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Friday, June 27, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Oyu Tolgoi Row Shouldn't Stall Funding, Director Says
By Michael Kohn
June 27 (Bloomberg) Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ)'s tax dispute with Mongolia shouldn't derail $4 billion of project financing to expand the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine part owned by Rio Tinto Group, a local director at the resource's operator said.
Viking Mines signs second coal MoU with Mongolian power authorities
June 26 (Proactive Investors) Viking Mines (ASX:VKA) has signed a second future coal supply agreement with a Mongolian Government power authority for its Berkh Uul Bituminous Coal Project in northern Mongolia.
This further validates the rationale for Viking to takeover Auminco Mines and Berkh Uul's potential to deliver high quality thermal coal.
The non-binding Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Erdenet Power Plant State Owned Stock Company (EPP), a major supplier of electricity to the Erdenet copper mine.
"The fact that Berkh Uul Project continues to be recognised by the Mongolian Government as a potential key supplier of coal to the EPP is a further significant milestone in the development of the project," managing director Peter McMickan.
"Auminco's ongoing discussions with domestic end-users continue to confirm a local industrial demand in northern Mongolia for unwashed Berkh Uul coal, due to its low ash, low sulphur and relatively high calorific value.
"This second MoU provides more evidence of the potential customer base for Berkh Uul's coal."
Erdenet Power Plant
The Erdenet Power Plant is a 36 megawatt power plant that consumes about 250,000 tonnes of coal per annum.
The MoU relates to the intent by EPP to enter into future purchase agreements for Berkh Uul coal.
It also establishes a basis for technical evaluation of the quality and quantity of coal, which includes testing of a bulk sample.
This follows an earlier agreement with Darkhan Thermal Power Plant, the major supplier of electricity to Mongolia's second largest city, the commercial and industrial centre of Darkhan, and the northern region of Mongolia.
Berkh Uul is 100% owned by Auminco Mines. It is located 400 kilometres north of Ulaanbaatar in Northern Mongolia, and within 40 kilometres of rail access into Russian off-take markets.
It is currently held under an exploration permit that covers 4,550 hectares and is valid until 2015. A Mining Lease application is imminent.
RungePincockMinarco has completed an Independent Geological Report in March 2014 that was based on 45 diamond drill holes and estimated a JORC (2012) Indicated Resource of 21.4 million tonnes, and Inferred Resource of 16.9 million tonnes, for a total of 38.3 million tonnes of near surface and high quality bituminous coal.
Evaluation of raw unwashed coal quality shows: moisture content of 19.8%, ash 15.5%, sulphur 0.37%, and calorific value of 5,323 kcal/kg.
This work also identified the presence of multiple, shallow dipping sub-parallel coal seams on the eastern limb of a gently folded syncline, with individual seams of 0.6 – 4.5 metres over a 3 kilometre strike length that extends to a depth of 200 metres.
Viking has received acceptances for 97.08% of Auminco under its takeover offer of 60.6 Viking Shares and 20.2 Viking Options for every 100 Auminco Shares held.
While not binding, this second MoU from Mongolian power authorities confirm a local industrial demand in northern Mongolia for unwashed Berkh Uul coal, due to its low ash, low sulphur and relatively high calorific value.
Auminco's ongoing discussions with domestic end-users continue to bear fruit. It is further evidence of the potential customer base for Berkh Uul's coal.
It is clearly being recognised by the Mongolian Government as a potential key supplier of coal to the EPP which should underpin the development of the Project.
Importantly, this sould fast track the development of Berkh Uul over the next 12 - 18 months.
We believe that Viking Ashanti can develop a small scale operation that could generate a conceptual free cash flow of up to US$3-5 million.
Our projected valuation for Viking Ashanti is $0.085 to $0.165 per share. This compares to its current share price of $0.04 per share.
Viking Mines chairman buys shares on the market
Gardner paid an average consideration of $0.038 per share, or a total of $17,426.04, for the shares, increasing his total holding to 10,442,643 shares.
He also holds 2,876,065 options exercisable at $0.18 on or before 31 August 2014.
The company has just signed a second future coal supply agreement with a Mongolian Government power authority for its Berkh Uul Bituminous Coal Project in northern Mongolia.
MSE News for June 26: Top 20 +0.01% to 15,327.29, Turnover ₮57 Million
Ulaanbaatar, June 26 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Thursday, a total of 92 thousand and 476 shares of 19 JSCs were traded costing MNT 57 million 079 thousand and 171.32.
"State Department Store" /81 thousand and 250 units/, "E-trans logistics" /4,300 units/, "Hermes center" /4,171 units/, "Olloo" /1,132 units/ and "Gobi" /500 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"State Department Store" (MNT 47 million 118 thousand and 940), "Gobi" (MNT three million and 825 thousand), "UB hotel" (MNT one million and 556 thousand), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT one million and 029 thousand) and "Eermel" (MNT 701 thousand and 610).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 546 billion 709 million 152 thousand and 736. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,327.29, increasing by MNT 1.24 or 0.01% against the previous day.
BoM MNT Rates: Thursday, June 26 Close
June MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:
Mogi: ₮1827.01 would be setting a new record low for MNT
BoM FX auction: US$14 million sold at ₮1827.01, CNY 44 million at ₮293.51, accepts $63 million swap bid, $40 million ask offers
June 26 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on June 26th, 2014 the BOM has received bid offer of USD and CNY from local commercial banks. The BOM has sold 14.0 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1827.01 and 44.0 million CNY as closing rate of MNT 293.51.
On June 26th, 2014, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to 63.0 million USD and USD Swap agreement ask offer of 40.0 million USD from local commercial banks and accepted all offer.
8% Mortgage Program Update: ₮534.2 Billion Refinanced, ₮1.17 Trillion Newly Issued
June 27 (Cover Mongolia) As of June 27, ₮534.2 billion (₮520.5 billion as of May 16) existing mortgages of 18,472 citizens (18,210 as of May 16) were refinanced at 8% out of ₮850.6 billion (₮847.4 billion as of May 16) worth requests.
Also, ₮1166.3 billion (₮1,078.2 billion as of May 16) new mortgages of 20,734 citizens (19,228 citizens as of May 16) were issued at new rates out of ₮1.1 trillion (1.1 trillion as of May 16) worth requests. (Mogi: more issued than requested? Lol)
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Former MNMA President D.Damba: I speak for miners, not politicians
June 26 (UB Post) Last weekend, the "100 Important Topics" program aired on several channels and online, stating that transporting coal to China by narrow-gauge railroad might pose a threat to national security. The former president of the Mongolia National Mining Association, D.Damba, was a representative of opposing views on the program. Below is an interview with him.
You've resigned from your position as President of the Mongolia National Mining Association. Why did you resign?
The four-year term was over. Throughout that time, I tried to build up the trust of colleagues in the mining sector, and I hope my efforts paid off. Because I worked for my sector's colleagues, I was dubbed a traitor. Currently, I'm working as President of the Mongolian Geology and Mining Institute.
I would like to clarify many things presented in the "100 Important Topics" program aired on several channels last weekend. By the way, whose "target dog" (a Mongolian idiom used to symbolize a person whose job it is to disguise someone else's distress in public) have you become?
I, myself, don't even understand whose "target dog" I've become. I'm an ordinary mining engineer. I've worked in this sector all my life. I'm not involved in politics in any way. A month ago, journalist Go.Badarch asked me to come and give an interview about the narrow gauge railway issue. When I got there, Member of Parliament B.Battulga was also asked to come. Battulga and I argued a little, due to differences in our views. But the broadcasted program was edited, cutting most of our discussion, and included only parts in which I was being offended. The program heavily offended me in public and depicted me as an enemy who betrayed his own country. Well, now I'm about to tell you the truth. In the interview, I said narrow gauge railroad is necessary for Mongolia because it's economically effective due to its low transportation cost. I'm not saying this alone. All mining sector people are saying the same thing. A non-specialist in the mining sector, or a person who doesn't have abundant information, would think that D.Damba is a real traitor. I see the broadcasted program as an effort to brainwash people who don't have much information. I regret it.
Will you appeal to any legal organizations?
I won't appeal to any legal organization. After all, I didn't lie. I said the truth, that from a financial and technical perspective, narrow gauge railroad is necessary. I'm not refuting Russian standard railroad. The government submitted a bill to build narrow gauge railroad to the State Great Khural. I thought they sacrificed me in an effort to create a program opposing the bill. After all, D.Damba is not a politician or an authority. I'm not an authority who decides whether to use narrow gauge railroad. Only as a professional, I said narrow gauge railroad is cost efficient.
Do you speak on behalf of someone?
I speak for no individuals but Mongolian miners. I don't speak on behalf of any politicians.
According to the program, wouldn't we empty our coal reserves by transporting it through eight aimags? It seemed like Chinese policy is to do so?
Because the program misrepresented the transportation plan, seeming so is inevitable. Specifically, the program presented it as if Mongolia is going to export coal only to China. Mongolia intends to access a maritime transportation network through China. Mongolia ought not to be transacting with only its two neighboring countries. On the other hand, Mongolia has the National Security Council. If the Council decides the narrow gauge railroad threatens national security, it has the authority to forbid it. I do nothing but hold the view that narrow gauge railroad is beneficial, as a professional. I'm not vehemently supporting the narrow gauge railroad. Since mining products require transportation, the cost efficient way to deliver consumers the product is railroad, for a landlocked country.
Would we empty our coal reserves if the narrow gauge railroad is built? How much reserve does Mongolia have?
Mongolia has tremendous reserves. According to the preliminary estimates by geologists, Mongolia has more than 170 billion tons of coal reserve. People say Tavan Tolgoi has an inexhaustible reserve, but it's only six tons. Today, countries are producing energy using coal, but might soon stop using coal. Some have stopped using it. Perhaps, in 20 years, coal may no longer be used as a fuel. Until then, why shouldn't we sell some coal and develop our national economy using profit from the sales. Twenty years from now, we may not have any coal consumers. After all, how can we live without selling our minerals?
Is coal to be transported through eight ports?
In the bill submitted by the government to the parliament, there are not eight ports. The bill didn't mention anything about transporting coal from Gobi Altai and Hovd aimags. A few ports, such as Gashuun-Sukhait, Bichigt and Zamiin-Uud, were mentioned in the bill. But the program heavily misrepresented the number of ports. If we build wide gauge railroad, we will need replacement trucks. Displacing loads at Chinese ports poses threats to the environment and human health. As of today, coal being transported to China is unloaded and gets truck replacement at Tsagaan-Khad. As a result of this load displacement procedure, the environment and human health are severely harmed at Tsgaan-Khad. In addition to this, coal quality decreases if loaded more than once.
How long it would take to boost the Mongolian economy if narrow gauge railroad is used in transportation?
The Government of Mongolia announced that it will export 30 million tons of coal this year and will increase this amount to 50 million tons from next year, as stated in its action plan. The Prime Minister signed a contract to deliver one billion tons of coal to China within the next ten years, during his visit to China. To fulfil the contract, an appropriate transportation system is essential. On the other hand, the program said coal would be exported without supervision. Mongolia has customs administration and border guards. Everything that crosses the border will be supervised and measured. We ought to have a pragmatic attitude toward the issue.
The main thing is that China itself has tremendous coal reserves. Does Mongolia need to deliver its coal to China? Though Mongolia needs to deliver for economic growth, what if Mongolia became dependent on China for coal in the future?
It's true that China has more coal reserves than Mongolia. But China uses several billion tons of coal annually. China supplies 80 percent of its own demand and buys the remaining 20 percent from foreign countries such as Australia, Russia, Mongolia, Indonesia and Kazakhstan. Mongolia is not China's only coal supplier. Watching the broadcasted program, I thought some people were not even told what topic they were discussing. For example, B.Lkhagvasuren said, "What are you talking about? I won't talk about dirty things." For me, what he was talking about was ambiguous. I would like to highlight that such a program, consisting of various edited parts, shouldn't be used to harm a man's reputation.
This interview was edited for clarity.
Sources: Zuunii Medee,
Land, language and identity
June 26 (UB Post) I started a #WhatisErliiz hashtag on Twitter in the wake of the Gazriin Tuhai Huuli (Law on Land) that had Mongolians in a social media frenzy and throwing the word "erliiz" around like it was some kind of disease. Though their solidarity was wonderful, and I applaud it, their use of the word "erliiz" just made me cringe.
"Erliiz" literally means "mixed" in Mongolian, to the best of my understanding, but its figurative meaning is packed with negative and positive connotations. I notice though, that somehow it is more negative if erliiz refers to a mixture with Mongolia's southern neighbor than any other country.
In the case of the Law on Land, I think the issue brought to light the cultural fears and sensitivities of the Mongolian people when it comes to China. Mongolians are the ones who live in their country and are thus absolutely entitled to their opinions based on their own personal truths rooted in their history, geography and oral traditions, and I will not argue against that truth. But I want to understand it more, if only so that I can share my personal truths of erliiz within my own context, and then compare and contrast. I try to analyze things with a sober mind, because I see it as my duty to understand their side (which is half of me), even if I do not agree. Who is to say I wouldn't be there chanting these same phrases had I been raised in Mongolia?
The positive connotation of erliiz may sound like, "Far away bloods mix to make a smart person" and "Mixed people are beautiful", and the negative connotations may sound something like, "Your parent is a traitor, you are a traitor, you don't belong with us" or "You should choose us, our nationality, and not your other one, because we need you the most and we are the best".
I've heard a combination of these sentiments and more from my Mongolian counterparts while spending most of my life growing up outside of Mongolia. With each comment, I've had to subdue my anger (and vanity) to understand the speaker's perspective, in case I was wrong. Growing up "erliiz" and with people who made sure I knew I was "erliiz" made me feel like a minority who just had to follow orders and the social status quo. Growing up with that kind of low self-esteem, and fear of always being wrong and needing to be right, I've had to understand the hard way that I am not wrong, just different.
I should admit that my treatment wasn't as bad as it could have been, mostly because my mom made sure I grew up where she and I were embraced. Rocks were not thrown at me during primary school for being different, and fights were not picked with me, probably because I was a girl. The worst I ever got was underhanded and overt insults. Even during the short time I lived in Mongolia, in most cases but not all, erliiz was used positively about my identity because all that people really seemed to know about Mexico and Latin America was what they saw on the hit Venezuelan telenovela "Cara Sucia". The television show aired in Mongolia in the early 90s and had people in a trance. Even though I did not have to face a whole other level of racism because I happen to not be mixed with Chinese, as a fellow mixed person, I can (and feel that I must) empathize with someone who may be treated unkindly because he or she is Mongolian and Chinese, or just Chinese, or just different. Perhaps the connotation of the word "erliiz" is chosen after the question "With what?" is answered. Therefore, the #WhatisErliiz hashtag is meant to share what "erliiz" means to me.
I met a young Mongolian man recently in a group conversation about patriotism, "eh oronch"-ness. I sat quietly, as I always do when this charismatic topic comes up, until this young man expressed his disdain for his relative's marriage to a Chinese person. The sentiment cut me deeply because, for a flicker of a moment, I saw that same disdain directed at my mother many years ago, and it became personal. This man's relative, whom I did not know, became someone I could empathize with, and the person sitting in front of me became someone of great interest because I wanted to know where this disdain came from. Who taught it to him? I simply asked, "Why?"
When he heard my side of the story regarding mixed marriages and patriotism, he tried to get me to choose Mongolia, especially since my partner is Mongolian. I told him that being with a Mongolian person does not make me any less "erliiz", any less Mexican, or any less loyal to my other experiences. I told him I couldn't choose a full Mongolian identity just like that, that my identity was already chosen. I am fully "erliiz", and I don't have to be only "one thing". I added that his relative was not any less Mongolian because he or she married someone foreign, and Chinese at that. In the end, I got to hear his side. From what I gathered, his father instilled these patriotic values in him, while his relative was someone who had lived abroad for many years. Isn't it amazing how we are all products of our environments, and how much parents matter in the construction of our opinions and experiences? I told him he wasn't wrong for that, but I did tell him he should spare some compassion.
I finally asked, "Do you love your relative?" and he said, "Yes, very much."
"So, then what else is there?" I retorted.
To be "eh oronch" and to be "patriotic", does one have to hate another peoples? Is that what it means to be a patriot? Protecting a homeland cannot mean hating others who have done nothing wrong. If West wants to attack East, or vice versa, the East will have to band together. If aliens want to attack Earth, we'll all have to band together, too. So, it is best to work out differences while we can, be smart, and educate people to understand one another because this world is only getting smaller and smaller.
Bolor online dictionary defines erliiz as "colored", "crossbreed" and "multinational". Not so sure about mongrel and mule, but I'm not going to focus on that right now. The translation to "bastard" is what really caught my eye. It's actually the first definition listed. It might be the meaning ascribed to erliiz by society, but it is terribly outdated. Depending on who you talk to, erliiz can be embraced, it can even be coveted. But it is not a mark of shame anymore, or at least not as shameful as it was when I was born, and it shouldn't be used to insult those who are mixed.
With #WhatIsErliiz we have the opportunity to understand both sides of the debate, because both perspectives have roots in us, and us in them, and then come to our own conclusions. Maybe we are all erliiz in mentality, but are too caught up with what we look like on the outside and what older generations think of our decisions.
In my opinion, contrary to what the world and its societies tell me, two cultures can work harmoniously if we let them. Cross-cultural families do not make bastards. "Erliiz" can mean harmony if we let it.
Mishell Hernandez is a writer born in Moscow, raised in Mexico, Mongolia, and the United States, and currently living in Australia. She writes about her life, travels and self-discovery on her blog, Mishell's WordPress.
Mongolia Seeks to Boost FX Reserve by $1 Billion Producing 30 Tons of Gold in 2014
June 26 (infomongolia.com) The regular monthly "Transparent Mining" press conference hosted by the Ministry of Mining of Mongolia was held on June 25, 2014 and during the meeting the following report was presented.
- The new standards for "Coal Category MNS 6456:2014" and "Coal and Charcoal Products Category MNS 6457:2014" have been registered and entered into force from June 12, 2014. These standards are determined and submitted by experts, engineers and professional associations of Mongolia after comparison studies of standards being developed by United States, Australia, China and Russia in accordance with international norms.
- In order to decrease fuel supply dependence, new contracts to import fuel have been made based on international stock market price. As a result of this action, a total volume of fuel to import from Russia is reduced from 92% (in 2012) to 77% this year or 15 weight percent. Also, the share of imports from "Rosneft" Company is reduced to 2-3 times or 30%.
- In 2014, Mongolia expects to mine over 30 tons of gold in legal frames that would contribute to the Central Bank's foreign currency reserve with revenue of about one billion USD.
- As of May 2014, Mongolia's production of copper concentrate reached 397.1 thousand tons, molybdenum production 1.5 thousand tons, gold 2.0 tons, coal 10.0 million tons, fluorspar 116.2 thousand tons and iron ore 1.8 million tons respectively. In addition, crude oil production is at 2,736 thousand barrels.
- As of June 24, 2014, an average reserve volume of petroleum products is 36 days nationwide, of which A-80 grade gasoline for 41 days, AI-92 - 43, Diesel - 33 and TC-1 for 27 days.
Cabinet Backs Draft Amendments to Customs Tariffs, VAT
Ulaanbaatar, June 26 (MONTSAME) At its irregular meeting, the cabinet backed draft amendments to the laws on customs tariff, customs tax, on VAT.
As the cabinet decided, these amendments will be submitted to the State Great Khural (parliament).
From Bad to Expensive? Railway Development in Mongolia
June 26 (Mongolian Economy) It was six or seven years ago when Mongolia first set out to build 1,800 kilometres of new railway to increase the volume of exports to China. The issue became hugely political, however, and even though the matter was considered settled in 2010 – after the State Great Khural barely passed a strategy for rail development – some issues remain unresolved.
The 2010 rail policy proscribes 400 kilometres of rail between Dalanzadgad, Tavan Tolgoi, Tsagaan Suvarga and Zuunbayan; 350 kilometres between Sainshand and Baruun-Urt; 140 kilometres between Baruun-Urt and Khuut; and 150 kilometres between Khuut and Choibalsan. But construction never launched in 2010 as it was supposed to, with very little explanation as to why. Parliamentarians blame investment challenges.
Although the initial phase of the project has yet to kick off, some work for the second phase has launched. The second phase includes the construction of small spurts or rail, such as 45.5 kilometres between Nariinsukhait and Shivee Khuren; 267 kilometres between Ukhaakhudag and Gashuun Sukhait; 380 kilometres between Khuut and Tamsagbulan; and 200 kilometres between Ukhaa Khudag and Gashuun Sukhait. The excavation of 267 kilometres of rail between Ukhaa Khudag and Gashuun Sukhait launched last year.
However, crucial details such as how ownership should be divided, the costs, and what specifications should be used are still matters for debate.
The government announced an open international tender bid in 2009 for a contract to lead the railway construction project. That contract was awarded to Mongolian Mining Corporation, which owns the Ukha Khudag mine.
But another tender was announced in 2012 that invited seven companies from Australia, China and South Korea to participate. South Korea's Samsung C&T Corporation eventually won the contract to lead the construction of 267 km railway between Ukhaa Khudag and Gashuun Sukhait. Another 12 Mongolian companies are assisting in the construction. Mongolian Mining received compensation from the government for the lost tender.
According to a preliminary estimate, construction will require USD 5.2 billion in total. That is a sum greater than the annual budget. Investment is the only option left to finance the project. However, the government will have to be clear about its relationship with its partners.
Former President of the Russian Federation's Republic of Kalmykia Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov has expressed interest in investing in the project. Ilyumzhinov, a millionaire who held office from 1993 to 2010, has promised to invest up to USD 1.6 billion for the project.
"If we could sign the agreement soon, we are willing to start the construction work," he said. Ilyumzhinov plans to establish a consortium for the project, including Spain's Uchi Yel - one of the world's top 10 railway builders that has constructed more than 6,000 kilometres of rail in countries such as the United States and China.
Ilyumzhinov has also invited Canada's Bambarde and Rau Ji De to join the consortium, in addition to companies from Russia, France and Britain. He is also interested in working with Russian Railways (RZD). All that is left is to draw up a shareholder agreement with the Mongolian government.
Mongolia Mining's Ukha Khudag mining subsidiary Energy Resource launched construction of the railway between Tavan Tolgoi and Gashuun Sukhait. The Mongolian Railway Engineering Association (MREA) says it has repeatedly notified officials at the Ministry of Road and Transport of the USD 2 million per kilometre of rail price tag for construction between Gashuun Sukhait and Tavan Tolgoi.
But according Mongolian Railway project director A. Zorig, that is not enough. "The cost Energy Resource [planned to] spend for the project construction ranged from USD 2.5 million to USD 3.2 million per kilometre," he said.
The MREA estimate would not provide a rail with a load capacity large enough for the freight Mongolia plans to deliver by rail, Zorig said.
Although construction has already begun in some places, a critical issue remains unresolved: should Mongolia build its rail using the standard gauge used in China or Russia's broad gauge? Although the 2010 policy strategy calls for the broad gauge, the issue is set to be discussed once again after the Khural recommences for the spring session.
Politicians have argued hardest over the gauge issue. Many argue the broad gauge that is standard in Russia is not practical for use since most exports will be heading for China, which uses an incompatible, narrow gauge.
MREA argues that the narrow gauge is the standard in most countries, excluding a few countries such as Spain. Still, there is little justification for using the broad gauge preferred by Russia, says the Association, and installing rails with both gauges looks unfeasible.
Not surprisingly, Ilyumzhinov argues Mongolia has more to benefit from the use of the broad gauge because Mongolia should not be placing even more dependence on China. Using the broad gauge would likely be costly, however. Transit via a broad-gauge rail includes an additional cost of USD 2 per tonne once goods reach the Chinese-Mongolia border, said Zorig. That adds to a sum total loss of USD 50 million for 25 million tonnes of annual coal shipped to China – which is the maximum capacity allowed for current rail plans.
Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag paid an official visit to China last year where he signed a contract to provide 50 million tonnes of coal a year. How Mongolia could possibly deliver on this promise with a capacity of only 25 million a year is anybody's guess. Mongolia's rails will also require more railway junctions, or at least another rail heading north.
If these issues are ignored and Mongolia simply moves forward with the current plans, today's bad situation will likely grow worse – and more expensive.
A Dark Life in Tsagaan Khad
June 26 (Mongolian Economy) A number of trucks scurry along a dirt road, raising dust in the air. The clouds of dust force them to detour on and off the road because of poor visibility. This happens every day here in Tsagaan Khad and is just the norm for those who live and work here.
Tsagaan Khad meaning "white rock" is a bagh (a sub-category of a county) of Khanbogd in the province of Umnugobi, close to where the Oyu Tolgoi mine operates. A number of people, especially truck drivers, have been lured here by the opportunity to make money. Just a few years ago, this area was just a desolate landscape. It is located 130 kilometres from Khanbogd and 240 kilometres from Tsogttsetsii, near where the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine is located.
Everything has changed since a customs control zone was established in Tsagaan Khad a few years ago. This customs facilitates coal en route to China. In Tsagaan Khad, there are a number of residents from different provinces such as Khuvsgul, Bulgan, Orkhon, Uvs, Khovd and Zavkhan. The population is increasing and they need schools, kindergartens and health facilities for the area.
Many people in Tsagaan Khad live in traditional gers, but most are dirty and shabby because of the dust kicked up by the never-ending cavalcade of coal trucks driving over the dirt roads and soot picked up from coal by strong gusts of wind. Tsagaan Khan is increasingly beginning to resemble a small town as the number of migrants from other provinces grows.
In Tsagaan Khad, the organisation's gers and houses are found strewn about across the landscape. According to the governor of Khan Bogd, it is because of unregulated sprawl. Gers are built haphazardly and are surrounded by unused tyres and broken spare parts for trucks.
A great deal of coal is stored at Tsagaan Khad as well, but moving tons of coal also spreads giant clouds of soot. It is typical for mines to curtail operations at mines for three months each year, but the clouds never disappear because of all the coal left outdoors for soot to be picked up by winds.
Trucks typically have the capacity to load 70 tonnes of coal at once. But it is common for mining companies to load more than 100 tonnes to save money. This leads to an increase in a number of accidents.
Trucks often drive slowly to maintain visibility, but every minute is money here. And with coal prices declining, the truck drivers are under immense pressure. One truck driver said that 1,000 trucks usually pass by customs each day. However, the soft coal market means it's not unusual for just 400 trucks to pass on some days.
It is 25 kilometres between Tsagaan Khad and the Gashuun Sukhait – Mongolia's third biggest customs check point. Coal trucks travel along a narrow and dangerous dirt road. Most drivers have grown accustomed to the hazardous nature of their job.
There are two types of drivers that travel between Mongolia's coal mines and China's Gants Mod border point: those who work for Mongolian mines and those who work for Chinese.
The only requirement to work for a Chinese company is a driver's licence. It is a tempting prospect for those looking for work, and people travel from all over.
Chinese companies do not pay insurance fees and drivers risk their lives on these hazardously dusty roads. Any accidents that occur are the drivers' faults and they are responsible for paying for the damage. Drivers are paid MNT 280,000 per trip across the border, which creates large incentive to drive even when it is dangerous to do so because of exhaustion.
Chinese companies have 8,000 trucks in total, of which 4,000 are driven by Mongolian drivers. Each one of them has to pay a RMB 1,500 (MNT436,000) for a year's permission to drive across the border. The distance drivers travel is entirely up to employers. Any driver who manages to transport more than 110 tonnes of coal in one trip is given a bonus of RMB 100 (MNT 29,000).
Mongolian coal mining companies find it hard to compete with those across the border because drivers are so expensive.
"Chinese people voluntarily let Mongolians work for them as truck drivers. In general, they drive trucks to transport coal from Tsagaan Khad. But when their visa is over, they let us complete the short distance to transport for them," said Dashdavaa, a Mongolia driver who works for a Chinese company.
Dashdavaa came to Tsagaan Khad from the northern province of Khuvsgul more than three months ago, but he said that he has not been able to earn enough money to send to his family in his hometown because of the downturn in coal demand.
Dashdavaa's truck was carrying 118 tonnes of coal, 48 more tonnes then the truck is meant to hold. He said it was common for the link carrying the trailer to get damaged, as well as problems with brakes. But drivers are desperate for the RMB 100 (MNT 29,000) bonus.
Lucrative Tyre Repair Work
Tsagaan Khad has five or six tyre repair services because it is common to have holes punched in tyres. It costs MNT 10,000 per tyre repaired MNT 8,000 to change in a new tyre. Tyre service centres used to earn MNT 150,000 to MNT 200,000 a day when coal exports were booming. But those days are gone and business is merely sputtering along today.
"If we stay here longer, our health will deteriorate. So, we hope that we will not be here for that long," laments Oyuntsetseg, the owner of a tyre service centre. "It is a quite difficult to face strong and dusty wind every day."
"Immediately after moving here, we started thinking of going back to Orkhon province, where we came from. After a month we managed to adapt to the current situation. Before we came here, our monthly wages sustained our lives. Since we started earning some profit here on our own, we thought to continue our business and be more patient."
This family intends to go back to their hometown to resettle after the eldest son's graduation from university.
Work hazards and health risks
When drivers return from the Chinese border point after unloading their coal hauls, there is a paved road that costs RMB 100 to use. The companies do not pay for that, however, so naturally drivers do not use the road to avoid the extra fee.
The roads are dangerous but air pollution caused by the dust and coal is also causing concern.
"There is no doubt that this tremendous air pollution causes respiratory disease," said Oyuntsetseg.
Because we are still young, we might not feel it at this moment. When we need medical services, Khanbogd county, located 130 kilometres from here, is the only place we can find a hospital and see a doctor."
"Sometimes, we have a headache or stomach ache. In that case, we use some pain killers to get over it. Everybody here does the same. It is not easy to find cars that will take us to Khanbogd county. Also it's quite rare for people to hitchhike to Khanbogd county to see a doctor."
The lure of more money and a prosperous life is the main draw card for the truck drivers navigating the dirt roads of Tsagaan Khad. The trade off, however, is huge risk to one's health and life.
Mongolia to Loan $75 Million from Russian Development Bank for 100MW CHP4 Upgrade
Ulaanbaatar, June 26 (MONTSAME) An irregular cabinet meeting on Thursday authorized the Representative Leading Board of the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) to establish a credit agreement of USD 75 million with Russia's Vnesheconombank.
The money will be exploited for purchasing a turbine-generator of 100MWatt to be installed in the #4 thermal power station of the city. Earlier, a contract was established on financing the project about augmenting the power station's capability and regulating a repayment in order to raise a necessary capital for the project, and the project's financing is being collected through relevant construction contracts and the project performances. For the time being, 48.5 million USD has been given to the project.
Ulaanbaatar to increase direct flights with China to boost tourism
June 26 (UB Post) A delegation of Chinese tourism sector arrived in Ulaanbaatar by invitation of the Ulaanbaatar Tourism Authority.
A business meeting took place on Wednesday between Chinese and Mongolian tourism industry delegates. Some 14 tourism companies from Beijing, Wuhan, Manzhouli, and Mongolia's airlines and tourism companies introduced their products and services.
More than 65 thousand tourists visit Mongolia in July of every year, therefore Mongolia is preparing special events for tourists during Naadam Festival.
According to studies conducted last year, 53 percent of all tourists come by plane, 40 percent by road, and two percent through railways. Recent studies on tourist travel routes reported that travels to eastern provinces of Mongolia is increasing. The Mongolian Tourism Authority said it plans to boost tourism by promoting and increasing direct flights to major cities and widen services directed at tourists.
Conference for Ulaanbaatar SMEs to Be Held by City
Ulaanbaatar, June 26 (MONTSAME) Small and medium enterprise owners operating in the city will convene in the Civil Hall this Friday.
At the conference, the gathered will earn knowledge about a procedure of the foundation for small- and medium-sized industries, pass to the city authorities their opinions on the procedure, share views about it with each other.
The procedure of the foundation aims at supporting increased and environment-friendly production of small and medium enterprises. It also offers soft, flexible loans and financial trust services to those business people.
The opinions of 350 entrepreneurs will later be included in a municipal industrialization support program.
Ulaanbaatar Sculpture Festival Held
Ulaanbaatar Sculpture Festival, organized by the Ulaanbaatar Governor`s Office and Municipal Planning Authority will continue until July 19th.
At the opening of the festival, an exhibition of drawings created through different methods including by Mongolian traditional script, in an aquarium, by computer, by feet, by mouth and by sand were displayed.
A drawings and sculpture work contest for adults and plasticine work contest among children was carried out.
In the scope of the program "Friendly Ulaanbaatar", the 3D art decoration contest has announced that it will name its winner on July 21st.
As part of the program "Community culture" a contest for the design of sculptures has been announced. The contest has received 25 amazing works from competitors.
During the Ulaanbaatar Sculpture Festival, the "City Decoration and Sculpture" scientific conference will take place at Khangarid Palace on June 27th.
The works of the Festival will be displayed to the public at the National Garden Park in Ulaanbaatar between July 5th and 14th.
The closing of the festival will be held during the Investors Forum at the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry on July 16th.
45,000 clean stoves to find homes this fall
Ulaanbaatar air pollution to drop by roughly 65 percent in six years
June 26 (UB Post) The Parliamentary Sub-committee for Air Pollution Reduction (PSAPR) introduced its 2014 first-half performance report and future plans on Tuesday.
A total of 20 companies are constructing apartments at 17 locations, following the city administrations' resolution to reduce Ulaanbaatar air pollution by relocating ger area residents into apartments. The constructions started after households that were residing in 37 hectares of land relieved their lands. As a result the relocation, a total of 800 coal stoves have gone out of use.
The city administrations are working to relocate 70,000 to 100,000 households to apartments in six years, which is expected to reduce air pollution in Ulaanbaatar by as much as 50 to 60 percent.
Improved stoves have been sold to ger district residents at a discount in the past three years and 45,000 more improved stoves will be sold from September to November.
PSAPR officials noted that air pollution is not only an issue in the city but also in provinces as residents are re-selling improved stoves, that were purchased at a discount, to mostly provincial residents.
Therefore the sub-committee decided to sell improved stoves at provinces starting this year. Following the higher demand of the stoves, Selenge Construction has already imported the required technical equipment for a stove factory.
Once the factory opens, repair centers for improved stoves will also become available as citizens have seen several faults since the introduction of the stove in 2011.
The officials also highlighted that ger area redevelopment projects are taking more time than expected due to relocation issues of land owners. Households that reside in planned redevelopment areas are given a chance to move into a new apartment for free in two to three years after relieving their lands, which has not been received favorably by residents.
Officials noted that a potential solution for this issue can be the offering of reasonably priced apartments, for instance at Buyant Ukhaa apartment town, and offer them a small land in the city outskirts as well. With this offer, over 80 percent of ger area residents will be willing to cooperate with the projects, said PSAPR officials.
June 26 (UB Post) In the past few weeks, bright yellow smiley faces have been painted on manhole covers along main roads and streetlight poles along Baga Toiruu and University Street have been painted in light green as part of urban image improvement programs of the Ulaanbaatar Governor.
Streetlight poles along Ikh Toiruu and Peace Avenue will be painted to suit the colors in the area.
In addition, painters drew pictures of walking children on main footpaths and sidewalks of the city to highlight their original purpose.
Small parks have also been planned to be constructed at busy streets in the city – near West Central Intersection and in University Street.
Mongolian Delegation at First UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi
Ulaanbaatar, June 26 (MONTSAME) A delegation of Mongolia is participating in the first UN Environment Assembly which is running in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters Nairobi, Kenya.
The delegation's head and the Minister of Environment and Green Development Ms S.Oyun is chairing meetings of the assembly and of a bureau, whereas others have worked in the committee comprising officials from Asia-Pacific region, in the group of the Assembly president's fellows and in a working group for updating domestic rules.
Our delegation sounded for all a message of the Mongolian President and granted it to the Secretariat.
Ms Oyun has given interviews to the UN Radio, China's CCTV and Phoenix TV of Hong Kong. Together with a head of the External Relations Section of the Ministry D.Batbold, she met with Mr Ittiporn Boonpracong, a chairman of the "77+China" Group and Permanent Representative of Thailand, and with Ms Maria Eugenia, the Ambassador of Colombia to Kenya and chairwoman of the Group of Latin America and Caribbean countries.
Ms Oyun also has attended a symposium themed "Financial mechanism for green economy" to emphasize an importance of developing the financial market, delivering to the public an understanding of green economy and changing their tendency to environment in order to tackle financial matters of green economy. After this, she has met with Mr Yvo de Boer, the Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute; Mr Hassan Hilal, the Minister of Environment of Sudan and a former chairman of the UNEA; Mr Yogeshwar Varma, the Permanent Representative of India to the UNEP, and with delegates of civil society for UNEP. Moreover, she has been invited to a banquet given jointly Peru, France and Poland.
The UN Environment Assembly will continue until Friday.
Mongolian ambassador visits Okinawa; future flights on agenda
June 24 (Japan Update) Mongolian Ambassador to Japan Sodovjamts Khurelbaatar visited Okinawa last week, and also paid a visit to Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, Friday.
During the meeting Khurelbaatar expressed his interest to begin direct flights between Mongolia and Okinawa when the new airport at Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator opens in 2016. Ambassador Khurelbaatar said, "I hope to develop many types of exchanges, both economical and regional, with Okinawa."
The new Ulan Bator International Airport in Mongolia is scheduled to be complete in 2016 when direct flights between Okinawa and Mongolia could be possible.
In an interview after the meeting, chairman of the Okinawa-Mongolia Friendship Association Isamu Kouei announced a plan to construct a Mongolia Village in Nakijin, where people can experience Mongolian lifestyles and learn about the traditional tent-like dwellings of Mongolian nomadic tribes called yurt. The facility is scheduled to open within this year.
Mogi: Montsame needs all the help it can get
Turkey state Anadolu Agency to train journalists from Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, June 26 (MONTSAME) Journalists and media workers from Mongolia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan will trained at Turkish Anadolu Agency's News Academy.
The Turkey Media Training Program will run June 30-July 4 in Ankara in cooperation with the General Directorate of Press and Information, says the news published at Anadolu News Agency website.
Journalists and media workers coming from Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will be trained on Agency Journalism, Applied Photography Shooting Techniques, Applied Video Production Techniques and Multimedia applications. The group will also receive lectures from the agency's experienced staff and other experts.
The first day of the course will cover an overview of the Anadolu Agency and its centenary vision for 2020, its management structure with new-generation technologies, system software and hardware requirements, Internet network security and new approaches to social media.
ADB: Food Stamp Program Focuses Aid on Poorest Families in Mongolia
An ADB-supported program is helping Mongolia identify and assist the poorest people in the country.
June 24 (ADB) Namjilsuren Gombo and her five daughters live in a simple ger - a traditional one-room tent home in Mongolia - along a hardscrabble mountainside on the outskirts of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar.
With an eighth-grade education and no husband, 42-year-old Namjilsuren has struggled for years to take care of her five daughters on her meager income. Some months, just keeping them fed meant giving up other necessities.
"Sometimes we did not have notebooks for them to use in school," she recalls. Adding later, "There were times before when I used to cry because I felt helpless."
These days, life is better for Namjilsuren and her daughters. They have been enrolled in a government food stamp program, which is a welfare benefit that helps them to buy enough flour, rice, and other basic commodities to get them through the month. Using the stamps to cover food expenses frees up money to spend on other necessities.
"It means we get to satisfy our daily food consumption needs," she says. "With full stomachs, the children are much happier going to school and their grades have improved. They never miss school, they are better fed, and they have something to wear. They are happy attending their classes."
Identifying the poorest households
The Food and Nutrition Social Welfare Program and Project, a partnership between the Government of Mongolia and ADB, was launched to help the government provide assistance to the country's poor and vulnerable people in response to the global food and fuel crisis in 2008. When food prices spiked in May 2008, inflation in Mongolia reached 33%, the highest rate in Asia. The country was importing almost 80% of its food. Poverty at the time stood at 33% of the population. In poor households, about 70% of the budget was spent on food.
The government first reacted to public demonstrations about high food prices by raising welfare payments for all by 20%. This approach was costly, particularly because it did not channel the welfare benefits to the poorest. Through the ADB-supported project, the most vulnerable households were identified. Being able to target assistance enabled the government to help those who were most in need, while also helping contain the government's ballooning welfare expenditure.
The Food and Nutrition Social Welfare Program and Project helped the government create a food stamp program that carefully targeted the poorest and most vulnerable 5% of the population. This was the first time in Mongolia that poor families nationwide were systematically identified. Food stamps represent about 10% of average monthly spending in these households.
The project designed and conducted a nationwide household survey that identified the country's poor. The resulting database has become an important tool for poverty targeting, which can be used for other social programs.
An effective safety net
"The project helped to create a safety net, ensuring food consumption and nutritional levels for the poor," says Wendy Walker, a principal social development specialist at ADB. "The impact evaluation of the project found that the most significant impacts have been ensuring food security and dietary diversity for households, improving self-esteem, and reducing negative coping strategies such as having to borrow money from others to pay for food."
Many people who receive food stamps have told government officials that their children are particularly benefiting. The extra money is often set aside for their education. Because the food stamps can only be used for 10 essential food commodities, and are most often used by female members of the household, the assistance helps to ensure nutritional impact in the household instead of being spent on other less essential items.
"The biggest advantage of the food stamp system is that the stamps are mostly handled by female members of the household and are intended solely for buying food," says Lkhagvasuren Myagmarjav, a director in the Social Welfare Service Department in the General Office of Social Welfare and Services. "This support is critical in building hope and confidence among the most vulnerable members of the society. As a result, they can play more active roles in their communities."
Altansukh Myagmarjav, project manager in the Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor, adds "Food stamps in rural areas are paper stamps that are redeemed at shops, but in urban areas they are electronic debit cards with the monthly payment automatically transferred by the bank to the card. This makes it very easy for beneficiaries to use and for the government to manage the program."
This article is an excerpt from a longer piece originally published in Together We Deliver, a publication highlighting successful ADB projects across Asia and the Pacific that demonstrated development impacts, best practice, and innovation.
Mongolia Certified Measles-Free by World Health Organization
June 26 (infomongolia.com) Mongolia began to immunize its population with a vaccine against the measles or Ulaan Burkhan disease in Mongolian since 1973.
As a result from the last 40 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) presented a Certificate verifying that Mongolia completely prevented the measles disease.
The Certificate conferring ceremony was held in Ulaanbaatar today on June 26, 2014, where Director of the Division of Combating Communicable Diseases at the WHO in the Western Pacific, Dr. Mark Jacobs handed over the Certificate to Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag.
During the ceremony Dr. Mark Jacobs noted, "In the region, only Australia, Macau, Mongolia and South Korea out of 37 countries could prevent the spread of this disease and this action does not depend on a country development level, only immunization procedure results and right system would achieve a positive result".
The Prime Minister said, "As a result of 40 years immunization taken against measles spread, Mongolia becomes the country of measles-free and this is a great contribution of our health sector's authorities, doctors, medical staff as well as nurses".
In 1940, Mongolia became the first nation in Asia to eradicate Smallpox infectious disease or Tsagaan Tsetseg disease in Mongolian language and the WHO certified Mongolia with polio-free accreditation in 2000.
Certificate Granted for Total Elimination of Measles – Montsame, June 26
Preparation for Naadam is underway
June 26 (news.mn) A wide range of preparation for the opening and closing ceremonies and State Ceremonial Concert of Naadam for the 808th anniversary of the Mongol State and 93rd anniversary of the People`s Revolution has begun.
Last year`s organizing team is reuniting for the preparation of this year`s Naadam Festival.
For the opening and closing ceremonies of Naadam, over 5000 artists will participate while 1000 artists will perform in the State Ceremonial Concert that will be held at the Central Cultural Palace.
The organizing team of Naadam includes the prominent choreographer D.Bayarbaatar, D.Enkhgerel, and Ariunbold and State Honored, State Merit Artist D.Sosorbaram. The organizer of the Naadam preparation D.Sosorbaram said that Naadam will be organized under the theme of "High destiny of Mongolia" displaying nomadic people`s history, philosophy and wonders.
During the concert there will be 21 female throat singers and 21 male khoomii singers, and 33 Mongolian traditional folk dancers in a display like an opening flower.
This year the government approved a budget of 300 million MNT for the preparation of the three main events: the opening, closing and ceremonial concert. (Mogi: news.mn fails to mention the full budget approved for Naadam is ₮2.2 billion, ₮0.7 billion more than 2013)
Good Country Index 2014: Mongolia – 109th out of 125
June 26 (infomongolia.com) International experts and scholars have released the First Good Country Index 2014 to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away.
Using a wide range of data from the U.N., the World Bank and other international organizations, each country is given a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it's a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between.
The Good Country Index 2014 surveyed a total of 125 countries in Science and Technology, Culture, International Peace and Security, World Order, Planet and Climate, Prosperity and Equality, and Health and Wellbeing categories, where Mongolia is ranked at the 109th place after overall scores collected.
Mongolia - Overall Ranking 109th
Science and Technology - 62
Culture - 96
International Peace and Security - 38
World Order - 114
Planet and Climate - 101
Prosperity and Equality - 50
Health and Wellbeing – 121
Room #5, Coffice Hub, 5th Floor, Time Center
21 Baga Toiruu Street, Sukhbaatar District 8
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 15160
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