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Monday, March 31, 2014

[MMC seeks extension, FDI down 32% Jan-Feb, reform to allow movable asset-based lending, and Mongolia abstains from UN Crimea resolution]

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Monday, March 31, 2014

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

MMC trading -5.56% this morning at HK$0.68

Mongolian Mining Seeks Debt Extension Amid Record Coal Price Slump

March 31 (Bloomberg) Mongolian Mining Corp. (975) is looking to extend the maturity of a note due today as expanding supplies of coking coal push prices to record lows.

"It's still not finalized but definitely we will not be paying on the current maturity date," Chief Executive Battsengel Gotov said, speaking on March 28 about a promissory note issued to QGX Holdings Ltd. in November 2012. "They understand our position and we're telling them that 'OK, one day we'll pay but maybe not today.'" (Mogi: must be from the purchase of Baruun Naran)

The Ulaanbaatar-based miner has already amended the maturity of its $52.5 million promissory note once before, postponing repayment from Nov. 22 until today, according to the company's annual results. Gotov declined to comment on the length of the latest extension, saying it was still being discussed. MMC last year rescheduled payment of a second $52.5 million promissory note until December 2014, the earnings announcement shows.

Coal producers are struggling as an oversupply of the raw material used to make steel weighs on prices. While miners, including Glencore Xstrata Plc, scale back output at some mines, Australian shipments are still set to increase this year, extending the overhang. SouthGobi Resources Ltd., which also mines coal in Mongolia, said last week it's seeking additional financing to avoid a default on $250 million of debt.

MMC's selling price averaged about $80 to $85 a metric ton this year, falling from $92.1 a ton in 2013 and $108.4 in 2012, according to Gotov. Mongolia accounted for 20 percent of China's coking coal imports in 2013, down from 45 percent in 2011 and trailing Australia, according to presentation slides provided by the company.

Price Rebound

Benchmark coking coal has dropped 17 percent this year to a record-low $113.45 a ton, adding to an about 50 percent slide in the previous three years. Prices may start to rebound toward the end of the year or in early 2015 as miners globally pull back production, Gotov said.

The company paid the latest coupon on $600 million of 8.875 percent dollar-denominated bonds last week, Gotov said. The debt's interest rate is still more attractive than on loans from domestic banks, he said, adding "I'm still very confident this bond issue was not the first and last for us."

The March 2017 securities rallied the most in two months on March 28, driving the yield down by 70 basis points to 25.21 percent, according to Bloomberg generic pricing.

MMC plans to start building a 15 kilometer railway across the Chinese border in May to reduce its transportation costs, according to Gotov. The miner agreed in October to work with Shenhua Group Corp., Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi LLC and Tavan Tolgoi JSC on the project, according to a company press release.

"I believe any meaningful cost savings really will come from infrastructure," he said. "We will continue to put an accent on improving efficiencies and maintaining our competitive cost structure."

Rail Project

The rail link will cut the cost of transporting coal, which is now trucked into China, to $1 to $2 per ton from $8.8 last year. The consortium plans to finalize its agreement next month, said Gotov, declining to provide an estimate of the project's expense because feasibility studies are under way.

Mongolian miners "have cheap coal but the high transportation cost to get them to buyers ultimately makes them unattractive," said Amit Jain, a credit analyst in Bangalore at SJS Markets Ltd. on March 27, after upgrading MMC's bonds to buy from neutral earlier this month. "MMC has made good efforts to reduce their operating costs, and I expect to see improvement in their credit metrics."

Link to article

 

XAM last traded Wednesday at 5c

XANADU: KHARMAGTAI INDEPENDENT EXPERT'S AND VALUATION REPORTS

March 31, Xanadu Mines Ltd. (ASX:XAM) --

HIGHLIGHTS

·         An Independent Expert's Report and Independent Valuation Report have been finalised to accompany the Notice of Meeting for the Kharmagtai transaction.

·         The Independent Expert has concluded the transaction is fair and reasonable to non-associated shareholders.

·         The Independent Valuation Report has estimated a preferred valuation range of US$15.0 to 29.0 million for the Kharmagtai project.

·         The Independent Valuation Report notes that three historic mineral resource estimates have been undertaken at Kharmagtai. These historic resource estimates provide support to Xanadu's Exploration Target.

·         Xanadu's exploration activities have commenced including core re-logging, magnetic acquisition and alteration analysis.

·         Preparations are underway for a diamond drilling campaign to commence upon completion of the Transaction.

Link to release

 

NRU last traded Friday at 0.7c

Newera Resources: Request for Trading Halt

March 31 -- Newera Resources Limited (ASX: NRU) requests a trading halt be placed on the Company's securities pending the release of an update on the current drilling program at its Ulaan Tolgoi Project in Mongolia.

The Company requests the securities remain in pre-open until the earlier of the announcement to the market or the commencement of trade on Wednesday, 2 April 2014. The Company is not aware of any reason why the trading halt should not be granted.

Link to release

 

KCC closed +27.27% to 7c Friday

Origo participates in Kincora Copper oversubscribed private placement 

March 28 -- Origo Partners Plc ("Origo" or the "Company," LON:OPP) is pleased to announce that its portfolio company Kincora Copper Limited ("Kincora"), has successfully completed a CAN$5 million private placement subject to regulatory approvals. The placement, which was well over subscribed, raised money from new and existing investors, including Origo.

Funds from the capital raising will be used for high priority drilling and other exploration activities at Kincora's flagship and wholly owned Bronze Fox license in the upcoming 2014 field season. The forthcoming work will focus on extremely promising previous drill results, as well as new geophysical and other activities undertaken in 2013.

Kincora is following a similar exploration strategy to that which was previously applied at Oyu Tolgoi and successful proof of concept activities at Bronze Fox this field season could provide visibility for significant resource potential.

The private placement has seen an initial 91,500,000 units issued at a price of CAN$0.05 per unit, raising CAN$4,575,000 before expenses. A second tranche of 8,500,000 units will be issued, raising an additional CAN$425,000, subject to the placee receiving certain regulatory and shareholder approvals.

Each unit consists of one common Kincora share and one common Kincora share purchase warrant (a "Warrant"). Each Warrant entitles the holder to acquire one common share in Kincora for a period of two years from the date of issue at a price of CAN$0.105 per share.

All units issued under the private placement are subject to a four month hold period - expiring 25 July 2014.

Origo invested US$400,000 in the placing and now has a 25 per cent shareholding in Kincora.

Chris Rynning, Origo's CEO, said:

"Kincora continues to demonstrate the significant potential of the Bronze Fox deposit in the Oyu Tolgoi copper belt in south-east Mongolia and this fundraising will enable them to build on the extremely promising results they have already achieved. Kincora is the last of the independent copper exploration juniors in Mongolia, despite having the most advanced and prospective project, and to complete an oversubscribed fundraising at this point in the cycle and against the current uncertain global backdrop is a huge vote of confidence in Kincora's management team and the quality of the underlying asset."

Link to release

 

TRQ closed flat at US$3.42 Friday

Rio Tinto: Mongolian game theory

If Oyu Tolgoi is a beacon, this is hardly the time to dim it                

March 28 (FT Lex) It will produce for half a century or more. By the end of the 2010s, it may well make up almost a third of the economy. So it is very big. Whether the project will prove to be a beacon for future foreign investment, or a warning against it, is another matter altogether.

There are reasons for Mongolia's government to keep delaying approval of further mining at Oyu Tolgoi, then. It is one of the largest and highest-quality copper reserves in the world at a time when ore grades are dropping at many of the world's flagship mines. It is conveniently located just 50 miles from the Chinese border. The Anglo-Australian producer Rio Tinto has taken a big stake. So why not move slowly, and get it right?

There are deadlines on $4bn worth of project funding for underground expansion of 'OT' which arrive on Monday. But deadlines can be rolled when "shareholder issues," as Turquoise Hill Resources delicately calls them, arise. The Toronto-listed, Rio-controlled company has two-thirds of the mine. The shareholder TQR (Mogi: TRQ) refers to is the government, owner of the remaining third of the mine. The authorities in Ulan Bator want another feasibility study to be finished before the underground work is approved. This is political, in some large part. Resource nationalists in parliament are hostile to Rio's big stake in the mine. The government might prefer to wait for a calmer political climate, or for concessions from Rio, before acting further, given the long-term value of its asset and its importance to Mongolia.

Except that pressure is building on Mongolia's reputation among foreign investors. Bonds sold abroad by the state in 2012 at a yield of 4.5 per cent now trade much higher, at 7 per cent. If Oyu Tolgoi really is a beacon, this is hardly the time to dim it.

Rio can play waiting games here too. The project remains a long-term option for it rather than an urgent priority, given that its workhorse iron ore mines provide four-fifths of earnings. And as the commodity supercycle turns over, Rio might be just as happy to bide its time and keep its capital spending under control. Game theory in the Gobi desert, anyone?

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Local Market

MSE News for March 28: Top 20 -0.43%, Turnover 35.6 Million

Ulaanbaatar, March 28 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Friday, a total of 13 thousand and 607 shares of 21 JSCs were traded costing MNT 35 million 580 thousand and 185.00.

"Remikon" /9,000 units/, "Darkhan nekhii" /1,900 units/, "Moninjbar" /1,150 units/, "Mongolia Development" /500 units/ and "Genco tour bureau" /293 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Darkhan nekhii" (MNT 28 million and 690 thousand), "Gutal" (MNT two million 767 thousand and 500), "Remikon" (MNT one million 339 thousand and 500), "Baganuur" (MNT 490 thousand and 075) and "Tavantolgoi" (MNT 465 thousand and 180).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 636 billion 352 million 886 thousand and 482. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,291.51, decreasing by MNT 70.20 or 0.43% against the previous day.

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Economy

MNT historic low v. USD: 1,787.59, February 27, 2014

BoM MNT Rates: March 28 Close

 

3/28

3/27

3/26

3/25

3/24

USD

1,782.54

1,784.28

1,785.16

1,781.28

1,778.93

EUR

2,450.28

2,457.49

2,466.47

2,464.58

2,454.75

CNY

287.18

287.25

287.67

287.64

286.39

GBP

2,963.92

2,957.53

2,953.28

2,938.13

2,934.79

RUB

49.89

50.12

50.47

49.66

49.24

March MNT Chart:

 

Link to rates

 

Mongolia Feb. FDI Drops 28% y/y to $206.9m

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's central bank releases preliminary data in statement today.

2014 Jan.-Feb. FDI was $390.5m vs. $571.8m yr ago, according to statement

Feb. current account deficit $71m vs. $182.3m yr ago: central bank

* Feb capital, financial accounts surplus $27.3m vs 232.8m yr ago statement

(Bloomberg First Word)

 

BoP Preliminary Report, as of February: Current Account Deficit -73%, FDI -32%

March 28 (Bank of Mongolia) Current account deficit stands at US$ 146.5 million which is decrease of 73 percent or US$ 396.1 million on a YOY basis. Of which (i) trade of goods deficit decreased by US$ 233.5 million and showed surplus of US$ 31.0; (ii) trade of services deficit declined by 51 percent to US$ 120.5 million; (iii) deficit of income account dropped by 17 percent to US$ 91.5 million; and (iv) current transfer increased by 131 percent to US$ 34.5 million.

Capital and financial accounts showed a surplus of US$ 317.3 million which is decline of 33 percent or US$ 157.0 million on a YOY basis. This is due to 32 percent or US$ 183.2 million decrease on surplus of foreign direct investment from abroad to Mongolia from the previous year.

Link to release

Link to full report

Related BoM reports:

BoM Money Report, February 2014 (in Mongolian)

BoM Mortgage Report, February 2014 (in Mongolian)

 

BoM issues 309.6 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +4% to 944.4 billion

March 28 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 309.6 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

8% Mortgage Program Update: 17,614 Citizens' ₮499.7B Refinanced, ₮930B Newly Issued for 16,715 Citizens

March 28 (Cover Mongolia) As of March 27, 499.7 billion (₮487.6 billion as of March 18) existing mortgages of 17,614 citizens (17,241 as of March 18) were refinanced at 8% out of 845 billion (845 billion as of March 18) worth requests.

Also, 930 billion (₮919.6 billion as of March 18) new mortgages of 16,715 citizens (16,307 citizens as of March 18) were issued at new rates out of 1 trillion (₮957.7 billion as of March 18) worth requests.

Link to release (in Mongolian)

 

The Jenga Economy

by Brian White

March 30 (The Mongolist) The domestic economy is more complex than it was just a few years ago. It is more integrated with international markets and more layered with wealth generating opportunities. It has broadened substantially, and as a result, it has taken longer than in the past for problems to be widely felt in the economy. It has also taken longer for a sense of urgency to take hold at the political and policy-making level about the need to fix the problems. Still, the signs have been there, and for those watching the indicators closely, it has been like watching an economic game of Jenga.

For those not familiar with Jenga, it is a game in which players take turns strategically removing blocks from a tower of interlaced and overlain blocks. They then place the removed blocks on top of the tower with the goal of making the tower unstable and forcing their opponent to pull a block on the next turn that causes the tower to collapse (see image). If you imagine the economy as a Jenga tower, market conditions, politics, and government policy have been pulling economic blocks from the tower and haphazardly placing them back for the last 18-24 months. The first clear signs of the tower beginning to teeter emerged last fall as declining Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the yawning national budget deficit became too large to ignore. It is also about that time the Tugrik reached its then (since beaten) record-breaking level of depreciation.

The primary reason that the Tugrik is depreciating is not because the government lacks enough gold or dollars in reserve or because the international market conditions are unfavorable. Instead, at a very basic level, there are more Tugriks available than the economy has demand for them. The Central Bank could create artificial demand in the short-term by buying up Tugriks with its foreign currency reserves, but in the long-run the reserves are more likely to be exhausted than the Tugrik is to appreciate. The unfavorable market conditions for the Tugrik have been caused by a combination of investors avoiding entry or divesting themselves from Tugrik denominated holdings (decreased demand arguably created by political risks), consumer preference towards buying imports (decreased demand as people trade their Tugriks for internationally convertible currency), and the government injecting Tugriks into the economy with stimulus programs aimed at keeping economic growth high (increased supply). In other words, the depreciation is being propelled by domestic market conditions. Too many Tugriks and not enough people in the market that can put them to good economic use.

Politicians and policy-makers have tried in recent months to blame international market conditions for the depreciation, but domestic market conditions are the much bigger factor, making the depreciation just a symptom of a much wider problem. If the economy is an interlocking Jenga tower, then politicians and policy-makers have been recklessly pulling a block here and putting a block there without consideration for how it affects the stability of the whole structure. It is a game that has continued for much longer than it would likely have in the past, but the conclusion is just as inevitable unless the politics and policies that are undermining the economy are addressed.

Link to article

 

De Facto: Let us kick-start our coal policy

By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa

March 30 (UB Post) The 4th global coking coal summit was held in Taiyuan (Shanxi Province, China) last week. Besides coal mining enterprises, the summit was attended by coal, iron, and steel industry associations, buyers, suppliers, research institutions, and delegates from international stock exchanges. It is clear that this summit would help Mongolia to accurately align its coal policy with the coal market.

NEW TREND IN CHINA'S MARKET

Having the United States and Russia ahead of them, China is ranked third by its proven coal reserves of 2.2 trillion tons. However, China leads the world in coal production. They produced 3.6 billion tons of coal last year and their total coal consumption reached 3.65 billion tons. It is projected that China will increase its coal production by 2.5 percent to reach 3.8 billion tons in 2014.

Depending on the properties, there are different types of coal: thermal coal and coking (metallurgical) coal. In 2013, China produced a total of 476 million tons of coke, 75 million tons of which were imported. Almost half of its coking coal imports were supplied by Australia while 20 percent came from Mongolia. In 2014, China's coking coal production is expected to increase by three percent to reach 490 million tons, which will account for 70 percent of global coking coal production. China uses 80 percent of its coking call for production of steel and the rest to produce chemicals.

Production of steel and iron has replaced production of crops as the main economic pillar of China. Half of the total steel production of the world came from China in 2013. They used 50 percent of their steel for the construction of buildings and the other half for building infrastructure.

China is expected to have an average economic growth of 7.2 percent for the next ten years. The key to reaching such growth is urbanization. It is projected that China's population will increase by 100 million in the next six years and 60 percent of the total population will be residing in urban areas by 2020. The current percentage of China's population living in urban areas is 53.7 percent. This great migration from rural areas to urban settlement in China will increase the demand for steel and expand the production of coke. A representative from China Iron and Steel Association said that China's coking coal production was to reach its peak in 2018 and stop growing in 2020. There has recently been constant market demand for coking coal, which is partly because of the increased efficiency of steel production as well as the reduction in excess capacity. Furthermore, China has more scrap iron every year, which is increasing the amount of iron that will be reworked. It would further lead to a decrease in the processing of iron ore to produce iron.

As Mongolia exports coking coal only, we need to constantly do analyses on the market and be able to quickly detect what changes are occurring when, and for what reasons.

DIMINISHING ADVANTAGE OF MONGOLIA'S COAL

Our first export of Tavan Tolgoi's coal was in 2004. In 2013, 3.2 million tons of coal was exported by the locally-owned TavanTolgoi company, 2.08 million tons by Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi and 5.75 million tons by Energy Resources. The total coking coal exports that year was 10.8 million tons. Gashuun Sukhait-Gants Mod port was the border point where these exports took place. A total of 3.2 million tons of coal was exported by MAK in 2013 from Nariin Sukhait coal mine located 370 kilometers to the west of Tavan Tolgoi. Also, South Gobi Sands exported 2.71 million tons of coal, one-third of which was coking coal. In the same year. Mongolia exported a total of 21.1 million tons of coal in 2011, 20.5 million tons in 2012, and 18.2 million tons in 2013.

Coal is transported by trucks on the 220 kilometer long road to the south of Tavan Tolgoi. The trucks are unloaded at the Tsagaan Khad customs area, where Chinese buyers come and transport the coal over the border using their trucks. After crossing the border, those trucks are again unloaded in a designated area, which causes the quality of coal to decrease due to getting mixed with excessive dust. Inner Mongolian companies blend low sulfur coal imported from Mongolia with their coal that has twice as much sulfur as Mongolian coal, and sends it to steel mills, the end users.

Mongolian companies today are competing with each other and lowering their coal prices. This situation favors the middlemen. Some of those intermediary companies are recommending that Mongolian companies keep reducing the price and are proposing to handle the mining process at low cost themselves instead of expensive Western companies. Commercial Inner Mongolian companies stated that there were many difficulties associated with bureaucracy at the Mongolian border and it was hard to distinguish between formal and informal payments ("grey payment") and processes.

Ever since its establishment, state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has been reducing profits generated by Mongolia's coal, making bad deals and agreements, having other companies run deficits, and creating more debt for the nation. This company is still selling the best quality coal we have for the cheapest price.

REFRESHING OUR MIND

Coal is a resource that will have a very significant role in the development of Mongolia for the next 20 years. Therefore, we should be selling our coal in the most profitable way. Coking coal is used to produce coke, which is then used for the production of crude iron. It is time for us to introduce specific standards to the high quality coal from Tavan Tolgoi, create a "TT brand" by blending coal from several mines, and start selling our products on the international market. There should be a flexible exports policy that allows us to supply this branded coal for the most profitable amount in the most favorable time.

A 360 kilometer long railroad from Bugat to Gants Mod was commissioned last year. Shenhua company is going to extend this railroad by 16 kilometers over the border and build a narrow gauge railway. There will be structural changes in our coal supply chain upon its completion, which will consequently reduce costs and allow our products to compete with coal from Australia in the eastern coast of China.

Before building a railway, the Gashuun Sukhait-Gants Mod port should be made international and have its issues resolved at a much higher level; by governments of the two countries, rather than the provincial government of Bayannuur of Inner Mongolia. It will exclude the current, numerous local taxes. Also, an agreement to allow railway transit needs to be established with China. The most beneficial step that our government can take in order to increase our coking coal exports is to establish these two agreements.

Our experiences over the last few years clearly demonstrate that the government acquiring loans and getting involved in the coal industry is extremely risky. Nevertheless, despite their existing debt of 400 million USD, state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi is about to acquire more debt to build a coal washing facility and a power plant. This decision needs to be reconsidered.

Only the private sector can build the infrastructure required for selling coal while controlling the risks. If a state-owned company fails to sell the products after making an investment in infrastructure, those billions of dollars will be repaid by ordinary Mongolian citizens.

In the future, we should implement larger projects and have private companies build power plants at mines, allow them to export electricity, and supply gas to Ulaanbaatar, which will help us get rid of smog.
When creating a unique coal brand and entering the international market, it would be the right step for the government to take part through developing and implementing good policy rather than actually doing business in the industry.

It is time for Mongolia to kick-start its coal policy.

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Politics

Civil Aviation Authority of Mongolia tops public corruption research

March 28 (news.mn) Joint research conducted by the Anti-Corruption Authority of Mongolia and "MDS", a private law firm, reveals that one in every 200 civil servants has committed corruption

It is believe that the reason why there is not a reduction in corruption cases is that that entities and organizations spend no budget to fight against corruption. 

The joint research by the Anti-Corruption Authority of Mongolia and "MDS" involved 50 state agencies and organizations. According to the research, which is designed to study how civil servants are corrupt, 24 civil servants were connected to 16 corruption cases. In particular, civil servants of the Civil Aviation Authority of Mongolia were mostly connected to corruption cases according to the research. Last year only, five civil servants of the Civil Aviation Authority of Mongolia were connected to corruption cases

Civil servants of the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia, the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia and the General Department of Taxation were convicted in corruption cases.  

Link to article

 

Prime Minister's weekly meeting sums up March projects and plans for April

March 30 (UB Post) Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag shared information about national projects completed in March and his plans for April with journalists during his "30 Minutes with the Prime Minister" weekly meeting on Thursday.

In detail, he worked closely on projects to increase exports in February and March, and plans to meet delegates from each sector regarding export matters. Those businesses or individuals whose projects were approved for a national endorsement program have been approved by commercial banks are now able to receive loans from the Development Bank of Mongolia, he reported.

The Mongolian Economic Forum was held for the fifth year last week and focused on what to create as Mongolian national brand products, while the talks last year were about defining a national brand.

Many businesses – tailoring factories for instance – which received loans from the Chinggis Bond fund have expanded their operations, which last year's forum anticipated.

Each topic discussed at the forum was aimed at improving planned works to be completed in the near future. The organizers hosted the forum with new standards in an innovative way.

Mongolia is currently importing most of its construction materials. To the delight of many, three big construction material manufacturing factories will open by 2015. A cement factory in Khutul soum also received financing from the Chinggis Bond. The factory used to produce around 300,000 tons of cement per year and will start producing one million tons of cement starting this year. By 2015, Mongolia will fully meet its domestic needs for cement, the Prime Minister reported.

Many projects are also planned for April regarding the training of skilled workers.

The Prime Minister said, "Discussion about diminishing air pollution is taking place twice a week in my room. Though winter time is coming to its end now, several trials are running."

From the Prime Minister's 50 billion MNT project budget, 25 billion MNT was spent on opening medical diagnostic centers in 11 provinces. All 11 diagnostic centers will be opened by Monday. The province access is expected to decrease patient inflow to Ulaanbaatar for diagnoses.

Four province centers were connected to Ulaanbaatar with paved roads with financing by the Chinggis Bond. This year, six more provinces will acquire the roads with the same financing.

Buyant-Ukhaa apartment town was also built from the Chinggis Bond fund. Apartments for 1,000 households in the provinces will also be partially financed by the bond.

The Prime Minister also noted that the government is trying to increase the nation's coal export rate.

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Business

IFC Supports Mongolia's Secured Transactions Reform, Expanding Access to Credit for Smaller Businesses

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, March 25, 2014—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed a cooperation agreement with Mongolia's Ministry of Justice to help reform the country's secured transactions system, a move that aims to unlock affordable financing for micro, small, and medium enterprises, and help them grow. 

Access to finance is a challenge faced by many smaller Mongolian businesses, which struggle to get bank loans as they do not own land or buildings that can be easily accepted as collateral. Because of the lack of a centralized registry system and functioning laws, banks are reluctant to take movable assets, such as accounts receivable, inventory, and equipment, as collateral. The reform will pave the way for Mongolian lenders to provide movable-asset financing to smaller businesses. 

"Supporting small and medium enterprise development is one of the government's top priorities," said Bayartsetseg Jigmiddash State Secretary, Ministry of Justice of Mongolia. "With IFC's help, we will be able to build a modern secured transactions system, which is a critical financial infrastructure that helps small businesses expand and create jobs." 

IFC and the Ministry of Justice will collaborate to establish a proper legal framework for secured transactions through a new Pledge Law, develop an online registry, and work with the Mongolian Bankers Association to raise awareness and train industry professionals. This new project in Mongolia is carried out in partnership with Japan's Ministry of Finance, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, and the Canada Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

"As proven in other countries, the project will unlock affordable financing for many smaller Mongolian businesses that cannot use movable assets as collateral," said Tuyen D. Nguyen, IFC's Resident Representative in Mongolia. "IFC will continue to draw on global best practices to support the Mongolian government's reform efforts toward financial inclusion and sustainable growth." 

Previously, IFC has helped develop modern secured financing systems in more than 20 emerging markets including China, Ghana, and Vietnam. In China alone, more than $3 trillion in loans backed by movable assets as security have been granted between 2007 and 2011 and many of the beneficiaries are small businesses. 

In addition to investments across multiple sectors in Mongolia, IFC's Advisory Services Program has worked closely with the Mongolian government to support the development of company law and corporate governance, food safety law, investment law, sustainable banking, and business inspection and permit reforms. 

Link to release

 

Two More Wind Farms Lined Up for 2015, 2016

Ulaanbaatar, March 28 (MONTSAME) In 2014, some realization might occur within three wind farm projects in the nation, informs the Mongolian Wind Energy Association.

One of them is Aydiner Global LLC of Turkey, who is planning to implement Choir wind farm project in central Gobisumber province. The wind farm will have a capacity of 50 MW and use Vestas 2 MW wind turbines. The Contractor is planning to finance 50%-70% of the project investments estimated at 95 million USD from bank loans, and to put the wind farm into service in 2016. The wind farm is expected to annually give electricity of 137 million KW to the central region via transmission link.

Another project of Sainshand Wind Farm is scheduled to go online late 2015 to produce 190 GW hours of electricity a year. Well known for its rich underground deposits of coal, copper and gold, Mongolia's sun-parched, wind-raked Gobi desert also has considerable potential for renewable energy. Ferrostaal Industrial Projects GmbH, a German industrial services company, will take a major stake in this 52 megawatt wind farm project planned for a remote city in Mongolia's Gobi.

Mongolia anticipates that by 2020, a fifth of its energy will come from wind power. Last year, Mongolia opened its first wind farm, a 50 megawatt facility at Salkhit, located 70 kilometers south of Ulaanbaatar.

Link to article

 

Mongolian Economy to provide English content to Dow Jones Factiva

March 28 (Mongolian Economy) Dow Jones & Company, a 130-year-old American publishing and financial information firm, has offered to partner with Mongolian Economy. From this point on, stories published in English by Mongolian Economy and MongolianEconomy.mn will be provided to Dow Jones Factiva readers.

Mongolian Economy has signed an agreement of partnership with Dow Jones Factiva where Mongolian Economy agrees to provide them with content on Mongolia to be brought to readers of Dow Jones Factiva around the world.

Dow Jones sought out a professional media partner to provide economic updates on the country because of the world because of the attention Mongolia and its economy have received. Their choice was Mongolian Economy because of our comprehensive research and reporting on Mongolia's economy, business and society.

Factiva is a business intelligence tool with a vast array of global news, business information and analysis from newspapers, magazines, newswires, trade publications, websites, blogs, and curated social media.

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We'll take Karen Millen upmarket – all the way to newly rich Mongolia

March 29 (This is Money) As booming fashion chain Karen Millen heads upmarket with new stores for New York's Fifth Avenue and London's Knightsbridge, it comes as a surprise to hear chief executive Mike Shearwood also talk enthusiastically about a launch in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.

It seems an odd choice, but Shearwood is convinced the newly wealthy women of Asia are a key market.

'I had no idea where Ulan Bator was until one of my team came up with a proposal to open a shop there,' he admits. 

But he believes Mongolia fits well with the strategy of targeting the world's shopping elite.

'In emerging markets there is a growing number of independent women with access to money – and they want to wear brands like ours.  In any country with natural resources in abundance, there's newly generated wealth,' he says.

The edge of the Gobi Desert marks an extraordinary new direction in the history of Karen Millen, but it is a firm that has never failed to beat the odds. Its founders, Karen Millen and Kevin Stanford, set up the firm in 1981 with a loan of just £100, selling shirts to friends. A shop in Maidstone, Kent, followed and in 20 years it had become a household name.

Then in 2004 it was taken over by voracious Icelandic retail group Baugur and ended up mired in that country's economic meltdown.

But while foreign expansion is key to the firm's plans, Shearwood, 51, who helped spearhead the launch of the highly successful Zara in the UK, is also looking closer to home.

In the long run, Karen Millen's  90 per cent shareholder, Icelandic bank Kaupthing, will almost certainly sell or list the firm. But Shearwood says that is not a short-term prospect.

In the meantime there is a question mark over some of its 48 UK stores and 40 concessions.

'We probably have too many locations to retain the level of exclusivity we desire. So we'll look to slowly reduce that and get a balance between shops and online,' he says. But he insists the new flagship stores are not just about prestige.

'We're not in a position to have vanity stores. Our pockets aren't deep enough. They all have to work and they all have to make money.'

Including the one in Ulan Bator.

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International Conference on Arbitration Held by USAID

Ulaanbaatar, March 28 (MONTSAME) An international conference on arbitration was co-organized by the Ministry of Justice, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Mongolia's International and National Arbitration Center (MINAC) on March 27-28.

The conference brought together Kh.Temuujin, the Minister of Justice, representatives, lawyers, advocates and judges from the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI), USAID and US Commercial Chamber in Mongolia.

The gathered emphasized that the arbitration can be developed intensively in a short time because it does not need much money. They also introduced to each other the latest and the best international regional experiences, and expressed a intention to draw up a recommendation on realizing an arbitration reform.

Mongolian parliament passed the arbitration law in 2003, only 45 cases have been tackled by this law since then.

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Hot-filling in cold, cold Mongolia: Vitafit

March 28 (Beverage Manager) The still-youthful privately owned company dates back only to 1997. Three siblings, two brothers and a sister, had joined forces with a German investor to set up the company and started off with a pre-owned glass bottling line from Germany. The German investor later sold his stake in the company to the family. Since then, Vitafit has been in the clan's own hands, and has been proactively inventive in identifying market niches and creating the products to fill them. "Multi" is the best-seller among the firm's beverage portfolio in Mongolia. This multi-vitamin drink, featuring twelve different fruits with a juice content of 20 per cent, is so popular with Mongolia's consumers that it accounts for about a third of Vitafit's approximately 80 million fills. Right from the start, Vitafit maintained a tight focus on quality. Whereas in the initial years of the free-market economy, only introduced in 1992, many start-up companies wanted to make a quick buck with products of inferior quality, which usually ended up with declining sales and ultimately going out of business, Vitafit accepted smaller profits, particularly at first, and re-invested purposefully in technology and marketing. 

"Quality smiles" 

This has all paid off. Thanks to the motto of "Quality smiles", Vitafit is nowadays, with a soft-drinks market share of about one-third, alongside the major international competitor from Atlanta, with roughly equal sales. The remaining third of the market is divided up among several smaller national vendors. "As late as the 1990s, 80 to 90 per cent of beverages with a juice content were imported in Mongolia, whereas nowadays the figure is in the low single-figure range", explains Director Bolorsaikhan S., the middle one of the three siblings. 

Vitafit has taken beverage distribution into its own hands. 300 employees alone, with a fleet of around 50 trucks, ensure that the firm's products reach more than 6,000 customers in Mongolia. It's true that Vitafit can sell around half of its total output in the capital of Ulaanbaatar, but the other half needs to be physically distributed as well. "Soft drinks are not particularly high-value merchandise, but they're quite heavy. In terms of distribution with our own vehicles, we restrict ourselves to sales outlets that can be reached either by rail or on paved roads. Offroad links (which Mongolia still has in abundance) are very risky, especially in winter", explains Director Bolorsaikhan. "Nevertheless, our products can be found in almost every corner of Mongolia. A whole series of customers, too, collect their beverages themselves." 

As far as the extreme weather conditions are concerned, with temperatures dropping to as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius in winter, experience has shown that transportation lasting five to six hours does not yet cause the beverages to freeze. Over greater distances, they do in fact arrive frozen, but after they've been thawed out the quality is just as good as before: "Putting in place a properly functioning distribution system in such a huge country was a real challenge", says Bolorsaikhan. He hopes that in a few years' time the major cities will be connected by asphalted roads. Vitafit then intends to invest in expanding its fleet of trucks. 

A diversified portfolio of kit 

Vitafit is no less broadly based when it comes to its actual core business: beverage production and filling. In 2002, the firm began to bottle its "Vita" table water in PET containers and was thus one of the first major water vendors in Mongolia. The speed of the line featuring Chinese machines has meanwhile been doubled to 10,000 containers an hour. An aseptic line fills one-litre carton packages with juices and milk, originally at a speed of 3,600 containers an hour, and now at 11,000 containers an hour, together with a second line. Back in 2005, Vitafit had also put into operation a hotfill line manufactured in China: it is rated at 6,500 to 8,000 containers an hour, and bottles ice tea, juices and pulpy juices in 0.6-litre wide-neck PET bottles. Then, in 2008, Vitafit boldly introduced dry-aseptic filling of juices in PET containers, at a speed of 15,000 containers an hour on a German line. Since 2009, Vitafit has also been the sole Pepsi Cola licensee in Mongolia. For bottling this range of carbonated soft drinks, Vitafit operates another German line rated at 15,000 bottles an hour. Kefir is also filled in 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre PET or HDPE containers, plus small tubs.

A highly diversified spectrum of kit for more than 40 different products under seven individual brands. These include not only "Multi" multi-vitamin juice and the "Goy" fruit juice beverages in eight different flavours, with a fruit juice content of ten to 50 per cent, or Goy ice tea in five different variants but other interesting products, too, like Goy Superfruits with sea buckthorn from regional farms in 420-millilitre PET bottles and "Anar" 100-per-cent juice featuring anti-oxidative fruit varieties with a high Vitamin C content. Since 2011, Vitafit has been bottling an elegantly dressed pulpy Aloe Vera drink in wide-neck PET, and an organic premium 100-per-cent juice in one-litre beverage cartons is yet another must. 

Krones as the key vendor 

In the summer of 2013, Vitafit expanded its equipment portfolio to include a hotfill PET line from Krones, the first of this kind that Krones has installed in Mongolia. At 18,000 bottles an hour, it's at the same time Vitafit's fastest line so far. As the key vendor, Krones was responsible for installation and coordination of the entire line. The Krones machines, for example, serve as signal generators for all other machines in the new syrup kitchen as well. The reverse-osmosis water treatment system in the syrup kitchen, for instance, was manufactured in China, as were the container conveyors or the labeller and the bottle cooler. "For all the 'critical' machines, we placed the order with Krones directly", says Purchasing and Foreign Relations Manager Otgonbayar G. "It was very interesting to carry out the installation work with a decidedly international team: Chinese and Italians for the homogeniser, Russians for the electrics, the Germans from Krones, and our own Mongolian staff. Krones was the ringmaster here and was ultimately responsible for the entire job." The line went into operation on time at a high efficiency rating in July 2013. 

Hot-filling still fruit juice beverages 

The syrup kitchen features a Krones deaerator and a VarioFlash shell-and-tube heat exchanger as a flash pasteuriser for the product, which also performs a control function as the CIP master for cleaning procedures. The bottling line incorporates a Contiform H12 blow-moulding machine with a hopper, preform feed and preform interior cleaning, which is monobloc-synchronised with a Modulfill VP-GL-PET filler, where the beverages are filled at a temperature of 88 degrees Celsius. At the filler's discharge, a Checkmat 731 FM-X+L inspector has been installed whose jobs include monitoring the fill levels in the containers. The blow-moulder/filler monobloc runs in three-shift operation, largely without any manual interventions. End-of-the-line packaging is handled by a Variopac Pro FS non-returnables packer from Krones. 

The first delivery package included four mould sets from Krones, for containers with volumes of 250, 480, 500 and 1,250 millilitres, used to bottle  eleven different still products, including fruit-juice beverages with a juice content of 20 per cent, essentially the variants of the "Multi" brand and "Anar" juices in hotfill bottles with panel-type sidewalls and a 28-millimetre narrow-neck design. Since the end of 2013, the line has also been filling milk-based mixed drinks in 250-millilitre containers. "For the closure, the market trend is moving towards narrower mouths", says Director Bolorsaikhan. Lightweighting is another topical issue for Vitafit: "We know we have to make the bottles lighter, and that's one of our prioritised goals. On the Krones line, we're already running 500-millilitre bottles weighing just 23.5 to 25 grams, whereas our competitors are still using 28-gram hotfill bottles. But as far as eco-compatibility is concerned, too, we're aiming to go even further in future", explains the Director. 

One of the reasons why Vitafit opted for a hotfill line instead of a second aseptic line, says Bolorsaikhan, is that the hotfill line is less complex, and correspondingly easier to operate, not least in view of the fact that aseptic specialists are rare and expensive in Mongolia. A comparison of the general cost situation also favoured the hotfill option. It was clear right from the start that Vitafit preferred a monobloc configuration for the blow-moulding machine and the filler, because "the trend on the market is definitely moving towards monobloc configurations, which is quite understandable due to the user-friendlier operator control concept involved", says Senior Engineer Byambajav D., who had been entrusted with this project right from the start. What's more, the new line had to be integrated into an existing section of the hall, which meant the reduced footprint of the monobloc was a significant plus. 

The hotfill line is already up and running in three-shift operation. Round the clock, it has a heavy workload in the peak season, particularly, which in Mongolia lasts from May to August: in these four months of the Mongolian summer, Vitafit sells 50 to 60 per cent of its annual output. 

Plenty of ideas up their sleeves 

Vitafit is now employing 700 people, and aiming to upsize its current annual sales of 80 million fills by starting up the Krones line. "It depends on the market, of course", admits Bolorsaikhan. As soon as in five years' time, he fears, Mongolia's beverage market could already be occupied and saturated in every regard. But at present, he continues, there are still enough niches and gaps. "This is why we are developing new brands very quickly." In the pipeline, for example, is a strawberry-flavoured milk-based drink, which will be bottled on the Krones line, a near-water beverage called  "Vitaplus" in lime, apple and pomegranate flavours, plus a vitamin-enriched water. Vitafit also has a concept up its sleeve for a fruit-juice beverage called "Pear + Rock Candy", and at the end of 2014 aims to launch smoothies on the market. The Mongolians' fondness for black tea and Georgian green tea is something else that Vitafit intends to translate into a technically viable product, and packaged milk tea would be a project for the future, capitalising on the Mongolians' traditional drinking customs. A "cafĂ© au lait" would also be conceivable. "We aim to utilise the capacity of the new hotfill line, and to launch two or three new products every year", emphasises Director and co-owner Bolorsaikhan. 

"Our goal is to stay the biggest producer of soft drinks in Mongolia, by offering our Mongolian fellow-citizens maximised quality at reasonable prices. In the Mongolians' eyes, Germans are above all dependable, precise and deadline-compliant. Which is why it's good that we're able to say we bottle our beverages using German technology from Krones. This gives consumers additional confidence in our products."

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Mogi: interesting piece of Erdenet history

D.Renchinkhand: There's nothing wrong with the mining industry if we do environmental restoration

March 30 (UB Post) The following is an interview with senior miner and former Deputy Minister of Geology and Mining Industry D.Renchinkhand. He was one of the first mining engineers of Mongolia and contributed to the development of policies in the sector and assisted in establishing Mongolia's oldest and significant mines such as Erdenet copper and molybdenum mine and Bor-Undur coal mine. D.Renchinkhand is currently working as an advising professor at the School of Mining Engineering of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.

-Why did you choose a profession in mining?

-I finished high school in Bayan-Uul soum of Dornod Province in 1961. More than half of the 26 students who graduated were given opportunities to study abroad. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry, I was to go to Russia. I wanted to study geology, however, the ministry didn't get any syllabus that year and I had to study mineral exploitation. After graduating in 1966, I returned to Mongolia and in that year, I was assigned to work at the tungsten mine of Burentsogt in Sukhbaatar Province. I started working for the Department of Mining as an engineer later. In 1968, I worked as the Head of the Department and by the end of 1968, I worked as the general engineer of the industry. In 1972, by order of the ministry, I participated in projects for developing proposals for the department's future prospects. On December 1972, I was assigned as Head of the Mining Division of the Ministry of Fuel, Power and Geology.

-What was your first role in the ministry?

-At the time, apart from coal mines such as Nalaikh and Aduunchuluun, fluorite mine of Berkh, Burentsogt and tungsten mine of Ikh Khairkhan were active in the nonferrous metal sector in Mongolia. In addition to this, I approved of the Zinc Plant of Khajuu-Ulaan. On April 1974, I began building the zinc mine in Khar Airag.

-Your contribution to the development of Erdenet plant is significant. Can you elaborate on your role at the plant?

-In early 1973, signatures were signed on the agreement to restart cooperation in the sector between the governments of Mongolia and Russia. In November 1973, a negotiation was held for the establishment of a concentrator plant for Erdenet mine. Preparations to build the plant underwent from 1974 to 1975 and within the year, a council meeting of the joint industries was held. The operation office was established under the Ministry. Russia's copper and molybdenum company, Stroytrest took up the construction work.

-At the time, were there enough personnel in the mining sector to operate the mines in Mongolia?

-In order to prepare personnel for Erdenet, our ministry sent around a hundred people to Russia from 1973. The first of the students left to Russia in 1977 and the majority returned after graduating in 1978. The first President P.Ochirbat led seven Mongolian members of the council which has equal number of representatives of Mongolia and Russia. At the time, P.Ochirbat had just been assigned as the Deputy Minister in charge of mining of the Ministry of Fuel, Energy Industry and Geology. When the ministry was divided into two in 1976, P.Ochirbat was assigned as the Minister of Fuel and Energy Industry. When the Ministry of Geology and Mining Industry became the base of the current Ministry of Mining, P.Ochirbat left after appointing me as the Deputy Minister. Until October 20, 1989, I led the Mongolian side of the Joint Industrial Council.

-It's quite a long time.

-Indeed. The operations of Erdenet began in 1978. Accepting all these responsibilities and commissioning was the main thing that I was responsible for. I lived and worked in Erdenet as if I were a native. The first Mongolian director was appointed in 1989 and I passed on my work.

-The first Mongolian director was Sh.Otgonbileg, right?

-We prepared him rationally. At the time, many engineers were returning after graduating. Sh.Otgonbileg was one of them. He returned after graduated in 1976. We have information about who is studying and where, as well as who is graduating with red diplomas (Honorary Diploma). However, Sh.Otgonbileg hadn't arrived to his assigned position. When we enquired from the Head of Industry of the Central Committee Ts.Gurbadam, he replied that he didn't know and told us to check again with the Human Resource Department. When we went to the department, we took him back from L.Tudev who was just about to assign him as the Union Head. Sh.Otgonbileg worked in the Ministry from 1976 to 1981 and recieved a degree in science in Russia. After he became a scientist, he became the first Deputy Head of Mongolrostsvetmet Union. On October 20, 1989, he was appointed as the first Mongolian General Director of Erdenet Plant.

-Until 1989, why didn't Mongolia assign a Mongolian director?

-People wanted us to assign a Mongolian director. At the time, there weren't any highly trained personnel in Mongolia. We couldn't assign a regular engineer as the director of such a big facility. The Russian side assigned excellent people with  many years of experience in working in different industries and our side didn't have personnel to match that.

-Were there sufficient labor force to work in the industry in Mongolia?

-In 1978, less than five percent of the workers were Mongolians and more than 95 percent were specialists from Russia. In 1989, around 90 percentages of the staff were engineers and technicians of Mongolia.

-What kind of role did the mining sector play in the Mongolian economy at the time?

-In 1972, around two percent of industrial products and around one percent of exports was from the mining sector. By 1990, around 40 percent of exports and a quarter of industrial products was manufactured by our sector. Now, a third of the GDP, around 70 percent of industrial products and around 90 percent of exports is derived the mining sector.

-How was the mining industry perceived by the public at the time?

-Before, there wasn't any environmental restoration work done. The state didn't give any funding for restoration. The Ministry of Finance focused on collecting revenue. This was the work of the government. At the time, the state focused on all the things they could acquire from mining industries. There's nothing wrong with the mining industry if we do restoration. The fact that restoration isn't being done due to lack of financing is what is giving negative image in the minds of the public and strong opposition. This is why the public largely perceives mining as something wrong and that it only leaves many holes in the ground. Now, private industries do restorations.

-Your home land is Bayan-Uul soum of Dornod Province which is famous for their sharp-sighted and skillful archers. Are you also an archer?

-Around ten skillful archers and around 30 sports masters were born from my soum. When I was in middle school, archers would get up early and go to work after shooting some arrows. In the evening, they would practice until it was dark. I used to bring arrows closer to the archers. The Head of National Archery Union was Ph.D. of the science of medicine D.Baldandorj. I was the Deputy Head for 20 years. I have a National Archery Honor. Since the 1990s, I have participated in national festivals nonstop. Since middle school, I trained in skiing and archery and for three years, I competed for the nationals. In eighth grade, I came to the city in 1956, participated in the Adult National Ski Championship and placed fifth. In 1960, I got a bronze medal from the People's Sports Festival.

-Did you do your ski training at your soum only?

-In my soum, there's a continuous mountain with pine trees. Children skied on the mountains there all the time. L.Radnaa, father of MP R.Burmaa, was an excellent skier and would take children skiing. We became better at skiing after following him. Next summer, is the 90th anniversary of the establishment of Bayan-Uul soum of Dornod Province.

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Ulaanbaatar

Khan-Uul District establishes sistership with Sofia's Izgrew District

Ulaanbaatar, March 28 (MONTSAME) The UB city's Khan-Uul district has established sisterhood relations with Izgrew district of Sofia, a capital of Bulgaria.

A memorandum about it was signed by the two sides during a visit of Mongolian delegates by invitation of the district's governor last week. The sides will exchange experience, connect all levels' administration organizations and support their collaboration.

Furthermore, it will be possible to exchange urban planning, green construction and public service experts and to introduce Bulgarian traditional experience in our agriculture.

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Ulaanbaatar tests new 11.6 billion earthquake early warning system

March 30 (UB Post) On Thursday, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) tested its new earthquake early warning system in Ulaanbaatar, setting off sirens at 4 p.m. and instructing citizens on how to protect themselves and minimize possible earthquake related casualties in an emergency.

It was NEMA's third time organizing the testing. However, this year's scenario was different, as Mongolia's earthquake warning system was upgraded three months ago as part of the government's "Establishing Earthquake Warning System" 11.6 billion MNT project.

With the assistance of South Korea, Mongolia made upgrades and built 40 new siren towers on the roofs of tall buildings in the city for faster reports of disaster.

The testing on Saturday proved that the siren towers are fully operational.

NEMA officials broadcast disaster reports with emergency management vehicles, police cars and ambulance sirens as part of the training in outlying districts of the city without siren towers.

The training takes place every year in the fourth week of March to check the readiness of disaster warning systems and people's knowledge about them, according to ordinances for disaster warning and evacuations in Mongolia.

If an earthquake is registered, the National Agency for Meteorology, Hydrology and Environmental Monitoring and the Research Center for Astronomy and Geophysics (RSAG) will formulate a disaster report that will be delivered to the Emergency Management and Reporting Center (EMRC) of NEMA.

The warning will be directly delivered to siren towers, Mongolian National Broadcaster (MNB), Mobicom, Skytel, Unitel, G-Mobile, Orbitnet company and radio stations for public notification.

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Diplomacy

Mongolia Abstains from U.N. Non-Binding Resolution Declaring Crimea Referendum Invalid

March 27 (Bloomberg News) Ukraine and its backers won support from little more than half the members of the United Nations General Assembly to declare invalid Crimea's referendum to secede, as Russia wielded diplomatic and economic pressure for members to abstain or cast no ballot.

The 193-member General Assembly voted 100-11 today to pass a nonbinding resolution describing the Crimean referendum as "having no validity" and calling on all states and agencies to not recognize "any alteration of the status" of Crimea. Fifty-eight members abstained, and 24 were absent.

While the resolution makes no mention of Russia for its invasion or annexation of the peninsula, the 46 sponsors sought to win a clear majority as a symbol of the country's isolation from the international community. Instead, many members averted a commitment after aggressive lobbying by Russia.

Abstentions, Absences

Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe joined Russia in objecting to the text, while Serbia, Iran, Bosnia and Yemen didn't cast ballots. The abstentions included China, Egypt, India, Iraq, Mongolia, Myanmar and other African nations.

Cuba and North Korea said the U.S. and its allies intervened to delegitimize the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted after an uprising last month.

China said its abstention stemmed from its longstanding foreign policy of not getting involved in internal affairs of other nations and respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.

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Mongolian Ambassador works in Myanmar, hands Elbegdorj's letter to Aung San Suu Kyi

Ulaanbaatar, March 28 (MONTSAME) Ambassador Concurrent and Nonresident of Mongolia to Myanmar Ch.Battomor worked in Myanmar March 25.

He met with the First Speaker of the Lower House of parliament Tura U Shwe Mann and officers of the Myanmar Foreign Ministry to share views on relationship and cooperation between the two countries.

The Ambassador also met with the National League for Democracy chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi and handed her a letter of the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj.

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Belarus, Mongolia mull over student exchange programs

MINSK, 28 March (BelTA) – The House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus plans to adopt a bill on the ratification of the intergovernmental agreement with Mongolia on cooperation in education, BelTA learnt from Deputy Chairperson of the House of Representatives' permanent commission on education, culture and science Taisa Danilevich.

According to the MP, the agreement envisages an exchange in students and postgraduates in the equivalent number (up to three people) for university studies. The hosting party provides free education and scholarships in the amount set by the national legislation of the country. The countries will agree on such exchanges before 15 May each year. If necessary, students and postgraduates will get paid one-year language courses.

The document envisages an exchange of experience in planning the national education system, the organization of joint conferences, seminars, symposiums and academic competitions. The agreement also foresees an exchange of delegations once in two years to discuss the results and cooperation prospects.

The House of Representatives has earlier received draft laws on the ratification of the agreements with Mongolia on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters, military and technical cooperation, and visa abolition.

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Indian Visa Applications Switching to Online from April 1

March 28 (infomongolia.com) The Government of the Republic of India has been completing its final stage to introduce the electronic visa facility or e-visa and one of the steps to eliminate paperwork is to fill out the visa request application online.

In the frameworks, the Embassy of the Republic of India in Ulaanbaatar announces that Mongolian nationals holding Ordinary Passports shall submit its visa application requests only online at http://www.indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa.

Applicants are required to personally bring a "Printout" of the visa application submitted online to the Embassy in Ulaanbaatar along with all other supporting documents.

The new regulation is effective from April 01, 2014 and only online applications shall be considered for Issuance of Visa. 

Mongolian citizens holding valid Diplomatic or Official passports are permitted to visit India visa free and stay up to 90 days within a single entry.

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Social, Environmental and Other

MUST & KOICA to test Vantage electric cars for Mongolia use

Ulaanbaatar, March 28 (MONTSAME) The Mongolian University of Science and Technology, along with KOICA of S.Korea are planning to test electric cars in Mongolia.

Within this joint project, six eco-friendly electric cars made by Vantage Vehicle International of USA will be tested in Mongolia's conditions.

The Vantage cars can travel at speed of 100 km/h after get charged for 4-6 hours.

At opening of the project expected are Education and Science Minsiter L.Gantomor, Ulaanbaatar Mayor E.Bat-Uul, the KOICA permanent representative in Mongolia Mr Choi Heung-yul.

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Roundtable Meeting Held on Policy and Activities to Combat Illegal Logging

Ulaanbaatar, March 28 (MONTSAME) This action ran Thursday in the State House, co-organized by the parliamentary Standing committee on environment, food and agriculture and the Ministry of Environment and Green Development.

It was chaired by G.Bayarsaikhan, a head of this Standing committee.

Head of the Ministry's Regulatory Department of Policy Implementation B.Gantulga delivered a report on the theme, followed by section head of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection (GASI) D.Tserendash with "Implementation of the forest law" report and by officer of Investigating Department Lieutenant-Colonel S.Bayanmonkh with report on present and future actions against illegal logging.

The Minister of Environment and Green Development S.Oyun and related officials exchanged views.

As of today, the total area of forests is 18.5 million hectares accounting for only 11.79% of the country's territory. The illegal logging declined 31.5% in the last five years, but the situation is still intense. However, Dr Dashzeveg does not agree with the decrease saying that it is impossible to reduce this crime due to many uncontrolled paths and roads. He criticized the insufficient inspection over the illegal logging, and proposed creating a related foundation.

It is vital to refresh connections of activities of NGOs in order to stop the illegal logging, people and enterprises who reveal/detect the illegal actions should be awarded, the Standing committee head G.Bayarsaikhan said, adding the committee will pay attention to altering related laws and regulations on forest. 

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Stanford University: Overcoming Health Challenges Facing Mongolia: Medical and Entrepreneurial Perspectives   

Shorenstein APARC, AHPP Seminar

Date and Time: April 9, 2014. 12:00PM – 1:30PM

SPEAKERS:

Gendengarjaa Baigalimaa - Developing Asia Health Policy Fellow at Stanford University
Naranbaatar Dashdorj - Founder and Chairman of Onom Foundation and a 2014 Sloan Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Business

Average life expectancy in Mongolia is 65 years, much shorter than that of other East Asian countries such as South Korea (78.5 years) and China (72.5 years). Furthermore, healthy life expectancy in Mongolia is even shorter, rendering the situation even more tragic. The World Health Organization estimates that the healthy life expectancy is 53 years for males and 58 years for females.

This colloquium will provide an overview of health in Mongolia and its healthcare system, with expertise from two speakers. First, Dr. Gendengarjaa Baigalimaa, Developing Asia Health Policy Fellow at Shorenstein APARC, will discuss her comparative study of how knowledge of cervical cancer risk factors has influenced behavior changes in Mongolia before and after the introduction of the National Cervical Cancer Program.

Second, Dr. Dashdorj will present on overview of the healthcare initiatives of the Onom Foundation, designed to mitigate excess and premature mortality of Mongolians via knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship. He will report on a March national health policy meeting in Mongolia's capital and recent strides in health improvement made with the support of the Onom Foundation.

Gendengarjaa Baigalimaa joins the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) during the 2013-2014 academic year as the Developing Asia Health Policy Fellow. She joins APARC from the Mongolian National Cancer Center, where she serves as a Gynecological Oncologist.

During her appointment as Health Policy Fellow, she is completing her comparative study of how knowledge of cervical cancer risk factors has influenced behavior changes in Mongolia before and after the introduction of the National Cervical Cancer Program.

Baigalimaa is the Executive Director of Mongolian Society of Gynecological Oncologists and is also a member of the International Gynecological Cancer Society (IGCS) in Mongolia, Russia, and France.

Baigalimaa holds a MD from Minsk Belarussia Medical University. She also received a Masters in Health Science from Mongolian Medical University. She is fluent in both Russian and English.

Dr. Dashdorj hails from very humble beginnings. He was born and raised in the southwestern outskirts of Mongolia known as Gobi-Altay province, where the Altay Mountains border with the bare rock covered desert basins of the Gobi. Because of the unique upbringing, Dr. Dashdorj has a profound commitment for making a tangible difference in lives of fellow Mongols. At the same time, he strongly believes that entrepreneurship is the best vehicle for making a difference.

He obtained a Ph.D. in physics from Purdue University in 2005 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the US National Institutes of Health. His research using ultrafast optical spectroscopy and time-resolved x-ray imaging techniques is published in 17 original manuscripts in prominent, peer-reviewed scientific journals, such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2010, Dr. Dashdorj became a faculty member at the Argonne National Laboratory. Despite his successes in scientific research, he gave up his academic career in 2013 to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams, since he truly believed that he can make a tangible difference via entrepreneurship, experimenting with a model of subsidizing philanthropic actions by a certain percentage of equity and profits of a for-profit company.

https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/programs/msx/academic-experience/fellows/naranbaatar-dashdorj

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