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Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Mogi: the full list of mandates was pretty long. Hope to find an English one.
Bill to Grant Government Mandate to Draft Actions on Economy, Including Oyu Tolgoi, Submitted to Parliament
Ulaanbaatar, April 7 (MONTSAME) Economic Development Minister N.Batbayar submitted Monday a draft resolution of parliament to the Speaker Z.Enkhbold.
The draft foresees assignment of 19 actions to the Government, within aims of increased economic growth and financial stability of the nation. The actions are expected to be realized during the period of 2014 spring session of parliament.
If the resolution is approved, the Government is to develop relevant documents on the second stage investment of Oyu Tolgoi project, on revival of mineral exploration activities, on supporting and funding of industrialization projects, and on possibility of exploring oil, oil shale, and natural gas in strictly protected areas, and will submit them to parliament.
Link to draft bill (in Mongolian)
TRQ closed -0.88% to US$3.36
Mongolia counts cost of mine delay as Rio Tinto deadline passes
By Lucy Hornby in Beijing and James Wilson in London
April 6 (FT) A dispute between the Mongolian government and its biggest foreign investor over the expansion of one of the world's largest copper mines has added to concerns over the country's faltering economy.
A financing deadline to expand the vast Oyu Tolgoi copper project passed last week without an agreement between developer Rio Tinto and the government in Ulan Bator. The delay is the latest twist in a long-running saga that has become a test for the investment climate in the country.
The expansion is seen as crucial to Rio's plans, but the Anglo-Australian mining company missed a deadline to secure $4.2bn in project financing from banks for the project as discussions continued with the Mongolian government over how to divide the revenues.
Mongolia needs the revenues to fund spending commitments made in the first flush of optimism of a mining-based windfall for the landlocked nation's nearly 3m people. But expansion of the mine, which began producing copper in 2013 and which could eventually generate one-third of the country's gross domestic product, is now not likely until 2015.
"The worry will be how this is affecting the Mongolian economy," said Munkhdul Badral, chief executive of Cover Mongolia, a market intelligence group. "The central bank is intervening all the time to keep the currency [the tugrik] stable but that cannot go on forever."
Few believe the mine expansion will not happen, although it could be developed on a reduced scale. Existing project financing commitments also still hold, despite the missed deadline. But the haggling comes against the backdrop of an already deteriorating economy, and further delays only add to the pressure on the Mongolian government.
Despite Bank of Mongolia's efforts, the tugrik is trading near historic lows at about MNT1,780 to the dollar. Data show the reasons for the weakness. Foreign direct investment fell 54 per cent last year, export revenues dropped by $800m and foreign exchange reserves dropped from $4.1bn to $2.4bn.
Weak copper and coal prices, fluctuating foreign investment and a simmering commercial bank dispute have all cooled what was one of the world's hottest frontier markets. Distressed debt buyers have begun appearing at watering holes once favoured by foreign miners, such as the Grand Khaan Irish pub in central Ulan Bator.
The revision of a damaging gold tax helped shore up gold reserves in the first two months of this year. Paradoxically, it may also have contributed to the steep slide in the tugrik, as miners selling gold to the central bank exchange the local currency for dollars.
The Asian Development Bank has cut expectations for Mongolian growth to a still healthy looking 9.5 per cent this year, from 14 per cent previously.
Other frontier market currencies, from Kazakhstan to Nigeria, have also slumped after a long period in which those countries performed better than traditionally less risky emerging markets. But the case of Mongolia, with GDP of $11bn, illustrates the vulnerability of a small economy to huge capital ebbs and flows.
The stand-off with Rio hinges in part on whether the Mongolian government – a 34 per cent equity holder in Oyu Tolgoi – can get a guaranteed return, industry figures said. Mongolia, meanwhile, wants to ensure that cost overruns do not eat into its share of the revenues.
Amid lengthy negotiations, Rio wrote down the value of the unit developing the mine by $4.7bn and warned of another $800m in writedowns if underground mining does not begin in the next 12 months.
Oyu Tolgoi is naturally seen as a big test of Mongolia by foreign investors. They are cautiously optimistic about a revised foreign investment law, which it is hoped will stabilise regulations after years of sudden and destabilising reversals. Mongolia, for its part, is worried foreign investors could turn around and sell its most valuable assets to Chinese firms, increasing the country's dependence on its much larger neighbour.
An agreement on the mine "would be a wonderful signal, but there has got to be a lot more than that," said Jim Dwyer, head of the Business Council of Mongolia, which promotes trade and investment in the country.
In 2013, parliament passed a law to treat foreign and domestic investors the same. But foreigners remain concerned by Mongolia's history of sudden regulatory changes and corruption probes that have sometimes ensnared foreign projects or citizens.
Brian Gordon, a partner at international law firm Holman Fenwick Willan, said of the fresh Oyu Tolgoi delay: "This will do little to bolster foreign firms' confidence about committing themselves to projects in the region".
Much will depend on the spring parliamentary session, which begins on Monday, when the government's approach to Oyu Tolgoi will be debated.
"There has been a change in attitude. They are taking clear steps to attract international capital back," said Alex Kim, co-founder of Skypath Partners, which advises foreign investors interested in Mongolian assets.
The weak currency and drop in Mongolian stock prices has had some benefits.
Two Japanese banks have set up shop in Ulan Bator while work has begun on the first power plant in the capital to be built since the 1980s. "In 2010-2011, lots of people said values were too high," said Howard Lambert, chief representative of ING Bank in Mongolia. "Now we are starting to see those people come back."
Raising at 4.8c. XAM closed -0.5c to 5c Monday
XANADU CLOSES FULLY SUBSCRIBED A$1.47 MILLION BROKERED PRIVATE PLACEMENT
April 7, Xanadu Mines Ltd. (ASX:XAM) --
· Xanadu raises A$1.47 million by way of a fully subscribed private placement subject to shareholder approval of the Kharmagtai acquisition. Bell Potter Securities Limited acted as sole lead manager of the placement.
· The placement proceeds will be used to accelerate exploration activities at the Kharmagtai copper-gold project.
· Xanadu has arranged over US$10.0 million of new funds for the acquisition of and exploration activities at the Kharmagtai copper-gold project.
· Xanadu has mobilised to the Kharmagtai site and commenced exploration activities including development of a comprehensive 3D geological model for drill hole targeting.
· Drilling to commence at Kharmagtai as soon as practically possible upon completion of the Kharmagtai transaction.
Xanadu Directors Participate in Private Placement – XAM, April 8 (Mark Wheatley, George Lloyd, Hannah Badenach for an additional A$0.24 million for a total A$1.71 million at same condition as the private placement)
Notice of EGM on 16 May – XAM, April 8
Xanadu in Talks to Sell Office Stake to Mongolia Partner for A$700,000
April 2 -- Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX: XAM – "Xanadu") is pleased to announce advanced discussions are underway regarding the sale and lease back of its 64% interest in its Ulaanbaatar office building to Lkhagvasuren Ganbayar.
The proposed transaction values Xanadu's interest in the property at approximately A$700,000.
The Xanadu Board believes the capital employed in the office building is better allocated to the advancement of its Kharmagtai and Oyut Ulaan exploration activities and working capital.
Xanadu and Lkhagvasuren Ganbayar, an Executive Director of Xanadu, jointly developed the property over 2009 and 2010.
As this is a related party transaction, the non-interested directors of Xanadu have procured an independent valuation which confirms that the transaction is on arm's length terms.
VKA closed flat at 3.4c Thursday
Viking Ashanti lodges takeover offer for Mongolia-focused Auminco Mines
April 3 (Proactive Investors) Newly Mongolian focused Viking Ashanti (ASX: VKA) is a step closer to acquiring unlisted Auminco Mines Limited, owner of a package of advanced coal assets after lodging a Bidder's Statement with ASIC today.
The bid is a friendly, off-market takeover offer of Auminco, which had been advancing one thermal coal project in Mongolia that is capable of being progressed into production within the next 12 – 18 months.
Auminco's strategy was to discover and develop high quality coal deposits targeting locations close to established mining operations or defined deposits and supported by existing or developing infrastructure.
The Berkh Uul project ticks that box.
It also has a CAPEX that will be low by most standards; a start-up mining rate that will be not be large, with flexibility to build over time with a simple mining and processing, and with a simple and proven technology.
A Mining Lease application is also imminent for Berkh Uul.
Auminco shareholders will emerge with a 47% stake in Viking after Viking's takeover offer which is significant as Auminco was established by founding shareholders and management of Coalworks Limited that was sold to Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC) for ~$200 million in mid-2012.
So they have form and history of achieving value accretion for investors.
Viking still owns its West African gold assets; Akoase East currently hosts a JORC resource of 790,000 ounces of gold.
MNP closed flat at C$0.06, MNAP closed flat at US$0.053
Mongolia, Tajikistan-focused oil explorer MNP Petroleum improves cash balance at 2013 year-end
April 1 (Proactive Investors) MNP Petroleum Corp. (CVE:MNP) (OTCMKTS:MNAP), an exploration-stage company focused on Mongolia and Tajikistan, said it improved its cash balance at year-end, prompted by lower exploration activity in Central Asia.
The company, which has no operating income yet, said its cash balance was $3.1 million as of Dec. 31, 2013, compared with $2.8 million a year earlier, according to a statement released today.
The Baar, Switzerland-based company said its net cash used in operating activities was $5.1 million in 2013, down from $12.4 million used in 2012. This decrease was mainly due to lower exploration activity in the company's ventures, especially in Mongolia, it said.
Net loss narrowed to $11 million, from $11.8 million a year earlier, helped by lower exploration costs.
Operating expenses fell 45 percent to $6.5 million in 2013, from $12 million in 2012, because of lower exploration activity in the ventures in Tajikistan and Mongolia.
The company, which has 30 employees, said personnel costs decreased 13 percent to $ 2.3 million last year from $2.7 million in 2012.
MNP anticipates increasing its number of employees and outsourced contract employment over the next twelve months "depending on the need of our exploration and production activities."
Exploration costs were $1.1 million, down 80 percent from $5.8 million, due to decreased exploration activity at the company's project in Mongolia.
MNP, which has not yet discovered any reserve on any of its properties, depends on funding from various sources to continue operations and to implement its growth strategy.
The company carries out its operations both directly and through participation in ventures with other oil and gas companies. MNP owns shares of Petromanas Energy Inc. (CVE:PMI), which is involved in oil and gas activities in Albania, France, and Australia.
Earlier this month, MNP said it would use the majority of the proceeds from the sale of a bulk of its shares in Petromanas Energy to help fund its exploration project in Tajikistan. The company also announced an up to US$1 million share buyback program.
The company, which is currently seeking to build a consortium of financing partners for its ongoing activities in Tajikistan, said the consortium should be finalized before the first exploration well is spud, which is slated for the start of the third quarter this year. To bridge the formation of a consortium, MNP said it will use the majority of the C$8 million in proceeds out of the sale of its shares in Petromanas for the implementation of its Tajikistan work program.
Following the recent sale of its shares in Petromanas, MNP holds 8.5 million common shares in the Albanian-focused company, with rights to receive an additional 38.8 million shares.
PCY closed +14.38% to C$0.075 Friday
Prophecy Receives Updated Chandgana Preliminary Economic Assessment
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - April 3, 2014) - Prophecy Coal Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY)(OTCQX:PRPCF)(FRANKFURT:1P2) announces that, further to its December 19, 2013 news release clarifying the Company's technical disclosure, the Company has today filed on SEDAR a revised National Instrument 43-101 compliant technical report on its Chandgana Tal coal mining licenses in central Mongolia dated effective November 30, 2012, titled "Technical Report, Coal Resources and Preliminary Economic Assessment, Coal Mine Component, Chandgana Tal Coal Project" (the "PEA"). The PEA examines the economics of coal production from the mining licenses and excludes the Chandgana Khavtgai exploration license. Prophecy's wholly-owned subsidiary Chandgana Coal LLC intends to mine the coal and supply it to the proposed 600MW (150MW x 4) Chandgana mine-mouth power plant (the "Power Plant"), which is planned to be operated by Prophecy's wholly-owned Prophecy Power Generation, LLC. The PEA was prepared by John T Boyd Co., one of the world's largest independent consulting firms exclusively serving the coal, mineral, financial, utility, and power-related industries. The PEA replaces the technical report on the Chandgana Tal Coal Project previously filed by the Company on SEDAR on November 30, 2012 (the "Previous Report") and the information contained in the PEA and this news release represents changes to the Company's pervious disclosure contained in its news releases dated May 10 and November 2, 2012 disclosing the results of the Previous Report which are summarized and reconciled below.
The following information is derived from the PEA, and should be read in the context of and is qualified in its entirety by the full text of the PEA. Highlights of the PEA are as follows:
Conclusion and Opportunity:
The financial evaluation indicates that the project is potentially economically viable given the coal price assumption of US $17.70 per tonne sold at the mine gate directly to the power plant. The coal price is fully indexed and will rise according to rising input costs such as fuel, labor, and parts. Therefore the coal project is expected to provide stable return throughout the life of mine. Furthermore, the mineral resource estimate covers only the Chandgana Tal mining licenses with potential to scale up the Chandgana power plant project and source additional coal supply from Chandgana Coal's nearby Khavtgai Uul coal deposit. An independent study sponsored by Asian Development Bank suggested a Mongolia power supply deficit of 600MW by 2016 and 900MW by 2019. This deficit could be satisfied by a scaled up Chandgana power plant.
The Company cautions that the PEA is preliminary in nature and has a degree of accuracy of plus or minus 35%.
The technical contents of this news release have been prepared under the supervision of by Christopher M. Kravits, P.Geo, General Mining Manager of Prophecy. Mr. Kravits is a Qualified Person as defined in NI 43-101 with 35 years of US and international relevant coal geology experience. He has been active in Mongolia since 2007.
The financial contents of this news release have been prepared under the supervision of John T Boyd Company and Robert J. Farmer, Lead Qualified Person on the revised PEA. Mr. Farmer is a Qualified Person as defined in NI 43-101.
FEO closed +13.64% to A$0.05 on 20K volume Friday
FeOre Secures Water Usage Agreement for Ereeny Iron Ore Project
April 4 -- FeOre Limited (ASX: FEO) is pleased to announce that Taisheng Development LLC, the Company's Mongolian subsidiary, has entered into a water usage agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Green Development on the Jargalant tenement, which is approximately 25 kilometers from the Ereeny Project location. The agreement secures the needed water for the annual production of 1 million tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes of iron concentrate for the Ereeny Project (which depends on the actual production volume and the actual water usage at the time of production).
"It is an important and essential milestone of the development of Ereeny Project and is a result of countless effort by the Company", said the Chairman of the Company, Dr. Tim Sun.
The Company also advises that there has been an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease at the Dalanjargalan Soum of Dornogobi Province, where the Dartsagt Project is located. The soum has issued notice to the public on precaution and preventive measures against the disease, which includes the instruction to reduce access to the soum and the nearby region. This may cause delays to the Soum and Provincial meetings with the authority on the approval and submission on the Dartsagt Project.
Bayanjargalan Soum of Dundgobi Province, where the Ereeny Project is located, has also issued a notice to the Company detailing the disease outbreak at the Dalanjargalan Soum and has requested the Company to reduce access to the Bayanjargalan Soum to prevent further spreading of the disease.
Centerra Gold 2014 First Quarter Results Conference Call and Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 4, 2014) - Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX:CG) will host a conference call and webcast of its 2014 first quarter financial and operating results at 11:00AM (Toronto time) on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. The results are scheduled to be released after the market closes on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
The Company will host its Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders on Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 10:00AM (Toronto time).
The New York Society of Security Analysts Holds Second Mongolia Investment Conference
The conference features a keynote address from a director with the Ministry of Economic Development of Mongolia and presentations from up-and-coming and established Mongolian companies.
New York, NY (PRWEB) April 03, 2014 -- Mongolia experts and government officials will discuss the country's economic outlook and investment potential, and executives from Mongolian public and private companies will discuss their businesses at NYSSA's Investing in Mongolia Conference on April 24, 2014. The conference also features a cocktail reception sponsored by Golomt Bank.
Mongolia is expected to become one of the world's fastest growing economies over the next decade thanks to its immense resources and geographically strategic position. According to the IMF, Mongolia's GDP growth is expected to reach 11.6% in 2014 spurred by new "investor-friendly laws," development of new mines, and rising demand for commodities, particularly from its largest trading partner, China. The overall improved business environment in Mongolia as well as government initiatives to reform the investment environment will greatly support foreign investments.
Javkhlanbaatar Sereeter, director of the general foreign investment regulations and registration department at the Ministry of Economic Development of Mongolia will give a keynote address entitled "Investing in Mongolia—New Investment Law." The agenda also features companies in the mining sector, companies on the verge of global growth, and those in the Mongolian financial sector.
The presenting companies include:
· APU JSC
· Erdees Tavan Tolgoi JSC
· Golomt Bank
· MCS Group
· Mongolian Alt Corporation (MAK) LLC (TBC)
· Mongolia Growth Group
· Orchir-Undraa LLC
The Investing in Mongolia Conference will be held on April 24, 2014 from 8:30 a.m.–4:40 p.m. The conference location is NYSSA Conference Center, 1540 Broadway, Suite 1010, New York, NY 10036. Golomt Bank and Shearman & Sterling LLP are sponsors of the conference.
Visit http://www.nyssa.org/mongolia14 for a detailed event description and registration information.
Press members with proper credentials who wish to attend may contact press(at)nyssa(dot)org. Space is limited.
BDSec Daily Update, April 4: Top 20 +1.97%, Turnover ₮43.4 Million
April 4 (BDSec) Mongolia stocks ended the week in green. The MSE Top 20 index increased 1.97% on Friday to sit at 16,076.60 points. APU (+3.95%) and Tavantolgoi (+2.44%), the largest companies by market value, pushed the index up. Momentum continued in Ulaanbaatar BUK (BUK). Shares of BUK surged for a fifth straight day to MNT 57,000.
Mongol Savkhi (UYN) and Eermel closed 14.90% and 9.52% higher, respectively. Trading turnover for Friday was MNT 43.4 million.
Trading Value Leaders
Genco Tour Bureau (JTB)
Mongol Savkhi (UYN)
Ulaanbaatar BUK (BUK)
Makh Impex (MMX)
MSE Weekly Review, March 31 - April 4: Top 20 -1.32%, Turnover ₮254.7 Million
Ulaanbaatar, April 6 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange from March 31 to April 4, 2014.
In overall, 120 thousand and 163 shares were sold of 60 joint-stock companies totaling MNT 254 million 681 thousand and 813.47.
"Remikon" /55 thousand and 903 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /31 thousand and 236 units/, "APU" /7,192 units/, "Moninjbar" /5,000 units/ and "Mudix" /3,292 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Suu" (MNT 119 million and 430 thousand), "APU" (MNT 28 million 955 thousand and 950.00), "Mudix" /MNT 26 million and 336 thousand/, "Material impex" /MNT 19 million 958 thousand and 760.00/ and "Gobi" (MNT 10 million 672 thousand and 890.00).
MSE News for April 7: Top 20 +0.1%, Turnover ₮6.6 Million
Ulaanbaatar, April 7 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Monday, a total of 21 thousand and 493 shares of 23 JSCs were traded costing MNT six million 629 thousand and 842.00.
"Remikon" /12 thousand and 168 units/, "Khokh gan" /3,175 units/, "Hermes center" /1,500 units/, "Hai Bi Oil" /1,057 units/ and "Moninjbar" /1,020 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Remikon" (MNT one million 819 thousand and 514), "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT 826 thousand), "Eermel" (MNT 412 thousand and 990), "Baganuur" (MNT 398 thousand) and "Khokh gan" (MNT 380 thousand and 450).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 652 billion 738 million 886 thousand and 487. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,092.61, increasing by MNT 16.01 or 0.10% against the previous day.
MNT historic low v. USD: 1,787.59, February 27, 2014
BoM MNT Rates: April 7 Close
April MNT Chart:
BoM FX auction: US$16.4 million sold at ₮1,784, US$73 million MNT swap offers accepted
April 3 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on April 3rd, 2014 the BOM has received from local commercial banks bid offer of USD and CNY and ask offer of USD. The BOM has sold 16.4 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1784.00.
On April 3rd, 2014, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement offer in equivalent to 73.0 million USD from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
BoM issues ₮236.2 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +3.4% to ₮933.1 billion
April 7 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 236.2 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
GoM Treasury Auction: Announced ₮30 Billion 12-Week Bills Sold at Average 10.54% with ₮63 Billion Bids
April 2 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 30.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 30.0 billion /out of 63.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 10.54%.
8% Mortgage Program Update: 17,616 Citizens' ₮499.7B Refinanced, ₮943.5B Newly Issued for 16,951 Citizens
April 3 (Cover Mongolia) As of April 2, ₮499.7 billion (₮499.7 billion as of March 27) existing mortgages of 17,616 citizens (17,614 as of March 27) were refinanced at 8% out of ₮845.6 billion (₮845 billion as of March 27) worth requests.
Also, ₮943.5 billion (₮930 billion as of March 27) new mortgages of 16,951 citizens (16,715 citizens as of March 27) were issued at new rates out of ₮1 trillion (₮1 trillion as of March 27) worth requests.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
DBM acquiring 15% stake in Mongolian Mortgage Corporation
April 6 (business-mongolia.com) National Development Bank of Mongolia and MIK (Mongolian Mortgage Corporation) signed a partnership agreement enabling NDBM to own 14.88% of shares in MIK. The cabinet decided that in order to boost the MIK's operations in building affordable apartments the government should have shares in the corporation. In accordance with the Cabinet resolution NDBM used approved amount of MNT10 billion to obtain shares in MIK.
Previously, other shareholders in MIK included Bank of Mongolia 2.81%, State Bank 2.81%, and commercial banks 94.38%. New shares of MIK apparently diluted the shares of former shareholders.
ADB Senior Mongolia Economist: Depreciation should help to increase competitiveness and develop non-mining sector
April 7 (Mongolian Economy) Asian Development bank's flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2014 (ADO), released this week, forecasts developing Asia will achieve gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.2% in 2014, and 6.4% in 2015. For Mongolia, economic growth is forecast at 9.5% in 2014, driven by the start of copper production at the Oyu Tolgoi open pit mine last year and 10% in 2015, says the ADB report.
Mongolian Economy caught up with Mr Jan Hansen Senior Country Economist based in Mongolia from ADB for further explanation.
What do you think are the biggest risks confronting Mongolia for this year?
One risk is that economic policy is not sufficiently tight. That means a risk that there would be continuous pressure on the balance of payment. And that of course is a risk and can eventually lead to adverse adjustments in the real economy. Basically hitting at production and employment. So, right now, the external macroeconomic imbalances are a risk and have to be tackled now.
Another risk is that foreign direct investment is not picking up soon. Now the environment has been much improved but so far it's not clear if we can see a pick up soon. Eventually, companies need to adjust there plans which will take some time.
FDI is also important for the balance of payment. It's also a very important demand factor for the non-mining sector. Even if it [FDI] is coming often from mining industries there is a very important knock-on effect on the non-mining sector, in particular the service sector. Another risk factor is the global economy, maybe a weaker development in the Euro area and lower growth in the People's Republic of China (PRC) will eventually affect the export of coal and global coal prices.
Our economy's tightly connected with the Chinese economy. The official purchasing managers' index (PMI) was 50.3 in March from China, a separate survey by HSBC and Markit saw a contraction in Chinese manufacturing activity, with a reading of 48.0 - the lowest since July. The figures underscore a growing concern among investors, analysts and government officials that the Chinese economy is slowing. How will this effect Mongolia?
Well, in a sense, we certainly need to expect a moderation of growth in the PRC. We have seen close to 10% growth on average in the past 10 years and that is not sustainable. I am not sure if we have observed in economic history that a very large country has produced that very high growth rates over the very long term. Basically it means the factors of production, including the labour force and productivity have to increase by that amount, which may not possible. So we currently see a moderation of growth in the PRC from a very high level, as I said before, to according to our forecast 7.5 % for this year. It's coming out of the rebalancing of the economy in order to make growth more sustainable. That in itself has an impact. Rebalancing the major driving force of economic growth from infrastructure investments to private and public consumption can also have an impact. What is important for Mongolia is for the coal industry [to become] more competitive by building the necessary infrastructure.
Oyu Tolgoi and the Government of Mongolia are still in negotiation phase. The media reports that there could be more delays with negotiations. If negotiations take much longer how will Mongolia's economy be affected by that?
If one single project is that important for the economy, think we should also ask how in general will FDI develop. For the overall mining sector and for the non-mining sector, which is crucial to diversification and employment over the medium term. So eventually, this is a very important project, but we have the wider mining sector, and in particular the need to diversify the economy and to develop the wider industrial sector. The depreciation should help to increase the competitiveness and to develop the non-mining industrial sector. And the depreciation is also containing import growth, which is relieving pressure on the balance-of-payment.
Many companies have debt in USD and are suffering because of the currency depreciation. Analysts say that at this level, companies have no choice left except asking banks to extend their loans in USD, but, they can only extend once according to the law. So after another one year they would not be able to be bailed out by the banks … If this happens, however, the banking sector will be under a lot of pressure. What can we do to prevent this risk?
Yes that's right that the depreciation is increasing the risks in the banking sector but one question is also why do we have this high level of dollarization in the banking sector? The currency of Mongolia is the tugrug and this should be used for most economic transactions. In that context also the depreciation so far has been orderly and not excessively so it's also providing a bit of a warning shot to the banks and the borrowers, not to expose themselves too much to foreign currency risk.
Be careful because it looks like an easy choice to borrow in a foreign currency with a lower interest rate but taking on all this risk especially if this company doesn't have revenue in the foreign exchange. So I would say so far it also is a warning shot to both lenders and borrowers … it gives the incentive and time for the sector to adjust their portfolios and reduce foreign exchange risk. Eventually what is important for the stability of the currency is the quality of economic policy. So if economic policy is prudent the currency will be stable in the long-term.
Do you believe 9.5 % is a realistic growth forecast?
The development of the mining sector together with diversification of the economy can give double digit growth in the medium term; and macroeconomic equilibrium for the country for an extended period of time. Mongolia has also been nominated as a candidate for one of the fastest growing countries in the world over the next 20-30 years. This is not a bubble but it's coming out of using the resources of the country.
What I agree with you, just very high economic growth can never be the only or even major target for economic policy makers. First of all it is creating the dependency from the mining sector and secondly the mining sector does not creating much employment and for that reason it's more important to have sustained growth, high employment and good progress in social development. Mongolia is a small country which also has the potential to grow more than a big country over the medium term because it's just very small.
De Facto: Productivity is the way out
By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa
April 6 (UB Post) In 2013, Mongolia's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 11.3 percent to reach 17 trillion MNT (Mogi: 11.7%). However, the average income of Mongolians did not increase significantly because the cost of living rose 10.3 percent in the same year (Mogi: inflation was 12.5% in 2013). It allowed the purchasing power of people to increase by only one percent. Furthermore, our economy, which receives 88 percent of its total consumer goods through imports, suffered a huge blow when the tugrug rate declined by 30 percent.
During the recently held Mongolia Economic Forum, our Prime Minister said, "The reason why our economic growth has not shown great benefits is associated with our low level of productivity." He also said, "If Mongolia had produced competitive products and been able to largely meet its domestic demands, we would not have faced such a situation today." Then, what should we do in order to boost our productivity?
REASON FOR LOW PRODUCTIVITY
The main reason behind low productivity today is that it is possible for anyone to work and live in Mongolia without having to truly master whatever job he or she might do. Also, people do not realize that they could have a good life by working hard and putting their best efforts into what they do. There is not yet any kind of social pressure that requires people to be hard-working to live their life. Mongolians are not able to increase their income and create an accumulation of wealth due to a lack of diligence, professional knowledge, and skills. Furthermore, the blame should be shared by companies that are not paying their employees. Parts of our workforce, especially those who do hard labor, are not being paid and are losing their faith without knowing what action to take next.
Mongolians have become used to laziness, excessive spending, and a habit of consuming more than we create. You can see expensive imported luxury cars on the streets of Ulaanbaatar. It shows that luxury consumption per capita has become very high in our country. Nevertheless, most of our population has no savings and are using up all their salary by the time their next salary comes in. For those reasons, there is no middle class being formed in our society. The minority who has become wealthy are shifting to luxury as soon as they earn just enough money to do so. It makes it difficult for the nation to create capital accumulation.
Being unable to accumulate capital domestically, we have spent many years conducting policy to attract foreign investment into our country. However, we've chased investors away in the last few years. The government is now attempting to acquire huge foreign loans in order to keep the economy functioning and build required infrastructure.
HOW TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY
We already know that in order to make our economy productive, Mongolians have to produce goods and services that can be competitive on the international market. But it does not mean that we are going to produce everything that we are currently importing. Our advantage lies in not only natural resources, but also prospecting and mineral extraction, meat, milk, wool, cashmere, and other animal products, raw materials, tourism, and, eventually, financial services. In order to improve our productivity, we need to produce internationally accepted, high quality goods and services and supply them to the markets in our two neighboring countries.
To achieve this goal, we will clearly need a considerable amount of investment. Such investment must be created, saved, and accumulated by us. When it comes to wealth creation, similar principles apply to a nation and an individual.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, wrote in his book "The Way to Wealth" (1758), that an individual must follow three principles in order to become wealthy. His three principles are: to create, save, and spend wisely. Creating means having a profession and a job, and working hard and productively. Saving means being prudent and economical.
Spending wisely means working smart, knowing what to spend your money on, and acquiring knowledge and education.
If Mongolians implement these exact principles at a national level, we can create accumulation and be able to make investments. The investments would help us build infrastructure, expand our businesses, and improve our livelihoods. Economic growth requires stable government policy, a competitive business environment, and capable business management.
In order to have increased investment, the government, along with the private sector and individuals, should reduce their luxury goods consumption, accumulate capital, and save their money in banks so that they can use it to provide loans. Besides boosting foreign investment, we should pursue such policy. The government should look at domestic capital accumulation and support investment before trying to acquire foreign loans.
It is time for the government to increase the taxes imposed on luxury consumption, replace old vehicles that do not save and conserve energy, and show exemplary initiatives to the public by being modest in their own expenditure. We should learn to save money and engrain such culture in our mindset.
In order to increase productivity and create competitiveness, many companies need to be competing in a given industry and become able to meet domestic demands before entering the international market. During this process, the required infrastructure, both hard and soft, is created along with reliable human, material, and financial resources. Improving our productivity is the only way for Mongolia to develop its economy and improve the livelihood of people.
N.Altankhuyag: Letter sent to Rio Tinto chief stating Mongolia is ready to develop OT underground
April 3 (UB Post) Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag held his weekly "30 Minutes with the Prime Minister" meeting yesterday and made statements to the press regarding the nation's current issues. According to news.mn, Finance Minister Ch.Ulaan announced during his working hours at the governmental 11-11 hotline center, that the issue of introducing a 50 thousand MNT banknote is under review, but the Prime Minister refuted that information and said it was a rumor.
N.Altankhuyag also stated that a resolution on measures to be taken for the current economic situation in Mongolia will be submitted to the Parliament.
The following are responses by the Prime Minister to journalists' questions.
The opposition force has been reporting that the performance of the government's action plan is only at 30 percent. Is it true that the performance is so low?
Is it necessary to go after a number? The administration has had only 1.7 years since its establishment. The results of the government's performance are measured by the facts, and the fact is that people's living standards have been improved. Actually, the performance of the government's actions were measured at 42.6 percent and will be soon discussed through the parliament.
When will measures be taken against officials who developed the corrupt budget?
Officials of the General Audit Office have visited every province and conducted investigations, as Parliament has frozen the investments of 234 construction projects. The results will be discussed by parliament, then submitted to the government. By that time, it will become clear who to take relevant measures against.
The Mongolian People's Party has warned that Mongolia's economy is facing difficult conditions and has reached a decision to hold a consultation to determine ways to get out of the current economic situation. Has Mongolia's economy really worsened or is the opposition party just playing political games? Can you please name positive indicators in the current economy? If the economy really has deteriorated, are ways to get over it being determined?
I won't lie and say that the current Mongolian economy is in good condition. Mongolia's income has been reduced. The world economy this year has worsened compared to previous years and this is also influencing our economy. When the global economy declines, it impacts the price of Mongolian export products. For instance, the price of coal is lower than last year. However, instead of blaming the drop in the price of coal, the government and central bank are starting to implement certain projects around it, such as seeking ways to increase the amount of exported coal. Also, the policy to support the construction sector will start being carried out this spring. We are focusing on making cashmere a VAT product.
It is right to hold meetings and consultations focusing on the economy. There is nothing like the economic policy of government. Thus, it is important to determine ways to get over bad economic situations with cooperation. The government is working on certain suggestions. The spring session is to start next week.
What happened to the New Government for Changes' claim that it will operate without any breaks or holidays? It has started to take breaks on Saturdays in addition to the Fall Session break.
The New Government for Changes has 1.7 years behind it. During this period, it worked nonstop for the majority of its time. But after the Fall Session break, the ministers started seeking treatment in hospitals for exhaustion. That's why the decision was made to hold weekly governmental meetings on Friday instead of Saturday during the Parliamentary Fall Session break. The decision was not made to avoid working without a break, it was decided for the sake of the chamber members' health. Starting next Saturday, the government will hold its regular meetings. Also, the governors are introduced to the sectors they are in charge of on weekends. It will continue regularly.
The political parties outside of parliament are starting to demand the resignations of Minister of Economy Development N.Batbayar and Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag. What is your position on this issue?
Is it right or wrong to blame D.Gankhuyag when coal price has fallen in the global market? It is an issue to discuss.
When Finance Minister Ch.Ulaan worked at the 11-11 governmetnal center and responded to citizens' questions he announced that an appointed working group is studying the printing of a 50 thousand MNT banknote. But you refuted this. Who should we believe?
Today (April 3) I asked President of Mongolbank N.Zoljargal if it is going to introduce a 50 thousand MNT banknote and he responded, "No". So, it is a rumor.
Will heating fees be doubled?
There is no discussion at all for fees for heating to double.
Economists are advising that the Oyu Tolgoi project needs to be intensified in order to recover the economy. Is the government discussing that issue with the investor side?
The New Government for Changes has always expressed our position and willingness to exploit Oyu Tolgoi's underground mine. Last week, a letter was sent to the Director of Rio Tinto stating that Mongolia is ready to exploit the underground mine. The reason why the investors are staying still is that the global economy has worsened and the price of copper has declined for a while. That's why investors are not rushing.
Development Bank still hasn't issued financing for the new railway project. What about that?
It is the issue of the two ministries in charge of the project.
Mongolia's Economy Facing Difficulties and It Is True, Says Finance Minister Ch.Ulaan
April 3 (infomongolia.com) Every Wednesday, a Government official works at the "11 11" Center to give comprehensive understandings on current situation arousing in the country and this time guest was Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan.
Finance Minister emphasized and he did not hide that the country's economy facing difficulties, therefore the Government of Mongolia should bear to cut needless spending, find effective project expenditure and strengthen control on budget executors.
Here below some question-answers.
The speculation of worsening economy in the country has been growing, what the reason is?
We have been facing economic challenges and there are several factors caused. For instances, by the end of the third quarter the state budgetary revenue did not hit the planned volume that caused to interrupt revenue from taxes for export products, where the world market price for mining products dropped. Also, some large-scale enterprises' activities have not been stabilized yet, which caused to interrupt budget revenue by 20 percent. However, the State Budget for the first quarter of 2014 was approved lower compare to previous year's quarter, but we have been facing budget revenue interruption and this warns a big signal in Mongolia's economic prospects.
The US dollar rate against Tugrug is been strengthening, aftermath entities expect a huge deficit.
We cannot artificially reduce the dollar rate and it impossible. The key factor to keep and lowering the rate is to adhere a right policy, but Mongolia's economy prefers to import all end-products. Let's figure out, Mongolia's population is only three million people and livestock counts at 45 million heads, but we purchase 70% of imported milk by foreign currency. We should get rid of that. Contrary, we have experiencing some positive outlooks. In the first quarter, foreign trade deficit has been reduced year-on-year and expect equilibrium of payment balance. Further, foresee to increase export and reduce import, at that time we can generate foreign currencies.
The State Great Khural (Parliament) approved a policy to hold inflation at one-digit this year. Do we have opportunities to reach this goal?
Although the regulation was ratified, as of the first three months of 2014, inflation rate is still at two-digit numbers and only implementing macroeconomic and state monetary policies, it is fully available to transfer into single digit.
How about salary and pension increase possibilities or facing insufficient fund?
It was ratified a bill to spend 200 billion MNT (Tugrug) for salaries and pensions, where pensions were increased in the first quarter and salaries being raised step by step. However civilians are not satisfied, but Government is considering to reach the preferable level.
When it expects to start the second phase of Oyu Tolgoi Project?
Government of Mongolia is ready to implement the second phase investment, but investors are delaying, which is related to the first phase disputes. Nevertheless, some issues to finalize the investment audit for the first phase are still awaited and Mongolia's position remains same forwarded before.
Is it true that the Bank of Mongolia about to release a 50,000 banknote?
We are studying to release a 50 thousand banknote. Primarily in terms of economic efficiency we should foresee.
Do you think Mongolia's total debt is underestimating due to law?
Yes, the total debt limit is set by law. Performances showed in 2013, the debt is included in the GDP's 50 percent. This does not mean at the warning level, but we should to lessen up to 40 percent of GDP.
Spring Session of Parliament Opens Without Approved Agenda
April 7 (news.mn) The opening of the Spring session of Parliament 2014 was officially held today on April 7th. The Spring session of Parliament is special as it is attended by political party leaders without seats in parliament, ambassadors and consuls from foreign countries to Mongolia.
Speaker Z.Enkhbold delivered a speech to open the Spring session meeting of Parliament. In his speech the Speaker said that, "Parliament could not confirm the list of issues to be discussed during the session of Parliament. Thus I expect the first issue to be passed by Parliament to be the list of issues to be discussed. However 252 bills were suggested to be discussed at the Spring session but only 52 proposals have been submitted. These proposals that were submitted need to be arranged due to their socio-economic importance."
The Speaker also noted that during the Spring session the Government`s financial performance 2013, budget reports for State budget 2015 and the draft bill on the main directions of socio-economic development of Mongolia will be discussed. Further, clarifying financial aspects of 272 corrupted state funded construction projects and auditing projects in order give directions to the Government will be on the agenda.
Speaker Z.Enkhbold then stated that the Pension sharing legislation, and other issues such as creating a legal environment to boost economic growth, the list of constructions to be privatized by the Government in 2014, the draft law on glass accounts, and some amendments into judiciary reform laws must be discussed first at the Spring session meeting.
After the opening of the Spring session of Parliament, caucuses in Parliament will have separate meetings.
Spring Session of Parliament Opens – Montsame, April 7
Representatives from the Government of Mongolia Visit Multi Commodity Exchange of India
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, April 4 (MCX India Ltd.) With an aim to understand the various operational, economic and self-regulatory aspects linked to successfully operating a commodity exchange, a high level delegation from Mongolia, a central Asian country, visited the Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) on March 31, 2014.
The delegation was led by Mr. O. Erdenebulgan, Vice Minister, Ministry of Mining, Govt. of Mongolia. Mr. B.Nergui, Head of Mining policy division, Ministry of Mining; Mr. A.Khurelbat, Head of International Cooperation Division, Ministry of Mining; and Ms. B.Saruul, Director General, Securities Department, Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia were the other dignitaries who were a part of the delegation.
Mongolia is a mineral rich country with large deposits in copper, gold and iron ore. To achieve price discovery within its domestic economy and enable price risk management, the Government of Mongolia is planning to set up a mineral resource commodity exchange in the country, for which it is reaching out to Asian exchanges like MCX for knowledge acquisition.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Nilanjan Ghosh, Chief Economist, said, "This meeting led to mutual knowledge sharing. While MCX made presentations about its innovations, operations, and robust risk management, it also enabled us to learn about the market priorities of the Mongolian economy. Our experience thus far has helped create the knowledge base to share with others. Our training initiatives will also be moving in that direction".
Mr. O. Erdenebulgan, Vice Minister, Ministry of Mining, Govt. of Mongolia stated "We are very happy to find a capable knowledge sharing platform in MCX. We have been enriched by the learning we have gathered from MCX and would surely find this knowledge very useful in operationalising our proposed commodity exchange at Mongolia."
Having commenced operations on November 10, 2003, Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX) is India's first listed, national-level, electronic, commodity futures exchange with permanent recognition from the Government of India. MCX offers the benefits of fair price discovery and price risk management to the Indian commodity market ecosystem. Various commodities across segments are traded on MCX. These include bullion, energy, metals and agri commodities. The exchange has forged strategic alliances with various Indian and International commodity exchanges and business associations.
Mongolia transport ministry delegation on visit to observe Victoria's road infrastructure
April 3 (Bendigo Advertiser) IN a glowing endorsement of Victoria's roads system, Tuesday's visitors to the VicRoads Bendigo branch came all the way from Mongolia to learn about it.
The Mongolian Transport Minister Baasandorj Batzaya (Mogi: state secretary of the ministry) and other senior officials visited Bendigo to observe Victoria's regional road infrastructure.
They attended an all-day conference, in which VicRoads specialists discussed similarities between Victorian and Mongolian landscapes and detailed the methods the state had employed to develop its roads.
Mongolian Ministry of Roads and Transportation director-general Rentsendorj Onon said Mongolia was rapidly growing, with a booming mining sector.
"Our challenge is to develop infrastructure in a vast area with a small population," he said.
VicRoads spray seal technology principal engineer John Esnouf worked in Mongolia for several months last year.
Mongolia: Connecting Local Governments and Citizens through Town Halls and Taskforces
By Ashleigh Whelan, Program Officer, Democratic Governance and Craig Castagna, Assistant Program Officer, Asia Division of the International Republican Institute
March 31 (Democracy Speaks, IRI) In Mongolia, the International Republican Institute (IRI) has been working with citizens and village (bagh) officials to develop citizen-government taskforces that facilitate an effective working relationship between the supply (government) and demand (citizen) side of the governance equation. As part of an event last week where IRI released its newest manual, Improving Citizen Participation and Feedback in Your Bagh: a Manual on Town Halls, program partners from across Mongolia came to share their experience working with the other side of the governance equation. We were particularly impressed by the positive working relationships that partners described, they exemplify the best case scenario of the supply-demand model of governance that IRI works to enhance through its democratic governance programs worldwide.
Ms. Byambsuren (Mogi: Byambasuren), the Officer in Charge of Citizen Halls from Orkhon, described the close partnership that her province has developed with citizens through a Citizen-Government Taskforce on critical issues such as the provision of water and sanitation services. Ms. Ayush, an active citizen participant in the taskforce, conveyed how they created SMART indicators to measure the effectiveness of meetings and described how by working together, the taskforce was able to successfully advocate for the district government to allocate funds for garbage trucks for two of the villages represented by the taskforce.
IRI's manual will serve as a lasting tool for current and future taskforce members who use town halls as a means of connecting with citizens, and will enable more actively engaged citizens and government officials to work together to improve their communities.
Mongolia: Golomt battles to restore its reputation
by Elliot Wilson
April 4 (Euromoney) It was the poster bank for a new Mongolia full of opportunity. But Golomt Bank's reputation has mined unexpected depths over allegations of hidden defaults, lawsuits with leading financial institutions and a sudden parting of the ways with a globally respected CEO. Now a new group of executives is launching a fightback.
Bolormaa Luvsandorj almost skips as she enters the Coffee Bean café in Ulaanbaatar's Bodi Tower. "Hello," she says, sitting down with a big impish grin on her face and ordering a full-fat latte, two extra shots. "How can I help?"
Goodness knows where she gets her high-spiritedness from. Luvsandorj is after all the newly minted executive vice-president and chief investment officer of Golomt Bank, having joined Mongolia's third-largest lender in January. So far, it has been a baptism of fire. In the first weeks of the year, the bank was pilloried in the global press, with leading newswires lining up to hurl dirt in the face of a lender that was considered a leader in Mongolia's tiny but fast-growing banking sector.
Particularly damaging was a long exposé published on February 5 by Bloomberg, which accused Golomt of destroying financial records, declining to sign off on financial audits, and wilfully deleting thousands of allegedly incriminating files.
The accusations of financial malfeasance contained in the report embraced a dizzying array of leading global corporates and financial institutions. There were the $65 million-worth of letters of credit (LCs) issued by Golomt in 2007 and 2008, which guaranteed payments for third-party transactions to Itochu, a Japanese conglomerate. A report published in March 2013 by Dubai-based advisers FSI Capital, and cited by the newswire, found that Golomt quietly defaulted on millions of dollars of the LCs as early as 2008. Those defaults allegedly were never reported to either the bank's top management or its board. Golomt's capital in the full year 2008 amounted to just Tug64 billion ($36.3 million), a fraction of the value of the LCs it guaranteed to Itochu.
Then there were the debts and the broken promises. In 2007, just as Mongolia's mineral-rich economy started to show sustainable signs of life, Credit Suisse extended Golomt a $10 million convertible loan. Three years later, Stanhope Investments, a division of Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, handed the lender a $25 million loan on similar terms. Each deal guaranteed the financial institutions a stake in Golomt Bank within five years, and before the lender's planned initial public offering. Having failed to complete its IPO within "the agreed time" (in Credit Suisse's case, mid-2012), Bloomberg noted, the Mongolian lender owed Stanhope $36.2 million and Credit Suisse more than $22 million. Both institutions, it added, had issued arbitration procedures against Golomt, claiming breach of contract.
All in all, then, it hasn't been a good start to the year for Golomt, a shamanistic word that refers to a place where heaven and earth meet. Its lack of preparedness for the media onslaught sustained this year was made clear by its jerky, uncoordinated reaction. At first Galsan Ganbold, Golomt's chief executive since December 2012, made himself scarce, declining, along with his public relations team, all requests for interviews or comment. When that didn't work, he lashed out in local-language newspapers, lambasting foreign media for printing stories "based on biased, one-sided and unproven materials", noting that the "issues" relating to Itochu and Credit Suisse were now "fully settled".
Ganbold added, perhaps unwisely, that foreign investors should expect to "share high risks if they want to make high profits". That's usually the case in any relatively open, high-growth frontier state. But as an analyst at a leading ratings agency, who regularly travels to Ulaanbaatar to assess local lenders, notes: "It's hardly the sort of message to broadcast to global investors when you're already seen by some as a high-risk, low-reward proposition."
It's Ganbold's blend of quiet and quarrelsome that makes the new hire, Luvsandorj, the ideal face and voice for a bank whose reputation is stuck in the muck. Settling in at the Coffee Bean shop, she makes herself at home for more than an hour, smiling – always smiling – and answering each question clearly, calmly and patiently. It's the first full interview Golomt has granted to either international or local press since the outbreak of media hostilities.
Luvsandorj certainly has the credentials to rebuild Golomt's reputation. She was previously deputy CEO of the Development Bank of Mongolia. Before that, she was a vice-president at Deutsche Bank, in New York, overseeing coverage of financial institutions.
She is largely forthright, answering questions one by one, but declining to address a few issues, notably debt guarantees extended without board members' knowledge in 2012 to Hunnu Air, which would have broken local bank regulations by pushing the bank's exposure to the budget Mongolian carrier above the 20% limit to a related party. (Hunnu was at the time controlled by Bayasgalan Danzandorj, a leading Mongolian oligarch, who is also the co-founder of Bodi International, a conglomerate that controls 84% of Golomt. He was also at the time Golomt's chairman).
And she notes, right off the bat, that the bank hasn't always been particularly effective at the simple art of forming and transforming public opinion. "Our problem is that we aren't very good at public relations," she admits. "Not just at Golomt, but as a country. Mongolians aren't very good at being put on the spot and being forced to deny or find answers to allegations." That view is widely held here. "Mongolians are ostriches," says a foreign financial executive with 10 years' experience working in the banking sector. "If something goes wrong, they prefer to bury their head in the sand and hope that no one notices them."
In the coffee shop, Euromoney plunges into the guts of the story, running the rule over each alleged financial indiscretion. First up, the curious case of Itochu. What is clear here is that for about nine months in 2007 and 2008, Golomt issued millions of dollars in LCs to expedite the purchase of Itochu-made extraction equipment by Altan Dornod, a Mongolia-based gold miner then in Russian hands.
Only later did Itochu find, and claim, that the purchase orders had been faked. It pointed the finger at a rogue company man, an Ulaanbaatar-based sales manager who, the firm alleged, joined forces with Altan executives to forge transportation documents in order to siphon money out of Itochu. The miner's then owner, Sergei Paushok, denies any fraud ever taking place. Neither Itochu nor Altan's current management could be reached for comment.
Although Itochu never levelled any accusations directly at Golomt, the bank's role in the saga remains murky. In its March 2013 report, FSI Capital pointedly described the nature of the issuance of the letters of credit, authorized by the bank's then chairman, Bayasgalan Danzandorj, as an "unusual transaction of dubious nature".
Moreover, it remains unclear why the issue dragged on so long. Itochu appears to have quietly dropped any claim on the letters of credit after 2008. Then, in July 2012, five years after the issuance of the first LC, Itochu reactivated its claims, filing a petition in Ulaanbaatar, and asserting that Golomt owed it ¥3.42 billion ($33.6 million). Three months then passed before the bank's then CEO, John Finigan, a British national with nearly 40 years' experience in the industry, informed Golomt directors about the outstanding court case at an October board meeting. "As soon as I had secured a comprehensive grasp of the legal documents [relating the Itochu LCs] I reported the matter, previously unknown to me, to the board," Finigan told Euromoney.
For its part, Golomt denies any foul play. Luvsandorj notes that letters of credit were then "very new products" in Mongolia's banking sector. She adds: "As we became more intimate with the nature of LCs, and how to book sales and deals, our control over [such products] got better. The problems with Itochu had nothing to do with internal controls."
Yet she clams up when pushed – the letters of credit are clearly a sore point, even to the new public face of Golomt – and repeatedly says that any mistakes "were due to naivety on our part, and not misbehaviour". What international media neglect to mention in their reports is that Itochu dropped its case in 2013. "The lawsuit regarding the LCs was eventually dismissed in 2013 by court order [after the claimant], Itochu Corporation, decided to withdraw its claim," Sandagdorj Bold, chief economist and adviser to Mongol Bank, told Euromoney. It was only revealed in November 2013, when London-based BDO issued a belated audit of the bank's 2012 finances, that Golomt paid Itochu $1.2 million that year to settle all outstanding claims.
Credit Suisse is another curious case. In February, Bloomberg alleged that Credit Suisse was "seeking arbitration" to recoup its $10 million from Golomt plus interest relating to the bank's failure to complete its IPO on time. Golomt is at pains to stress that no arbitration exists between itself and its former Swiss financial client. "Credit Suisse issued convertible bonds in 2007. They have since matured and we have paid and settled with the Swiss," says Luvsandorj. "There was never any litigation or arbitration [on Credit Suisse's part]." Credit Suisse certainly threatened arbitration against Golomt, with its Singapore branch, as lender, sending letters to demand $22.8 million in lost earnings from Golomt and its parent, Bodi International, while also instructing its lawyers.
Stanhope Investment is a different kettle of fish. The Abu Dhabi fund, in a November 11 2013 letter, warned it was suing for alleged breach of contract, and, following Golomt's inability to push through its IPO on time, seeking $36.2 million in compensation.
"Yes, we are in dispute with Stanhope Investments – Bloomberg is correct there," admits Luvsandorj. "Stanhope is where the only problem is. The wording [relating to the timing of the IPO] is really the problem. We are seeking to resolve the dispute amicably, hopefully by finding an acceptable solution for all parties." Stanhope declined to comment on the issue – although it remains unclear if the fund had expected Golomt to complete its stock sale in 2012, or by 2015, five years after the signing of its own original $25 million convertible loan.
It's not uncommon in Asia to provide pre-IPO financing such as a convertible that swaps into equity when a listing takes place. But doing so for a lender in a frontier state with a nascent stock exchange and a fragile banking sector looks like a leap in the dark.
It's notable that none of the CEOs or beneficial owners of leading Mongolian banks interviewed by Euromoney in March in Ulaanbaatar would commit to an IPO date for their financial institutions before at least early 2017. Stock sales by local lenders are both "inevitable and necessary for everyone, given that current high returns on equity will decline over time," notes Norihiko Kato, CEO of Khan Bank, the nation's leading retail lender. "But this will happen only over the longer term. We would be looking at the sort of capital injection provided by an IPO only within the next three to five years."
Most Mongolian banks view this as a broadly realistic timeline, so the question remains: why did Golomt, Stanhope and Credit Suisse all agree that an IPO in an underdeveloped frontier state with a $10.3 billion economy, according to 2013 World Bank data, was a feasible proposition?
Luvsandorj declines to comment on the suggestion that Golomt signed such a deal. But she notes: "No one can promise when an IPO can occur. We want to do an IPO down the road, when conditions for us, and for everyone, are better. But this isn't going to happen in 2014 any more than it could have happened in 2012. I can't see it as being foreseeable in the near future. Maybe several years down the line."
She notes that for a stock sale to occur, Golomt will need to diversify its investor base. This is clearly a nod to such institutions as the International Finance Corporation, the private-sector arm of the World Bank; and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, both of which have stakes in what are widely perceived as the nation's two best lenders, Khan Bank and XacBank. For Golomt to secure a future stock sale, it will likely need the backing, both financial and technical, of one or both of those multilaterals, each of which is highly active in Mongolia, as well as one or more globally oriented commercial lenders.
What remains clear, despite Luvsandorj's puckish demeanour, is that Golomt hasn't always been a particularly well-run financial institution. Its failure to deliver a full audit of its 2012 finances until November 2013 forced both Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's to halt ratings of Golomt's credit, both citing a lack of data. The bank CIO's protestations of innocence over the delay ("We were late because of the investigations over Itochu, which took up a lot of our time and effort," she says) also ring a little hollow.
Moreover it appears unlikely that Golomt will reclaim its rating in the near future. Luvsandorj insists that the bank is "still engaging both [Moody's and S&P]". Bank executives met with financial credit analysts based in Moody's Tokyo and Hong Kong offices in Ulaanbaatar on March 11. "Our message to them was: We have better corporate governance," says Luvsandorj. "We are safe and sound. We have a sophisticated banking infrastructure, and we have made changes in our management, which is now better, more complete and more capable."
But words alone will count for little. Both Moody's and S&P require any lender to present three full years of financial audits, verified by a big-four auditor, in order to reinstate a lost credit rating, which takes us to end-2017 at the earliest. That would mean dropping BDO for, say, Ernst & Young, which audited Golomt's finances for a decade until 2011, or PwC, which, Luvsandorj notes, is "still engaging with [Golomt], advising us on core banking and accounting services, helping us to learn how to process products like complex derivatives."
Then there are the accusations that Golomt destroyed files on the orders of top management in order to delete any paper trail leading auditors (or regulators or journalists) to evidence of malfeasance. These allegations centre again on the Itochu case and suggest that Golomt excised files relating to existing letters of credit in order to pre-empt any outside investigation.
That, at least, was the supposition reached in the 2013 report by Dubai-based FSI, which noted that bank chairman Bayasgalan, along with other top executives, all of whom remained active within the bank as of August 2013, deleted all mention of the LCs from the bank's records. An August 2013 investigation by PwC found that Golomt deleted "more than 6,800 files" as well as records relating to Swift interbank cash transfers. All the files, the PwC probe found, were destroyed between August 2007 and May 2008 – precisely overlapping with the period of time in which all Itochu-related LCs were issued.
Luvsandorj again defends her employers against allegations that predate her arrival. "Again, this is very misleading information," she says. "Yes, there were some deleted files from personal computers, which [Golomt personnel] confused with our financial records. Deletion of files may just have been people cleaning up desktops. But lessons were learned from that, and we have now informed everyone that they have to back up their computers."
She adds that the Swift-related accusations stem from "2007, when an IT programmer in charge of upgrading our Swift programming forgot to back up the life production, so we lost all of that stuff, but we managed to keep intact our overall financial records. This issue was made clear to the central bank and mentioned clearly in our following audits."
It seems an extraordinary coincidence that specific bank files that, it later became clear, would damage the bank's reputation, were deleted while leaving intact the holistic remainder of Golomt's financial data. Then there's the curious departure of former CEO Finigan in December 2012, two months after he allegedly first realized, and revealed to the board, the extent of the problems surrounding the Itochu letters of credit. Bloomberg states that at that October 2012 board meeting, Golomt's former chairman, Bayasgalan, denied even knowing the LCs existed. Finigan then initiated debt-settlement talks with Itochu and reported the issue to the central bank.
Yet, the newswire stated, rather than investigate the issue, central bank governor Naidansuren Zoljargal asked Finigan to postpone the disclosure of unpaid loans. Mongolia was preparing for a roadshow in which it was hoping to complete its first international debt sale, and no one wanted to rock the boat. The sovereign successfully issued $1.5 billion-worth of five-year and 10-year dollar bonds to global investors in November 2012. Finigan paints a slightly different picture of that fraught period, insisting that Zoljargal "procured" his silence "by requiring us to stay any public announcements pending the completion of an enquiry into [Golomt's] corporate governance". That enquiry, he notes darkly, remained unpublished for at least another year.
Finigan's disclosure to the central bank, allegedly without the knowledge or tacit consent of the board, exasperated Golomt's directors. From that day, say sources close to the situation, the UK-born banker was a marked man. Finigan himself agrees with that view, describing himself as a whistle-blower whose, "card was marked by the majority of the board and management". At a fractious board meeting on December 14, he was ousted by a unanimous board decision. The official line is that he left for 'family reasons', an explanation that the British banker describes as "completely false". Finigan's parting shot to Golomt's board was direct and to the point. He says: "I left stating 'I refuse to participate in your counsel of corruption.'"
Some within Golomt now mutter, without providing any evidence, that many of the stories tarring their name in the international press emanate from Finigan. But when Finigan was appointed in 2007 he seemed an ideal choice – a highly respected banker who had made a career and reputation from helping banks in emerging markets at several Middle Eastern lenders, including Qatar National Bank Group and the National Bank of Oman.
Now it appears that no love is lost on either side. Finigan is rumoured to be suing the bank in London for wrongful dismissal. Golomt in turn has filed its own criminal defamation case in Ulaanbaatar. "There is a case against him ongoing, related to reputational damage, and to his claims that he knew nothing about the existing Itochu LCs," says Luvsandorj." She describes the fraught break with the former CEO as akin to an "awful marriage break-up".
Finigan's protestations of innocence over the letters of credit irk Golomt's new leadership. "For me, personally, it's very difficult to believe that the CEO of the bank didn't know about [the existence of the] LCs," insists Luvsandorj. For his part, Finigan maintains that everyone – board members, external auditors, new investors and other stakeholders "were the victims of a complex, sustained, coordinated conspiracy to suppress knowledge of ....off-balance-sheet obligations which had been initiated before my appointment."
Golomt's new CIO points to a "big difference" between the bank's operating style pre- and post-Finigan. "Before, it was a one-man show; now it's proper management, a proper discussion process. A lot of decisions [before December 2012] were driven by [Finigan]. He would say: 'This is how I do things. This is my decision.' A lot of risk management was suppressed; now it's a more collective process." Finigan defends his leadership style, highlighting glowing testimonials from former colleagues, and pointing to the bank's strong financial performance during his five-year tenure at Golomt.
Luvsandorj's unusual style of mea culpa from Golomt's CIO, blending hard facts with ambiguous statements, is refreshing if not always convincing. She admits that Golomt "did things that were wrong. Our internal controls needed strengthening. For years, we were lost in translation. Our business was running ahead too quickly, not allowing our back-office and middle-office systems to catch up. Our priority now is strengthening internal controls and financial controls, not just in terms of our financial knowledge but in terms of our ability to communicate with risk agencies, auditors and ratings agencies."
Clearly, the bank has also long needed better corporate governance. Too little emphasis was placed on oversight, notably in terms of the shallow gene pool from which Golomt plucked its directors. Chances to boost transparency and oversight were missed down the years, a case in point being the events trailing in Finigan's wake following his ousting in December 2012.
Although Finigan was replaced by Ganbold – one seasoned CEO with no personal or familial connection to the bank's beneficial owners replacing another – the chairman's seat, vacated by Bayasgalan at the same meeting, was immediately filled by the brother of Bold Luvsanvandan, Mongolia's foreign minister and, with Bayasgalan, the original co-founder of Bodi International. Bayasgalan's empty board seat was in turn filled by his wife, Munkhtsetseg Chultem. At a shareholder meeting on December 19 2013, Munkhtsetseg was promoted to chairwoman of Golomt Bank.
Luvsandorj admits that in hindsight this was an opportunity missed to add depth to the board and shift the perception that Golomt isn't a closed shop run by oligarchs and their wives. "That's a very fair point," she says. "But you have to understand that we were just emerging from a difficult time [in late 2012]. It wasn't easy to find someone with international financial credibility to fill the vacant [board] seat. We need to do this process [of boosting corporate governance] in stages. Our aim is to have a seven-person board of directors (they currently have five), with one or two independent directors in place by the end of 2014."
She also backs the double promotion of Munkhtsetseg, noting the current chairwoman's MBA from Johns Hopkins University, her stint as a consultant to the World Bank, and her background as an executive working in two departments of the Mongolian Stock Exchange. It's a stout defence, but it overlooks the fact that Munkhtsetseg is linked by the bonds of marriage to the beneficial owners of the bank she now oversees.
Nor does it allay the pervasive sense that the relationship between the executives running Mongolia's banks and the regulators anointed as their overseers is altogether too cosy. "The main challenge facing all of us here is that the government and the banks are in each other's pockets," says a board member at a big-four Mongolian lender, adding: "You have to understand that this is a small market where everyone knows each other, so this is to an extent to be expected. But there is too little discipline and implementation of existing regulatory rules."
Others worry that the scrutiny over Golomt in the international press has directed yet more unwanted attention in the direction of the country's already troubled banking sector. The past year has been a tough one for Mongolia's banks, and for a broader economy stuttering after years of stellar growth and running low on inward capital and foreign currency. The collapse in July 2013 of Savings Bank, the country's fifth-largest lender, although handled with uncommon calm by the central bank, marked the third failure of a Mongolian lender in just five years. Golomt's travails will hardly have gained either the bank, or the troubled industry it inhabits, new admirers.
Some have begun to wonder if the reputation of the banking sector itself has been tarnished, perhaps irreparably. Mongol Bank's Bold smiles at the suggestion and shakes his head. "I really don't think so. Foreigners lack the information necessary to understand the industry. There is nothing wrong with our banks." He notes that Mongolia's capital adequacy ratio is now 16%, one of the highest rates in the world. "Overall, the banking system of Mongolia is sound and stable," Bold adds. "Capital adequacy, liquidity condition, risk tolerance and the resilience of the Mongolian banking sector have been quite strong. We know our banks and we affirm that Mongolian banks' operations are quite normal."
Others aren't so sure. Savings Bank was hardly in trouble: its crime was to fail within a designated three-year period to boost its CAR to a mandated 12%. Yet many question why the central bank didn't move earlier to prevent Just Group, the former owners of Savings Bank, from channelling bank capital into their loss-making mining operations.
It's this issue of related-party lending, which is rife in Ulaanbaatar, that gives many industry observers sweaty palms. "My worry is that these incidents are hurting the industry's credibility," frets Khan Bank CEO Kato. "I worry that global investors may have concerns about the overall industry, and that [its] regulatory capability may be called into question."
Back at Golomt Bank, Luvsandorj shares none of these fears. "Of course we're not in trouble," she says with another big grin. "We're a far better bank than we were a few years ago. We've spent millions of dollars upgrading our core banking services and software and improving our infrastructure. We have introduced seven new policies at board level including our first whistle-blower policy, while implementing a completely new risk management committee. We are looking to diversify our equity base to bring more international and local investors in. We're viewed as Mongolia's best corporate bank, and we're aiming in the long term to become the country's leading investment bank."
And with that, she's off, skipping out of the Coffee Bean café to ride the elevator to the top floor. The past few months have been a horror show for a lender that's set to turn 20 years old in 2015. If its finances are every bit as sturdy as the defence offered by its new chief investment officer, the future of Mongolia's third-largest bank is in good hands.
But then Luvsandorj could just be a very good saleswoman, the ideal face of a bank that has faced the storm but remains trapped in its wake.
BLP engaged to redraft Mongolian arbitration laws
April 7 (Legal Week) Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has been engaged by the Mongolian government to redraft the country's arbitration laws, along with local outfit New Grata.
A team of lawyers from BLP have been working closely with the Mongolian Ministry of Justice to rework the existing regulation, in a bid to drive foreign investment.
Leading the group is projects partner Marius Toime in Singapore, alongside London-based disputes partner Carol Mulcahy and Singapore arbitration expert Kent Phillips.
The firm acquired the work through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) business plan initiative, which has been seeking to boost participation and dialogue between the government and Mongolia's private sector.
BLP has previously been involved in a number of key projects in Mongolia, working mainly in the mining sector. On the arbitration side the firm has 13 partners globally, working across London, Moscow, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
"Updating Mongolia's arbitration laws will help ensure the country has a more stable regulatory footing, necessary if it is to compete with other resource rich nations," said Toime.
"BLP have been working in Mongolia's mining industry during over recent years and have witnessed first-hand the opening up of this key sector. As a consequence, we have developed a strong practice in this region".
BLP has been steadily growing its presence in Asia, with offices now in Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing, and a tie up with Legal Network Consultants (LNC) in Myanmar through its newly-established Asia network.
The firm, which in September 2013 recorded a 40% drop in profit per equity partner (PEP) amid increasing competition in London, is also understood to be eyeing a tie-up with a local firm in Indonesia through the network, as part of a plan to tap emerging markets in South East Asia.
Bar Associations of California & Mongolia Sign Cooperation Agreement
Ulaanbaatar, April 7 (MONTSAME) Members of the State Bar of California (SBC), US California's official bar association, are visiting Mongolia for the second time.
During the visit, a memorandum of cooperation between the Mongolian Lawyers Association (MLA) and SBC was signed by a MLA president D.Batsukh and a SBC member Howard Miller on Monday in presence of Thomas Layton, a SBC member, O.Altangerel, an advisor to Justice Minister of Mongolia.
According to this memorandum, SBC will render consulting services for MLA, and will run trainings including experience sharing and specialist exchanges.
During their visit here, SBC members are planning to hold a workshop in the training and survey center of the State General Prosecutor's Office to discuss professional responsibility system for lawyers, together with MLA. At the two-day action, Miller and Layton will deliver presentations on the matter.
The State Bar of California is California's official bar association. It is responsible for managing the admission of lawyers to the practice of law, investigating complaints of professional misconduct, and prescribing appropriate discipline. It is directly responsible to the Supreme Court of California. All attorney admissions and disbarments are issued as recommendations of the State Bar, which are then routinely ratified by the Supreme Court.
Posco, MCS aiming complete CTL project financing by year end for 2018 target opening
Seoul, April 3 (Platts) --
Posco has also agreed with Mongolia's energy-focused MCS Group to establish a 50:50 joint venture to build an SNG plant in Mongolia. The two companies are aiming to complete financing by the end of this year and start work on the plant with a target date for bringing it online of the end of 2018.
Erdenes TT CEO: "Selling raw coal after paying high transport costs makes little sense"
April 3 (Mongolian Mining Journal) A memorandum of understanding setting up a Mongolia-South Korea Business Forum was signed during the visit to South Korea of our Minister for Foreign Affairs, L.Bold. You represented Mongolia at the signing ceremony, which was attended by representatives of leading companies like Korean Air, Samsung, Hyundai Motors and Posco. What do you expect to result from the MoU?
The Mongolian mining industry is poised for significant growth and the anticipated increase in revenue from the minerals sector will expand the country's financial capacity. The plan is to use the money to help diversify our economy and to strengthen our economic base by setting up mega infrastructure projects.
South Korean companies have wide experience of implementing such projects, and their cooperation will be extremely valuable in developing our mining infrastructure. I was in the business team accompanying Minister Bold on his visit, and met several South Korean business leaders to persuade them to invest in Mongolia. The forum we set up would help facilitate continued talks in this matter.
We expect it to play a vital role in attracting South Korean investment in Mongolia, in arranging cooperation with State organisations, in improving the investment environment, and in convincing South Koreans about the mutual profitability of their investing in big infrastructure projects here. That way, bilateral economic relations will be put on a sound footing.
What kind of cooperation are you seeking from South Korean investors in developing Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi? Is there anything concrete so far?
Some progress has been made in identifying big South Korean companies who will buy our coal, thus expanding our market beyond China. We are talking with KO Gas on extracting methane from coal beds. We are exploring ways of involving South Korean companies in certain projects in coal transporting, and road and railway construction. Right now, Samsung C&T Engineering &Construction is working in the Tavan Tolgoi - Gashuunsukhait rail project.
Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi had to stop coal exports because of operational problems. How are things now?
The coal trade has been in difficulty since 2012, with prices falling 40 percent last year. Even as we near the end of the first quarter of this year, there is no major improvement. All coal exporting companies have had to curtail operations, and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi is no exception. We have to remain optimistic that things will get better soon, but that may not be very rational. Therefore, we have taken several steps to reduce operating costs and implemented several contingency measures.
When will the Chalco debt be fully repaid? Will you continue to sell coal to Chalco after that?
We have paid back $210 million in the past two years, and we have enough mined coal in stock to clear the remaining $140 million. We are making arrangements to supply this coal as soon as possible, but transport is really difficult.
Is Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi able to timely meet its dues to contractor companies, including transporters and extractors?
In view of all the pressures put on transport companies last year because of problems in the coal industry, we decided to clear their dues as soon as possible and are even making advance payments in some cases. We also plan to increase our transport requirements so that companies in that sector can grow. To this end, we have made contracts with companies to use a total of 416 trucks this year, compared to about 250 trucks in 2013. At the same time, we have arranged with Energy Resources to transport our coal in 300 trucks owned by them, which are now idle as the company's mine is temporarily closed.
The loan Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi took from Chalco was made over to the Government. Are you likely to get back this more than $300 million?
After adjustment against taxes, our dues from the Government stand at around $250 million, and we are in talks on this. We have also claimed a reduction in our tax liabilities. Last year, almost MNT100 billion was waived from our taxes.
Is the agreement with Macmahon to operate in the East Tsankhi mine still in force?
It is, but we are seeking an amendment of the existing terms as these put extraction costs very high. We shall reach a mutually acceptable solution, I am sure.
The work plan for the East Tsankhi says 20 million tons of coal will be mined annually, when it works to full capacity 2016. Is this target still achievable?
Last year, we produced 2.3 million tons at the East Tsankhi, and approximately 2 million tons at the Baruun Tsankhi. This year's expected figures are 5 million tons and 6 million tons respectively. That makes 11 million tons and this can be increased in the coming years. But we must have buyers for all this coal and we should also have the capacity to transport the coal from the mine to the buyers. Until and unless these two issues are sorted out, there is no point in increasing output.
Who is buying Baruun Tsankhi coal and at what price?
At the time we started extraction last year at the Baruun Tsankhi the pithead price of coal was $40. This would have given us a profit of 20%-30% per ton. But we have not really sold any coal from Baruun Tsankhi because the market has come to almost a standstill. We are talking to buyer companies about sales contracts and hope to see movement before long.
Your feasibility study for a coal handling and washing plant at Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has recently been approved. Where will you find the money?
Selling raw coal after paying high transport costs makes little commercial sense. We must have a washing plant but in the current market situation building one will not be practicable. Until such time as we have one, we shall wash our coal at Energy Resources' plant. This can be seen as a significant agreement between the two major companies operating in Tavan Tolgoi. Instead of undercutting each other to book a customer, we are cooperating.
This year or 2015 should see the Tavan Tolgoi-Gashuunsukhait railway operational, bringing down coal transport costs. How will this improve your finances?
Considerably. Road transport is twice or three times as expensive as using the railway.
Following talks Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag held in China, Shenhua has already laid the tracks on the Chinese side, starting a few km beyond the border, and this will be connected to the railway in Mongolia once work on that is completed. Three mining companies -- State-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, the joint venture Tavan Tolgoi JSC, and the wholly privately owned Energy Resources LLC– will collaborate with Mongolian Railway to build the rail route to the border.
The Mongolian and Chinese Prime Ministers signed an MoU for supply of one billion tons of coal supply. When will the follow-up agreement with Shenhua be signed?
Soon. In a sort of trial run, last year, we sold 50,000 tons coal to Shenhua. Such a pilot project could be continued.
What are the main issues under discussion?
The amount of coal and its grade. We hope to have a final agreement before long.
How much profit did Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi make last year?
The coal market was bad; our balance sheet shows a net profit of MNT17 billion. Our financial report will be ready soon.
How long will people have to wait to receive the 1072 shares in Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi that have been allocated to every Mongolian?
We want to sell these to the people as soon as possible but nothing can be done until an international IPO. The shares can be priced higher only when the market conditions are better and investors are interested. We, and the people, have to wait until the time is more propitious.
I don't think the recovery will come this year. It is more likely to get better in 2015. We shall be carefully making all the necessary preparatory work until the time comes to sell well-priced shares in the London and Hong Kong stock markets.
What steps will you take to ensure ETT shares sell at a high price at the IPO?
First, we have to improve the company's efficiency and increase its worth. For both, it is essential to sell washed coal. Our collaboration with Energy Resources will take care of this.
Second, we have to cut costs to make more profit. The best way to do this is to transport coal by rail. If the railway is completed in 2015, our transport disadvantage will be resolved, and export capacity increased.
How much will be the price of washed coal?
This will depend on where it is sold. We cannot expect a high price if we sell just across Gashuunsukhait. For that, we have to find customers among the large factories in Bugat (Bao Tou) in Inner Mongolia, or, better still, if we can sell directly to the steel mills in Shanxi, Hebei, Shanghai etc. But we also have to make our product high-value.
When do we start selling to Japan and South Korea?
Talks are on, but there can be no concrete basis for negotiations unless we have a better transit transport agreement with China, so that our exports to these markets through China are not taxed. Second, we have to upgrade facilities at Gashuunsukhait and Gantsmod to international levels.
Wasn't a revised transit agreement discussed during the PM's visit to China?
The two Governments are in regular touch but the question of revising the transit transport agreement is yet to be taken up.
There are reports that Tavan Tolgoi JSC has placed soil and built a stockpile in what is your company's land. Is it true that they have been mining coal in areas that are actually yours?
Tavan Tolgoi JSC was established 30 years ago, while our company is in its third year only. In these 30 years Tavan Tolgoi may well have done some extraction in a site that is legally ours. But this is no big deal and should not be an issue between the two companies. The legal position is also not clear, because before our company came into existence the land that we now own under licence had no designated owner.
We have taken up the issue with them and are sure two State-owned companies can resolve this issue amicably.
Preparations for setting up the Tavan Tolgoi power plant seem to be making very quick progress. Will your company share in the financing of the project?
This plant is of crucial importance to us as it will use thermal coal from our mine.
After we had done the feasibility study of the power plant, a special entity under the Ministry of Energy was entrusted with implementation of the project. We are cooperating with it. We are both State-owned so reaching long-term agreements on major issues will be easy. We shall be supplying coal to the plant and shall be assured of uninterrupted power supply for our own operation.
How is Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi planning to restructure its management as part of the "From Big Government to Smart Government" programme?
We have to alter the presently held belief that State-owned companies can't make a profit. We are focused on correcting some faulty practices and on improving efficiency.
The issue of foreign investment in the Tavan Tolgoi project has been in the air from the time of the previous government. Many companies are still interested. We always give them a careful hearing. We can take a decision only when there is a change in the present circumstances.
The Mongolian coal market is still dependent on only one economy – China's. But the Chinese coking coal market is not big. In the past few years, it has consumed over 600 million tons of coking coal, but 90% of this was produced in China.
Three Mongolian companies hope to together export 30 million tons of coal annually in the near future. But we cannot expand our market without resolution of certain issues with the Chinese. The Tavan Tolgoi project will be optimally profitable only when we find new export markets and are able to offer the right level of products. Raising the mine's output and then failing to sell the production is a commercial disaster.
We need cooperation from companies, foreign or domestic, in increasing sales. Our choice of investor will be based on that.
Russian Defence Minister suggests shifting of coal flows from Eastern to Southern direction through Western Mongolia to China
April 4 (PortNews.ru) At the meeting of RF Government, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu suggested the development of coal transportation towards the southern regions - through Western Mongolia to China and then to other countries, the meeting transcript reads.
Our program implies the construction of a railway from Kuragino southwards to Kyzyl. From Kyzyl this can be going on through Western Mongolia to Urumqi, China, and then in any direction: to Pakistan, India, anywhere. It would considerably unload this central part, as we discuss a lot the necessity to redirect cargo flows, coal flows in particular. If such a project could be approved and developed together with the Chinese partners, they would play the most active role in it," the minister said.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered to work on the Minister's proposal.
Mongolia Mining 2014 International Mining, Oil/Gas Exhibition, Buyant Ukhaa Sports Complex, April 10-12
April 4 (infomongolia.com) The Government of Mongolia is supporting to organize Mongolia Mining 2014 International Mining Oil/Gas Exhibition for three days at the Buyant-Ukhaa Sports Complex in Ulaanbaatar on April 10-12, 2014.
This is the 4th edition of Mongolia Mining Expo and will be yet larger than all previous editions with vast geographic allocation of exhibitors, where over 120 mining suppliers from 22 countries are pledged to participate. Moreover Country Pavilions representing China, Poland, Turkey and UK will be erected, at the same time Mining Forums will be in the Conference room.
Except from traditional mining industry, this year's expo adds oil industry to its profile to accommodate large number of high profile exhibitors. Organizers decided to move the venue of Mongolia Mining from Misheel Expo Center to much larger Buyant-Ukhaa Sports Complex that offers convenient parking and large outside area.
Mongolia Mining 2014 is by its traditional organizer Minex Co., Ltd jointly with Expo Mongolia Co., Ltd and International Expo Bureau of Mongolia. The Ministry of Mining of Mongolia, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mineral Authority of Mongolia, Petroleum Authority and Nuclear Energy Agency supports Mongolia Mining, as the most important technological event in the country.
From Goat to Coat: Gobi Launches 2014 Season of Cashmere Processing
Ulaanbaatar, April 2 /MONTSAME/ One of the biggest producers of cashmere and wool products, the "Gobi" Corporation announced Wednesday that it has started processing of raw cashmere of this year.
Having a motto "From goat to coat", the Corporation has begun this work to stimulate herdsmen to hand over raw materials to national producers, and to express thanks to them. "This measure is like an event of farmers to receive their first harvest of a year," the Corporation's official said.
The "Gobi" Corporation was founded in 1981 with a capability of processing 1,000 tons of cashmere. Since Mongolia transmitted into market economy system, the factory suffered a lack of raw materials therefore it has not worked in its full capability. In 2011, a condition became better to revive the cashmere and wool industry after the country set a goal to produce value-added and final products with raw materials given from herdsmen who used to sell to foreign countries.
As the result, the "Gobi" Corporation has created some 50 new job places at first-stage processing workshops, and had a great opportunity to increase kinds of export products.
The "Gobi" Corporation is considered as the largest exporter of Mongolia to produce sewn and knitted clothes made of cashmere and camel wool.
Mogi: first reported by infomongolia.com on March 20. Didn't realize Nikken was such a prestigious architects. Designed the new Tokyo Sky Tower and Tokyo Dome
Nikken Sekkei signs LOA with Mon-Uran to design $300mn 68-story tower in Mongolia
April 2 (Construction Week) Nikken Sekkei, has signed a Letter of Agreement (LOA) with Mongolian development company Mon Uran LLC, to design a landmark tower in the capital Ulaanbaatar.
The agreement requires Nikken Sekkei to design a mixed-use project that will cost in excess of $300mn once completed.
The tower will be situated in 1.1 hectares of prime city centre real estate, with a built up area of 110,000m2, situated just 10 minutes' walk from Sukhbaatar Square, the location of the Government House.
Dubai-based Dr. Fadi Jabri, general manager of Nikken Sekkei's Middle East and Asia office, said: "This project is another example of our innovative design and energy saving technologies. It follows on from other regional project wins such as designing the $1bn headquarters of the Saudi Stock Exchange, or Tadawul.
"We are hoping to display this as well as some of other projects at Cityscape Global, Dubai in September.".
The tower will reach almost 300m over 68 floors and will feature a five-star hotel, serviced apartments, high quality office space and a shopping mall.
Ulaanbaatar is home to about 45% of Mongolia's 2.8mn population and the contemporary tower is intended to be a symbol of modern Mongolia, its economic growth and aspirations, when it is completed in December 2018.
Commenting on the accord, Batsukh Oyunchimeg, CEO, Mon Uran LLC, said: "We chose Nikken Sekkei because this project requires high quality and vision and we believe that they have the right credentials to deliver such a design."
Mongolia has enormous mineral wealth, which currently represents more than 80% of its exports, a proportion expected to eventually rise to 95% and about 3,000 mining licences have been issued.
The country was never listed as an emerging market until February 2011 when analysts at Citibank determined Mongolia to be one of 'Global Growth Generators' effectively those countries with the most promising economic growth prospects for 2010-2050.
Nikken Sekkei signs LOA with Mon Uran LLC to design 300 m tower in Ulaanbaatar – Nikken Sekkei, March 24
Growing with the insurance market: Interview with Chairman of Soyombo Insurance
March 7 (Worldfolio) One company that has witnessed the evolution of the young Mongolian insurance sector from the very beginning is Soyombo Insurance. In an interview with United World, Chairman Mr Battulga.TS explains how the company has led the market in terms of growth over the last two years, increasing its range of services and teaming up with US firm Hannover Re.
Accruing more than 10 years of expertise in the sector, can you please talk about the evolution of the Mongolian insurance sector, which has been constantly rising during these past years thanks to the booming of the mining industry and the growth of the middle class?
After graduating from University and coming back, Mongolian commercial insurance companies had just been established and the economy looked nothing alike compared to now. The public had no knowledge of the insurance sector and its benefits.
That is why you have established an NGO for educating the public…
Yes and not only to try to sell our products, but with every single visit when we meet with clients our role is to give further insight about the advantages of being covered by insurance and we are holding seminars as well. Our economy is growing rapidly and following the trends of the insurance sector we would like to keep our position in the market and keep moving forward by introducing information and communication technologies in order to be more efficient serving our clients and made the information more accessible for the public so they can understand the benefits of our insurance products.
Since we became an open country, the citizens were allowed to freely travel abroad and those people – the ones that went abroad – realized how important was the acquisition of insurance products.
The sector is still in its infancy and many of the legal frameworks are just being introduced like Drivers Reliability Insurance that has become mandatory for all drivers. From an experts perspective there are much room for improvement in the legal agenda nevertheless the fact that these changes are taking place is showing the concern of both public and private institutions of the sector.
Can you please elaborate more on the insurance services that you are providing to the agricultural sector?
As you have mentioned before, Mongolia is not just about mining and there are booming sectors such as agriculture with lot of potential for being developed. Yet we don't have any insurance to cover this sector even though it's mentioned in the legislation that the agricultural sector should be protected by insurance. To be honest, none of the insurance companies have the courage to enter this segment. The reason behind this obstacle is that Mongolian agricultural sector operates under high risk. The climate is harsh and the temperatures have extreme deviation and on top of that even though Mongolia has massive landscape, the agricultural zone is situated in a concentrated area.
Livestock insurance is not easy however it is slightly different than agriculture as it is a multilayered system. For each level each actor holds a part of responsibility and the first one t on the herders themselves. They have to preserve and take care of their livestock, the second level is the the one of the insurance companies who will protect and compensate their losses and at the third level is the government who will take responsibility during extreme hazards. Compared to the agriculture sector, livestock is spread around each corner of the country. This means, if there is an extreme hazard in one area and many livestock died, in other areas you will find that the livestock is growing.
On behalf of the readers, investors and partners I would like to get a deeper insight about your services and how distinctive your company is from the competitors? Can you tell us some examples of your business activities?
Regarding the tourism sector, Mongolia has plenty of opportunities unexplored. Although we do have reinsurance for Mongolian tourists going abroad and tourists who are coming to Mongolia can buy insurance once they come here. Others promising sectors that we are covering included health insurance and mining sector insurance. Our reinsurance company is Hannover and when it comes to mining, property and business insurance we have our backs covered 100% for providing best quality services for our clients.
Mongolia Ranks 55th in Global Internet Speeds
April 7 (infomongolia.com) The global leader in broadband network diagnostic applications Ookla has introduced the recent Net Index, where 189 countries of the world were calculated and Mongolia's average internet download speed was estimated at 13.93 Mbps and upload at 10.3 Mbps.
Mongolia's Index rates at 55th place out of 189 economies and the global average internet download speed is at 17.5 Mbps and upload at 7.9 Mbps, compare to our two neighbors Russia stands at 38th with 22.16 Mbps and China with 18.24 Mbps at the 47th place out of 189 countries.
At previous Index for December 2013 - January 2014, Mongolia was ranked in the 51st place with 13.95 Mbps (Megabit per second) out of 188 countries.
The Global Rank Index for March-April, 2014 is led by Hong Kong with 76.14 Mbps followed by Singapore with 61.43 Mpbs and Romania standing in the third with 57.8 Mbps.
Fuel leak causes MIAT flight delay in Incheon
April 4 (news.mn) The MIAT ОМ302А flight that was scheduled to depart from Incheon, South Korea to Ulaanbaatar at 14:50 pm on April 3rd was delayed in Incheon due to technical problems.
The flight overstay was caused by an aviation fuel leak from the plane's petroleum tank. Passengers were delivered to hotels for the time that the technical problem fixed to the airplane.
MIAT ОМ302А flight departed from Incheon Airport, South Korea at 07:00 am local time today on April 4th. The flight landed at Chinggis Khaan International Airport at 11:50 am today according to the MIAT service complaints office.
Ulaanbaatar to launch high-speed railbus service in June
April 6 (UB Post) Ulaanbaatar City Governor E.Bat-Uul discussed his initiative to launch a high-speed railbus in the city with rail sector officials on Friday. The Ulaanbaatar Railway officials presented the governor with plans for the 136-seat RA-2 railbus and capacity for 350 to 400 passengers.
The railbus route is planned to run between Tolgoit and Amgalan in an average of 46 minutes at 100 kilometers per hour, three to six times a day according to train schedules and railway traffic.
The railbus route will stop at four stations for passengers.
The four new train stations will require specially constructed facilities on land now occupied by local residents. The governor promised that he will work on the land issues to enable the construction of the railbus station platforms.
Ulaanbaatar Railway will use its own budget for the building of stations and other required construction for the railbus service, with the assistance of Ulaanbaatar city administration.
Safety barriers and fences will be put up in dangerous zones where the rail will cross the the city center, as well as noise barriers near residential districts.
The officials agreed to form a joint working group of Ulaanbaatar Railway and the Office of Ulaanbaatar City Governor without delay to launch the project.
They have agreed to start running three RA-2 railbuses along two routes from June 6.
The working group will conduct further study on whether it is possible to operate a railbus to Khui Doloon Khudag and other directions where other means of transportations are limited.
DP Members Present Smart City Program for Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar, April 4 (MONTSAME) At the "4-11" meeting with journalists on Thursday, members of the Democratic Party (DP) informed them about a "Smart City" program initiated by the Capital city administration.
As a support to the "Mongolian 2020" action plans of DP and the "From Big Government to Smart Government" initiative of the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj, the city administration decided to develop the Smart City program in 2014-2020 with missions to make the capital city "smart" and more "livable" by introducing development tendency and advanced technological solutions and innovations of new-era metropolises.
The program consists of six parts designated to cultivation of smart urban tendencies for governance, economy, residents, services, environment and lifestyle.
Under the program, the city administration will develop good governance to render fair, prompt and affordable services to the city residents and to make the city business-friendly and corruption-free, say city officers. "The program targets to speed up city public services by 50%-90% and to reduce crimes by 20%".
Present at the meeting were DP Secretary-General Ts.Oyundari, Capital city Citizens Representatives Khural Chairperson D.Battulga and others.
Mayor Bat-Uul Issues Ordinance to Established Ulaanbaatar-Owned University
Ulaanbaatar, April 4 (MONTSAME) The Capital city Mayor E.Bat-Uul has issued an ordinance to establish an Ulaanbaatar-owned university.
The decision to set up a university named after the city follows a worldwide practice of metropolitan cities to have a university named after them.
There is S.Korea-invested 'Ulaanbaatar' university in the city. It is still unclear how to solve the name similarity in case the proposed capital city-owned Ulaanbaatar University is established.
A working group responsible for preliminaries of the university project will introduce their actions within the second quarter of 2014 to the City Board Meeting.
Agreements Signed with Contractors for Amgalan Thermal Plant, CHP3, CHP4
Ulaanbaatar, April 4 (MONTSAME) Representatives of the Energy Ministry, the Development Bank of Mongolia and contractors signed energy project agreements on Thursday.
In framework of a "New Construction" mid-term program of the Government, eight projects are expected to be realized in 2014 aimed to enhance heating and electricity supply of the capital city.
These projects include facility expansion and capacity enhancement of Amgalan Thermal station, Central Thermal Plant-3 and Central Thermal Plant-4.
The Energy Ministry had made an announcement to make 2014 a year of construction to meet increasing energy demands of the city, in connection with ongoing major projects of the Government such as "Smoke-free Ulaanbaatar" program, ger (national dwelling) district re-planning, and housing program.
Mongolia: More Than Just a Courtesy Call
The significance of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's visit to Ulan Bator this month should not be overlooked.
By J. Berkshire Miller, April 4 (The Diplomat) U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will touch down in Ulan Bator this month, marking the first visit of a defense secretary to Mongolia since Donald Rumsfeld toured the landlocked country in 2005. Hagel's trip will be the tail end of an action-packed itinerary, with stops in Japan and China, where strategic anxieties remain high over their vitriolic row in the East China Sea. Mongolia, on the other hand, presents Hagel a less challenging atmosphere. But while U.S.-Mongolia defense relations may lack the intensity of Washington's other networks in the region, the significance and potential of the partnership going forward should not be dismissed.
Hagel's upcoming visit is largely being played up as a courtesy call and expression of thanks for Mongolia's contributions to U.S.-led interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it would be unfair to Ulan Bator to characterize the trip purely in terms of diplomatic etiquette. Indeed, there is something more transformational happening in Mongolia's security doctrine and these changes are not going unnoticed in Washington. Mongolia has rounded out its foreign policy, both in economic and security terms, to distance itself from a historic overdependence on its two weighty neighbors – Russia and China. This "third neighbor" policy has prompted Ulan Bator to look at enhancing its strategic relationships with U.S. and other large economies such as Japan, Canada and several countries in Europe.
It is this more fundamental shift in Mongolia's approach and – more significantly – its implications for U.S. interests both in East and Central Asia that is the real impetus for blossoming defense ties. Ulan Bator has been brandishing its role as stakeholder on international security issues through several theaters. In 2012, Mongolia deployed peacekeepers to a high-risk area on the border of South Sudan and Sudan. Soldiers from the Mongolian Armed Forces (MAF) also served in the NATO-led Kosovo intervention from 2005-2007. Other peacekeeping deployments over the past decade include Sierra Leone, Chad and Georgia. These commitments, along with the MAF's efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, have helped bolster Ulan Bator's with the U.S. and NATO.
The fruits of Ulan Bator's labor came via NATO's decision in 2012 to formalize cooperation with Mongolia by signing an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme, which aims to enhance the interoperability of MAF troops with those of NATO members. And, as noted in earlier articles, Mongolia also continues to improve interoperability with the U.S. and other NATO through its annual hosting of the rapidly expanding "Khaan Quest" peacekeeping exercises which were held for the tenth time this past summer. While serving tactical and capacity building purposes, the Khaan Quest exercises have also contributed to building regional confidence building as the attendees come from dozens of countries, from Asia, Europe and North America.
Mongolia's focus on the peacekeeping niche has resulted in a dramatic modernization of the MAF to adapt this evolving mandate. Former Mongolia hands Christopher Pultz and Jonathan Addleton have noted that the MAF's reorientation on is centered on three goals: developing capacity to participate in UN-led missions, bolster counterterrorism efforts and enhance its role in humanitarian and disaster relief missions. These goals are supported by Washington's financial and diplomatic support to bulk up the MAF's capacity through the creation of a Peace Support Operation Training Center and the provision of non-lethal supplies such as uniforms and protective gear. The pay-off has been tangible. Pultz recently noted that, "Mongolia has deployed over five thousand personnel in fifteen global missions supporting both U.S. – and NATO-led coalitions and UN peace-support operations since 2002. In relation to the size of its population, Mongolia's contribution is extraordinary; the country is ranked 26th on the UN's list of contributing nations."
While Hagel's visit is a welcome benefit, it would be a mistake to interpret this as a goal for Mongolia. President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj has bigger and bolder plans for his country to play a prominent role in Northeast Asia as a center for internationally supported peacekeeping operations. The policy, which is bolstered by the MAF's significant effort despite its diminutive size (fewer than 10,000 active soldiers), goes hand-in-hand with Elbegdorj's "third neighbor" approach, which provides Mongolia an air pocket from its economic and security reliance on Beijing and Moscow. The softer side of this diplomatic push has been demonstrated by Ulan Bator's membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and its previous chairmanship of the Community on Democracies. Ulan Bator has also been promoting its soft power as an interlocutor through its active engagement as a meeting venue between Japan and North Korea over the lingering issue of abducted Japanese citizens.
Cementing defense ties with the U.S., while not going as far as becoming a treaty ally for obvious geostrategic reasons, helps Mongolia's national security priorities. Hagel's visit will likely highlight the accomplishments mentioned earlier and chart a course for the future of the U.S.-Mongolia defense relationship. Specifically, such a partnership must focus on continuing to train and build the capacity of the MAF, while also taking time to assist Ulan Bator on necessary institutional defense reforms. But, equally important to these tactical efforts will be a joint push to get Mongolia more impactful and integrated into the developing regional security architecture in Asia.
The atmospherics surrounding the turbulence between Japan and China will, rightly so, grab attention during the front-end of Hagel's trip. But let's not overlook the third stop. It might be nearly a decade since Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld visited Mongolia, but the high-level relationship is not starting from scratch. In fact, since that time there have been repeated visits by undersecretaries and assistant secretaries of defenses. The Mongolia defense minister was in Washington in 2011 and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton toured Ulan Bator the following year. The two also continue to operate the U.S.-Mongolia Bilateral Consultative Council (BCC), which has been held since 1999. The significance of the budding partnership was summed up at last year's BCC held in Washington. Both sides agreed that the relationship should transcend years of mere dialogue and be elevated to a "strategic partnership."
Striving for Excellence: Interview with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Bold Luvsanvandan
March 2014 (Worldfolio) The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Luvsanvandan Bold, speaks to Untied World about the rapid development of the economy, branding Mongolia and it products abroad, and Mongolia's foreign relations with the US and China
In the past few years Mongolia has been living its golden period due to its booming mining sector and the credibility of a consolidate democracy. As Minister of Foreign Affairs of this rising economy, can you please tell us about Mongolia's comparative advantages and what is the government action plan to address the major challenges that Mongolia currently faces?
Our advantage, as you have already noticed, is that we are a consolidated and vibrant democracy. In the past we were in disadvantage compared with any free market economy, as we didn't have the economic and social freedom for our personal and professional development. Today Mongolia is a democracy with guarantees of an open society, the rule of law and direct representation of the citizens by a responsible government with the impetrative of serving its people and bringing Mongolia to the international arena, for the benefits both of public and private institutions. I do believe that democracy in this continent is a very good advantage. We live in an open society now where any foreigner can find the needed certitude to be engaged.
As any other country we have our shortcomings but generally we approach a new stage year-by-year, learning from the mistakes of the past while building the foundations of a promising future in accordance with the international commitments and global economy overture.
Ten years ago Mongolia was small and our goal was not to attract anyone's attention. But in ten years our economy grew tenfold and became an attractive middle-income country. Now our problem is to find a common language and common interests so we have the opportunity to create the best future for the Mongolian people.
Naturally we need expertise and consensuses to decide on any far reaching decisions. This is a continuous process of learning, in a society of three million members it is a welcome challenge, but as our economy needs foreign investors we need to drive excellence in every decision that we take, portrait credibility and learn from the view of both foreign and national private companies that are contributing to the welfare of Mongolia and to the sustainable economic growth of our nation.
You have stated in different conferences and international visits the importance of adding value to raw materials, facilitating the business environment for SMEs, boosting the national manufactures and showing to the entire world the attractiveness of Mongolia in terms of tourism. What are the measures that your are taking to achieve this? How is the government going to promote sectors such tourism or brand Mongolian cashmere?
From the moment we got into power we made changes in the government and we decided to create two new ministries. The first one was the Ministry of Economic Development to direct rightly the economic path of development that will take advantage of the untapped potential of the country. There wasn't any proper pacification before. Without the right short, medium and long-term policies, without a clear view Mongolia will walk blind, that's why we need economic development in a way that everyone can see the guidance. Now, this is the direction where Mongolia is headed, so people can decide on investments and cooperation with Mongolia.
The second Ministry we created was for boosting the green development of Mongolia. We see the importance of green development on the same line as the ministry of finance and the ministry of foreign affairs. This means that any choices made in Mongolia should be made with green eyes. We should really preserve the beauty of Mongolia, its nature, the balance of the environment, the nomadic culture and sustainable development and I believe that has been a very important decision. Apart from that, there are a few more decisions and government organizations that are carrying out the development of tourism, sports, the cashmere and other industries while supporting SMEs so everyone can realize their ideas.
You are the main voice of Mongolia in the most important international forums, investment summits and organizations. Do you perceive that the general public knows what Mongolia is about?
Ten years ago and the period before that Mongolia was perceived as a country with wild horses and nomadic people. There was no industry; there was no economic future. Our achievements have been noticed and people are interested now. Mongolia is now seen as an economic power for the future, as a very important connection point in North East Asia economic prosperity. Now everybody recognizes this. Everyone is talking about real economic contact and that is very good news for us. In the past, whenever we went to Japan we used to talk about sumo wrestling 60% of the time. Nowadays sumo doesn't even get mentioned anymore and Mongolians have been dominating sumo for more than 15 years now.
There are two things that investors always look before setting any kind of business in a country: infrastructures development and transparency. The United States has been assisting Mongolia through Millennium Challenges Corporation to improve the infrastructure in the critical north-south economic corridor. What is your strategy to increase the foreign trade and relations with United States?
That is a good point. Up until now the USA has been the greatest supporter of Mongolia and our new system. With the many problems we have, and you mentioned all of them. This is why the Mongolian people will always be grateful. But now it is time to start working as partners. We can really do a lot of lucrative work and projects here. Now the US has to look at Mongolia as a potential country for job creation. We can invest and create investment. We have the ability to influence the economic environment of the entire region of Asia. We can influence the world prices on energy and commodities, which is a life standard for many people around the world. So I think we can have a very good cooperation and of course the USA is the champion in many areas such as technology, agriculture, infrastructure, modern IT, so we could cooperate very well in the future.
In 2013 you signed in New York the agreement on transparency in matters related to International Trade and Investment. What does it mean for Mongolia this agreement on investment transparency?
The agreement with the US is still in its initial stage. Naturally it will bring many changes and allows US companies to be opened in Mongolia. It is however not only an issue between Mongolia and the USA. Transporting is about English. English is a business language. This means that it benefits the US but not only the US, also international companies and businesses. Of course the US is a leader and will naturally be at the forefront of starting businesses and doing other activities here. We are really welcoming.
The United States has been the major ally of Mongolia in terms of developing its defense forces. Apart from that, United States and its pivotal strategy towards Asia bring new opportunities for both countries in terms of security, economic relations or strong presence in organizations such ASEAN. How can Mongolia take full advantage of Obama's new strategy towards Asia, especially taking into account the economic slowdown of its first partner Europe?
Mr. Bold: We are very supportive of this vision. This doesn't mean that the USA is diminishing all other ideas. It is important because Asia has finally matured itself enough to be a very important part of the global trade. We understand the feedback we as Mongolians. Now Mongolia has become what it is today. And now we can and are playing a certain role and we will continue to support and encourage. We will prove ourselves to be real good partners.
What is your strategy to enhance foreign relations?
Now in our case, we know that diplomatic relations is important. Diplomatic ties are key to increasing the countries role and position internationally and that has always been an important guideline for us. But the thing which is more important than that is the economic impact with foreign relations. We should support companies, our citizens, our partners, those who are interested in Mongolia and those who want to visit Mongolia. Therefore every day, we take new steps to support them, to inform them and to enable easier visa processes. In the past we only had no visa agreements with the US and now we have those agreements with Canada and Germany which continued with Japan and we encouraged more movement more interactions and all these actions should really improve the lives of businesses and the economic situations here as well as on the opposite side. I think these activities are also welcomed in our partner countries.
Surrounded by two of the most powerful nations in the world Mongolia has its own third neighbor policy. On one hand Mongolia's biggest consumer market is at the other side of the border (China) but on the other hand the entire country is tremendously expose to Chinese demands and interests. Can you elaborate in Mongolia's third neighbor policy and how are you decreasing dependency on China?
Sure, the two neighbors we have are god given gifts. One is the biggest country in the world and the other is the most populated one. At the same time any other friend is like a neighbor. In Mongolian terms being like a neighbor is like having a close friend or partner. You might say aren't two neighbors enough? But we can always have more neighbors. Anyone we can trust and who has good intentions and a clean heart and wants to cooperate with us will always be welcomed by us as friends. They are not our neighbors because of their priority to develop because there will be a common policy economy cooperation. So this does not mean that because we already have 2 neighbors we will tell the other people they can't be. That way everybody loses.
We recently heard that you want to host the World Economic Forum of Asia in 2016. Do you think that Mongolia is ready to host these kind of forums in Ulaanbaatar?
Sure I don't think that it is a problem, because nowadays there are many new projects for modernization of hotels and international hotels. Our government just decided to establish a new international center near the new airport as well and rural cities itself are changing rapidly and I think that in the next two years Mongolia will be dramatically different. So I think it is also good for the WEF to see how a landlocked country and its population can change, can emerge as a new economic power. I think it is also good. We are ensuring a new concept of world economic development in the future. It is good stage.
Regarding some key sector of Mongolia's economy and major sources of employment. We have been with the Cashmere Association and they are now in United States branding cashmere, we have been also with the Builders Association that organizes a trip every year to United States looking for partners and high technology. All these initiatives are done without help from the government. How is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs promoting these sectors abroad? What kind of measures have you taken so far regarding this matter?
Last year we had a conference call with all the ambassadors, the prime minister, everybody was around. We got a presentation of all these sections of cashmere and light industry. And every embassy got directives to promote, to help those producers and those businesses. I think that is going on there now. Now they are more successful. They know that there is some Mongolian embassy to help them, to support them more and those embassies are also welcoming and also for them it's a very good experience to support Mongolian entrepreneurs and business exporters I think there is a very good collaboration going on now.
You have been spreading out this message in different official visits to China, to South Korea or in the last World Economic Forum in Davos: Mongolia needs investment. This report will be on the desk of the political court in Washington, in the beat of Wall Street and in California, the world hub of technology and innovation. What meessage would you like to send to that audience through our upcoming publication: The return of the Mongolian Empire?
There is not much to say additionally. North American mentality is really close to Mongolians. They have this ability to think big and to live in a big space and compete with nature and be effective and productive. I think for them Mongolia would be a very natural place, so we just want to invite them to be with us and to invest. They would love Mongolia.
Mongolian visit to Alaska Vigilant Guard continues partnership success
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, April 1 (DVIDS) — During Exercises Alaska Shield and Vigilant Guard-Alaska 2014, members of Mongolia's National Emergency Management Agency visited to observe disaster response and coordination exercises, March 26-31.
The Mongolian representatives attended VG-AK14 as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program.
Alaska and Mongolia began their partnership in 2003 and conduct approximately six to eight joint exercises each year. The two regions were partnered due to their similarity in size, terrain, and natural disasters, with many citizens living in rural areas.
VG-AK14 is a regional, tactically focused exercise designed to test the response and coordination of different agencies from a disaster scenario earthquake and tsunami.
Each joint training exercise allows the two regions to exchange ideas and share practices to improve each other's operations when responding to a major disaster.
"They face a lot of the same challenges we do," said Maj. Alex Elmore, Alaska State Partnership Program coordinator.
This will be the first time Col. Ulambayay Nyamkhuu, city manager for emergency response at Mongolian's capitol Ulaanbaatar, and Maj. Ariunaa Chadraabal, an officer in the foreign cooperating division, visit Alaska to learn more about the National Guard's tactics and procedures in responding to a simulated earthquake.
The Mongolian representatives visited scenario-based events at multiple locations including Anchorage, Wasilla, Palmer Fairgrounds and the joint operations center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. They observed scenarios including search and rescue training, hazard material detection and response, damage assessment and triage.
"It's to show them how we do emergency management in the United States … how the military support the civilians when it comes to an actual response," said Elmore.
At the Alaska Medical Station at Palmer Fairgrounds, Staff Sgt. Ned Tri, clinical noncommissioned officer-in-charge, explained the basic layout of the building and a walkthrough on what would happen if a person needed medical treatment at the facility.
"It's nice to see our counterparts from the different nations, especially [for them] to see what we do, what we are capable of doing," said Tri. "I hope that they can take some of that back with them to their countries and to their respective military operation."
When asked if the Mongolian representatives commented on any aspect of the exercise they found interesting, Elmore said that they were impressed with the cold weather clothing and equipment used at the rubble pile.
"They are the coldest capital city in the world on average, so their winters are worse than our winters," said Elmore. "So cold weather gear and equipment, able to work in this kind of climate, is very beneficial for them."
Soldiers and Airmen in the Alaska National Guard benefit from this partnership as well, and they travel to Mongolia and to operate and train in an unfamiliar environment.
"It makes our leaders and junior enlisted much more flexible and adaptable to a situation," said Elmore.
The Alaska National Guard will continue to enhance their partnership with Mongolia by sending a bilateral affairs officer to work at the embassy in Ulaanbaatar for a two-year tour.
2 North Koreans dead, 11 missing after Mongolia-flagged cargo ship sinks off South Korea
Seoul, South Korea, April 4 (CNN) -- Two North Korean sailors are dead and 11 missing after a Mongolia-flagged cargo ship sank off the southeastern coast of South Korea.
Three sailors were rescued by the South Korean Coast Guard after the distressed ship, Grand Fortune 1 sank early Friday.
"The sunken ship sent the rescue signal at around 1:19 a.m. from some 130 kilometers away and took two hours to reach," said Kang Byung Moon, the director of public affairs at the Yeosu Coast Guard.
South Korean officials deployed a search plane and a patrol ship to find survivors and rescued the first sailor around 5 a.m.
"Because he suffered from hypothermia, we could not get any information until he came around to find out that he was from North Korea and that there were 15 others on board," Kang said.
The other two survivors were rescued at 5:55 a.m. and 7:12 a.m. respectively. The three survivors are being treated on Jeju island, according to South Korean government officials.
It remains unclear why the cargo ship sank.
The ship was believed to have be coming from Chongjin in North Korea, headed to China, reported Yonhap, South Korea's semi-official news agency.
It carried a Mongolian flag, but had an all-North Korean crew. The two countries are traditional allies and North Korea has been known to sail rented ships.
Parents of Megumi Yokota received invitation to North Korea while in Mongolia meeting granddaughter
April 3 (Japan Daily Press) The parents of Megumi Yokota, who has become to the Japanese public the representation of the unresolved issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, have apparently been invited to visit the hermit country in May. There has been movement in the case of Megumi Yokota – whom Pyongyang admitted abducting but claim to have committed suicide – as the parents were reunited with their granddaughter Kim Eun Gyong, daughter of Megumi early March in Mongolia.
Shigeru and Sakie Yokota told a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers that the North had made the invitation when they met their granddaughter, the daughter of Megumi to a South Korean man and fellow abductee Kim Young Nam, for the first time in Mongolia a few weeks ago. The meeting was in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, and Eun Gyong also brought her baby – the Yokota's great-granddaughter – with her. It was then that the North Korean officials extended the invitation. According to them, a child's first birthday was a big deal in North Korea, but the Yokotas had refused the offer at that time. "It will be hard to immediately visit North Korea but someday in the future, we could go to North Korea or invite Eun Gyong to come to Japan," Shigeru Yokota said.
Shigeru and his 78-year-old wife have long been very visible in the continued efforts to get North Korea to allow all abductees to return home, including their daughter Megumi, abducted in 1977 at age 13. Pyongyang had already admitted in 2002 to having abducted 13 Japanese to North Korea – including Megumi. But they also said that she committed suicide in 1994 after giving birth to Kim Eun Gyong. In 2004, North Korea handed over evidence to Japan of Megumi's death, claiming that those were her cremated remains. Subsequent DNA testing in Japan proved that the remains were of somebody else. And so the Yokotas are not giving up hope on their daughter yet.
Abductee Yokota's kin brief U.S. envoy on meeting with granddaughter – Kyodo, April 5
NEMA Lifts Quarantines in Khentii, Sukhbaatar and Dornogovi Aimags Caused by Foot-And-Mouth Disease
April 3 (infomongolia.com) The regular meeting of the National Emergency Management Agency of Mongolia (NEMA) was held on April 02, 2014, where the current situation of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks occurred in eastern three Aimags, measures carried out and further plans were discussed.
The first outbreak was recorded last January 27 in Ongon Sum of Sukhbaatar Aimag a n d spread to neighboring territories further to six Sums of Dornogovi Aimag, aftermath the disease covered 13 Sums of 3 Aimags and as of today, 3,454 animals were destroyed and 4.5 million cattle were vaccinated.
In the past 11-41 days, no new occurrences are registered, thus it was decided to release quarantines in Khentii, Sukhbaatar and Dornogovi Aimags, but animal migration from these regions are prohibited for another two months and raw materials transportation will be disinfected and sanitized at mobile posts.
Although the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak is stopped, some facts to revise are still under discussion, notes NEMA Secretary M.Enkh-Amar. For instances, under irresponsible operations by Veterinary and Animal Breeding Agency, first part of imported vaccines were transported and stored beyond its standard norms, moreover it was first diagnosed the disease was caused by "A" sector virus, but following the World Animal Health Organization's laboratory summary it was concluded the disease refer to "O" sector virus. Fortunately, Mongolia imported "A" and "O" sector combined vaccines from China and Russia and if it was not ordered so, nobody knows how much casualties would expect Mongolia, says Secretary M.Enkh-Amar.
In order to stop foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in 2014, the Government of Mongolia spent a total of 10.6 billion MNT compare to 27.1 billion MNT in 2005-2013.
Stanford fellow addresses burden of cervical cancer in Mongolia
April 1 (Stanford University) Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women worldwide, and Mongolia has one of the highest incidence rates in Eastern Asia. Prevention and early detection programs are essential to counteract its prevalence, especially in developing countries.
However, women encounter barriers to knowledge and access to cervical cancer screening services in Mongolia – a country with low population density. The urban–rural divide, lagging healthcare reform, and cultural differences are cited as core factors leading to lack of awareness and treatment.
To address the rising burden, a national cervical cancer screening program was implemented in August 2012 by Mongolia's Ministry of Health (MOH) facilitated by a grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Gendengarjaa Baigalimaa, MD, the 2013-14 Developing Asia Health Policy Fellow at Stanford's Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center in the Freeman Spogli Institute, has been evaluating the effects of that program. She serves as a gynecological oncologist at the Mongolian National Cancer Center (NCC). Her early findings show that awareness of cervical cancer has increased, and more women and girls are now getting screened. Gendengarjaa recently talked about her research.
What does your "typical" patient look like at the NCC and how has your work informed your research?
Patients typically arrive at the NCC with an advanced stage of disease – 70 percent of these women have progressive forms of cervical cancer. Of course it is not easy to work with patients who are this far along, especially if we are unable to offer full palliative services. As the only cancer center in the nation, just 10 gynecological oncologists are available to take on the high demand for treatment services. Healthcare providers and policymakers designed the Mongolian Cervical Cancer Program to address the alarming incidence rate. My research analyzes behavioral change before and after the introduction of the national screening program, bearing in mind my experiences with my own patients.
What does the national cervical cancer screening program facilitate?
Before the program was implemented, regular cervical cancer screening did not exist in Mongolia. The program diffused and strengthened primary care screening services (Pap test) as well as prevention programs. Gynecological doctors from the NCC were systematically dispatched to the 338 soums or districts throughout the nation. They trained local doctors and midwives on how to administer the Pap test. The program coordinated two initiatives: a pilot HPV vaccination program for girls aged 11-15 years from four select areas and a Pap test program for women aged 30-60 years. The women and girls who participated are urged to get screened every three years thereafter. Health education campaigns were also broadcast on select television and radio programs targeted at women and girls.
Comparing a survey taken at the program's outset in 2010 to your survey at the program's conclusion in 2013, what behavioral changes have been observed?
Our preliminary results have shown increased knowledge about risk factors and screening services. Women in both rural and urban areas are now more informed about cervical cancer risk factors. Awareness of the need for a Pap test increased from 15.3 percent in 2010 to 45.3 percent in 2013. The respondents also reported being more educated about the suggested frequency of visiting a doctor, and the availability of services outside of Ulaanbaatar. Due to increased knowledge, 54.2 percent of the women surveyed confirmed that they had attended cervical screening services.
What impact did the program have on younger generations?
We analyzed mothers' attitude toward the HPV vaccination and their openness to their daughters receiving it. Awareness of the vaccine's ability to prevent cervical cancer improved from 15.3 percent in 2010 to 45.3 percent in 2013. Our results show that 81.7 percent of mothers agreed on the importance of vaccination for their daughters once they become aware of the option. The same study conducted in 2010 showed only 28 percent of the respondents were aware of the vaccine's existence and its connection to cancer prevention. Positive perceptions toward vaccination are very important because the vaccine can prevent one of the major causes of cervical cancer.
How were geographical divisions and local stigmas toward cancer considered?
Mongolia has 21 aimags or provinces further divided into numerous baghs or villages; each population has different priorities. Cultural relevance is key in advertising and implementing cancer screening and vaccination programs. For example, the program sought out input from local women's and community groups in each aimag to inform about local customs. Cervical cancer screening was also linked to important events in a women's life, i.e. becoming a mother or grandmother, to make it easier for the patient to validate resources spent. The program also set up a system of sending personalized invitations for screening during patients' birthday months every three years.
What secondary reinforcements were used to campaign for cancer screening?
Media and targeted marketing were used to strengthen the message outside of the doctor–patient setting. Printed materials were placed in family practice clinics. The first lady of Mongolia generated media attention regarding the HPV vaccine for young girls. Beyond individual counseling, group awareness and other reinforcements can motivate participating women to follow treatment recommendations and reinforce satisfaction. The hope is that these women will then encourage other women to get screened.
Gendengarjaa will present her research with Naranbaatar Dashdorj, PhD, founder and chairman of the Onom Foundation and a 2014 Sloan Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, on April 9. The event is open to the public.
Health Ministry Reveals 33 Illnesses Not Treatable in Mongolia
April 3 (UB Post) The following is an interview with U.Tsevegmid, vice president of the Health Development Center
The Ministry of Health released a list of 33 illnesses that are impossible to treat in Mongolia. We've heard that your hospital is registering people who are suffering from one of the 33 illnesses. What kind of illness do they have?
According to a resolution from the Minister of Health, we have started surveying patients who are suffering from these 33 illnesses. Unfortunately, some people consider it a registration. It is not a registration. The main reason for conducting this survey is to identify what kind of symptoms arise from these 33 illnesses. Currently, most of people who have participated in this survey want to go abroad to be treated for their various illnesses. Besides our survey, statistics have shown a high rate of liver cancer. Even if Mongolian doctors are treating liver cancer, people continue to go abroad for treatment. For example, instead of having expensive surgery overseas, such as placing a stent in a coronary artery, it is better to invite foreign surgeons to Mongolia and find decisive ways to treat health problems. If the cost per person working in Mongolia is cheap, we intend to conduct surgery in Mongolia instead of having people go abroad.
How many people are involved in this survey? How long will it last?
We started conducting the survey on March 10. It will last for a month until the 10th of this month. Citizens are participating in the survey online and through five numbers on G-Mobile. As of March 28, a total of 208 citizens got involved. At present, there are 38 people who want go abroad, of which 18 percent are children aged 0-15. Mongolians believe that only old people usually have illnesses. But the age of those living with illness is becoming much younger. Therefore, we have only one cancer study hospital and it is always crowded. Because of this, people are facing the necessity to go abroad.
Can you identify the cause of these children's illnesses?
It is not the time to make an analysis or conclusion regarding the survey. We hope that we can know the causes from the results of survey.
In the case of patients who know that their illness is impossible to treat in Mongolia, the patient's family wants to go abroad as quickly as possible. For the patients involved in your survey, going abroad is not their first step. Will doctors find a way to treat them?
We are looking for all possibilities to ensure our patient's treatment, save lives and health, and import expensive equipment if it is vital. There are several private hospitals that perform highly qualified services. Unfortunately, people have medical comments released and primarily go abroad even though there are many experienced, specialized doctors in Mongolia. On the other hand, it is the right decision to go abroad before their illnesses get worse. It led us to study the resources of our doctors.
Which country do citizens mostly choose to visit?
Most of them, 59 percent, want to have surgery in Korea. After Korea, they want to have surgery in China, India and the United States. Next week, our survey will be finished and we will make a conclusion based on the data.
Solutions and decisions will be discussed at the ministerial level. Moreover, professional authorities will conduct a meeting and exchange their views. The work of helping the patients who have participated in this survey is an important issue being discussed at the Ministry of Health.
Why do you think people choose Korea? Is it related to Korean doctor's qualifications and reasonable treatment cost compared to other countries?
It is better to ask this question of the patients. For me, Korean equipment and assistance services are quite good and the cost is cheap compared to America. Furthermore, many Mongolians live in Korea and while they are being treated, they can stay with their relatives. There are many people spending a lot of money on treatment. Each and every person can't stay at a hotel. That is why they may choose Korea.
The expenditure of patients going abroad is going to be paid from the Prime Minister's pack money. How much money is expected to be paid?
Depending on a patient's situation, medical comments, need for surgery, and course of treatment, the Minister decides the amount of monetary assistance. This doesn't mean he will distribute money to everyone going overseas to have surgery. To implement the decisions they have made about assistance, a certain amount of money will be needed.
There are many patients hearing that their illnesses are impossible to treat. Maybe they have not heard about this survey. To help them, can you share where people can go and how they can get involved in your study?
Families often know more than the patients do about their illness. In each three stage hospital, there is a commission working. The commission gives us a statement noting that a patient's cancer is impossible to treat. A citizen who has a diagnosis that says recovery from their illness is impossible must get involved and be registered in the survey.
If there are patients that don't have information about the survey, please visit chd.moh.mn and or \contact us by telephone at the following numbers: 93137804, 98648801, 98622495, 93131765, and 93131707.
People can also visit the website of the Ministry of Health and submit their written diagnosis and get involved in the survey.
33 illnesses impossible to treat in Mongolia
- constriction of jugular and spinal artery, surgery for blockage
- surgical treatment of oblongatal defect
- Parkinson's disease, torsion dystonia, stereotactic surgery for epilepsy
- base brain and column structural tumor
- skull base tumor
- brain third ventricle tumor
- middle brain and column structural malformation
- gamma therapy for brain spinal cancer
- auditory nerve cancer
- Wegener disease; serious form
- Meniere's disease; serious form
C. Eye study
- neonatal retinopathy
D. Cardiovascular disease
- cardiac arrhythmia, ablation treatment
- constriction of coronary heart disease; serious form
- child's serious defect
- cardiac vessels angiectopy
- block with artificial organ after extended surgery of head and neck
- IMRT treatment for salivary gland cancer
- windpipe cancer
- fistula of windpipe and esophagus
- fistula of rectum, vagina after radiation treatment
- rehabilitation surgery of bone and pulp
- limb-saver cancer
- true pelvis and thoracic cavity cancer
F. Liver study
- birth defects of the liver
- loss of shape and chest size following severe burns
- serious premature birth development
H. General surgery
- treatment following medulla transplant surgery
- heart transplant surgery
- transplant surgery for patients with high liver virus activation
I. Infertility and obstetrics
- birth with adrenogenital syndrome
- female genital reconstruction surgery
- infertility due to immature development of ovaries
- male infertility treatment
New Mexico State University Hosts Mongolian Education Official to Observe Student-Centered Approach
April 2 (KRWG) As part of her fellowship with the Central Asia and Caucasus Research Training Initiative (CARTI), Mongolkhatan Gunsen from the Educational Research Institute, an agency of the Ministry of Education in Mongolia, is spending the spring semester working with faculty in the early childhood education program at New Mexico State University.
The fellowship program, through the Open Society Foundation, pairs scholars in the social sciences and humanities in the region of post-Soviet countries of South Caucasus and Central Asia, Afghanistan and Mongolia with international scholars who provide guidance and facilitate discussion and access to resources necessary for the successful development of a research project.
Candace Kaye, graduate faculty in the NMSU College of Education, has been working with Gunsen as her assigned CARTI International Mentor while she pursues her research in gender equity in early childhood education, as well as works to change the model for early childhood education in Mongolia in her position in the Educational Research Institute.
"Mongolkhatan is working to change the educational model in Mongolia to a student-centered philosophy, which includes gender equity," Kaye said. "Our lab program at NMSU is an important model for her to observe. She will see a student-centered approach while visiting the lab classrooms in the School for Young Children in Myrna's Children's Village."
Kaye and Gunsen met in 2010 while Kaye was serving as a Teaching and Research Fulbright Scholar at Mongolia State University of Education's College of Preschool Education. Kaye has returned two more times to work with Gunsen to develop workshops for early childhood teachers in Mongolia and conduct research.
In addition to observation at the NMSU lab school, Gunsen's visit includes time for her and Kaye to work on their research, as well as the opportunity for Gunsen to meet with other professionals in early childhood education and attend courses on assessment and evaluation that Kaye is teaching this semester. They will work together to publish a comparative paper that will include Gunsen's recommendations for Mongolian early education. Gunsen's visit also includes intensive language instruction through NMSU's Center for English Language Programs, as she is learning English as her third language.
"Gender equity is not always practiced in Mongolia, there is a need for this research and a need for teachers to be supported," Gunsen said.
Kaye said Gunsen's work is a lot like planting a seed, "it will need nourishment and tending and change will not be quick, but we want to plant that seed."
Mongolian contortionists vie for UN nod
Government petitions UN heritage organisation to help preserve the tradition of contortion in the country.
April 5 (Al Jazeera) When it comes to contorting the body into unnatural and wonderful positions, Mongolians claim that nobody does it quite like them.
It is a matter of national pride for a people with a rich and long history.
Now the government is petitioning to get the tradition of contortion protected by the United Nations heritage organisation.
Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reports from the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
"Mongol": An evening of Mongolian meanings
April 5 (The Edinburgh Reporter) Looking Glass Books recently hosted an evening to launch Uuganaa Ramsay's book, 'Mongol' and to celebrate World Down's Syndrome Day on 21 March.
We've all heard the saying 'I might as well be in Outer Mongolia', and we've probably all heard people with Down's Syndrome referred to as 'Mongols' – in my far off childhood, this was the usual way to refer to someone with Down's; now it has become a term of abuse, 'hate speech' bandied about like 'gay', 'spastic' or 'lezzer'. Uuganaa Ramsay is in a unique position to talk about both aspects of the word, and this has inspired her to write 'Mongol.'
Looking Glass Books, surely the cosiest bookshop in Edinburgh, was packed with an enthusiastic audience for this event– from members of the Mongolian community in Edinburgh (some in national costume) to representatives of Down's Syndrome Scotland, whose CEO, Pandora Summerfield, introduced the evening. Mongolian vodka and a very beautiful cake were served, and added still more to the happy atmosphere.
Uuganaa grew up in a yurt in Mongolia – but not any old yurt; her parents were professionals (her father a vet), and their home was a cut above the rest, with elaborate decoration and many comforts. Nevertheless, they lived the traditional nomadic lifestyle, herding their cattle as generations before them had done. Uuganaa came to the UK on a teacher training scholarship, where she met and married her Scottish husband and had three children – the third was Billy, a child with Down's.
Uuganaa knew little about Down's before Billy arrived; within three days he was diagnosed, and she and her family's lives changed forever. Uuganaa and her husband were devastated by the news. Help came in the form of Down's Syndrome Scotland, who put Uuganaa in touch with Jackie, a mother who had experienced her situation – this led to a friendship that is still strong today.
Tragically, Billy died after only three months. Uuganaa wanted to keep his memory alive, and also to investigate the use of the 'mongol' term, in the hope of raising awareness and acceptance of people with the condition. She also realised that there were few books written from the 'inside' of modern Mongolian society, or about Mongolian history. She decided to put this right.
As well as telling the story of Billy's short life and her subsequent work to educate people about Downs, Uuganaa read some very funny anecdotes from her book. Her parents, visiting the family to offer support in the days after Billy's birth, disappeared upstairs and were found in bed -they had no idea that it was ill-mannered in the UK to leave the room without saying goodnight. The first time that Uuganaa's husband complimented her on her tanned skin, she was affronted – in Mongolia a pale skin is a sign of affluence, and as a child she was not allowed to go out into the sunshine when her parents were tending to their animals – she was even given powder to keep her face white.
Uuganaa's book has been hugely successful, winning her the Scottish Association of Writers Non-Fiction Janetta Bowie Chalice and the Scottish Asian Women's 'Achievement Against All Odds' award. She has appeared on Good Morning Scotland. She speaks from the heart, and her natural warmth and charm ensure that anyone who hears her will not only never use the term 'mongol' in a derogatory way, but will also remember the short but precious life of her little boy Billy.
Niner Bikes sponsors GENCO Mongolia Bike Challenge
FT. COLLINS, Colo., April 1 (BRAIN) — Niner Bikes is sponsoring the GENCO Mongolia Bike Challenge, a seven-day mountain bike stage race in Mongolia. Members of the Niner-equipped Backcountry.com race team will participate in the event, held Aug. 1-7.
"This event is exactly right for Niner — it combines mind blowing adventure, spectacular natural beauty and seven days of very tough racing," said Niner's global marketing manager, Carla Hukee. Niner will be the event's official bike sponsor.
Backcountry.com riders Jason Sager and Evelyn Dong will race; Sager was fourth in the event last year. Besides the riders, Niner is sending Ian Hylands as the official event photographer.
New website opens to promote tourism to Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, April 3 (MONTSAME) The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism has opened a website (travel2mongolia.com) to provide international organizations, individuals and tourists with general news about Mongolia.
This website opened after the "Messe Berlin", main organizer of the ITB Berlin international exhibition, officially announced Mongolia as a partner of the ITB 2015 this April 1.
ITB Berlin is the world's largest tourism trade fair. The companies represented at the fair include hotels, tourist boards, tour operators, system providers, airlines and car rental companies.
Mongolia participated in the fair in 1989 for the first time together with Germany's "Grand Asia" Company, and attended in 2011 as a cultural partner. The previous year's exhibition attracted 10 thousand enterprises of 188 countries.
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