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Monday, February 10, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Wellington Management Becomes Substantial Holder in MMC with 5.01%
February 7 (Cover Mongolia) Substantial Shareholder Notice released today revealed that Boston-based Wellington Management Company, LLP, one of the largest private, independent investment management companies in the world with US$748 billion in client assets under management (as of September 2012) became a substantial shareholder in Mongolian Mining Corporation (HKEx:975) by buying 2,634,000 shares on the market on February 5 at HK$0.80 average price, to own a 5.01% stake. MMC closed flat at HK$0.79 today.
Xanadu MD Buys On-Market
February 9 (Cover Mongolia) Xanadu Mines Ltd. (ASX:XAM) Managing Director George Lloyd bought 100,000 shares for A$6,900 consideration on February 5, according a Director's Interest Notice released on February 7.
MSE News for February 7: Top 20 +0.82%, Turnover ₮21.4 Million
Ulaanbaatar, February 7 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Friday, a total of 45 thousand and 847 shares of 30 JSCs were traded costing MNT 21 million 352 thousand and 821.41.
"Remikon" /29 thousand and 110 units/, "Khokh gan" /14 thousand and 126 units/, "Gobi" /645 units/, "Baganuur" /459 units/ and "Hermes center" /308 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Remikon" (MNT three million 466 thousand and 030), "Gobi" (MNT three million 613 thousand and 990), "Ulaanbaatar khivs" (MNT three million), "Baganuur" (MNT one million 996 thousand and 850) and "Khokh gan" (MNT one million 783 thousand and 572).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 689 billion 655 million 353 thousand and 428. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,913.52, increasing by MNT 137.72 or 0.82% against the previous day.
Mongolia Allows Coal Suppliers to Increase Prices to Power Plants to Reduce Deficit
February 7 (news.mn) Coal mines are to start new coal supply contracts for 2014 with Power Plants.
The Energy Regulatory Commission of Mongolia (ERC) and the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP) have reached a decision to increase coal price and transportation costs in order to reduce deficit in coal mines from this year. The cost of transporting coal from mine to power plant has increased 10 percent through the new tariff on energy that was effective last August.
Costs have increased per ton of coal in Baganuur mine 20500-22500 MNT and Shivee-Ovoo mine 16000-18000 MNT. Currently Baganuur, Sharyn-Gol, Shivee-Ovoo and Aduunchuluun coal mines provide coal to Power Plants.
According to a report in December 2013, Power Plants bought coal from four mines for 124.3 billion MNT.
BoM MNT Rates: February 7 Close
January MNT Chart:
BoM issues ₮301.1 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -3.9% to ₮881.9 billion
February 7 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 301.1 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
8% Mortgage Program Update: ₮482.4 Billion Refinanced, ₮842.5 Billion Newly Issued for 31,850 Citizens
February 7 (Cover Mongolia) As of February 7, ₮482.4 billion (₮482.4 billion as of February 6) existing mortgages of 17,105 citizens (17,105 as of February 6) were refinanced at 8% out of ₮844.3 billion (₮844.3 billion as of February 6) worth requests.
Also, ₮842.5 billion (₮839.4 billion as of February 6) new mortgages of 14,745 citizens (14,685 citizens as of February 6) were issued at new rates out of ₮914.7 billion (₮912.1 billion as of February 6) worth requests.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Cabinet Meetings Changed to Friday Till Spring Session
Ulaanbaatar, February 7 (MONTSAME) The meeting day of the cabinet has changed to Friday from Saturday, commencing from this Friday.
The schedule change will be in force until the beginning of the spring plenary sessions of parliament.
In times of former PMs, the cabinet meeting would run every Wednesday. After the democrats came to power, meetings would run every Saturday, for almost all ministers work as parliament members at the same time.
Mogi: handling it very wrong I would say
Mongolian banker accuses western media of biased reporting
ULAN BATOR, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The head of one of Mongolia's largest commercial banks has accused foreign partners of spreading biased and unproven stories through western media.
Golomt Bank executive director Ganbold Galsan told local media he was "surprised" media outlets such as Reuters and Bloomberg covered stories "based on biased, one-sided and unproven materials" concerning loan disputes between the bank and its foreign partners.
The Reuters and Bloomberg articles carried accusations Golomt Bank had breached a loan contract and had been asked to return loan funds by Switzerland-based Credit Suisse Group and Stanhope Investment, owned by Abu Dhabi Investment Council, which had extended 35 million U.S. dollars as a convertible loan to the Mongolian bank since 2007.
The reports also noted Golomt was sued by Itochu Corp of Japan in 2012 for not paying letters of credit worth 43 million dollars.
Ganbold said Reuters and Bloomberg reported these disputes "from one side," as "the issues related to Itochu and Credit Suisse have been fully settled" and disputes with Stanhope Investment were only a result of the two sides' "different understandings about implementation of the contract."
"Foreign investors should share high risks if they want to make high profits" in Mongolia, the senior banker said, adding it was "wrong to exaggerate the dispute over the loan contract", which amounted to less than 1 percent of the bank's total assets.
CEO of Golomt Bank: We will be the epicenter of Mongolian economy
February 7 (business-mongolia.com) This is a translation of the interview with CEO of Golomt Bank Mongolia G.Ganbold appeared on 6th of February, 2014 on news.mn. Business-Mongolia.com selected only the relevant parts of the bank's operations.
How would you evaluate last year's performance of the bank?
For a financial institution, stable growth is preferred over high volatility whether it is negative or positive. As the end of 2013, our asset has grown by 48% and reached MNT3.73 trillion. Also, bank's own asset increased by about 40% reaching MNT314.9 billion, net profit increased by 75% reaching over MNT47 billion. This symbolizes our stable growth in the past 15 years and shows our well establishment in the financial system of the country.
Moreover, following figure will explain how well our core financial indicators that represents the credibility of our bank – liquidity ration 43.3%, and return on asset 1.5%, and own asset return 22%. Although Mongolian economy didn't grow as expected, the government and the central bank implemented certain projects, and suitable monetary policy under the times of uncertainty resulting overall growth in the economy.
We facilitated many projects and policies implemented by the government such as New Mortgage Policy and SME loans. Golomt Bank provided 30% of all New Mortgages. We will maintain our position as the epicenter of the Mongolian economy.
Last year, there were disputes among the shareholders which also draw many people's attention.
That is true. However, it is was an issue of a major shareholder of Bodi International LLC. Last year, we overcame many difficult obstacles. Bank is a business of trust. As a trust based business, any disputes regarding shareholders directly affects the bank's operations. Last year was indeed a turbulent year for us, and also, it tested our team and overall bank's immunity. Our customers understood us very well and stayed with us during the difficult times. Therefore, we would like to thank all of our customers.
Can you confirm that all the issues have been resolved?
Indeed. All of the issues have been resolved and we opened a new page for the bank's future development. I would like to state responsibly that our partners and customers have nothing to worry. As a CEO of the bank, I am responsible for the "health" of the bank and its everyday operations. Bank is very healthy, and it is like a athlete that is ready to compete with anyone.
What would be the new phase of the bank's development?
In the past, bank has been owned by family members. The new phase would direct the bank into becoming a public company. Also, the operations of our subsidiaries have stabilized. The governance of the bank is reaching the international standards. Aligned with the new development strategies, daughter companies are being transferred to our staff transferring itself from a single owner to publicly owned.
We started offering stock options three years ago and over 300 staff of our bank currently holds stocks. The President of Mongolia proposed an idea that large Mongolian companies should offer 20% of the shares to the public, and we support the idea. We will grow, and our competency will become stronger.
Recently, international news agencies such as Routers and Bloomberg reported controversial news regarding Golomt Bank. It included rumours that Itochu, Credite Suisse, Abu Dhabi Fund's withdrawal of the bank. What is your position on this issue?
The fact that many international news agencies propagated news based on false information which was very one-sided amazes me very much. It raises the questions about the purpose behind it.
Issues regarding Itochu and Credit Suisse have been resolved completely. As for the Abu Dhabi Fund, it is not an investment, but a second tier convertible debt. As I previously mentioned about new phase for the bank, Golomt Bank started accepting foreign investment and partnerships from 2007. The issue regarding the Abu Dhabi Fund is a misunderstanding between Stanhope Capital, which Golomt Bank is a shareholder, and the fund. Unfortunately, the news agencies released a very one-sided news. As for us, we are confident in our position.
Personally, I think investment companies that are expecting high returns, also, shall share the risks. A business should be in accordance with the agreements. Therefore, our stance is that sides must be in compliance with the agreement. I don't think a debt agreement that doesn't even reach 1% of our asset should be targeted to vilify our reputation.
Mongolia Awards PSC on Nomgon IX Block to Space Geology Exploration LLC
Ulaanbaatar, February 7 (MONTSAME) The cabinet meeting on Friday approved a production-sharing agreement established January 20 of 2013 between the Oil Authority and the "Space Geology Exploration" LLC.
- The cabinet approved results of measures being taken in lines of the trilateral consultation named "Northern Corridor" among Mongolia, Russia and China co-organized by Mongolia's Ministry of Road and Transportation and the Cabinet Secretariat for Government. Then, obligations were given to Ch.Saikhanbileg, a head of the Cabinet Secretariat, and A.Gansukh, the Minister of Road and Transportation, to continue creating of good conditions for transit transport of railways.
- The Minister of Health N.Udval made a presentation on implementation of the 2008-2015 plan for realizing a state policy on improving supply of donor blood and blood products and ensuring safety.
2nd Module of East Tsankhi Coal Processing Plant to Launch in 2014
Ulaanbaatar, February 7 (MONTSAME) A coal enrichment plant at the East Tsankhi section of the Tavan Tolgoi deposit will come into service at its full capacity in late 2015.
Within this year, the second module of total four will launch, improving coal washing capacity of this mine mouth plant to annual 10 million ton.
Production from the plant is expected to reach 7.1 million ton of coking coal and 6.8 million ton of lignite or brown coal, that all to be supplied for the domestic consumption and exports.
ChTZ-URALTRAC is increasing its export of spare parts to Mongolia
CHELYABINSK REGION, February 6 (RusBusinessNews) In January 2014, ChTZ-URALTRAC LLC, a subsidiary of the Uralvagonzavod Research and Production Corporation, exported 15% more parts to Mongolia than during the same period in 2013.
The business plans to ship its products to its official dealer in Ulaanbaatar - the company Promtechservice.
UVZ's press office told RusBusinessNews that ChTZ-URALTRAC's equipment is popular in Mongolia. A significant percentage of the local fleet of tracklaying vehicles consists of B170 and B10 bulldozers that are used at infrastructure facilities and mineral deposits.
Earlier it was reported that in 2012, businesses in Mongolia purchased parts and assemblies from ChTZ- URALTRAC worth $72,000 USD, plus $35,000 of spare parts in 2013.
South Africa to Research Producing Cement from Industrial Ash in Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, February 7 (MONTSAME) Mongolia, in partnership with South Africa is planning to launch research work for production of geopolymer cement from ash.
A South African delegation led by Dr Joe Mapiravana, a research group leader in the Building Science and Technology competence area in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is to arrive in Ulaanbaatar to start a joint research project to explore ways to produce geopolymer cement from industrial waste and ash disposed from power stations.
During their visit the delegation is also planning to organize a meeting on their project at the Chemistry Institution of the Science Academy on next Monday.
Mongolia and South Africa is similar for their dependence on mining development, as mining in the latter has been the main driving force behind the history and development of Africa's most advanced and richest economy.
Diamond and gold production may now be well down from their peaks, though South Africa is still no. 5 in gold but South Africa remains a cornucopia of mineral riches. It is the world's largest producer of chrome, manganese, platinum, vanadium and vermiculate.
It is the second largest producer of ilmenite, palladium, rutile and zirconium. It is also the world's third largest coal exporter. South Africa is also a huge producer of iron ore; in 2012, it overtook India to become the world third biggest iron ore supplier to China, who is the world's largest consumers of iron ore.
Oil and Oil Shale Mongolia 2014: April 9 – 10
February 7 (Mongolian Economy) "Oil and Oil Shale Mongolia 2014" international investment conference on oil and oil shale, hosted by Petroleum Authority of Mongolia, will be held in Ulaanbaatar on 9-10 April 2014.
Minex Mongolia Co., Ltd. is serving as the main organizer of the event. This is the country's first international investment conference on oil, gas, and oil shale. The event will be attended by international investors, oil, gas, and oil shale companies, service providers, consultancies, equipment suppliers, and traders.
The delegates will have a unique opportunity to network with industry's key contacts and to obtain vital information on legislation and policies on oil, gas, and oil shale exploration and production regulations from the officials of the Ministry of Mining and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia. Moreover, projects on oil refinery, exploration, production, plus oil shale projects will be presented.
Attending the Oil & Oil Shale Mongolia 2014 International Investment Conference will let you accurately assess how you could reap the rewards of Mongolia's growth, evermore favourable policies, and emerging market of oil and oil shale. Whether you are seeking new and exciting investment opportunities, or in pursuit of investment for your Mongolian projects, the conference is your ideal chance to meet, hear from and network with senior players in Mongolian business and government.
Additionally, Business Council of Mongolia members are offered a 15 percent discount on the registration fee.
60% of "Buyant-Ukhaa" Low-Cost Housing to Be Distributed to Public Servants
February 7 (infomongolia.com) On Thursday, February 06, the regular "30 Minutes with Prime Minister" meeting was held, where affiliated Ministry officials chaired by Premier N.Altankhuyag got acquainted with current process of new apartment blocks "Buyant-Ukhaa" being constructed in the territory of Khan-Uul District, 9th Khoroo, near the Chinggis Khaan International Airport.
During the meeting officials also discussed the issue to whom should belong these housing, because these residential structures, a total of 28 blocks for 1,764 households with each unit between 32-68 m2, are being constructed under the "Buyant-Ukhaa" project implemented by state-owned Government Housing Corporation and will be completed by May of 2014.
Authorities pledged to set a unit price per sq.m under 1,280,000 MNT (Tugrug), which is about 740 USD/m2 and less than current average price of 2 million MNT being estimated in Ulaanbaatar. Moreover, the 60% of the total housing will be distributed to public servants who work for state organs and the rest 40% will be sold to elders, citizens having developmental problem and young families under easy terms.
Following the meeting authorities visited the site, where Prime Minister noted, "Anyone who to purchase an apartment shall not re-sell or rent to the third part within 15 years and an applicant must be involved in 8% of mortgage loan for the first time, who also did not apply for previous housing program of 6%".
The first block of "Buyant-Ukhaa 1" for 567 households was operational on January 27, 2014, said officials.
Mongolia ratifies cooperation agreement with DPRK
ULAN BATOR, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Mongolian government ratified a cooperation agreement Friday with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the areas of industry and agriculture.
Under the agreement, Mongolia will provide livestock husbandry support to the DPRK and, in return, the DPRK will develop light industry using raw materials and resources of Mongolia, such as sheep wool and coal.
The agreement was finalized during a visit by Battulga Khaltmaa, Mongolian minister of industry and agriculture, to the DPRK last October.
Both countries hope the deal will expand reciprocal economic ties between the two countries.
President Elbegdorj Attends Sochi Opening Ceremony
February 7 (news.mn) Foreign leaders are gathering in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The opening ceremony for the Olympic Winter Games will be held on February 7th 8:14 pm according to Moscow time, or 12:14 am on February 8th according to Ulaanbaatar time.
The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach was welcomed at the Olympic village where foreign leaders were present on Thursday February 6th.
The newly appointed IOC President, former fencer Thomas Bach from Germany, delivered a private invitation to the President of Mongolia, his old acquaintance Ts.Elbegdorj, for the 2014 Sochi XXII Olympic Winter Games.
Mongolian representatives in Sochi took a photo of the President of Russia, V.Putin greeting President Ts.Elbegdorj during the meeting with the first foreign leaders to arrive in Sochi.
Foreign Minister L.Bold to Conduct Official Visit to South Korea, February 12-14
Ulaanbaatar, February 7 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold will pay an official visit to the Republic of Korea on February 12-14.
At its meeting on Friday, the cabinet approved a directive to be maintained by the Minister of Foreign Affairs during the forthcoming visit. This is the very first visit to paid at a Foreign Ministerial level since South Korea formed its new cabinet.
During the visit, the Mongolian Minister will be received by Ms Park Geun-hye, the President of the Republic of Korea; and Mr Jung Hong-won, the Prime Minister. He will hold negotiations with his counterpart of South Korea and will meet other officials.
Within the negotiations, the parties are expected to discuss issues of facilitating the terms of visit, accelerating the bilateral agreement on social welfare and improving living conditions for Mongolians in South Korea.
U.S. Department of State Welcomes Mongolian Sitting Volleyball Visitors on Disability Sports and Women's Empowerment
February 7 (U.S. Department of State) From February 8-18, the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will bring 12 female sitting volleyball players from Mongolia to the United States for an international disability sports exchange. This program builds on the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative and the United States' global commitment to advance the rights of women and promote inclusion.
The program will take place in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the training site of the U.S. Men's and Women's Sitting Volleyball teams. During their time in Oklahoma, the athletes will participate in clinics with their American counterparts and receive training from U.S. Paralympic coaches and collegiate athletes with disabilities at sporting facilities for Paralympians. They will also participate in Paralympic rowing, join in a service project, and visit the Limbs for Life Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to provide high-tech prosthetic devices to people who could not afford them otherwise.
During the exchange, the visiting athletes will share their experiences as women living with disabilities with their American peers. Sessions will include discussions on health, teamwork, and the opportunities sports can provide.
The lessons of disability rights statutes and Title IX, the federal law regarding gender equality at schools, will serve as a theme throughout the program. The Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative aims to increase the number of women and girls involved in sports. The Initiative comprises three pillars: sports envoys (American athletes who travel overseas); sports visitors (youth athletes and coaches who travel to the United States); and the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program.
Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev Cites Mongolia in Suggestion to Dump the "Stan"
February 7 (EurasiaNet) As country rebranding goes it's quite radical: President Nursultan Nazarbayev has suggested changing the name of Kazakhstan and calling it Kazak Yeli (Kazakh Country) instead.
Offering a clue to his thinking, Nazarbayev singled out the 'stan' part of the name – and held up neighboring Mongolia as an example of a country without the Persian suffix, which means "land of."
"The name of our country has the ending 'stan,' as do the other states of Central Asia," he said inremarks quoted by his press service on February 6.
"At the same time, foreigners show interest in Mongolia, whose population is just two million people, and its name lacks the suffix 'stan.' Perhaps with time the question of changing the name of our country to Kazak Yeli should be examined, but first this should definitely be discussed with the people."
The people were quick to react, taking to Twitter to vent—some firmly for and others as staunchly against.
"I support Kazak Yeli!" tweeted one user named Ruslan Zhangazy, in Kazakh. "And you?"
"Perhaps now the Twitterati will think how to stand up for the name of our country together," remarked another, Nikita Shabayev, in Russian.
Nazarbayev was speaking at a meeting with intellectuals during a trip to the western oil town of Atyrau on February 6. The nature of the venue suggests that these may have been off-the-cuff remarks rather than a firm policy statement, but the proposal does suggest that a country name change is on the president's mind.
Some people in Kazakhstan dislike the 'stan' association – which they believe has connotations of volatility in other countries with the suffix.
Adopting a purely Kazakh-language name is something that many Kazakh nationalists who feel that not enough has been done to shed the country's Russian and Soviet colonial legacy would welcome. But members of ethnic minorities (who make up a third of the population, mostly ethnic Russians) may be wary.
In remarks designed to reassure them, Nazarbayev told the Atyrau meeting that Kazakhstan's "advantage is in the diversity of its multi-ethnic people."
Changing the country's name would be a costly exercise, and would to a degree undermine previous efforts to establish Kazakhstan as an international brand, on which Astana has spent millions.
The suggestion is sure to spark a hot debate in Kazakhstan, where it remains to be seen whether it is a trial balloon to test public opinion or a firm intention of Nazarbayev's as he moves to secure his legacy.
Foreign Policy Roundup #14: January 27-February 9, 2014
February (Mongolia Focus) The last two weeks have shown Mongolia's commitment to furthering its relationship with the European Union, and its ability to use past Soviet-era relationships to fulfill that goal.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, , to discuss the expansion of trade relations between the two countries. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mongolian-Latvian relations were stronger, with many Mongolians studying in Riga.
Following his visit to Latvia, . With his Lithuanian counterparts, he discussed how Lithuania could be a key country for Mongolia's evolving partnership with the EU, and that Mongolia could serve as a gateway for Lithuania into the Northeast Asian economy.
UC Merced Heating Up Mongolia's Harsh Winter
February 3 (University of California, Merced) One of the world's oldest civilizations – with the worst air pollution and the coldest capital city – will employ cutting-edge technology from the newest UC campus starting in February.
Professor Roland Winston, who leads the UC Merced-based UC Solar Institute, just returned from a trip to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital. He met with the owner of Mongolia National University, a 15-year-old institution with about 9,000 students, to discuss installing a solar-thermal unit on one of the campus buildings to generate 3 kilowatts of steam heat for a portion of the campus.
The primary source of heat in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is burning coal, and, more recently, chopped-up tires – both highly pollutant.
The World Health Organization in 2011 said the country's air is the poorest in the world, filled with particles that can cause serious health problems. The country's population is about 3 million and most Mongols live in and around Ulaanbaatar, while the rest are mainly nomads who carry their houses – called gers – with them. Gers are made with layers of felt for walls and ceilings, and are heated with coal-burning stoves.
The annual average temperature in Ulaanbaatar is 0 Celsius, and the country is subject to some of the harshest winter weather anywhere with temperatures often well below zero.
"If it will work there, it will work anywhere," Winston said of the "XCPC" solar-thermal unit. Typical solar collectors likely wouldn't work as well because they require tracking equipment that is affected by extreme temperatures. Winston, a pioneer in nonimaging optics, and his students have developed a unit that doesn't track and can generate high heat.
"We're very proud of this unit," Winston said. "We've been working on it since 2006." It's the same technology used at the Castle Research Facility to cool buildings.
Winston's research – among that of other faculty members – helps UC Merced reach across the globe to share resources and knowledge. Mongolia National University also just became the newest UC Solar affiliate as a result of Winston's visit.
The trip and the solar-thermal demonstration unit were funded by UC Merced Foundation Trustee Bob Angle, who connected Winston with some of the people he met in Mongolia. He learned about UC Solar through campus publications, and saw the potential for reducing pollution in a country he calls "strikingly beautiful."
Since his first visit in 2002 as a tourist, Angle has returned every year. He sees how the country and culture are changing.
"As more people move to and near Ulaanbaatar, the steam-generating heating plants have reached capacity," he said. "The energy captured from the solar collectors could replace or reduce the use of coal and other polluting fuels."
Departments within the Mongolian government are also excited about the potential.
"The Department of Energy and the Department of Green Development have shown significant interest in this technology, too," Angle said.
Former UC Merced student Bennett Widyolar, originally from Irvine and now a research scientist with UC Solar, is in Mongolia installing the unit. He will complete a series of tests to make sure it performs as promised before returning home. The system will be turned on in mid-February.
If the XCPC provides steady, reliable heat despite the extreme climate, the university will seek funding for about 33 other units in hopes of generating 100 KW of heat, which could heat a large five-story building, Winston said.
Widyolar has never been to the Far East, and said he didn't really know what to expect from the trip other than what his work entails.
"I might have to teach a few people how to use the system, and I'll be setting up the framework, the plumbing and the sensors," he said.
But for a student who joined the first undergraduate class at UC Merced and stayed to get his master's, the adventure is what's attractive about it.
"I'm ready to go," he said. "I hope there are more opportunities like this out there."
INDONESIA/MONGOLIA: Japanese-style technical education in high demand
February 7 (The Asahi Shimbun) Since their founding in the early 1960s, technical colleges have played an important role in Japan's rapid economic growth with their hands-on approach to education.
Now, other countries in Asia are beginning to follow the Japanese example.
Jakarta's University of Darma Persada is a mid-sized private institution whose founders include an Indonesian with experience studying in Japan. In November, a ceremony was held to commemorate the university becoming a member of the Asia Professional Education Network. University President Oloan P. Siahaan, speaking in fluent Japanese, told the audience, "We will turn our university into one of Indonesia's centers of manufacturing."
APEN was created three years ago to spread new human resource development systems based partly on teaching techniques used at Japan's technical colleges. It has 14 member universities in 13 countries, including ASEAN nations, China, South Korea and Japan.
APEN's headquarters are located at the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology, which shares a campus with the Tokyo Metropolitan College of Industrial Technology.
Technical colleges, which provide practical specialized technical education, first came into being in 1962 at the request of the business community. Students enroll after graduating from junior high school and are given a head start with teaching that hones their technical skills, then sent out into the workforce five years later.
There are currently 57 technical colleges in Japan. In comparison with institutes of technology, their curricula emphasize practical hands-on training and experimentation, and deepen understanding of the basics of manufacturing, such as lathing and welding, as well as advanced theory. However, there is little public awareness of their existence. Due to factors such as a preference for mainstream education and the reduced birth rate, the ratio of applicants to places is less than 2-to-1 in the last 10 years.
Nowadays, however, these technical colleges are attracting the attention of other Asian countries, which face a pressing need to develop their manufacturing sectors and cultivate engineers.
"Japan's economic growth has been bolstered by its technical colleges, which supply a rich pool of mid-level engineers," said APEN secretariat executive director Mitsuhiro Maeda. "They also hold the key to providing the personnel needed in developing Asian nations."
The University of Darma Persada plans to create a course based on Japanese technical college-style education next year. Electrical engineering and mechanical engineering are being considered as specializations, in light of the promising prospects for growth in the local automotive industry. The Bandung Institute of Technology, a prestigious Indonesian school and also an APEN member, is planning to provide assistance by sending teaching staff.
"For the development of a country, middle class support of the industrial world is indispensable," said vice dean Ade Sjafruddin. "However, Indonesia has no capacity and no place to train such human resources."
For the University of Darma Persada, this is also a survival strategy. At present, there are more than 3,000 colleges and universities in Indonesia. Many leading private institutions also have a Japanese language department, so that alone is not enough to set it apart from its rivals.
"There is a lot of interest in Japanese-style manufacturing in Indonesia," said Darma Persada instructor Naoshi Uda, who came from Japan to take his current post last May. "This is the greatest opportunity the university has ever had."
Intense interest in Japan's technical education can also be found in Mongolia, where mineral exports are driving significant economic growth. According to the International Monetary Fund, Mongolia was ranked first in the world in growth rate of real gross domestic product in 2011, and third in 2012.
"We must develop more specialists and engineers," said Minister for Education and Science Luvsannyam Gantumur. "One sure way of doing that is to introduce Japanese technical education."
In October, a "model classroom" incorporating Japanese technical education techniques was created at the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) in Mongolia. Thirty-three students are participating. Its program has been provided by Tomakomai National College of Technology in Hokkaido, and two emeritus professors from the Tokyo Metropolitan College of Industrial Technology serve as instructors.
"The development of human resources for industry is the kind of education that enables Japan to be a world leader," said APEN's Maeda.
Asia continues to grow, as symbolized by the regional economic integration of ASEAN members by 2015 that will create one of the world's largest markets.
"Japan will support the development of human resources for that market," Maeda said. "This will also benefit Japan."
Watters' wolverine research leads to Mongolia
February 9 (The Spokesman-Review) She was told not to get her hopes up, that some people had worked on wolverine studies for 20 years and never seen one of the creatures in the wild.
So Rebecca Watters wasn't expecting much on the backpacking trip into Montana's Absaroka Mountains six years ago – a scouting trip seeking signs of wolverines.
While washing dinner dishes near a stream she heard her trip leader, wildlife biologist Jason Wilmot, screaming at his dog.
"Dusty! No!" he yelled. Watters couldn't imagine what was happening, but her senses went on high alert. The Absarokas, after all, are grizzly and black bear country. But Wilmot's pup was sounding the alarm about a curious wolverine that had wandered over to investigate the campers along the talus slope.
The wolverine hung around for 17 minutes, popping its head up from different locations like a feral jack-in-the-box. Watters said the encounter had a "profound effect" on her life.
"They're just such smart animals," Watters said. "You can tell there's something going on in their mind."
This single meeting with the largest member of the weasel family launched Watters into a new obsession. Since she was a child growing up near Boston, she'd been fascinated by wild animals and wild places.
"When I was 3, I became obscenely obsessed with whales," she confessed.
A self-described science geek, many of her childhood summers were spent with her parents and younger sister in a New Hampshire cabin built in the 1920s that had no running water, insulation or television. Spare time was spent exploring the mountains.
College and the Peace Corps saw her scratch an adventuresome itch with studies and work in Kenya, Cambodia – where armed motorcycle guards had to accompany her into the jungle – and Mongolia. She now speaks Mongolian and has acted as a translator for other groups traveling there.
"One reason I went to Mongolia as a Peace Corps volunteer was because it reminded me of the West," Watters said.
"I'm more interested in wildlife than dealing with people's issues with wildlife," she said, a fact driven home by her graduate research on wolf reintroduction, the work that brought her to Bozeman, now her part-time home.
With wolverines on the brain and a fascination with the wildlands of Mongolia, the 37-year-old Watters last spring got a chance to further combine the two interests. She applied for and received a grant to explore Mongolia's Dharhad region on skis to search for wolverine sign.
The work would be a follow-up to research she began in 2009 as she interviewed hunters and herders in Mongolia about sightings of wolverines, animals that had not been formally documented in the country.
"People up there say they see wolverines all of the time," she said. "And they have the pelts to prove it."
Accompanying her last spring were Utah photographer Jim Harris, Jackson Hole mountain guide Forrest McCarthy, wolverine researcher Wilmot and Gregg Treinish of the Bozeman group Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.
During the spring trip, she skied 230 miles for a month with the four men into the sprawling mountainous region – her first time skiing with a backpack and her first extended winter camping trip.
"But they were, in a way, my mountains," she wrote in her blog. "I'd traveled around in them in bits and pieces over the course of 12 years, and they felt comfortable. Living in the cold, camping in the snow, and bundled into layers of warm winter clothing, we became snow beasts of the Dharhad, too.
"We predicted that if we were lucky, we would find four or five sets of tracks during the trip," Watters said. "Instead, within 45 minutes on the first day we found tracks."
The explorers were traversing huge, remote valleys, at an elevation of about 5,000 feet, surrounded by 10,000-foot mountains. Temperatures would commonly drop below zero at night, and sugary snow made trail-breaking tedious and physically draining.
The trip crossed into the recently protected Ulaan Taiga Strictly Protected Area and Tengis Shishged National Park. The regions were set aside as the country tries to offset the effects of an expanding mining industry, illegal logging and an increase in the number of livestock that are grazed across the countryside.
The nation's protected areas, which cover about 16 percent of the country, are home to Mongolia's most endangered species, including the snow leopard and gobi bear.
Along the way the American travelers were resupplied twice as they made a large loop through the region that is also home to moose, elk and possibly snow leopards.
"It's an unstudied system," Watters said.
This year, Watters plans to return to Mongolia as director of the Mongolian Wolverine Project with remote cameras to set up baited stations to lure animals into camera range. Watters stressed "the huge importance of cultural and local knowledge to the research endeavor. I couldn't do it without the openness and the generosity of the communities in which I work."
Ultimately, Watters would like to set up a collaring operation to track the travels of Mongolian wolverines. That will take more grants, and more grant writing, on Watters' part – one of her duties when she's not off on expeditions into the wilds.
In the end, when the data is analyzed and published, she hopes to show how information about Mongolian wolverines may hold keys to preserving the animals in the lower 48 states.
Liza F. Carter's portraits of Mongolia
February 8 (The Boston Globe) Trained as an environmental scientist, Concord resident Liza F. Carter was a stay-at-home mom in 1997 when she was invited to go on a trip to Mongolia. She jumped at the opportunity. She and her scientist friend didn't find the endangered two-humped camels he wanted to study, but the trip changed Carter's life and led to her documentary photography book, "Moving with the Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family" (Saltwind).
A painter and photographer, Carter was captivated by the warmth and openness of the Mongolian people and fascinated by their tradition of nomadic herding, a tradition threatened by changing weather patterns and lifestyles. In the increasingly frequent extra-harsh winters, more animals, unable to reach the grasses buried under deep snow, are dying of starvation. In addition, more young people are moving to cities. Of the 20 or so children Carter photographed for her book, only two have chosen to be nomadic herders.
Though an academic press agreed to publish the book, Carter became frustrated by the continual delays so she struck out on her own, raising nearly $15,000 in a Kickstarter campaign.
She's giving two talks this month. At 7 p.m. Thursday at the Concord Art Association, she will focus on the artistic and practical concerns associated with creating and publishing a book like hers. Tickets are $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers. At 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Concord Free Public Library, she will share images from Mongolia.
Mongolia's first lady talks family values
February 2014 (Worldfolio) Mongolian people have a rich depository of good traditions and family values, according to Bolormaa Khajidsuren. In an interview with United World, the Mongolian first lady talks about the importance of instilling good morals through parenthood to create a more prosperous nation, and how she works to keep families together through her two foundations
Implementing democracy is perhaps Mongolia's biggest achievement. Since your husband began his term as president, the country has undergone a profound transformation, not just economically speaking but also in terms of freedoms and civil rights. What are your views on this; how has it been from your side?
My husband together with his likeminded friends started the democratic revolution more than 20 years ago. In the course of this struggle to build a democratic society in the country I have always tried to support my husband – through hardships and challenges, through both good and hard times. And this is a characteristic of any loving wife.
Throughout our history, Mongolian women have stood beside their husbands and shared both joy and pain. Yes, Mongolia has gone through dramatic changes and reforms. Learning lessons and consolidating our success, we have been navigating towards a better future. I strongly believe in the bright future of my country.
The President stated that his motivation and his strength came from his upbringing in a family with eight children. He saw that his mother was very hardworking – clothing and feeding him and his siblings. Is it this strength within the Mongolian people something that he wants to transmit? Looking at your own family I wonder what key values and key teachings that you are transmitting to them.
My husband is the son of a herder's family. He has seven elder brothers and is the youngest of eight boys. In our immediate family my husband and I have 4 sons of our own and we adopted one girl. The value we try to instill in my children is to live their life with dignity and integrity, and prioritize education. Be ethical and morally upright and to always try to be helpful to others.
Do you feel that something could be done on a national scale in order to instill the Mongolian society with those values and concerns?
Mongolian people have a rich depository of good traditions. Since ancient times every single Mongolian family has tried to instill those values in their children. All parents want their children be educated, and they work very hard for their children so that they can obtain formal education. If every Mongolian citizen is ethical, educated and honest, then the whole of Mongolia will be ethical and honest and will prosper. Therefore, I think, the quality of life, our future depends on what kind of citizens we, as parents, raise.
We would like to speak about Mongolia's social welfare. Could you share with us the reasons behind the creation of The Bolor Foundation?
Well, the First Ladies around the world, including Mongolia, have strived to conduct activities that could benefit the nation, children, and women. As for The Bolor Foundation, I founded it in 2006, years before my husband was elected the President of the country.
There was a very delicate reason behind its establishment. As I said before I'm a mother of 4 boys. My husband and I really wanted to have a daughter. So we agreed to adopt a girl and I went to an orphanage. The director of the facility took me to a class of little children.
All the children, some 20 plus children stood around and encircled me and were looking at me as if asking for care, asking for love. And I really wanted to embrace them all. Not just one single child but all two dozens of them. Since that day, I had been visiting the orphanage often, and one day I realized that I couldn't do without those little children, so my husband and I adopted the whole class as our foster children. That is where The Bolor Foundation begins. Seven years have gone by since then; they are a part of our family now.
In 2010 we hired some staff. I found some teachers to work with us to take care of the children. Now my children all live together in one apartment as one big family with the teachers and the staff to help me raise them.
We adopted 24 children from that orphanage. Some of them didn't have both parents, and some had only either a mother or father. They all had lived hard lives and had been sent to the orphanage. In the past seven years, 11 of the 24 children were reunited with their family. We took 11 children back to their homes to their parents. Reuniting the families and helping them to be able to support themselves. We had to find jobs for parents to support their families.
We got some gers (Mongolian felt-lined tent dwellings) for those families that needed them. Most importantly, I made sure that my children were happy to be back at home. I see the happiness in my children and that makes me and my husband happy.
The mothers and fathers of those 11 children who returned home are also happy. They are happy to see their children raised to be warm-hearted, caring, and aspiring young people. They see that we have invested love and care in their, and now our, children. For a mother, what else can bring more happiness than the happiness of their children?
Have you worked with any other first ladies in Asia for the program? It's a very interesting foundation so maybe someone has followed your example.
Well I'm sure the first ladies of other countries also have programs and causes that are needed for their people. Their efforts and initiatives may not be entirely the same as mine, but I am sure, they must be causes that do good for their people. In one of his interviews, my husband told the journalist about me. "My wife was born to be a mother of many-many children. This is her fate: to be surrounded by, to be loved by and to be living with the children and I take this as my destiny as well, as a gift from Tengri, from Heaven.
The Bolor Foundation dwells on the one heart, sincerity, care of very good people, the teachers, the nurses and the staff of The Bolor Foundation. These are the people who have been maintaining it, who have been caring for the foundation.
I understand you also have the Hope Foundation as well. I was just wondering perhaps you could give me a little detail on that and the reasons behind your choosing of this kind of foundation?
In March 2010, I founded the Hope Cancer-free Mongolia National Foundation. As you may well be aware, the number of cancer incidences in Mongolia is increasing. The idea behind establishing this foundation is simple – help my country and our health system to fight against cancer.
The foundation closely cooperates with the national center for cancer. In the course between 2010 and 2013, the Hope Cancer-free Mongolia Foundation helped retrain the nurses, medical staff, and doctors of the national cancer center in both national and overseas training courses on diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Palliative care was introduced in Mongolia some 10 years ago, so to help strengthen that system, our Foundation implemented the palliative care segment and also trained palliative care doctors in local and international training courses and established palliative care units.
Mongolians have a culture of taking good care of those who are sick and need care and assistance. We do not abandon our sick people. That culture is now at the heart of the philosophy of the Hope Foundation.
If you could give the people in the USA a message about your country what would that message would be. What do you think are the most important things people should take from our reports when reading them?
Mongolian people are very open people. If people want to know about Mongolians they should come to Mongolia. Welcome to my beautiful country, experience our culture, arts, customs and traditions. Enjoy the beauty of nature and the beauty of the mind of the Mongolian people. My message to the readers of your newspaper would again be a warm invitation to Mongolia. I do see many great opportunities between our nations to work together, so let's be friends and let's work together for a better world.
Two Mongolian skiers representing Mongolia at Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
February 9 (UB Post) The opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter Olympics, symbolizing the peace and togetherness of humankind, took place on February 7, at Fisht Olympic Stadium. A team of six represented Mongolia in the opening parade of national teams.
International Sports Masters B.Byambadorj and Ch.Otgontsetseg are competing in cross-country skiing. Their games are scheduled for February 14 and 15.
The two skiers and their coaches arrived in Sochi on January 30 and moved into the Sochi Olympic Village.
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are the 13th Winter Olympic Games that Mongolia has participated in. Mongolia took part in the Winter Olympics for the first time in 1964 at the Innsbruck Olympics in Austria, with 13 athletes (ten men and three women) competing in Biathlon, Country-Cross Skiing and Speed Skating.
Mongolia is marks its 50th Anniversary of competing in Winter Olympics this year. It was also India and North Korea's first time competing in the Winter Olympics in 1964.
State Honored Athlete and skater L.Tsend led the Mongolian team and walked as a flag bearer for Mongolia in Innsbruck 1964, Grenoble 1968 and the Sapporo 1972 Winter Olympics.
Skier L.Dorj also competed in two Winter Olympic Games and coached his juniors in four more Winter Olympics. The names of the two athletes are
The President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj at Sochi 2014 Olympics highlighted in the Mongolian history of sports.
Continental Media to sell Noble
EXCLUSIVE: James Andrew Felts and Matthew Shreder's Continental Media has secured world sales rights to Noble, winner of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema later today 8)
February 9 (Screen Daily) Stephen Bradley wrote and directed the UK-Ireland production about Christina Noble, the Irishwoman who overcame a harsh childhood to start a charity in aid of street children in Vietnam and Mongolia.
Deirdre O'Kane, Brendan Coyle of Downton Abbey, Liam Cunningham of Game Of Thrones, Ruth Negga and Sarah Greene star.
Melanie Gore-Grimes produced and Michael J Hunt served as executive producer through his private equity company Ansty Productions.
"The powerful story of Christina Noble's life noticeably struck the entire theatre during all the screenings at [Santa Barbara], which truly validated Noble as a gem for us," said Felts.
"To see Noble resonate so strongly and rapidly with audiences at SBIFF has been incredibly rewarding," said Bradley. "I now look forward to sharing Christina Noble's extraordinary story with as many people as possible."
"We are excited that Continental Media have come on board as their enthusiasm and understanding of where we want to go with Noble has been an encouraging boost for everyone involved in the film," added Gore-Grimes.
As the winner of the festival's top award, Bradley will receive a $60,000 camera package sponsored by Panavision.
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