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Thursday, February 20, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
The Oracle Of Mongolia, Interviewing Mogi
By Jon Springer
February 19 (Forbes Asia) "Mogi" Munkhdul Badral aggregates all the news from around the world about Mongolia every day and puts it out in his Cover Mongolia service via Twitter, the eponymous website and e-mail. He rarely makes comments within his service, but those that he does are insightful and accurate. For some depth on what has transpired in Mongolia this past year and what to expect going forward, here are some insights from the man who knows every piece of news about Mongolia from Mongolia's Olympic Facebook activity ranking to Ulaanbaatar's pollution data to international lawsuits. As someone who covers emerging and frontier markets like Mongolia and someone long several Mongolia stocks including long-dated Turquoise Hills calls, following Cover Mongolia on Twitter is obligatory.
Jon Springer: The new Investment Law, Investment Fund Law and Securities Market Law have done a lot to open up Mongolia's capital markets to foreigners as discussed in an earlier interview with the Mongolian Stock Exchange.
Mogi: These are net positive for Mongolia. The trend began last year when parliament quickly amended the Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law [SEFIL]. Then, the new Investment Law that replaced the SEFIL and the Securities Market Law. All of this has been a step in the right direction. It is helping investor sentiment to bring back foreign investors to Mongolia. Of course, it depends on how well we can implement and promote these laws. The government seems to be on a campaign that they are open for business again, a slogan they are using at every occasion possible.
Springer: It is nice that Mongolia is open for business again, but aren't these the same people who closed it for business by passing laws such as SEFIL back in 2012?
February 19, MIBG --
This week, we look at the only thing that Mongolia focused investors are talking about – the Oyu Tolgoi Phase-2 restarting proposal. We've spoken with a wide range of knowledgeable parties in order to bring you the most qualified perspective possible – including "unofficial" insights from corporate and government representatives, sharing their thoughts on what to expect. Keep in mind, the opinions expressed in this article are not official and do not represent the views, opinions, and statements of the Government of Mongolia, Mongol Bank, Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd, or the Rio Tinto Group.
MIBG is releasing Equity Research on Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TSX:TRQ) this week, those readers interested in receiving access to this coverage please contact us at email@example.com for your free copy.
MIBG Outlook and Scenarios:
Assessing the current situation and reading between the lines of the most recent press releases from Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) and Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi (EOT - Mongolian SOE controlling 34% of OT LLC) we do not believe that an end of February phase-2 financing approval is realistic.
Similarly, we believe that there are significant challenges for the approval to take place before the ultimate deadline of March 31. The GoM is holding their ground in demanding approval of the feasibility study before phase-2 financing approval can be given - stating in their most recent press release that this is likely to take place in Q2. However, inside sources have indicated that the feasibility study could be closer to completion than is expected, which could result in a March 31 approval.
There are two scenarios that we see playing out, (1) the GoM could surprise and step down from their feasibility study demands and approve the financing in the best interest of the economy or (2) Rio Tinto could surprise us by providing a completed feasibility study before the end of March which could then be presented for approval. If one of these two scenarios play out OT and the Mongolian economy will be in a far better position. However, if an approval is not reached by March 31 we see significant downside potential for TRQ's share price.
The official expiration date of the phase-2 financing commitment letters (signed by 15 commercial banks) is March 31st, 2014. However, the EBRD and IFC will likely need OT board resolution by February 26th. These parties represent a possible contribution of up to 900 million USD out of the total 4 billion USD financing package.
Both TRQ and EOT have released their respective announcements regarding the financing. In assessing the official lines from both parties we see a stark difference in messaging and tact. TRQ appears to have taken the position of cautioning investors, warning of the consequences that will result if the financing package is allowed to expire. We believe that this has resulted in downside pressure, contributing to an 8% drop in TRQ shares on the day of the release. In contrast, EOT seemed to re-affirm the GoM's commitment towards OT, avoiding the negative fallout that an expiry could trigger. To us, this suggests that both TRQ and EOT are preparing for the phase-2 financing to extend to the end of March and possibly beyond – requiring the EBRD and IFC to agree to a further extension beyond their February 26th timeline - this will obviously challenge investor sentiment.
The BIG Questions:
There are several outstanding questions that need to be addressed to better understand the current situation and the outlook for the months ahead. These are:
Are we doomed if an agreement on phase-2 financing is not reached by February 26th?
The short answer is no. In speaking with inside sources we have determined that at least one of the largest lenders is willing to extend their February 26 deadline so long as the GoM shows commitment towards the development of phase-2. We feel that this is being done, both publically and privately. EOT continues to strengthen their messaging as expressed in their recent press release and we understand that private meetings are providing further signs of GoM's ongoing support. That said, the end of March is approaching fast and if there is no sign of a deal being reached by this time we see significant downside potential. But, the likelihood of the financing not being approved by March 31 is low.
What are the main issues separating the GoM and Rio Tinto?
An anonymous source has informed us that there are only two items being pushed by Rio Tinto that the GoM cannot accept. These include, (1) project implementation and financing taking place before feasibility study approval by the GoM (which is said to have been 80% completed over a year ago). And, (2) Rio Tinto is demanding a separate stability agreement to be signed by the current Mining Minister and Finance Minister, both of whom were strong opponents to OT prior to joining cabinet but have since become increasingly supportive of the project.
Who will benefit and who will suffer from further delays?
To speak plainly, any group of investors looking to acquire a larger stake in one of the most prospective development stories in the world would benefit from a further sell off in TRQ. Additionally, this situation of uncertainty and secrecy is eerily reminiscent of the months leading up to October 2009 when the OT-IA was first signed.
The Mongolia people, more than any other group, will suffer as a result of further delays. This will come in the form of a further devaluation of the currency and increasing inflation. Extension of negative sentiment from 2012 and 2013 will result in weakening economic activity and a further standoff with foreign investors. That said, trends set last year, including FDI dropping by 50%, the Tugrik (MNT) falling 20% against the USD, and foreign trade activities shrinking by 5% will likely continue.
Does political will to get this done exist?
Considering the negative implications of a non-resolution PM Altankhuyag may have higher than expected political support in resolving the phase-2 financing issues. The economic fallout of the past 18 months has resulted in a revitalization of support for the mining sector and foreign capital from both the GoM and the Mongolian people. The question that many investors are asking is whether there has been enough pain and suffering for the message to stick. We think, yes.
Additionally, with Parliament passing five (5) highly publicized pieces of legislation and policy last year (directed at increasing FDI) we believe that the PM's office will lose public confidence if they cannot reach a deal with its foreign investors – regardless of the contributing factors. Bottom line: politicians need this to happen as much as the Mongolian people do, but they do appear to be holding out for the appropriate steps to be met, which we see as a positive development compared to years past.
In addition to garnering support from the Mongolian public our sources have informed us that the GoM is strengthening its relationship with several groups that hold significant interest in TRQ. This could result in stronger backing for the GoM and may play a role in dictating how phase-2 of the project should be restarted.
Where does Rio Tinto stand in all of this?
Rio Tinto, the majority shareholder of TRQ (50.8%), who owns 67% of OT (Mogi: 66%) has just announced a 15% increase in their dividends from 2013 activities. Assessing various publicly available sources, it appears evident that Rio Tinto had unexpectedly high earnings, reaching 10.2 billion USD. This was mainly realized through cost cutting measures involving a reduction in capital expenditures of approximately 1 billion USD and exploration expenses of 750 million USD.
As is the case for any multinational mining enterprise, Rio Tinto wants to see their resources increases and their pipeline strengthen in order to replace depleting resources. There are a number of highly prospective targets around the globe that would fit into the scope of Rio's interests and we suspect that OT is definitely one of them.
What can be done for the economy if the phase-2 financing deadline is missed?
The GoM can and should provide further support for Mongolia's economic driver: mineral exploration. The GoM has been hinting that exploration licenses will be opened up in the near term, following the implementation of the minerals policy 2025 into the Minerals Law. This policy document was approved by Parliament in late 2013 and is expected to be implemented into the Minerals Law in H1'14. To provide short term support for the economy, while phase-2 issues are being resolved, the Government could expedite this process to increase exploration activities, which would result in resurgence in FDI.
What's the Conclusion?
As mentioned above, we see significant challenges for the approval to take place before March 31. With the GoM and Rio standing ground there does not seem to be much room to maneuver. However, if one of the two scenarios that we have presented plays out we could see a March 31 approval, which would be supportive of both TRQ and the Mongolian Economy. However, if an approval is not reached by March 31 we see significant downside potential for TRQ's share price and prolonged negative exposure for the Mongolian economy.
As a reminder the two possible scenarios that we are considering include: (1) that the GoM could back away from their feasibility study demands and approve the financing in the best interest of the economy, or (2) Rio Tinto could provide a completed feasibility study before the end of March which could then be presented for approval.
As mentioned above, MIBG will be releasing Equity Research on Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TSX:TRQ) later this week, those readers interested in receiving access to this coverage please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your free copy.
Mogi: hmmm, voice sound familiar?
Haranga Resources Investor Video Presentation: Selenge Iron Ore Project Transitioning to Development
February 19, Haranga Resources Ltd. (ASX:HAR) --
Centerra Gold Announces Quarterly Dividend of Cdn$0.04 per Share
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 19, 2014) - Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX:CG) announced today its Board of Directors has authorized a dividend of Cdn$0.04 per common share (approximately US$8.6 million at the current exchange rate). The dividend of Cdn$0.04 per common share is payable on March 20, 2014 to shareholders of record on March 6, 2014. The ex-dividend date will be March 4, 2014.
The dividend is an eligible dividend for Canadian income tax purposes.
In accordance with Centerra's dividend policy, the timing and quantum of dividends are to be determined by the Board of Directors from time to time based on, among other things, the Company's operating results, cash flow and financial conditions, Centerra's current and anticipated capital requirements, and general business conditions. While Centerra currently intends to pay quarterly dividends to its shareholders, there can be no assurances in this regard.
MSE News for February 19: Top 20 +0.38%, Turnover ₮9.3 Million
Ulaanbaatar, February 19 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Wednesday, a total of 16 thousand and 990 shares of 21 JSCs were traded costing MNT nine million 270 thousand and 159.46.
"Genco tour bureau" /11 thousand and 254 units/, "Hai Bi Oil" /2,003 units/, "Nako tulsh" /1,260 units/, "Monnoos" /1,110 units/ and "Remikon" /701 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Monnoos" (MNT four million 229 thousand and 780), "Gobi" (MNT one million 194 thousand and 730), "Genco tour bureau" (MNT one million 024 thousand and 115), "Hai Bi Oil" (MNT 630 thousand and 945) and "Tavantolgoi" (MNT 627 thousand and 790).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 709 billion 998 million 880 thousand and 843. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,953.17, increasing by MNT 64.74 or 0.38% against the previous day.
BoM MNT Rates: February 19 Close
January MNT Chart:
GoM Treasury Auction: Announced ₮50 Billion 12-Week Bills Sold at 10.35% With ₮77 Billion Bids
February 19 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 50.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 50.0 billion /out of 77.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 10.35%.
BoM issues ₮501.7 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +1.8% to ₮1.14 trillion
BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 501.7 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
University of Chicago Professor Briefs MPs on Progress of Joint Research on Governance
Ulaanbaatar, February 19 (MONTSAME) A head of the parliamentary Standing committee on state structure A.Bakei and S.Demberel MP Monday met Tom Ginsburg, a professor at the University of Chicago.
Mr Ginsburg introduced to the MPs a report on implementation course of a research themed "Development of democratic governance institution: Lesson and reform proposal", which is being conducted under the UNDP leadership. They exchanged views on the research.
Mr Ginsburg said this work consists of sub-researches themed "State structure: System of state authority", "System of responsibility: Immunity", "Local management", "Court system, judging and monitoring", "Human rights and international law" and "Constitution and economics".
The research team is co-chaired by professor Ch.Enkhbaatar, a former member of the Constitutional Court; professor D.Solongo, a member of the Constitutional Court and director of the School of Law at the Mongolian State University (MSU); P.Amarjargal, a chief advisor to the Parliamentary Office on law; and professor Tom Ginsburg.
Ferrostaal Plans 52-Megawatt Wind Farm in Mongolia's Gobi Desert
By Michael Kohn
February 19 (Bloomberg News) Ferrostaal Industrial Projects GmbH, a German industrial services company, will take a major stake in a 52 megawatt wind farm project planned for a remote city in Mongolia's Gobi Desert.
Mongolia Interested in Opening Joint Wood Market in Russia
February 19 (infomongolia.com) In the frameworks of Mongolia-Russia Trade and Economy Partnership Program to Develop in 2011-2014, the Business Council for Cooperation with Russia at Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) is to organize a business meeting with Russian enterprises running activities in house building, construction material production, wood and wooden fabric in Ulan-Ude on March 02-05, 2014.
The meeting is aimed to establish Mongolia-Russia Wood Market.
Yesterday, we informed that Mongolia's business delegation to conduct a working visit to Moscow in upcoming month, so the meeting is scheduled on March 17-19 to organize a Business Forum seeking new opportunities on collaboration in mining, infrastructure, transportation and import of wooden material.
Nasnii Zam: Mongolian roads to connect Asia and Europe
February 2014 (Worldfolio) The construction company helping Mongolia expand its network of road infrastructure will not only help connect remote parts of the country, but also link China and Russia – its two giant neighbors. With such a geostrategic position, President of Nasnii Zam Mr. Enkhjargal says that such construction will contribute to the prosperity of Mongolian society and give equal development opportunities to all of its economical and industrial sectors
According to the government's Master Plan to develop a sustainable economic growth there is a lack of infrastructure to be solved. About 5000 kilometers of roads will be built in the following years in order to connect Ulaanbaatar with 12 provinces. Tell us about Nasnii Zam's strategy to capitalize on this infrastructure investment?
The implementation of the Master Plan according to the Policies of the Mongolian Government to build paved roads and connect the 12 rural provinces with the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, by 2016 has already started.
At the moment, over 1800 km of the road construction work has been accomplished within the last year – it is the first time in the history of the country that Mongolia's road constructors have built these kinds of roads over such a long distance by themselves within 1 year.
The reason why we are building roads with thousands of kilometers of length is because Mongolia is situated between China and Russia which brings the country very favorable geopolitical advantages by connecting Europe and Asia. These roads will not only connect domestic rural areas and provinces with each other – it will also contribute to the main road network system that connects the European and Asian continents.
The roads are the veins of a country. The sector is also a source of employment and a transversal need for the expansion of other industries of Mongolia's economy. What is the social output of the road construction industry?
The road construction sector has its own obligations and tasks in order to contribute to the prosperity of the society. The main task is to connect the whole country through road systems which will enable the implementation of the following essential objectives: firstly, residents of rural areas and provinces will be able to move much faster between their place and capital city; secondly, road transportation will increase and accelerate. And last but not least, as I've mentioned before, with the development of transit roads between our neighbor countries we will contribute an invaluable share to the economy of Mongolia.
Furthermore, our company, as a contractor of several bigger projects of the infrastructure development, is providing a certain amount of jobs. With the creation of new jobs we are fulfilling, like other industrial entities of the private business sector, our obligations in accordance with the governmental policy and program "Mongolian citizens with stabile employment and income". At the moment, our company employs over 500 workers – this fact gives us a reason to believe that we have reached a concrete status in the realization of the above-mentioned governmental policy.
Concerning your question about the mining sector, everything is evident – mining is one of the most important branches in Mongolia. Since a few years, the mining sector has started to gain its dominating position in the Mongolian economy. Currently Mongolia is exploring and extracting its natural resources only in particular areas of South Gobi and other southern provinces – it is just the beginning of all mining activities. The reason why Mongolia is not able to explore its natural resources in other remote situated provinces is mainly due to the underdeveloped infrastructure of these areas.
Therefore, the promotion of infrastructure development in Mongolia is crucial for the whole mining sector on one hand and for Mongolia's agriculture with its traditional livestock farming on the other hand. It will give equal development opportunities to all economical and industrial sectors
What are the limitations of the road construction industry? What are the main barriers that you have to face to build roads in Mongolia?
It's been 13 years now, since the private business entities started to join the road construction sector in Mongolia and our company "Nasnii Zam" (translated as "Roads for a Lifetime") is one of the pioneers in this branch. At that time Mongolia's road construction sector was able to build only 34 km of paved roads yearly. At the same time the Mongolian Government had started the implementation of its "Millennium Road" Project. The new industrial sector consisting of private road construction companies was established within the realization of this project.
Today we are able to construct over 1800 km of paved roads within 1 year. The fact that one country has raised its road construction volume from 34 km to 1800 km is an immense growth itself. For now we are planning to connect 6 province centers. However, Mongolia has a territory of approximately 1.4 million square kilometers.
To connect all 21 provinces of the country with paved roads is consequently the primary objective of the project. Additionally, Mongolia has totally over 340 soumons (soumon – small administrative unit, subdivisions of provinces), which means that around 160.000 km of roads will be necessary to connect them all.
All this has made us aware that at present it is impossible to make exact road calculations, because it is obvious that this value will exceed the 160.000 km. On the other hand, it shows how important and necessary the road construction sector is for Mongolia and how big the market is in this relation.
There is a need to improve the quality of the roads. Nasnii Zam aims to construct world-class roads, but there is also only one paved road to Russia and other one to China. What is "Nasnii Zam" position in terms of facing those challenges in connecting Mongolia with its giant neighbors?
The main target of the "Millennium Road" Project, defined by the State Government at that time, was to connect the western provinces of the country with their eastern counterparts, which means to build a paved freeway with a length of over 2800 km through the country.
Compared to all existing roads in Russia and China this freeway was designed to be the shortest road to connect them together – in the East of Mongolia it has a direct exit to the Khulungur province of Inner Mongolia (China) and in the West it has direct access to Krasnoyarsk prefecture of the Russian Federation. From Krasnoyarsk it is only 2000 – 3000 km to reach Moscow. So, this freeway was built along our broad and wide country.
Mongolia as a democratic country is able to provide enough safety and favorable conditions for international freeways within its territory. Also the hospitality and kindness of local inhabitants is one of many advantages in this relation. This giant international freeway, which connects Asia with Europe, finds its beginnings in Tokyo and ends in Istanbul.
Nasnii Zam owns equipment and property of about 20 billion tugriks and you are producing your own concrete and your own asphalt. As a developer, what are the benefits of producing your own concrete and asphalt? Regarding the fact that Mongolia suffers a supply shortage of concrete.
"Nasnii Zam" was established 12 years ago and its growth and development is proceeding as usual according to evolutional principles and rules of the business world. Initially we started our business career with Russian equipment and machinery. Today we have over 500 employees and about 320 heavy machines and equipment.
Generally, any development must follow its time epoch. It was evident for us that an appropriate establishment and realization of such big infrastructural constructions and buildings would only be possible with most modern and innovative technology and know-how based on the latest achievements of the science and technology.
This fact was one of the reasons why we had failed on deciding how to utilize equipment's and machinery of the world standard in Mongolia's road construction sector. In this relation our company was also a pioneer in this field. The results of the sustainable work of our industrious staff during all these years is significant – today our company owns 3 asphalt factories including a concrete mixing facility, bitumen storage shop, own railway, diesel fuel storage etc. All these facilities and constructions, necessary for road construction, we built ourselves. This might be the reason why the productivity of our work is constantly pretty high.
Since you are producing your own concrete and asphalt, are you selling this concrete to other company in the industry or other associate industries such as real estate? Does it give you a competitive advantage against other companies of the sector?
Most raw materials required for our road construction business we purchase from abroad, particularly from Russia and China. Bitumen is the most essential raw material in our business. Our company owns a bitumen shop with a storage capacity of 3200 tons. Also diesel fuel, cement and steel frameworks and fittings are imported from abroad.
All these raw materials and products we receive directly through our own railway. After distribution of the necessary volume for our own needs and requirements we also distribute them to other companies and entities with similar business activities. In addition, we are manufacturing also products widely used in the building construction sector, particularly in engineering networks and systems – like, for example, water drainage ducts, road kerns – in other words, we are manufacturing everything which is made of concrete. Our concrete facility is located just behind our office building and if you are willing to visit it, I can introduce to you our production.
What are your plans for future investments in term of technology?
Actually, my profession is car mechanic. It's been more than 10 years now since I started my career in the road construction sector and with time I learned to love the roads.
It is without a doubt that construction of long distance roads and freeways is only possible with the appropriate technology and machinery. Therefore, I have a lot of interest in new and innovative techniques and technology in our branch. Furthermore, I regularly obtain information about domestic and international workshops, fairs and seminars and visit them within my possibilities. Thus, today, our company has quite a lot of foreign partners and collaborates organizations from abroad. We also have a lot of friends, who are professionals in this field and regularly inform us about the latest technological achievements.
In the international context "Nasnii Zam" is a relatively young company and in just 12 years you have gotten a leadership position. What have been the biggest achievements in your field?
If I should recapitulate our achievements of the recent years, it can be summarized as the following – our company has built in total around 700 km of paved roads and more than 2000 meters of bridges within the territory of Mongolia. Since last year we have been participating in one of the biggest construction projects of the country – it is the construction of the new international airport in Khushig Valley in the Tuv province. Within the framework of this project we are collaborating with Samsung. Our company was also the first industrial entity in Mongolia, which participated in several projects financed by Kuwait's Government and implemented for the first time in Mongolia.
As we said before this report is going to be distributed all over America within one of the most prestigious newspapers in order to create international awareness, attract investment, exchange of technology and even workforce. Can you tell us why an US investor should choose "Nasnii Zam" as a partner to get alliances in Mongolia?
In the last years the interest of the world community for Mongolia has grown enormously. Not so long ago many foreigners didn't even know where Mongolia was actually located – they believed us to be living somewhere at the end of the world.
Today most of the world knows that our country is placed quite centrally in the middle of the Earth. Apart from the intense development of the mining industry there are many other bigger projects, which will be implemented soon within the infrastructural development of Mongolia. Our country is getting ready and making its own preparations to meet the requirements.
Besides road construction projects there are also a lot of bigger projects in relation with the building of new railroads within the territory of the country. Thereupon, if there are interested parties with a honest desire and intension to participate in big projects in Mongolia, our company shall welcome them all and will be pleased to collaborate with every one of them.
2030 WRG: City's Water Resource in Critical Condition
Ulaanbaatar, February 19 (MONTSAME) Water resources of Ulaanbaatar city might deplete in seven years from now, besides, the pure water is severely polluted due to soil deterioration.
It was said by experts of the 2030 Water Resources Group Monday at their meeting with Mr L.Erkhembayar, an advisor to the President of Mongolia on living environment and green development policy.
The experts criticized the Mongolian side for that the water matters are ruled/managed by several bodies and emphasized an urgent need for an exclusive policy in this matter.
This is preliminary results of a wide-range research into Mongolia's water resources, conducted by the 2030 WRG under a financing from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB) in accordance with our President's proposal to cooperate with the world water bodies.
Present at the meeting were Mr Christophe Jacob, a chairman of the 2030 WRG for Asian affairs; Ms Jennifer Moller-Gulland, an expert from the PricewaterhouseCoopers in Berlin; and D.Dorjsuren, a board chairman of the Pure Water Institute (PWI).
2030 WRG is an innovative public-private platform for collaboration to mobilize stakeholders from the public and private sector, civil society, centers of academic expertise and financing institutions to engage in fact-based, analytical approaches and coalition building initiatives that help governments to catalyze sustainable water sector transformations in support of their economic growth plans.
2030 WRG engages with those governments who invite it to work on a comprehensive water sector reform strategy and then it provides a public-private approach to support them. 2030 WRG acts as an independent entity and offers no political, partisan or national nuance to its advice.
Japan Approves ¥4.2 Billion 40-Year Soft Loan to Mongolia for CHP4 Upgrade
Ulaanbaatar, February 19 (MONTSAME) JICA approved an agreement to grant the Mongolian Government a soft loan of JPY 4.2 billion, with annual interest of 0.3%.
Within the 40-year loan to be granted under the above agreement between the Government of Mongolia and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the power plant-4 renewal project includes equipment and facilities renovation to increase the energy production efficiency and to ensure reliable energy supply. The project is planned to be completed in August of 2017.
This project aims at not only increased economic benefits, but also at reduced negative ecological impacts and better living environment for the city.
The power plant-4 meets seventy percent of the total energy needs of Ulaanbaatar. During the renovations, the power plant will be operational at its regular mode.
Foreign Minister L.Bold to Conduct Working Visit to Australia
February 19 (infomongolia.com) On February 19, 2014, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia L.Bold received the Assistant Secretary responsible for North East Asia Branch at Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia John Langtry who is paying a working visit to Mongolia.
During the meeting, sides discussed preparation works of Mongolia's Foreign Minister visit to the Commonwealth of Australia, where the latter part reaffirmed that Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia Julie Bishop attaches a significance of the upcoming visit, noting that bilateral relations and cooperation develop increasingly in the political, economic, educational and humanitarian spheres, the parties emphasized mutual determination to deepen bilateral collaboration in the economic and investment sectors in accordance with the principles of extended partnership.
Minister L.Bold highlighted important roles of Australia's experience in mining sector for Mongolia and Australia's aid for the human resources development of Mongolia.
Mongolia and the Commonwealth of Australia have established the diplomatic relations on September 15, 1972.
Speaker Z.Enkhbold Discusses 65th Anniversary of Ties with Ambassador of China
February 19 (infomongolia.com) Mongolia and the People's Republic of China are celebrating the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations that marks in 2014. In this regard, Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Z.Enkhbold received the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China to Mongolia Wang Xiaolong in the Government House on February 19, 2014.
During his meeting, Speaker Z.Enkhbold appreciated Ambassador's contribution to the development of bilateral relationship and noted that in the scope of anniversary, the "Year of Friendly Relations" program has been reciprocally decided to celebrate throughout the year, which is important to strengthen mutual understandings.
Speaker further stated that under the "Year of Friendly Relations" program, Mongolia-China economic partnership would reach fruitful results and opportunities to collaborate on other big projects are being opened. For instance, Mongolia is cooperating with China's Sinopec Group on coal gasification project, an important project in Mongolia's economic development.
FRC, ADB to Produce TV Series with Japan Funding to Educate People on Financial Services
Ulaanbaatar, February 19 (MONTSAME) A TV serial to give knowledge about financial services and products will be created soon.
This work has been included in the "Finance service sufficiency to the poor" project, being carried out by the Finance Coordinating Committee together with the Asian Development Bank and funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. The project aims at strengthening the Savings-and-Credit cooperatives and increasing finance services sufficiency by a way of raising public awareness of finance.
To make the serial plot, a competition was organized in which a writer A.Miyegombo has become a winner. Next works are to select a movie studio or a production and to name the best one who will make the serial.
Yokozuna Hakuho has no intention to give up Mongolian citizenship for Japanese
February 19 (news.mn) The 69th grand champion in sumo history, Yokozuna Hakuho M.Davaajargal, arrived back in his home country on Monday evening. Hakuho M.Davaajargal won his 28th Emperor`s Cup in the January Hatsu basho.
Last month there were rumors in Japanese media surmising that the Hakuho is to obtain Japanese citizenship, which would let him be eligible to stay in the sumo world as an oyakata, or coach. However, the Hakuho gave an official explanation saying: "I would not leave sumo until my death. But I have no intention to change my citizenship status or to obtain Japanese citizenship yet".
During his stay in Ulaanbaatar Hakuho M.Davaajargal will attend the Toyota brand project launch ceremony along with officials from Japanese Toyota Corporation.
Deserts on Three Continents, Part 1 -- The Gobi: Into the Sandbox on the Looney Front
By Mike Arkus
February 17 (Huffington Post) Deserts are never as barren as the image the word initially conjures up before your eyes.
The Sahara has its magnificent emerald oases across a vast swathe of northern and western Africa. The Atacama in northern Chile has its snow-capped volcanoes, steaming geysers and age-old villages. And the Gobi in Mongolia has a ravine with almost year-round ice, which makes sense when it's minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in winter but not when the mercury soars to more than 100 degrees in summer.
Getting into the Gobi, at 500,000 square miles Asia's largest desert, covering a third of Mongolia and parts of China, is not nearly as difficult as I imagined -- just an hour and a half's flight or a 14-hour bus journey from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital, to Dalazangad, gateway to some of the more interesting sections.
That's assuming, of course, that you've managed to make it in the first place into Ulaanbatar airport, where wind streams sometimes cause havoc with landings and take-offs.
I don't know who's in charge of Ulaanbatar airport's large video on this particular day, but it's showing a lot of naked Caucasian prisoners followed by lesbian love scenes. Notwithstanding, Yours Truly arrives at Dalazangad airport without further orgies, and is met by a driver.
Mongolia: One of the World's Most Dangerous Countries for Drivers
A new study from the University of Michigan maps global fatalities from car accidents.
February 18 (The Atlantic) Driving a car is safer than ever for the simple reason that cars are safer than ever—thanks to features like seat belts, air bags, and electronic stability control. That's one reason why deaths per miles driven have plummeted around the developed world in the five decades since Ralph Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed. In fact, the U.S. used to be the safest country for drivers among all OECD countries in the early 1970s. By the middle of the last decade, the rest of the world had caught up.
This week, a new study (pdf) from the Transportation Research Initiative at the University of Michigan looks at global driving fatalities with up-to-date World Health Organization data. Around the world, deaths in fatal car crashes are 1/6th as likely as dying from a common health problem, like heart disease. In the U.S., where road crashes account for just 2 percent of deaths, individuals are 13 times more likely to die from cancer.
Here is the map of driving fatality rates per capita, with the most deadly countries (led by Namibia) in red and the safest countries (led by the Maldives) in green. The world average is 18 fatalities from a car accident per 100,000 individuals. The U.S. is just under that figure—at 14, compared to Australia (7) and the U.K. (5).
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