced, and the share price has not been the same since.
In part that reflects fears that Rio could squeeze out minority shareholders, direct the cashflow as it sees fit, or generally wait them out. Investors hold Canadian and US listed securities, but the assets are in Mongolia…
There have also been disputes with the Mongolian government, attempts to renegotiate terms, and political rhetoric ahead of elections, most recently last year's presidential ballot, has left nationalisation or appropriation of those assets a possibility.
However, the election has now passed, and the Mongolian economy has slowed. For an $11bn economy, the economic impact of the mine's swift development is rather important, as would be large injections of foreign currency.
A skeleton staff keeps the surface mine going, but the real deal is the start of the much larger underground phase. The government can ultimately look forward to proceeds from ownership and royalties, but more immediately the tax take on all the economic activity that development will spur.
However Rio will not start work until it gets agreement on $4bn in financing, half from commercial lenders and half from mutli-national agencies such as the World Bank's International Financing Corporation. Initially half the capital was due to be used to repay $2.4bn in loans from Rio to Turquoise, but the government has been keen that all $4bn be used for development. So there was another rights issue this month to repay the financing.
(Note that shareholders, alive to Rio's tactics, fully subscribed to their rights and so Rio merely maintained its 50.8 per cent stake.)
With the government keen for investment, we understand that a February 26th deadline to agree the multilateral side of the financing package has concentrated minds.
So progress could be swift, and as well as finally kick-starting development the involvement of the World Bank etc would materially reduce the chance of nationalisation — Mongolia is too small to wind up the world's institutions and their stakeholders with those tactics.
However, minority shareholders are still beholden to Rio, which is why having the government on the shareholder register is important – the host country would be on your side.
Yes, it already owns one third of Oyu Tolgoi. But Mongolia has also been talking to Temasek about setting up a sovereign wealth fund with the proceeds, and the thinking appears to be that an equity stake could be purchased for eventual inclusion in the fund — the government is keenly aware of the true value of the project, after all.
You might point out that the cash strapped government would struggle to find US$200m to fund a 3 per cent stake, but we understand that banks have offered to arrange call options that would give 5 to one leverage, meaning Mongolia only needs say $40m up front.
Indeed, our understanding of the government's thinking is that it wants to been seen as saavy, with Singapore a model, rather than yak herders in suits. A smart investment would play well with the domestic audience.
At the same time it is keen to win over international investors (Temasek itself owns 1.8 per cent of Turquoise), and along with the sovereign bond spread TRQ is seen as the most prominent indicator of Mongolian progress. The government can see the benefit of owning the equity, as can the locals.
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
NEW YORK, January 30--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Levi & Korsinsky announces that a class action lawsuit has been commenced in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of investors who purchased Turquoise Hill Resources, Ltd. ("Turquoise Hill" or the "Company") (NYSE:TRQ) common stock between May 14, 2010 and November 8, 2013.
For more information, click here: http://zlk.9nl.com/turquoise-hill-resources-trq/.
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 – January 31
XANADU & MONGOL METALS TO ACQUIRE 90% OF THE KHARMAGTAI COPPER-GOLD PROJECT
February 3, Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX:XAM)
· Xanadu and its joint venture company, Mongol Metals LLC, enter agreements for Mongol Metals to acquire the Kharmagtai advanced porphyry copper-gold exploration project for US$14.0 million from Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd
· Extensive exploration has identified significant shallow high-grade porphyry copper-gold mineralisation, including:
- KHDDH240 - 245m (from 3m) grading 0.75% Cu & 2.48g/t Au
- KHDDH259 - 203m (from 3m) grading 0.45% Cu & 2.45g/t Au
· Mongol Metals has paid a US$500,000 deposit and will pay an additional US$3.5 million upon completion plus US$10.0 million of deferred consideration for up to 18 months
· US$8.0 million of funding has been arranged for the acquisition and proposed 2014 exploration including a US$4.0 million, 3-year loan agreement with the Noble Group and US$4.0m equity in Mongol Metals from our joint venture partner
· Xanadu has the right to earn up to 85% of Mongol Metals from circa 18% at completion
A$2.84 million cash at end of Q. XAM last traded at 6.5c.
Xanadu Mines: Quarterly Activities/Cashflow Report
January 31, Xanadu Mines Ltd. (ASX:XAM) --
· Oyut Ulaan copper-gold project:
o acquisition completed
o drilling extends Diorite Hill mineralisation
o trenching validates license prospectivity identifying several drill targets
· Mongol Metals joint venture formed with director and substantial shareholder, Mr Ganbayar Lkhagvasuren, to pursue new business development opportunities
· Xanadu continues to implement its copper strategy and staged exit from coal
A$1.86 million cash at end of Q. WOF closed +3.45% to 6c.
Wolf Petroleum: Quarterly Activities Report
Wolf Petroleum has been awarded as "The 2013 Operator of the Year" by the Ministry of Mining and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia for its exploration results on SB block.
Ø Completion of 450km 2D seismic programme on the SB block.
Ø Completion of geochemical analysis with identification of light oil seeps.
Ø Awarded as "The 2013 Operator of The Year" by Ministry of Mining and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia.
Wolf Petroleum Limited (ASX: WOF) is extremely pleased with the exploration results for 2013 and is planning another active programme for 2014.
The Company has successfully submitted its 2014 exploration plans to the Government of Mongolia.
A$2.1 million cash at end of Q. HAR last traded 6.5c.
Haranga Resources: DECEMBER 2013 QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES REPORT
January 31 -- Haranga Resources Limited ("the Company," ASX:HAR) is pleased to report on its activities for December 2013 Quarter. Important progresses were made over the quarter on the development of the Company's flagship Selenge iron ore project ("the Project").
Ø The Company's 80% owned Mongolian subsidiary Haranga Huder LLC, which holds the Mineral Exploration License ("MEL") for the Project, was successfully awarded a Pre-Mining Agreement with the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia.
Ø Under this agreement the Company is allowed to construct a mine after completion and submittal of a Feasibility Study together with a Mine Design.
Ø The Company is in the final stage of scrutinising the scope of the pilot scale metallurgical test. An independent expert is hired to ensure a successful completion of the test.
Ø As part of the Project Feasibility Study, the pilot scale metallurgical test will be commenced in coming weeks after the samples are delivered in Western Australia.
Ø The Environmental Baseline Study of the Project has been successfully reviewed by the Ministry of Environment and Green Development ("MEGD") of Mongolia. Based on this, MEGD approved the Company further to complete a Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment. This is also the important step towards obtaining a Mining License.
A$866K cash at end of Q. VOR traded flat at 0.4c on Friday.
Voyager Resources: DECEMBER 2013 QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES REPORT
January 31, Voyager Resources Ltd (ASX:VOR) --
Ø The process of transferring the property portfolio from Xstrata Do Brasil Exploração Mineral Ltda, ("Glencore Xstrata") to Voyager Resources Limited is proceeding well.
Ø Pursuant to the Strategic Alliance Agreement with FFA Legal LTDA, ("FFA Legal"), the Company issued 20,000,000 Voyager shares to FFA Legal for the successful transfer of the Primavera license.
Ø The application for the mining license at the Khongor Copper Gold Deposit is ongoing and completion is expected in the first quarter of 2014
Ø The Company continues to actively seek joint venture partners for it's Khul Morit Copper Project and it's Daltiin Ovor Copper Gold Project.
Eumeralla Resources pinpoints new gold target at Ovoot tungsten project, Mongolia
January 31 (Proactive Investors) Eumeralla Resources (ASX: EUM) has identified a new gold target and several chargeability anomalies after completing geophysical surveying and rock chip sampling at its Ovoot tungsten project in Mongolia.
In the northern part of the licence, a relatively high chargeability and resistivity anomaly extending to depth occurs 400 metres, and coincident with a rock chip sample of 1.4 grams per tonne gold.
Based on these observations it is possible that the chargeability anomaly is related to a gold-bearing structure with resistive wallrock alteration.
During 2013, the company mapped the licence area, and collected 311 rock chip samples. The surface mapping and sampling results outlined 9 promising targets, with combinations of gold, copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum and tungsten.
This prompted Eumeralla to conduct an induced polarisation survey, which identified 18 chargeability anomalies, up to 1 kilometre by 1 kilometre in size, possibly related to hydrothermal sulphide mineralisation.
Detailed rock chip and soil sampling is planned during 2014 to confirm the cause of the chargeability anomalies and style of mineralization, with collection of stream silt samples from drainages.
This work is in order to refine locations for further induced polarisation surveys.
In addition, the company currently has an application pending in Myanmar for a tin and tungsten concession.
General Mining Corp. Proceeds with Shutdown of Mongolian Operations – Quarterly
January 31, General Mining Corp. Ltd. (ASX:GMM) –
Mongolia - Uvs Basin Projects (Coal, potash & lithium - GMM 100%)
During the quarter the Company proceeded with the shutdown of the Mongolian operations
MOU traded flat at 0.4c on Friday. A$260K cash at end of Q.
Modun Resources: December 2013 Quarterly Report
January 31, Modun Resources Ltd (ASX:MOU) --
· Mongolian feasibility study on the Nuurst Project approved by Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia (MRAM)
· Negotiations for the Off-take Agreement with the Mongolian Government for the supply of coal briquettes are on-going
· Corporate restructure to reduce costs
A$5 million cash at end of Q. AKM closed +4.35% to 4.8c
Aspire Mining: QUARTERLY REPORT, Quarter Ended 31 December 2013
January 31 -- During the Quarter, Aspire Mining Ltd (ASX:AKM) continued to make progress towards the commercial development of its Ovoot Coking Coal Project and Ovoot – Erdenet Railway. Highlights include:
· Detailed mine re-scheduling undertaken. Revised Mine Plan sees reduction in operating costs in first two years of production.
o Forecast cash costs FOR China border now fallen to US$76-US$86 (from US$83-US$93) per tonne for the first two years of production.
o Forecast cash cost FOR China border for the first five years of production estimated at US$82–US$92 per tonne.
· Non-binding MOU's signed with Russian customers totalling up to 1.3 Mtpa. Raises total potential sales covered by Non-Binding MOU's for the Ovoot Coking Coal Project to 6.9 Mtpa.
· Russian rail and port capacity identified to deliver coal to Nakhodka port.
o Non-binding MOU signed totalling up to 2 Mtpa of rail and port capacity for delivery of Ovoot coking coal to the Nakhodka seaport; and
o Total port capacity signed under non-binding MOUs now total up to 6 Mtpa through Russian Far East and Black Sea ports.
· Mongolia agrees to act as transport corridor between Russia and China to increase trade flows between the two countries. Significant upgrade in capacity to Trans Mongolian Railway forecast by Russian Railways by 2016.
o Russian, Mongolian and Chinese rail representatives formerly agree on 19 December 2013 to an MOU to jointly complete feasibility studies and discuss funding arrangements for the Trans-Mongolian Railway upgrade.
o Staged development targeting a 100 Mtpa rail connection by 2018.
· New Mongolian Investment Law enacted on 1 November 2013 provides certainty and incentives for both foreign and domestic investors.
A$12.8 million cash at end of Q. GUF closed flat at 9.3c
Guildford Coal: Quarterly Activities Report
January 31, Guildford Coal Ltd. (ASX:GUF) --
Guildford Coal has advanced the development of the Baruun Noyon Uul (BNU) mine of the South Gobi project in Mongolia, as it continues the process of moving from explorer to operator. A new senior management team has evolved to manage this transition, emphasising the skills required by the Company.
Terra Energy LLC has undergone the formal process of commissioning the BNU mine project and confirmation from the Ministry of Mining is imminent. Terra Energy is also actively seeking permission to commence coal transport to the distribution hub at Ceke, China.
Pre-mining activities at South-Gobi continued during the quarter with a focus on the BNU mine development. This included:
· Completion of a comprehensive core hole drilling program across the BNU resource, including preparation for upgrading the current MRAM resource.
· The removal of overburden, extraction and stockpiling of coal. The larger mining equipment was commissioned.
· Progressive excavation of the boxcut to expose coal in preparation for production ramp up in Q1 2014.
· Further customer visits were conducted in the Quarter along with coal sales marketing activities and sales agreement negotiations.
· Infrastructure required for the initial phase of mining was established including ROM, weighbridge infrastructure, foundations and building structures for the heavy equipment workshop. The onsite coal testing laboratory was also commissioned.
· The first phase of the coal haul road construction was completed connecting the mine via a 98km haulage road to the Nariin Sukhait transport hub.
Cash and Financing
· Group cash, at the end of the quarter totaled $12.8m (prior quarter $8.7m).
· Additional financing facilities with Noble, totaling US$22.0m, were completed during the quarter and drawn down.
· Total financing facilities available and drawn at the end of the quarter totaled US$42.0m and $39.4m.
· 20.0m fully paid Ordinary Shares have been issued in payment of the final deferred consideration for the acquisition of the remaining 25% of Terra Energy Limited.
A$655K cash at end of Q. PML closed +0.3c to 3c.
Parmelia Resources: QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES REPORT
January 31, Parmelia Resources Ltd. (ASX:PML) --
· Completed 2020m of phase 1 scout drilling at the Darvii Naruu project in Govi Altai province western Mongolia.
· Analyses of drill and surface samples returned mineralised intersections from Mushroom Reef prospect of 16 m @ 1.01 g/t Au, including 8 metres at 1.87 g/t Au and 1.7% Zn. In addition further high grade Cu mineralisation identified at surface from Anomaly 13, with 19.5% Cu and 9.4% Cu identified in outcrop.
· Completed Petrological study of the drill chips which suggests the pyritic altered zones intersected at Mushroom Reef possibly represent a peripheral alteration zone of a Cu-Au porphyry system.
· The Company held it its annual General meeting on 7th November 2013.
· The Company changed its name from Sentosa Mining Ltd to Parmelia Resources Ltd.
A$186K cash at end of Q. NRU closed +0.1c to 0.6c on Friday.
Newera Resources: QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES REPORT
January 31 -- Newera Resources Limited (ASX: NRU) is pleased to provide the following report on its activities for the December quarter 2013:
HIGHLIGHTS – Ulaan Tolgoi Project:
· Newera reports that during the period it completed a Mini Sosie seismic survey along 6 lines, designated Lines A, B, C, D, E, and F, within the Ulaan Tolgoi project licence. The survey commenced with Line B.
· Consistent, thick, gently folded seismic reflectors interpreted to exist within the late Permian strata underlying seismic lines A, B, D, E and F.
· In the opinion of Logantek, the reflectors are considered to be consistent with seismic reflectors from previous coal discoveries in the South Gobi basin, indicating a very good potential for coal. The South Gobi basin is recognised worldwide for its potential to produce very large coking coal deposits such as the Tavan Tolgoi deposit.
· In preparation for drilling, Newera have now been granted all approvals required to commence drilling and a drill rig has been transported to within close proximity to the Ulaan Tolgoi licence.
· Newera has a right to earn a 51% interest in the Mongolian company holding the Ulaan Tolgoi project as its only asset. Newera anticipates that by the time drilling commences at Ulaan Tolgoi, Newera will have earned its 51% interest in the holding company.
BoM MNT Rates: January 30 Close
January MNT Chart:
Made in Mongolia to upgrade steppe economy
By Jacopo Dettoni
January 31 (FT beyondbrics) "Made in Mongolia" trolleybuses bump along Peace Avenue, Ulan Bator's main east-west axis, alternating lousy braking with sudden acceleration. Most of their major components have been imported from abroad and the buses are only assembled locally. Still, they embody the ambition of local authorities to develop Mongolian industry.
"Before, we were thinking of importing everything. But things have been changing and today Mongolians can produce themselves, even buses," said president Tsakhia Elbegdorj during the inauguration of a new bus assembly line in Ulan Bator few weeks ago.
Better known for its nomadic people and untouched steppe, Mongolia has never been a manufacturing centre. National hero Genghis Khan waged war against the richer kingdoms lying south of the Gobi desert, enticed by the flow of goods along the ancient Silk Road, most of which were unknown to the Mongol tribes of the steppe.
Mongolia still imports most of the goods it needs. Its exports are almost exclusively the raw fruit of its booming mining industry, which command prices much lower than finished goods. In 2013, the country's trade deficit was $2.08bn and its current account was equal to almost 30 per cent of GDP, the highest in Asia, according to the World Bank.
Facing such imbalances, the government is trying to shift its focus beyond the mining sector to diversify the economy and reduce its vulnerability to external shocks. Some 1,000bn tugriks ($540m) have been pledged to back export-oriented production and make 2014 the "Year of Made in Mongolia".
But with a population of just 2.9m people and close neighbours that include the global industrial powerhouses of China, South Korea and Japan, it does not make much apparent sense for Mongolia to develop a large manufacturing base.
"Export development is constrained by comparatively high costs for skilled labour and weak value chains in some industries," Jan Hansen, the Asian Development Bank's senior country economist, told beyondbrics. In other words, Chinese machinery, South Korean electronics and Japanese vehicles will outmarket Mongolian goods in almost any circumstances.
To make things worse, Mongolia faces the classic symptoms of Dutch disease: as resource exports rise, so too will the value of its currency, driving down competitiveness in other sectors.
But there is one industrial sector that offers hope: Mongolia has plenty of room for upgrading the value of its animal husbandry, which so far has little presence on international markets.
"The elevator for Mongolia's industrial strategy is through developing premium priced exports linked by an overall marketing proposition," says Stephen Kreppel, director of the national marketing office, who is drafting a marketing strategy to counter Mongolia's heavy reliance on mining exports.
Mongolia's untouched steppe has been a perfect setting for generations of nomadic herders and their animals. Today, the country boasts one of the world's largest endowments of livestocks, with 45m head of sheep, goats, cattle, horses and camels. If production processes were able to preserve the uniqueness of its animal husbandry – not yet the case by any means – Mongolian meat, cashmere, wool and diary products would have the potential to reach wealthy consumers in China, central Asia and the west, commanding premium prices, Kreppel believes.
As local businesses work on coming up with a premium Made in Mongolia brand, the mining industry also has the chance to upgrade its processes. Today, raw copper, iron ore and coking coal are shipped to China, only to be bought back as refined copper products and steel. Authorities hope the planned Sainshand Industrial complex will change this. Located between the mines Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi and the oil fields in Mongolia's eastern provinces, the complex entails the construction of an oil refinery, a copper smelting plant, a construction material factory and a steel and metallurgical plant. Total investments are expected to reach $10bn, according to a feasibility study by US engineering firm Bechtel – itself a big challenge for a $12bn economy.
Mongolian steel bars or premium cashmeres will not hit the international markets any time soon. But today the government has the chance to express its leadership through a comprehensive industrial vision – or perhaps clumsy trolleybuses will remain the sole legacy of the Made in Mongolia dream.
Investing in Mongolia … Yes, Mongolia
Mongolia is expected to have the fastest-growing economy in 2014
January 31 (InvestorPlace) On the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, a nomadic family of herders is sitting outside their ger (the family tent commonly called a "yurt" in the West) watching Bloomberg TV… on a high-definition flat-screen television powered by a mobile solar generator and a satellite dish.
Only in Mongolia.
As Harris Kupperman, President of Miami-based hedge fund Praetorian Capital, steps inside the ger, the head of the house — smartphone in hand — asks: "Mr. Kupperman, you're a money man. I've been watching the news about the crisis in the eurozone. How do you see this affecting the price of my cashmere?"
This particular blend of sophistication and simplicity is a mixture you will find — again — only in Mongolia.
Though it is far off the beaten path of most investors, Mongolia has quietly emerged as the fastest-growing economy in the world. In 2014, the Mongolian economy is expected to grow by a blistering 15.3%, and the IMF expects it to be the fastest-growing economy in the world over the next decade.
If you haven't heard about the Mongolian growth story, there is a good reason. Despite its recent growth, Mongolia's GDP is only around $11 billion. To put that in perspective, the economy of West Virginia is roughly six times as large. And Mongolia, despite its enormous size (more than double the size of Texas), has a population of only about 2.8 million people — roughly 30% of whom still live a nomadic or seminomadic lifestyle.
Yet a surprising 70% of Mongolian nomads have access to electricity and communications. And given Mongolia's richness in natural resources — Marc Faber called Mongolia the "Saudi Arabia of Asia" — and its strategic location next to China, the worlds' most rapacious consumer of natural resources, there is every reason to believe that the boom is sustainable.
Kupperman, who in addition to his responsibilities at Praetorian Capital also serves as Chairman and CEO of Mongolia Growth Group (MNGGF), was gracious enough to sit down with me for a Skype interview from his office in Ulaanbaatar. Here are some of the highlights:
Q: Thanks for taking the time, Harris. I want to start with the most obvious question: Why Mongolia?
A: One word: growth. In the developed markets, we're lucky to get 1%-2% GDP growth in a year. In Mongolia, we see that in a month. But unlike some of the other high-growth markets out there — think Iraq or Libya — Mongolia is actually safe and politically stable, and the people are very welcoming to foreigners. There is roughly $2 trillion of mining commodities in the ground, and this could easily be a $100-billion economy by 2025. We're simply looking to put our capital in front of that growth.
Q: As far back as 2003, when he published Adventure Capitalist, Jim Rogers spoke of "digital Mongolia" and noted that Mongolia was leapfrogging legacy technology — things like power and phone lines — and jumping directly into the digital era. What has your experience been?
A: I find that the internet works when the electricity works. [Laughs.] No, in all seriousness, I rarely have problems here. The internet speeds are generally a lot faster than what I get in Miami … and this in a country with few paved roads. I've been very impressed by how quickly Mongolians adapt to new technology. Remember, this was a very simple pastoral economy just a few years ago, but today herders have access to real-time market data via smartphones. In the past, a herder had very little negotiating power with the middlemen that bought their cashmere and sold it on international markets. The trader had a big informational advantage, and the herder generally had to take whatever price was offered. But today, the herders have access to the same information as the traders.
Q: What about China? Are you concerned about China's slowing growth and what that might mean for Mongolia?
A: I'm not that concerned. Sure, Chinese growth is slowing. But it's still growing at a phenomenal rate for an economy of its size, and, frankly, the Chinese government can't afford to let the growth story fall apart. The Chinese boom will last longer than just about anyone today thinks possible. There will be ups and downs, of course, and the double-digit growth is probably gone forever. But I think the broader China growth story still has another several decades before it really hits a wall.
Q: You've convinced me on the Mongolia growth story. Now, how to you plan to profit from it? Mongolian equities?
A: Well, you could buy Mongolian equities. But remember, this is a frontier market in the very early stages of development, and securities regulation is still very new here. And liquidity isn't exactly what most American investors would be accustomed to. Believe it or not, real estate is actually a lot more liquid than equities here. The trading volume in Mongolian stocks can be as small as $50,000 to $100,000 per day. And that is not for a particular Mongolian stock, that is for the entire Mongolian stock market. In our view, real estate is the best and most conservative way to play the Mongolia growth story.
Q: And how does Mongolia Growth Group invest in Mongolian real estate? What does your portfolio look like?
A: Our primary strategy is to buy retail properties located along the capital's main avenue. As Mongolia develops, its economy will get more sophisticated, and rents will inevitably rise. We're looking to profit from that transformation of a store front from a noodle shop to an Armani store, if you will. We also invest in office properties. But we find that retail gives us the best prospects for large rent increases. And that is the real investment story here.
The Smart Way to Play Real Estate
Real estate investors have a nasty tendency to get overleveraged. That's fine — so long as property prices are rising. But whenever there is a setback, they find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to sell assets at distressed prices. And perhaps worse, their capital dries up at precisely the time that bargains abound and you would want to put new cash to work.
Having lived in Miami through the 2008-2009 washout, Kupperman has seen firsthand how devastating it can be to be overleveraged in real estate. So, unlike virtually all property investors, he has kept his Mongolia Growth Group debt free. And in fact, as of the company's latest filings, it has about 15% of its book value in cold, hard cash — ready to pounce if the opportunity comes around.
Kupperman also "eats his own cooking," which is something I like to see. He personally owns about 15% of the company, and management collectively owns about a third. And like Kinder Morgan's (KMI) Richard Kinder, Kupperman does not take a salary for his work. He only makes money if his investors do — via long-term capital appreciation.
Should You Invest in Mongolia?
Mongolia Growth Group is too small and thinly traded for me to officially recommend, as its market cap is only about $60 million. It's also something of a falling knife at the moment, down more than 60% from its 52-week highs.
Still, for the speculative part of your portfolio — that part of the portfolio where you invest in your off-the-wall ideas with the biggest profit potential — I would say that Mongolia Growth Group deserves serious consideration.
Just remember, if you do buy, use a limit order. And given that any investment in Mongolia should be considered a long-term speculation, don't invest any funds you couldn't afford to do without for the next five to ten years or more.
And finally, don't try to call the exact bottom here. Wait for the current bout of frontier market volatility to pass, and only buy the shares once they appear to have resumed an uptrend.
'Samurai' Bonds Lack Clarity
by Brian White
February 1 (The Mongolist) According to local news reports, the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) received just over JY24 billion (USD230 million) in "Samurai" Bond proceeds from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) in the first week of January.1 The face value of the 10 year bonds was JY30 billion with an annual interest rate of 1.52 percent.2,3 The "Samurai" Bond has been a topic of conversation in Mongolia since the Prime Minister announced an agreement between the Mongolian and Japanese governments to issue the bonds back in September.4 Although there has been a lot of conversation, it has been difficult to get clarity about the terms and conditions of the agreement between the DBM and JBIC and how the proceeds from the bonds will actually be used.
I conducted a custom Google search on the websites of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economic Development, and DBM using the term "самурай бонд" (samurai bond) looking for official press releases regarding the bond issue.5 Nothing came up (as of January 31st) except one line on the DBM website: "The DBM and JBIC have successfully issued JY30 billion bonds."6 A general Google search on the term "самурай бонд" restricted to the past month brings up hundreds of pages (mostly news reports), but examples of officials going on record to describe the bonds are rarer. On January 23rd the Prime Minister described the general outlines of the deal, consistent with the paragraph above, in his weekly press briefing, and the President of the DBM gave an interview saying much the same thing with a few additional details such as the funds being held in Khan Bank and TDB Bank savings accounts.7
As with the Chinggis Bonds, a theme in the local coverage of the "Samurai" Bonds has been whether the interest rate is good or bad. One report suggests that because the DBM only received JY24 billion of the JY30 billion issue, with the JBIC taking the difference in fees, the actual interest rate is not 1.52 percent but more like 4 percent, suggesting this is a bad thing.8 I always find arguments about absolute, rather than net, borrowing costs somewhat mystifying. If you can invest the funds in something that will generate a return sufficiently greater than the cost of borrowing, the asset will pay for itself. Surely there are projects in Mongolia that can do better than a 4 percent return a year if you can get 4.6 percent, for example, just by plopping the money in a CD at a local commercial bank?9 Surprisingly in a country with a very poor credit rating and where loans for individuals start at around 20 percent annual interest with 20-40 percent down,10 the reported terms of borrowing for the "Samurai" Bonds are considered "bad." Perhaps it's because there is a lack of faith that the funds will actually be utilized to purchase assets that will generate a sufficient net return.
To generate a net return, the money needs to be invested in long-term, income generating assets rather than utilized for short-term consumption such as defending the already weakened tugrik. There is some speculation that the funds will go towards developing some aspect of Tavan Tolgoi11 or building an oil refinery in Darkhan, among other infrastructure projects,12 but it would be wrong to call it more than speculation at this point. The lack of policy clarity is troubling. The Chinggis Bonds were issued with very little direction for how they would be spent (see here), and over a year later the major accomplishment of the government using the money, some commentators have critically noted, has been building new intersections in Ulaanbaatar.13
There is growing criticism of the government mishandling the use of bond proceeds and playing fast and loose with the country's credit worthiness--not to mention whether the cabinet has violated the Fiscal Stability Law debt limits--but so far the criticism seems to be producing very little political pressure to provide clarity and ultimately to demonstrate some accountability for the "Samurai" Bonds.
How to Hold Miners -- And the Governments They Work With -- Accountable
January 29 (Foreign Affairs) For the world's mining industry, the past few years have been turbulent. Politicians, citizens, workers, and stakeholders all want a greater share of the profits, and mining companies have seen national governments raise taxes and demand the renegotiation of contracts on more favorable terms. Some governments, including that of South Africa, have even considered nationalizing mines outright.
One reason for the friction is that mines in rich countries have become increasingly depleted, making miners more reliant on deposits in less developed countries. That entails significantly more risk; poorer countries are precisely the places in which the potential for corruption and resource nationalization is greatest.
Another reason is that commodity prices have soared. Even after a drop this year, prices for many metals, minerals, and gems are still roughly double what they were ten years ago, and profits have risen accordingly. The world's 40 largest mining firms brought in about $500 billion in 2012, compared to $100 billion in 2002, according to a study by the think tank Chatham House. Yet many host governments never anticipated such a rise in mining revenue when they initially negotiated contracts years or decades ago. They claim that most of the windfall has bypassed them, and that might be true -- there is so little public information available about how much governments really get on average, and therefore it's often impossible to determine what constitutes a good deal. Further, without good data, all sides are prone to suspicion, frustration, and -- quite often -- disputes that eventually kill investments and thwart development.
But the fog of secrecy might be lifting. Resource-rich countries are increasingly looking to consultants, advocacy groups, and development agencies to help them negotiate with miners from a more informed position. And miners are doing the same in the hope of avoiding the conflicts that have plagued them in the last few years. The upshot is that, over the next few years, the resource-extraction industry, and mining in particular, will become more transparent than ever. Mining firms will probably see less profit, and poor and middle-income resource countries will get more. That can go toward addressing their populations' basic needs and speeding up development -- or it can be lost to corruption.
In 2011 -- before the first ounce of copper or gold was extracted from the mine -- Mongolia became the world's fastest-growing economy, thanks to the work of building the mine and the infrastructure around it.
Calls for transparency in the mining industry are nothing new. Initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Publish What You Pay (PWYP), both of which were established to push for disclosure in mining and energy, are each roughly a decade old. Advocacy groups began by pushing miners and governments to disclose financial flows between them, but that didn't force a major change. Some of the world's most corrupt politicians have signed on to voluntary disclosure regimes, accepted praise and additional aid from the developed world as a reward, and then simply carried on with graft and theft. Now, however, advocates are looking to collect more details. They want contract terms disclosed, for example, and instead of detailing the lump sums of financial flows they want the information separated by payment. Eventually, as the details pile up, industry watchers hope that they can monitor specific mines to see if contracts are adhered to, and can spot corruption and other problems much faster.
In this effort, advocates are aided by new laws in several rich countries that aim to promote financial stability and combat corruption and tax sheltering. These include the United Kingdom's Bribery Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. If applied as intended, these laws will hold domestic companies responsible for misbehaviors abroad and force them to disclose payments made to foreign companies.
Mongolia is a good case study of the potential impact of transparency. In 2009, the country signed an investment agreement with Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest mining firm, to extract metals from Oyu Tolgoi, a major deposit of copper and gold. When Mongolia signed the deal, it had few working mines and a turbulent history with foreign investment. The country also lacked the roads, rail lines, and shipping infrastructure needed to reach buyers. In short, Rio Tinto took a big risk and expected a commensurate payoff.
In 2011 -- before the first ounce of copper or gold was extracted from the mine -- Mongolia became the world's fastest-growing economy, thanks to the work of building the mine and the infrastructure around it. Either suspicious that they had undervalued the deal or thinking that they could squeeze more money out of Rio Tinto, the country's politicians decided that they wanted to renegotiate the agreement. They spent a year trying to do so, but Rio Tinto refused to budge. The effort scared off many other investors, who feared that any contracts they might sign with the Mongolian government would quickly be broken.
Faced with such a scenario in the past, mining firms have offered up a little more of the profits to host governments or helped politicians find other ways of claiming victory or saving face, such as by increasing social spending and community service. But others believe that showing flexibility could open the floodgates for more handouts and side arrangements in the future. Rio Tinto decided to take its case directly to the Mongolian people. It plastered billboard ads around Ulaanbaatar, the capital, that cited an IMF calculation positing that the Mongolian government would receive between 55 percent and 71 percent of the total take from the mine. But average Mongolians had no way of knowing whether that was a good deal. They had nothing to compare those numbers to.
The Mongolians aren't alone: there is no rule of thumb or comprehensive database of global profit splits currently available in the public domain. Most mining companies and analysts say that mines can't accurately be compared to one another because there are too many variables -- the quality of the resource, local costs, transportation costs, and other factors. But with enough time and persistence, a rough measure can, in fact, be determined. In 2010, the Swiss financial-services firm UBS pegged the global average effective tax rate for mining at 40 percent. In other words, after all costs to build and run the mine are taken out, governments get about 40 percent of what is left over, in the form of licensing fees, royalty payments, and various taxes and other charges paid to the state. A 2013 report by Goldman Sachs put the global average at 39 percent. As the Goldman report noted, that is a much better deal for miners than the industry average of 53 percent for oil and gas production. In 2012, the IMF studied the issue and concluded that mining agreements are most likely to be honored by both sides if the government gets between 40 percent and 60 percent of the profits.
So, on paper at least -- and without delving into the question of whether agreements based on such parameters are always faithfully implemented -- it does seem as if Mongolia should have been happy with its 55 percent. But anyone looking at Rio's billboards that autumn had little chance of understanding that. At any rate, the standoff between Mongolia's government, its population, and Rio Tinto continued. Although the mine began operating in 2013, Rio Tinto remains undecided about whether it still wants to develop the mine past the initial phase. Mongolia could end up with less money than it was planning for, and has already started to scale back ambitious development plans.
For some Mongolians, that could be deadly. The country already has problems meeting its citizens' basic needs, and it's desperate for additional revenue. In winter, Ulaanbaatar is one of the world's most polluted cities; a housing shortage has forced people to live in felt tents, burn coal to stay warm, and bury their waste close to the town's main water supply. Foreign investment could have helped Mongolia pay to fix these problems.
FAIR IS FAIR
Publicizing cash flows could insulate mining firms from accusations from corrupt or grandstanding politicians, and could tamp down the conspiracy theories that often flourish when poor countries first jump into the global economy.
Within the small group of experts on mining revenues, there is broad agreement that countries should pass laws to establish rules and tax regimes for all resource projects, rather than negotiating each new project as a separate deal. But such experts disagree about other issues. One debate concerns whether tax regimes should be designed to maximize potential revenue (which the IMF favors) or simplified so that countries can effectively enforce contract terms (which the George Soros–funded Revenue Watch Institute advocates).
For those focused on how to find fair value in mining, some agree with the effectiveness of the 40-60 split, whereas others believe it squeezes too many variables into one formula. Still others argue that a profit split is the wrong way to think about the issue. Miners, they say, should be offered only what's necessary to prevent them from abandoning the project, which could be far less than 60 percent of the profits. But with more countries hiring consultants and comparing notes, that idea could prove moot. If a going rate is established -- in other words, if the market becomes transparent -- then fewer parties on either side are likely to insist on more or settle for less. The risk of pride and ego intervening at the negotiation table would diminish.
Although it is generally assumed that mining companies will take home less profit if transparency does create more accountability, miners can also benefit from disclosure. Publicizing cash flows could insulate them from accusations from corrupt or grandstanding politicians, and could tamp down the conspiracy theories that often flourish when poor countries first jump into the global economy. And that is why miners and energy producers alike are funding transparency efforts themselves. Rio Tinto, for example, posted the investment agreement for Oyu Tolgoi online. And extraction companies are a major source of funding for EITI. According to the group's Web site, 55 percent of the organization's 2012 budget of $3.7 million came from resource companies and their shareholders. Since the group's primary task is to compare what miners say they pay to governments with what governments say they get from resource-extraction companies, the participation of businesses is a must. Miners are also increasingly participating in discussions with governments and locals affected by mines. Examples include Canada's miner-financed Devonshire Initiative, which provides a platform for miners, governments, and communities in developing countries to resolve problems associated with mining projects.
Resource companies' support for the transparency agenda is not unlimited, however: in 2013, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute, and two other groups successfully sued the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to nullify a part of Dodd-Frank that would have forced them to disclose payments to foreign governments exceeding $100,000.
COUNT ON ACCOUNTABILITY
Will all this eventually result in smoother relations between miners and host countries and the better use of revenue by host governments? Disclosure is, of course, no guarantee of change -- people in resource-rich countries have to figure out what information is available and how to put it to use. In Mongolia, three years after the Oyu Tolgoi agreement was signed, many (including business executives and public servants) were surprised to learn that the document was available online. And if Mongolia's experience demonstrates the need for transparency, Nigeria's suggests that transparency isn't enough. In 2003, its government pledged to implement EITI rules. By 2009, Nigeria was declared compliant with them, despite remaining one of the world's most famously corrupt countries and despite most Nigerians remaining ignorant of the EITI data now available. Guinea is a similar case: it is among a handful of countries that has pledged to publish all mining contracts online through a website (www.resourcecontracts.org) recently created by Revenue Watch and several development-sector partners. But corruption has continued, and Guinea remains close to Nigeria on rankings such as Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. In the 2013 list they placed 144 and 150, respectively, among 177 countries and territories.
In short, transparency hasn't yet created accountability. The world will have to wait for that next step as the information available becomes more comprehensive. The EITI now encourages reporting on a mine-by-mine basis (rather than for the sector as a whole) but does not mandate it. But when it and others manage to procure enough mine-by-mine data it will be possible to track whether contract terms are being enforced and to spot the common ways in which taxes are dodged. That would help close loopholes, train tax collectors, and address any other problems that prevent the sector from operating smoothly.
It's clear how transparency can help governments can do a better job holding miners accountable, but what about citizens demanding better from their leaders? Even among the most educated citizens in the richest countries, political debate is not necessarily grounded in truth. The transparency movement is clearly good news, but there will be many more obstacles to overcome before it pays off.
Ulaanbaatar's 10 Best Cultural Restaurants: Beyond Mongolia's Nomadic Cuisine
-- (Culture Tip) -- Due to its harsh climate, mountainous topography and historically nomadic lifestyle, Mongolian cuisine is known for its heavy, meat- and dairy-based dishes. Traditional recipes like Mongolian-style barbecued meats and meat-filled dumplings are still widely popular with tourists, but Mongolia's culinary tradition is multifaceted; restaurants in Ulaanbaatar cater to all palates and diets, with a wide range of western and Asian food on offer.
Altai Mongolian Grill
Turning Point Café
Grand Khan Irish Pub
MoU signed between Nepal and Mongolia on business promotion
KATHMANDU, Feb 1 (Repubica) A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been reached between Nepal and Mongolia to promote business and investment at the non-government level.
A MoU in this regard was signed by visiting representatives of the Arliyanhath Shendiyan Import and Export Trading Company Ms Naratasetseg Bolorma and Naratsetseg Gaanbatar and representatives of Smriddhi Bio Engineering Private Limtied, Safa Chuarsi Byanjan Private Limited, Energy Link Private Limited and Everest Energy Cooperative Limited Hem Bahadur Bista, Suraj Giri, Tek Prasad Chaulagain and Bikram Bista respectively.
The Company is based in Ullanbator, the capital of Mongolia. The Company is also running a large super store in Ullanbator from coming July 2014.
An agreement has also been reach to set up a Nepal centre at the super store.
SDC: Efforts on citizens' participation in decision making move forward
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 22, 2014 (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) -- "Mongolia's progress in the past few years in strengthening civic engagement has been remarkable. Citizens' participation now has a real meaning in Mongolia with the introduction of the Local Development Fund (LDF). The introduction of the LDF provides citizens with the possibility to influence decisions about priority investments at the local level," said SDC's Deputy Director of Cooperation Diepak Elmer in his opening remarks at the Planning Workshop organised by the Office of the President and the Asia Foundation, its implementing partner for the Fostering Civic Engagement at Sub-National Level (FOCE) Project.
The purpose of the workshop was to present the project's fifteen months work plan to key stakeholders and develop action plans for the pilot sites for the duration of the project.
Presentations were made on the Draft National Action Plan for Citizens' Participation and the alignment of the project's activities with this Plan, which is presently under discussion in Parliament. Mr. L. Dashdorj, Citizen's Participation and Economic Advisor to the President, disclosed that the Office of the President has budgeted 450 million MNT to support civic participation in 2014.
Fourteen local leaders from the projects' seven pilot soums/khoroos gathered at the workshop, bringing their experiences in testing different ways to enhance the voice of citizens in decisions affecting their daily lives, as well as the challenges they faced.
"The group who is here today consists of the pioneers in this new era of Mongolia's development. Last September I was in Jargalant soum of Khovd aimag and I was impressed with the achievements I saw resulting from civic engagement" said Mr. Elmer. "I was impressed because last year was the first time that LDF was implemented through civic engagement and already now citizens have experienced real benefits."
The FOCE project supports efforts by the Office of the President to promote sub-national urban and rural governments that are democratic, empowered, and accountable to citizens, and which provide services responding to citizens' needs.
The SDC mandated The Asia Foundation for the implementation of the project, which is implemented in 17 selected sites including 14 soums and 3 khoroos of Khan-Uul district in Ulaanbaatar city.
SDC in Mongolia kick-off 2014 highlights gender mainstreaming and better coordination between projects
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 23 January 2014 (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) -- SDC in Mongolia kicked off 2014 with its annual planning workshop, held on 23 January, placing renewed emphasis on gender-mainstreaming. The second important topic of the day was enhancing coordination between projects and across the domains of intervention: Agriculture and Food Security, Governance, Vocational Education and Training and various.
In his opening remarks, SDC's Director of Cooperation Markus Waldvogel recalled Switzerland's commitment to direct democracy, participation from and respect of minorities, gender equality, and sustainable environmental, social and economic development in its partner countries. "These values are the ones specifically enlaced in our daily work, and for 2014 mainstreaming gender equality shall gain momentum, impacting on SDC's work," he said.
SDC has asked its projects to develop and present a gender action plan for 2014 to be reviewed by gender experts in Mongolia, including National Gender Committee Secretary Ms M.Bolormaa.
One of the panellists, Ms. G. Urantsooj, Chairperson of the Centre for Human Rights Development NGO, has repeatedly called for the integration of gender-related public attitudinal and behavioural changes in project and activity outcomes. In order to do this, SDC projects will need to develop gender action plans that anticipate such impacts at the project outcome level, looking beyond simple sex-disaggregated figures of project participants.
Placing a stronger focus on gender led SDC to analyse its photographic archive to determine if projects were exercising gender-sensitivity. An analysis of more than 90 photos featuring more than three people revealed that almost half of the images were male-dominated (more than 80 percent were male participants); a quarter of the photos equally represented both women and men. Photos speak louder than words, and this exercise served to encourage projects to be more gender-sensitive in their future activities.
Better coordination between projects
As a result of the workshop, SDC project managers and staff were able to outline several possible inter-domain joint activities, and participants' knowledge of the work of other projects was enhanced.
"We are often too busy looking at our own projects," said Ms P. Lkham from the UNDP Capacity Strengthening for the Local Self-Governing Bodies project. "However, today I saw the bigger picture of how we are contributing to greater development work by SDC in Mongolia.
Our project planned a joint environmental monitoring with the SDC's Engaging Stakeholders in the Environmental Conservation Project and the Sustainable Artisanal Mining Project. There will also be a joint training with the SDC's Fostering Civic Engagement Project on citizens' participation for the Local Citizens' Representative Khural members with an aim to improve their oversight functions. We all know the strengthened local khurals can serve for better local people lives."
'Green Gold' helps herders develop better land-management plans
Ulaanbaatar, 27.01.2014 (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) - Information and mapping about rangeland potential developed through Ecological Site Description (ESD) studies is helping herders and local authorities to draft sustainable rangeland-management plans.
To assist with the practical application of the ESD, SDC's Green Gold Project, in conjunction with the Agency for Land Affairs, Geodesy and Cartography (ALAGAC) and the Mongolian State University of Agriculture, organised a demonstration workshop on integrating the ESD concept into user-based rangeland-management plans in October 2013 in Undurshireet soum, Tuv aimag.
Undurshireet soum was selected as being represejntative of the dry steppe region, as well as for having a low potential for productivity and reversibility and an excessive livestock population. Eight Pasture-User Groups (PUGs) have been established in the soum to coordinate and regulate local herders' shared access to common seasonal rangelands, with support from Green Gold.
The ESD concept is based on factual ground data and knowledge that defines a site's ecological potential and promotes an understanding of how its ecosystems function, as well as its main drivers and the most suitable land-management practices.
As the following illustration demonstrates, the ESD concept is now a key tool for rangeland-management planning and impact monitoring.
The Green Gold-supported study undertaken by the ALAGAC's ESD team found that rangeland in Undurshireet soum could be classified into four main ecological sites based on different levels of grazing pressure and potential for recovery. The study's findings are now being used by local herders and authorities to develop the soum's 2014 land-management pilot plan, which has been approved by the local Citizens' Representatives Khural.
More than 60 representatives of policymaking bodies (the Land Reform Committee, ALAGAC, and neighbouring soum governments), research institutes (professors and researchers in natural-resource management), the local community (herders and PUG leaders) and funding agencies (UNDP, the Oyu Tolgoi mining company) took part in the workshop.
Undurshireet soum governor Mr. Lkhamsuren highlighted the importance of the workshop: "Due to the drastic changes of the past decades in herd numbers and composition, the impact of overgrazing is becoming more severe, and we need a clear recommendation or tool for proper management. This is a great opportunity that our soum is selected as a pilot soum, and I am encouraging my colleagues to collaborate with the ESD team to make meaningful progress in rangeland and herd management."
Mr. Dorjgochoo, a herder representative and "Tesegt" PUG leader, said of the workshop: "I like this participatory approach for planning because being together with decision-makers and herders from neighbouring PUGs enables us to find a solution for our summer pasture-resting. Next year in the beginning of the growing season, our PUG herders will move to the Berkh PUG area and rest our summer pasture."
One of the key messages to come out of the workshop was that the local herders and PUGs are key players in rangeland management processes, such as planning, implementation and monitoring.
The Jewish World: Mongolia
January 21 (World Jewish Congress) What does it mean to be Jewish in Monglia? Sumaadii Luvsandendev (Mogi: Sant Maral's Sumati), one of the very few Jews living in Mongolia today, has an answer.
Mongolia and New Zealand first countries officially welcomed into Sochi 2014 Olympic Village
February 2 (Inside the Games) - Athletes from Mongolia and New Zealand have become the first to be officially welcomed into the Olympic Village here his morning.
Mongolia: Five facts on the Sochi 2014 Paralympics
February 1 (Paralympic Games) The Asian country's strength will lie in cross-country skiing at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.
• Mongolia has never won a medal at either the Paralympic Winter Games or the Olympic Winter Games.
• Mongolia's strongest Paralympic and Olympic winter sport is cross-country skiing.
• At the Solleftea 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships, Mongolia had two men in the top 25 in the men's cross-country standing 20km event. Ganbold Batmunkh finished 18th and Dugersuren Ganbaatar came 22nd.
• This represented a slight improvement over the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, in which Mongolia had four results between 24th and 30th in cross-country skiing.
• At the Paralympic Summer Games, Mongolia has won one medal – gold to Baatarjav Dambadondog in the men's archery recurve standing competition in 2008.
Mongolian man hoping to get country in ICC member list
February 1 (Business Standard) A Mongolian man is reportedly seeking to get his country's name in the member's list of the International Cricket Council (ICC), with Afghanistan, Nepal and even China taking their chances into the field.
Battulgaa Gombo is the founder, head and sole qualified coach of the Mongolia Amateur Cricket Association, a fledgling organisation consisting of a handful of Mongolians in Melbourne and expatriate Australians, British and Indians in Ulan Bator, and his mission is for Mongolia to field a team in international cricket.
Although his association has no clubs or teams, no ground, runs on donated gear and is scouting for a suitable and affordable block of land in capital Ulan Bator, however, Gombo is undaunted and takes hope from his friend, psychologist and park cricketer Doug Scott, who said that Mongolia is all cricket ground because of its steppes.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, however, ICC officials, although encouraging, have told Gombo to think of it as a 50-year plan, and as such, Gombo and Scott are planning for a joint Australian-Mongolian team to do an exhibition tour of Mongolia later this year.
The report mentioned that Gombo fell under cricket's spell in 2005 when he visited his wife Daariimaa, who was studying at Monash University and saw the tsunami benefit match at the MCG and was entranced, adding that he found it similar to matka, a Russian bat-ball game played by some in his homeland.
Mongolia, cricket's field of dreams
February 1 (Sydney Morning Herald) One of the first things that psychologist and park cricketer Doug Scott noticed about Mongolian teammate Battulgaa Gombo at the crease was that when a ball hit him, he did not flinch. ''They're a nation of herders,'' Scott said. ''They're tough people. Tough and strong.''
Gombo is the founder, head and sole qualified coach of the Mongolia Amateur Cricket Association. It is, to say the most, a fledgling organisation. It consists of a handful of Mongolians in Melbourne and expat Australians, British and Indians in Ulan Bator.
It has some donated gear, but no clubs or teams, nor a ground. It is scouting for a suitable and affordable block of land in Ulan Bator. Scott sees it this way: ''Mongolia is all steppes. The whole country is a cricket ground.''
Gombo's mission is for Mongolia to field a team in international cricket. ICC staff, though encouraging, have told him to think of it as a 50-year plan. Gombo is undaunted. He looks around his region. Some cricket is now played in China, and all of the 'stans have teams, foremost among them Afghanistan, which will play in next year's World Cup.
Gombo fell under cricket's spell in 2005 when his wife, Daariimaa, was studying at Monash University. Visiting, he saw the tsunami benefit match at the MCG and was entranced.
It was similar to matka, a Russian bat-ball game played by some in his homeland, but, to his mind, better.
Moreover, the team aspect appealed. The predominant sports in Mongolia are horse-riding, archery and wrestling, all for individuals. Gombo was himself a national judo champion.
Dimly, he discerned in cricket's complex dynamics, its delicate balance of team and personal ambition, a guide. ''It's sport,'' he said, ''but it's good to teach about life.''
In 2009, the Gombos returned to Melbourne, she to do a PhD. Meantime, Scott - who specialises in suicide prevention - had been to Ulan Bator to run a seminar at the National Centre Against Violence. About 30 per cent of Mongolians are nomads, but in an all-too-familiar tale, drought has forced many into Ulan Bator, swelling it to three times its ideal size, creating ghettos with all their attendant social problems. It struck Scott that a sporting outlet would help.
Through mutual friends at Monash, he met Gombo, who on Christmas Day, 2009, said to him: ''Teach me how to play cricket.'' They went to a nearby park with a tennis ball, and began. They've been playing ever since, formally and informally. Gombo quickly found that cricket met two needs, to fulfil his sporting urge and as an entree to Australian society. ''I like the strategy, the teamwork and the sportsmanship,'' he said. ''And I like playing with friends. It's good for socialising.''
Evidently, Gombo is also a fast learner. Scott described his bowling as ''nippy'' and his batting as replete with ''natural aggression and confidence''. Soon after their first meeting, Scott gave Gombo a copy of Don Bradman's , which he devoured. It was the start not just of an education, but an enculturation. Just this week, he finished a thick biography of Shane Warne. Scott knew that Gombo was fully immersed in cricket during the Boxing Day Test this summer when he heard him and his fast bowling friend Bayar Purevdorj debating the merits of the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Cricket always will be an easier game to play than to deconstruct. Initially, Daariima found it boring, but dutifully came to matches, anyway. Scott recalls a day at Fairfield when the wives of the Mongolians brought exotic food and a festival atmosphere, but were puzzled after a couple of hours because the men were playing. Cricket's timelessness is the aspect Gombo finds hardest to explain to mystified compatriots. ''How many days?'' he mimicked. ''A draw? What's going on?'' In any case, Gombo says his wife now watches cricket on TV with him, and their two children are Australian fans. So, to the cause of MACA. While in Australia, Gombo did a CA coaching course, and he and Scott are pretty sure he is the only accredited cricket coach in Mongolia. Last year, he ran a clinic at secondary school No.34 in Ulan Bator, and was delighted by his reception. Younger Mongolians, their horizons widened by television and the internet, were open to new sports and pastimes, he said.
Soccer and basketball were catching on, of course, but he saw a place for cricket.
He and his family are soon to return to Mongolia, and you suspect the proselytisation of cricket will become, if not his life's work, his lifetime hobby.
Already, he and Scott are planning for a joint Australian-Mongolian team to do an exhibition tour of Mongolia later this year. The loose change trailed over the bar by cricket's grand poohbahs in Dubai this week as they divide among themselves the spoils of the next 10 years would pay for the trip over and over.
That does not bother Gombo. He finds the game enriching in a way they will never understand.
Resolution Signed on Holding First "World Games of Nomads" on September 8-14, 2014 in Kyrgyzstan
Issyk-Kul, January 25 / Kabar / A resolution is signed in Issyk-Kul at the forum "World Games of Nomads". The document was signed by the delegations of Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia and Azerbaijan.
The resolution determines the purpose, a list of games, the conditions of competition, determining the winners, judging, name, date and venue, the participating countries, etc.
The forum World Games of Nomads aims to promote the project World Games of Nomads and strengthen the international and sporting links with foreign countries through competitions. The Games will be held from 8 to 14 September 2014 on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul.
It is expected that sports delegations from Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, the Russian Federation, Moldova and China will come to the competitions.
The World Games of Nomads - is an analogue of the Olympic, Asian and Paralympic Games. This tourist project is aimed at the development of traditional, national games of many nomadic nations.
Mogi: sings better than me. American Dude boasts 4 more songs on his YouTube playlist.
American Dude's Tsagaan Sar (Lunar New Year) Greeting 2014
Ben Torgerson singing Mongolian karaoke song "Nutgiin Zam" (Country/Homeland Road)
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