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Friday, May 16, 2014

[NSO revises 2013 FDI numbers, one minister stays, one minister leaves, and ex-PAM chair dies in detention]

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Friday, May 16, 2014

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

WOF last traded 4.4c Wednesday

Wolf Petroleum Sells Interest in Non-Core Legacy Mining Asset for US$200,000

May 15 -- Mongolian oil explorer Wolf Petroleum Limited (ASX: WOF) is pleased to announce that it has sold its interest in SKKGM to its former joint venture partner, Electrum Group for US$200,000.

The proceeds from the sale will be used to meet Wolf Petroleum's working capital commitments and progressing the process towards farming out an interest in the SB block with the aim to commencing a drilling programme in 2014.    

Link to release

 

VKA closed flat at A$0.048 Thursday

Viking Ashanti close to wrapping up takeover of Auminco

May 15 (Proactive Investors) Viking Ashanti (ASX: VKA) is drawing closer to securing full control over takeover target Auminco Mines after receiving acceptances for 97.08% of the unlisted coal development company.

The takeover offer period has been extended a further 14 days to Friday, 6 June 2014.

Viking has already received a significant endorsement with the securing of a future coal supply agreement with a Mongolian Government power authority for the Berkh Uul Bituminous Coal Project in northern Mongolia.

Auminco holds the Berkh Uul project that is located next to a rail link that connects with Russian markets, and provides quick access to domestic power plants and industrial users at Darkhan and Ulaanbaatar.

It has JORC resources of 38.3 million tonnes of high quality, open pittable unwashed bituminous coal.

Successful production at Berkh Uul would provide significant cash flows to develop the remainder of the combined group's portfolio as well seek out further production and near term production opportunities.

Takeover Offer

Under the terms of the offer, which was launched earlier this year, accepting Auminco shareholders will receive 60.6 Viking Shares and 20.2 Viking Options for every 100 Auminco Shares held.

Auminco shareholders will emerge with a 47% stake in Viking, and play a major role in the evolution of Viking as a participant in the Mongolian thermal and coking coal markets.

Link to article

Link to VKA release

 

AKM closed flat at A$0.036 Thursday

Aspire Mining Investor Presentation: Sydney Resources Round Up, May 2014

May 15, Aspire Mining Ltd. (ASX:AKM) --

Link to preso

 

Xanadu Mines Managing Director Presentation at EGM: Advanced Exploration in Mongolia's Copper Belts

May 16, Xanadu Mines Ltd. (ASX:XAM) --

Link to preso

 

Consolidation Services Inc Recruits Mongolia expert Lewis Marks to its Advisory Board

Lewis Marks to assist Consolidation Services Inc with the deployment of their exclusive Hertz Equipment Rental franchise operations throughout Mongolia.

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (PRWEB) May 14, 2014 -- Consolidation Services Inc. (the "Company") (OTCQB: CNSV) and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mongolia Equipment Rental Corporation, announced that the Company has appointed Lewis Marks to its Advisory Board.

Mr. Marks has lived and worked in Asia for 37 years with a residence and business operations in Mongolia for most of the last 18. He currently serves as a Director of CWT Mongolia, importing diesel into Mongolia from Russia; is a shareholder of Bayandari LLC, a Mongolian agriculture company focused on wheat production from approximately 34,000 hectares outside of Ulaanbaatar; and is a Director of Tsast Impex LLC, the second largest construction company in Mongolia.

Mr Marks also serves as Member of the Board of Directors of the LIM Japan Fund, a role he's had since 2002.

From 1980 to 1993 he was with Marc Rich & Co. AG (purchased by Glencore International AG in 1993) and remained with Glencore International AG from 1993 to 2000, where part of his responsibilities included selling Mongolian copper into China. Prior to that, from 1977 until 1980, he practiced law at Yanagida & Nomura in Tokyo, Japan (formerly Yanagida & Sakuragi).

Mr. Marks earned his Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and his Juris Doctor from the School of Law, State University of New York at Buffalo.

He speaks Mongolian, Japanese, German, English and Mandarin.

Company EVP, Michael Telford, stated: "Lewis Marks brings a highly relevant background to the Company's Advisory Board. He understands Mongolia very well, and given that our Hertz Equipment Rental clients will be primarily construction companies, Lewis' industry experience there and knowledge of the country's infrastructure and real estate development projects make him invaluable as an advisor."

Link to release

 

MEC: EXTENSION OF MORATORIUM AGREEMENT ON CONVERTIBLES NOTES WITH NOTEHOLDERS

May 14 -- The holders of the SF Convertible Note have agreed to extend the moratorium from 13 May 2014 to 12 August 2014 to Mongolia Energy Corporation Limited (HKEx:276) for concluding a debt restructuring with the Company's noteholders. In addition, the holder of the 3.5% GI Convertible Note has also agreed to a moratorium on repayment to its note to 12 August 2014 during the validity of the extended moratorium period granted by the holders of the SF Convertible Note

Link to release

 

MNAP closed +4.5% to C$0.058

MNP Petroleum: Quarterly Report

May 15, MNP Petroleum Corp. (OTC:MNAP, TSXV:MNP) --

As of June 27, 2013, we entered into a Moratorium with the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia. The exploration term was suspended for a period of one year and the initial five year exploration term, extended until May 20, 2015; thereafter we would have the possibility to extend the licenses for an additional two years if required. The basis for the Moratorium was the lack of drillable economic structures to fulfill our outstanding PSC commitments. Drilling activities will commence once the full evaluation of the new area is completed and drillable economic structures are available to fulfill our outstanding commitments, which is currently four wells.

Mongolia

Early in 2012, Gobi Energy Partners LLC focused on the integration and interpretation of seismic data acquired in 2011. From April to May 2012, it conducted a passive seismic campaign using low-frequency spectroscopy to support the seismic. From June to August, 2012, Gobi Energy also conducted a 2D seismic acquisition (vibroseis) program covering 335 kilometers over both blocks.

Gobi Energy spudded its first well, Ger Chuluu A1, on August 23, 2012. It stopped drilling at a depth of 1098 meters without having encountered any seal. The initially planned second well East Sainshand A1 was located in another sub-basin 170 kilometers away. In order to have a conclusive evaluation of the Ger Chuluu sub-basin, Gobi Energy decided to drill a second well before moving to East Sainshand. Ger Chuluu D1, the second well in the Ger Chuluu sub-basin, was spudded on September 21, 2012. Drilling was stopped after reaching 600 meters without any hydrocarbon shows. After logging, the well was plugged and abandoned.

Gobi Energy had originally focused on six sub-basins in Mongolia; after drilling in the Ger Chuluu sub basin and conducting additional studies, Gobi Energy is now focusing on two sub basins, East and West Sainshand. In order to enlarge the area to define more prospects to drill the outstanding commitments, Gobi Energy signed a moratorium with the government of Mongolia for the duration of one year ending in May 2014. During this period Gobi Energy expects the government to award us with relinquished areas from adjacent blocks.

Link to report

 

MMC: Results of AGM

May 14, Mongolian Mining Corp. (HKEx:975) -- The Board is pleased to announce that all ordinary resolutions proposed at the AGM were duly passed by way of poll.

Link to release

 

TRQ closed +0.52% to US$3.86, SGQ closed +5.08% to C$0.62

MIBG: Turquoise Hill Update: Oyu Tolgoi Advancing, South Gobi Being Sold?

May 15 (MIBG) Turquoise Hill Resources Limited (TSX:TRQ) released first quarter financial results on Monday. This was followed by an earning call with CEO Kay Priestly and other senior executives of the company. While the tone of the call was moderate, the Question and Answer session focused in on sales and inventory numbers at the Oyu Tolgoi project, which is 66% held by Turquoise Hill. Priestly highlighted throughout the call that Oyu Tolgoi is currently selling copper concentrate at an accelerated rate, allowing the project to begin reducing stockpiles that have accumulated over the past two quarters.

The Oyu Tolgoi project received further support throughout the week with the announcement that 14 of the 15 banks involved in the phase two financing have agreed to a six-month extension to their commitments. This provides the required C$4 billion that the project needs to advance the underground expansion of the mine. The financing deadline now sits at September 30th, which is also the deadline for all outstanding discussions between the Government and Turquoise Hill's majority shareholder (Rio Tinto) to be completed.

Since Monday shares of Turquoise Hill have been trading in the range of C$4.12 and C$4.33, closing trading on Wednesday at C$4.19. The current market cap of Turquoise Hill is C$8.43 billion, with over 2.01 billion shares outstanding. Turquoise hill has a 52 week low of C$3.20 and a 52 week high of C$7.70.

For the time being MIBG is maintaining our Buy Rating and a target price of C$4.80. However, following comments from Priestly on Tuesday that Turquoise Hill would consider selling their 56% stake in South Gobi Resources Limited (TSX:SGQ) we feel that further upside could be possible if a successful sales transaction is realized.

For those of you who have been following Mongolia closely for the past 24 months, the comments by Priestly regarding SouthGobi should not come as a surprise. SouthGobi has been at the forefront of controversy since mid 2011 when Turquoise Hill (then Ivanhoe Mines) attempted to sell their stake in SouthGobi's flagship project, the Ovoot Tolgoi coal mine, to the Chinese SOE Chinalco. More recently, SouthGobi has released statements announcing that they would have difficulties facilitating their C$250 million debenture with China Investment Corp (CIC).

That said, with the release of first quarter results SouthGobi did state that they are in discussions with various parties to secure financing. While they expect to reach an agreement, they must do so before next Monday, May 19th. Otherwise, in the event of a default of the CIC debenture the principal amount owing and all accrued and unpaid interest will become immediately due and payable upon notice by CIC.

Given the bleak outlook for coal pricing and the on-going challenges that SouthGobi continues to face we anticipate further attention being given to Priestly's comments regarding a sale of SouthGobi. In the event that a sales transaction is completed we would interpret this as a positive development for Turquoise Hill, so long as the pricing is seen as being reasonable by the market. The current market value of SouthGobi is approximately C$110 million.

The table below highlights a selection of current Turquoise Hill analyst ratings from four different analysts, MIBG included.                                                                                                                                                                            

Selection of Analyst Ratings - TSX:TRQ

MIBG Equity Research – Turquoise Hill Resources Limited (March 2014)

Link to update

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Local Market

MSE News for May 14: Top 20 -0.4%, Turnover 12.8 Million

Ulaanbaatar, May 14 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Wednesday, a total of 9,945 shares of 21 JSCs were traded costing MNT 12 million 849 thousand and 834.00.

"Silikat" /4,620 units/, "State Department Store" /1,701 units/, "Mongolia Development" /900 units/, "Khokh gan" /699 units/ and "APU" /502 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Gobi" (MNT two million 701 thousand and 230), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT two million and 050 thousand), "Mongeo" (MNT one million and 880 thousand), "APU" (MNT one million 857 thousand and 450) and "Silikat" (MNT 970 thousand and 200).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 603 billion 453 million 968 thousand and 019. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,599.34, decreasing by MNT 62.01 or 0.40% against the previous day.

Link to article

 

MSE News for May 15: Top 20 -0.18%, Turnover 22.7 Million

Ulaanbaatar, May 15 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Thursday, a total of 8,815 shares of 15 JSCs were traded costing MNT 22 million 669 thousand and 141.15.

"Tavantolgoi" /3,977 units/, "Olloo" /2,000 units/, "Mongolia Development" /1,213 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /900 units/ and "Mongolia Telecom" /185 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Tavantolgoi" (MNT 19 million and 885 thousand), "Mongolia development" (MNT 825 thousand and 330), "Baganuur" (MNT 591 thousand and 990), "Mongol alt" (MNT 411 thousand and 600) and "Mongolia Telecom" (MNT 259 thousand).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 600 billion 908 million 286 thousand and 526. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,571.88, decreasing by MNT 27.46 or 0.18% against the previous day.

Link to article

 

'BCM IN THE UNIVERSITY CLASSROOM' LECTURER RECEIVES OFFICIAL ROLE AT IF&E

May 15 (BDSec) The Institute of Finance and Economics (IF&E) has named BDSec Chief Operating Officer Nick Cousyn as an honorary member of the Specialized Council of the Finance Management Program after his giving multiple voluntary guest lectures to its students.

Cousyn received the title senior advisor and guest lecturer from the university after speaking four times to students.

Most recently, Cousyn spoke on 16 April to an audience of 63 students during their fourth-term undergraduate Economy and Banking class.

"I couldn't be more excited to help educate the students of the university in regards to Mongolia's capital markets and give them practical advice based on my real-world experience," said Cousyn.

Link to release

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Economy

BoM MNT Rates: Thursday, May 15 Close

 

5/15

5/14

5/13

5/12

5/9

USD

1,818.55

1,813.99

1,810.68

1,808.13

1,808.90

EUR

2,486.50

2,488.07

2,493.22

2,489.70

2,502.79

CNY

291.98

291.03

290.64

289.99

290.49

GBP

3,043.98

3,058.84

3,052.35

3,051.04

3,063.01

RUB

52.49

52.24

51.96

51.40

51.50

May MNT Chart:

 

Link to rates

 

BoM FX auction: US$20.4 million sold at 1,818.5, CNY57 million at 291.61, $42.2 million MNT swap offers accepted

May 15 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on May 15th, 2014 the BOM has received from local commercial banks bid offer of USD and CNY. The BOM has sold 20.4 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1818.5 and 57.0 million CNY as closing rate of MNT 291.61.

On May 15th, 2014, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to 42.2 million USD from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.

See also:

·         FX Auction Statistics

Link to release

 

2013 BoP Report: FDI Decline Revised to -52% from Preliminary -54%, Current Account Deficit $3.2 Billion

Annual Balance of Payment (BOP) report alters from the quarterly BOP report as it includes revised data of annual reports, adjustments of those were missing or wrongly included in the quarterly reports and other additional information.

As a result of above mentioned adjustments, on the execution of BOP annual report, current account deficit has increased by US$ 36.4 million from the preliminary report while financial account surplus has decreased by US$ 33.5 million, and these have triggered the errors and omissions to decrease by US$ 85.9 million.

Main indicators:

Current account deficit stands at US$ 3,192.0 million which is US$ 170.3 million or 5 percent decrease from the previous year. Of which:

(i)            deficit of international trade account of goods decreased by 15 percent or US$ 232.8 million to US$ 1,320.5 million;

(ii)           trade of services deficit increased by 19 percent or US$ 213.9 million to US$ 1,314.2 million;

(iii)          deficit of income account increased by 29 percent or US$249.0 million to US$ 699.1 million;

(iv)          current transfer declined by 41 percent or US$ 97.6 million to US$ 141.8 million.

Balance of capital and financial accounts showed surplus of US$ 1,438.1 million which is decrease of 71 percent or US$ 3,491.3 million from the previous year. This is due to 52 percent decline of net foreign direct investment that equals to US$ 2,309.7 million and the surplus of net portfolio investment decreased by 107 percent or US$ 2,481.5 million.

83 percent of foreign direct investment is consists of intercompany loans and 17 percent accounts for share capital from investors.

·         Annual Balance of Payments for 2013

·         External sector statistics

Link to release

 

BoM issues 234.6 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -4.1% to 826.4 billion

May 14 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 234.6 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

GoM Treasury Auction: Announced 40 Billion 12-Week Bills Sold at Discount, Average Yield 9.32%, with 93 Billion Bids

May 14 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 40.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 40.0 billion /out of 93.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 9.32%.

Please find expanded information from Table.

Information of Government securities auction

Announced amount /by MNT/

40,000,000,000

Received amount /by MNT

93,000,000,000

Sold amount /by MNT/

40,000,000,000

Weighted average yield

9.32%

Maximum yield of fulfilled bids

9.39%

Minimum yield of fulfilled bids

9.25%

Link to release

 

6 points on 100-day plan to boost economy

May 14 (business-mongolia.com) The cabinet proposed 100-day plan to boost the economy and overcome the economic difficulties last week. The 100-day plan already began to be implemented and below are the major points reflected in the policy.

1. Resuming of exploration license issuance

SGK has principally agreed to lift the ban on issuing new mining licenses after 4 years that it has been prohibited by the initiation of the President Ts. Elbegdorj in 2010. Policy makers believe that resuming exploration license issuance would contribute in attracting foreign investors.

Currently there are 2880 licenses held by companies. 1323 of them are operation licences and the rest are exploration licenses. It accounts for 8.2% of the country's entire territory. Minister of Mining has proposed a draft on amendment of Mineral Laws of Mongolia.

2. Oyu Tolgoi

It was stated on the policy document that SGK and Cabinet will work on supporting and accelerating underground mine development of Oyu Tolgoi. However, the investors have postponed the underground mine investment until September which is referred to as Project Finance process. The updated feasibility study is set to be released in June this year after being delayed for over 2 years.

3. Tavan Tolgoi

In order to sustain and improve the competence of the TT mine, foreign investors will be invited to invest USD3-5 billion dollars for the mid-term production boosting purposes.

4. Railway

As mentioned in the draft proposal of the Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar Tavan Tolgoi – Gashuun Sukhait, Sainshand-Zamyn Uud, Khuut – Bichigt railway networks will be built by 1435 mm standard, and Mogoin Gol – Erdenet, Tavan Tolgoi – Sainshand – Baruun Urt – Khuut – Choibalsan, Khuut – Numrug network will be built by 1520 mm gauge standards. Ongoing construction of 270 km Ukhaa Khudag – Gashuun Sukhait railway is about 40% and SGK will decide on the remaining rail network commencement in the near future.

5. Private sector reforms

Following proposal are made to strengthen and support private sector:

- Decreasing tax burdens, make reporting procedures simple, transparent, and open, tax easement on certain activities;

- Economic amnesty law proposal.

- Property right law amendment

- Identifying and eliminating the difficulties faced by private businesses and support them on accessing capital markets.

- Eliminating overlapping inspections by regulatory agencies on businesses.

One of the examples being made in the framework of the current process is that 90% of the tax will returned to those entities that have up to MNT1.5 billion in income.

6. Raising the debt ceiling

It has been proposed that debt ceiling should be raised fro 40% of the GDP to 70%. MPP is currently against the idea, however as a head of the working group of this proposal MP S.Bayartsogt is facing a tough challenge to raise the ceiling, and even mentioned about forming a coalition.

Link to article

 

DP to take additional measures if 100 day plan to improve the economy shows no results

May 14 (UB Post) The Democratic Party Caucus called a press conference to report on the caucus's plenary meeting and decisions made. During the caucus meeting, the Democratic Party's parliamentary group members heard N.Altankhuyag's statement and discussed draft bills which will be submitted within the resolution to improve the economy. The caucus also discussed Mongolia's 2014 budget amendments.

The Democratic Party, the majority in the Parliament, believes that the 100 days to intensify and improve the economy is a crucial period, and said it will decide what to do with the government if there will are no positive results for the economy. During these hundred days, it will operate to make the state stable, according to the DP's statement during the press conference.

The party members agreed that the draft bill to make the VAT threshold 50 million MNT should be discussed immediately and reached a decision to make the government responsible for submitting a draft bill on returning two percent of VAT to citizens, as well as submitting a draft amendment on tender bids. The members feel that the basic 75 day term for bids is too long and it is better to select a tender that can provide more, instead of one that offers less.

During the press conference the caucus chairman said, "We agree that there is a demand to summarize which projects of the government made mistakes and which policies were frozen, even though various factors caused economic deterioration. Many laws should be amended in order to recover the economy. The operations of around 100 entities will be recovered along with amendments to the Minerals Law and approximately 300 licenses will be re-issued as well."

Link to article

 

Mongolia in a 100-day sprint to revive economy

Terrence Edwards in Ulaanbaatar

May 15 (bne) In May the Mongolian government continued its efforts to make amends with investors and restore the lustre to its once prosperous economy. This latest legislative push will see the country roll out a new coordinated effort to settle disputes in its mining a sector and tip the balance of investment returns once more in favour of investors.

Mongolian Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag received approval from parliament on May 7 for his 100-day economic stimulus initiative. The premier is putting his energy behind promoting private business and foreign investment to help remove some of the bitter taste left in investors' mouths from the grief that the country's politicians have caused over recent years.

"These [initiatives] are all aimed to increase foreign direct investment to Mongolia because right now one of the key problems is the inflow of foreign capital into Mongolia, and that can only be revived once there are specific projects in place," says Bayanjargal Byambsaikhan, chairman of the Business Council of Mongolia and now an advisor to the prime minister for the 100-day initiative.

Poor policy decisions that restricted investment and fuelled disputes with large investors have forced the government to watch the local currency, the tugrik, depreciate for about a year. At the end of April, the tugrik sank below 1,800 to the dollar, meaning the currency has weakened 26% from a year ago and is now the worst performer in Asia over the past 12 months, according to Bloomberg. The weak currency has made essential imports such as petrol fuel and food staples more expensive than many in the country can bear.

Government revenues aren't anything to boast about either. Although the volume of coal exported in the first three months of the year was up 8.4% from the year before, lower prices resulted in a fall of 1.4% in revenue earned. And while revenue from copper exports grew 67%, thanks in no small part to the launch of commercial operations at Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi mine, disagreements over costs between the diversified Anglo-Australian miner and the Mongolian government have held back a key expansion project that would unlock a majority of the wealth at the mine.

That's bad news all round for investment in Mongolia. The mine – which literally means "turquoise hill" due to the outcrops of oxidised copper that Mongolians have supposedly known about for centuries – is one of world's largest undeveloped copper deposits and at peak production will constitute about a third of the country's economy, so its progress is taken as a bellwether by investors for how the country is performing.

Open for business

"Mongolia is open for business" is the message that the government is eager to spread. Mongolia's prime minister on April 30 called upon foreign diplomats and leading figures in business to gather for a meeting to announce his plan. Altankhuyag and his aides explained how the government would concentrate on supporting business through tax cuts and loans, as well as help to increase production from mines and promote foreign investment.

Efforts by the Mongolian government to recapture foreign investment began in earnest last year. In November, the parliament passed a new Investment Law that threw out unpopular restrictions on foreign investment by private foreign firms. It also approved legislation that revamped Mongolia's securities market and set the foundation for institutional investors to enter the market.

The economy minister went into greater detail on Altankhuyag's plan the next day at the Mongolian Investment Summit in London. A slideshow presented at the summit on May 1 showed government plans to invest in downstream production for the country's vast coal reserves, such as coal washing and handling. Concession agreements between the government and private investors would be a key mechanism to see such projects become a reality, according to the presentation.

Altankhuyag is dedicating a fair bit of his plan to the mining sector – which is what originally put Mongolia on investors' radars in the first place. Canada's Centerra Gold has been waiting for the go-ahead from the Mongolian government since 2010 for its Gatsuurt mine after a law aimed at protecting the country's forests and water resources put its license in limbo.

There were also between 106 and 109 licenses cancelled by the government after a judge voided every license approved by an official convicted of corruption. Kincora Copper, another Mongolia-focused miner based in Canada, reported a C$7m write-off because the court decision meant it could no longer explore at its North Fox and Tourmaline Hills properties. "In the previous government, some of the licenses were approved in an unlawful way," said Altankhuyag. "We are committed to solving the issues. On how, we have a working group to develop the criteria."

Traversing the Turquoise Hill

While most would agree the government has ticked off many of the items on its list of issues that need to be dealt with, it is unlikely to eliminate some of the biggest drags on the economy, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) now sees decelerating more sharply to growth of 11.7% in 2014 and 5.8% in 2015. Previously it saw growth of 12.9% in 2014 and 7.6% in 2015.

Not everything is in the government's control. One issue out of its hands is demand from China for coal and copper – Mongolia's two largest exports. However, it does have influence over the biggest factor for the economy, the relaunch of the development of the Oyu Tolgoi mine.

Statements by Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh and the government indicate that the company is in no rush to begin work on the underground mine shaft, even though the government is indicating that work could begin as soon as September.

According to Dale Choi, head of Independent Mongolian Metals & Mining Research, it's unlikely that Rio Tinto will move forward until it can be sure that Mongolia won't try to alter the original terms laid out in a 2009 investment agreement for the project, as it has many times attempted in the past. "Only RT [Rio Tinto] and GOM [government of Mongolia] know exactly what's going on but our understanding is that RT wants essentially sanctity of the multi-billion dollar investment agreement, not the never-ending political debate with attempts to renegotiate it," Choi said in an email note to subscribers. "Although this point is well understood by some GoM officials... at the moment there is a lack of prominent national political consensus on sanctity of the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement which would be enabling for RT to proceed with underground development at OT."

Link to article

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Politics

MP Kh.Battulga No Longer Minister for Industry and Agriculture

May 15 (infomongolia.com) At the plenary session of the State Great Khural (Parliament) held on May 15, 2014, one of the issues to revise was dismissing the Minister for Industry and Agriculture of Mongolia, MP Khaltmaa BATTULGA from Minister's post at his request.

The affiliated Standing Committee summary from May 14, 2014 was introduced by Committee Chairman, MP S.Demberel and following the voting, 54 Parliamentarians out of 69 attended or 78.3% have agreed to accept the request, so from the date of approval Parliamentarian Kh.Battulga is longer as the Minister of Industry and Agriculture and member of the Cabinet.

The other subject to discuss today at 02:00 pm is also relevant to dismissing the Minister of Agriculture and Industry, MP Kh.Battulga from his duty as Minister and keep as a Parliamentarian.

Link to article

Related:

Parliament Resigns Kh.Battulga from Office of MinisterMontsame, May 15

Agriculture Minister dismissednews.mn, May 15

 

Justice Minister Remains in Post as MP O. Baasankhuu Withdraws Petition

May 15 (news.mn) Today's plenary session meeting of Parliament is scheduled to first settle the matter regarding the resignation request by Agriculture Minister Kh.Battulga and call for resignation of Justice Minister Kh.Temuujin, May 15th. However, the resignation  of the Justice Minister is expected not to be discussed because MP O.Baasankhuu, who submitted the petition, withdrew the request, so Justice Minister Kh.Temuujin is able to stays in his post.

MP O.Baasankhuu announced in a statement to the Speaker that "the petition calling for the resignation of the Justice Minister has been withdrawn as there are a few facts that need to be reviewed among the information regarding background verifications."

Local press reported on Wednesday that the leadership of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party demanded the withdrawal of the petition. The report also pointed that the leadership also warned MP O.Baasankhuu to dispel from the party.

The result of the controversial matter is that the Justice Minister is able to remain in his post to pursue the legal reforms that he has launched in Mongolia.

Link to article

Related:

O.Baasankhuu MP Withdraws Request to Dismiss Justice MinisterMontsame, May 15

 

Parliament Accepts MP D.Battsogt's (MNDP) Request to Withdraw from "Justice" Coalition Membership

May 15 (infomongolia.com) On April 22, 2014, Chairman of the Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science's Standing Committee, Parliamentarian Dogsom BATTSOGT delivered a Letter of Resignation to withdraw from faction membership to the Head of "Justice" Coalition (MPRP - MNDP) in the Parliament N.Battsereg.

According to Parliament Law, the Letter was submitted to the Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) and at today's (May 15, 2014) plenary session Speaker Z.Enkhbold introduced the request, after which, 52 MPs or 68.4% of attendance have voted and majority members agreed to accept MP D.Battsogt's petition.

In his explanation, D.Battsogt said, "There were many compromises during the discussion of the draft bill on "double coat", but I am not leaving the MNDP".

Parliamentarian D.Battsogt was elected from the 16th Electoral District or Khovd Aimag promoted by "Justice" Coalition (MPRP - MNDP) during the 2012 Parliament Elections.

Link to article

Related:

D.Battsogt MP resigns from Justice CoalitionMontsame, May 15

 

Mogi: jail first, investigate later. It's not just the foreigners who are victims of a bad criminal system

Former chairman of Petroleum Authority dies in detention center

May 14 (news.mn) The former Chairman of the Petroleum Authority, D.Amarsaikhan, who was being detained at the 461 detention center, died on Tuesday May 14th. The former Chairman, D.Amarsaikhan had an epileptic seizure while he was meeting his attorney at around 5.00 pm on Tuesday.

Some sources are reporting that he had pains in his head over recent days. The detention center medical specialists administered first aid to D.Amarsaikhan, however they could not recover him.

Former chairman of the Petroleum Authority, D.Amarsaikhan, was detained as a suspect of money laundering in conspiracy with Petro China Daqing Tamsag.

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Working Group on Constitutional Amendment Hears Views of Parties without Parliament Seats

Ulaanbaatar, May 14 (MONTSAME) A working group chaired by a Vice Speaker L.Tsog Tuesday received authorities of political parties without seats at parliament.

This working group has been set up at the Standing committee on state structure with a responsibility for studying a matter on whether the Constitution of Mongolia should be amended or not.

The Vice Speaker said the working group received the parties' leaders in order to hear opinions and positions over the issue, and added that the working group has met eight times so far. "As of today, we have managed to agree with a necessity to amend the current Constitution. A group of scholars and researchers has put forward some 10 proposals in last four months," he said.

In turn, the parties' leaders clarified a matter on possibility to hold referendum on the Constitution should be altered. They also reached an agreement with the working group with a necessary to amend the law on referendum, which was adopted in 1995.

Present at the meeting were O.Bum-Yalalt, chairman of the Mongolian Green Party; B.Jargalsaikhan, chairman of the Republican Party of Mongolia; L.Onorbayar, the secretary-general of the Mongolian Conservative United Party; D.Enkhzaya, the secretary-general of the Mongolian Social Democratic Party; and J.Zanaa, a deputy chairwoman of the Civil Movement Party.

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MP S.Ganbaatar Receives EITI Delegation

Ulaanbaatar, May 14 (MONTSAME) A member of parliament S.Ganbaatar Tuesday received a delegation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) including Wouter Biesterbos, an EITI director for Asia Affairs; and Anders Tunold KrÄkenes, a director of the organization for communication affairs.

Expressing thanks to the parliamentarian for an audience, Mr Biesterbos said the EITI Secretariat's delegation is visiting Mongolia in order to get au fait with the Mongolia's Office of the EITI.

In response, Mr Ganbaatar said Mongolia wants to learn international standards and experience in transparency of extractive industries and to develop cooperation with the EITI. He noted that Mongolia intends to work out a draft law on regulation of conflicts in the mining.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Biesterbos expressed a willingness to make a presentation to Mongolian parliamentarians about functions of the EITI.    

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Families of victims of political persecution hold strike for compensation

May 14 (news.mn) The families of victims of political repression; those who were imprisoned, executed or exiled for political reasons, held a sit-in strike at Chinggis Khaan Square between May 12th and 16th, demanding compensation for their fathers and grandfathers lives and reputation. They started the sit-in strike on Monday in front of the 11-11 center.

These citizens, mostly the elderly, are standing up for their repressed ancestors saying: "Amendments were made into the law on rehabilitation and compensation should be given to us according to what was passed in 1998. That`s why we are here. Since we first asked for a home and compensation, it has been 22 years. There is a law stating that the families of victims should be compensated with a home. But all families were not fairly compensated.

We have asked for the compensation for our father`s and grandfather's loss of life, reputation and seized properties for decades. We are victims too."

There are now less than 1000 people who are the children or grandchildren of those who were political oppressed in Mongolia.  They have asked the state to provide them with the correct compensation, homes, for many years. But there has been no reply.

The elderly people, in their 70s and 80s suffered in the dark days of the political repression in Mongolia, and were left without their fathers and grandfathers and were called the children of the anti for their whole lives. However, even though the dark days are behind them, most of them are homeless and survive on a tiny pension, struggling to get by.

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Business

Expanded Khutul Cement Plant to Supply Half of Domestic Cement Needs

May 15 (infomongolia.com) Prime Minister of Mongolia Mr. Norov ALTANKHUYAG is conducting a working to Selenge and Darkhan-Uul Aimags and during his visit to latter region on May 15, 2014, Premier got acquainted with "Darkhan" Metallurgical Plant's activity that has been recently expanded its capacity and enabled to be operational for year-round.

He also visited the "Erel" cement plant in Darkhan that has been produced over 50 thousand tons of cement last year and this year plans to produce hundred thousand tons.

On the same day, Premier N.Altankhuyag visiting Selenge Aimag has attended in the opening ceremony for renewed "Khutul" cement plant and in the frameworks of its expansion works, a new factory is opened its doors that creates more jobs and considered as one of the big construction developments in the country.

During his opening remarks, Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag noted, "The "Khutul" cement plant has been enlarged its capacity by four times and from now on will provide up to 50% of domestic cement demand. The new factory was built under support of domestic national companies and Development Bank and was commissioned in one year and half. Last year, Mongolia used a total of 2 million tons of cement and by accomplishing this new facility, the factory will supply a half demand solely. Besides, three new cement factories are under construction in Dornogovi Aimag that would produce up to 2 million and 240 thousand tons of cement annually and will be commissioned next year. In the construction of these biggest national companies, the Government will support and provide financials from the Chinggis Bonds".

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3rd Annual Mongolia Trade and Commodity Conference

May 15 (Mongolian Economy) The 3rd Annual Mongolia Trade and Commodity Conference took place in Ulaanbaatar on May 13 this year. More than 200 delegates from public and private sectors in the event organised by GTR Exporta Group. 

Chief executives of Newcom Group, Wagner Asia Equipment, MSM Co and Mongolian Growth Group attended in a session called "A Strategic Assessment on Finance and Investment of Mongolia's Leading Companies" moderated by Jim Dwyer, chief executive at Business Council of Mongolia

During this session the crowd was warned to fasten their seatbelt and prepare for the next boom. The panel agreed that Mongolia's economic situation was not great but consider this just a bump in the road

During a session called "Directing International Partnership towards Trade Finance", Vice President at Transaction Service Asia, ING Arnold Morrison said: "Mongolia's trade and commodity sector absolutely needs investment. If it uses a traditional way, it cannot step forward. It needs to treat foreign investors politely and friendly." 

He also warned over public awareness on trade finance, alteration of a traditional attitude and cutting of a financial cost. 

"The government and commercial banks have reached a number of deals. One of the deals is a mortgage programme implemented by the government. In connection with the programme, the banks' loan has been expanded to 11 percent. Of course, it is beneficial for the banks, but the loan repayment still remains quite risky," said Norihiko Kato, chief executive at Khan Bank. 

The representatives from Trade and Development Bank and Golomt Bank said: "2013 was a relatively good year for the banks such as the launch and implementation of the Government's Mortgage Programme and Price Stabilisation Programme. In fact, a sharp increase in the exchange rate has brought some losses to the banks in both direct and indirect ways." 

They said that the banks are only issuing foreign currency loans to companies that generate revenue in foreign currencies, but not to their clients. This is because of their intention not to bring any exchange rate-caused loss to the clients. According to them, the banks are taking measures to convert foreign currency loans to Mongolian tugrug. 

Some delegates during the conference were saying that the new Investment Law has not been able to bring a significant change so far. 

"Revised FDI law necessary to bring Mongolia out of slump but will not happen w/out supplementary action" Stephen Tricks, consultant to Clyde & Co

The one-day conference repeatedly mentioned issues related to Oyu Tolgoi. 

"We all know that the implementation of Oyu Tolgoi project would be highly important for Mongolia. The project's successful implementation would substantially encourage foreign investors and bring them confidence. Also it is important that a legal setting and the government's policy have to be stable," said Masashi Onodera, regional head of Asia Pacific ECA (Export Credit Agency), Commodities & Trade Finance Dept., Asian Investment Banking Division.

Arnout van Heukelem, head of Metals and Mining Asia explained that Mongolia is in the centre of global attention while it is one of leaders among the countries that are not friendly with foreign investors. Mongolia needs to provide the investors with information about investment and treat them friendly. 

Director of finance and investment department at Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, L. Ochirsaid, said that there are a number of initiatives for infrastructure projects to be implemented in energy, railway, road and water supply sectors. He also said that a huge investment is required in the implementation of these projects. So, there is no way, but to issue an initial public offering on international capital market. 

The conference was attended by a number of delegates from different sectors discussing awide range of issues a whole day. Mongolian Economy Magazine worked with GTR Exporta Group, an organiser of the conference, as a media partner. 

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Advancing Women Business Leadership in Mongolia

By Naran Munkhbat and Robbie Paras and Tirza Theunissen

May 14 (The Asia Foundation) While Mongolia has made important strides in achieving gender equality, it still has a long way to go when it comes to parity between women and men in business. Currently, it ranks 33rd out of 136 countries according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index (2013), which constitutes a significant improvement compared to 2012 when it ranked 44th but still lower than in 2010 when it ranked 27th.

Mongolia's 2011 Law on the Promotion of Gender Equality prohibits gender discrimination, including in the labor force. Compared to other countries, Mongolia, with a female-to-male labor force participation rate of 82 percent, does not rank that badly. Yet significant wage gaps still persist between women and men. In addition, women were excluded from working in specific sectors due to labor regulations in force until 2008 that barred them from working in the more dangerous, yet higher-growth and higher-paying mining sector in which women are today significantly underrepresented. Women are more frequently engaged in unpaid labor, with a third of women working as unpaid family workers, one of the highest rates of female unpaid laborers in East Asia. Women's economic participation is further curtailed by the Labor Law which sets the voluntary retirement age for women at 55 – five years earlier than for men and 10 years earlier, at 45, if a woman has four or more children. While women can work longer than the retirement age if they want to, in practice many employers encourage women to leave early so they can be replaced with younger staff.

While women are better educated than men, with a female to male ratio of 145 percent in tertiary education, they are still under-represented in management and decision-making positions, especially in the private sector. Women from poorer backgrounds who want to establish a business also face challenges in terms of access to property, networks, and finance, as they are often unable to provide the necessary collateral to obtain a mortgage or loan for their business. In addition, traditional stereotypes and social norms as to the roles expected of women and men still prevail and women often face a doubled burden when it comes to having a career and taking care of the family.

On May 14, over 60 women representatives from parliament, ministries, the business sector, and civil society convened in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, for a consultative forum on women in business organized by the National Committee on Gender Equality (NCGE) of Mongolia and The Asia Foundation.

Ms. Bolormaa, secretary of the NCGE, opened the meeting and two women MPs, MP Erdenechimeg, head of the Women Caucus in Parliament, and MP Odontuya, both business women themselves, spoke about the current challenges women still face in Mongolia and about the actions needed to encourage and attract more women to pursue business entrepreneurship. Meloney Lindberg, the Foundation's country representative in Mongolia, shared some of the findings of the recent study on "Access to Trade and Growth of Women's SMEs in APEC Developing Economies," conducted by The Asia Foundation, the Department of State, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), as well as some of the lessons learned from the Foundation's other women's entrepreneurship projects in Bangladesh and China.

As part of a series of panel discussions on business case studies, young and established women entrepreneurs from different sectors shared their experiences and provided advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs on how to capitalize on their strengths and seize business opportunities to advance their careers. In particular, one of the young women entrepreneurs, Ms. Nominzul Baldandorj, had participants in awe as she described her experience of working previously in the NGO sector and subsequently starting her own construction company. "In the beginning, I did not know anything about construction, so it took me three years to get my business started and as a woman in my twenties I had to prove myself double as hard," she said. Panelists from government and city agencies, commercial banks, and civil society commented on the case studies and also presented their policies and programs in support of women's economic participation.

In the afternoon, participants were divided into three thematic working groups to discuss strategies and identify potential solutions to overcome some of the challenges women face in terms of the legal and regulatory framework, social and cultural norms, and access to finance. During the plenary discussion, participants specifically highlighted the need to for closer networking among women entrepreneurs to help overcome the challenges. One of the immediate actions from the forum was to establish a Facebook group as a platform for further discussion and experience sharing.

The event builds on the International Women's Leadership Forum (IWLF) organized in July 2012 by Mongolia's Presidency of the Community of Democracies together with The Asia Foundation, the Zorig Foundation, and MonAme Scientific Research Center. The NCGE and the Foundation will be working together in the course of the coming months to implement some of the actions identified during the consultative meeting and the IWLF to support Mongolian women's business leadership.

Naran Munkhbat and Robbie Paras are senior program officer and program associate respectively of The Asia Foundation in Mongolia. Tirza Theunissen is the deputy country representative and can be reached at tirza.theunissen@asiafoundation.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and not necessarily those of The Asia Foundation.

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Asia Foundation Hosts Women in Business Forum in UlaanbaatarThe Asia Foundation, May 15

 

Mongolian Embassy Hosts Business Seminar in Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture

Ulaanbaatar, May 15 (MONTSAME) The Embassy of Mongolia in Japan ran its series business seminar under themed "Cooperation opportunities of Mongolia and Shizuoka prefecture" on last Tuesday.

With around 40 local officials, business delegates, and members of friendship society, this action was co-organized by the administration of the prefecture in frames of strengthening economic ties between Mongolia and Japan by running mid-period program on bilateral strategy partnership development.

At the meeting, the Embassy gave information relating to present situation of Mongolian economy and investment environment and the Deputy Minister of Industry and Agriculture B.Tsogtgerel made a speech at the seminar during his visit in Japan.

The participants highly spoke about wide opportunities of running cooperation with our country in spheres of mineral resource, energy, heavy and light industry and food product manufacturing.

Same day, a cooperation memorandum between the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture and Shizuoka prefecture was inked by the Deputy Minister B.Tsogtgerel and by the governor of the prefecture.

Last February, the Embassy hosted such an economic seminar in Hokkaido prefecture and is now planning to organize the Business Forum together with Japanese economic organizations in Tokyo, this July as well as same actions in Niigata and Oita prefectures within this year.

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Up to 2.9 Trillion Revenue Seen if Mongolia Can Export Cashmere as Final Products

May 14 (UB Post) If Mongolia can export cashmere as an end product, we can earn benefits of 1.9 to 2.9 trillion MNT every year, say specialists. Due to the issues of turnover, insufficient equipment, and a limited workforce, for now we export washed cashmere to our southern neighbor. There are 15 production complexes, 23 small and medium knitting factories, over 50 textile factories, over 100 domestic workshops and approximately 7,000 workers in Mongolia's cashmere industry. We prepare 7,000 tons of wool every year, out of which, only 15 percent is turned into finished product in Mongolia. The Republic of China exports an average of approximately 4,000 tons of brushed cashmere a year and provides most of the world's supply.

We have the opportunity to compete with China with our brushed cashmere, but the main challenge is "how". According to Yondonsambuu, vice principal of the Mongolian Wool and Cashmere Association, they have made an effort to stop washed cashmere export, but 10 to 15 years will be needed to build suitable wool and cashmere production factories with the capacity to produce all the wool in Mongolia. While the factories are being built, we will definitely face the issue of continued export.

Cashmere is growing coarser. It creates an opportunity to sell Mongolian wool cheaper than Chinese wool at 22 USD. Yondonsambuu underlined the significance of rating wool by its texture. It may be necessary to increase red goat numbers in Altai soum of Khovd Province, and provide cashmere which is less than 16.5 mkm in diameter as "Mongolian King Fine Cashmere".

In most competing countries, wool and cashmere production factories only see 15 to 20 percent profit.
The loan interest at some foreign banks is less than five percent. It helps industries improve their business. Unfortunately, In Mongolia, it is usually at least 18 percent, but mostly fluctuates between 26 to 27 percent. As a result, the state has begun issuing soft loans to certain industries. In 2011, the state issued 100 billion MNT in loans at eight percent interest. It led to an increase of 20 percent in cashmere products and 30 percent in exports. But it is not sustainable to get continuous loans from the state. Lowering interest at private banks provides a better opportunity for industrialists to expand production.

For the development of the wool and cashmere sector, 68.8 million USD and 115 billion MNT were distributed from the Chinggis Bond, but only 40 percent reached industrialists. The government made a decision to help national producers by buying 4,000 tons of cashmere, but as of now, companies don't have access to it.

Currently, from the Chinggis Bond, 65 projects were submitted to Golomt Bank, but only 58.13 billion MNT required for 34 projects has been distributed. Due to lack of collateral, 18 billion MNT for 10 projects was rejected.

If the government wastes time waiting and doesn't provide grants to industrialists, we may be taking a step back in reaching our goals. The cashmere sector has the potential to earn profits in the overseas market, perhaps even more than mine deposit exploration and collecting currency reserves,.
Our domestic producers remind us that if the state does not pay attention, our goal to advance in the global market will be just a dream, and Mongolian cashmere will simply continue to support Chinese cashmere products with our raw materials.

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Cause of fire at Bars-2 Market revealed

May 14 (UB Post) The cause of the fire that broke out at Bars-2 food market on Saturday turned out to be a careless replacement of a gas tank in the canteen of the market in candlelight while electricity was out, according to the police.

No one received injury in the fire, however it left around 300 traders in financial losses.

The power was out at the market when two workers of Gorgas LLC arrived at the canteen to replace a gas tank. The canteen cooks were cooking in candlelight and a fire suddenly broke out while the gas tank was being replaced.

The cook of the canteen commented, "I'm not sure whether the new gas tank was already leaking through its cap or just wasn't fully covered during installation. As far as I know, the fire broke out while replacing. The worker who was replacing it immediately went out when the fire broke out."

"I wonder how he thought it is fine to replace such a dangerous tank full of gas in candlelight. If the tank exploded, people could've died," she added.

Renters of the canteen have called the emergency management departments immediately and five teams of fire fighters extinguished the fire at around 12 p.m as the division of Fire Department No.18, which arrived first at the scene, couldn't do it alone. The canteen was made mostly of construction foam and plastic materials and the fire spread quickly reported firefighters.

The Bayangol District Police Division No.2 officers investigated the fire scene and questioned witnesses. Some said the two workers of Gorgas LLC were brothers who regularly replace gas tanks under contract. But they had already left the scene before the police came.

Stored vegetables, meats and other food products at the market were visibly ruined in the fire. Even other products which weren't burnt have lost their freshness in the smoke, reported traders.

"We purchase food products through a loan. It is obvious that specialized inspection agencies will release an order to eliminate all damaged food we have bought which leaves us no option but to demand compensations from Gorgas LLC and the workers who poorly fulfilled their responsibilities. We will prepare all the required documents and references needed for the compensation," a trader at Bars-2 said.

The damage assessment will likely take some time according to the Bayangol Police Division No.2.
The two workers of Gorgas LLC are under questioning according to sources at the police.

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Ulaanbaatar

ADB, Japan Prepare Project to Address Ulaanbaatar's Power Shortcomings

May 13 (ADB) MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Under a $2 million technical assistance grant project, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan will study the electricity transmission and distribution constraints faced by Ulaanbaatar in preparation for a major power project that would help 1.2 million people.

The grant comes from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, provided by the Government of Japan and administered by ADB.

The technical assistance project will look into the technological, economic, financial, social, institutional, and environmental challenges facing the Mongolian capital's power delivery.

"Mongolia has seen a surge in growth in recent years, accompanied by growing demands for electricity," said Teruhisa Oi, Senior Energy Specialist. "Much of this demand is not being met due the unavailability of new power plants. The capital needs not only new plants to supply power, but also to strengthen existing networks to bring to the population a reliable, affordable, and cleaner source of energy."

The capital's existing power network is old and outdated—its inefficiency and unreliability causing electricity distribution losses totaling 19.6% in 2012, almost four times higher than international best practice of 5%. Meanwhile, customers faced an average of 13 power interruptions during 2012 totaling 2,084.5 minutes.

The planned electricity and transmission project would improve the reliability and quality of electricity services for 1.2 million people, or about 40% of Mongolia's population. It would upgrade the electricity transmission and distribution networks in and around Ulaanbaatar to boost energy efficiency, reduce transmission and distribution losses, and cut back greenhouse gas and air pollutants from existing power plants. It would also develop a new heat and power plant through a public-private partnership supported by ADB.

In addition to investments, the project would strengthen the capacity of Energy Regulatory Commission, which issues licenses to power plants and proposes customer tariffs.

The total cost of the technical assistance, which will be carried out over two years, is about $2.2 million, of which $200,000 will be met by the Mongolian government in the form of logistical and staff help.

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Diplomacy

Mogi: hmmm, doesn't say what they were up to, but I'm sure the Justin Kapla issue was raised

Foreign Minister meets US Congress delegation

Ulaanbaatar, May 15 (MONTSAME) The Mongolia's Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold Thursday received in the State House Mr Steve Chabot, a member of the US House of Representatives and head of the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee of Asia-Pacific; and Mr Stephen Lynch, a member of the US Congress.

At the meeting, the Foreign Minister underlined that Mongolians always thank the US Congress and people for supporting the Mongolia's democracy and reforms, and emphasized the inter-parliamentary cooperation have been significantly contributing to the bilateral relations.

In turn, the US delegation expressed a satisfaction with visiting Mongolia that has become a good example for democracy in its region, and noted that the USA and its people appreciated Mongolian role in delivering democracy, human rights and justice around the world.

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Mongolia Joins Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces as 62nd Member

May 15 (infomongolia.com) On May 13, 2014, Mongolia was officially recognized and became the 62nd member of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), an international foundation.

Accordingly, representing the country, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva, Ambassador V.Purevdorj has attended and delivered a speech.

The DCAF is an international foundation established in 2000 on the initiative of the Swiss Confederation, as the "'Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces". DCAF contributes to enhancing security sector governance (SSG) through security sector reform (SSR) and currently comprises 62 Member States and 4 governments and 2 international organizations as the Members with Permanent Observer Status from across the globe.

The membership opens up an opportunity for developing the defense sphere based on democratic principles and norms, benefitting from technical assistance and recommendations on the improvement of the legal environment, participating in multilateral activities carried out by the organization in this direction.

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Belarus-Mongolia cooperation agreement on education ratified

MINSK, 14 May (BelTA) – The House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus ratified the agreement on cooperation in the education sector between the governments of Belarus and Mongolia on 14 May, BelTA has learned.

The agreement was signed in Ulan Bator in 2013. The document spells out the main cooperation areas in education. It first of all pertains to the exchange of working experience on the pivotal areas of development, planning and organization of the national education systems; establishment and development of direct contacts between educational establishments; the exchange of students, postgraduates, scientists and pedagogues as well as official delegations; organization of joint conferences, seminars, symposiums, and other events in the education sector and scientific research.

Apart from that, MPs ratified a number of other international agreements, including the agreement between Belarus and the Council of Europe regarding the privileges and immunity of the members of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and other members of the delegations traveling to countries. The agreement was signed in Strasburg in 2013 for efficient implementation of the provisions of the Council of Europe's Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings of 16 May 2005. 

The MPs also ratified the Belarusian-Kazakh agreement on the order of stay in the two countries.

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Honorary Consuls of New Zealand and Estonia to Mongolia Receives Their Exequaturs

May 14 (infomongolia.com) On May 13, 2014, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs D.Gankhuyag received in his office the newly appointed Honorary Consuls of New Zealand and the Republic of Estonia to Mongolia.

During the meeting, Deputy Minister D.Gankhuyag handed over the exequaturs to Honorary Consul of New Zealand to Mongolia Mr. Ch.Munkhbat and Honorary Consul of Estonia to Mongolia Ms. L.Khulan and wished the envoys to their endeavor to broaden bilateral relations in political, economic, cultural and humanitarian sectors' development between the countries.

At the official documents handing ceremony, Head of Consular Department at the Ministry Sh.Sukhbaatar was present.

Mongolia and New Zealand have established the diplomatic relations on April 08, 1975.

Mongolia and the Republic of Estonia have established the diplomatic relations on November 20, 1991.

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Russia seeks to supply Yak-130 aircrafts to Mongolia, Vietnam, Latin America

Russia will bid in tenders for the supply of multirole fighter jets, air defense systems, helicopters and submarines to Asia Pacific countries

MOSCOW, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia is seeking to advance its Yak-130 aircraft to Mongolia, Vietnam and Latin America, Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Director Alexander Fomin told ITAR-TASS on Thursday, May 15.

"We are working to advance these aircraft to Mongolia, Vietnam and other countries," he said.

The arms exporting company Rosoboronexport and the aircraft corporation Irkut are doing the same in Latin America. "Although our foreign partners have reiterated their interest in purchasing this plane, no concrete contracts have been made so far," Fomin said.

Bangladesh will receive 16 Yak-130 planes before 2016 under a loan provided by Russia.

Fomin said Russia would bid in tenders for the supply of multirole fighter jets, air defense systems, helicopters and submarines to Asia Pacific countries.

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Social, Environmental and Other

Mongolia Expanding Road Network to Major Tourism Regions

Ulaanbaatar, May 14 (MONTSAME) As of today, Mongolia has total road network size of both paved and unpaved with length 49,350 km, and 4,690 km of roads are paved.

A depart head of the Ministry of Road and Transportation N.Batsuuri told MONTSAME reporter.

The country is paying big attention to improving the auto-road network as a priority. The government of Mongolia has set the goal to construct 5,572 km of roads in frames of the "New great construction" middle-term programme. For the time being, the cabinet intends to build about 3,700 km of roads, of which over 1,800 km of roads will be constructed this year with capital from the state budget and foreign investments. In addition, 2,970 km roads will be built on a concession basis, he said.

Within this work, the cabinet is focusing on developing roads for the tourism sector. For instance, a paved-road in a route Khovsgol-Khatgal-Khankh going to Khovsgol Lake will be put into use this year. Moreover, a project is being formulated for an auto-road from Khankh to the state border. Construction works have been launched for roads to run Khujirt, Ulaantsutgalan waterfall, Tovkhon monastery and other natural beautiful landscapes.

In 2015 Mongolia will take part in the ITB Berlin international exhibition as an official partner. This is a big chance to forward its tourism policy for Mongolia that has many natural beautiful places, he emphasized.

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Khuvsgul Aimag & Montana State University Agree on Student Exchange Program

Ulaanbaatar, May 14 (MONTSAME) Starting from this year, Khovsgol province and the Montana State University of the USA will run student exchange program in frames of the cooperation.

Last week, delegates of International studies' department of the University worked in the province and they agreed to involve local three students in three-week exchange program at the University during the meeting with administration of the province.

The sides spoke also about ways of cooperation in tourism sphere.

Montana State University (MSU) is a public university located in Bozeman , Montana , United States . It is the state's land-grant university and primary campus in the Montana State University System, which is part of the Montana University System. MSU offers baccalaureate degrees in 51 fields, master's degrees in 41 fields, and doctoral degrees in 18 fields through its nine colleges.

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Asian nations work together to stop desertification

May 12 (korea.net) Asian countries, including Korea, China, Cambodia and Mongolia, have joined forces to combat desertification and to beef up cooperation in the forestry sector. 

As part of a series of joint efforts, the Korea Forest Service and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) jointly held their Asian Region Workshop in Songdo, Incheon, on May 7.

The UNCCD is an international agreement adopted in 1994 to combat desertification caused by indiscriminate forest development and land abuse. It is one of the UN's three major environmental accords, along with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Throughout the three-day workshop, more than 90 representatives from UNCCD branches across the Asian and Pacific regions reviewed reports on desertification from Asian countries, especially those heavily struck by land degradation. They also held in-depth discussions on how to deal with the problem. 

"Korea has continued to work together to help other Asian countries cope with desertification and land degradation," said an official from the Korea Forest Service. "We will continue to expand cooperative projects with these countries, based on our experiences in reforestation." 

The same day, across the seas in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a new forest research institute opened its doors. Ground for the institute was broken in March 2012, as part of efforts by the Korean forest agency to help Cambodia restore its forests and to construct facilities designed for forestry studies. 

The newly opened institute will serve as the centerpiece for the country's boosted response capabilities against rapid climate change and land degradation across the region. 

On top of that, a tree nursery in an annex of the building will develop strong, diverse species of trees using tissue cultures and distribute them to the government, companies and the public. It is hoped this would lead to enhanced abilities in forestry research and development. 

Along with the new forestry center, the 3rd Korea-Cambodia Forest Cooperation Committee meeting brought together both Korean and Cambodian representatives to discuss how to further help Korean investors in reforestation across the region, how to carry out pilot projects to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and how to enhance bilateral cooperation on forest studies. 

"Korea and Cambodia have been actively engaged in cooperative efforts in the forestry sector, at both private and government levels," said Lee Chang-jae, director of the Global Forest Resources and Trade Division of the Korea Forest Service. "The new Cambodian institute will hopefully play a pivotal role in expanding such cooperative projects, for example in restoring forests across the Mekong River area and in completing the REDD+ pilot project," the director added.

Meanwhile, in China too, the Korean forestry body has been lending a helping hand to prevent that country's rapid desertification. To this end, more than 3.2 million desert willows and poplar trees, both known to be well-adjusted to desert environments, were planted across 1,200 hectares of the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia, China, the origin of East Asia's "yellow dust" weather phenomenon. 

"We will continue to carry out a series of cooperative projects to help China combat desertification and 'yellow dust,'" said Choi Young-tae, director of the International Cooperation Division of the Korea Forest Service. Such efforts, he hopes, will improve the ecological environment across China's arid regions. 

Similar efforts are underway in other Asian nations, such as Indonesia and Mongolia, as well. 

The Korea-Mongolia Greenbelt Forestation Project is an anti-desertification effort being made in Mongolia, a country with 70 percent of its territory at risk of desertification. 

The project, initiated in 2007, has had millions of poplar trees planted throughout the Lun Soum region and the Gobi Desert. With the effort, a 3000-hectare forest will have been created in the area by 2016. 

Link to article

 

UNESCO enlists Mongolian calligraphy and ger craftsmanship as intangible cultural heritages

May 15 (news.mn) A ceremony was held at the Mongolian children`s palace on May 14th to acknowledge the receipt of the registration by UNESCO of certain Mongolian cultural heritages. Mongolian calligraphy has been inscribed to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and the Traditional craftsmanship of the Mongol Ger and its associated customs has been inscribed to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

At the ceremony the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the chairperson of the National Commission for UNESCO, L.Bold handed over the ratifications to the Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ts.Oyungerel.

Link to article

 

A Paleontologist Takes a Google Glass to the Gobi Desert

How Google Glass will help paleontologists identify new finds, share fossil hunts with people half a world away, and build digital models of dinosaur bones before the fossils even come out of the ground.

May 15 (Popular Mechanics) Now that anyone can buy Google Glass, you can expect the upcoming months to be filled with first-person videos of the oddest sort. But with all the unexpected uses people are sure to find with their new glasses, perhaps none will be as cool as Aki Watanabe's. 

Watanabe is a paleontologist and graduate student at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. As one of the first 2000 Google Glass beta-testers, he has been testing the limits of what the device can do for paleontology, taking the glasses as far away as the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Watanabe says Google Glass have already proven itself to be an excellent means for public outreach, showing others his first-person view of a dinosaur hunt. And as paleontology becomes increasingly digitized, the device could become a valuable tool for both fossil prospecting and research. 

"When I took the device to Mongolia, it was mostly for the purpose of documenting my trip and sharing what it's like to be paleontologist." Watanabe says. "And the reception the videos have received has been overwhelmingly positive. People seemed to have really loved the first-person view. You can always watch a documentary from National Geographic, but this actually feels like you're out there in the Gobi Desert, searching for fossils across this vast landscape." 

Link to article (includes Glass recorded videos)

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