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Friday, February 14, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Mogi: Announcement made after Thursday close. HKEx:975 closed Thursday -2.38% to HK$0.82. Much needed cash for MMC's upcoming bond interest payments in March
MMC: THE TRANSFER OF UHG-GS ROAD ASSETS
February 13 -- This is a voluntary announcement made by Mongolian Mining Corporation (the "Company").
References are made to the announcements dated 6 October 2011 and 19 August 2013 issued by the Company in relation to the construction of the Ukhaa Khudag-Gashuun Sukhait paved road ("UHG-GS Road") for coal transportation and the decision of the Government of Mongolia (the "Government") to purchase the UHG-GS Road.
The board of directors of the Company (the "Board") wishes to announce that on 13 February 2014 Energy Resources LLC, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, has received payment pursuant to the Road Transfer Agreement (the "Agreement") and the rights and duties of the parties under the Agreement became enforceable. The Agreement was entered on 8 December 2013 between Energy Resources LLC and Gobi Road LLC (an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company), and, among others, Erdenes MGL LLC, a state owned company incorporated in Mongolia assigned by the Government to take control of the UHG-GS Road assets along with all rights and responsibilities in relation to the operation and maintenance of the road pursuant to Government Resolution No. 299 on "Certain actions to be taken to support coal export" dated 16 August 2013 ("Resolution No. 299").
Pursuant to the Agreement, Erdenes MGL LLC agreed to take control of the UHG-GS Road for and on behalf of the Government from Gobi Road LLC and a net consideration amount of MNT157,847,184,614.57 (equivalent to approximately US$90,323,295.42 at current exchange rate), which is an amount determined by the Working Group appointed by the Ministry of Economic Development of Mongolia, which consisted of representatives of Ministry of Road and Transportation, Ministry of Finance and Erdenes MGL LLC, after taking into account of the inspection of all costs and expenses that have been incurred by the Company in relation to the construction and financing of the UHG-GS Road assets.
UHG-GS Road was constructed under the license awarded to Gobi Road LLC and subsequently the Build-Operate-Transfer Agreement between Gobi Road LLC and the Ministry of Road, Transportation and Urban Development of Mongolia dated 9 June 2010 (the "BOT Agreement") whereby Gobi Road LLC was granted a right to build, operate and maintain the UHG-GS Road for a period of ten years after the date on which it is commissioned for service. The UHG-GS Road was built by 100% investment made by Energy Resources LLC and commenced operations in October 2011. Under the BOT Agreement, Gobi Road LLC was required to transfer all of its rights and obligations with respect to the operation and maintenance of the UHG-GS Road to the Government for nil consideration upon expiration of the BOT Agreement term or the Government had a right to takeover the UHG-GS Road upon payment of compensation at any time before the expiration of the BOT Agreement.
Upon completion of the transfer of the UHG-GS Road assets, the Company will continue to have unrestricted access to the UHG-GS Road by paying tariff in accordance with the relevant Mongolian laws and agreement concluded between Gobi Road LLC and Erdenes MGL LLC for road utilization and road maintenance services.
Turquoise Hill Eyes Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project Restart Proposal
By Alex MacDonald
LONDON, February 13 (WSJ)--Canada-based Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TRQ.T) said Thursday that an option to restart the underground development of the massive Mongolian Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper project has been proposed even as negotiations with the Mongolian government continue to resolve outstanding issues that led to the project's suspension.
Turquoise Hill, majority-owned by Oyu Tolgoi's project operator Rio Tinto PLC (RIO), said that an option has been proposed to restart the underground expansion project, subject to certain conditions met, but cautioned that "further delays may occur if outstanding shareholder issues, including project finance, are not resolved before the expiration of lender commitments on existing project finance arrangements." (Mogi: can't make out whether this is saying progress is being made or that it is warning about the possibility)
Turquoise Hill, Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government have been at loggerheads for more than a year about the investment terms for the second phase of expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi project. The Mongolian government is concerned that escalating project costs could delay the timing of government revenue from the project, among other things.
The protracted talks prompted Rio Tinto and Turquoise Hill, which owns 66% of Oyu Tolgoi, to put the underground expansion on hold in July and lay off workers. Rio Tinto, however, managed to secure a commitment from 15 commercial banks to extend the signing date for a provisional $4 billion financing package negotiated last year to the end of March from December of last year in order to allow the three parties to resolve their outstanding issues.
Turquoise Hill said that all parties are committed to further construction of the underground project and development of Oyu Tolgoi, subject to resolution of shareholder issues, agreement of a comprehensive funding plan including project finance, approval of the feasibility study by all shareholders and the Mongolian Minerals Council and receipt of permits required for the project.
Turquoise Hill said that 60% of Oyu Tolgoi's production is under contract with additional volume contracts in the process of being finalized. Oyu Tolgoi continues to target production of 150,000 to 175,000 metric tons of copper in concentrates and 700,000 to 750,000 ounces of gold in concentrates this year, although production rates were dented recently by various post-commissioning issues of the mine that will result in the shutdown of one production line for a period of six to eight weeks. The company is taking advantage of this opportunity to pull forward plant maintenance that would have required a plant slowdown later in the year.
Turquoise Hill shares plunge on Oyu Tolgoi update – MINING.com, February 13
Turquoise Hill drops on possible further Oyu Tolgoi delays; disappointing sales volumes – Proactive Investors, February 13
KCC closed +10% to C$0.055
Kincora sees signs Mongolia is 'moving in the right direction'
February 7 (Proactive Investors Stocktube) John Rickus, chairman of Toronto Venture-listed Kincora Copper (CVE:KCC), says the explorer has outlined a series of "very strong targets" which will be drilled in 2014 and sees signs Mongolia is 'moving in the right direction.'
Kincora Copper Corporate Presentation, February 14 - Final 2013 Field Season Results: Copper exploration in the Oyu Tolgoi corridor
Overview: Mongolian Minerals Sector & Exploration in the Oyu Tolgoi Copper belt – Kincora Copper, February 2014
Why Real Estate is the Road to Riches in Mongolia
February 4 (Emerging Frontiers) Harris Kupperman, Chairman and CEO of Mongolia Growth Group (TSXV:YAK, OTC:MNGGF), talks about the updates on Mongolian economy, local real estate and developments in Mongolia Growth Group.
Emerging Frontiers: Harris, the Mongolian economy is still growing at an amazing pace. Expected to grow 11.6% in 2014, according to the IMF, what are you seeing on the ground that isn't being translated through other media outlets?
Harris: The economy is much stronger than the headlines would suggest and I expect organizations like the IMF to begin raising their forecasts in the near future. Ever since the government passed the new foreign investor law, many mothballed projects are now moving forward again and we expect to see the growth rate accelerate in the spring as the capital spending starts up again.
At our business, we tend to have a pretty good handle on the direction of the economy as we manage leases on approximately 80 SME tenants between our office and retail space. I have to tell you that the economy hasn't been this strong since we first started our business in 2011. We have only one vacancy in retail space and for the first time in our company's history, we have no rent that is more than 30-days delinquent, which is a great indicator of our tenants' ability to pay in a timely way. Even more tellingly, we have waiting lists on some of our high-demand properties as there is a severe shortage of well-located retail space and to a lesser extent, a shortage of well-maintained office space. This shortage is once again beginning to translate into increased pricing and in November, we reported a 23% year-over-year increase in rents for properties that were part of the core portfolio. This growth rate has a good chance of accelerating as more properties are renewed at currently prevailing rental rates.
In retrospect, it appears that many firms took a wait-and-see approach during 2013 due to the presidential elections and the expected change in the foreign investment law. Now those firms are flush with cash and looking to expand—unfortunately, there isn't enough available space, even for well-respected Mongolian tenants that want to expand.
In summary, the economy is booming here in Mongolia, but too many overseas investors are reading stories that should have been written 12 months ago, by journalists who have never been to Mongolia. Ironically, right as things re-accelerate—you are seeing various Mongolian stock indices stagnate or even decline. Just look at the performance of the MSE which is down over 65.6% in US Dollar terms since the peak in 2011. It has recovered a bit from the absolute lows, but now is the time to be buying—instead; investors are scared—as they usually are right after the lows as they don't have accurate data on how well the economy is doing here.
Emerging Frontiers: I can vouch for the vast discrepancy between what's happening on the ground and that which is being broadcast overseas, having lived in UB for nine months. How will the revision of the investment law and implementation of the securities law impact investment in the country?
Harris: If Mongolia is going to continue growing at double digit rates, it needs for external capital to be invested in the economy as the domestic capital base is insufficient to support the current growth rates. The new foreign investment law allows a lot better clarity on what sorts of investments are allowed and it opens up a number of sectors to foreign investment that had previously been reserved only for Mongolians.
Meanwhile, the securities law will allow the growth of the domestic capital markets, which will ultimately be a captive source of future growth capital. Both of these changes are huge positives in terms of bringing capital into Mongolia and will be responsible for increasing the growth rate.
Emerging Frontiers: Through previous conversations you have said that MGG is receiving inquiries from many prospective retail tenants. Are you seeing increased interest from foreign companies? Who do you think is the next multinational retailer to open shop in UB?
Harris: We have had many inquiries from Mongolian and international tenants. Unfortunately, we cannot disclose who we are speaking with—however, I think the next growth driver in terms of the retail markets will be the entry of more foreign firms, often in partnership with professional Mongolian groups.
Emerging Frontiers: Now, onto government sponsored projects for a moment, how has the 8.0% mortgage program, which started last summer, helped property prices to rise? We have heard that prices on average in the city centre increased over 30.0% in 2013.
Harris: I'm not sure if 30% is the correct number, but clearly prices have increased at a healthy rate. In particular, there has been a noticeable increase in the value of well-located re-development sites in the downtown. It is hard to say how much of this growth in prices was from the 8% mortgage program and how much of the increase was simply from plain old economic growth that has fueled property price appreciation.
It is worth mentioning that in 2011, the economy overheated and this lead to an increase in inflation which the Central Bank ultimately had to fight. The risk is that the economy is once again really ramping up and this is starting to lead to an increase in inflation. The key is to make sure that the economy doesn't overheat again, so that we have more stable growth going forwards.
Emerging Frontiers: On December 24 MGG announced the closing of the sale of Mandal Insurance. How has the elimination of insurance from your portfolio allowed you to streamline operations and cut costs?
Harris: Disposing of Mandal will simplify our business as MGG will be focused only on the property sector, and we will have less volatility in our reported numbers. Even more importantly, we will have very substantial savings at the corporate level. The unfortunate fact is that Mandal was simply too small to be part of a public company and going forward, I think they will also be more successful on their own.
Our hope is that by being a pure-play property company, with a lower cost structure, we will be much more understandable to the investor community, which should help us as we continue to grow our business.
Emerging Frontiers: What is your strategic focus for 2014 as the economy beings to heal itself and a higher degree of normalcy returns?
Harris: Since our listing, we always thought that our property portfolio was the key asset at MGG. We are increasingly realizing that our property management platform may be just as valuable—if not more valuable. What we have built over the past 3 years is a company that can do everything including acquisition, property management, leasing, value added renovations and development. Most importantly, we can do this in a way that is IFRS compliant, audited by Price Waterhouse and ideally suited for other institutional investors looking to invest in the growth of Mongolia. As investor attention has starting returning to Mongolia, we have received quite a few inbound inquiries from institutional property investors who realize that we are one of the only companies in Mongolia that can provide the sorts of services that they will need if they invest in Mongolia.
When we first started MGG, we faced the same dilemma that many of these institutional property investors now face, as there are only a handful of firms that provide professional property management services. Unfortunately, many of these firms aren't set up for the added compliance needed to service the needs of a public company—hence we had to build out own team. Now that other overseas investors are entering the market, they have the same difficulty that we had—the only difference is that we have been here for three years now, have a dedicated staff and can understand their unique needs.
Over time, I think that our strategy will evolve from simply owning property assets to earning high margin fees for structuring deals and managing other people's assets. We always knew that this was the direction that we wanted to go, but it took three years to get to the point where we had the extra bandwidth to really market these services and then perform on the mandates that we won.
Emerging Frontiers: That's an interesting concept. I've spoken with several foreign funds seeking to build exposure, their problem however being what you just mentioned, a lack of structures and talent on the ground.
MGG owns multiple well located land packages ripe for redevelopment. What is the company's strategy going forward to extract value from these parcels?
Harris: Previously, we did not have the team needed to properly develop these assets. Now that we have built up our team, we are actively exploring how to re-develop the assets. I think we have a lot of flexibility in how we maximize the value of the assets going forward and this will be a driver of growth in future years.
Emerging Frontiers: Harris, thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights.
Harris: Absolutely. Check back soon, given the growth rate in Mongolia, a few months is a long time…
BDSec: Earnings Season Begins in MSE, Top 20 +1.12%, Turnover ₮10.7 Million
February 12 (BDSec) The MSE Top 20 rose 1.12 percent to 16,899.27 at the close on Wednesday. Earnings season has just started. Ulaanbaatar BUK (BUK), a company that produces steel and concrete products, and conducts construction work itself, posted sales revenue of MNT 8.9 billion in 2013, down 17.8% from the previous year, where its earnings came down to MNT 511.8 million or MNT 454 per share, down 67.1% yoy. The stock was last traded on Jan 27, 2014 and closed 5.5% lower at MNT 34,020.
Genco Tour Bureau (JTB), a tour company, posted a net loss of MNT 221.5 million or MNT -2.77 per share in 2013, compared to 2012 earnings of MNT 2.97 per share, even though the company managed to increase its sales by 2.5% to MNT 2.84 billion. JTB shares rose 3.37% today to MNT 92 on a traded volume of 481 shares.
Turnover for Wednesday was light at MNT 10.7 million.
Trading Value Leaders
State Department Store (UID)
Ulaanbaatar Hotel (ULN)
Sharyn Gol (SHG)
State Department Store (UID)
BDSec: Sharyn Gol 2013 Earnings -38% from 2012, MSE Top 20 -0.57%, Turnover ₮16.8 Million
February 13 (BDSec) Mongolia stocks closed 0.57 percent lower today. Suu (SUU), a milk producer, jumped 14.56% to close at MNT 102,000. Gobi (GOV) traded up 5.27% today on a strong earnings results. Sales and earnings increased 19.4% and 35.3% respectively in 2013 for Gobi.
Bayangol Hotel (BNG) led decliners of the day with 12.30 percent drop followed by Sharyn Gol (-5.82%). Sharyn Gol (SHG) posted earnings of MNT 1.16 billion or MNT 113.18 per share for 2013, 38.2% lower than 2012. The Company's sales revenue increased 58.2% year over year to reach at MNT 21.8 billion.
Turnover for Thursday was light at MNT 16.8 million.
Trading Value Leaders
Bayangol Hotel (BNG)
Sharyn Gol (SHG)
Khukh Gan (HGN)
MSE: 2013 Annual Results Announced So Far
BoM MNT Rates: February 13 Close
January MNT Chart:
Mogi: BoM didn't have the English version of the release. Don't remember BoM ever failing to do so on time
BoM FX auction: USD41.2 million, CNY12 million sold, accepts 100% of USD42.4 million USD swap bids
February 13 (Cover Mongolia) Bank of Mongolia (BoM) sells US$41.2 million, CNY12 million at undisclosed rates in today's FX auction after having received bids for USD, CNY from commercial banks.
Also, BoM accepted 100% of USD swap bids totaling US$ 42.4 million.
Link to release (in Mongolia)
Mogi: banks I guess are very liquidity-conscious these days. More argument for GoM opening up the domestic bond market?
GoM Bond Auction: ₮9 Billion from Announced ₮30 Billion 5-Year Bonds Sold at Average 13%
February 12 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 5 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 30 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 9.0 billion /out of 9.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at premium price and with weighted average yield of 13.00%.
Mogi: and opting for a more short-term safe-keeping
GoM Treasury Auction: Announced ₮70 Billion 28-Week Bills Sold at 10.89% Average Yield with ₮75 Billion Bids
February 12 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 70.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 70.0 billion /out of 75.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 10.89%.
8% Mortgage Program Update: 17,105 Citizens' ₮482.4B Refinanced, 14,868 Citizens' ₮848.3B Newly Issued
February 13 (Cover Mongolia) As of February 13, ₮482.4 billion (₮482.4 billion as of February 10) existing mortgages of 17,105 citizens (17,105 as of February 10) were refinanced at 8% out of ₮844.3 billion (₮844.3 billion as of February 10) worth requests. (Mogi: application for refinancing seems to have halted. The application does require minimum 1 year employment at same organization, 30% down payment so perhaps we'll see a few increases along the way)
Also, ₮848.3 billion (₮845.8 billion as of February 10) new mortgages of 14,868 citizens (14,815 citizens as of February 10) were issued at new rates out of ₮919.9 billion (₮916.1 billion as of February 10) worth requests.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Mongolia's gold-reserve boosting experiment
Mongolian special: lower tax for gold reserves. We look more closely at the implications of a new royalty law that has been recently introduced.
SEATTLE, WA, February 12 (MINEWEB) - In late January Mongolia made law an amended gold royalty regime that lowers a gross tax on gold sales to 2.5 percent from up to 10 percent if a gold miner sells its production to the central bank. It's a fascinating gambit by Mongolia to boost the size of its gold reserves, confidence in its inflating currency and growth of its official gold mining industry, which, according to reports, produced a modest 290,000 ounces gold in 2013, the vast majority of it exported.
Already one of Mongolia's top gold miners, Canadian-based Centerra Gold, has put the new law to work. Centerra Gold spokesperson John Pearson, the company's vice president of investor relations, confirmed a research report by Dale Choi, who runs the firm Independent Mongolia Metals & Mining Research, that it has sold 100 kilograms gold to the Mongolian central bank under the new tax regime last week (this is roughly 3,200 ounces or $4 million worth of gold at presstime) .
"It's very attractive," said Pearson of the amended law.
Centerra's gold sale to the Mongolian central bank - from its Boroo gold mine where it expects to produce 45,000 ounces gold this year - stands as an important test of the new system, which, if the buying continues, gives Mongolia a highly attractive royalty regime and suggests more legislative progress in favour of miners in a country that has in recent years made administrative decisions that torpedoed foreign direct investment.
Choi, in an interview from his Ulaanbaatar office on Tuesday, expressed optimism in the direction Mongolia's government was taking, although there are major decisions still hanging in the balance for Mongolia to address, ones to which miners are paying close attention. These include a mineral law that explorers hope will thaw the moratorium on exploration licenses and resolve 106 exploration licenses - or some of them - that were recently rescinded, agreement with Rio Tinto on the Oyu Tolgoi underground project and approval of Centerra's Gatsuurt gold project (ore from which it hopes to process at Boroo).
But with the new and lower royalty tax coming on the back of a new investor protection law, Choi said, "Something has been done and both parties agreed to it." He credited, in part, Zandaakhuu Enkhbold, the speaker of the Mongolian parliament who he praised as a "tough little fellow."
The lower royalty rate - assuming the Mongolian central bank can keep buying gold - could help attract investment, or set the stage to do so once other issues are resolved, in a democratic country that has damaged its reputation as a destination for mining investment in recent years and is known for extensive corruption.
Still, there are questions to consider as regards the stability of the new gold royalty regime: First, with a thin foreign exchange market, to what extent can the country handle currency conversions? And second, how will the Mongolian central bank fund gold purchases if such sales boom?
As Choi put it, the law and its implications are not "straightforward."
1. Gold miners, especially foreign ones, will want to convert a good portion of proceeds from gold sales to US dollars out of Mongolian tögrög, with which the Mongolian central bank pays. Certainly they will keep some money in country in local currency to fund domestic operations. But equally certainly they won't want to keep it all there, especially given recent high inflation versus the US dollar.
The currency market looks like this: Choi estimates that daily volume of trading US dollars in Mongolia is between one to five million dollars. Miniscule in the grand scheme of things. The question becomes how well the system - and miners - handle large gold sales and subsequent currency conversions in a dollar-constrained market. Miners will have to be smart about sales, Choi noted.
In this respect, Centerra's Pearson said the gold miner had tested this aspect of the equation through its gold sale to the Mongolian central bank. It converted a sizeable portion of the proceeds from local currency to dollars, he said, and it worked very well. That should provide some faith Mongolia is serious about growing its gold reserves under the new tax regime.
But at the same time it's fair to say the system has yet to see a deluge of miners chasing dollars, stressing the currency exchange market.
2. There is also the question of Mongolia funding gold purchases, especially if they grow. Mongolia wants to boost confidence in its currency, turning to gold, but to do so it may have to dilute its cash pool, that is, as Choi noted, print money; and this in a country fighting inflation, often in the teens, with a depreciating currency and a bond market sceptical of government issues.
"I'm not quite sure what's going to happen," Choi said in context of how the amended mineral law would unfold in practice. Still, he was optimistic. Mongolians love gold, Choi said, and increasing reserves would boost faith in the Mongolian tögrög.
ResCap: Mongolian Economic and Mining Update – "Mistakes made... but willing to change"
February 5 (ResCap via Kincora Copper) --
Despite attractive headline economic numbers 2013 was not a good year for the Government of Mongolia …
· Full year headline GDP growth of 11.7% with inflation ~10% (and increasing) driven by unsustainable State led intervention and policy
· Deteriorating private sector environment, depletion of foreign reserves, emerging structural balance of payments deficit, rising inflation, maxed debt levels and global market conditions are forcing change
· The Government of Mongolia ("GoM") admits mistakes have been made and is "committed to improving" the business environment
... lots of words, but is there action and is it in time?
· There has been a 180 degree change in Government rhetoric over the last 12 months with legislative change coupled with various forced and/or voluntary steps forward supporting cause for considered optimism for probably the first time since 2Q'12
· Recently introduced and proposed change will take time for the benefits to be realized, particularly given the turbulent previous 18-24 months and still ever changing environment. Will enough be done and confidence restored to avoid international reserve being exhausted in the next 12 months?
· With the US and European economies seemingly turning the corner, and interest rates looking likely to rise, Mongolia is going to have to offer significant risk adjusted returns to attract the levels of foreign investment that was available a few years ago and successfully navigate the near term squeeze on Mongolia's fx reserves
· Years of expansionary policies have contributed to domestic vulnerabilities placing certain sectors at particular risk
Foundations being set for the next cycle of private sector activity
· Mongolia's tarnished image in the global markets eye, being a mining driven economy, dependent on China at a time where the market is underweight the minerals sector and concerns remain… …but China's near term growth rates provide a favourable outlook for the contrarian and longer term investor) given the valuation of most asset classes and the potential near term catalyst resolution on Oyu Tolgoi Stage 2 financing would provide
· Given the fragile state of the domestic banking and construction sectors, and proposed, well overdue, positive reform in the legislative environment of the minerals sector, including the proposed re-issuance of new exploration licenses, we believe that the minerals sector provides the best leverage and risk profile to a potential uplift in the cycle for private sector activity
Mogi: local media has profiled him as the son of Altankhuyag's friend, VP at DP's youth association, born in 1984, studied bridge, tunnel engineering in Korea.
Erdenes MGL appoints S. Tselmeg as Deputy Director to Replace G. Temuulen
February 13 news.mn) The state owned enterprise, Erdenes MGL, has announced its decision to appoint S.Tselmeg as the Deputy Director of the Company. S.Tselmeg replaces former Deputy Director G.Temuulen who now has responsibilities as one of the three new board members of Oyu Tolgoi.
The new Deputy Director S.Tselmeg took his post on January 16th, 2014.
Mongolia Climbs 10 Spots to #88 in 2014 World Press Freedom Index
February 13 infomongolia.com) The "Reporters Without Borders" NGO has released their annual Press Freedom Index 2013-2014 to measure the level of freedom of information and this year's edition for 180 countries, where Finland tops the index for the fourth consecutive year, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway like last year. At the other end of the Index, the last three positions are again held by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, where freedom of information is non-existent.
Mongolia was ranked at 98th last year, but in 2013-2014 Report up scaled by ten places standing at 88th.
The Index reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.
The 180 countries ranked in this year's index are those for which Reporters Without Borders received completed questionnaires from various sources and some countries were not included because of a lack of reliable, confirmed data.
The questions consider six general criteria - Pluralism, Media Independence, Environment and self-censorship, Legislative framework, Transparency and Infrastructure - using a system of weighting for each possible response, countries are given a score of between 0 and 100 for each of the six overall criteria.
Adding value and sharing the wealth in Mongolia mining: Interview with Deputy Mining Minister Erdenebulgan
November 30 Worldfolio) Mongolia is rich in mineral resources. It has some of the world's major mineral deposits including gold, copper, uranium and coal. Erdenebulgan Oyun Deputy Minister of Mining speaks to Worldfolio about how reform is going to assure that communities affected by the mining industry receive more of the financial benefits generated and how they hope to work with partners to bring more of the value chain to the country
Could you give us an overview of the mining industry? What are the main policies that your ministry is implementing to take full advantage of the potential of the sector?
The FDI to the mining sector dropped significantly last year, about 40% due to certain mistakes. Our parliament made some very surprising laws for investors and players of the sector.
Since our entrance into the capitalism model, our country has progressed, however as an open economy we also face some challenges and difficulties.
In the short-term we see our path as being really bumpy, but in the long-term the perspective of this nation is really bright. We are learning by doing.
Of course, if we make mistakes, then we will see the results and outcomes. Of course, this is our price loss – people and some other politicians they play games using these issues and make them popular in the country. This is happening in Mongolia. I know that it also happens anywhere, especially in developing countries.
The important thing we have to fix all this problems, we have to learn from the mistakes that we have made. That's why we keep reminding and keep changing our laws and our legal framework in order to make it more "west-friendly". I would like to speak about some key issues and key policy of the mining sector in Mongolia.
As you know, Mongolia is really dependent on mining – this is what everyone knows. I believe that the preponderance of the sector will continue at least 20 to 30 more years. Based on the exploration of these mining assets Mongolia could be one of the richest countries of the world. That's why the government has to do it properly.
I'm going to give you just four figures: the mining industry represents about 25% of the GDP, 60% of the total industrial production, 90% of the total exports and 85% of the FDI comes from mining sector. Also 40% of the total State revenues come from the mining industry. So, these numbers shows the importance of the mining sector.
Since the establishment of the Ministry of Mining we began to focus on how we make our mining industry efficient and environmental responsible. For the sustainable development of our economy we need to balance – that's why we are introducing a new kind of best practices in the mining sector – responsible, transparent and environmental friendly. We must use high technology in the mining sector and also we need to protect our labor force with laws and working standards. All businesses should be based on the mutual benefits, because we don't want foreign investors just to dig in mines, there has to be a social responsibility behind.
What should be the priority of those companies regarding the impact that a mine has in the local communities?
As you well know, all mining companies are in the countryside. The first point is to make local communities understand how important and beneficial a mining business is for their lives. There is a problem of miscommunication with local people, from the side of the government and from the side of the private industries. For example, the centralized taxation system is not really satisfactory, because only 10% of the taxation income is collected by the central government and redistributed to the people nationwide as salary.
That's why we are also focusing on how to give more benefits to local governments. That's why we are working on a new amendment to our Mineral's Law.
We want more involvement of local governments and we want them to use the mining revenues to benefit their local communities. With the new amendment up to 30% of the taxes collected will be distributed and they will be retained for the area where the mining company is located. This is a new approach that will help local people to see and feel the benefits of the mining industry.
This collaboration between local and national government will be beneficial for both sides – they will have more benefits from the mines and they can use it in their own area. This is a good step. It is also good for miners, because they will be no anti-mining activities – they will understand how important these mining operations for the area and for the life of those people in the area are.
How is the Ministry and the private sector working together to add value to other sectors of the economy in order to diversify Mongolia's economy for a long term economic growth?
Regarding the figures I gave you, one of the aspects that disappoint us is the fact that we only sell raw materials – coal, copper concentrates and some kind of ironed concentrates. We want more value added industries – that's why our government, especially our ministry is working on that. We are also setting up several action plans for the development of value added industries. We have some programs – "Mongol Iron Program", "Mongol Copper Program".
We are inviting all stakeholders in the sector and we are talking and discussing with them about how we can work together. From our side we will help them; we will give them the opportunity to start a new business and some kind of help, for example some kind of tax exception on the products that they import like equipment. We've just signed a number of cooperation agreements with local miners and mining associations like "Iron Ore Producers Association" and "Gold Producers Association".
So, we are all focusing on the development of the value added industry. In northern Mongolia we have the biggest iron ore deposit of the country, that's why we want to set up a big iron ore industrial park there. We want to build the furnace blast. Maybe in the next 3 years we will probably export more iron ore concentrates that raw materials. In mid-term and long-term we want to produce finished products. With the establishment of an industrial area lot of mines could work together. Maybe they'll have probably one big plant – they can supply all raw materials to the factory and then get the products back on some kind of arrangement. This is our vision.
In your introduction you've discussed mistakes, developments, learning by doing. What is your evaluation of the Investment Law and how are you going to attract the foreign investors that the sector needs?
Do you know why Mongolia is attractive for Investors? I will tell you why: First, Mongolia is a democracy. In twenty years we have progressed in terms of freedoms, not just regarding the market opening but also the freedoms of our citizens.
We understand that some people feel insecure about investing in our mining sector, but the majority of stakeholders are here making profit and operating well. I totally understand that we have done some mistakes in the past, but if you look at it with perspective you will see the tremendous growth that the sector has experienced in the last 30 years.
Mongolia is a very stable country – economically and politically.
So, here you can find the stability for a long-term?
Definitely! This is the first important thing.
Secondly, we are so rich in minerals. We don't have diamonds – that's all – except diamonds we have everything. This all gives a really good opportunity for investors, those who want to play in Mongolia – not only mining, but mining related businesses like service industries, equipment sales, hotels and resorts – all this goes together. If you put one dollar into our mining sector it will generate 4 dollars in one year.
This mining boom is also developing other sectors of the economy. Thirdly, we are the perfect gateway to the Chinese market. As we have our largest mineral deposits next to China's border – so easy access and easy transportation. China consumes the world's biggest mineral products. Australia and Indonesia are not our competitors anymore.
Now they are supplying coking coal from Indonesia and Australia, but believe me – in two to three years they will be no more our competitors, because we will give to China better solutions, better products and better prices. Political stability and a good law system, that's what an investor will find here.
What opportunities would you point out for US investors interested in the mining industry? In which areas would you like to see Mongolia and the US working more closely together?
Currently, there are not so many American companies – I don't really understand why. They are now showing their interest in the oil and gas sector and they have found big reserves in UB area.
They have found reserves for billions of dollars – billions of tons of oil shale reserves and the company has signed an exploration agreement with the government.
So, we came to turn this exploration to product sharing contract and in a short-term we just waiting for the results. I know the company did many lab tests and the quality was perfect – better than Colorado or Utah ones, because the content of some kind of toxic stuff was very low – almost zero in Mongolia, but in Colorado the oil shale has 10% of this very toxic content – it is costly to remove this – it will need probably another big investment. So, the company is ready to produce, they are willing to invest about 4 billion dollars to produce gasoline, gas and other products made from oil shale.
Hopefully our domestic consumption is not much – so they have a very good market in China. Just recently our Prime Minister has visited China and made Landmark Agreement with the Chinese Government to sell 1 billion tons of coking coal to China within next 20 years and Mongolia will work with Chinese companies to develop gas called Coal Bed Gas CBM or Coal Bed Methane Gas – it's gas from coal, because Mongolia is rich in coal.
This brown coal doesn't really have other purposes – you can just burn to produce electricity and cannot sell it. So, we have 160 billions of coal – for what? – We need to make this workable. Today new technologies are coming and many companies are working to develop natural gas from these non-conventional products like coal, oil shale – this is really huge market for us.
Then we've also agreed to build a pipeline to China – gas pipeline. So, the government made a really good business opportunity for investors, those who are willing work in the oil sector – they don't need to worry about the sell, because China has huge demand on oil and gas products. They are currently building a gas pipeline from Russia to China, but if we offer them good opportunity we will be big competitor to Russians. This is an example. I think Shell Oil is dealing with one of the Mongolian oil companies and want to come to Mongolia.
ExxonMobil is interested. But we are really willing to invite American companies – this is a big opportunity not only for mining related businesses – we also wanted to be a hub. Business hub for Chinese business sectors, because if you set up your offices in Mongolia – it's cheaper than to have your office in China.
You can manage your activities from Mongolia and you control your business in China. We have a good access and lot of opportunities. We have a very good relationship to US Government. I think that many companies will come. Currently, of course, Mongolia is a country whose 20% of the area only has been explored, diagnosed and surveyed. The rest of it is still unknown. Probably we will have many more deposits like Oyu Tolgoi.
Oyu Tolgoi, What are the main challenges, opportunities and objectives up until 2020?
Oyu Tolgoi is just one project. Mongolia will never allow be dependent on only one project.
Of course, it is a very important project for Mongolia but it's still just one company – one project – one business. That's why we are going to have good relations with our stakeholders – not only with Rio Tinto, but also with some other players. Of course, we have small disputes on some issues, but there are no big and specific conflicts.
We are working perfectly with them – we understand each other very well and we hope that we can immediately start our underground mines; we can find a good financing – we all are working hard for these together. I can tell you one thing. We had probably one or two big issues with Rio Tinto – I can tell one thing – it was about cost overrun of about 2 billion dollars.
But we never justified or judged them like "Why did you spent so much?" Just as the stakeholder we are also shareholder – at least we have to know where did you spend or why the cost was so high? Every investor must know that - if you are investing 1 dollar into a company at least you have to know why the cost increased. Apart from that, Oyu Tolgoi and other undergoing projects will bring lot of revenues, investments, employment and prosperity to Mongolia. As I said before, we have the economic, political and legal stability that every investors is looking for.
Mongolia's Golomt Affirms Governance After 'Misleading' Reports
By Peter Langan and Yuriy Humber
February 12 Bloomberg News) Mongolia's Golomt Bank LLC does not have any shareholders seeking loan repayments, according to a press release from the bank.
GOLOMT BANK RE-AFFIRMS SOUND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
February 12 Golomt Bank) Golomt Bank is today responding to certain inaccurate allegations made in recent press articles relating to its corporate governance and its business.
Golomt Bank is currently involved in a legal dispute with Stanhope Investments, which centers around a disagreement on the wording of a loan agreement. The loan in question is for US$25 million, which represents approximately 1% of the bank's entire assets and therefore, is not material to the overall financial health of the Bank. The Bank is confident that the dispute will be resolved swiftly and amicably.
However, misleading and false allegations have been made in recent press articles, which the Bank feels it needs to address.
It has incorrectly been suggested that investors, including Credit Suisse, are attempting to recover funds invested in the Bank. In the case of Credit Suisse, a convertible loan for US$10million has expired and was fully paid off. Golomt Bank currently has no obligation with Credit Suisse, whether in the form of loans or otherwise.
Golomt Bank does not have any shareholders seeking repayment of loans, these are equity investments in our bank and none of our investors have signaled any intent to leave the bank. The allegations about Trafigura and Swiss-Mo are ungrounded and have no merits.
Other allegations have also been made against the Bank in relation to previous financial transactions with Itochu Corp. These are historic issues that have all now been fully resolved and, due to client confidentiality, we cannot comment further. We can confirm that Golomt bank has no financial obligations related to these transactions.
Furthermore, Golomt Bank has no other financial obligations to any other foreign entities except the US$25 million loan referred to above. The reference in certain media articles to US$90 million is entirely incorrect.
Much has also been made of delays in issuing Golomt Bank's 2012 audited financial results. Golomt's 2012 financial results were originally delayed when the auditors brought to light certain historical governance issues. There then ensued a protracted period of independent investigation, reflecting the Board and the management's full commitment to the continued improvements in our internal controls and overall governance. We have issued our financial reports for 2012 and BDO, one of the world's largest and reputable international accounting firms, completed an audit.
The Bank is continuing to engage with PWC, who originally led the independent investigation, to further improve our accounting and internal control procedures and the necessary improvements to our internal governance processes have now been made.
Golomt Bank is a key institution in the Mongolian banking sector and continues to enjoy positive and profitable relationships with its international investors. As evidenced by our unaudited 2013 results published on our website, the Bank is profitable and continues to perform well.
The Bank's organizational structure is in the process of modernization, including separating the duties and roles of different business units and control functions. Golomt Bank will continue to strengthen its leadership as well as working with international consultancy firms to further improve its corporate governance.
Through our investment in new technology and software solutions which are unprecedented in the Mongolian banking sector, the Bank will continue to build on existing improvements by upgrading internal control systems while enhancing transparency, accountability and regulatory compliance.
G.Ganbold, CEO, Golomt Bank Mongolia said: "In 2013, Golomt Bank celebrated stable growth over the past 19 years and we are excited about new opportunities, working with international partners and adopting new technology. Changes on the Board are allowing us to better pursue our strategy of becoming a public company which is at the epicenter of the growing Mongolian economy. The management team remains absolutely confident in our operational performance and the current dispute will have no bearing on Golomt's integral position in the Mongolian banking sector. The Board is committed to adopting further international governance practices and looks forward to receiving a report currently being prepared by an independent third party that builds on the improvements that have already been implemented."
About Golomt Bank:
Golomt bank was founded in 1995 and is one of the oldest and largest 'home grown' banks in Mongolian banking sector since the democratic revolution took place in Mongolia in 1990. It is one of the leading commercial banks in Mongolia with over 100 branches, 1700 employees and well established domestic and international client bases in both corporate and retail sectors.
GoM to allocate remaining $230 million Chinggis funds to domestic manufacturers
Ulaanbaatar, February 12 MONTSAME) The Government has finally selected recipients for the remaining USD 230 million of the Chinggis bonds.
The remaining 230 million USD of the bonds capital will go for financing domestic manufacturers in order to develop import substitution industry. The overall proceeds of the bonds totaling USD 1.5 billion has been spent for major projects, including thermal power plant at Tavan Tolgoi coal mine with capacity of 450 megawatts.
Proceeds from the bonds will also finance cashmere sector development in the amount of USD 68.8 million and 15 dairy production farms, planned near Ulaanbaatar in compliance with international standards. The dairy production farms would receive USD 27.7 million financing.
The Government will pay an annual interest rate of USD 72 million, together with USD 500 million as the main payment until 2018. The remaining one billion dollars will be repaid in 2022.
GoM Sets Target to Double Coal Exports to 34Mts in 2014
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 MONTSAME) At his 30 minutes meeting on Thursday, the Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag briefed on three main projects his Government has focused on lately.
He said the government for reforms last week paid a particular attention to three prevailing issues such as reforms in state agronomy policies, ways to increase coal exports and a detailed plan for fighting against air pollution.
This year, Mongolia is planning to export twice as much coal than the last year's 18 million ton, thus reaching 34 million ton, said the Premier. Hr also noted that results of a preliminary selection of the industrialization projects competition will be announced next week.
The next cabinet meeting will decide regulations for ordering the recently finished Buyant-Ukhaa apartment district, that aims to set lower prices in the housing market, he highlighted.
To a question "why fuel retailers have increased prices by 90 togrog this Wednesday?", the Prime Minister said he will investigate this matter as there is ground to increase the prices in a such amount.
Government to Allocate "Leather" Subsidy for Herders Selling Hides Domestically
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 MONTSAME) The Government is planning to give subsidy to herders starting from this March.
Setting a goal to support the domestic leather production, the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture has decided to pay bonus money of 3,000 togrog for a hide/skin of one sheep or goat and 15,000 for that of cow or horse as a direct pecuniary aid to herders who supply with hides the domestic manufacturers.
In order to receive the subsidy, a herder need to certify the sale and be a member of a herders' cooperative, says a specialist at the Light Industry Department of this Ministry D.Amarjargal.
The subsidy will be given two times a year--in March and September--once a total amount needed is summed up and calculated at the Domestic Animal Protection Foundation.
Petroleum Importers Raise Gasoline Retail Prices by 40-50 MNT per Liter
February 13 infomongolia.com) In recent days, it was rumoring that Ulaanbaatar faces with petroleum shortage and gasoline per liter might be increased soon, so from this morning most gas stations across the city have increased their fuel prices per grade by 40-50 MNT.
For instances, MT company increased for all grades by 40 MNT, where MGL-93 - 1,660 MNT, A-95 - 1,890 MNT and Diesel - 1,790 MNT.
Just Oil by 50 MNT, A-92 - 1,670 MNT, A-95 - 1,900 MNT and Diesel - 1,800 MNT.
Another biggest distributor, Petrovis remained price for A-98 as 1,930 MNT, but increased for all other grades by 40 MNT, A-80 - 1,570 MNT, A-92 - 1,660 MNT, A-95 - 1,890 MNT, and Diesel - 1,790 MNT.
The only company did not change price is Shunkhlai, but their unit prices for Nano products are same as today's increased ones, nevertheless A-92 - 1,620 MNT, Nano 92 - 1,670 MNT, A-95 - 1,850 MNT and Nano Diesel - 1,800 MNT.
Usually in Ulaanbaatar consumers do not purchase the lowest grade of A-80, thus in most gas stations it is not sold, and according to Petrovis company, formerly state-owned NIC company, any grades like other fuel importing companies are sold more expensive in provincial regions rather than in the capital city, and one of the furthermost destinations is Khovd Aimag, where in the center of the aimag the A-80 is being sold at 1,760 MNT per liter, A-92 and Diesel are same as 2,090 MNT per liter, besides in some furthest Sums of Khovd Aimag, A-80 - 1,850 MNT, A-92 - 2,190 MNT and Diesel - 2,120 MNT.
Last year in June, the Government officials announced that the fuel prices for all grades were decreased by 50 MNT per liter nationwide, which was a kind of celebration, but at this moment authorities did not make yet any statements on gas increases, if they agree with current unit price for gasoline, it is obvious consumer index price would follow up.
Moreover, the Petroleum Authority officials and above company representatives met yesterday behind the closed door and probably reached a consensus on price changes.
Hunnu Air to open direct flights to Paris
Ulaanbaatar, February 12 MONTSAME) One of the civil airlines of Mongolia, the Hunnu Air LLC will open flights to Paris, France, from June 9 of 2014, expanding its destinations in Europe.
The news was reported Wednesday on the company's website.
The flight will be performed by Airbus A 319 twice a week to the city with one stop via technical stop in Russia. As of present, the company makes direct flights to Manzhouli and Shanghai, Hailaar of China, Hong Kong, Tokyo charter), Bangkok and Russian Ulan-Ude charter). Moreover, it performs domestic flights to Bayankhongor, Choibalsan, Dalanzadgad, Gobi-Altai, Khovd, Moron and Zavkhan.
Currently, the Hunnu Air operates the flights with five airplanes two Airbus 319 100 and three Fokker 50), and is expected to add to its fleet a new airplane Airbus 330 200 by 2015.
Paving the way towards a brighter a future
November 30 Worldfolio) Mr. Badamsed Gansukh General Director of National Developer in Mongolia, his company plays an essential role in Mongolia's development by building roads and highways. He speaks to Worldfolio about what he views as the most pressing issues in Mongolia today: diversifying away from mining, attracting foreign investment and building modern infrastructure
Mongolia's economy has been growing fast in the past years on the back of the mining sector, also with the intervention of FDI. In your opinion, what other sectors should be developed in order to diversify Mongolia's economy and to attract foreign investors?
For the near future, the mining sector will lead Mongolia's growth. Companies from all over the world are coming here to invest their money in our mines. Things thus standing, I believe that the Government should not push further foreign investment in the mining sector, because FDI in that business represent already the 85% of the total.
Mongolia cannot rely on a one-business-based economy. I believe our Government should be more proactive and forward thinking. As I said, the mining sector contributes to our economy's growth producing 20% of the state revenue but we should start promoting other sectors which, by the way, have high potential such as construction, road, energy, and water business.
Furthermore, our road business is necessary for supporting the mining business. Lack of adequate infrastructure is an impediment to the development of the mineral industry as it has a negative impact on the competitiveness of our products when we compare them with the same products coming from Australia or other producer countries. The cost of Mongolian coal is too high due to our poor infrastructures.
Tackling poor infrastructure is vital for a developing country like Mongolia.
Besides modernising infrastructures, the Government should implement reforms in order to improve the energy sector, which I consider to be the other key sector in our country.
Microsoft Willing to Help Make Ulaanbaatar a Smart City
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 MONTSAME) The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city E.Bat-Uul Wednesday received local delegation of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in the UB administration.
A working group has been set up for backing the "From big state to smart state" initiative of the President, the Mayor noted and said the city plans to transmit state services into electronic forms and to install them in new apartment towns.
"We want to introduce a service system that will allow the people to receive online electricity, water bills and other information. This will take much time, so it is important for us to get a help from IT experts," Mr Bat-Uul explained and said he is glad for the chance to cooperate with the Microsoft Corporation.
A country development tends to be measured by its IT development, emphasized Ms Pilar Torres, a local manager of the Microsoft Dynamics, and added that the Microsoft Dynamics is ready to share its experience with Ulaanbaatar.
After this the Microsoft Dynamics' delegates met with officials of the working group for the "From big state to smart state" initiative and decided to work out a cooperation plan together.
Residents of Ulaanbaatar eat painkillers like candy and drink milk like tea
February 13 (UB Post) A customer at the pharmacy says, "Instead of going to family doctors, the smallest part of the hospital in Ulaanbaatar, it is better to go to an animal hospital's doctor – at least one who has experience." One man laughs loudly and another guy continues, "The last time I went to a family doctor, I felt like I was participating in an experiment, because the young doctor wrote me prescriptions for eight kinds of medicine. Then, if one didn't work, I could change my medicine several times."
Another woman laughs and says, "All of the family doctors have recently graduated from their universities and don't have practice and life experience. It is hard to face their lost and frustrated eyes. Of course, I went several times but just received some paper health tests for cough symptoms. Actually, it is better to just buy some new medicines promoted on television than to go to the hospital several times. It is a time saving process." Generally, drug promotion on television is very active from September to March. The new session of high school and universities also starts on the first day of September.
Nationwide, ten percent of household income, or 100 thousand MNT, is spent on purchasing medicine, of which 60 percent is used for treatment and nearly 40 percent is a wasted expense. The wasted expense is caused by the irrational use of medicine in Ulaanbaatar households. The high season is winter and spending is twice as high as it is in summer. This is related to self-treatment without a doctor's consultation, the purchase of medicines without a prescription, patients who stop taking medicine before its prescribed period, and the use of medicine based on advice from family, relatives and friends without a doctor's consultation.
According to the Law on Health, a doctor who graduates from university must work as a family doctor for several years before transferring to another specialization at a hospital. A pediatrician who graduates from university may not find a job for a long time, and during their training session they will only practice on dolls not children.
People buy medicine like food at a food court or a restaurant. Most of the drug sellers agree that painkillers are the most requested product at the pharmacy. Buyanaa is a 26-year-old woman who majored in journalism but is now a drug seller. Furthermore, her sister is the owner of a medicine import company. She says that she can sell 30 to 40 doses of painkillers a day. She also notices that people over 35 who live around her pharmacy are the most likely to be dependent on painkillers. Seniors always buy painkillers from her, and she makes approximately 200 to 300 thousand MNT a day. A small food market makes 100 to 200 thousand MNT a day. It is plain to see that a pharmacy can be a booming business.
According to statistics, 75 companies that run pharmaceutical businesses are owned by non-professionals in Mongolia, and it is estimated that there are over 500 pharmacies in Ulaanbaatar according to a 2012 study by the Ministry of Health. The study also revealed that 60 percent of the pharmacies are not operated by professional pharmacists. But drug sellers don't agree with the findings of the study, because every year state inspectors check the licenses of pharmacists and very few non-professionals are reported.
Over 97 percent of the 2,400 drugs that are sold on the Mongolian market are imported and only three percent are made in the country. Mongolia's drug consumption increased by 28.5 percent in 2012 compared to 2000. However, the price of drugs has remained relatively stable, except for a 2.5 percent increase in the prices of drugs imported from Germany. It is believed that a big network of drug businesses exist in Mongolia, including 160 registered companies such as Monos, Emimpex, Eurofarm, and Asiafarm. These companies import drugs and pills mostly from Russia, Hungary and Germany. Lately, pills have also come from France, Indonesia and England. Mongolians who once used traditional drugs now also take numerous drugs and pills imported in containers from all corners of the world.
Monos provides 65 percent of the country's imported drugs and pills. The company has special interests in 54 percent of the pharmacies in Mongolia. But it is not only companies that have been granted an official license to import drugs, individuals also import drugs and pills in large quantities. The imported drugs and pills are believed to be sold through 535 pharmacies. But local reports say that there is already a thriving black market for the drug business in Mongolia. There is no control of the black market or of the illegal drug business.
An older regulation said that the Ministry of Health needed to certify imported drugs, but this has been changed so importers are now responsible for drug guarantees. It is believed that the boom in the drug business is the result of Mongolia's free consumption of drugs without the need for prescriptions. In the city, 198 pharmacies are graded as first class and 337 as second class. Only 95 of these pharmacies grant drugs and pills through state health insurance.
Seniors can't lift their bags when they leave the pharmacy
Seniors and women form a line ten people deep at the sales counter of a pharmacy. Three of them have brought big paper bags to take their medicine home in. No one buys just one medication. Some seniors can't even lift their bags full of medicine because of the weight. "Seniors who live near the pharmacy buy painkillers from our us," says a drug seller who works in 100 Ail, three kilometers from Sukhbaatar Square.
One of her customers says they are addicted to prescription pain medication. They first started taking prescription painkillers some years ago when their doctor prescribed them to treat post-surgical pain following spinal surgery. Over the past several years the customer tried to break their dependence on pain pills and, in fact, checked into medical facilities twice in an attempt to do so.
Painkillers produce a short-lived euphoria and are highly addictive. The long-term use of painkillers can lead to physical dependence. The body adapts to the presence of the substance and if one stops taking the drug abruptly, withdrawal symptoms occur. The body can also build up a tolerance to the drug, meaning that higher doses have to be taken to achieve the same effects.
Like all drugs, painkillers simply mask the pain for which they are taken. They don't "cure" anything. Someone continuously trying to dull the pain may find himself taking higher and higher doses—only to discover that he cannot make it through the day without the drug.
Symptoms of withdrawal can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps known as cold turkey, and involuntary leg movements.
Surviving in the business world is harsh, and it's a problem pharmacy owners face, but if they remain in charge nothing will change. The seniors struggle to live on pensions that are wasted on medicine that doesn't help them. Seniors who are addicted to painkillers can go to the national narcotics treatment center's door, but hospitals don't have the capacity to treat all addicts. It is easier to change the old regulations of family hospitals or change practices with our young doctors.
Mogi: juggling the Koreas simultaneously
S. Korean, Mongolian FMs agree on greater cooperation on N. Korean issues
SEOUL, Feb. 12 Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea and Mongolia agreed Wednesday to broaden their cooperation in inducing change in North Korea, Seoul's foreign ministry said.
Mongolian Foreign Minister Luvsanvandan Bold also expressed his country's support for Seoul's push to build trustworthy ties with North Korea and to unify the two Koreas in his bilateral meeting with his counterpart Yun Byung-se in Seoul, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
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Sides Agree Profound Changes Needed to Increase Korean Investment in Mongolia
February 13 infomongolia.com) --
Official talks held
According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Minister Luvsanvandan BOLD who is on official visit to the Republic of Korea held official talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea Yun Byung-se on February 12, 2014.
The parties emphasized that bilateral relations are increasingly developing at the comprehensive partnership level in all spheres and expressed a confidence that the present visit will make an important contribution to fostering bilateral ties. This is the first official visit paid at the Mongolian Foreign Minister's level to the Republic of Korea in past ten years, besides Minister L.Bold conducted a working visit to the country in November 2012.
During the negotiations, Minister L.Bold made a focus on issues concerning the facilitation of travel conditions for Mongolian citizens to the Republic of Korea. Highlighting a remarkable progress achieved in this regard thanks to an agreement of 2012, Minister L.Bold forwarded a proposal on introducing visa-free conditions to improve even more the travel conditions for citizens of the two countries. Before doing so, however, he suggested seizing the requirement in the deposit to obtain Korean visa that breaches the 2012 agreement. In turn, Minister Yun Byung-se pledged to study possibilities for easing travel conditions for Mongolian citizens without paying deposits and to heed feasibilities for the establishment of a visa waiver agreement.
In considering the Republic of Korea is one of the world leading economies with high technologies, the sides agreed that the volume of investments made by the Republic of Korea to Mongolia is insufficient and that a profound change shall be made in this regard. Thereby, the sides highlighted the creation of intergovernmental mechanism for economic cooperation is an adequate ways of stimulation of investing in largest constructive projects in the mining and infrastructure spheres and intensification of bilateral mutually beneficial collaboration in the areas of technologies, human resources and management.
In 2015, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea will mark the 25 years of diplomatic relations. In this light it is of importance to host high-level visits, the sides agreed. Conveying greetings of the President of the Republic of Korea to the President of Mongolia, Minister Yun Byung-se invited the latter to visit the Republic of Korea at his convenience.
Issues touched upon Northeast Asia
Minister L.Bold held a business meeting with Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Korea Kim Kwan-jin. Recalling a meeting with L.Bold when the Minister of Defense of Mongolia three years ago, Minister Kim Kwan-jin noted that since then bilateral relations in the defense sphere has noticeably expanded, the number of Mongolian servicemen studying in the Republic of Korea has doubled and the sides have made strides in supplying military techniques and joint participation in peacekeeping operations.
Minister L.Bold paid a courtesy call on Vice Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea ROK) Lee Byung-suk.
Emphasizing a prominent role of inter-parliamentary cooperation in the development of bilateral political ties, Minister L.Bold called for closer interaction to organize in most effective way a visit of Mongolia's Parliament Speaker Z.Enkhbold to the Republic of Korea in March 2014. Saying that the protection of interests of citizens employed in foreign countries, particularly in the Republic of Korea, is one of the foremost goals of the Government of Mongolia, Minister L.Bold requested to continue paying on the part of the National Assembly a particular attention to the improvement of living conditions of the Mongolians and taking staged actions towards the facilitation of travel conditions for the people.
The same day, Foreign Minister L.Bold had a meeting with Minister of Unification Ryoo Kihl-jae. The latter highly valued Mongolia's participation in building peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and spoke for the extension of bilateral cooperation in this direction. At all the meetings, a focus was made on Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security which is targeted at building peace and security in the region, in particular, in the Korean Peninsula by means of dialogue.
Meeting with representatives of the Mongolian community
There are over 25 thousand citizens of Mongolia studying and working in the Republic of Korea. On the first day of his visit, Minister L.Bold held a meeting with representatives of the Mongolian community. At the meeting, Minister L.Bold presented the policies pursued and actions carried out by the Government for Changes and discussed problems the Mongolian community is facing with and ways of solutions to resolve.
CAA holds advanced training for DPRK aeronautical information officers
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 MONTSAME) The Aeronautical Information Service AIS) at Mongolia's Civil Aviation Authority CAA) has launched an advanced training for aeronautical information experts of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea DPRK).
This training has been held at a request of the North Korean side within cooperation in technical assistance between the AIS of the two countries. The N.Korean side had asked to involve its people in this training during international training, which was co-organized last year in Mongolia by the Boeing and Airbus with participation of experts from Malaysia and North Korea.
The trainees received information about the #15 annex of the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO), ICAO #37 amendment and on the ICAO Roadmap for the Transition from AIS to AIM, future ATM system and its role in AIS.
A director of the COSCAP/NA programme Wayne Chapin and an expert at ICAO Shane Sumner have rendered big support in running this training.
Mongolia and Hokkaido to expand cooperation
February 13 (UB Post) Foreign Affairs Minister L.Bold presented a speech on the "Mongolia-Hokkaido Workshop on Collaboration", at an event organized in Sapporo, Japan, on February 10.
He noted that there are many opportunities for Mongolia and Hokkaido, who have similar natural and climate features, to develop wide cooperation in agriculture, animal husbandry, construction, city planning, tourism, developing small and medium sized enterprises, as well as in the cultural sector. The workshop was jointly hosted by the Mongolian Embassy in Japan, Hokkaido prefecture administration and the Center of International Cooperation of Hokkaido, with the support of the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Around 180 delegates from businesses and civil organizations in Hokkaido took part.
Foreign Affairs Minister of Japan S.Kihara participated in the workshop, and called on L.Bold. He expressed his support for implementing a "mid-term program of strategic partnership", established by the Prime Ministers of the two countries, and said that he supported expanding cooperation between Mongolia and Hokkaido. Kihara also stated that the Government of Japan has made a decision on providing a soft loan of 7.5 billion JPY for the implementation of a higher engineering education development project in Mongolia. Japan will work actively towards the establishment of an economic partnership agreement between Mongolia and Japan, he added. The parties re-affirmed their commitment to support each other in elections at the UN and other international organizations.
The Governor of Hokkaido, H.Takahashi, and L.Bold had dinner together during his visit. Takahashi said she would make an effort to develop a deeper Mongolia-Hokkaido partnership. L.Bold expressed his interest in experiencing the Snow Festival of Sapporo and introducing Hokkaido's tourism experience to Mongolia.
Minister L.Bold also visited Abashiri and Kitami, cities in the Hokkaido prefecture, upon the invitation of former Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, and President of the East Asian Research Institute Tsutomu Takebe. A Mongolian-Japanese cultural performance was staged under the auspices of the Foreign Ministers of Mongolia and Japan. Minister L.Bold invited the mayors of both cities to a conference of Northeast Asian cities scheduled this year in Ulaanbaatar.
Belarus to open embassies in Australia, Qatar, Mongolia, Pakistan, Ecuador in 2014
MINSK, 12 February BelTA) – Belarus plans to open its embassies in Australia, Qatar, Mongolia, Pakistan and Ecuador in 2014. Also among the plans are the opening of diplomatic missions in Iraq and Angola, reads the Belarusian Foreign Ministry's foreing policy review 2013, BelTA learned.
Today, Belarus maintains diplomatic relations with 173 countries, i.e. 90% of the UN membership.
Last year Belarus issued over 390,000 visas for more than 400,000 foreigners and stateless persons. The Foreign Ministry and foreign establishments paid special attention to consular assistance for Belarusian citizens in emergency situations on the territory of foreign states, protection of legal rights and interests of Belarusians abroad. According to the Foreign Ministry, the most complicated situations that required extreme vigilance and a whole array of measures from consular officials occurred in Ukraine, Syria, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Abkhazia, Mexico, Yemen. Belarus kept in close contacts with Russian colleagues in the countries where it has no diplomatic missions.
In 2013 the Foreign Ministry's efforts were also aimed at the development of the bilateral legal framework governing mutual trips of citizens. There were signed intergovernmental agreements on visa issues with Singapore, the UAE, Laos, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Bolivia, Brazil, Turkey. A number of agreements on visa-free trips for holders of diplomatic and service passports came into force. The ministry also worked on draft international agreements regulating trips of citizens to other countries.
Last year Belarus signed a total of 175 international agreements and other international legal documents. Of them 115 were bilateral and 60 multilateral agreements. Today the legal framework of Belarus' bilateral relations comprises 2160 international agreements signed with 101 states. The country's multilateral cooperation is based on 1630 international agreements within 15 international organizations and integration associations. Bilateral economic agreements remain a priority in the development of the national legal framework, the Foreign Ministry noted.
Mongolia to Open Honorary Consulate in Bulgaria, Appoints Pencho Ivankin
February 12 Novinite.com) Bulgaria's government has officially given its agreement to Mongolia's request to open a honorary consular position in Bulgaria.
The honorary consulate will have a seat in Bulgarian capital Sofia and will also encompass the territory of the southwestern Blagoevgrad region.
The Mongolian government has determined Bulgarian citizen Pencho Ivankin to be appointed to the position.
It is expected that the new consulate will intensify cooperation between the two countries in the field of trade, education, research and culture.
Turkey to Increase Development Assistance Tenfold in Mongolia This Year, 45th Anniversary of Ties
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 MONTSAME) The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkey to Mongolia Murat Karagoz Wednesday received media representatives in the Embassy.
The Ambassador briefed on activities planned for the 45th anniversary of establishment of Mongolia- Turkey diplomatic relations.
He said the Embassy has been working on deepening of the traditional relations, and stressed that high level mutual visits will greatly contribute to intensification of the relations and cooperation between our countries.
About the actions planned ahead of the anniversary he said that visits are expected of the Turkish Foreign Minister to Mongolia in April and of Turkish Parliament Speaker and Ministers in June, during which high level meetings will run and some significant agreements will be signed.
For social and economic relations of the two countries, the Turkish side is striving to launch direct flights between Ulaanbaatar and Istanbul and to increase a number of weekly flights. He also briefed on joint construction projects of 3,000 apartments, water treatment facility, hydro-electric plant and city planning.
The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency TIKA) last year implemented 40 projects in Mongolia under a funding of USD 1.1 million, and it is planning to increase the project number up to 60 and the funding up to 10 million USD this year, said Mr Karagoz.
For development of the economic relations, the Turkish part has planned many programs, including "Mongolia Investment Days", "Mongolia-Turkey business meeting" in Ulaanbaatar and other actions to promote leather processing and tourism sectors.
Mr Karagoz noted the importance of arts and culture exchanges in the bilateral relations, citing such activities planned this year, including "Turkish Movie Days", art exhibition, concert, fashion show, and poetry and songs competition among pupils of the 5th school named after Ataturk. In autumn of 2014, an international symposium will run in Ulaanbaatar, said the Ambassador.
In education sector, our bilateral cooperation will go further with an opening of a class for Mongol Studies in the Ankara University, highlighted Mr Karagoz.
The Ambassador expressed a willingness to have a firm cooperation with the media. After briefing on activities for 2014, Mr Karagoz answered questions. For example, he said Turkey wants to become a member to the European Union, and it emphasizes a peaceful coexistence with its neighbors such as Syria and Iraq.
Sukhbaatar foot and mouth outbreak spreads to Khentii, Dornogovi
February 13 news.mn) The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, classified as a list A disease, has now spread to eight sums in Sukhbaatar, Khentii and Dornogovi provinces.
Since the first case was discovered in Ongon sum in Sukhbaatar province, 512 livestock out of 517 affected animals have been destroyed at separately built sites.
Only after samples were taken from sick livestock belonging to a herder in Ongon sum, Sukhbaatar province, and sent to the State Central Veterinary Laboratory on February 30th, was it revealed to be the extremely contagious and serious cloven hoofed disease, Foot and Mouth.
The outbreak spread to neighboring Dariganga, Naran, Bayandelger and Tuvshinshiree sums of Ongon sum in Sukhbaatar. Quarantines were set by officials according to procedures for contagious livestock disease and the specialized agencies worked there under high alert.
The latest case of Foot and Mouth was reported in Altanshiree and Delgerekh sums in Dornogovi province. Quarantines have been set and the community went under the high alert from February 10th.
The epidemic has spread rapidly since the first 86 livestock were affected on January 27th. The number of affected livestock has increased to 587 in only 20 days.
From the first signs of Foot and Mouth the State Emergency Commission held an emergency meeting and took urgent action to limit the spread of the outbreak. Currently quarantines have been set in the contagion zones in the sums and surveys of the affected have been conducted. Over 309,000 livestock have been vaccinated. Now over 300 specialists are working on site with the access of 100 vehicles and facilities.
This outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease has severely damaged the livestock industry resulting in economic losses of 587 million MNT.
Now there is also high risk that the outbreak will spread to Govisumber province and Baganuur and Nalaikh districts.
It is possible that Foot and Mouth can be spread in an airborne manner where there are large numbers of animals.
The virus spread is usually within 10 km of its source. However with particular wind conditions the virus could spread as far as 250 km.
Up to 50 per cent of cattle, sheep and goats can become carriers for up to two years in cattle, and one year in sheep and goats. Carriers may present a potential for virus maintenance. Wild fauna may serve as a reservoir for this disease.
Japan Approves ¥7.5 Billion Soft Loan To Mongolia for Higher Education Project in Engineering and Technology
Ulaanbaatar, February 12 MONTSAME) In frames of cooperation between the Ministry of Economic Development and Japan International Cooperation Agency /JICA/, a project on Engineering and Technological High Education is to run this year.
On Monday, the Japanese government made decision to allot Mongolia seven billion 535 million JPY easy termed loan for this project implementation.
Under the project, a thousand of Mongolian students will be involved in educational programs, including master and doctor degrees, a preparation and dual trainings in Japan.
The project also aims at improved curriculum for technical faculties of Mongolian universities and enhanced skills of teachers. The project will take nine years.
A blooming businessman in a yellow hat
February 11 UB Post) Last year, Ganaa paid 120 thousand tugrik to fix his four family member's fortunes at Central Gandantegchinlen Monastery, located 1.9 kilometers from Sukhbaatar Square. Ganaa works as a teacher at a university. He is actually not religious, but he remembered that when he was a child, he saw a monk or maybe he just called himself a monk) come to his home to fix his grandmother's fortune, or destiny.
He was curious and peeked through a gap in the door to watch the first part of the ceremony. The monk drank vodka and spit it all over his grandmother's naked upper back and flung his prayer beads forcefully, mumbling something. One time, after his daughter came back home from a temple visit for the same purpose, she said that two pink-cheeked young monks with dirty fingernails and lama outfits did not stop staring at her during the whole sutra reading process.
His grandmother called herself Buddhist and sometimes she went to a Christian church with friends which was located among the finest and most expensive places in Ulaanbaatar. Her grandchildren asked why she went to the Christian church, and she responded, "Everyday some woman and young boys knock on the door and invite me to visit the Christian church, at least five times a week. When I go to the Buddhist monastery I need to pay money to the arrogant, rich monks, and when I go to the Christian church, I'm served Korean tea and biscuits."
Ganaa continues, "Generally speaking, Central Gandantegchinlen Monastery is the most beautiful and calm place, but I like to visit and feed pigeons, and don't like to see some rude and arrogant fat monks."
Around the start of the 19th century, more than 100 temples and monasteries served a population of about 50,000 in Ulaanbaatar. Only a handful of these buildings survived the religious purges of 1937. It wasn't until the early 1990s that the people of Mongolia started to openly practice Buddhism again. This monastery is one of Mongolia's most important, and also one of its biggest tourist attractions. The full name, Gandantegchinlen, translates roughly as "the great place of complete joy".
Construction of the monastery was started in 1838 by the fourth Bogd Gegeen, but as with most monasteries in Mongolia, the purges of 1937 fell heavily on Gandan. When the U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace asked to see a monastery during his visit to Mongolia in 1944, Prime Minister Choibalsan guiltily scrambled to open Gandan to cover up the fact that he had recently laid waste to Mongolia's religious heritage. Gandan remained a "show monastery" for foreign visitors until 1990, when full religious ceremonies recommenced. Today more than 600 monks practice at the monastery.
The magnificent white Migjid Janraisig Temple is the monastery's main attraction. Lining the walls of the temple are hundreds of images of Ayush, the Buddha of longevity, which stare through the gloom to the magnificent Migjid Janraisig statue.
The original statue was commissioned by the eighth Bogd Khan in 1911, in hopes that it might restore his eyesight – syphilis had blinded him; however, it was carted away by Russia in 1937 it was allegedly melted down to make bullets). The new statue was dedicated in 1996 and built with donations from Japan and Nepal. It is 26 m high and made of copper with a gilt gold covering. The hollow statue contains 27 tons of medicinal herbs, 334 sutras, two million bundles of mantras, plus an entire ger with furniture.
The hopes of families means thriving business
After coming back from the unwanted meeting at the monastery, Ganaa told his wife what happened at the temple. The sutra he ordered to fix his family's destiny wasn't present for longer than ten minutes and a monk said that there was no need for him and his family to participate in the reading of the sutra. He said the monks would read the ordered sutra for them even if they were in another country or place.
From the first day of the Mongolian lunar new year, Hajid-suren who is Ganaa's wife, 27 years old and mother of two, worried about how she could fix her children's husband's and relative's fortune within the first eight days of February. According to tradition, people should go to church or temple and pray to the sutra or mantra read by monks within this time period. She doesn't like this kind of service provided by monks. After last year she felt like it didn't work, and the sutra had no good or bad effect. Her relatives told her the same story, that after they paid the monastery, a monk told them go to home and that they would read all the ordered sutras together. After Tsagaan Sar, February is high season for monks. Nearly 90 percent of Mongolians are Buddhists of the yellow sect. According to information from the National Statistical Office, 43 Buddhist temples work in Ulaanbaatar and 810 monks read sutras.
Everybody is trying to fix this new year's destiny, health issues, jobs and hoping that all things will be performed well during the year. The poorest go to monasteries and temples and middle income or rich people bring monks to their homes to read a sutra to fix or call their good fortune. As for the monks, they do not pay any state taxes for this income. As for the tariff, a monk who goes to a home for services charges an average of 30 to 50 thousand MNT, and will be add more money depending on how much sin a client committed the previous year, for how hard it is to read the ordered sutra, and an additional fee for the calling service. As for Ganaa's family, they paid 400 thousand MNT for four people, and one child was picked as having a hard to read sutra because that year she "sat at iron and this is the opposite of wood and fire", according to the monk's explanation. No one understood this explanation.
Ganaa makes jokes about this, but his wife stops him. It is totally big business when the Mongolian minimum wage is around 192 thousand MNT and monks or students of religious universities make one to five million MNT in 15 days.
2014 Khuvsgul Lake Ice Festival cancelled due to safety concerns over thin ice
February 11 UB Post) Khuvsgul Province Governor A.Erdenebaatar has cancelled the much anticipated annual Ice Festival at Khuvsgul Lake in early March to prevent accidents.
Experts from the Khuvsgul Province Emergency Management Department, State Specialized Inspection Agency and Road and Transportation Authority visited the lake and found that the lake hasn't completely frozen over as this winter's temperatures have been relatively warm overall.
The lake's ice was 30 to 35 cm thinner than previous years, which makes holding the Ice Festival this year dangerous.
So far, two accidents involving vehicles falling through the frozen parts of Khuvsgul Lake have occurred.
Mongolian language school to open for Nottingham's Mongol community
February 12 Nottingham Post) WITH 36 symbols instead of our 26 letters – the Mongolian alphabet is no easy read.
BARUUN MUKHDAGIIN AM BMA) ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT 2014
Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads, Ventura, CA, USA
Project dates: July 14th to August 28th, 2014
Session 1: July 14th to August 4th
Session 2: August 7th to August 28th
Application Deadline: May 1st, 2014
Full volunteer contribution deadline: June 1, 2014
Acceptance type: Rolling; we encourage you to apply early before all available volunteer slots fill up.
Project directors: Dr. Zagd Batsaikhan National University of Mongolia), Galdan Ganbaatar Institute of Archaeology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences), Emma Hite University of Chicago)
Project type: Mortuary and ephemeral habitation context excavations, Pedestrian survey Volunteer contribution per session: $1500 for students, $1700 for non-students
Contributions: All contributions submitted through CSEN, a non-profit 501c 3) organization, are tax-deductible
The Baruun Mukhdagiin Am BMA) Archaeological Project is an international collaborative research program of survey and excavation in Bulgan province, Central Mongolia, located along the Orkhon Canyon approximately 290km west of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The project primarily focuses upon the Xiongnu "shung-new") period 300 BCE – 200 CE) in the Baruun Mukhdagiin Am environs through excavations at the main cemetery and ancient herder campsites, and survey of the foothills and river valleys surrounding the cemetery. The Xiongnu formed the first steppe empire of Inner Asia and catalyzed a long history of nomadic polities rising out of the Eurasian steppes to dominate and terrorize their settled agrarian neighbors, best exemplified by Chinggis Khan and the Mongol Horde. The 2014 BMA field season will concentrate on understanding the practices and relationships in life and death that constituted a local mobile pastoral community and how those practices and relationships interfaced with the broader Xiongnu imperial project.
Previous archaeological fieldwork at Baruun Mukhdagiin Am mapped 293 burial surface features in the main Xiongnu cemetery and identified several habitation contexts presence of surface Xiongnu-period ceramic scatter) within 15km of that cemetery through pedestrian survey. The project's multidisciplinary approach to these contexts includes bioarchaeological, zooarchaeological, ceramic, and spatial analyses of recovered materials. Volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in mortuary and habitation context excavations, pedestrian survey, and assist with analyses in the field laboratory tent, gaining first-hand experience and training in these core aspects of archaeological research.
Wallace Looks for Hat Trick at 2014 Mongolia Bike Challenge
February 13 Mongolia Bike Challenge) Canadian Marathon MTB Champion and 2-time Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge Champion, Cory Wallace of the Kona Factory Team, will defend his title again in Mongolia during the event's 5th Edition from August 31 to September 7, 2014. Team Genco MBC spoke with Wallace about the evolution of the race and his thoughts on heading back to the Land of Genghis for the fourth straight year.
Suspect arrested for poaching endangered snow leopards
February 12 news.mn) The Environmental Crimes unit of the Criminal Police Department arrested a suspect for poaching endangered snow leopards for sale on Monday. It is suspected that the 27-30 year-old Govi-Altai native planned to sell illegally hunted snow leopards in Ulaanbaatar.
The criminal case has now been transferred to the Bayanzurkh District Police for further investigation. According to the international IUCN, 2010) and regional IUCN, 2006) assessments, the snow leopard is listed as an endangered species. The snow leopard is listed in the Convention on International Trade in the Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora CITES) Appendix I UNEP-WCMC, 2006) and in the Convention on Migratory Species CMS) Appendix 1.
The snow leopard is legally protected by the Mongolian Law on Fauna and Hunting, where its hunting is prohibited and listed as a very rare species in the second edition of the Mongolian Red Book.
According to reports, environmental crimes, in particular the trafficking of wildlife, timber and fauna, has become more serious and harmful and are those involved are often found to be thorough and organized.
Help Fund Health Books For Disabled Mongolian Women
This project is to raise the final funding needed to finish the translation of Hesperian's "A Handbook for Women with Disabilities" in Mongolian and print 1,000 copies. The translating NGO is Mongolian National Association of Wheelchair Users (MNAWU) which services all 13,000 people in wheelchairs across Mongolia with social services, empowerment of members & legal advocacy. The books will be accessible in public places and thus help all women with disabilities.
What is the issue, problem, or challenge?
Mongolian society views women in wheelchairs as if they cannot do things for themselves. Health workers in Mongolia have no idea about specific health issues related to their handicaps, and other people don't see wheelchair users as people with feelings. There is no book available in Mongolia about these issues, which means that health workers and social workers have few resources to help women in wheelchairs to improve their lives.
How will this project solve this problem?
Hesperian's "Handbook for Women with Disabilities" will be the first health book in Mongolian to help healthcare/social workers & family members understand the physical/mental conditions of women in wheelchairs. The book will empower the women themselves with knowledge. The book will be in public places such as libraries, hospitals, community centers, and with health workers who serve all types of disabled women. MNAWU needs $3,600 to complete translation; $3,600 to print 1,000 books.
Potential Long Term Impact
1) Improve physical and mental health for women with disabilities, and support these women in taking care of themselves. 2) Support changes in social attitudes about the abilities of women with disabilities.
Total Funding Received to Date: $50
Remaining Goal to be Funded: $7,150
Total Funding Goal: $7,200
Photographer presents new book about Mongolia, to donate half of profits to nomadic children
Concord, Mass., February 13 (The Concord Journal) Concord resident, Liza F. Carter will be offering two talks on her recently published photo-documentary book, "Moving with the Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family."
The lecture at the Concord Art Association Thursday, Feb 13, at 7 p.m. will focus on the process of creating and publishing a photo-documentary book. She will cover such topics as how to find subjects, using a camera to build connections across cultural divides, and being alert for that "decisive moment" that captures an larger story in just one image. Carter will also talk about the process of editing photos, creating the layout and working with an editor on the text, as well as using crowd-source funding such as Kickstarter for self-publishing the finished book.
Two weeks later on Thursday, Feb 27, at the Concord Free Public Library the audience will have the opportunity to travel with Carter on a visual journey into the inner world of a modern-day, nomadic Mongolian family. Learn how Mongolian nomads milk their horses to create a fermented drink called airag. Discover why Mongolian children will share their mittens with their playmates, even if the temperature is 20° below zero.
Both of Carter's talks will draw from her recently published a photo-documentary book, "Moving with the Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family." The book focuses on one nomadic family who became her collaborators in documenting a way of life that is fast being obliterated by the modern world and climate change. The family's willingness to share with the rest of the world the annual cycle of nomadic life on the Mongolian steppe makes for an unusually intimate portrait. The life of this nomadic family reveals the unique culture of Mongolian nomads and their remarkable capacity to thrive in one of the world's harshest environments.
An environmental scientist by training, Carter is a photographer of indigenous cultures and peoples. Her purpose is to share unknown worlds and provide levels of understanding of other cultures that are more than just sound bites or sensationalism. In a world of computers, cell phones, frozen foods, and microwaves, she addresses the question of what life is like for those who aren't part of that modern world. Her goal is to provide a glimpse into the emotional heart of a country through the means of a visual connection.
Fifty percent of the profits from her book will go to support healthcare for nomadic children in Mongolia. The book will be available for sale at the end of the talks and is also available at the Concord Bookshop.
Carter first traveled to Mongolia in 1997 as part of a scientific expedition looking at the status of the endangered Bactrian two-humped camels; however, it was the nomadic people with whom she fell in love. She became consumed by the need to honor and document this unique culture before it disappeared altogether. She has written the book she wished she had had the first time she visited Mongolia.
The life of nomadic Mongolians is inseparable from their animals and the environment. Daily life revolves around animal care and food preparation, while available pasture and water levels determine the nomadic family's movement patterns. They depend on their animals for both food and heating fuel (dung), while the animals in turn rely on the grasslands. Herding is not an easy life, but it is close to being a self-sufficient life, and it is a life that honors, protects, and preserves the importance of family and hospitality. "Moving with the Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family" illustrates the delicate balance between traditional Mongolian nomadic culture and the natural world on which they rely.
Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
Founder & CEO
Mobile: +976 9999 6779
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.