Monday, March 24, 2014

[GoM signs off on cross-border narrow gauge, Allens reviews Investment Law regulations, vertical highway concesssion signed, and Urgoo seals IMAX deal]

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Monday, March 24, 2014

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Overseas Market

TRQ closed +0.3% to US$3.36 Friday

Turquoise Hill Resources Given New $8.69 Price Target at Cowen and Company

March 21 (WKRB News) Analysts at Cowen and Company increased their price target on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) from $8.35 to $8.69 in a research report issued to clients and investors on Friday, Analyst RN reports. Cowen and Company's price objective points to a potential upside of 152.25% from the company's current price.

A number of other analysts have also recently weighed in on TRQ. Analysts at UBS AG initiated coverage on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research note on Friday, March 7th. They set a "buy" rating on the stock. Analysts at TD Securities upgraded shares of Turquoise Hill Resources from a "reduce" rating to a "hold" rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 21st. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company. The company has an average rating of "Hold" and a consensus price target of $7.76.

Shares of Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) traded up 2.39% on Friday, hitting $3.43. The stock had a trading volume of 1,418,344 shares. Turquoise Hill Resources has a 52-week low of $2.2579 and a 52-week high of $4.6166. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $3.53 and a 200-day moving average of $3.1. The company's market cap is $3.451 billion.

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd., formerly Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., is an international mineral exploration and development company.

Link to article


YAK closed +8.51% to C$2.55 Friday on the announcement

Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. Publishes February 2014 Monthly Letter to Shareholders

Thunder Bay, Ontario (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK – TSXV), a real estate investment and development company participating in the dynamic growth of the Mongolian economy via ownership of institutional-quality commercial property assets in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is pleased to announce the release of its February 2014 letter to shareholders.

February 2014 Shareholder Letter

To the Shareholders of Mongolia Growth Group Ltd.,

In February 2014, MGG's core commercial property portfolio* experienced a same-store rental increase of 41.6% relative to February 2013 on properties owned 12 months or longer as measured in local currency (Mongolian Togrog). Total billed revenue for February 2014 was 242.9 million Mongolian Togrog as compared to 200.1 million Mongolian Togrog in February of 2013 or a 21.4% increase.** The occupancy rate for the core portfolio in February of 2014 was 92.7%, including an occupancy rate of 98.7% for core retail properties and an occupancy rate of 81.5% for core office properties. 

Investment Portfolio, Leasing Update and North American Investor Presentations

Investment Portfolio

During the month of February we accelerated our plan to shift MGG's asset mix away from smaller properties that cost more to maintain and manage, and towards larger institutional-quality assets that are easier to scale, as we build MGG into a leading real estate company.  We chose to accelerate the pace of sales in order to generate proceeds for the proposed purchase that was announced in January's letter.  During February we disposed of 2 properties and have received commitments for an additional 2 property sales that we anticipate closing on over the next few months

Leasing Update

Since the third quarter of 2013, the re-acceleration of the Mongolian economy has led to a number of new retail leases being signed at substantially higher rates than prior leases.

Most Recent Retail Lease Signings

Lease Type

Lease Renewal Date

Old Price Per Meter

(Mongolian Togrog)

New Price Per Meter

(Mongolian Togrog)

Percent Increase

High Street Retail Lease

October 2013




Secondary Street Retail Lease

October 2013




High Street Retail Lease

November 2013




Secondary Street Retail Lease

January 2014




High Street Retail Lease

February 2014




As of the end of February, our average rent for high street retail is 21,253 Mongolian Togrog Per Meter while our rent for secondary street retail is 23,526 Mongolian Togrog Per Meter. We believe that the recent lease signings are much more indicative of current market conditions for well-located retail space in Ulaanbaatar and we anticipate that future lease signings will continue to be executed at market rates, which often tends to be substantially above our existing contracted lease rates.

Management Transition and North American Investor Presentations

The most significant recent news at MGG has been the hiring of Paul Byrne as CEO. We are all very excited to have Paul join the company and during April, I will be travelling with Paul to North America in order to meet with shareholders. We both hope that you can attend one of our four scheduled investor presentations. (Click the link below for more details on the meeting dates)

Mongolian Economic Update

In the most recent quarter for which data is available (Q4 2013) Mongolian real GDP growth was 11.7%.

Since our previous update to you: 

Mongolia issued further information regarding the previously announced MOU with China's Sinopec regarding coal gasification plants. The project is now expected to be use total funding of US $30 billion, allowing for the construction of four plants which will produce 16 billion cubic meter of gasified coal. By September 2014, feasibility studies of the coal gasification complex are likely to be completed, leading to plant construction in 2015-2018. The project will create 40,000 temporary jobs during construction and lead to 10,000 permanent jobs once it is completed.

Mongolia's trade deficit during the first two months of 2014 narrowed by 94% year over year as a result of a 17.5% increase in exports

      The Prime Minister of Mongolia, N.Altankhuyag, made the opening remarks at the 4th "Coal Mongolia 2014" conference and stated that 2014 coal exports are expected to increase to 34 million tons from 18 million tons in 2013

      Mining Minister, Gankhuyag Davaajav presented the following PowerPoint at the annual PDAC mining convention in Canada where he noted Mongolia's goal of offering investors, "firm sustainability of politics, economics and legal environment."  

We look forward to updating you again on our progress and new developments in the Mongolian economy next month.

Link to release


Forbes: Mongolia Growth Group's New CEO Seeks Step Change

by Jon Springer

March 21 (Forbes) Paul J. Byrne has moved from a global financial center with first world comforts and warm weather temperatures during winter months to an infrastructure needy country with winter temperatures that go down to minus 40. As a longtime shareholder of Mongolia Growth Group – a Mongolia real estate investment and development company based in Canada – it is good to have an experienced real estate CEO with Harvard, Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, Dubai and Sydney among his pedigree as the company's new CEO. Mongolia has had few triumphs and major missteps for the last three years. Mr. Byrne believes that Mongolia is ready to turnaround and sees a lot of good real estate work to be done to repaint the urban palette of Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar.

Prior to being appointed as Mongolia Growth Group CEO on March 1st of this year, Mr. Byrne was the Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Properties (MAF) in Dubai. According to the Forbes profile of its eponymous owner, Mr. Majid Al Futtaim – 328th on Forbes' World Billionaires listMAF is "the most transparent conglomerate in the UAE." Assets under Mr. Byrne's management while at MAF included $6 billion of development and property assets invested in twelve MENA countries, most notably the iconic Mall of the Emirates with its indoor ski slope. Prior to his six year stop in Dubai, Mr. Byrne led a commercial real estate development and investment business across the United States, headed the commercial real estate development of Hong Kong's New International Airport (35 projects, $3.2 billion), was a Client Representative of the new World Trade Center and Rail Terminal hub now being completed in New York, and served as a Board Member, President and Chief Operating Officer of Red Mountain Retail Group based in Los Angeles where assets nearly tripled ($1.25 to $3 billion) during his tenure.

"There's two decades of development work and investments here," Mr. Byrne says of Ulaanbaatar like he intends to do a good chunk of it. He is undeterred by Mongolia's to-date cyclical welcoming-unwelcoming relationship with foreign investment over the past eight years.

Link to full article


Viking Ashanti gets green light for North Mongolian coal project acquisition

March 24 (Proactive Investors) Viking Ashanti (ASX:VKA) is a step closer to acquiring the North Mongolian based Berkh Uul Coal Project after the board of unlisted Auminco gave it the green light to accept an off market takeover offer by Viking.

The Berkh Uul bituminous coal project in Northern Mongolia is an advanced coal project that can be developed through to production in 2016.

The project is 40km from rail access to domestic and Russian off-take markets, in close proximity to water,  infrastructure and transport and within 20km of the Russian border.

New resource

A new inferred coal resource of 38.3 Mt has been reported for the Berkh Uul deposit in March.

It was based on geological, geophysical, drilling and coal quality information. It includes results from 45 diamond drill holes, completed by Berkh Uul's previous Russian owners, and Auminco. 

The resource model has outlined multiple shallow coal seams with individual seams varying from 0.6 to 4.5 metres thick over a strike length of 3km, extending to a maximum depth of 200 metres below surface.

Viking has received shareholder approval for and will look to a capital raising of a minimum $3,000,000.


Significantly the project is expected to have a low capital cost, low initial operating cost and no infrastructure needs. The resource will likely be increased by further step-out drilling, providing the basis for a long life open cut mining operation.

Close to the Russian border and with rail access within 40 km to existing Mongolian and Russian markets for output from Berkh Uul, it is likely to receive keen interest from off-takers.

The North Mongolian project is a step change for Viking from a West African gold exploration "play"; the gold project is still in Viking's kitty but Berkh Uul Coal Project provides a faster road to generating cash flows.

Link to article

Link to VKA release


Denison Mines Annual Report 2013

March 20, Denison Mines Corp. (TSX:DML, NYSE MKT:DML) --

Mineral Property Exploration


Exploration expenditures on the Company's GSJV properties in Mongolia totaled $59,000 and $550,000 for the three months and year ended December 31, 2013 compared to $25,000 and $3,156,000 for the same periods in 2012. Exploration activities have been reduced in 2013, as the Company focuses on completing the field programs and studies necessary to convert the Company's exploration licences to mining licences. By comparison, the Company completed a 29,600 metre drill program on the Urt Tsav and Ulziit properties in 2012.  

The Company has started exploring strategic alternatives regarding its ownership interest in the GSJV. The Company currently has an 85% interest in the GSJV, with Mon-Atom LLC holding the remaining 15% interest.

In Mongolia, the 2014 expenditures are estimated to total $1.0 million.

Asia Mining Segment-Mongolia  

The Company currently has an 85% interest in and is the managing partner of the Gurvan Saihan Joint Venture ("GSJV") in Mongolia (includes the Hairhan and Haraat deposits). The other party to the GSJV is the Mongolian government with a 15% interest. The results of the GSJV have been 100% consolidated in these financial statements since the Company exercises control and its partner in the GSJV has a carried interest at this time.  

Under the Nuclear Energy Law of Mongolia, the Mongolian participant in the GSJV is entitled to hold a 34% to 51% interest in the GSJV, depending on the amount of historic exploration that was funded by the government of Mongolia, to be acquired at no cost to the Mongolian participant. This interest will be held by Mon-Atom LLC, the Mongolian state owned uranium company.  

A restructuring of the GSJV will be required to comply with the Nuclear Energy Law and is expected to result in the Company having its interest reduced to 66%. The Company and Mon-Atom continue to be engaged in discussions in respect of the Company's ownership of the GSJV. The Company has also begun exploring strategic alternatives for its interest in the GSJV.

Link to report

Link to Denison Mines Annual Information Form (Mogi: this one's interesting, as it recaps Denison's history in Mongolia)


Mongolia to build narrow gauge railway across Mongolia-China border to transport minerals

ULAN BATOR, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia announced Saturday that it will build an international-standard narrow gauge railroad across its border with China to transport its minerals from the Mongolian Gashuun Sukhait port to China's Gants Mod port.

Ulan Bator has permitted Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, a state-owned mining company, to co-invest with Chinese companies and form a joint venture to build and operate the railway linking the two countries' border ports.

Both sides have agreed that Mongolia owns 17 percent of the venture's stakes and have the same share of investment. In total, 500,000 U.S. dollars will be invested in the initial phase of construction.

Coal is one of Mongolia's major mineral exports to China. The mineral-rich inland country made the decision to protect the environment and reduce the transportation cost of the coal, which has largely depended on costly trucks.

Link to article

Link to Cabinet meeting press release


Mongolian investors hope good times will roll again

Terrence Edwards in Ulaanbaatar, March 20, 2014 (bne) Mongolia doesn't attract the same amount of foreign investment as it used to and many investors have cut their losses and left. But some high-profile executives are standing their ground with the expectation that the good old days will return soon

"There's a lot of money that needs to come into Mongolia, and it's not going to come in by itself," says Cameron McRae, who took on the role of executive chairman to Ulaanbaatar-based investment and advisory firm SkyPath Partners after nearly three years as the country manager for Rio Tinto in Mongolia, where he headed the giant $6.5bn Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia's Gobi desert. 

McRae says he decided to stay on in Mongolia after stepping away from Oyu Tolgoi and Rio Tinto last November to see the country's fledgling mining industry meet its potential. He also expects the emergence of new industries in Mongolia to contribute to the nation's growth. 

But the money coming in today is far less than in 2011, when economic growth peaked at 17.5%. Mongolia saw a 36% decline in foreign direct investment at the end of January from the year before. This has impacted on the economy; the Mongolian currency, the tugrik, depreciated 19% last year, which is partly responsible for a rise in inflation to 12.3% because the country is so heavily dependent on imported fuel and food. Growth fell to 11.8% in 2013 (Mogi: 11.7%), but the 9.8% growth projected by the International Monetary Fund for this year puts the country among the highest growing economies in the world. 

McRae has spent much of his career in Mongolia as a peacemaker managing the fraught relations between the government and Rio Tinto over Oyu Tolgoi, but his past struggles have not deterred him. Rio owns 66% of the mine indirectly through its majority owned subsidiary Turquoise Hill Resources, while the government owns the remaining 34%. Under McRae's watch, in August last year Oyu Tolgoi suspended the next stage of the mine's development – where it says most of the deposit wealth will comes from – because of disputes with Mongolia's government, mainly concerning development costs. Given Oyu Tolgoi's importance to the wider economy, hiccups in this project have tended to have big knock-on effects on investor confidence and the wider economy. 

But Mongolia is now trying to make amends with investors. In November it enacted its new Investment Law, which removed the legislative hurdles put in place in mid-2012 that most agree were the reason that investment started fleeing Mongolia. The country at the start of this year also introduced laws that create a better regulatory system for the country's capital market and better environment for institutional investors in which to operate. 

However, what may be keeping investors at bay are the continuing disputes the government has with Rio Tinto and other mining outfits. Another unresolved issue is the 106 licenses that Mongolian courts ordered cancelled because of criminal charges against the officials that had approved them. 

McRae is advising Kincora Copper, which had to explain to investors a C$7m write-down because of the cancelled licenses. He thinks the Mongolian government understands investors' gripes, however, and it is doing its best to build the kind of environment required to flourish. "I say often it's not about having good philosophy for your laws, they've got to be competitive to other jurisdictions and also want to get that same money streaming into their country, and I think the government is coming to grips with the need to have that competitive environment." 

Real estate bull 

McRae is not alone in his optimism about Mongolia. Property development veteran David Byrne is CEO of the commercial real estate-focused Mongolia Growth Group. His resume boasts eight years leading commercial real estate development activities for the $3.2bn Hong Kong International Airport and client representative to the New York Port Authority for reconstruction of the World Trade Center

While the $80m that Byrne says Mongolia Growth invested pales in comparison to the multi-billion-dollar projects and company portfolios he's worked with in the past, he sees more growth potential in shear scale here. The western market "doesn't see step changes like emerging markets," says Byrne. 

Byrne is tasked with taking his company from one focused on second-tier commercial space to the country's "preferred real estate company and the dominant one." Up until now, Mongolia Growth has focused mostly on renovations and providing western-standard office and retail space in a city where most construction projects forego international standards for design and safety. The next step, says Byrne, will be the development of entirely new properties while maintaining the same strategy employed in their renovated properties. "Our point of difference would be to build better standard buildings going forward, run them better, and managing them better." 

The country's frothy real estate markets have suffered since the global economic crisis. The office market began to recover began in 2010, however, and a 2014 report by another Ulaanbaatar-based properties firm, Asia Pacific Investment Partners, showed an approximate 14% rise in office rental prices to about $24.50 per square meter for top-tier space. Unfortunately, a lot of newly built office supply coming onto the market won't help demand. 

But Oyu Tolgoi could be a game changer. The signing of an investment agreement for Oyu Tolgoi was largely responsible for the resurgence of economic growth in 2010, and analysts anticipate a similar scenario if the current issues surrounding Oyu Tolgoi are resolved. "There was a lot of OT [Oyu Tolgoi] money for secondary circulation that was being used to invest in real estate," says McRae. "In one respect you could say part of UB [Ulaanbaatar] has been built on the confidence of the OT project." 

Made in Minegolia 

Nicknamed Minegolia for its heavy economic dependence on its minerals – copper, coal, iron ore and oil products represent about 77% of exports – Mongolia is utilising new tax stability incentives designed to encourage investment in areas other than resource extraction and in locations throughout the vast country. The government is also teeing up the infrastructure projects for transportation and power that the country sorely needs. 

McRae intends to help investors learn how they can participate in the massive reconstruction effort, as well as other basic societal needs missing in the remoter corners of the world's most sparsely populated country. "You've got a huge wealth of infrastructure that needs to be built in the country – whether it's replacing power stations, or extending the grid nationally," he says. "You can talk about schools and hospitals as government responsibility, but the private sector can play a very significant role in building and funding these projects.

Mongolian Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag is making the transition from an import-oriented nation to one that can produce its own goods for domestic consumption and export a principal focus of his government. The PM has ordered that $230m of a $1.5bn sovereign bond issued in 2012 be used to finance the establishment of at-home industries for downstream processing of the minerals mined here, as well as agriculture, light industry and the production of materials for home and building construction. 

Opening up new industries for clean energy generation, oil shale exploitation and coal-to-liquid fuel production are also long-term goals. In March, the Mongolian government announced it was pressing on with a joint venture with China's Sinopec to commission a gasification plant for Mongolia's reserves of lignite, also known as brown coal, by 2018. 

And that's just where the country should be headed, says Byrne. Today, Mongolia is still vulnerable to external market influences. For example, the country's National Statistical Office reported an 11.8% decline in coal revenues in February from the year before, which is due at least in part by a 24% price decline at the border for coal products and weakening demand from China. Creating a more complex market that includes the production of diverse goods will mitigate these risks for the future. 

"Sometimes what you see in emerging markets is, until you get enough critical mass on the bones, the peaks and troughs are very big," says Byrne while recalling his experience with economic crises throughout Asia. "Once you have a bit more meat on the bones, the peaks and troughs are less." 

Link to article

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Local Market

MSE News, March 21: Top 20 -0.36%, Turnover 92.5 Million

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Friday, a total of 53 thousand and 619 shares of 15 JSCs were traded costing MNT 92 million 502 thousand and 280.00.

"State Department Store" /30 thousand units/, "Ereentsav" /12 thousand and 963 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /8,958 units/, "Nako tulsh" /600 units/ and "Mongol savkhi" /418 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Ereentsav" (MNT 41 million 481 thousand and 600), "UB hotel" (MNT 24 million and 380 thousand), "State Department Store" (MNT 17 million and 400 thousand), "UB-BUK" (MNT four million and 715 thousand) and "Mongeo" (MNT two million and 079 thousand).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 665 billion 499 million 892 thousand and 341. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,541.05, decreasing by MNT 59.96 or 0.36% against the previous day.

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BoM MNT Rates: March 21 Close





































March MNT Chart:


Link to rates


Consumer Price Index, February 2014: +12.2%


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Link to release


Mongolia in the region: time for economic foreign policy

by Dr. Julian Dierkes, University of British Columbia

March 23 (East Asia Forum) Mongolia has been extraordinarily successful in building a foreign policy around the Leitmotiv of 'third neighbours' for the past 20 years. Reinforced by the country's democratisation and the promise of mineral resources, this foreign policy has helped Mongolia claim much more attention on the global stage than one might expect from a vast country of only three million inhabitants. Despite this success, Mongolian policymakers will have to reconsider their focus on political relations in helping Mongolia grow further and into a more diversified future.

The basis of Mongolian foreign policy involves balancing economic, military and political considerations between China and Russia. This foundation of Mongolian foreign policy has been well-maintained since 1990, especially in the absence of alternative safeguards for Mongolia's security.

There have been flare-ups in relations with neighbours, of course, such as China's blocking of the railroad link between the two countries over the Dalai Lama's visit in November 2002, or the Russian grab for Mongolian uranium in 2009. But on the whole, Mongolia has been able to maintain constructive relations with its immediate neighbours.

Beyond this, the Mongolian government has successfully pursued its long-term goal of cultivating close friendships with powerful but distant countries. Among these third neighbours, the countries targeted have been Australia, Canada, members of the European Union (especially Germany), India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and the United States.

Engaging these third neighbours has had a real impact on Mongolia's economic, political and social development. For example, Mongolia's per capita foreign development aid has fluctuated around US$100 since the mid-1990s, on par with aid offered to some least-developed countries. While this level of material support (particularly from European countries and the US, but more recently also from Australia) may have had much to do with the democratic turn that Mongolia took in 1990, it has been reinforced by the active Mongolian engagement of its third neighbours.

This engagement, coupled with Mongolia's increasingly prominent involvement in UN peacekeeping operations since 2005, has also given the country a far greater international presence than might be expected. As of early 2014, Mongolia contributed roughly 1 per cent of all personnel currently deployed by the UN in peacekeeping operations (935 military experts and troops out of a total of 98,200). This visibility has found its most obvious expression in Mongolia's accession to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and hosting the Community of Democracies in Ulaanbaatar in April 2013 and World Environment Day in June 2013. These are all indicators of a successful soft power deployment that is also leading to real material impacts, primarily through development aid.

Now, Mongolia's circumstances are changing massively. Per capita GDP has grown from less than US$1000 to over US$3500 in the new millennium, and the past three years' double-digit growth puts GDP on an upward trajectory and a likely entry into the ranks of upper middle-income countries in the near future. Accordingly, development aid to Mongolia is likely to shrink. Japanese aid will be converted from grants to loans in the near future and other programs will surely follow suit even when some countries' contributions, like Australia's and Canada's, are just revving up.

As inward-bound development aid is changing, Mongolia has set up its own aid program, making food donations to North Korea in the past year. From receiving aid, Mongolia may thus be making a slow transition to providing aid.

In this transition, private enterprise and investments from abroad as well as domestic sources are playing a greater role for Mongolia's development. Decisions about the giant Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper project will be made primarily within the management of majority owner Rio Tinto, and will be much less subject to governmental deliberations than development aid was. Mongolia continues to consider whether the government should still participate in such investments and at what level, but it is clear that foreign capital will be private capital, not foreign governmental contributions. A foreign policy that is primarily aimed at building and maintaining intra-governmental political friendship will not have much of a direct impact on such investments.

During Mongolia's democratic period, discussions of increased economic integration with the Northeast Asian region have come and gone without having emerged as a driver of Mongolian foreign policy. There is, of course, significant potential here. But with the shift in global attention and activities from global trade negotiations to the 'spaghetti bowl' of numerous bilateral trade agreements, Mongolia's nearly exclusive focus on political relations may leave it isolated from any agreements that might emerge.

While the trilateral FTA negotiations between Japan, South Korea and China are still at a preliminary stage, the fact that they have already continued for three rounds in a context of less-than-cordial relations in East Asia signals the importance that these negotiations might have in the future. There is also no obvious incentive from the perspective of the negotiating parties to include the Mongolian government. Any Northeast Asian agreement might thus freeze Mongolia out and condemn it to a fate as a mere resource supplier — a status that Mongolian policymakers are eager to escape by shifting to more value-added parts of the minerals and resource supply chain.

Beyond intraregional relations, another great obstacle to the emergence of Northeast Asia is surely North Korea. Here, Mongolia has also been unusually active through bilateral visits and some investments.

While Mongolia should not abandon the success of its politically popular third neighbour policy and replace this with a 'three neighbours' policy focused on China, Japan and South Korea, a shift to policies that are designed to strengthen economic relations, not only political friendships, is likely to cement Mongolia's development as well as its world standing. A recent shifting of the trade portfolio between ministries is one indication of the debate about an economic foreign policy that is and should be coming to Ulaanbaatar.

Julian Dierkes is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia's Institute of Asian Research. Learn more about Mongolia at the author's blog or follow him @jdierkes

Link to post


ERI Discussion Paper Series No. 3 published

March 19 -- Economic Research Institute launches the 3rd volume of its discussion paper series. In this issue, the following articles are published:

- Ragchaasuren Galindev "Impact of Fiscal Stability Law" (FSL)

- Avralt-od Purevjav, Batsukh Tserendorj and Tuvshinjargal Dagiimaa "Monetary policy priorities: Managing exchange rate vs. Inflation control"

- Altantsetseg Batchuluun and Bayarmaa Dalkhjav "Labor force participation and earnings in Mongolia"

The papers are written in English and went through professional analysts' peer-review. The volume is published in hardcopy, as well as being available online with other previous research works at our website:

ERI will focus on having the papers published in our series in other scientific journals or become chapters in academic books.

We would be very pleased to have your valuable comments, criticisms and feedback.

Link to release

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March 21 (Allens Law Firm) In brief: The availability of an investment agreement with the host government is fundamentally important for a foreign investor considering the development of a large-scale project in a developing country. In its continued efforts to recapture inbound direct foreign investment, the Government of Mongolia has released regulations that govern the execution of an investment agreement between an investor and the Government. Partners Igor Bogdanich (view CV) and Kate Axup (view CV) and Senior Associate John Koshy report.


      An investor interested in developing a project in Mongolia involving an investment of more than MNT 500 billion (~ US$ 284 million) may seek to enter into an investment agreement with the Mongolian Government.

      The regulations set out the process for applying for, negotiating and executing an investment agreement and describe its required content.

      The regulations do not apply to certain agreements to be entered into under the Minerals Law, the Petroleum Law or the Nuclear Energy Law.

      While the regulations provide welcome detail on the process for entering into an investment agreement, certain requirements should be noted by investors, in particular:

o    the requirement to provide a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment report at the investment agreement application stage; and

o    the possibility that the Government may be entitled to re-negotiate the investment agreement if there is a departure from the feasibility study.


On 21 October 2013, we reported on the introduction of Mongolia's new Investment Law, which regulates foreign investment in Mongolia (the Law). The Law's introduction was seen by many as an indication of the Government's desire to re-establish Mongolia's status as an attractive investment destination. The Law was enacted after a period of uncertainty attributable to earlier legislative reforms and proposals that were not generally regarded as supportive of foreign investment. Following the Law's introduction, key Mongolian political leaders, including the President of Mongolia, have actively sought to attract renewed investor interest in Mongolia through several high-profile visits to Hong Kong, London and New York.

The Law provides that for large investments of more than MNT 500 billion (equivalent to approximately US$284 million), if requested by an investor, the Government may enter into an investment agreement to stabilise the environment in which the investor will be carrying out its operations. The Government has recently passed the regulations in order to govern the process of entering into an investment agreement under the Law.


The regulations do not apply to the following kinds of agreements:

      an investment agreement in the nuclear energy sector as contemplated by the Nuclear Energy Law;

      a deposit development agreement under Article 5 of the Minerals Law; and

      a production sharing agreement under the Law on Petroleum.

Accordingly, these agreements will continue to be subject to the provisions contained in the applicable legislation.


The regulations set out the process of applying for, negotiating and executing an investment agreement. The regulations also describe the content of an investment agreement and how it will be monitored once it is signed.


An investor who intends to invest more than MNT 500 billion may apply to the State Central Agency in charge of investment, known as the 'Invest Mongolia Agency' (the Agency), for an investment agreement. The Agency was established by the Law to implement and administer the Law.

An investor's application must include certain supporting materials including:

      Background information on the investor, its operations and its other projects.

      A feasibility study to be approved by the State Central Agency in charge of the relevant sector in which the investment will be made.

      If the applicant is a State-owned entity, a copy of the permission required under Article 21 of the Law.1

      An environmental impact assessment report (the EIA Report).

Given the substantial time and cost involved in developing and finalising a feasibility study and an EIA Report, the inclusion of these documents as requirements at the application stage should be noted by investors, particularly as there is no guarantee that the application will be successful, or if an investment agreement will be executed. This contrasts to some other jurisdictions where there are fewer prerequisites to obtain the security of an agreement with the State.


The regulations do not specify a timeframe within which the Agency will review and respond to an investment agreement application. It would be useful to investors if the Agency published some guidance on the expected timing for dealing with applications.

The regulations prescribe several grounds on which an application may be rejected by the Agency, including the following:

      the operations of the applicant or the nature of its proposed investment may breach Mongolian national security;

      the proposed investment is not profitable or will have a negative impact on Mongolian State budget revenue or fiscal policy;

      the investment amount is determined to be less than MNT 500 billion, based on a review of the feasibility study or other relevant application materials; and

      the operations of the applicant will have a significant negative impact on the environment.

It is not clear how the first and second grounds for rejection would be applied in practice. As they are potentially very broad grounds, it would be helpful for the Agency to provide guidance to investors on how it would apply these criteria.

The regulations are silent as to whether an applicant may re-submit an application if it is rejected. Again, it would be helpful for the Agency to provide guidance on this point.


If an applicant is successful, it will be invited to negotiate an investment agreement with a working group established by the Agency. The working group may retain independent advisers to assist it with the negotiation of the Investment Agreement.

Once a draft is agreed by the working group and the investor, the draft must be submitted for approval by the Minister for Economic Development. The Minister will then submit the draft to the Cabinet. Upon Cabinet approval, the Minister will be authorised to sign and execute the investment agreement with the investor.

The regulations do not describe the process which applies if the Minister or Cabinet fails to approve the draft of the investment agreement or include any timeframes within which a ministerial or Cabinet decision must be made.


The regulations set out the content of an investment agreement and include many of the provisions that an investor would expect to see in an agreement of this kind.

Some of the more important provisions that are required under the regulations include:

      the terms of tax stabilisation and other regulatory or financial support from the Government;

      the mitigation of adverse health and environmental impacts from the investment; and

      the project's contribution to regional development.

The regulations also require the inclusion of a provision which describes how the investment agreement will be 'revisited' in the event of any change to the underlying feasibility study. The provision implies that if a project does not develop in accordance with the estimates contained in the feasibility study, this may be a trigger for the Government to re-negotiate the investment agreement. There is no qualification on the nature of the change, so potentially minor changes might be treated as a trigger.

In practice, the development of a project inevitably involves a departure in some respects from the estimates and program contained in a feasibility study. If all such departures were to constitute a trigger for re-negotiation of the investment agreement, this will create substantial uncertainty for investors. Investors (and their financiers) will likely require further guidance from the Government and the Agency on this issue.


Following entry into an investment agreement, an investor must report on its investment activities.

The Agency is responsible for monitoring the implementation of an investment agreement, and must notify the investor if any violation or breach is detected. The Government retains a right to terminate an investment agreement if an investor fails to comply with its obligations.

Disputes under an investment agreement must be resolved in accordance with the agreement and the Laws of Mongolia. As dispute resolution by Mongolian courts is not mandatory, a foreign investor may seek to have disputes resolved by international arbitration, which is generally the preferred dispute resolution mechanism sought by foreign investors in Mongolia.


The regulations represent a positive step by the Government to re-stimulate inbound direct foreign investment. The availability of investment agreements is necessary to facilitate significant capital investment in Mongolia, particularly in the infrastructure sector. However, certain content of the Regulations should be noted by investors. Specifically, the requirement to provide a feasibility study and EIA Report at the application stage and the potential for the Government to re-negotiate the investment agreement if there is a departure from the feasibility study.

The regulations may be enhanced by the release of guidance materials to clarify the uncertain provisions.


This Focus is non-exhaustive, non-Mongolian legal commentary only. It has been prepared by international lawyers (who are not Mongolia qualified) based upon an unofficial English translation of the regulations and the Law.

This paper is not intended to be, and must not be, relied upon for the purposes of Mongolian legal advice. If you have any questions or wish to discuss this Focus further, please contact any of the people below.


1.    Article 21 of the Law provides that a state-owned foreign legal entity must obtain the prior approval of the Agency before it can acquire a 33 per cent or greater interest in a legal entity in Mongolia engaged in any of the following sectors: mining; banking and finance; or press, media and communications.

Link to report


D.Oyuntsetseg: Politicians ruined journalism

March 20 (UB Post) The following is an interview with Senior Officer of the Public Relations and Communication Division of the Office of the President of Mongolia, D.Oyuntsetseg, who worked for many years in the parliament's public relations department.

The interview highlights her professional views about the development of countries and modern Mongolian journalism.

-Everyone sees the development of countries differently. They think within their profession. For a journalist, how is the development of a country defined?

-I think that if one moves, they strive for their country. That is, if they are employed and work, this somehow helps society. Striving for your country doesn't mean you have to have a big business and develop big projects. Although it is work that develops a country.

As long as one is doing something for society on a daily basis, they are contributing to the development of the country. Blending with normal citizens, meeting and talking with people of the parliament who are working to develop the country are contributions us journalists provide to develop the country by advertising good works done for the country and giving warnings about wrong works. Journalists must work ahead of society. I believe that we must always work ahead of time.

Before, society used to follow journalists. Now, with rapid advancements in society, journalists seem to follow the times. Contributions made by journalists for the country notifies society. For instance, they find out what sorts of careless moves MPs are about to make, ahead of time. We need to receive warnings from the media.

The people who are supposed to contribute to the development of a country are actually journalists.

-From the perspective of a journalist, how well is the country developing?

-It's developing well. There are some who say it's not developing. In my opinion, it's developing well. Since when has Mongolia had so many cars driving on the streets of Ulaanbaatar? Since when did it have such tall buildings?

Development of the country lies behind all of this. Nowadays, there's hardly anyone who wants to sit at home doing nothing. Everyone's doing their work with all of their might and developing the country very efficiently. Due to poor decisions made by politicians, there are times when we get off track and lean the wrong way. Aside from that, I think that the overall mass is developing.

-Freedom of the press is said to be restricted. How exactly is it being restricted? How will we expand restricted freedom?

-Politicians got a hold of the press. It's false to say only one politician or business man is behind this. Journalists should have different perspectives and actions. They need to reveal the wrong and praise the good as much as possible.

There are good and bad in both the Democratic Party and Mongolian People's Party. With courage, faults need to be criticized and achievements need to be praised. Even if it was one politician pulling the strings, he's neither good nor bad.

As long as he's human, he'll have his good and bad sides. Therefore, both good and bad aspects need to brought to light.

When the Mongolian People's Party pulls some strings, the entire Democratic Party is written about as being bad in the media and when the Democratic Party pulls some strings, the Mongolian People's Party is written up as bad. This situation has ruined journalism significantly.

-Does this mean that journalism has become a big obstacle for development?

-Exactly. If journalists had done exactly like the Golden Generation of the 1990s, criticizing the wrong and praising the right, the development of journalism would have been completely different from today's.

Journalists are the critics of society but now they aren't hunting their prey. If they leave their prey on the side and hunt others, the one's they excuse will keep on with wrongdoings. If journalists criticize without discriminating, society will naturally develop. Nevertheless, journalists who are supposed to be doctors of society are unable to do their work as critics.

-Wasn't it because there wasn't any other choice for journalism? Wasn't it because there weren't any wealthy journalists with funds to overcome the expenses of publishing a newspaper?

-There weren't any journalists or anyone in the journalism sector with that much money, which is why we ended up with the current state. If it didn't cost that much money to publish a newspaper and if they had printing machines and paper, it would have been clean. Since it wasn't possible, politicians naturally got a hold of the press starting from 2000 and split it in two.

-Now, digital journalism is advancing rapidly. Is this big leverage to get out of the grasp of politicians?

-It has to be leverage. However, politicians are trying to get their hands on it. When you try to disclose information about one side, it's soon blocked, right? No matter if it's good or bad, news in newspapers is still kept on it.

Later, whether it's corrected or given tolerance, it still passes by. The digital world develops one exceptional publishing freedom: comments inform you of the social atmosphere. Through comments, you can find out about social psychology and how people are referring to issues.

The government is blocking some comments. What's wrong with typing South Korea? This is absolutely wrong. This is a democratic society. Nowadays, citizens are able to give feedback to the media. It's not just leaving after reading. We're getting a good reading of the social atmosphere. When the Prime Minister discusses an issue, through comments, we are able to show how society is viewing the matter and whether it's correct or wrong.

Everyone expresses their thoughts. This is one huge device that will surveil social psychology. For these reasons, digital journalism is contributing massively to social development. If politicians are smart enough, instead of blocking comments, they will analyze the atmosphere of society through the comments citizens leave.

-The chances of working in risky conditions with restrictions seem rather low for Mongolian journalists. How exactly is the freedom of journalists being violated?

-Freedom isn't about catching us and imprisoning, beating or abusing journalists. Media rights is measured on our rights to access information and how open it is for us. Today, if you go to any ministry or office and make an inquiry, they won't give you information.

When you go to connected ministries for clarification of serious issues, they don't say anything. They keep on transferring you to someone else, and before you know it, the issue dies out. This is what's restricting the freedom of the media.

If information that isn't a threat to national security and unrelated to secrets of the state is open, it means that the freedom of the media is provided. If you look at it from this perspective, freedom of the media is insufficient, especially at the state and ministry levels. It's different for normal organizations and citizens.

The fact that employees dodge your questions and answer you very politely, saying that they don't know and to ask another person – or that they'll inform you later when they are about to find a weak spot in places that are causing the most confusion and complications – clearly shows that there's no freedom in the media. Although the doors of the ministry and government offices are open, officials will not open their mouths.

-During most of your time working in journalism, you were a journalist covering parliament. How competent are journalists in the political field today?

-A long time ago, media organizations used to pick the best journalist for politics. This means the most educated journalists with the best analytical capabilities, who wouldn't wimp out in front of politician, were able to work and interview politicians.

You can continue working in politics. If you are incapable of doing your work, you're fired straight away. Penalties were a very fussy department. Now, a young man may disappear after working for a few months in politics. What happens is that he becomes an official. Another young man shows up and after two months he disappears. He also becomes the head of an  office. Now, promotions are given very quickly and it doesn't last long. Regulations are lost this way. A child who's just found the rhythm to do things disappears. They actually need to work for at least a year to get the hang of things.

Becoming a department head after two months means that he is being promoted when he just got the hang of things. Thus, political journalists have worsened. While one is interviewing someone, another comes and takes the interview over altogether, with no manners. Only a few are actually getting clarifications and interviews, the rest are all the same.

-Regarding the degrading capability of journalists, isn't it connected to too many new newspapers, televisions and websites?

-Well, it's only a matter of time. There were many yellow newspapers in the 1990s, right? Everyone used to read yellow newspapers. Only a few are still remaining. Currently, there's a flood of daily newspapers, websites and television stations. As time goes by, it'll automatically decrease. Our leaders are shutting down television stations and websites, which is completely unnecessary. In time, those losing in the market will close down.

Link to interview

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IMAX To Open First Theaters In Mongolia with Urgoo Cinemas

IMAX Corp and New Tour Safaris have struck an agreement to build the first IMAX theaters in Mongolia.

HONG KONG, March 21 (Variety) – IMAX Corp and New Tour Safaris have struck an agreement to build the first IMAX theaters in Mongolia.

The first two theaters will be installed in new Urgoo Cinemas complexes being constructed in Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.

The deal means that IMAX will have installations in 58 countries and territories.

"We are committed to delivering premium entertainment experiences and IMAX will serve as an extension of this strategy, which we are confident will both strengthen our business and set the stage for a new era in movie-going in Mongolia," said Anandbazar Tsogt-Ochir, chairman and CEO of SOD Mongol Group, the parent company of New Tour Safaris, in a prepared statement.

Urgoo Cinemas opened its first Warner Bros International Cinemas-designed multiplex in Ulan Bator in April 2009. The company says it aims to open seven to ten new multiplex cinemas in Mongolia over the next three to five years — with an IMAX theatre designed in most.

Link to article

Imax Signs Two-Theater Deal in MongoliaThe Hollywood Reporter, March 21


Mongolia to hold its first interior design competition

March 19 ( As the construction industry is experiencing a boom currently in Mongolia, there is an increasing demand for skillful teams and experts for all aspects of projects. Therefore local interior design companies and enterprises are planning to organize an interior design competition, "Interior-2014", for the first time in Mongolia. 

The interior design competition will be carried out in four stages between March 15th and May 20th. Local interior design companies are welcomed to participate by entering a team of five creative and skillful designers for the competition to create new and original interior design ideas. 

In the first stage of the competition, 25 of the best teams will be selected for a television show to display their designs to the public.  In following stages, interior designers will compete for sponsorship and production company's commissions and the works will be displayed in a public exhibition. 

The leading team will be awarded 10 million MNT. The key organizer for the interior design competition is Gemlife Outsourcing LLC, with supporting organizers "ТV5" television, Best Buidan LLC, Mongol Expo LLC and Tumen Tsamkhag LLC. 

Link to article


Erdenet City Will Construct Airport

Ulaanbaatar, March 19 (MONTSAME) A new airport will be erected in Erdenet city of Orkhon province.

The Ministry of Road and Transport together with the province governor's office are working on its construction plan. As estimated, a total of three billion togrogs are required to run complete modern changes in an old airport which has been out of use since 1990.

Officials say, two billion togrogs will be covered by the "Erdenet Mining Corporation", the fourth largest copper mine in the world. 

Link to article


Concession Agreement Signed for Highway Connecting North, South Dry Ports

Ulaanbaatar, March 19 (MONTSAME) A concession agreement has been signed to build a high way connecting south and north dry ports of the country through the capital city.

The agreement was inked by N.Batbayar, the Economic Development Minister, and by S.Otgonbaatar, CEO of "Chinggis Land Development Group - New Development Road" Co (the Concessionaire).

The Concessionaire will develop feasibility studies and technical specifications within nine months to them get approved by the Government. It shall have exclusive rights to construction and ownership of one thousand km of high road built under own financing. The concessionaire will also complete the construction within two years and operate the facility for another thirty years before transferring its ownership to the Government.

The concessionaire will develop a feasibility study and blueprint of the project to get approved by relevant ministries before concluding a financing agreement. The agreement will come into effect after the Chinggis Land Development Group places a first stage financing in a commercial bank of Mongolia.

The high road, which will enable a transit transportation from Russia to China over Mongolia, "is expected to greatly contribute to a development of logistics and industrialization in regions it passes through, the construction project will provide workplaces for 5,500-7,000 engineers and road workers," the Economic Development Minister said. 

Link to article


Mongolian Geological Society: We may find mines like Tavantolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi if we do large-scale detailed research

March 19 (UB Post) The following is an interview with the Executive Director of the Mongolian Geological Society, B.Bold-Erdene.

-What sort of policies are necessary in order to develop geology and mineral exploration? Although the state approved its policy recently, it still hasn't begun implementation.

-The state approved the policy for the geology and mineral sector. In my opinion, the motive for this policy is to develop the geology sector. The mining sector is the biggest leverage for Mongolia's economy to grow. Following this, the geology sector will develop immensely in the future. Mongolia must establish a national geological society. As seen from other countries, geologists and scientists of national geology societies conduct geological surveys and basic research for them. It was an absolutely correct decision of the government to include the establishment of a national geology society in the policy for the geology and mineral sector.

By establishing a national geology society, research on mining will be conducted in an organized and science-based manner. This will be done with the participation of scientists, the government and private sector. In other words, special permissions will not be necessary for basic research projects and will be conducted like projects that are funded by the state budget. Research on mineral resource exploration and refinery will be done by mineral license holders with members of the national geology society. Supervision for research by the government will be more productive and scientific. Since we'll be using the knowledge and capability of geologists and scientists, the results of exploration are likely to be high.  When establishing the national geology society, we'll develop regulations and standards for research work for exploration that conforms to international standards. Mongolian geologists working with conforming standards and regulations with international standards will be recognized worldwide. Their capabilities will develop; mineral mines and natural resources found with their participation will be evaluated at global standards; and the time for them to become famous worldwide will soon come. In my case, I have a very optimistic vision for Mongolian geological exploration activities and the careers of geologists.

-When will a national geology society be established?

-The work to establish a national geology society started a long time ago. It's been discussed since 1990. There's even a history of establishing this society and liquidating it. Now, a provision about establishing a national geology society will be put in the Natural Resources Law. It's clear that it will be established as soon as the law is approved. The work to establish a new society may conflict with the indication to transfer from big government to smart government by President Ts.Elbegdorj. The work to establish a national geology society may be interfered with, as the president's inclination is against establishing additional agencies. There is a way out of this. If we base the society on government-owned enterprises such as the Central Geological Laboratory and Central Geological Survey, we will be able to establish a national geology society.

-The national geology societies of some countries are said to be within the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister instead of the Ministry of Mining.

-Indeed. National geology societies of many countries are overseen by their prime ministers. When conducting basic geological research, the area's geological structure, mineral research occurrences, surface features, and what sorts of plants grow there are also researched. Since a national geology society gets this type of territorial information by conducting large scale research, the activities are overseen by the prime minister.

-Mongolia completed detailed geological mapping with a scale of 1:200,000 for its land and a detailed geological mapping with a scale of 1:50,000 for 30 percent of its land. How well has Mongolia researched its land?

-Countries are categorized as developed, developing and least developed. It can be observed that geological research is done exceptionally well in developed countries, meditatively in developing countries and are just starting in the world's least developed countries. If you look at the level of geological research done in developed Western European countries, they conducted 25 meters of research for each square kilometer of their land. In developing Mongolia, research for 200 meters for each square kilometer of our land was completed and we're just beginning 50 meter research. Some developing countries such as Japan have already completed detailed geological research for 10 meters, as well as, research for depths of 2,000 to 4,000 meters. Mongolia has only completed 30 percent of its research. If we conduct more detailed research on a large scale, there's no denying that we may find mines such as Tavantolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi.

Mongolia needs to hasten its detailed geological mapping research. Compared to other countries, Mongolia has a very unique geological structure that's rich in minerals. Apart from becoming famous for it, it's also very interesting to study.

-Only when you have enough budget and funding, will the detailed geological research be done efficiently and quickly? Did the government plan a sufficient amount of funding for the research work?

-In the current enforcement of the Natural Resources Law, there's an article stating that 30 percent of royalty fees for using mineral resources will be used for geological research. In last year's royalty fee, some 300 billion MNT was centralized. Had it followed the law, at least 70 to 80 billion MNT was supposed to be spent on research work. However, only seven billion was spent on geological research work last year and 10 billion MNT is planned for this year. The amount of investments influences research.

-Depending on how well basic research such as geological mapping is done, will the chances of discovering mines become higher?

-That's right. In any country, they adopt policies for basic geological research to be completed with funding from the government and drilling and exploration work by the private sector. Private sector entities are responsible for exploration risks. This policy for the government to fund basic research and companies to fund exploration is a mutually beneficial way to work.

-The fact that the president prohibited granting special permissions to explore and mine minerals seems to have worsened the geology and exploration sector. What do you think about this prohibition?

-The Mongolian Geology Society sees this as a very wrong decision. There was no need to prohibit projects that companies conducted without the funding of the government and took full risk responsibility for. For a country that declared resources underneath the surface as property of its citizens, Mongolia needs to allocate areas and manage exploration by the private sector. The state needs to specify areas where the private sector is allowed to explore and where it is not allowed. It's possible to make these sorts of policies after basic research is completed.

-Foreign investors discovered mines such as Oyu Tolgoi and most recently, Altannar. They are researching and opening mines from the discoveries made during socialism and have discovered a few new ones but haven't turned them into mines. Truthfully, is it possible to start mines from new discoveries?

-In some ways it's true. As for Oyu Tolgoi, the results of research to determine possible minerals in places have been real. Only the exploration work to determine the exact locations of deposits is left.  In other words, what structures are in what elevation and how much resources there are in the Oyu Tolgoi mine is yet to be researched. After many years of detailed research, it's been revealed that it's a mine rich in minerals. Altannar mine, where Erdene Mongol Company discovered gold, was indicated as having no sign of minerals under research done during socialism. At the time, they couldn't detect any gold. With research done based on modern, scientific achievements and advancements in geological research, they discovered a mine. Due to changes made in research laboratories, measurement methodologies and concepts, we're able to determine and provide precise data about what sorts of mines can be found in which areas of Mongolia. Overall, changes were made in geological research work and there will be more changes in the future.

-It was reported that Erdene Mongol Company takes pictures from space when exploring.

-Methodologies to take pictures from space to determine the properties of rocks were introduced to geologic exploration, as well as sensitive geophysical devises. After identifying what's underneath the ground with geophysical devices, we're setting drills. This reads the physical properties of rocks and identifies minerals.

Link to article

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74 billion road projects planned in Ulaanbaatar for 2014

March 20 (UB Post) In 2014, 40.4 km of roads will be built, 54.9 km of roads will be expanded, and 243.2 meters of bridges will be renovated. In addition, nine water drainage pipes and two overpasses will be built, while 1.84 km of new roads made of natural stones will become available at the cost of 74.1 billion MNT, reported Chief of the Ulaanbaatar City Auto Road Authority (UCARA) D.Nanzaddorj on March 17.

The UCARA paved a 280 meter stone road on the east side of the Music and Dance College last year. The stone road doesn't require relocation of underground engineering pipelines and is well-known for its good quality and efficient water drainage system in Europe.

This year, eight stone roads will be built in the city.

Stone roads are more expensive than regular asphalt roads. Only 380 meters of stone roads costs 700 million MNT.

In 2013, a tender was announced for the construction of six overpasses for pedestrians in Ulaanbaatar. However, only three were approved for construction due to financial reasons. The first of the overpasses became operational on the road adjacent to Bumbugur trade center.

This year, the remaining two overpasses will be constructed.

In addition, five taxi stations will be established along the Peace Avenue and nine bus stops will be relocated this year. Ten taxi stations opened last year.

Road constructions will start on April 1 and major road construction projects that have started in 2013 as well as major road repairs will end by July 5. A working group in charge of inspecting road projects will impose legal actions on companies that built below standard works from this year.

Below is a brief interview with Chief of the UCARA D.Nanzaddorj about the road projects that will be completed in 2014.

-How much of the road construction that will finish this year has started in 2013?

-Over 60 percent of all road constructions started last year.

-How much does it cost to pave a km of road? Did the cost rise this year compared to 2013?

-Bitumen price has risen due to unstable USD against MNT rate. We have studied this and found that a km of road that is 15 meters wide costs 1.2 billion MNT to construct.

-There are quite a lot of car parks that charge. Where does the fee go?

-We have 12 contracted car parks that charge in the city. According to our contract, the owners of the car park take all the fees for the first three months. From the fourth month, the company has to transfer 60 percent of the collected fees to the Ulaanbaatar City Road Budget. However, no company has given their 60 percent of collected fees to the fund so far. The companies reported that car parks cost a lot to run.

Therefore, we are planning to submit a proposal to our managing board to start a division at the UCARA in charge of managing car park operations.

In the city, there are 16 car parks currently operating without a permit.

Link to article


Ulaanbaatar to Build East Logistics Center for Freight Forwarders on PPP

Ulaanbaatar, March 19 (MONTSAME) A joint logistics center of freight forwarder is planned to be erected in eastern part of the UB city.

Related resolution has been issued by E.Bat-Uul, the City Mayor, and a working group has been set up to create this center in frames of the state-private sector partnership.

This is a part of general plan on the city development until 2020, it has been also reflected in the action plan of the City Mayor for 2013-2016.

The working group will certify freight terminals operating in the city and will introduce its outcome at meeting of the City's Management Council.

Link to article


Ulaanbaatar to Establish Capital City Housing Corporation

Ulaanbaatar, March 19 (MONTSAME) A working group responsible for the establishment of a Capital city's Housing Corporation was formed on Tuesday, under an ordinance of the City Governor.

The Housing Corporation will carry out actions aimed at opening of housing opportunities for employed youth not able to save enough money to buy an apartment or to pay its up-front fee.

The working group led by S.Ochirbat, a deputy chairman responsible for city development and investments at the Governor's Office, will study international experiences in implementing affordable housing programs and will develop related rules and regulations on the establishment of the "Capital city's Housing Corporation", which has been included in Ulaanbaatar Governor's action plans, as well as in the city's economic and social goals for 2014.

Link to article

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Mongolia-Australia Mining Partnership

by Dr. Julian Dierkes, University of British Columbia

March 20 (Mongolia Focus) During FM Lu Bold's visit to Australia, there has now been an announcement of a grand "Mining Partnership" between Mongolia and Australia to the tune of A$20m over 5 years.

From Julie Bishop, Australian Foreign Minister's website:

Mongolian Foreign Minister Luvsanvandan Bold and I today announce a five-year, $20 million program to assist the sustainable development of the resources sector in Mongolia.

Like Western Australia, Mongolia's economy is driven by mining and resources. The Australia-Mongolia Extractives Program will utilise Australian expertise in Mongolia to help ensure the benefits of the mining sector are spread across its entire population.


Australia is pledging to support the Mongolian Government with financial assistance and expertise that will improve governance in the mining sector, opening their economy up to international investment and development opportunities.

The program will also improve access to technical and vocational education and training in disadvantaged communities in Mongolia so they are better equipped to gain employment in the mining industry.


1. I'm Jealous

Obviously, this is a very public announcement of commitment to Mongolia by the Australian government and I wish there was a similar commitment from the Canadian side.

From the high point of the Governor General's visit to Mongolia last Fall, relations currently are in a bit of a funk.

While Australia announces a A$20m program, Canada's less ambitious bilateral aid program remains in unannounced limbo.

The Canadian government appears to be stalling on accepting the nomination of R Altangerel as new Mongolian ambassador to Ottawa following the departure of T Zalaa-Uul in late 2013. While nothing has been said publicly, one can only guess that there is some kind of a stall in relations.

The only obvious item that could be stalled is a bilateral Foreign Investment Protection Agreement about which little has been heard in years. Whether this is out of a lack of focus on the Mongolian side or actual objections is unclear, but the Canadian ambassador to Mongolia, Greg Goldhawk, is scheduled to be replaced this summer, so if a Mongolian nomination is not accepted by Ottawa, one might imagine that the Mongolian government might similarly stall on a Canadian nomination. That would be a serious and unfortunate stall, obviously.

So that's why I might be a bit jealous of this Australian announcement.

I hope that this announcement will benefit colleagues in Australia (especially at the ANU's Mongolian Studies Centre and perhaps at the U of Queensland's Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining) not least by signalling a certain prominence and thus public attention to Mongolia in Australia.

I also hope that the projects that will be undertaken under this program will involve some colleagues with Mongolia expertise rather than some of the many subject area experts (as opposed to area specialists) who seem to be jetting around the world dispensing their wisdom.

2. Did Someone Leak my EAFQ Piece?

Curiously, the ANU's Crawford School of Public Policy will be publishing an issue of the East Asia Forum Quarterly later this month which will include some focused discussions of Asia's "fringe", including Mongolia.

{Note that my piece was posted on East Asia Forum on March 23}

My own contribution will take a brief look at Mongolian foreign policy, note its success in building political friendships, but urge Mongolian policy-makers to re-focus their efforts on economic relations, particularly in Northeast Asia. If only this issue had appeared before the present announcement, I might wander the earth claiming that my article had an impact. As it will appear after the announcement that trajectory is unlikely.

However, this mining partnership is not what I had in mind in urging a greater economic focus. Yes, this partnership clearly involves a substantial financial commitment to Mongolia and the apparent focus on governance and vocational education implies economic concerns, but it is not a partnership that is focused on trade or the development of bilateral ties per se. Should Australia be successful together with its partners in the pursuit of a comprehensive multilateral free trade agreement around the Pacific (TPP), Mongolia would be frozen out of yet another free trade project raising the spectre of a future when Mongolia will not be able to diversify away from the export of raw materials in part due to a web of trade agreements that excludes it.

Of course, Australia is among the few developed countries that actually have significant investments in Mongolia. These investments are nowhere near the volume of Chinese investments, but they have surpassed Canadian engagement, for example, as Turqoise Hill (by far the largest nominally Canadian investment) has become a mere conduit for strategies pursued by Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto. In this, at least Australia does offer an economic partnership through the private sector that is bolstered by political support as evidenced in the present announcement.

3. What Does This Partnership Mean?

Few details are available at this point. It appears, however, that this is a formalization and re-packaging of Australian aid that has been assumed to be revving up for some time, at least in conversations in Ulaanbaatar. While the announcement is thus quite significant, it appears that it may not be an announcement of anything particularly new.

A focus on governance questions and vocational education is not only very plausible but has been recognized as such by many other aid organizations from the World Bank to the German-Mongolian Institute for Resources and Technology.

Perhaps, there will be more that's novel to the programs that are being pursued under this partnership once more details become available, but for now I welcome the news of this very public commitment to Mongolia by Australia and wish the projects to be pursued every success.

I wonder if an Australian embassy to Mongolia (currently, there is a general consulate with bilateral affairs being managed in the Australian embassy in Seoul) can be far behind…

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Kuwaiti Ambassador visits Bayan-Olgii Province in Mongolia

KUWAIT, March 20 (KUNA) -- Kuwait's Ambassador to Mongolia Khaled Al-Fadhli made an official visit to Bayan-Olgii Province on Thursday, in response to an invitation by the province's Governor Aimag Kh.Darmen to attend the Nowruz festivities, set to kick off on Friday.

Upon his arrival, Ambassador Al-Fadhli was received by Governor Darmen, President of the Citizens' Representative Council at the province, a number of Islamic society representatives, and Islamic school students.

Afterwards, the Kuwaiti diplomat held an official meeting with the province's governor and leaderships, during which they conveyed their great appreciation to Kuwait's major support and aid to Mongolia and Bayan-Olgii province, lauding at the same time assistance from the Kuwaiti public, as well as Kuwaiti philanthropic societies in building and restoring the province's mosques.

Ambassador Al-Fadhli expressed his delight at attending the celebrations for what it represents of historic legacy and significance, expressing also his pride in being the first Arab ambassador to visit the province.

Furthermore, he pointed out his aspiration to boost bilateral relations between Kuwait and Mongolia.

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Kuwaiti ambassador attends opening of religious affairs society in Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia

KUWAIT, March 23 (KUNA) -- Kuwait's Ambassador to Mongolia Khaled Al-Fadhli participated in the opening ceremony of the new headquarters of the religious affairs department society " Al-mufteyat", headed by cleric Mokhan Azatkhan, located in Bayan Ulgi governorate, western Mongolia.

Al-Fadli gave a speech, tackling the deep-rooted religious ties between people of Kuwait and Kazakhs, pointing out that he will convey their needs to the specialized authorities back in Kuwait.

Kazakhs are a Turkic people of Eastern Europe and the northern parts of Central Asia (largely Kazakhstan, but also found in parts of Uzbekistan, China, Russia and Mongolia).

Al-Fadhli handed Sheikh Azatkhan a number of copies of the Holy Qur'an written in Kazakh language, presented as a gift from Al Najat Charitable Society in Kuwait.

Sheikh Azatkhan expressed his gratitude to the Kuwaiti diplomat for his participation in the ceremony, which reflects the great care he offers to the Muslims in Mongolia.

He also expressed his thanks to AL-Najat Charitable Society, and the Kuwaiti people for all the efforts they exert to serve Muslims in Mongolia.

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Police reports Mongolian woman molested at New Delhi post office

March 21 (The Asian Age) Two foreign nationals, one from Mongolia and another from the United States, were allegedly molested in the city in the last 24 hours.

In the first incident, a 24-year-old Mongolian national was allegedly molested by an official at the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg post office in central Delhi.

The police said that the incident took place on Thursday evening when the victim came to the post office to enquire about the current status of a parcel that she had sent home a few days ago. The victim is a student of management in a Delhi University college and stays in a rented accommodation in Vasant Vihar area.

"The victim had sent a parcel to her home in October last year followed by another one in January, but surprisingly both parcels did not reach. When she came to enquire about the same, the accused, a customs superintendent, first asked her to wait. When he didn't call her, she went inside to check on him," a senior police officer said, adding that, "It was then the accused misbehaved with her, allegedly attempting to forcibly grope her."

In another incident that took place on Wednesday, a 45-year-old American woman accused a taxi driver of molesting her in his vehicle and threatening her when she resisted.

The accused, identified as Vikram Basoya, has been arrested. He had also been sent to judicial custody, the police said.

The American woman is an advocate by profession and had been staying in a rented house at Defence Colony.

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Russia, Mongolia Sign "Sources of Amur" Transboundary Reservation Agreement

March 18 (Russian Geolographical Society) Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev signed the transboundary reservation "Sources of Amur" agreement between Russia and Mongolia. New specially protected natural site includes state nature biosphere reserve "Sokhondinsky", Russia, Zabaykalsky Krai and national park "Onon-Baldzhinsky", Mongolia.

Minister of nature resources and ecology of Russia Sergey Donskoy said: "We can provide biological and landscape preservation of the Southern Transbaikal in the sources of the Amur River only by joining together efforts of two countries. Establishment of the transboundary reservation "Sources of Amur" is an effective measure targeted towards completing the task.

State nature biosphere reserve" was established on 11 December 1973. The reserve is located in the Southern Transbaikal, upper Khentey-Chikoyskoye Highland.

The reserve is the place where rare plants and animal species enlisted in the Red Books of different levels are still preserved. Some species that are considered to be rare in other regions still remain usual for "Sokhondinsky".  For example, demoiselle, whooper swan, Snowdon rose (Rhodiola rosea) etc. are still preserved here.  And such species as musk deer and sable became an icon of the reserve. Many lakes in the "Sokhondinsky" are glacial. The nature reserve area is 210 988 ha, protected area is 36 060 ha.

Along the territory of the Sokhondinsky nature reserve, off from Mongolia, lies the national park "Onon-Baldzhinsky". Another Mongolian strictly protected area – "Khan Khentii" neighbors with recently established national park "Chikoy", Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia. That way, first two strictly protected areas preserve sources of the Amur River and the latter two preserve sources of rivers feeding Lake Baikal.

Since the earliest times, friendly peoples and unique animal species – the snow leopard, the white-naped crane, the bustard, the taimen, the Amur sturgeon and many more have inhabited this land.

Ecologists note that two countries' decision of joint protection of natural riches is rational and well-timed.

Draft of the document was prepared by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of Russia. The agreement will come into effect on the date of signature by the Mongolian part.

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Social, Environmental and Other

Australia, Macao, Mongolia, and South Korea Declared First Countries Measles-Free in W. Pacific

March 22 (The Global Dispatch) With outbreaks of measles raging in areas of the Pacific–the Philippines and Vietnam to name a couple, the World Health Organization in the Western Pacific Region announced this week that four countries were declared measles-free.

Australia, Macao (China), Mongolia and the Republic of Korea become the first countries to earn this distinction in the Western Pacific.

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Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism in Mongolia

March 19 (UB Post) In Ulaanbaatar on July 6, 2009, shaman B.Baysgalan conducted an anti-alcoholism ceremony for a man named Battulga. Some families regularly enlist the services of shamans in order to "treat" alcoholism. His family, having brought him to the shaman, had hoped he would stop regularly drinking vodka. It ended in disaster.

According to the police report, the shaman placed nine stones inside of a fully fired stove. The stones were then placed into a container and vodka was poured over them, little by little. With Battulga covered by a blanket, the stones were then placed across his body for some ten minutes.

When the blanket was removed, Battulga's neck, arms, shoulders, elbows, and the surface of his right thigh were severely burned. He later died from shock.

The court would sentence the shaman to 11 years in prison. The victim's family filed no further complaints given they sought the shaman's assistance voluntarily. Instead they requested the shaman pay three million MNT to cover the funeral fee.

Families are often eager to find a way to stop their loved ones from drinking and spend money trying to eliminate the addiction. People sometimes joke that every family has its own alcoholic.

Currently, Mongolian families can choose from four options for treatment of alcoholism including healing by shaman, hypodermic injection treatment, spinal taps, private hospital treatment, or the National Center for Mental Health.

People tell each other about treatments such as, hypodermic injection treatment, eating seagull droppings, cutting the tongue then taking a drop of snake venom or poison, or cutting into the back and adding ten doses of medicine that will penetrate the body for five to ten years (it is believed this establishes an anti-alcohol immune system or uncomfortable physical response to alcohol). When a person receives the spinal treatment, practitioners say that even smelling alcohol will cause skin irritations, inflammation, itchiness and the feeling of dizziness. Of course, the treatment comes at a high cost – at least one million MNT. The average Mongolian salary is 600 thousand MNT.

At a private hospital in Ulaanbaatar, Dr. N.Balchin argues that, "the most essential thing to stop drinking vodka is to clean the poisonous substance from the drinker's blood."

His hospital has dedicated equipment, imported from Germany that is designed to detoxify a person's blood. One treatment costs around 45 thousand MNT and four treatments is considered a complete course of treatment. With over ten years of experience, he believes this method is by far the most effective in treating alcoholism.

He is often critical of methods used by other health organizations, such as hypodermic injection treatments. He believes this means of releasing poisons – that is, via induced sweating techniques, even spinal taps – can often do more harm than good.

Dr. Balchin was once a proponent of hypodermic injection treatments as a means of eliminating alcohol addiction. He then undertook further research in Russia before finding the treatment to be ineffective. He believes the treatment to be outdated, a Soviet-era practice that has somehow continued despite it no longer being in widespread use.

Mongolia's National Center for Mental Health based in Ulaanbaatar continues to develop treatments to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol addiction. Dr. D.Gantumur, a qualified psychiatrist, explained that three main phases of treatment have been identified.

"The most essential part of stopping drinking is working with the psychology of the patient. As for the spinal way, treatment is possible," he explained. "It is still being used all around the world and has results. It works by making the body become uncomfortable when drinking vodka, like an allergy."

Yet the doctor admits that the Mongolian Ministry of Health has not approved the treatment. "They don't have controls or the right to inspect private hospitals or some businesses," he explained.

Unlike Dr. Balchin, mental health expert Prof. Ch.Gantumur does not advocate blood detoxification as an effective means of alcohol treatment.

"The private hospital way to clean poison from the blood has big disadvantages," he explained. "When they filter or clean the alcohol and poisonous substances from blood, they suck out all the protein and minerals together from normal blood levels. That is dangerous to the human body. It is not a solution."

Yet there emerge concerns that some private hospitals and other institutes often promote ineffective treatments based on unproven pseudo-science. Some go so far as to suggest that their treatment medications will last for up to five years.

Most medical professionals doubt these claims. According to Ch. Gantumur, it is almost impossible. "Any medicine can only keep working in the human body for at least six months to one year," he advised. "Most of the practitioners of the treatment don't know how to use and inject the medicine into patients, that is a problem. Let alone the high cost, 500 thousand to one million MNT."

Ch. Gantsetseg, Head of the Mongolian Psychologist's Union suggests hypodermic injection treatment for a 600 thousand MNT fee, using hypnosis on patients to help them stop drinking, and the liquid version of spinal taps imported from Russia administered just once (under controlled circumstances) with a six-month follow-up. He also supports prescribing medicine that supports brain function, rather than especially potent medication that could lead to greater damage.

Perhaps most significantly, he explained, "most of the private hospitals use detoxification methods but forget about psychology."

Some suggest not all psychological treatments are to be trusted, even if teamed with medical treatment. One foreign doctor is said to regularly hypnotize alcohol dependent patients before providing them with regular liquid spinal taps, at a cost of up to one million MNT. And some question whether patients are likely to see any positive results.

Professionals will likely continue to debate the best practices for treating alcohol addiction, as they continue to work to keep their treatment facilities profitable. More education – for professionals and the public – is needed to make changes for the better. Ultimately, it is up to patients and their families to push the treatment facilities in the right direction: putting patients first.

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Samaritan's Purse Children's Heart Project sees 1,000th surgery with 4-year old from Mongolia

March 20 ( The Samaritan's Purse Children's Heart Project has sponsored its 1,000th surgery for a child with a congenital heart defect.

The 4 1/2-year-old girl who had that milestone surgery, Nomin Tumurkhuu, had her procedure at Mayo Clinic in Rochester on March 5.

Nomin came to Rochester from Mongolia and was discharged from the hospital on Thursday to recover at the home of her host mom, Nancy Monsen, of Rochester.

Monsen said members of her church, Calvary Evangelical Free Church, and Autumn Ridge Church in Rochester take turns hosting Children's Heart Project kids, along with other churches across the country.

The children get heart surgeries that are critically needed, yet have a high degree of success with a one-time procedure, said Dr. Allison Cabalka, a Mayo Clinic pediatric cardiologist.

If the conditions are left untreated too long, they can become untreatable.

Nomin, for example, had to be carried because she did not have the energy to walk, her mother, Otgonjaral Jijgee, said through an interpreter who, through Samaritan's Purse, travels with the pair.

"She was really blue before she had the heart surgery. Now, she's all pink and white, really beautiful, my daughter," Jijgee said. "She was beautiful, but now, she is more beautiful. And all her hands and toes were really cold. But now she's kind of a warm girl."

Nomin didn't get to make friends in Mongolia because she didn't have energy to go out and play. She would get winded after, at most, two steps, and her mother had to carry her.

"But now she is not tired anymore — and she even started to run," Jijgee said.

Cabalka said her husband, Jeff, helps families get a taste of the United States and of Minnesota while they are in Rochester so that their journey is about more than just medical procedures.

Kids who come from Mongolia get the chance to visit the Eagle Center in Wabasha, go to a Rochester fire station and take other field trips.

Jijgee said walking into Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys campus was a little nerve wracking because it was so large she felt like she could get lost. She has been appreciative of the welcome she, her daughter and their translator got from church parishioners and from others.

"I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped and put their hands out to fix my daughter's heart and to make our stay comfortable here. The words are not enough," she said. "Thank you Samaritan's Purse; thank you Mayo Clinic; thank you all Christians from Calvary Church. Thank you Americans for making everything possible!"

Nomin and her mother will be in Rochester for about another three weeks until Nomin is cleared to travel home to Mongolia.

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Little Girl Travels from Mongolia to Mayo for Life-Saving SurgeryABC 6 News, March 19


Writer Uuganaa Ramsay pays moving tribute to her lost son with Down's Syndrome with "Mongol"

A NEW book by the author tackles her experience of giving birth to a child with Down's Syndrome

March 23 (The Scottish Daily Record) When Uuganaa Ramsay first looked up her nationality in a dictionary, she was puzzled to find the word "Mongol" had two very different meanings.

She understood the first definition – that Mongol was the name given to people from Mongolia.

But it wasn't until she moved to Scotland and gave birth to a son with Down's Syndrome that she found herself facing all the taboos associated with the second meaning given for the word.

Tragically, her baby son Billy died aged just three months old. Now, more than four years on from Billy's death, Uuganaa has written a book she hopes will show others how hurtful the offensive use of the word Mongol can be. And she has been deeply touched by the reaction it has already received.

Uuganaa first started putting her story down on paper as part of a Scottish Book Trust project encouraging new writers.

She spoke to the Sunday Mail as we join forces with the trust to launch Scotland's Stories of Home – encouraging Scots to tell us their real-life tales.

Uuganaa, 37, a proud Mongolian now living in Troon, Ayrshire, said: "I was in my teens, living in rural Mongolia and looking after my family's sheep and goats with my sister when I remember looking up the word Mongol in a dictionary and being surprised by what I saw.

"The second definition for the word said it was an offensive word for a person with Down's Syndrome.

"At the time, I didn't know what Down's Syndrome was but all that changed when my son Billy was born. He only lived for three months but he was such a beautiful, precious baby that we all loved so much.

"He had ginger hair from the Scottish side of his family and blue spots on his skin which are a common birthmark in Mongolia.

"I am proud to be a Mongol and Billy was a Mongol too. But the condition that made him so ill had nothing to do with me being Mongolian.

"We all know using the word Mongol to describe people with Down's Syndrome or other learning disabilities is very offensive and most people wouldn't do it – but some still do.

"I realised many people who would never use the term Mongol as an insult have an underlying belief that there is a link to the people of Mongolia.

"I love the saying, 'I won't change my child for the world but I want to change the world for my child.' Writing this book is about letting people know more about the real Mongolia, its people, family traditions and culture. It's also about helping the world become a place where people with disabilities and their loved ones won't have to hear the word Mongol being used as an insult."

Uuganaa's book, Mongol – A Memoir, tells the story of Billy's birth and short life, interwoven with the story of Uuganaa's own life growing up in Outer Mongolia, which she admits is one of the most remote places in the world.

The book reveals everything from how she lived a nomadic life, grew up in a yurt and herded sheep and goats for her family.

She came to the UK after enrolling on a teacher-training course at a college in London, where she met and fell in love with Scottish university lecturer Richard Ramsay.

The couple moved to Glasgow and then to Troon where they continue to live with their children Sara, 15, Simon, eight, and Karen, two.

Uuganaa first discovered she was pregnant with Billy on Mother's Day in 2009.

She gave birth to him by Caesarean section on November 14, 2009, and he was quickly rushed to the hospital's neonatal unit. There, doctor's broke the news that they suspected he had Down's Syndrome. He was also diagnosed with several holes in his heart, brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Uuganaa said: "We were devastated by Billy's death. I carried him for nine months dreaming of many things but not saying goodbye to him. We never even got to see his first smiles."

When medics first confirmed that Billy had Down's Syndrome, she remembers a female doctor making a comment about her nationality in relation to Billy's condition.

But she admits the full scale of the prejudice surrounding Down's Syndrome and the term Mongol didn't hit her until after Billy's death. In October 2011, she was shocked by a media storm over comments made by comedian Ricky Gervais.

He had put photos of himself on Twitter making stupid faces and retweeted the phrase: "Two mongs don't make a right." He later apologised for the his use of the word.

Uuganaa said: "This comment sparked off memories of other incidents where I had heard terms derived from the word Mongol being used negatively.

"One doctor's words came back to haunt me. Billy had just been diagnosed, we were really upset and she was trying to say something nice – but what she said was, 'It may not be so obvious that Billy has Down's because of your ethnic background.'

"I remember being annoyed. Not all my children look as if they have Down's Syndrome and I even put a photo of Sara and Simon beside Billy.

"How Billy looked was the least of our worries but I do understand that when people hear about Down's Syndrome it is often only the physical characteristics of the condition that people know anything about.

"John Langdon Down, the British doctor who had discovered Down's Syndrome in the 1860s, described it as Mongolism and suggested that there were similar physical characteristics between people with Down's Syndrome and the Mongolian race.

"It had been considered normal to use the term Mongol from the 1860s to 1960 when the World Health Organisation officially dropped all references to the term mongolism.

"But here, in 2009, was a doctor showing that such prejudices were still under the surface."

In the weeks following Billy's death, Uuganaa began writing letters to her son, telling him how much he was loved and how much he was missed. These letters led to her starting to write a book in his memory.

She initially wrote a short story, which she submitted to Scottish Book Trust as part of their Family Legends competition.

Her moving story, Fairytale Hero, was chosen for inclusion in the Scottish Family Legends book.

Uuganaa's success at short story writing inspired her to pen Mongol. Her book, which is to be launched in Edinburgh and London later this month, has been described as a touching story of one woman's transformation from an outsider to a fearless champion of love, respect and tolerance.

Uuganaa said: "When the row involving Ricky Gervais broke, I was so angry I posted a picture of Billy on Twitter and tweeted Ricky and told him to think about my son.

"But you have to let your anger go. You have to take a softer approach and that's what I'm doing now.

"I know my book is being read by people interested in Mongolia, by people interested in learning about different cultures, by families of people with Down's Syndrome or other learning disabilities and by other people too.

"I wrote it to help change attitudes and prejudices and so Billy would live on in people's minds."

Mongol – A Memoir is published by Saraband,

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An Americanized Mongolian Hair Cutting Ceremony

March 22 (A Well Thrown Stone, Blog by Anu (Cassandra) As I had mentioned in a previous post, we threw together Muj's Haircutting ceremony very very last minute and it turned out great!!! So months later I finally have the time to share more about this important event.

Mongolian children get their first haircut in early ages between 2-5. It is called Даахь Үргээх ("Daah Urgeeh") . Depending on the lunar calendar, boys receive their first hair cut on an even year and girls in an odd year. The ceremony symbolizes the end of "babyhood" and the transition to "childhood". The transition from babyhood was and is so important in Mongolian traditional culture. Surviving babyhood, especially for children of herding families with little access to medical facilities, was an occasion to celebrate. 

The time and date for the haircutting are determined by the year in the lunar calendar when the child was born. Traditionally Buddhist lamas or monks would advise families on the best days and best years to do the ceremony. Due to communication errors on the fact that Muj was born in the US we were originally planning on a much later date. But once that information was corrected, we were told that December 29, 2013 at 9am American time was the last possible auspicious time to have his ceremony.

About me

Hello and welcome as I venture into the blogosphere once again!  My name is Cassandra but online (and in Mongolia) I am Anu. I guess the most "important" thing to realize about me is that I am Mongolish...which means that I quite literally act and think like a Mongol-ish. So how did I, your average American "Girl Next Door" become Mongolish?

Well, it all started when I accepted a position with the Peace Corps to go teach English in Mongolia.  Thus began the two most difficult yet rewarding years of my life.  (If you are at all interested in reading about that chapter in my life feel free to check out my blog: A Thousand Voices Talking Perfectly Loud).  I ended up staying a third year after my assignment ended to live with Ganzorig ("Steel-courage", Ganaa for short), the man who would ultimately move back to the US with me to become my husband.  Those 3 short years changed me, and while I am still very American, I am also Mongol setgeltei ("with a Mongolian soul") as Ganaa always boasts.

I am also a relatively new-ish Mother of two of the cutest, sweetest, half-mongol boys you will ever meet: Muj and BB. I am what the interwebz might call crunchy, what with my cloth diapering, cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, bread making. But that is more a reflection of me being Mogolish and/or lazy than "crunchy". While I may only be mediocre at the whole domestic/motherhood thing, my boys are my world, and I do what I think is best for them.

What exactly I hope to accomplish with this blog is unclear even to me.  All I know is that I love to write.  It is one part of my life that I really miss, so I am going to write.  My focuses will obviously reflect whats going on in my life and a lot of that will probably be kid-centric. I know that some people won't be able to understand or relate but I welcome all comments and advice.  However, I ask that you keep it relaxed and drama free.

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SUMO/ Kakuryu wins first title and likely promotion to yokozuna

March 23 (The Asahi Shimbun) Ozeki Kakuryu handily won his final match and his first championship title at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka on March 23, putting him in line for promotion to yokozuna.

He is expected to join Mongolian compatriots Hakuho and Harumafuji at the top of the sumo pyramid come May.

One of the keys to Kakuryu's recent success has been his face-off--calm and focused. Against Kotoshogiku, Kakuryu put that new attack on display, absorbing his opponent's onslaught and keeping his cool as the ozeki wiggled in for the belt. With his head down and his feet moving, Kakuryu took the best the injured Kotoshogiku (8-7) could offer and drove him over the edge in a fine display of talent and strength.

"I have finally won. I'm so happy," Kakuryu said. "I will do my best."

Kakuryu's only loss was to Okinoumi on the third day of the tournament, and he defeated both yokozuna on his way to the title. He also came close to winning the championship in January, losing only to Hakuho. Sumo association officials indicated that Kakuryu is likely to be formally installed as yokozuna when the promotion committee has its next meeting.

"All I wanted was to go all the way through the end," Kakuryu said. "My experience over the years is starting to bring results."

Though neither had a chance of winning the title, Hakuho and Harumafuji had a hard-fought and evenly matched bout to close out the tournament. After grappling to the edge, Harumafuji launched a throw that had both wrestlers airborne.

Harumafuji was ruled the winner by the referee, but the judges called a huddle after watching the video of the match, which showed Harumafuji's hand touching out first.

They called a rematch, which Harumafuji won easily. Hakuho, knowing he had no chance of getting his 29th title, didn't seem to have it in him to fight twice just to be second best. The yokozuna duo both finished at 12-3.

In other final-day action, local favorite sekiwake Goeido used an aggressive face-off to topple ozeki Kisenosato and seal his 12th win of the tournament. Goeido, a perennial at sekiwake, has been fighting a much more powerful and offense-oriented style than normal, and it is paying off greatly for him. With his finish in Osaka, he can now start a run for promotion, but he has to perform well again in May.

Kisenosato had nine wins.

Sekiwake Tochiozan, who will be retaining his rank in May, plunged forward and fell on his belly, but only after No. 7 maegashira Chiyotairyu had stepped out of the ring in an effort to keep from being completely knocked over. Tochiozan garnered nine wins, and Chiyotairyu also closed with a 9-6 record.

Losing his 10th bout, komusubi Toyonoshima was unable to budge No. 5 maegashira Chiyootori, a very hefty up-and-comer, and was pushed out before he could retaliate.

Komusubi Shohozan lost his final bout and goes home a loser, also at 5-10. Top maegashira Tamawashi, who also only managed five wins, broke down Shohozan's defenses and thrust him out.

Shohozan and Toyonoshima can both expect a demotion back into the rank and file in May.

Top maegashira Endo fell onto his back after a tough thrusting match with No. 4 maegashira Yoshikaze, who won 10 matches and can claim the fighting spirit award for his effort.

Yoshikaze suffered a blow to his eye in an earlier match, and it was swollen almost completely shut. But he said that didn't bother him.

"Everybody has pain to deal with," he said, laughing.

Endo still has a bright future ahead of him, but his inexperience showed in this tournament as he is trying to recalibrate his skills against more senior wrestlers than he had been previously pitted against. He had to settle for a 6-9 record.

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Citadel All-American Turtog Luvsandorj finishes sixth at NCAA wrestling championship

March 22 (The Post and Courier) Citadel wrestler Turtogtokh Luvsandorj finished off his college career with a sixth-place finish at 165 pounds in the NCAA championships in Oklahoma City, becoming the fourth All-American in program history and the third in the last two years.

The redshirt senior joins Ugi Khishignyam (2013, fourth place) (Mogi: a Mongolian), Odie Delaney (2013, seventh) (Mogi; another Mongolian) and Dan Thompson (2006, sixth) as the only four Bulldogs to earn All-American status at The Citadel.

"I am very happy for Turtogtokh and I'm very proud of him as he has worked very hard and put in an indescribable amount of preparation," said coach Rob Hjerling. "He gave himself an opportunity to win every match, and it was very nice to see all of the hard work pay off."

The sixth-place finish is the second-best in Citadel history as the Mongolia native closed out his career with a school record 134 wins, including 39 this season. In his four seasons, Luvsandorj earned two Southern Conference titles, made four trips to the NCAA tournament and was tabbed as the league's wrestler of the year twice.

Luvsandorj topped three seeded wrestlers en route to his sixth-place finish - No. 6 Corey Mock (Chattanooga), No. 7 Pierce Harger (Northwestern) and No. 9 Joseph Booth (Hofstra).

NCAA qualifiers Aaron Walker, Matt Frisch and Marshall Haas are all expected to return next season, while Ugi Khishignyam finished his Bulldog career with 64 wins through two seasons and won two SoCon titles at 141 pounds.

"The three younger guys learned a lot this weekend and they are leaving here as better wrestlers and are more prepared mentally for next season," said Hjerling. "Having two sophomores and a freshman out here getting that kind of experience is priceless. They have standards to live up to and records to shoot for and try to break."

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St. John's University playing host to Mongolian national team wrestlers

COLLEGEVILLE, March 19 (St. Cloud Times) — Three-time national wrestling champion and 2011 St. John's University graduate Minga Batsukh will be returning to Collegeville as part of the Mongolian national wrestling team.

On Saturday and Sunday, St. John's will host current and previous members of the Mongolian national wrestling team for a day camp in Sexton Arena.

Batsukh left Mongolia at age 16 and attended high school at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J., where alumni connections pointed him toward the Johnnies' wrestling program. Mogi Baatar, a 2010 St. John's graduate and wrestler, also attended St. Benedict's Prep, as did team member Ochirbat Bayanjargal.

"The way Mongolians wrestle is a lot different than Americans do," Bayanjargal said. "Mongolian wrestlers are able to use their feet to score on their opponents. This is something that not so many American wrestlers do on the mat. So we might see some wrestling techniques that require some footwork and more at the camp this weekend."

Batsukh rounded out his collegiate career in March 2011 with an 88-19 career record with 12 of the 19 losses occurring his first season.

He received the NCAA Championships' outstanding wrestler award and the national wrestler of the year awards after finishing his senior season 27-1. In his post-collegiate career, Batsukh finished first at the Tulgat Open in 2011 and second at the 2012 Mongolian Open.

"In Mongolia wrestling is a national sport," Batsukh said. "We are really passionate about what we do and study every day and talk about wrestling. Our hope for the camp is to show the kids not every aspect, but maybe one small thing to improve on and become better."

St. John's head coach Brandon Novak coached Batsukh for the duration of his collegiate career and looks forward to his return.

"He is a tremendous athlete and extremely focused," Novak said. "He always peaked at the end of year, at the right time, and that defined him as one of greatest wrestlers in D-III."

Batsukh's teammates also benefited from his presence.

"All of our Mongolian teammates are some of the strongest people I know, and I mean this in the mentality term," St. John's senior Paul Plombon said. "They go almost three or four years without seeing their family. I was a freshman when Minga was a senior and I was able to learn a lot from him in just a year's time."

The Mongolian team is in the U.S. after competing and placing fifth at the 2014 Freestyle World Cup in Los Angeles, a competition featuring the top 10 freestyle teams in the world based on the 2013 World Championships. Upon entering the competition, Mongolia was tied with Cuba for seventh place.

"It went really good for us," Batsukh said. "It was the top 10 teams in the world, and we took fifth. It was the first time for our country to compete in the world cup tournament in 12 years."

Other camp clinicians include three-time Olympian Naranbaatar "Nambaa" Bayaraa, Mandakhnaran Ganzorig, Nyamochir Enkhsaikhan, Chuluunbat Jargalsaikhan and three-time Olympic head coach Battulga Byambajav. At the 2013 World Championships, Ganzorig took third and Enkhsaikhan took fifth. Jargalsaikhan took fifth at the 2011 World Championships.

This event specifically holds special meaning for many wrestlers, particularly the Mongolians.

"I embrace everything that comes from wrestling," Bayanjargal said. "As a result, wrestling has taught me to realize the importance of friendship and brotherhood. We become hard workers, leaders and persistent at what we do through wrestling. At SJU, we have great wrestling coaches that inspire us to be great at what we do."

"This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the opportunity to have an Olympic team on campus," Novak said.

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