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Thursday, February 27, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Mirae Shuns Mongolian Mining Junk Debt as Coal Slump Drains Cash
By David Yong, February 21 (Bloomberg News) Mirae Asset Management Co. is avoiding junk bonds of Mongolian Mining Corp. (975) in the absence of a rebound in coal prices, as Moody's Investors Service says any so-called distressed exchange would add to downgrade risks.
Voyager Resources: Half-Year Financial Report, December 2013
February 26, Voyager Resources Ltd. (ASX:VOR) --
Guildford Coal: Appointment of Chief Financial Officer
February 27 -- Guildford Coal Limited (ASX: GUF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Michael Majendie to the position of Chief Financial Officer. Michael is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and holds a Certificate in Applied Finance and Investment.
Origo Partners: Interim Management Statement
February 26 -- This Interim Management Statement by Origo Partners Plc ("Origo" or the "Company," LON:OPP) and its subsidiaries (the "Group") relates to the three month period from October 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 (the "Period").
Highlights from the Period:
· Unaudited net asset value of US$146.0 million compared to US$127.1 million for the period ending September 30, 2013
· Unaudited net asset value per share of US$0.42 at the end of the Period compared to US$0.36 per share for the period ending September 30, 2013
· Total investments of US$135,000
· Cash position increased to US$35.4 million following the consolidation of China Cleantech Partners LP
Table 1: Top 10 Investments (US$ million)
% of NAV
China Rice Ltd
Preferred Stock & Loan
Gobi Coal & Energy Ltd
Metals & Mining
Celadon Mining Ltd
Metals & Mining
Unipower Battery Ltd
Preferred Stock & Loan
IRCA Holdings Ltd.
Metals & Mining
Common Stock & Loan
Niutech Energy Ltd
Moly World Ltd
Metals & Mining
Kincora Copper Ltd
Metals & Mining
Common Stock & Loan
Rising Technology Corporation Ltd
Staur Aqua AS
Common Stock & Loan
MSE News for February 26: Top 20 -2.47%, Turnover ₮34 Million
Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Wednesday, a total of 40 thousand and 121 shares of 21 JSCs were traded costing MNT 34 million 005 thousand and 502.00.
"Remikon" /24 thousand units/, "Hermes center" /6,201 units/, "Nako tulsh" /2,320 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /1,795 units/ and "Material impex" /1,290 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Material impex" (MNT 17 million 427 thousand and 900), "APU" (MNT four million 021 thousand and 400), "Remikon" (MNT three million 614 thousand and 850), "Gobi" (MNT three million 282 thousand and 475) and "Hermes center" (MNT 985 thousand and 909).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 679 billion 774 million 022 thousand and 803. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,531.44, decreasing by MNT 419.00 or 2.47% against the previous day.
BoM MNT Rates: February 26 Close
January MNT Chart:
GoM Bond Auction: Announced ₮10 Billion 10-Year Bills Auctioned at Average 14.25%
February 26 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 10 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 10 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 10.0 billion /out of 10.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at premium price and with weighted average yield of 14.25%.
GoM Treasury Auction: Announced ₮20 Billion 52-Week Bills Auctioned at 11.19% with ₮24 Billion Bids
February 26 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 52 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 20.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 20.0 billion /out of 24.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 11.19%.
8% Mortgage Program Update: 17,222 Citizens' ₮486.5B Refinanced, 15,748 Citizens' ₮891.5B Newly Issued
February 13 (Cover Mongolia) As of February 13, ₮486.5 billion (₮482.4 billion as of February 13) existing mortgages of 17,222 citizens (17,105 as of February 13) were refinanced at 8% out of ₮844.8 billion (₮844.3 billion as of February 13) worth requests.
Also, ₮891.5 billion (₮848.3 billion as of February 13) new mortgages of 15,748 citizens (14,868 citizens as of February 13) were issued at new rates out of ₮925.5 billion (₮919.9 billion as of February 13) worth requests.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Mogi: this must be a joke.
FDI Increases 26% in First Week of 2014 - BoM
Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) In the first week of 2014, the foreign direct investments (FDI) increased by 26%, says Mongol Bank.
The increase happened thanks to increase of 22% in mining investment and of 42% in others (non-mining investments).
According to Mongol Bank, other positive performances have been observed in currency flows, as the foreign currency supply into the Mongolian economy increased by 17%, while money flow abroad fell by 4% in 2014.
The eased royalty fee on gold has helped increase the gold sale to the Central Bank by 651 kg to reach 1.3 tons in the first two months of 2014. (Mogi: first two months? Umm, is February over already?)
Mongolia Aims to Extract 31 Tons of Gold in 2014
February 26 (infomongolia.com) On Tuesday, February 25, Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar, Minister of Mining D.Gankhuyag and Governor of Central Bank N.Zoljargal met with representatives of gold miners at the Ministry of Economic Development.
In order to keep economic progress in 2014, Mongolia aims to extract 1 million ton of copper concentrate, 1 million ton of crude oil, 1 million ounce of gold or 31 tons, 10 million tons of iron ore and 30 million tons of coal within the year.
Officials deem by extracting and exporting above mentioned mine products in 2014, monetary reserves would be increased and slow down currency fluctuation, besides would impact positively to economic growth, henceforth Ministries pledged to implement above tasks in collaboration with affiliated organs, agencies and private sectors.
In January of this year, the Government of Mongolia eased the royalty payment on gold from 10 to 2.5% and today's gold mining in the country estimates at 8.9 tons that shows an increased volume compare to previous years.
In order to reach the 31 tons of gold exploration plan in 2014, officials requested from gold miners to deliver their preliminary estimations and based on feasibility studies, 11.4 tons of gold is expected to explore by about 30 companies and another 20 tons by Oyu Tolgoi and Boroo Gold companies.
In 2013, the Government adhered to a policy to support construction sector by allocating 2.7 billion USD to promote mortgage loans and as a result, a total 40 thousand citizens have applied for this loan to date, notes Governor N.Zoljargal. So, in 2014, the Government aims to support gold sector, where the gold miners request a finance of 160 billion MNT and this fund to allocate is not a problem, only well prepared studies and prompt activities are required, says Minister N.Batbayar. Afterwards, representatives of gold companies, Central and commercial banks, and Ministries and Agencies agreed to form a joint working group to implement above tasks.
Since January 2014, Mongolia's export volume on mining products except for gold shows decreased rate. This tendency would be continued throughout the year, say experts.
However, it preliminary estimates the world economy would not grow much this year compare to 2013 statistics, but Mongolia kept its economic growth in two-digit numbers last year and it showed 11.7%, where Chinggis bond affected impetus role to stand in top 5 economies of the world. Therefore, officials underline in order to keep going, gold sectors' role is much and state and private sectors should work more closely to accomplish above works.
The Sales Managers' Index: Mongolia - February 2014
Unusually harsh winter curtails manufacturing growth
· The Mongolia headline SMI suggests growth has been heavily affected by extreme seasonal conditions
· The services sector has not been hit as hard, with modest growth shown by the February Indexes
The Mongolia Sales Managers' Index brings together the collective wisdom of Sales Managers throughout Mongolia to produce the earliest source of understanding about what's really happening in one of the most dynamic countries in the world.
The Headline Index is designed to reflect overall economic growth, bringing together the average movement of Confidence, Market Expansion, Product Sales, Prices Charged and the Staffing Indices.
Key sectors of the Mongolian economy are frequently forced to reduce output and staffing levels during the winter months. Panellists in February have explained that this month has seen exceptionally harsh weather conditions, further affecting economic development.
Confidence among Sales Managers is still low, registering under the 50 mark. However, the rate of decline is falling, and is now close to the "neither growth nor decline" level.
However Panellists have explained they feel the coming months may see developments that will improve confidence.
The Market Growth index reflects growth of the general marketplace in panellists' own industry sectors. Sales Managers' report that the overall speed and direction of economic growth has begun to fall after unusually difficult weather conditions in February.
The key mining and constructions sectors have been hit particularly hard, experiencing a month of declining market growth. However non-manufacturing sectors have seen modest economic growth over the past month.
The Product Sales Index reflects the sales of individual companies rather than the wider economy.
The Index has continued to decline rapidly, falling to 40.0 in February. Panellists have suggested that problems with investment in the key mining sector, challenging seasonal conditions and the high cost of importing goods have contributed to falling sales.
The Prices Charged Index registered 61.7 in February which marks a decrease from last month but still reflects rapidly increasing prices. The Index suggests Sales Managers are still passing on large price increases to business and consumers albeit at a slowing rate.
Panellists noted that the decline in value of the Tugrik and general inflation appears to have stabilised. Although the high cost of importing goods (in particular petrol) is still the main cause of price rises.
Managers are recruiting staff to meet new demand at a modest pace – and despite several months of falls in the growth of recruitment, the jobs market remains in marginal expansion.
Short term seasonality problems aside, it is clear that managers expect double digit GDP growth to resume.
World Economics Chief Executive Ed Jones commented:
"Sales Managers have told us that the weakened Tugrik is still causing widespread inflationary problems, with petrol prices in particular rising rapidly.
Market indexes have begun to decline. This is in part due to very harsh weather conditions in February which saw temperatures descend as far as -40 degrees. This has meant the key manufacturing industries have had to slow down or stop work altogether.
Panelists seem confident that strong GDP growth will resume in 2014 despite short term seasonal challenges."
Mogi: watch out for some drastic measures from GoM to control the currency.
National Security Council Holds Irregular Meeting on Current Socio-Economic Situation
February 26 (infomongolia.com) On Tuesday, February 25, members of the National Security Council of Mongolia led by its Chairman O.Ochirjav held an irregular meeting.
In his brief statement, Chairman O.Ochirjav said, "During the working meeting, members discussed the current socio-economic situation in the country. The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag will report about economic states to political groups in the State Great Khural (Parliament)".
Budget Committee to Discuss Audit Results of Frozen Government Projects
Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) The parliamentary Standing committee on budget is planning to held an open meeting early March.
The meeting will discuss results of audit inspections conducted on 234 frozen construction projects, as well as amendments to the 2014 government budget.
After thoroughly discussing these projects, the meeting will decide whether to continue their investments. If the members consider ceasing the money, the underdone buildings might be sold at auctions.
Former President and CEO of Oyu Tolgoi and Rio Tinto's Country Director for Mongolia Cameron McRae Appointed Executive Chairman of SkyPath Partners LLC
ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA--(Marketwired - Feb 26, 2014) -
· Brings exceptional knowledge of the resources industry, locally and globally, to SkyPath
· Significantly deepens SkyPath's strong Mongolia-based management team with Cameron's excellent track record in governance, executive management, M&A and business development
· Gives SkyPath a unique understanding of large scale project management, operations, and project finance, including the development of Mongolia's largest mine
SkyPath Partners LLC ("SkyPath"), the Mongolia focused advisory and principal investing firm, is pleased to announce the appointment of Cameron McRae as Executive Chairman, with immediate effect. In addition to his board responsibilities, Cameron will oversee the strategic direction of SkyPath and participate in the financial advisory, strategic consulting and principal investment activities of the firm. He will remain based in Ulaanbaatar.
Cameron has more than 30 years of mining experience, gained across six countries. Lastly, he was President and CEO of Oyu Tolgoi LLC ("Oyu Tolgoi") and Rio Tinto's Country Director for Mongolia, between 2010 and October 2013, based in Ulaanbaatar. Cameron led the construction and commission of the open pit mine and concentrator of Oyu Tolgoi, Mongolia's largest mine. The project was completed ahead of schedule and on budget, setting new national standards in health, safety & environment; business development; training and corporate social responsibility.
Previously Cameron held various leadership positions at Rio Tinto's Energy, Copper, Diamonds and Industrial Minerals' units, including Managing Director of Richards Bay Minerals in South Africa and Murowa Diamonds in Zimbabwe, as well as at the corporate level. He established Rio Tinto Energy's presence in China and led the strategic review of Rio Tinto's approach to Africa in 2010. At the corporate level, Cameron was a leading team member in the landmark merger of RTZ plc and CRA Ltd that created Rio Tinto and worked on other successful M&A transactions.
The resources sector is the single largest industry in Mongolia, with an estimated annual revenue of 1.4 trillion MNT (approximately US$ 798.9 million) in 2014*, and the majority of the country is still unexplored.
"Cameron is the most high profile international business executive in Mongolia today, and we are delighted to welcome him to SkyPath," said Alex T. Kim, CEO of SkyPath Partners. "With his exceptional record of leadership in large organizations, and experience in developing and managing major mining projects, financings and transactions, Cameron's contribution to the firm will be transformative. Cameron's global network, management acumen, and wealth of experience in the mining industry in both commercial, transactional and operations capacities bring significant depth to our management team. His engagement will add real value for our clients and investments, particularly in the resources sector, which is an essential element to the growth and development of Mongolia."
Cameron McRae said: "There is clear demand for a Mongolia-focused advisory and investment specialist that can facilitate and accelerate capital flows into Mongolia. The opportunities and challenges in Mongolia are like no other country in the world and there is no substitute for firsthand experience. I am very excited to be working with Alex T. Kim, the impressive SkyPath team, its shareholders and partners, to serve domestic businesses and international investors in Mongolia. This is an exciting opportunity to join an entrepreneurial company committed to Mongolia's long-term economic development with the vision of bringing together the best Mongolian and international talent, capabilities and resources."
About SkyPath Partners
SkyPath Partners LLC is a financial advisory, strategic consulting and principal investing firm. Headquartered in Mongolia, the firm is focused on bringing international capital, services and capabilities to Mongolian companies and investing in the growth of the country's economy. SkyPath was created to fill an unmet need for a trusted and capable advisor to help Mongolian firms and government and international companies navigate complex financial and strategic issues by providing a bridge to world-class expertise and capital from international sources. For more information, please visit http://www.skypathpartners.com.
Ex-Oyu Tolgoi chief sees Mongolia investment rules improving
By Terrence Edwards, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto's former Mongolian chief and boss of the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper project says the country is taking the right steps to arrest a drop in foreign investment but needs to do more to ease uncertainty for explorers and developers.
Four months after parting ways with global miner Rio Tinto, Cameron McRae has joined the advisory board of Toronto-listed explorer Kincora Copper, as it tries to reclaim licenses revoked by the Mongolian government that spawned a C$7 million writedown ($6.3 million).
McRae has also been appointed executive chairman of Mongolia-based consulting firm Skypath Partners, which is aiming to help investors navigate Mongolian regulations and raise capital.
"There's a lot of money that needs to come into Mongolia and it's not just going to get there by itself. The intermediary role is important," McRae told Reuters.
Few would have more experience than McRae in dealing with Mongolian authorities, as he saw multiple disputes unfold while leading the $6.5 billion Oyu Tolgoi project, the biggest foreign investment in Mongolia.
Parliament members attempted to amend a 2009 investment agreement between the government and Rio's majority-owned Turquoise Hill, which owns 66 percent of the mine, in 2011 and again in 2012.
Disputes over Oyu Tolgoi and broader regulatory uncertainty have deterred other investors looking to build mines in Mongolia and led to a 54 percent drop in foreign direct investment to $2.05 billion in 2013 from a year earlier.
Now an outsider to dealings involving Oyu Tolgoi (OT), McRae said Mongolian lawmakers have shown they have learned from mistakes made over the past few years, when the mine investment agreement was regularly attacked in parliament and in the media.
"When I arrived in Mongolia, criticizing the OT investment agreement was almost like a political sport," McRae said.
"I think the government has certainly recognized the importance of resolving those sorts of issues behind closed doors. I think that's a big step forward."
The government owns 34 percent equity in the copper mine, where an open pit operation started exports last year, while construction of an underground mine that could account for 20-30 percent of the economy was put on hold while the owners try to settle disputes.
A major hurdle has been a $4 billion project financing package to pay for the underground mine.
The finance agreement is due to expire March 31, after having been extended last year by lenders such as the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
"The project finance is also a huge thing for investor confidence," McRae said, as it would be the world's largest project finance, backed by a large consortium of commercial banks and international financial institutions.
"And that will effectively put Mongolia on the map."
Mogi: too harsh on Montsame?
Montsame publishes outdated article on MAK/Lotte deal for Hyatt Hotel, copy-pasted from 2011
February 26 (Cover Mongolia) Montsame published an article today that was copy-pasted from a Lotte press release dating September 15, 2011 on a deal struck between Mongolyn Alt (MAK) and Lotte Construction, on a $110 million project to build "Hyatt Regency Hotel Mongol". Original announced stated that construction will commence in 2011 and to be completed in September 2014, a date which Montsame also mentions. The building referred to here is what's also being call the MAK Tower, and located on the south-east corner of Peace Bridge. Only the ground has been broken so far with fenced-out with Lotte E&C logos.
First Mongolian Television Forum Attracts International Content Providers
Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) The first Mongolian Television Forum (MTF) commenced Wednesday in the "Blue Sky" tower in Ulaanbaatar, themed "Developmental tendencies of world's TV channels".
The two-day forum has attracted officials from the world's big TV content suppliers such as Warner Bros., Walt Disney, Sony, Bomanbridge, IMG, ITV, Endemol to have them share experiences and discuss urgent problems facing TV channels in Mongolia. The domestic channels considered ways of making contents of high quality and maintaining principles.
A "IPTV and cooperation among TV channels, further tendencies" report will be delivered by G.Bars, a director of the Content Development Planning Service at the Unitel Group.
The organizers say the MTF will help our TV channels to expand the relations with foreign counterparts and to receive contents of the world's top channels.
Ariunaa Suri to Present at 2014 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo, March 17-22
Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) Mongolian designer Ariunaa Suri has been invited to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Tokyo which will run March 17-22.
Since establishing "Ariunaa Suri" brand based upon the principle of "Mystery of In-Between" in 2011, the designer has urged assimilating the Mongolian nomadic ethic as minimal in western style and reflecting it in the mixed soft hues by the organic fabrics such as wool, cashmere and leather of live stocks from the steppe of wild weather.
She has worked as a creative designer in Berlin after her mere study and research for 10 years in Bremen, Germany.
The inspiration of the outfits is rooted in Mongolian traditional extraordinary costume's unique pattern, elements and motivation, says the fashion week website. "The punk urban looks of our FW14/15 Collection is mixed with a slight themes, Nomadic Ethic and Western styles by neutral and the intermediate colors in the natural fabrics. The sense of freedom in the collection is inspired by wild nature of Mongolian endless steppes and exotic tradition of non-sedentary nomads," it adds.
"Mercedes Benz Fashion Week" is a fashion festival held twice a year in the world's fashion cities during which the trends for the next season are born from the latest collections that are unveiled at fashion shows and exhibitions. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo is hosted by the Japan Fashion Week Organization and held twice a year on March and October.
Turkish School Alumni in Mongolia Launches Business Association
TUSKON's Mongolian partner to be, BASIC had its inauguration at Blue Sky, one of the most luxurious hotels in the capital Ulan Bator.
Baatar Tsolman, chairman of the board, said, "With today's opening, we believe our association will grow increasingly to become a global one. We aim to get our members meet the members of our global partners and thus invest in a variety of fields.
The event saw a large attendance of the business people. Among them were Turkey's ambassador to Ulan Bator, Turkish businessmen, Azerbaijani investors along with numerous Mongolian businessmen.
The guests enjoyed the traditional instrument Morin Huur performance along the dinner. The association's officials introduced their initiatives. Business agreements between the partners followed the peaceful and friendly remarks by foreign and local businessmen.
BASIC President Ulambayar Otgon said, "This ceremony introduced our association to the business world. We have TUSKON members and Azerbaijani businessmen too with us tonight. We have signed agreements."
Turkish schools' alumni around the world continue to contribute to the global peace.
Published [in Turkish] on Samanyolu Haber, 22 February 2014, Saturday.
'None for the Road'
By MICHELLE BOROK, February 21 (UB Post) Every first time visitor to Mongolia is struck by the road conditions and driving norms here. Long term residents learn to adapt to the dangers of driving, being a passenger in a vehicle and navigating the streets as a pedestrian – all equally terrifying endeavors. The Atlantic shared data from a recent report by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute. The study looked at traffic related mortality in 193 countries, and Mongolia ranked 10th for road crash fatalities accounting for 5.5 percent of all causes of death.
The study focused on deaths related to road crashes in comparison to other leading causes of death around the world. When looking at data provided by the World Health Organization, Mongolia was one of the top 25 countries studied where more people die on the roads than in hospital beds from cancer, heart disease or stroke. Mongolia ranked 12th looking solely at road crash fatality rates with 31 deaths per 100,000 in the population, the world average being 18.
More than 50 percent of Mongolia's automobile accident fatalities include pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, an unsurprising fact. In 2008, Mongolian lawmakers considered the nearly 1,500 deaths and over 5,000 injuries between 2004 and 2008 as having reached disaster levels. Public education campaigns about the dangers of drunk driving, parent traffic monitors in school zones, and even volunteers painting streets to draw driver attention to pedestrian crossings are admirable citizen-led efforts, but lawmakers and city and province administrators have yet to take serious measures to bring fatality figures down.
In 2011, the United Nations launched its "decade for action" on road safety in response to rising fatalities around the world, especially in developing countries. Mongolia's road accident deaths accounted for 6.8 percent of deaths that year.
Improving road safety isn't just putting safer cars on the streets, but also revisiting standards for training and licensing of drivers, implementation of laws that call for safer driving (requiring seat belts for drivers and passengers and banning hand-held cellphone use by drivers), consistent enforcement of safe driving laws, improved access to public transportation, urban planning, monitoring of road conditions and emergency services. All of these issues pose challenges to Mongolia.
As Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag makes headway in building major roadways connecting the provinces to the capital, Mongolia will have even more kilometers of roadway to keep safe. Beyond the boundaries of Mongolia's cities and more densely populated soums, street lighting, speed bumps and traffic policing are non-existent. The building of these new roads are part of the national development plan to minimize rural migration into the already overcrowded capital, and thereby minimizing Ulaanbaatar's traffic congestion, but they also represent more opportunities for blood on the highway.
D. Batbaatar, Head of Road, Traffic Strategy Implementation Department at the Ministry of Roads and Transportation spoke with The UB Post last January about efforts to ban the continued import of vehicles with right-hand drive steering wheels. With Mongolian roads designed with left hand drivers in mind, the proposal isn't an unreasonable one. At the time of the interview, D.Batbaatar said that the initiative was in its research phase, conducting interviews and feasibility surveys. One year later, importers continue to import both left and right hand drive vehicles and the recent ground breaking ceremony of a Mongolian Toyota retailer raises the question of which drive system will eventually be imported. For now, dangerous left hand vehicle passing on city and province roads will continue to be made by right hand side drivers leaning across passenger seats and vaulting into oncoming traffic.
Imported vehicles are not required to have front and rear seatbelts, but the national seat belt law requires seat belt use by front and rear seat vehicle occupants. Surprisingly, a law is also in place for child restraint systems in vehicles, but lacks enforcement. The law seems merely to be a suggestion.
Ten new buses were just added to Darkhan's public transportation system, to the misfortune of unofficial "taxi" drivers, but the immediate benefit of fewer cars on the road and an affordable option for residents. The fare is 300 MNT for adults and 200 MNT for children. But meanwhile, in Ulaanbaatar, with considerably greater demand for public transportation, bus fares have risen and passengers are still left waiting for more buses and improved services. Investment in improved public transportation services is crucial to building a healthier, smarter, and safer Ulaanbaatar.
Cement blocks sporadically indicate bus lanes, but private microbuses and impatient commuters still dart in and out of them. Faded traffic lanes seem to simply be another suggestion for drivers. Even in the capital, off-road driving rules still seem to apply – forge your own path to get where you're going and try not to get stuck. Better yet, try not to get anyone killed. Mongolia's lawmakers, urban planners, and citizens have the bumpiest of rides ahead to make their roads safer.
High-Level Forum on "Climate Change and Food Security in LLDCs and SIDS to be held in Ulaanbaatar
High-Level Forum on "Climate Change and Food Security in Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States in Asia and the Pacific Region" to be held in Ulaanbaatar.
February 25 (ITT for LLDCs) Ministry of Industry and Agriculture of Mongolia, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries will jointly convene a one-day high-level forum on March 12th 2014, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia consecutively with the 32nd Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific.
Hosted by the Government of Mongolia, the forum will assemble about 30 participants including ministers and high-level delegates from LLDCs and SIDS of the Asia-Pacific Region, other UN and International Agencies, regional development partners as well as nongovernmental organizations.
The high-level forum will cover issues such as climate change and food security of the respective region and therefore it will engage participants in interactive discussions and solicit their advice.
Based on the objective to address food security and poverty reduction in the face of climate change, with special reference to LLDCs and SIDS in the Asia-Pacific region, the forum is expecting to reach the outputs such as knowledge sharing and exchange of experience on the impact of climate change on food security in the respective countries, successful climate change adaptation and mitigation interventions for ensuring food security identified and discussed, effective policy options and actions that would be taken to minimize the negative impacts of climate change and enhance food security identified and agreed, and a key recommendations to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on food security in LLDCs and SIDS in Asia and the Pacific Region discussed and agreed.
What: High level forum on "Climate change and Food security in the LLDCs and SIDSs in the Asia-Pacific region"
When: March 12, 2014 (8.00-15.30)
Where: Conference Hall, Ministry of Industry and Agriculture of Mongolia
UK visa application centre in Ulaanbaatar will move to new premises by 31 March 2014 and charge additional fee
February 25 (GOV.UK) By 31 March, the UK visa application centre in Ulaanbaatar will move to new premises and customers will be required to pay an additional fee to use the service.
The move follows a global review and restructure of UK Visas and Immigration services to increase the number of visa application points and improve services globally, through commercial partner contracts.
The new visa application centre will be run by UK Visas and Immigration's commercial partner, VFS Global, who already successfully operate UK visa application centres in most countries across Asia Pacific. The new service will provide customers access to extended opening hours and a variety of value added services such as translation, photocopying and a courier service.
The move to a user pays visa application centre is so that UK visa customers in Mongolia continue to have access to a local service which would otherwise be cost prohibitive to provide. This is in line with our new global model of charging in low volume locations around the world to ensure customers have the option of a convenient service. The Visa Application Centre will move to:
DHL Building 1015
The fee to use the visa application centre will be £59 ($USD100). This will be in addition to the visa fee and will be charged at the point of booking the appointment and will cover the cost of providing the application submission facilities in Mongolia. Appointments at this Visa Application Centre will not be honoured if this fee is not paid.
The centre will be open from 9:00am to 3:00pm Monday to Friday, offering increased availability over the current service.
We will work closely with VFS Global to ensure continuity of service during the transition period. Applications will continue to be assessed by UKV&I staff and there will be no change to our standard processing times.
Visa decision making moves to Manila visa hub
To further improve efficiency, the decision making of applications received in Mongolia will move from Beijing to our high performing visa hub at the British Embassy in Manila. This move will cut courier transit times by 1 day (1 day quicker on return), reducing the end to end processing time for Mongolian applicants.
With increased pressures on the China operation, the move to Manila will also ensure applicants continue to receive their visa decisions within our target processing times.
New global contact centre for visa enquiries
From April 1, customers in Mongolia will also have access to a new global contact centre for visa enquiries. This will be operated by Hinduja Global Services from their contact centres in the United Kingdom and be available during Mongolian working hours. This will replace the current limited enquiry service and offer a range of enquiry options including a free recorded service, a premium call service for those who wish to speak with a customer service officer, a web-chat service and a free email enquiry service. Further information and contact details of the new contact centre will be made available in due course.
Further information on changes to our global visa service are on the UK Visas and Immigration website and information on the new visa application centre and added value services will be available on the new VFS Mongolia visa application centre website in March.
Mongolia's ambassador to visit IU Bloomington
BLOOMINGTON, Ind., February 20 (Indiana University Bloomington) -- Bulgaa Altangerel, Mongolia's ambassador to the United States, will visit Indiana University Bloomington on Monday, Feb. 24, and present a free, public lecture.
Altangerel will speak on the topic "Socio-Economic Development of Mongolia, Past and Present" at 5:30 p.m. in the Bridgwaters Lounge of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.
The Mongolia Society, the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, the Department of Central Eurasian Studies and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center are hosting his visit.
Altangerel has a master's degree in international law and political science and a Ph.D. in international law from Kiev National Taras Shevchenko University in Ukraine.
He has been his nation's ambassador to the United States since January and also is the nonresident ambassador to Israel and Mexico. He also has served as Mongolia's ambassador to Turkey, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Ireland and Iceland. He represented his country's interests with Bulgaria, Lebanon, Romania and Uzbekistan.
IU is considered one of the world's leading centers of academic expertise in Mongolian studies, and IU's Department of Central Eurasian Studies in the School of Global and International Studies is the sole independent, degree-granting academic unit in the U.S. staffed with its own faculty of specialists in the region. Last year, IU's Kelley School of Business entered into a partnership with the newly formed American University of Mongolia to offer graduate programs.
Visitor parking is available in the Jordan Parking Garage, across the street from the center.
Customs may be involved in antique smuggling attempt
February 26 (news.mn) An individual was arrested at Zamin-Uud border check-point for suspected smuggling of historically and culturally valued antiques and religious items.
The Border Intelligence Division staff stopped a Mongolian woman in the attempted to smuggle religious antique idols including brass and clay Buddhist sculptures, a horn, bell, oil lamp, a sacred instrument used in Buddhist ceremonies, and Bronze Age knife. Also discovered were antique items including Mongolian men's accessories that attach to the belt such as a silver embossed knife, fire starter, chopsticks, Mongolian long-pipe with a precious nephrite stone mouthpiece, double hand carved nephrite snuff bottle, and even a piece of meteor.
After they investigate into the antique dealers in Mongolia, it was revealed that a Chinese national was behind the attempt to smuggle these items from Mongolia with the help of a Mongolian woman.
The antique dealers, who obtained the historically and culturally valued items in Mongolia illegally, are believed to sell on the goods to antiques shops in Erlian, the border city with China, where almost 80 percent of the goods are from Mongolia.
The value and price of the antique items are unknown according to the Customs officials. According to information obtained by the Borders Intelligence Division antique smuggling has become more complicated and more organized. In this case the smuggled antique items were checked and stamped by the Customs officials. Therefore the Criminal Police Department suspects that Customs officials may be involved in the case.
The antiques and religious items will be discussed at the Board meeting whether they need to be appraised and will then to be delivered to museums.
Winter paralympic athletes receive Gobi-designed outfits
Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) A ceremony took place Wednesday to grant our athlete and officials the outfits for Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics that will take place March 7-16.
Our country will be represented by one athlete B.Ganbold who will compete in the men's cross-country skiing event. He is coached by Dashdondog.
The outfits were designed by the "Gobi" company.
As we informed before, the outfits for Mongolians athletes were selected as one of the most stylish at the Sochi Games by the latinopost.com website.
Mongolia to Develop Winter Sports Policy
Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) Mongolia will work out and realize a specific policy and plan for developing winter sports, and this was considered on Wednesday at a meeting between the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism and authorities of Mongolian federations of winter sports.
The Ministry and speed skating, skiing, curling and bandy Federations agreed that the winter sports are not developing in Mongolia due to lack of buildings, material base and professionals, and discussed possibilities of erecting an indoor house of winter sports.
Noting that huge money is needed for a big winter sports house, the sides expressed a confidence that they can develop the winter sports and host international competitions, "besides, winter sports athletes number will rise".
The Federations considered as necessity to construct an indoor house for ice-hockey that is used throughout four seasons, is less expensive, and can be exploited for figure-skating, short-track speed and curling. Outdoor sports such as skiing and speed skating can be developed in the "Khandgait" camp, they added.
Apart from the material base, the Federations should be provided with experts and techniques, "it is very hard to hire foreign professionals because we do not have training facilities and fields".
The Ministry said the President of Mongolia intends to convey to the cabinet soon a document on policy of developing the winter sports.
Mongolia can produce a top class gymnast: Khaliun Batbold, national team coach
KUALA LUMPUR, February 21 (The Star) Mongolia may not be a powerhouses in gymnastics, but with the sport growing in popularity in the country that may just change in the years to come.
Khaliun Batbold, a former international and now coach of the national team, revealed that back home in Mongolia, girls are starting to pick up gymnastics as young as four or five years old.
"There are so many gymnasts in Mongolia. The sport is really popular. It's very good for us. Hopefully, one day we will a have a top gymnast in the world," said Batbold.
To gain experience and exposure, the Mongolians have sent four gymnasts – Ariunsuvd Javkhlantuya, Uuganbayar Baatarzorig, Shurentsetseg Batdelger and Undram Khashbat – to compete in the ongoing Junior Asian Championships. Batbold hopes her gymnasts will gain from their time in Malaysia.
Only two gymnasts – Batdelger, 15, and 13-year-old Khashbat – are competing in all four apparatus events (ball, clubs, hoop and ribbon). Baatazorig, 14, is competing in three events (ball, clubs and ribbon) while 13-year-old Javkhlantuya is entered only for the hoop event.
Asia Society HK Event: Mongolia and the Silk Road
18 March 2014
6:30pm - 8:30pm
9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Evening presentation by Carl Robinson, author
Musical performance by Khusugtun, Mongolian ethnic musicians and Tsogtsaikhan Sosorburam, "Long Song" singer
Drinks reception: 6:30 pm
Performance and Presentation: 7:00 pm
Close: 8:30 pm
The vast Mongol Empire created by Genghis Khan in the 13th century is certainly well-known. But Mongolia's much longer links with the famous Silk Road are often overlooked or ignored by historians. Despite its seeming remoteness and cultural differences, Mongolia has links with the 6500 kilometer-long trading route linking East and West dating back to the first millennium BC. Mongolian expert Carl Robinson, author ofMongolia: Nomad Empire of Eternal Blue Sky, will discuss the origin and history of those connections in the many centuries before the Mongol Empire inaugurated the golden age of trade known as Pax Mongolica when, as a Turkic historian describes, "a young virgin with a tray of gold on her head" could travel unmolested from the Pacific to the Mediterranean and the first Europeans, including Marco Polo, made their way eastwards. The lecture will be complemented by musical performances by Khusugtun, a group of Mongolian musicians who will introduce traditional music passed down from their nomadic ancestors, and renowned "long song" singer Tsogtsaikhan Sosorburam.
Khusugtun or "nomads," is a distinctive group of Mongolian musicians whose goal is to share with the world its heritage and culture from thousands of years. They will introduce the nation's unique throat singing and traditional music which have been passed down from their nomadic herder ancestors from the beautiful Mongolian Steppes. The group has received numerous accolades including the Grand Prix at the "Mongolian Hoomii" International Symposium and Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and the Gold Medal for A capella, Delphic III International Cultural Olympics, Jeju, Korea. They were also voted BBC radio "World Routes'" favorite group and performance in 2010, and performed at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 2011.
Tsogtsaikhan Sosorburam is a renowned "long song" singer. A central element of the traditional music of Mongolia, the "long song" genre is so called because each syllable of text is extended for a long duration. A four-minute song may only consist of ten words. UNESCO declared the Mongolian Long Song one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005. Born in Dund Gobi province, she studied long song singing at the Culture and Art University and received her masters degree in folk art from there. She has had numerous solo and joint performances including her "Harmony of Hearts" country tour and "Under the Sun of Graceful Universe" solo concert.
Carl Robinson has lived an extremely nomadic life. He grew up in the Belgian Congo and then, starting with a year as an exchange student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1963, spent a dozen years in Asia, mostly in war-time South Vietnam as an aid worker and then correspondent with the wire service The Associated Press, escaping Saigon just before its fall in April 1975. After a couple years in New York, Robinson moved permanently to Australia, where he was Newsweekcorrespondent through the 1980s, wrote a much-acclaimed guide to Australia, operated a highly-successful Vietnamese restaurant, worked as media manager for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was a consultant on the film The Quiet American.
Atlas of Genetic History Shows Mongol Warriors' Reach
By Makiko Kitamura, February 14 (Bloomberg News) Scientists have mapped the genetic legacy of events of the past 4,000 years that have shaped populations, such as Genghis Khan's expansion of the Mongol Empire, creating an atlas that extends our understanding of human health and history.
Nomadic trails in the land of the blue sky
February 24 (BBC) It started with just one oversized vodka shot, which seemed harmless enough. But then came another, followed by a third and a fourth. Soon we were all laughing – although at what, I couldn't tell you. With no common language, we laughed and drank until the early hours of morning and then collapsed, exhausted but happy, onto the floor to sleep.
I was in Mongolia, the most sparsely populated nation in the world, exploring the vast country on a two-week tour with Intrepid Travel along with five other travellers; our trusted guide, Ulaanbaatar local Shinee Turbat; and our charismatic driver, nomad Sansar Haisvai.
Although we visited the capital Ulaanbaatar and the historic and majestic Amarbayasgalant Monastery, one of Mongolia's largest Buddhist monastic centres, most of the extended stops were natural sights, including vast savannahs, mammoth snow-capped mountains and the unusual sandy-grassy Khongo Khan (also known as the Little Gobi Desert).
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