Wednesday, March 5, 2014

[OT contractor assembling UG team, Kincora raising C$5m, BoM intervenes to keep MNT steady, and Korea Gas to explore CBM at TT]

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original


Overseas Market

Oyu Tolgoi Contractor Assembling Project Team for "Next Phase of Major Copper, Gold Underground" Mine in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, March 4 - (Cover Mongolia) - UK-based AMEC, a leading global EPCM firm, is assembling a project team for the "next phase of a major EPCM mining project in Mongolia," according to a job posting on dated 4 March, 2014.

The project is a "copper and gold, underground and surface mining operation located in Mongolia. Over the next 8-year period, the project will embark on a large scale expansion of the newly commissioned copper mine and concentrator facilities.", according to the ad.

AMEC has been working on OT since 2010, after having been commissioned by Oyu Tolgoi LLC to undertake the feasibility study for Lift 1 of the underground Hugo North block cave operation.

This perhaps could be the best sign yet that project financing resolution is nearing for Rio Tinto and Government of Mongolia (GoM). Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ, TSX:TRQ), which owns 66% of Oyu Tolgoi and in turn is 50.8% owned by Rio Tinto, had reported in December that the deadline of the commitment of the 15 commercial banks to the project financing is extended to March 31, 2014. EBRD and IFC's commitments though had expired "unceremoniously" on February 26, according to a client update by Nick Cousyn, Chief Operating Officer of Mongolia's largest broker BDSec.

In another positive sign, on February 21, GoM had approved the signing of a "Legal Protection for Guaranteed Foreign Investments" agreement with the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which is offering political risk guarantees to the lenders. So far MIGA reports that only Standard Chartered Bank had formally applied in 2012 for a guarantee to its US$1 billion contribution to the financing. Since then the project financing has been put on hold by Rio Tinto until it has gained backing from GoM.

On February 12, TRQ gave a warning shot to the world saying that "further delays may occur if outstanding shareholder issues, including project finance, are not resolved before the expiration of lender commitments," signaling that there is still an unresolved fundamental dispute between the sides. In response to this announcement, Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the state-owned firm controlling Mongolia's 34% stake, released its own understanding of the situation, stating that it understands the matter of the US$4.2 billion project financing to be subject to the release of an updated Feasibility Study on the underground development, which TRQ had said will be ready in the second quarter of 2014.  

This feasibility study, in reality, is believed be much closer to completion than officially stated, leaving the possibility of an earlier publication than the official "Q2" and meet the March 31 deadline. EBRD and IFC though are yet to declare whether they will extend their commitments.

TRQ closed +5.79% to US$3.84, +5.45% to C$4.26 on Tuesday.

Link to article


Announcement made after Tuesday close. KCC closed -0.5c to 7c Tuesday

Kincora Announces $5 Million Non-Brokered Financing

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 4, 2014) - Kincora Copper Limited (the "Company", "Kincora") (TSX VENTURE:KCC) announces a non-brokered private placement of up to $5 million through the issuance of up to 100,000,000 units (the "Units") at a price of $0.05 per Unit. Each "Unit" will be comprised of one common share and one share purchase warrant (a "Warrant"). Each Warrant is exercisable to purchase a common share at a price of $0.105 per share for a period of two years from the date of the close of the financing. All Warrants are subject to an accelerated expiry date, which comes into effect when the trading price of the Company's shares closes at or above $0.15 per share for 30 consecutive trading days in the period commencing four months after the date of issuance. In such an event the Company will give expiry acceleration notice ("Notice") to the warrant holders and the expiry date of the Warrants will be 30 days from the date of Notice.

The private placement is subject to TSX Venture Exchange approval and all securities are subject to a four-month hold period. Finder's fees may be payable in connection with the private placement, in accordance with the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange.

Proceeds from this financing will be used for further exploration of the Company's mineral properties in Mongolia and general working capital.

Link to release


Asia Coal: Saikhan Uul Mining License Revoked

March 3, Asia Coal Limited (HKEx:835) --

The board (the "Board") of directors (the "Directors") of the Company wishes to inform the shareholders and potential investors of the Company that SMI LLC ("SMI", a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company) has received a letter from the Minerals Authority of Mongolia (the "Letter") informing SMI that the mining license number MV-011985 for mining in Saikan Uul (the "License") held by SMI had been revoked.

The License was revoked initially on 22 September 2008 because the relevant annual license fee was paid on 17 September 2008, a few days after the due date of 5 September 2008. However, the License was subsequently restored by an order of the then director of Minerals Authority on 13 November 2008 (the "Restoration Order"). SMI has paid the relevant annual license fee in a timely manner since 2008. The Letter states that the Restoration Order has been invalidated and that the initial decision to revoke the License has been restored.

The Company is seeking to dispute the revocation of the License and has submitted a formal request to the Office of Government Cabinet of Mongolia and Ministry of Mining of Mongolia to cancel the decision to revoke the License. The Company will keep the shareholders of the Company and public investors informed of any further material developments in this matter as and when appropriate.

Shareholders and potential investors of the Company are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the Company's securities.

Link to release


TheChairmen1's Guildford Stake Shrinks on Dilution, Disposal

March 4 (Cover Mongolia) TheChairmen1 Pty. Ltd., Guildford Coal's (ASX:GUF) largest shareholder disclosed today that its GUF stake has fallen from 34.95% (as of December 27, 2013) to 29.54% due to disposal of shares and dilution caused by share issuances on Guildford's part.

Link to GUF notice


Draig Resources: Interim Financial Report, 31 December 2013

March 4, Draig Resources Ltd. (ASX:DRG) --

Link to report

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Local Market

MSE News for March 4: Top 20 -0.06%, Turnover 35.7 Million

Ulaanbaatar, March 4 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Tuesday, a total of 85 thousand and 286 shares of 21 JSCs were traded costing MNT 35 million 725 thousand and 020.00.

"Hermes center" /69 thousand and 069 units/, "Remikon"  /8,800 units/, "Bayan-Aldar" /2,255 units/, "Sharyn gol" /1,909 units/ and "Mongolian Telecom" /790 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Sharyn gol" (MNT 15 million 262 thousand and 800), "Hermes center" (MNT 10 million 360 thousand and 350), "Bayan-Aldar" (MNT three million 382 thousand and 500), "Remikon" (MNT one million and 364 thousand) and "Mongolia Telecom" (MNT one million 193 thousand and 700).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 637 billion 348 million 299 thousand and 923. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,312.21, decreasing by MNT 9.26 or 0.06% against the previous day.

Link to article


Merex JSC Extends Deadline of Offer to Raise 2.6 Million to 21 March

March 4 (MSE, source: Standard Investment) This is to notify that in order to provide the public with more opportunity to take part in the IPO and involve more investors, "Merex" (MSE:MRX) JSC's IPO date has been postponed to the last week of March. Below please find information on the processing:

1.    "Merex" JSC's share orders will be taken between 3rd till 21st of March 2014 through all brokerage companies that have trading rights at the Mongolian Stock Exchange.  
2.    MRX IPO date is March 24th, 2014. 
3.    Cash for purchasing MRX shares shall be fully prefunded and placed at the Mongolian Securities Clearing House and Central Depository as follows: 

Additional information:

4.    "Merex" JSC is offering 40% of its ordinary shares (26,000,000 shares) to the public at 100 MNT per share.
5.    The orders will be taken at 100 MNT only and no price or time preference will be given. If the order numbers prevail supplied number of shares, pro rata allocation method will be applied. 
6.    Please get the short information in English at and
7.    Also, more information can be taken from the Underwriter Standard Investment LLC during week days at office hours 9:00-18:00. Standard Investment LLC, Jigjidjav Street 5/3, Khoroo 1, Chingeltei District, Ulaanbaatar (3 minuts walk from the Mongolian Stock Exchange) T/F: 70114433  

Link to release

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BoM MNT Rates: March 4 Close





































March MNT Chart:


Link to rates


BoM FX auction: US$5 million sold at 1,749.9, declines CNY 34 million bids, accepts all US$12.3 million MNT swap offers

March 4 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 4th, 2014 the BOM has received from local commercial banks bid offer of USD and 34 million CNY. The BOM has sold 5.0 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1749.90 to the local commercial banks.

On March 4th, 2014, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement offer in equivalent to 12.3 million USD from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.

See also:

FX Auction Statistics

Link to release


8% Mortgage Program Update: 17,333 Citizens' ₮486.7B Refinanced, 15,867 Citizens' ₮897.8B Newly Issued

March 4 (Cover Mongolia) As of March 4, 486.7 billion (₮486.5 billion as of February 26) existing mortgages of 17,233 citizens (17,222 as of February 26) were refinanced at 8% out of 844.8 billion (844.8 billion as of February 26) worth requests.

Also, 897.8 billion (₮891.5 billion as of February 26) new mortgages of 15,867 citizens (15,748 citizens as of February 26) were issued at new rates out of 926.9 billion (₮925.5 billion as of February 26) worth requests.

Link to release (in Mongolian)


Survey: Measuring Bank of Mongolia's Information Systems Success and Influence on User Performance: Analysis of Internal and External Systems

My name is Bayarjargal, and I am a student of the Institute of International Management at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. I am conducting a survey for my master thesis studying central bank information systems success and influence on user performance as analyzing the both Internal and External Systems. This survey is for the external system '' - official website of the Bank of Mongolia. I sincerely ask you to please spare a few minutes of your time to fill out the questionnaire below. Please be assured that it is anonymous and all answers will be kept strictly confidential. Please answer all questions as accurately as possible, as it is of great importance for both, my research and future studies about this topic. Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely yours,

Researcher: Bayarjargal G, MBA Candidate, Institute of International Management, National Cheng Kung University, Email:

Thesis advisor: Jeng Chung (Victor) Chen, Ph.D. Director – Professor, Institute of International Management, National Cheng Kung University, Email:

Link to survey


Currency rate demonstrates the true current state of our economy

March 4 (Business Mongolia) This is a concise translation of an interview with M.Bold, President of the Mongolian Banking Association appeared on Undesnii Shuudan on 4th of March, 2014.

USD has been appreciating against MNT and reached 3 year record level. In the coming months, construction and development works will begin which will require large amount of foreign currency. Therefore, how can we protect ourselves from the appreciation?

In our economy, USD can be a indicator how well we are doing economically. One of the outcomes of having weak export production and food and service industry is the current situation. If we exported more goods and services we would have had enough foreign currency in the economy. Therefore, our sole reliance on mining sector brought us here. Again, USD is an indicator of how well the economy is doing, therefore there is no single entity that could hinder the appreciation of USD. Only when Mongolia becomes a producer and manufacturer that could produce at least basic commodities, then we will have a stable domestic currency. Exchange rate is decided by the market.

How should we manage the current exchange rate?

We cannot clearly identify a single responsible entity for the current situation. The only thing we need to do is promote domestic production. We have been talking about it for a while, it is only left to execute it.

Bank of Mongolia has been intervening in the foreign exchange market to hold MNT stable. Some say that due to continued intervention we are in the current situation.

Intervening with real exchange rate will create depravity. However, today the Bank of Mongolia only intervenes to offset the sharp volatility. Exchange rate is decided in the market after many steps. 650 thousand households in Mongolia are more or less participants of the foreign exchange market. In addition, 60 thousand companies who are registered also to conduct various trades. Government is participating with billions. Therefore, all these participants are playing important role on establishing the rate. Thus, it is wrong to accuse someone.

Some say that Oyu Tolgoi project is one of the main sources of currency import. Would you agree?

Oyu Tolgoi is one of many. In addition we have agricultural goods and import replacing goods etc. We have a chance to export electricity. Also, programming and software industries that we could develop an app are one of the opportunities out there. Thus, private sector always asks the government to stop putting barriers on production and businesses. Government should fulfil the request.

Samurai Bond money will be spent on promoting domestic producers. It is a good thing, however, how else we should promote businesses to strengthen them?

Government shall not intervene or conduct private businesses. It needs to stop putting barriers and excessive taxes on businesses. Also, courts need to work on making quicker decisions and implement it. Due to the court's slow process on deciding business disputes some businesses halt. Also, we need to build the mega projects such as railway and power plant as soon as possible. Domestic oil production has been a long saga for many years. Although the Investment Law has been approved, rules to implement them has been released after a year. If government decides and states the legal framework clearly, private sector can take care itself. It will make conducting business easier. However, today, the government is everywhere and wasting its time.

We have approved a new regulation in order to increase the gold reserves in the bank. It has been calculated that it will help MNT appreciation. Is it a correct decision?

It is a very correct decision. Pure gold is a foreign currency. If we could utilize our natural resources correctly, we have the full strength to cause MNT appreciation. It is a good thing we started it.

Will USD still be volatile this year, or will it be stable?

Increase in gold production, and its marketization through commercial banks will help stabilizing MNT. In the other hand, mining industry is still on its path of development. We lived through the years when we didn't have Oyu Tolgoi or Tavan Tolgoi. Then, we started having problems after we discovered them. We need to produce what we can and start mass export of finished goods. Again, the current exchange rate is a result of 3 million Mongolians. Thus, it means we are not working hard. It means we are buying a lot from outside. Due to the negative external situation our condition is more contrasted. When the mining boom was in its peak we didn't manage the revenues wisely and spent it on investments or infrastructures, and this is the result.

Business owners criticize the commercial banks on their weak governance and lack of long-term loans. How could we solve this?

It is true that our banks are lacking funds for loans. However, the question is why? Because, banks are accepting deposits with high interest rate and loaning them out after adding its cost. Saving has to be more than the inflation rate. Therefore, high inflation rate will always results a high interest rate. It is a reason also why the domestic production has not been developing. Like this, all the economic activities are interconnected. Thus, domestic production is the key to solve all these problems. At least, we have to create an environment that cashmere, wool, vegetables and basic clothing will be produced 100% domestically. We talked about processing the raw materials and resources domestically for a long time, but never reached a substantial result. If we could do these, we will escape the vicious circle.

Link to article

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Prime Minister warns against wasteful public spending

March 4 (UB Post) The Government of Mongolia has decided to renew the centers of 16 soums in 2014. An 80 billion MNT budget for the renovation of buildings and facilities of the 16 soum centers was approved, with five billion MNT to be spent on each.

Yesterday, Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag and Minister for Construction and Urban Planning Ts.Bayarsaikhan met the governors of some soums and introduced the "Project on Soum Center Innovation". This program will be carried out in around 100 soums through the partnership of private and state entities.

Last year, a program on soum innovation was successfully implemented in Bayanlig and Buutsagaan soums of Bayankhongor Province and Zamyn-Uud soum of Dornogovi Province.

At the meeting with soum governors the Prime Minister of Mongolia, N.Altankhuyag said, "Previously, parliament members used to be evaluated by how many buildings they built in their electoral district. The more buildings an MP built in his or her electoral district, the greater reputation they gained. Back then it was a common incident that many tender bids were announced without any research and study, and the state budget used to be spent inefficiently. For instance, Zuunkharaa soum, Selenge Province has the second biggest swimming pool in Mongolia. Lots of money was issued from the budget to construct that swimming pool, but no one visits that swimming pool. All the salaries of the swimming pool staff and maintenance expenses are paid from the state budget, from the pocket of tax payers. But now one more swimming pool is being constructed in the center of Selenge Province, in Sukhbaatar soum. A total of 2.1 billion MNT was issued for the construction of it, but the executers require more money." When N.Altankhuyag asked how much money is required now to complete the swimming pool, Selenge Province authorities replied that another five billion MNT was required.

"It is only one example. There are many such incidents of spending the money of tax payers on inefficient things. Thus, governors of soums which are covered by the new soum project should be very responsible. The state's money should not be wasted on nonsense," emphasized N.Altankhuyag.

"The New Government for Changes is making decisions on the basis of good studies and research including which soums need how many, and what kind of, facilities and buildings. Soum renovation projects started in 2013. Considering that it is the first ever work, it has many disadvantages as well," noted N.Altankhuyag.

According to the "Project on Soum Center Innovation", a soum with around 3,000 residents will receive:

-school with capacity for 640 children
-dormitory for 160 children
-kindergarten for 280 children
-hospital with 10 beds
-cultural center with 250 seats
-library with 25 desks, seats to be built accordingly.

The program also includes building hot and cold water systems, a water treatment plant and a small steam boiler. Minister Ts.Bayarsaikhan spoke about the project's plans to construct modern, comfortable housing with hot and cold water, which would be connected to sewage and heating systems.

The opinions and requests of the province and soum governors and parliamentary members were heard in choosing the soums to be covered in this project. The Ministry of Construction and City Planning set basic criteria, requiring that the centers of soums should be accessible to other soums in terms of location, population, general plans and development, and that foreign and domestic projects and programs had not been implemented in the soum in the past five years.

The sixteen qualifying soums will be renovated in 2014.

Link to article


Parliament's recipe for corruption

By U.ARIUNJARGAL, March 4 (UB Post) A parliament member forgot to take five months of his salary and asked, "Do we have a salary?" Maybe he didn't know he had a regular salary because the approved budget for such spending was only 100 million MNT. Despite that, government spending has increased year by year by 100 to 250 million and even 500 million, increasing to one billion MNT in 2009.

But Parliament Member Su.Batbold (Mogi: not the former PM) wasn't talking about that. He was complaining about the amount of his monthly salary, saying that it was not enough to pay his electricity bills.

The MP explained that gasoline, consumer goods, meat, and flour – the price of everything has increased, but the current budgets for gasoline and phone services for members were estimated almost ten years ago. "Eighty to ninety percent of our members are running their own businesses and earning their own money, salary is not a problem for them," he says. If he were a businessman, he would forget about his government salary. But he lives only on this pay. He is one of the ten percent that isn't running a private business.

"Some people cannot be paid like heroes. However, some members of parliament only live on their salary, and 1,648,000 MNT is not enough," he said. As for him, he has 450 sheep, 140 horses, 63 cows, 22 specially bred race horses, a Nissan X-Trail, Toyota Land Cruiser 200, and motorcycles according to a report by Mongolian News newspaper.

Let's calculate the value of his livestock. The average value of each of his sheep is 400,000 MNT, a horse is several million MNT, a cow is one million MNT, and race horses can sell for 10 million to 100 thousand million MNT. He thinks he is one of the poorest parliament members, but his livestock is valued at several trillion MNT. Some simple calculations would show him his error. Su.Batbold is a horse trainer and owns more race horses than anyone else in the current parliament.

The National Statistical Office of Mongolia has recently looked at the monthly salaries of employed Mongolians and determined that the average monthly salary is 631,000 MNT.

Tuya says, "I don't agree with that number. I work as a salesman and earn only 500 thousand a month, and after tax deductions I receive only 400 thousand." She doesn't believe the Statistical Office information and says, "It is far from the truth and dedicated to the government. Most of the private sector businesses offer 500 thousand, and of course some special professions demand that their work earns a higher salary, but 60 percent of Mongolians work only in the service sector."

Experts say that mining sector workers receive the highest monthly salaries, at an average of one million 50 thousand MNT. Employees of LLCs receive an average monthly salary of 902,000 MNT. Workers in cooperatives receive the lowest salary, at 160 thousand MNT per month. But most people don't earn the stated average salary. Over 200 thousand people work as state employees, over 50 thousand registered unemployed people are still trying to feeding their families and look for work as salesmen, or some lower, unskilled jobs. In Ulaanbaatar, over 365 thousand people are working who are over 15 years old. But there are over one million residents. It is as if one working person feeds two people.

Mongolian Members of Parliament's salaries and benefits have been increasing year by year. Five years ago, the budget for Members of Parliament was capped at one billion MNT. At that time, Mongolian corruption ranked 120th among 180 countries.

In 2004, for the first time, Members of Parliament were allowed a 10 million MNT budget for the work of their ward. MPs and their constituencies were directly involved in administering the budgetary spending. In addition, every member received an extra 35 million MNT for legal promotion. After the parliamentary elections of 2008, the Members of Parliament were able to increase their number of assistants and their privileges, and they were keen to expand.

The total budget for this year for full right or power of members of Parliament in 2014 is 22 billion 931 million MNT, an increase of 4.8 billion from the previous year. This year, each Member of Parliament has a 301 million MNT budget from the state. In addition, member's external costs for measures, committees and updating their office furniture has significantly increased.

What happened in 2009?

In 2008 and 2009, for the first time in history, the economy reached double-digit growth. Politicians and authorities were overjoyed . But since 2009, the global economic crisis has had an impact on Mongolia. The U.S. dollar appreciation and Mongolian banks going bankrupt are issues for our current politicians. Whether they did not know or did not care, the first hint of the crisis was in early 2009. The price of copper in the world market was 7,000 USD per ton, but it began getting cheaper and cheaper. The majority of our government revenues were focused on the export of copper. The highest global market value was reflected in the budget, which became destabilized. When copper prices fell, our fiscal benefits were cut and prices rose. In these crisis years, the Mongolian state budget has been amended twice. World market prices for minerals and metals took a sharp plunge in February 2009.

But then in April, Anod Bank declared bankruptcy and made people skeptical about the financial system. Anod was followed by Zoos Bank's bankruptcy and others. Parliament, in order to maintain the public's confidence in the banks, adopted a law on bank deposit guarantees. However, the reduction of bank loans and raised policy rates resulted in inflation. As a result, businesses suffered, consumers felt the pinch and jobs were lost. During the global economic crisis, with U.S. dollar losses in the domestic market, the 1,200 MNT rate against the USD reached 1,705 MNT. As a result, the Mongolian state was looking at the last of its reserves.

The construction industry was also in crisis. Newly commissioned housing and the majority of construction work stopped. Consequently, the construction companies and banks were locked into non-performing loans, and a number of banks were facing guaranteed collapse. Parliament tried to resolve the crisis and implemented the "4,000 Civil Servants Apartments" program. The difficulties for the construction sector were minimized but not resolved.

In 2009, the economy in the full sense "failed". By the end of the year, on March 10, to relieve the economic struggle, the Oyu Tolgoi investment agreement was approved by the Government.

Five years ago, when Mongolian corruption was listed as 120th among 180 countries, each parliament member had access to a budget of one billion MNT – the highest in our history. In 2010, Mongolia was ranked 116th, 120th in 2011, 94th in 2012, and 83rd in 2013.

Let's look at the consequences of record high corruption and the total losses estimated by the Independent Authority Against Corruption Agency.

The total losses caused by registered corruption crimes equaled 66.3 billion MNT, which made up 2.7 percent of the national budget. Capital of this scale would have funded the construction of 95 schools for 320 children each in all 24 provinces.

However, this is only the known, registered data, the tip of the iceberg. Based on studies at that time, 13 percent of the over 600 thousand households of Mongolia paid bribes to public officials over the course of a year. The average household's spending for corruption was 240,000 MNT, which was the average monthly salary. The total number of bribes paid by households to public servants reached 22 billion MNT. This sum could have supported 5,000 average households for an entire year.

According to experts, 10 percent of the money for projects and programs implemented by the state for poverty alleviation, population growth stimulation, small and medium enterprise support and air pollution reduction is lost to corruption and bribery. If an asphalt road is to be built for 1,100 million MNT, 115 million MNT is spent on bribes and 13 million MNT on corruption. The remaining amount is left for construction material and labor expenditures, adversely affecting the quality of the road. Experts believe that 11 percent of the taxes due on projects are also spent on bribery for receiving tax deductions and exemptions. It is impossible to estimate how much tax revenue should have replenished the national budget but has made officials rich instead.

Every year, parliament members find a way to increase the number of their assistants and increase their approved budget, but when their approved budget was one billion MNT, Mongolian corruption rank 120th place among 180 countries. We can see that the salaries or approved budgets for parliament members do not influence corruption alone, and that when economic troubles arise and banks declare bankruptcy, people spend more on bribing officials. Politicians say that the main reason for Mongolian corruption is habit, but it is not, it is caused by poverty and misinformation. Maybe poor people pay bribes because they don't know that their officials should be functioning in positions to benefit the public.

Parliament members say that when state employee salaries increase, that corruption decreases. But, they have already proven that this is not a main factor in fighting corruption.

Link to article

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Korea Gas Corporation Signs MOU with Erdenes TT & Elgen Drilling on Coal Development

March 4 (Business Korea) Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mongolian state-owned company Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi and Mongolia's largest drilling company Elgen LCC to strength the construction of the Korean-Mongolian research cooperation network. As a result, plant technologies aimed at rendering non-traditional energy sources into usable resources are expected to be further improved. 

The deal was made to provide business support and forge a partnership between Korea and Mongolia as part of an improvement in resource-making technologies for the Tavantolgoi coal deposit, which is ranked as the world's largest undeveloped coal deposit. 

The three companies will analyze coal-bed methane (CBM) and share production technologies and technologies for enhanced CBM recovery. In particular, KOGAS will be able to improve the level of its research and development of resource-making technologies using non-traditional energy sources. 

The R&D division head said, "Resource-making technologies for coal deposits will be successfully developed with a newly-signed business partnership between the three companies."

Meanwhile, Mongolia's massive state-owned coal mine, the Tavan Tolgoi, is the largest among 15 coal mines in the country, where an estimated 6.8 billion tons of coal are buried.

Link to article


Khan Bank Introduces Contactless Payment Card in Mongolia

March 3 (Khan Bank) The contactless payment card, already very popular in other countries, is being introduced by Khan Bank for the first time in Mongolia to make purchases quicker and more convenient for consumers. 

The contactless card, named "Kiss" features a chip which emits radio waves and communicates with the card reader through induction technology and requires only close proximity to an antenna to complete a transaction. They are often used when transactions need to be processed quickly or hands-free such as on mass transit systems, where a smart card can be used without even removing it from a wallet and payments can go through at very close distances. So far, a total of 1400 Point-of-Sale terminals have been installed in merchants.  

Besides delivering fast, secure transactions such as fare payments, the card itself protects personal information. The contactless Kiss card is offered as part of a package service which also includes Internet banking and SMS Alert service, loyalty service and delivery of statements via Email.  Furthermore, Kiss cardholders will receive certain discounts from Loyalty merchants.  

In order to enable customers to familiarize themselves with this brand new product and to provide them with more information, Khan Bank organizes open days in ten universities. Please visit your nearest Khan Bank branch to register for your Kiss card.

Link to release


Mongolia to manufacture its own essential aromatherapy oil

March 4 (UB Post) Aromatherapy and other beauty services that use aromatherapy plants were only recently introduced to Mongolia. Around 20 percent of plants manufactured in Mongolia consist of medicinal plants and herbs such as Artemisia, wormwoods, and aromatherapy plants.

The following is an interview with State Honored Scientist PhD. S.Shatar who published several books about aromatic plants. Although he's 80 years old, he's takes active part in plant research in Mongolia.

-Can you tell us about aromatic plants and your researches on it?

-Some 400 types of aromatic plants for medicines, cosmetics, health, hygiene, treatments and food are grown in Mongolia. Only some 150 of them are being studied. Until today, I have published around 600 books, 700 science books and around 1,500 proposals for the public intellectual foundation. I got around 100 patents for new domestic raw materials and products, and set around 70 national standards. One of my recent and significantly successful works is the series "Terpenoid Chemistry," for which I received the Best Project award of the Academy of Science for the second time. I got the first award ten years ago for the book named "Chemical composition of the essential oil of Ocimum basilicum cultivated in Mongolia's Desert-Gobi".

This year, I'm preparing to publish "Terpenoid Chemistry" series IV, V and VI in Russian, English and both horizontal and vertical Mongolian writing. Around 10 of my speeches, articles and discussions from the 44th International Symposium on Essential Oils along with those of natural chemistry compounds scientists from Bukhara, Kaliningrad and Ulaan-Ude and my students will be published in notable magazines of the USA, India and Germany.

-You were the first person to conduct and develop essential oil's study in Mongolia. Where did you receive your education and knowledge of the subject?

-In 1961, Vice President, head of the Organic Chemistry Development and professor of Mongolian Academy of Science B.Dashjamts gave me a bag of Juniper to study and I started my long journey of study on chemical compositions of essential oils of evergreen plants. With that assignment, I got my degree on Chemistry of Natural and Physiologically Active Substances and in 1993, PhD in chemistry through "Mongolian mono-terpene's chemical components of flora and natural order of biogenesis."

Now, with developed technologies, young people are able to learn independently with low cost. When the current science project is approved and financed, we can develop new raw material to supply the needs of the people in two to three years. We can implement this with scientists by establishing Shabi (Student) School.

-Although it hasn't been long since aromatherapy was introduced to Mongolia, everyone seems to understand the new term?

-Indeed. Mongolian study of essential aromatherapy plants was initiated in the 1960s. New chemistry field of Terpenoid was created and contributed to promote and develop the sector to world standards. Around 20 publications for each topic were approved. New raw materials and compounds of essential oil plants were tested to prove that imported essential oil plants can be cultivated in Mongolia's climate and terrestrial conditions. My daughter Sh.Altantsetseg is contributing a lot to develop basis for chemical technology and agro-biology to cultivate imported crops in the extreme climates of Mongolian desert conditions. Mongolia was able to extract essential oil from the secondary raw material of Mongolia, green fir-needles.

The state is working on establishing a workshop to extract essential oil and manufacture aromatics for health and beauty sector through the decree from the cabinet and State Planning and Economic Committee. A new sector that will give physical therapy and spa to help heal and enhance physical capability with Mongolian aromatherapy plants will be developed, which will be called Nursing Science or by the international name, Aromatherapy. We are working on developing the Mongolian version of the field.

-What is essential oil used for?

-Essential oil from onion, garlic, leek, spring onion, shallot and parsley seeds destroys microbes and fungus that cause cancer. They stop it from multiplying and improves digestive system and process. It's also an important ingredient for medicines such as validol, valokormid and anestesol that help mental, respiratory and cardiovascular issues. Furthermore, it can improve the taste and smell of products with peppermint, including wine, soft drinks, candy, bakery, and health and beauty care supplements. You can get more information from the book, "Mongolian essential oil plants".

-How much resource does Mongolia have to supply raw materials for aromatic industry?

-We can't fully utilize every fir-needle from the small amount of logging in the country. A third of the amount is used for restoring coniferous trees growing in foreign countries. Mongolia can get essential oils that South Eastern Asian countries' extract from camphor tree and eucalypt, from wormwood. We can also cultivate some plants to supply raw materials for small factories. For instance, senior staff of the Institute of Chemical Technology of Mongolian and doctor of chemical science Sh.Altantsetseg localized and cultivated some 20 seeds of highly demanded essential oil plants in global market in desert and steppe climates and is currently developing national standards, proposals and related guidelines for utilizing the new products and materials from the plants.

It's very important to support new ideas and promote advanced technologies. The localized raw materials will bring us one step closer to producing ecologically-friendly aromatic beauty and health products used by households and food producers, and increase its supply sources. Furthermore, we're planning to extract essential oils for medical care, home and beauty care purposes from 15 different plants of Mongolia including chute, coniferous plants, fir and pine trees.

-At what stage is this work at currently? When essential oils are ready, where will it be sold?

-It's scientific basis has been developed and currently the design and technology are being studied. When it's ready, it will probably be sold in pharmacies and beauty salons.

-In Mongolia, what's the most economically viable way to extract essential oils with low cost?

-Steam distillation is most efficient in Mongolia.

-Essential oils imported from foreign countries are sold in very little amounts, usually 5 to 10 ml. How much plant is needed to get 10 ml of oil?

-It depends on how much oil extract the plant has in its stems, roots, leaves, flowers and fruits. In Mongolia, it varies for each 10 kg of trees. You can get 40 ml from a fir tree, 100 ml from nut pine, 60 ml from mint tree, 30 ml from chute, and 80 ml from Artemisia etc.

Essential oil is used in very small amounts; 3 to 5 drops of pine and cedar is used to sterilize and purify air in a 15 square meter area of an apartment and for springs, 6 to 7 drops is more than enough.

We're also planning to distribute essential oils in 5 to 10 ml bottles.

-Have you started manufacturing products made of evergreen coniferous tree extracts? What stage is it in at the moment?

-We have the necessary human resources; chemists, technologists and doctors to produce medicinal preparations for sanitation, hygiene, cosmetics, and medical care. From 1970 to 1980, we've extracted aromatic essential oils from peppermint trees and chute to manufacture in factories in Darkhan, such as "Gaatai Chiher," "Peppermint" liquor and "Timenton."  From 1987 to 1989, extracts from coniferous were used in soap production and peppermint essential oils in spa products and soaps, as well as in experimental workshops for restoring and purifying air.

-When did foreign countries start showing interest in your research?

-Foreign scientists started sharing their research and ideas after I presented and discussed two presentations about Mongolian essential oil endemics that are grown only in Mongolia, in the 11th International Symposium of Chemists in 1978. In 1980, I received a proposal from Winston-Salem Company of the USA to publish and share my works. I didn't have the opportunity to reply since the society at the time was very unstable. However, professor R.P.Adams sent one of his samples and essential oil extracting equipment in 1989. He sent technologies to define chemical components of essential oils and sent an invitation to work at his laboratory in 1993 through the Ministry of Foreign Relations. This surprise gift for my research and other assistance were like a blessing for me.

-How should aromatherapy be developed in Mongolia?

-In order to utilize nursing science with essential oils, we're working on an experimental research to produce new raw materials and aromatic supplements for everyday household sanitation, hygiene and medical care. By establishing a small workshop that manufactures essential oils of cultivated raw materials, we will produce aromatic products that give relaxation and physical therapy.

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New Building Technologies Introduced at Ulaanbaatar Construction 2014 Trade Fair

Ulaanbaatar, March 4 (MONTSAME) At 'Ulaanbaatar Construction-2014' trade fair, nearly 170 enterprises presented new building technologies to visitors.

The Ministry of Construction and Urban Development, together with Construction Development Center and Misheel Group LLC, organized the fair in Misheel Expo Center from February 28 to March 3. The theme of the event was 'Building materials–New technologies'.

In his opening speech, the Construction and Urban Development Minister Ts.Bayarsaikhan noted that last year the sector saw a great growth. Since last June, some 30 thousand people have received the annual-8%-interest mortgage of the Government, this year, apartments for 35 thousand households are planned to come into service, he added.

The Government rendered some assistance to domestic building material plants last year, and some 160 new plants have launched their operation, leaving no place for exported products such as glass, door and window, the Minister said. "Last year, the Government paid attention to price stabilization, but this year, its main focus will be on industrialization projects that reduce dependency on imports".

The 9th annual Ulaanbaatar Construction fair was attended by construction sector actors from Germany, Russia, China, South Korea and Japan. The fair provided participants with opportunities to broaden their cooperation and relations with foreign and domestic entrepreneurs, share experiences, as well as to sell their products.

The second part of the fair will be held on March 14-17.

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Mining Minister on official visit to Canada

March 4 ( The Minister of Mining D.Gankhuyag is on an official visit to Canada until March 6th. 

For the visit Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag will meet the Minister of International Trade of Canada, Ed Fast and will participate in the "PDAC 2014", the biggest gathering of mining investors, as the head of representatives from the Mongolian government. 

The Mining Minister of Mongolia will deliver a presentation relating to the issues of policy of the government on the mining industry, the investment environment, competitiveness in the legal environment and building stability.

Earlier in the visit, Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag met the Minister of Natural Resources of Canada, Joe Oliver. 

The Minister of Natural Resources of Canada, Joe Oliver mentioned the legal environment in Mongolia is becoming more stable and noted that Mongolia and Canada have been co-operating in the mining sector. The Minister added that Canada is willing to support the training in human resources in the mining industry of Mongolia and offered the possibility of retraining in Canada

Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag emphasized that in the 1990s, Canadian geologists arrived in Mongolia just after the Democratic revolution. There are currently over 40 Canadian mining companies with businesses in Mongolia. He went on to say that Mongolia is the country where the tax is the lowest in Asia, in particular, it has less tax pressure than in other mining countries. 

In the past 15 years, Canadian mining companies have funded the investment of a total of 1.5 billion US dollars for mining exploration and prospect

Since the first Canadian mining company "Mongolian Gold Resources" opened in Mongolia in 1993, Canadian invested mining companies operate in Oyu Tolgoi, Boroo Gold, Zuun mod and Khotgor deposits. 

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Belarus, Mongolia to step up cooperation in transport

MINSK, 4 March (BelTA) - Belarus and Mongolia intend to invigorate bilateral cooperation in the field of transport and the construction of road facilities, BelTA learnt from the press service of the Transport and Communications Ministry of Belarus. 

On 3 March heads of transport ministries of the two countries Anatoly Sivak and Amarzhargal Gansukh signed a cooperation memorandum which stipulates the implementation of relevant initiatives.

As far as the field of motor transport is concerned, the sides have undertaken to work to simplify rules governing international transportation of people and cargos, including transit through Belarus and Mongolia. Transport specialists of the two countries will exchange experience in road construction. Belarusian specialists are ready to provide methodological and technical assistance to colleagues from Mongolia, in particular to help Mongolia carry out necessary tests to determine which type of road bitumen and asphalt concrete will be suitable for road construction in Mongolia considering that country's climatic conditions.

Belarusian and Ulaanbaatar railways have agreed to cooperate in capital repairs and modernization of railway equipment and junctions, cooperation in the field of technical regulations and standardization. The sides will also render mutual assistance in road haulage from Mongolia to Belarus and transit from China to Western Europe and back. The Belarusian side informed Mongolia about OAO Stadler Minsk's readiness to introduce a tram service in Ulaanbaatar in line with a turn-key contract. It is ready to create railway communication systems, which will function according to the same principles as city lines, and also to ship railway vehicles for these systems.

In the field of air transport the sides will continue work to finish intrastate procedures required for the entry into force of the agreement on flight connection.

Anatoly Sivak noted at the meeting that the memorandum is aimed at the practical consolidation of the solid basement which has already been laid in the relations of the two states. The Minister expressed hope that the implementation of the initiatives laid down in the document will be another step towards the establishment of effective transport ties which will benefit the economies of Belarus and Mongolia. It is also important to facilitate the development of transit through the territory of the two countries. One of examples of such cooperation is the implementation of the international project to transport cargoes from the EU to Mongolia using the high-speed train Mongolian Vector. Anatoly Sivak added that cargoes should be transported by this train more frequently.

The Minister of Roads and Transport of Mongolia underlined that his country pays great attention to the intensification of transit from Europe to Asia. "The Mongolian side is open for the use of the railway corridor which links Russia and China," he said. The Minister stressed that Mongolia is going to build 1,800 km of railways and about 5,000 km of motor ways. One of the greatest infrastructural projects in Mongolia in the forthcoming three years will be the construction of a 1,000km-long motor way which will link Russia and China. In this regard Anatoly Sivak underlined that Belarusian enterprises have a rich experience in designing and constructing railways and motor ways. 

The sides agreed that despite a great distance between the countries international road haulage has been recently developing quite quickly, which proves that such cooperation is promising and mutually beneficial.

The visit of the delegation from Mongolia's Ministry of Roads and Transport will conclude on 6 March. The Mongolian officials will get familiar with the operation of OAO BelAZ, the terminal of the railway station Minsk Passazhirsky, the potential of OAO Management Company of the Belkommunmash Holding Company, OAO Stadler Minsk, motor transport infrastructure along the M1/E30 motor way, transshipment capabilities of the Brest railway junction and the operation of the highway border crossing Kozlovichi.

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FM Becomes Inaugural Honorary President of the Ambassadors' Club

Ulaanbaatar, March 4 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia L.Bold has been appointed the Honorary president of the Club of Ambassadors (CAs).

On Monday, our Minister received the certificate for the CAs president.

The CAs was founded in January this year at initiative of senior diplomats and Ambassadors who have worked in Mongolia's diplomatic service.

Main objectives of this NGO are to help specific orientation ministries, civil society organizations, NGOs and people in carrying out the foreign policies, to provide them with information and researches, to cooperate with the UB-based diplomatic missions and international organizations, to organize meetings, consultations, competitions, and to share experiences. 

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Ukrainian demonstrators headquartered in a Mongolian ger

March 4 (UB Post) In the central square in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, demonstrators are using a ger (the Mongolian national dwelling) as their headquarters at Independence Square.

According to international news agency information, three gers are present. The ger doors are decorated with Mongolian national ornaments, as well as the inside walls, but it is not clear where they came from.

One ger is covered with a Ukrainian national flag and another flag is visible from the ger's toono, or chimney hole.

This is not the first time a Mongolian ger has been put to use by activists. Following the Occupy Wall Street protests organized in U.S. cities and then all over the world, three gers were used by Occupy Toronto protestors. The gers were valued at 20,000 USD each. Mongolian gers are easy and fast to build, warm in cold seasons, and cool in warm seasons. The protestors needed housing that was easy to install, which was why the Mongolian ger was selected said movement leaders. American and Japanese family therapists use gers to improve family relationships and communication, as the Mongolian ger has no walls and there is no place for family members to escape one another. Every day, family members living in a ger are brought together for face to face interactions.

As for the current crisis in Ukraine, German government representative Georg Streiter reported that Putin has agreed to start managing a Crimean political dialogue. There is no information about how the dialogue will be structured when it begins.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned Putin in a speech about the use of military force in Ukraine as a violation of international agreements. She urged Putin to respect the integrity of Ukranian territory and back down from Crimean occupation.

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Social, Environmental and Other

40% of domestically grown, 80% of imported vegetables contain pesticide - study

March 4 (UB Post) A recent official inspection results revealed that 40 percent of all domestically grown vegetables on the market had pesticide content, while 80 percent of all imported vegetables were detected with pesticides.

The report is the result of a seven month joint study by the National Federation of Mongolian Consumers' Association (MCA) and Health Sciences University of Mongolia on the amount of chemical pesticide absorbed by crops from May until December 2013 in Mongolia.

The chemical pesticides have various different types and only a few of them with phosphorus content are permitted for use. Yet, the pesticide found in vegetables in Mongolian markets had exceeded limits of chlorine and nitrogen content which is hazardous to human health.

Pesticide causes failures in nervous system, glands, cardiovascular system, blood cells, developing organs, liver and kidneys. It is also one of the factors that affect genetics in newborns and cause congenital diseases. Pesticide contents even cause cancers.

Secretary General of the MCA D.Chuluunbaatar said, "Pesticides are used in Mongolia to protect crops from pests, mitigate growth of weeds and accelerate crop ripeness. Now we have to start using certificate of origin for vegetables to be sold in markets. We have to put chemical substance detector at major trade markets and supermarkets."

"The MCA will continue inspections and provide updated results to the public. The pesticide was detected in vegetables grown in Shaamar, Zuunkharaa and Altanbulag soums of Selenge Province, and Bayanchandmani and Bornuur soums of Tuv Province. Watermelons from Khovd Province, and tomatoes and cucumbers from Umnugovi Province had pesticide contents as well.

"Pesticides were also detected in fruits that people picked them from forests and sold on the market, without knowing that those forests were sprayed with pesticides. Therefore, we will regularly report when forests are sprayed with pesticides in order to prevent harmful fruit sales on the market," he added.

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Health Ministry Receives 600 Million Worth of OB/GYN Equipment & Medicine from UNFPA

Ulaanbaatar, March 4 (MONTSAME) The Ministry of Health Monday officially received medical equipment and medicines for reproductive health and obstetrics.

A total of 38 kinds of them costing 594.1 million togrog have been supplied from the UN Population Fund /UNFPA/ in Mongolia.

The Health Minister N.Udval said this aid has made a big investment in the reproductive and mothers and children's health and expressed a gratitude to the UNFPA.

These equipment and medicines will go to health centers of 15 soums.  

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UNICEF: A new hope for mothers and newborn in Mongolia

Although Mongolia has made remarkable progress in maternal and child health over the last two decades, progress on newborn survival has lagged behind. Currently, 42% of the 2000 deaths of children under the age of five happen during the first 28 days since birth. With nearly 98% of taking place in health facilities, additional efforts are needed to improve the quality of care and adoption of best care practices by health workers.

Much to the delight of UNICEF and partners, the Government of Mongolia has declared 2014 to be the year of Maternal and Child Health. The Ministry of Health jointly with UNICEF and the WHO recently convened a newborn care action planning meeting. Speaking at the inaugural session, Dr. Udval the Minister for Health encouraged the participants to develop with home grown solutions to improve the health system and tackle community engagement challenges. 

 "This newborn action plan is the best gift we can give to children of Mongolia this year" remarked Mohamed Malick Fall, the UNICEF country representative. He also reiterated UNICEF's full support to develop and implement the action plan. The recent UNICEF-supported formative research and Lot Quality Assurance Sampling survey provided very useful insights that fed into the evidence-based planning process. Dr. Nabila Zaka from UNICEF EAPRO and Dr. Howard Sobel from WHO WPRO shared regional perspectives and international experiences.

An interactive session during the workshop helped participants understand the importance of early essential newborn care.  

A wide range of partners from national and sub-national levels participated in discussions around the prioritization of activities and in developing a long-term plan reflecting elements from the 2014-2020 WHO-UNICEF Regional Action Plan for Healthy Newborns. A detailed and costed implementation plan will be developed to set-up a centre of excellence for newborn training, team-based learning approaches and supportive supervision to foster best practices, updating the clinical guidelines and packaging these into comprehensive facility packages, increasing demand among parents and tackling the issues of financial protection and sustainable supplies. The essence of the action plan is the focus on "early essential newborn care", given that the first 3 days are the most critical in saving newborn babies' lives. Simple practices, such as immediate drying, delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breast feeding for all newborns can prevent many complications. Similarly, using Kangaroo Mother Care for stable pre-term and low-birth weight babies can reduce their dependence on expensive newborn intensive care units and free these facilities for babies in greater need. Maternal health and newborn health are inseparable. Therefore, integral elements of the plan include attention to quality intra-partum care, reduction of un-necessary C sections and timely management of prolonged and obstructed labour.

Dr. Surenchimeg, UNICEF Mongolia Health Specialist, expressed her confidence in seeing how the Ministry of Health leadership, as well as its and partnership with WHO, UNFPA, professional associations and communities will make the plan a success.  

Link to release


Mongolian Women Campaign To Improve Working Conditions

ULAANBAATAR, March 4 (Bernama) -- The Women's Committee at the Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions (CMTU) on Tuesday announced their plan to hold a campaign aimed at improving working conditions for women in Mongolia.

The campaign will be organised in the lead up to International Women's Day celebrated worldwide on March 8, Mongolian National News Agency MONTSAME reported.

Highlighting the need for improved laws on women's employment and social protection, the Committee is calling on the government to join relevant international conventions to eliminate discrimination and conflicts in labour relations.

The Committee is also planning to cooperate with the Women's Trade Union, the Transport and Road Workers' Trade Union and the Education and Science Workers' Trade Union to improve conditions for working women.

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FAO Asia Pacific Conference in Ulaanbaatar to Focus on MDG to End World Hunger

March 4 ( The 32nd Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (APRC) will be organized in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia between 10th and 14th March. Ministers of Food and Agriculture from over 40 landlocked countries and high ranking officials will have discussions and debate on ways to end famine and provide food security. 

Participants of the 32nd Session of FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific will focus on the completion rate of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), appeals to end world hunger, end famine by 2025 and UN based campaigns. 

The key agenda of the 32nd Session will be how to restore pasture and forest, popularize green agriculture that will be beneficial to household agronomy in the region and seek ways to improve food security in Asia Pacific countries. 

The 32nd Session will also approach several key subjects that the agricultural industry in the most populated regions is now finding challenging and how to stabilize development. 

The Millennium Development Goal target of reducing hunger in the Asia and Pacific Region by 2015 is proceeding; however 60 percent of the population in Asia and the Pacific are still in a state of hunger. In particular there are millions of children still who are starving across the region. 

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Three Earthquake Information Centers to Be Established in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, March 4 (MONTSAME) Such centers will be set up in three provinces, says the "Government Information" booklet published on Monday.

Under the governmental resolution, the centers will be established in Bogd soum of Bayankhongor province, in Mandalgovi city of Dundgovi aimag and in Sukhbaatar city of Selenge aimag, with missions to run studies to determine locations and sizes of earthquakes and to maintain the seismic database on earthquake parameters and their effects, which serves as a solid foundation for basic and applied earth science researches.

The centers will also study measures that can reduce the adverse effects of earthquakes.

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Ambassador B.Delgermaa Meets "Marco Polo" Mini-Series Producer Richard Sharkey

March 4 ( On March 04, 2014, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia reported that at the invitation of Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Republic of Singapore Ms. Banzragch DELGERMAA has visited the Studio site in Johor, Malaysia, where new episodes are being shoot about Marco Polo, who served for Mongol ruler Khubilai Khaan (Kublai Khan) for 17 years in 1272-1289.

The movie is being screened on over 30 thousand square feet of floorspace, where additional 5 new stages were erected and the new 9 episodes from executive producer and series creator John Fusco features Mongol Empire history of XIII century, about Song Dynasty and Marco Polo, an Italian merchant traveler.

The Marco Polo mini-series will be the first major production of the Studios, where over 600 artists from 20 countries are involved under famed film director Daniel Minahan known for "The Contenders" (2001), "True Blood" (2008) and "Game of Thrones" (2011), and producer Richard Sharkey known for his work on series "The Lord of the Rings".

During his meeting with Ambassador B.Delgermaa, Producer Richard Sharkey asked for Mongolia's Embassy support to involve nationals of Mongolia residing in Singapore, where Ambassador appreciated film makers and pledged to advocate at all potentials in such historical epics.

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Ambassador Visits Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia StudioMontsame, March 4


Desert boundaries: the once and future Gobi

By Troy Sternberg

Publication History

·         Article first published online: 14 February 2014

·         Manuscript Accepted: December 2013

Funded by

·         British Academy

·         Royal Geographical Society


When Marco Polo journeyed to the court of Kublai Khan in 1271 he traversed a great sandy desert filled with 'extraordinary illusions' that became known as the Gobi desert. The continued use of term Gobi, first appearing in 1706, is a rare case of Mongolian ascendancy over the Chinese. Exploration of the Gobi as a mapping term seeks to understand how the desert was conceptualised and identified as a geographical region, an economic sphere and a political presence. Historically contested between China and Russia with Mongolia as a proxy, the desert is now home to 25 million people, mineral wealth and rapid development. As attention increases and the strategic region integrates into global systems, knowledge of the perceived desert boundaries becomes germane. In our era of data and demarcation with place names used to confer prior possession we examine how the Mongolian term 'gobi' rather than the Chinese equivalent 'shamo' prevailed. China dominates the region without asserting physical control; in fact, the term 'Gobi desert' is not recognised in China's geographical lexicon. Does past suzerainty offer insight to the present and potential future scenarios in the desert? New contextualisation presents the Gobi as a multi-dimensional space that, rather than a past construction, portends an emergent consciousness no longer isolated and insulated from regional and global currents.

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