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Monday, September 8, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Mogi: reading OT's statement, got the sense Craig wanted to move back to UK, perhaps family had a hard time adjusting in Mongolia
Rio's Andrew Woodley to Take Over Oyu Tolgoi Mine Amid Disputes
By Michael Kohn
September 4 (Bloomberg) Rio Tinto Group's copper mining unit in Mongolia said Andrew Woodley will take over as president, handing him the job of managing a dispute with the government over developing one of the world's biggest deposits of the metal.
Rio Tinto appoints new chief of Mongolia Oyu Tolgoi copper mine – Reuters, September 4
XAM closed -3.12% Friday, +244.4% in last 3 months
XANADU MINES: DRILLING RESULTS DEMONSTRATE SIGNIFICANT WIDTH TO EAST ALTAN TOLGOI DISCOVERY
September 5, Xanadu Mines Ltd. (ASX:XAM) --
- East Altan Tolgoi is a significant new discovery at the Kharmagtai project with recent drilling results demonstrating significant width (up to 300m) to the highgrade tourmaline breccia mineralisation.
- The Altan Tolgoi system has an overall strike length of over 800m and remains open to the west, east and at depth.
- KHDDH350 intersected copper-gold mineralisation hosted in a broad zone of tourmaline breccia mineralisation including:
o 268.0m @ 0.46% Cu & 0.52g/t Au (0.79% CuEq) from 182.0m, including
o 119.6m @ 0.62% Cu & 0.67g/t Au (1.04% CuEq) from 296.40m.
- KHDDH351 intersected two zones of copper-gold mineralisation hosted in a zone of tourmaline breccia mineralisation including:
o 32.0m @ 0.47% Cu & 0.45g/t Au (0.75% CuEq) from 208.0m; and
o 46.0m @ 0.50% Cu & 0.40g/t Au (0.75% CuEq) from 264.0m.
- KHDDH352 and KHDDH353 (results pending) were collared 50m to the north of KHDDH346 and KHDDH343 respectively and continue to define the broad zones of visual copper sulphide mineralisation at East Altan Tolgoi.
- KHDDH354 has intersected visible copper sulphides from 70m to the current hole depth of 348m. KHDDH354 is a 50m step-out to the east of KHDDH350.
- KHDDH355 has intersected visible copper sulphides from 24m to the current hole depth of 126m. KHDDH355 is a 60m step-out to the south of KHDDH347 and extends the width of the Altan Tolgoi system.
Viking Mines: Planned Drilling for Berkh Uul Coal Project in Mongolia
September 4 -- Viking Mines Limited (ASX:VKA, the "Company" or "Viking") today announced that it has issued a letter of intent to drilling contractor Ellehcor LLC in relation to provision of drilling services for the Berkh Uul coal project in northern Mongolia.
Ellehcor LLC, a well-established drilling contractor with extensive experience in coal, is based in Ulaanbaatar. The proposed drilling program will involve vertical precollar and HQ/PQ size diamond core drilling to maximum depth of 200m, on a grid based pattern infilling and extending the existing drilling coverage. Planned total drilling metreage will be a minimum of 2,000m.
Results from the drilling program, scheduled to commence in the next three weeks, will contribute to an update of the existing JORC (2012) 38.3 Mt coal resource, provide additional information for input into the approvals process for a Mining Licence for Berkh Uul, and provide further coal quality information for input into the planned Berkh Uul feasibility study.
The Berkh Uul Project is located 200km east of Darkhan City, within 40km of rail access to the existing Trans-Mongolian Railway, which provides a transport link to Darkhan to the south and Russia to the north (Figure 1). The deposit consists of shallow, consistent coal seams of high quality bituminous coal amenable to open pit mining. Discussions with nearby cement works and power stations confirm a local industrial demand for unwashed Berkh Uul coal, due to its low ash and relatively high calorific value. This has been evidenced by the signing of four non-binding Memoranda of Understanding with Darkhan Thermal Power Plant, Erdenet Power Plant, Darkhan Metallurgical Plant, and the Khutul Cement and Lime Plant.
975 closed flat at HK$0.66 Friday
MMC: Interim Report 2014
September 1, Mongolian Mining Corporation Ltd. (HKEx:975) --
NUR: DELAY IN DESPATCH OF CIRCULAR IN RELATION TO ACQUISITION OF 29.95% OF SOUTHGOBI RESOURCES
September 1 -- Reference is made to the announcement made by National United Resources Holdings Limited (the "Company," HKEx:254) on 30 July 2014 (the "Announcement") in relation to a share purchase agreement ("SPA") entered into between the Company and Turquoise Hill Resources Limited ("Turquoise Hill Resources") pursuant to which Turquoise Hill Resources agreed to sell, and the Company agreed to purchase, 29.95% of the common shares of SouthGobi Resources Limited (the "Acquisition").
The Announcement stated that a circular (the "Circular") containing, among other things, further details of the Acquisition was expected to be despatched to the shareholders of the Company on or before 29 August 2014.
The board of directors of the Company (the "Board") notes that the Company requires additional time to prepare and finalise the Circular. Accordingly, the expected date of despatch of the Circular has been postponed to a date falling on or before 30 September 2014.
Mongolia Holdings, Inc. and "MNHD" are the New Name and Ticker Symbol for Consolidation Services, Inc.
New identity better expresses the Company's primary frontier-market business focus on Mongolia.
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (PRWEB) September 02, 2014 -- Mongolia Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB: MNHD) (formerly Consolidation Services, Inc.) is pleased to announce that it has received acceptance from Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for its new name and ticker symbol. The new CUSIP number is 60937J100 and the Company begins trading September 2nd, 2014 on the OTC Markets under its new symbol "MNHD".
The Company filed a Certificate of Amendment with Delaware on August 19, 2014 to effect the name change after obtaining required approval from the board of directors and shareholders of the Company. The Company's former ticker symbol was "CNSV".
Former US Ambassador E. Michael Ussery, the Company's Chairman, stated: "The name Mongolia Holdings, Inc. better differentiates the Company's brand and highlights our focus on business opportunities in the rapidly developing nation of Mongolia."
About the Company:
Mongolia Holdings, Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary Mongolia Equipment Rental Corporation, is the Hertz Equipment Rental franchisee for Mongolia. This exclusive franchise allows the Company to operate a business of renting, selling, and maintaining equipment for use in construction, mining, materials-handling, commercial, and industrial activities in Mongolia under the unique plan and system of Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation and Hertz Equipment Rental System.
AKM closed +3.7% to A$0.056, +51.35% in last 3 months
Aspire Mining's Ovoot to benefit from Russia-Mongolia rail agreement
September 5 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining's (ASX:AKM) shares are expected to trade high after its Ovoot Coking Coal Project in Mongolia received a boost after being recognised as a key user of a new rail transit corridor to Russia.
Notably, the Mongolian Ministry of Roads and Transportation (MRT) and JSC Russian Railways (RZD) will investigate an extension of the railway in northern Mongolia from Erdenet past Ovoot to the Russian border at Arts Suuri.
This is significant as it means the feasibility of the key Northern Line Rail Line from Ovoot to Erdenet is no longer solely dependent on freight volumes from the Ovoot Project alone.
The deal follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Mongolia this week that resulted in 15 agreements signed covering cooperation in transport and infrastructure, mining, education and communications.
His visit follows Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit just two weeks earlier, underlying the improved ties between Mongolia and its closest neighbours.
MRT and RZD will also study the following projects:
- Expansion of main Trans-Mongolian Railway including a dual track, and potentially electrified line to facilitate freight capacity of 100 million tonnes per annum;
- Undertake studies to link rail from Arts Suuri to the Kyzyl - Kuragino Railway and thereby Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway; and
- Cooperation to increase Russian transit freight to China, via Mongolia's rail network to 20Mtpa.
"Aspire and our subsidiary, Northern Railways, welcomes this important new rail agreement between Russia and Mongolia that explicitly recognises the Ovoot Coking Coal Project as a key user of this new rail transit corridor," managing director David Paull said.
"This agreement officially puts rail in the north of Mongolia on the map.
"Northern Railways continues to be in close contact with UBTZ (Ulaanbaatar Railways) with regards to working together through the next steps and a joint development of the Erdenet to Ovoot (Northern Rail Line) section."
For Aspire Mining, the highlight of the meeting between Russia and Mongolia was the agreement between the MRT and RZD to a process to modernise and expand the operations and capabilities of Ulaanbaatar Railways (UBTZ).
This includes an investigation into the expansion of railway in northern Mongolia from Erdenet past Aspire's Ovoot Project to the Russian border at Arts Suuri.
This agreement is consistent with previous announcements regarding increasing trade between Russia, Mongolia and China and improving the transport infrastructure required to do so.
It was reported during this weeks' meetings that Russia and Mongolia are aiming to improve Russian transit freight to China through Mongolia's rail network, increasing it from a relatively nominal amount at present to 20 million tonnes per annum by 2020.
Under the agreement, UBTZ and RZD agree on the need for large scale expansion of rail capacity in Mongolia, and will jointly fund feasibility studies to look at a range of rail projects prioritising the following:
- The extension of the existing UBTZ Railway in northern Mongolia from Erdenet - Ovoot (547 kilometres) and from Ovoot - Arts Suuri (215 kilometres) on the Russian border. The studies will also assess a Russian connection which would extend the railway from Arts Suuri to link with the Kyzyl - Kuragino Railway, thereby establishing a new transit rail corridor connecting Russia with China;
- The dual tracking of the main Trans-Mongolian Railway which will lift capacity to 100Mtpa, and in addition, examine the feasibility of electrification of this line. The Trans-Mongolian Railway is already being upgraded to 34Mtpa from a current 20Mtpa capacity, following tripartite agreements between Mongolia, Russia and China entered into late 2013; and
- Upgrading the Erdenet to Darhan rail line to take account of the sharply higher freight volumes that will be passing through Erdenet along the Northern Rail Line.
Notably, the extension of railway from Erdenet, past the Ovoot Coking Coal Project and linking into the Russian rail system to encourage transit freight from Russia, means the feasibility of the Erdenet - Ovoot Project section is now not solely dependent on freight volumes from the Ovoot Project alone.
There is now an expectation of significant Russian transit freight along the Northern Rail Line.
This development ties in and compliments the planned large expansion to the Trans-Mongolian trunk line to provide ample capacity and reduce transport costs to improve the competitive positioning of Mongolia as a source of bulk commodities, particularly coal.
The agreement to study an extension of railway from Erdenet, past the Ovoot Coking Coal Project and linking into the Russian rail system significantly improves the feasibility of the Erdenet - Ovoot Project section that would transport coal from Ovoot to Erdenet.
It means the Northern Rail Line is no longer solely dependent on freight volumes from the Ovoot Project alone with potential for Russian transit freight volumes improving its economics.
This is a positive development for Aspire Mining that follows closely on the earlier agreements between China and Mongolia that were designed to boost trade.
The China-Mongolia agreements provide the Ovoot Coking Coal Project more efficient transport across border points; allow negotiations for rail access to a number of Chinese North-Eastern seaports; and potentially access Chinese financing.
Access to seaports will also assist in attracting investment.
Proactive Investors continues to maintain a 6 – 9 months share price target of $0.125 per share subject to the rail concession being granted for NRL.
The rail concession will be a catalyst for a major re-rating of Aspire's share price.
Aspire had $3.5 million in cash as of 30 June 2014.
276 lasted traded HK$0.227
MEC Share Trading Halted Pending Announcement of Proposed Issue of Convertible Notes
September 4 -- At the request of Mongolia Energy Corporation Limited (the "Company," HKEx:276), trading in the Company's shares has been halted with effect from 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, 4 September 2014 pending the release of inside information relating to, among others, the proposed issue of convertible notes.
Newera Resources: Closure of Non-Renounceable Entitlements Issue
September 3 -- Newera Resources Limited (ASX: NRU) advises that it has received valid applications from Shareholders for 226,120,121 Shares (together with one free attaching New Option for every two shares subscribed for and issued) pursuant to the Non-Renounceable Entitlements Issue Prospectus lodged on 5 August 2014.
The Company anticipates that the Shares and New Options will be allotted and holding statements despatched to Shareholders on or before 5 September 2014. Quotation of the securities under the Offer will be as per the timetable within the Prospectus.
The issue is fully underwritten and the shortfall from the Issue will be placed in accordance with the terms of the underwriting agreements between the Company and the underwriter, DJ Carmichael Pty Limited.
Mongolia: Greener grass or dry desert steppe?
Khan Resources CEO explains what went wrong in Mongolia
By Grant Edey
September 4 (The Northern Miner) For some, the grass always appears greener for mining projects in distant and foreign jurisdictions. Why? Perhaps it's the mining industry's persistent optimism and the belief that these jurisdictions could never be as bad or illogical as they are sometimes portrayed. Perhaps as investors, we also tend to focus more on known or solvable project metrics – ore reserves, mine plans, CAPEX etc. We venture less into the unknown – the extent of the rule of law in the foreign jurisdiction, the licensing process in place, the stability of land tenure systems, the politics, etc. For these unknowns, we too often assume they (surely) would be converging to, if they are not already similar to, Western norms.
Political risk has increased exponentially in scope and now must take a front seat in project and investment analysis. Historically, political risk was covered off by adding an extra percentage point to the interest rate on debt drawn down for a project, the extra percentage point being for political risk insurance. With expanded scope for a government involvement in and ownership of mineral projects, rigorous political risk analysis for suspect regimes now becomes an absolute requirement. A government's track record becomes paramount as it takes upwards of a few decades to establish any type of solid and certain record. On a scale of political risk, a country like Mongolia would receive reasonable marks for rhetoric but would have to be awarded a failing grade for actions.
Mongolia is a peaceful country of great vistas with a rich and storied culture. It is the 19th largest country in the world but has a population of only 3 million people. It became an independent parliamentary republic in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and has been soliciting Western investment for development ever since. It is a rare month that goes by without an investment conference being held somewhere in the world espousing the benefits of investment in Mongolia. During the nineties and the beginning of the 21st century, the country promulgated many good laws, improved their legislative framework and enhanced their institutions, all to encourage foreign investment and augment development. Unfortunately, the country has been stumbling for almost a decade and has actually regressed in a number of key areas.
In the 2012/2013 Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies, Mongolia scored low (84 out of 96) on the Policy Perception Index, a measure of the attractiveness of a country's mining policies. Yet it was ranked first on the attractiveness of the region's "pure" mineral potential, unencumbered by that region's actual policy restrictions. As such, Mongolia, with numerous excellent opportunities for economic advancement through resource development, could have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world but unfortunately it does not. Is this another case of "resource nationalism" taking its oppressive toll? Is it a case of the rich, controlling elite wanting to remain rich and controlling? Is it a case of thinking Western money is plentiful and free? Perhaps a little of each but the fact remains that the country's general populace remains poor and suffers from endemic high unemployment.
The blame for the lack of development rests squarely on the shoulders of the government. There is little social activism against mining in Mongolia as the people generally want jobs and the attendant economic activity. However, the government regularly places roadblocks and detours in the way of efficient development and scuttles situations that could be win/win for it, the company and the country..
The best-known example of government roadblocks is the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project in the Gobi desert. This project has the potential to constitute 30% of Mongolia's GDP. Over the course of the last 10 years, rather than set up incentives and inducements to effectively build and operate the project, successive governments have chosen to continuously impose hurdles that try to maximize the government's no-risk take while minimizing the investing company's at-risk take. There appears to be far more quicksand in the Gobi desert than initially envisioned.
Other examples of poor policy are abundant, from initial mineral exploration through the development and operational phases of projects. Last year, 106 exploration licences were revoked by the government and are now subject to an ill-defined tendering process to approved bidders, all of this to correct poor practices by the government in the initial licence awards. The former licence holders will be credited their actual expenditures in the tender process. This credit, while perhaps fair for those former licence holders without any exploration success, is profoundly unfair to former licence holders who have had exploration success.
In a different vein, Centerra Gold (TSX: CG) has had to suspend development of its Gatsuurt gold project for the last few years pending permitting and approval from the government. The Gatsuurt deposit is a truckable 55 km away from Centerra's Boroo gold mill, which has almost completed the processing of all ore-grade stockpiles from the now depleted Boroo deposit. Suspension of mill operations and attendant employee layoffs will likely be necessary due to the long and inordinately delayed Gatsuurt approval. More recently, Macmahon Holdings, an Australian mining contractor, has suspended activities at the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine due to non-payment of US$22 million of progress payments due from state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi. The above are all examples of governmental delays, false starts and inability to make decisions. The result is a sputtering Mongolian economy and crumbling investor confidence.
My association with Mongolia comes from becoming a director of Khan Resources (CSE: KRI) in 2007 and then CEO in 2010. Khan and its predecessor companies have been in Mongolia since the late nineties by virtue of holding a majority interest in the historic Dornod uranium deposit in northwestern Mongolia. Khan became a public company with an IPO in 2006. Our minority partners in the project are (were) the governments of Mongolia (through Monatom) and Russia (through ARMZ). While activity levels in the nineties and early 2000's were limited due to a very poor market for uranium, the situation changed in 2004/2005 with a significant rise in U3O8 prices. Resource drilling and project development activities were initiated in earnest by Khan on Dornod in 2005 culminating in the generation of a very positive independent definitive feasibility study in March of 2009. The Feasibility Study calculated proven and probable reserves in excess of 50 million lbs. U3O8, a project CAPEX of US$330 million and an operating cost of US$23 per lb. U3O8. The after-tax project rate of return was forecast at a very robust 29%. These project metrics placed the Dornod deposit amongst the best undeveloped uranium deposits in the world. The project was environmentally benign and had a fully approved environmental impact statement. In addition, the regional community, primarily located in Choibalsan some 125 km away and the fourth largest city in the country, was in favour of the project as it was seen to be a way to alleviate local unemployment.
However, in July 2009, the government of Mongolia suspended Khan's Dornod licences and promulgated the Nuclear Energy Act, an act that sought to seize 51% of Dornod for the government at no cost to the government. In addition, the Prime Minister of Mongolia at the time went on to announce the intention to establish the Dornod Joint Venture, a venture consisting of Mongolia (Monatom) and Russia (ARMZ) to develop uranium mines in Mongolia starting with the Dornod deposit. There was never any mention or acknowledgement of Khan's interests in these announcements. The Dornod licences were never returned to Khan and were "revoked" in the spring of 2010. In January 2011, Khan announced the initiation of an international arbitration action against the government of Mongolia for the illegal confiscation of its interest in Dornod. A senior and well-respected Tribunal heard the case in November 2013 and is expected to render its decision on the case in the near future. In all, Khan is seeking over US$350 million in damages (including interest).
A principal theme of this international arbitration case is whether or not Mongolia followed international standards of due process (or the rule of law) in its expropriation of Khan's Dornod licences. While international law respects the right of a government to expropriate, it also dictates that due process must be followed and that fair market value compensation be paid in the event of such expropriation. This principle is also contained in Mongolia's constitution and in the Energy Charter Treaty, a multilateral treaty to which Mongolia is a party and under which a subsidiary of Khan is a claimant in the action. The Tribunal's determination will be followed closely by the mining community and investors alike and will help determine whether Mongolia merits continuing foreign direct investment and under what conditions.
Any award to Khan will be legally binding and final. Investors will be watching as to whether Mongolia, in the event of an award, respects other international accords that it has signed, such as the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958), and makes payment in a timely manner or not. Once again, this will be a test of whether Mongolia respects the rule of law and should be a destination for international investment.
The geopolitics of the region help to explain some of what has been happening in Mongolia. Geographically and economically speaking, Mongolia is surrounded by two global giants — Russia and China. These two countries have historically dominated the Mongolian economy and its politics. In an attempt to reduce Russia's and China's influence, Mongolia has publicly espoused a "third neighbour" policy to actively seek investment and support from countries that do not border on Mongolia. This has resulted in a great deal of investment from investors in western countries, like Canada, the U.S and Australia.
However, the Mongolian focus on a "third neighbour" policy may be changing. In late August, we saw the first visit by a Chinese head of state, Xi Jinping, in over a decade, which resulted in the signing of a number of accords and bilateral agreements. This was closely followed by a state visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also signed other accords and bilateral agreements. Some pundits see these visits as an attempt by Mongolia to refocus its foreign policy back to Russia and China to revitalize its falling GDP growth rate.
For Canada's part, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird recently completed a two-day visit to Mongolia. Unfortunately, the Canadian government chose not to address the Khan situation with Mongolia, and, according to press reports, used the time to discuss cooperation on state service reform, joint efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of non-governmental organizations, and an expansion of the student-exchange program between Mongolia and Canada. An increase in foreign aid payments to Mongolia by Canada was also announced during the visit.
Political risk is an ever-changing target in many jurisdictions and may take decades to stabilize to any degree. Mongolia could be an attractive jurisdiction for foreign investment but the country's actions to date have been disappointing to say the least. Investors need to undertake proper due diligence and exercise caution before making any significant investment there.
— Grant Edey is president and CEO of Khan Resources and a director of Primero Mining with over 40 years of experience in the mining industry. Mr. Edey was Iamgold's chief financial officer with from 2003 to 2007, and has held senior positions with Repadre Capital, Strathcona Mineral Services, TransCanada Pipelines, Eldorado Nuclear, Rio Algom and Inco. Mr. Edey holds a B.Sc. in mining engineering from Queen's University and an M.B.A. from the University of Western Ontario.
MSE Weekly Report, September 1-5: Top 20 -1.04%, Turnover ₮142.4 Million
MSE Participates in Invest Mongolia 2014 Conference
September 3 (MSE) "Invest Mongolia-2014" conference was successfully held on 2nd -3rd September 2014 with almost 500 participants attended from almost over 10 countries in the world including global investors and financial organizations taking place in Mongolia to talk about Mongolian social and economic condition and investment climate.
Throughout this conference, delegates from Mongolian Stock Exchange presented their operation and provided information for investors and issuers on how to invest in and issue shares. Therefore we gave advices and guidelines by providing real time and online trading information to people who were interested in capital market.
Acting CEO of Mongolian Stock Exchange, D.Angar presented at the panel discussion on current situation of Mongolian Stock Exchange, trend of capital market development, policies and investment opportunities throughout the panel.
MSE Decreases Membership Fee, Exempts Terminal Usage Payment for Brokers in 2014
September 2 (MSE) Considering the MASD's comments, to support member broker-dealer companies, MSE has decided to reduce the annual membership fees.
The membership fee has reduced from MNT 2.5-3.5 million to MNT 1.5 million, Exchange system access or Terminal usage fee /per month MNT 195,000, annually MNT 2.3 million/ were exempted until the end of 2014.
By exercising these discount and exemptions, each member companies could save approximately MNT 8 million.
Hogan Lovells: An Overview of the Law of Mongolia on Investment Funds
The Parliament of Mongolia approved the Law of Mongolia on Investment Funds on 3 October 2013 ("Investment Funds Law") and the law entered into force on 1 January 2014.
The Investment Funds Law is the first comprehensive law aimed at regulating the licensing, operation, management and supervision of investment funds in Mongolia and follows the adoption of the Law of Mongolia on Securities Market Law enacted on 24 May 2013 ("Revised Securities Market Law"), which sets out the principal general framework within which investment funds are allowed to operate in Mongolia.
Although the previous securities market law enacted in 2002 did provide for investment funds, and the Financial Regulatory Commission ("FRC") issued Regulations on the Operation of Investment Funds in May 2003, investment funds have not been a feature the Mongolian capital market and no licences have been issued for investments funds in Mongolia.
Whilst the Investment Funds Law aims to provide comprehensive regulations covering a range of issues relating to investment funds such as their establishment, operation, management, supervision and liquidation, detailed regulations on a range of matters have yet to be adopted by the FRC. The FRC issued the Regulations on Licensing and Operation of Investment Management Companies on 15 January 2014 ("Investment Management Companies Regulations"). These enable the establishment and operation of investment management companies, paving the way for the implementation of the Investment Funds Law.
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Early morning rates: Khan (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,805 Sell ₮1,826), TDB (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,800 Sell ₮1,820), Golomt (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,802 Sell ₮1,822), XacBank (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,806 Sell ₮1,826), State Bank (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,800 Sell ₮1,824) FX rates
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, September 5 Close
September MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:
Mongolia July FX Reserves Rise for First Time Since January
By Michael Kohn
Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's FX reserves rose 2.4% m/m to $1.35b in July, Bank of Mongolia says today in statement on website.
* FX reserves fell 55% y/y
* In YTD through end-July reserves fell 40% compared with same period last year: statement
Mongolia July FDI Falls 46% Y/y to $82.4m: Central Bank
Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's inbound FDI in July was $82.4m, the highest since January when it was $156.1m, nation's central bank says in statement on website.
* Inbound FDI in year through end-July was $561.9m vs $1.41b a yr earlier, a 60% fall from same period last year
* Current account deficit for year through end-July was $946.7m vs $1.91b yr ago, a 51% fall from same period last year
* Capital & financial accounts a $123.1m surplus for year through end-July, an 87% fall from same period last year
BoM FX Auction: Bids for USD3.5m, CNY40m Declined, Accepts $41m MNT Swap Offer
September 2 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on September 2nd, 2014 the BOM has received bid offer of 3.5 million USD as average rate of MNT 1802.39 and 40.0 million CNY as average rate of MNT 239.12 from local commercial banks. The BOM has not accepted any offer.
On September 2nd, 2014, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement in equivalent to 41.0 million USD from local commercial banks and the BOM accepted all offer.
BoM issues ₮171.6 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -7.8% to ₮420.9 billion
September 5 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 171.6 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM issues ₮82 billion 4-week bills, total outstanding ₮82 billion
September 1 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 4 week bills worth MNT 82 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.5 percent per annum. /For previous auctions click here/
GoM Treasury Auction: Announced ₮40 Billion 12-Week Bills Sold at Average 15.123%
September 3 (BoM/MoF) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 40.0 billion MNT. Face value of 40.0 billion /out of 50.55 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 15.123%.
Out of Steppe
Mongolia's booming economy is growing millionaires, but what happens to those who miss out or are left behind?
September 5 (Al Jazeera: 101 East) It is boom time in Mongolia. As the country throws off the shackles of its Soviet communist past, construction is proceeding at an astonishing rate and the list of millionaires is growing.
But hidden in the shadows of the new skyscrapers towering over the capital Ulaanbaatar, a tale of two countries is emerging. While many citizens are thriving, one-third of the population still lives in poverty.
Tserenjigmed Dagvadorj and his brother, Ganbaatar, are two of Mongolia's richest businessmen. With a portfolio of businesses ranging from hotels to supermarkets and construction companies, the brothers odernize the former Soviet republic's fervent embrace of capitalism.
But in the new Mongolia, capitalism has not been as kind to everyone. A single mother living in a traditional yurt on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, says she struggles to provide the daily necessities for her children. After leaving the steppe to pursue work in the city, she has been shocked by the high cost of living. She and her children often rely on hand-outs from charities.
She is not alone. As Mongolia's economy takes off, fuelled by an influx of foreign investment and a mining boom, many people are being left behind, excluded from the riches flowing freely in elite circles.
As the country moves further away from its communist past, a vast transformation is taking place that is threatening Mongolia's centuries-old nomadic culture. In less than 30 years, Mongolia has moved from an agrarian socialism to a market economy. Private markets, once outlawed, are now thriving, and odernizeon has brought massive change.
"There used to only be bread and salt on our stalls. The transition has been very quick," explains Dagvadorj, one of Mongolia's richest businessmen.
A new consumerist way of life has emerged in the cities, prompting a rural exodus from the country's vast grasslands. Of three million Mongolians, half now live in the capital. Many are abandoning nomadic lifestyles in search of better wages in the city. But the gap between the rich and poor is extreme.
Some 60 percent of Ulaanbaatar's population lives in slums with no access to running water or electricity, in a city where winter temperatures can plummet to minus 40 degrees.
Each year, more than 50,000 people leave the steppe to settle in neighbourhoods surrounding the capital. But once there, they say that their jobs are unstable and wages low in relation to the cost of city living.
Many rely on charities like the one run by Tuul Saruula, a fashion designer who embodies the new Mongolia. She custom-makes expensive outfits for Ulaanbaatar's socialites, but set up a charity after seeing the effects of the growing wealth disparity on the city's outskirts. Here, she says, "poverty and alcoholism are rife."
Growing inequality has prompted criticism of the mining boom that is responsible for much of the country's economic growth. Some allege that Mongolia's vast mineral wealth is being exploited by foreign companies, and that locals see few of the riches from the country's copper, gold, coal and uranium mines.
This sentiment is fostering a new brand of nationalism, best odernize by Amra, one of the country's most popular rock stars. His lyrics, which lambast foreigners who profit from Mongolia's natural resources, appear to have touched a nerve with the Mongolian public, with his concerts drawing record crowds.
Even some of the country's elite are sounding a warning note that Mongolia's rich traditions are at risk of being lost in the rush to odernize. The Dagvadorj brothers, the powerful businessmen, are desperately trying to hold onto the traditions of their forebears, investing in a herd of 500 race horses in the countryside. They visit their horse breeders as often as their hectic business schedules allow, holding traditional ceremonies and customs that have been passed down through generations.
On this edition 101 East asks: Can everyone find a place in the new Mongolia, or will economic development come at the cost of the country's most vulnerable?
Mogi: a joke of an "explanation"
Regional Report – Mongolia: the resource curse
Ng Weng Hoong explains why investor interest in Mongolia is falling.
September 5 (World Coal) As its commodities-driven economy began taking off at the start of the decade, Mongolia was warned repeatedly to guard against the "resource curse" associated with the corruption, waste, internal power struggles, runaway inflation and political instability that has befallen many developing economies. Tragically, Mongolian leaders paid little heed as they feasted on – and, indeed, openly fought over – the huge windfall brought in by foreign investors hoping to exploit the country's vast reserves of coal, copper, gold, uranium and other minerals.
Today, Mongolia's party mood is clearly over. By 2013, the vast landlocked country, with a population of fewer than 3 million people, sandwiched between Russia and China, developed all the symptoms of the resource curse. Inflation is holding stubbornly above 10% and the currency has lost a third of its value since 2011. Foreign investors are turning their backs on Ulan Bator, while China – the market for more than 90% of Mongolia's exports – has switched to other suppliers for its coal after two years of troubled bilateral ties. Instead of achieving record export sales of 30 – 40 million t by 2014 as predicted, Mongolia will be lucky to repeat last year's volume of 18.3 million t. Coal, the country's main revenue earner, contributed just US$ 1.1 billion in export earnings last year, down from US$ 1.9 billion in 2012.
Yet, Mongolia's condition is far from fatal. The IMF, World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are supportive of the government's actions to reverse the country's slide. Months after the passage of the controversial Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law, a nationalistic law aimed at preventing foreign control of strategic assets, the government began a series of moves to restore ties with China and try rebuild investor confidence – both of which were damaged when the Mongolian government stepped in to block a Chinese takeover of SouthGobi Resources.
In late 2012, the Mongolian parliament approved SEFIL's full repeal and the enactment of a new investment law (Mogi: 2013 actually), which received support from both the governing and opposition parties. Meanwhile, over the past 18 months, the government has also initiated high-level and business meetings between senior Mongolian and Chinese officials. Last October, prime minister, Norovyn Altankhuyag, met with Chinese officials in Beijing to reduce friction, culminating in the signing of an agreement to supply 1 billion t of coal to Shenhua over a 20 year period. This was followed, in May 2014, by a meeting between Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at a forum in Shanghai to improve economic and trade ties by focusing on mining, infrastructure building and financial co-operation.
Two months later, the government amended a 2006 law to open up more land for mining and exploration activities, lift a ban on new mining licences and extend exploration periods from 9 to 12 years. The amendment also provides for the creation of a council to oversee future policy changes to cover the interest of foreign investors. The government has set a new target of attracting US$ 1 billion in new investment to explore the country's coal, oil and shale gas reserves.
The final version of the new law has yet to be published, but investors are not waiting with bated breath. Rather, they are watching the government's next move to resolve several lawsuits and bitter disputes with foreign companies that have led to the detention of senior executives and the trial of government officials on a number of criminal charges. While accusing some foreign companies of abetting corruption, fraud, evading taxes and breaking contract agreements, the government has also revoked more than 100 mining licences. With little indication as to when and how these disputes will be settled, investors are not expected to quickly return to the land where Ghenghis Khan once ruled and terrified the outside world
Written by Ng Weng Hoong. Edited by Jonathan Rowland.
Hogan Lovells: Mongolia's 100 Day Plan - Legal Developments
September 1 (Hogan Lovells) On 8 May 2014, the Parliament of Mongolia issued a resolution to approve guidelines for certain actions to stimulate the economy. Pursuant to this guideline, the Cabinet prepared and implemented a 100 day plan to stimulate the economy (the "100 Day Plan"). The 100 Day Plan came to an end in August 2014.
Under the 100 Day Plan, and with the primary objective of reinvigorating the Mongolian economy, the Government set itself the following tasks in six principal sectors:
(a) to encourage entrepreneurs: by cutting red tape, simplifying the process for the grant of licences, and stimulating trading on the Mongolian Stock Exchange;
(b) to increase production of the mining sector: by amending the Minerals Law and lifting the moratorium on the grant of exploration licences, accelerating the development of Oyu Tolgoi underground mine and providing government policy support for the same, and by removing obstacles to businesses in the uranium sector;
(c) to stimulate the construction, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors: by expediting the Gashuun-Sukhait and Tavantolgoi railroad projects, improving the energy sector investment environment and cooperation with neighbouring countries, including facilitating negotiations on trans-Mongolia railway and road projects;
(d) to stimulate regional economic and infrastructure development: by commencing construction of regional thermal power stations, obtaining international accreditation for the Gashuun Sukhait and Shiveehuren land ports and, furthering the "1,000 apartments" projects in the regions;
(e) to increase foreign investment: by improving tourism sector infrastructure and introducing free trade zones, accelerating the implementation of the Law on Investment Funds, and simplifying the foreign investor visa regime; and
(f) to revise fiscal and monetary policy: by ensuring transparency of budget expenditure, reducing total expenditure by 20 per cent, and revising the medium-term programme for stabilising the price of essential household items/staples.
During the 100 days, Parliament has passed a raft of amendments to, and wholesale revisions of, existing Mongolian laws. Whilst not all of these amendments and revised laws were connected with the objectives of the 100 Day Plan, we set out below a summary of those amendments and revised laws which we consider most relevant.
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Gazprom, CNPC to decide on gas pipeline to China via Mongolia
During his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj suggested building the pipeline across his country
ULAN BATOR, September 03. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia's Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will need to decide whether their gas pipeline will run through Mongolia or not, Russian Natural Resources and the Environment Minister Sergei Donskoy on Wednesday.
During his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj suggested building the pipeline across his country.
"This issue will have to be discussed at the level of Gazprom and CNPC. As a buyer, they (CNPC) should make assessments, raise questions and put forth demands. Mongolia will have to answer these questions," Donskoy said.
He said Mongolia's proposal could be attractive since the pipeline will run mainly across the plains and therefore will need fewer booster stations. But problems may arise if the pipeline crosses nature reserves in Mongolia, he added.
Donskoy said this issue had been under discussion since the autumn of 2013.
Russia-China gas deal
In May 2014, Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a $400 billion contract for the supply of Russian pipeline gas to China. Under the contract, Russia will supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas a year for 30 years.
CNPC is China's largest petroleum company owned by the state and is one of the world's leading integrated oil and gas production companies.
In October 2009, Gazprom and CNPC concluded the Framework Agreement on the major terms and conditions of natural gas supply from Russia to China. The Agreement stipulates annual exports of up to 68 billion cubic meters of gas to the Chinese market. In September 2010 the Extended Major Terms of natural gas supply from Russia to China were signed.
In March 2013, Gazprom and CNPC signed the Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between the two companies in pipeline gas deliveries to China via the eastern route.
In September 2013, Gazprom and CNPC inked an agreement determining major terms and conditions of pipeline gas supply from Russia to China via the so-called eastern route, which will transport 38 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to China.
The western route will deliver West Siberian gas to China from 2019.
Risks Behind Russia's Gas Supplies to China via Western Route – RIA NOVOSTI, September 4
Ulaanbaatar Railway modernisation strategy
September 4 (Railway Gazette) An agreement outlining a strategic partnership for the development of Ulaanbaatar Railway was signed by the Minister of Roads & Transportation Amarjargal Gansukh and Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin on September 3.
By March 1 2015, the ministry and RZD are to agree to terms of reference and appoint consultants to prepare financial and technical feasibility studies for modernisation and construction projects, which would be funded from UBZD's resources and borrowing. Completion is envisaged by 2020. The main projects under consideration are:
· Modernisation of the 1 100 km north – south route from Sühbaatar on the Russian border to Dzamïn Üüd/Erenhot on the Mongolia/China border, including electrification and/or construction of a second track;
· Construction of the 545 km northern railway west from the Erdenet branch to Ovoot, to support coal mining developments;
· Construction of a 215 km Ovoot – Arz Sur line, which would connect at Kyzyl in Russia's Tuva Republic with a planned 411 km line to Kuragino and thus the Trans-Siberian corridor;
· Studying the possibility of increasing use of the 239 km Choybalsan – Ereentsav line in the northeast;
· In the west, RZD says a railway line is planned 'linking Russia and China through Mongolia to export from Russia to China, India, Pakistan, and other countries in the region'.
The agreement was signed in the presence of President Elbegdorj and President Putin of Russia, who said 'developing the railway network will help Mongolia to open up rich but for now hard to access deposits and make broader and more effective use of its potential as a transit country.'
UBZD was established in 1949, equally owned by the Mongolian and Soviet (subsequently Russian) governments. RZD is now responsible for the Russian state's stake in the 1 815 km network, and the aim of the agreement is to develop export and transit freight, particularly from Russia to China, to strengthen UBZD's role in the Eurasian transport network.
Yakunin 'emphasised the importance' of using 1 520 mm gauge for future Mongolian lines, with RZD 'noting that constructing infrastructure using other standards will lead to the unnecessary duplication of services and an increase in operating costs.'
Russia to lift controls on Mongolian meat exports – Putin
September 3 (RT) Russia will lift restrictions on the import of meat products from Mongolia, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday following talks with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.
"We will certainly make steps towards our Mongolian friends and the decisions will be taken by the Russian Government in the near future", RIA Novosti quoted Putin as saying after the meeting in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
Putin said that Mongolia has a big opportunity to significantly increase the supply of meat products to the Russian market given compliance with Russian food safety regulations.
In the last decade Russia imposed restrictions on the import of livestock from Mongolia due to several outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
In August, in retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia, Moscow imposed a one-year food embargo against the countries that targeted it. Among the most hit by the ban was Germany, which supplied 750,000 tons of pork annually, worth over €1 billion ($1.31 billion).
The Canadian meat industry was also hit hard, with pork worth $500 million left without a market in Russia, while Australian beef exports lost $147.4 million.
Also on Wednesday state-owned Russian Railways and Mongolia's Ministry of Road, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development signed an agreement on the modernization of the Ulaanbaatar Railway. The project is aimed at boosting exports and transit of goods and at improving the investment climate in Mongolia – which is experiencing a major mining boom.
Russia and Mongolia are also discussing the possibility of signing an agreement on railway transit to China, Elbegdorj said.
"We agreed to end the work on the modernization of the Ulaanbaatar Railway by 2020. We also discussed the signing of an agreement on transit between Mongolia, Russia and China," ITAR-TASS quotes Elbegdorj after talks with Putin.
Russia and Mongolia have also signed an agreement on visa-free travel which was suspended by Mongolia in 1995. Under the agreement, nationals of both countries can enjoy a visa-free stay in Russia or Mongolia for up to 30 days.
Mongolia also proposed Russia increase annual bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2020.
Annual trade between Russia and Mongolia had recently been on the decline, dropping by 16 percent to $1.6 billion in 2013.
President Putin also said that Russia's biggest oil company Rosneft plans further expansion in Mongolia.
"Rosneft covers most of the country's demand for oil products, supplies the Genghis Khan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar and has big plans to expand its presence in the Mongolian market."
Elbegdorj briefed Putin on the Mongolian initiative to construct the so called "Steppe Route" pipeline that would transit natural gas from Russia to China.
In total 15 agreements on cooperation were signed, including Russia providing military and technical assistance to Mongolia.
Gina Rinehart shuts down Mongolian vehicle
By Peter Ker
September 2 (Sydney Morning Herald) Australia's richest woman Gina Rinehart has quietly shut down her Mongolian mining exploration operation.
Company documents filed in Singapore show that the billionaire's Hancock Prospecting group wrote off its Mongolian investment last year because of "management's intention to wind up the subsidiary company in the near future".
Meanwhile, Ms Rinehart has hinted that her major iron ore project in Western Australia, Roy Hill, could begin exporting earlier than expected.
In a statement published on the Roy Hill website over the past 48 hours, Mrs Rinehart suggested the September 2015 target for first exports could yet be beaten.
"Roy Hill's staff morale is high, and the hard working team hope to be able to bring the first shipment, due September 2015, ahead of time," she said.
Closure of the Mongolian venture was confirmed by a Hancock Prospecting spokesman on Tuesday.
"Hancock Prospecting did assess mineral tenements in Mongolia in recent years, however chose not to pursue any and has no current interests in Mongolia," he said.
The decision to withdraw comes at a time when investor sentiment towards the land-locked Asian nation has deteriorated markedly.
Shares in most Australian miners exploring in Mongolia have plummeted over recent years, and Rio Tinto's attempts to build a major new copper and gold mine there continue to be hampered by government disputes.
A separate Rio Tinto subsidiary with exposure to Mongolian coal - SouthGobi Resources - has struck a series of problems in the nation, and declared earlier this week that it may not have enough funding to meet its obligations.
Details of Mrs Rinehart's Mongolian operation emerged in financial accounts lodged last month by Hancock Prospecting subsidiary Hancock (Singapore).
The accounts, for the 2013 financial year, appear to show that the Mongolian company, Hancock Prospecting Mongolia, was the Singapore arm's only substantial asset, worth about SGD125,000 ($107,000).
Hancock's country manager appears to have been William Sanders, a graduate of Missisippi State University, who claims on his LinkedIn profile to have "supervised all internal and external operations" for Hancock Prospecting Mongolia.
He says he held the job from September 2011, when the exploration office was opened, to March 2014 and "conducted and oversaw the initial due diligence work on over 100 exploration and mining tenements covering several million hectares of land".
Hancock Prospecting Mongolia appears to be separate from Ms Rinehart's other investments in the country.
In 2011 she reportedly bought small stakes in two listed Australian companies exploring for coal in Mongolia, Aspire Mining and Guildford Coal, worth a total of $3 million.
Mrs Rinehart's optimistic comments about Roy Hill come despite the main engineering and construction contractor, Samsung C&T, winning a 46-day extension to its contract earlier this year.
That change saw the "practical completion" date for the project pushed back from November 15, 2014 to December 30, 2015.
The Roy Hill team has always denied that the contract extension would delay the first exports from the project, and insisted the September target would be met.
Roy Hill is expected to export a maximum of 55 million tonnes of iron ore per year at its peak, but will initially export less.
Mrs Rinehart noted in the statement that Roy Hill was bucking the trend in the mining industry, where big new construction projects are becoming rarer than during the past decade.
"This is a project that will employ thousands of Australians for decades and earn much needed export revenue for Australia. Roy Hill is currently the largest single mainland construction project in Australia," she said.
Indian Agro university delegation visits Mongolia
September 5 (Hindustan Times) A three-member delegation of Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University (HPAU), Katoch, led by vice-chancellor KK Katoch is on a visit to Mongolia to hold talks with officials of Mongolian University of Agriculture Sciences for cooperation in the field of teaching, research, extension and business.
"President of the Mongolian University (recently renamed as Mongolian University of Life Sciences), T Kheruuga has expressed strong desire for mutual cooperation between the two universities," said a HPAU spokesperson.
Kheruuga, who was accompanied by vice-president of the university Gombo Gantulga, also showed keen interest in student and faculty exchange in the fields of agriculture, veterinary and animal husbandry so that the trained human resources may be developed for better research.
"Katoch held that the two universities could cooperate in the field of improvement of crops, especially winter wheat, barley, oats, sea-buckthorn and fodder and forage crops, especially production of Lucerne, which can only be grown in cold desert," said the spokesperson.
In the field of animal husbandry, the two institutions are mulling collaboration with respect to the Spiti horse, Gaddi goat, Chegu goat yak and various other aspects.
Other collaboration areas, which were highlighted were natural resource management (soil and water conservation), organic agriculture, bio-pesticide formulation for insect pest control, studies on climate change and mitigation of ill its impact on crops and livestock, characterisation and improvement of local breeds of animals, veterinary health services, animal nutrition, fodder cultivation and rangeland management.
"Talks were also held regarding extension methodologies for faster dissemination of technologies to the end users," said the HPAU spokesperson, adding as far as business issues were concerned offer for export of organic tea from HPAU, Palampur, could be done subject to completion of all the formalities.
Director of research at HPAU SP Sharma and vice-chairman HP Forest Corporation are two other members of the delegation.
ADB: Mongolia Needs To Integrate Water into Energy and Mining Development Plans
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, September 3 (ADB) – With water becoming increasingly scarce, Mongolia needs to take steps to include water resource considerations in its development planning for energy and mining, according to a new study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Mongolia's Ministry of Environment and Green Development (MEGD).
"The mining industry and thermal power stations are thirsty for Mongolia's increasingly scarce water," said Ayumi Konishi, Director General of ADB's East Asia Department. "In Mongolia, as elsewhere, it's critical to consider water and energy use side by side."
The agriculture sector was until recently the dominant consumer of water in Mongolia. However, this is changing quickly due to the rapid development of the mining industry and growing energy demand. In 2013, mining accounted for 82% of exports and 18.5% of gross domestic product. Meanwhile, demand for electricity from the mining, other industry and residential sectors is expected to rise fivefold from 2012 to 2030. Many new energy production facilities and mining operations are planned for areas where water is most scarce.
The study, Demand in the Desert, was launched today during "Eye on Asia", a program of activities convened by ADB as part of World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. The study assesses the water- energy situation at the national level and in the Tuul River Basin and Galba-Uush Doloodin Gobi Basin.
The Tuul River Basin provides much of Ulaanbaatar's water and is also likely to be the site for a new coal-fired plant to generate an additional 1,650 megawatts of power. The new facilities will increase competition for water. The study shows that water is already scarce and predicts water shortages as early as in 2015 as existing groundwater reaches the limits of maximum utilization.
The Galba-Uush Doloodin Gobi basin, the site of large mines including Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi as well as energy facilities, will be a major water user by 2020. Major new mining operations and a new coal fired power station will dramatically increase water demand Though immediate water shortages are not expected, an estimated 108.2 million m3 of water will be consumed annually by 2025. This will likely create more conflicts over water with local communities and traditional herders.
In addition to integrating water resource considerations into energy and mining developments, the study also urges Mongolia to promote energy efficiency in homes and industry, better rainwater collection and more recycling of wastewater. New energy facilities should be designed to minimize water use, while better payment systems such as water use fees and pollution fees could improve energy and water efficiency. These measures need to be supported by better water management institutions.
Given the importance of water to development in Mongolia, ADB will help prepare a country water security assessment that will examine the household, urban, economic, environmental, and disaster resilience dimensions of water security.
Demand in the Desert: Mongolia's Water-Energy-Mining Nexus – ADB, August 2014
Invest Mongolia 2014: Post Conference Report
September 7 (Frontier Securities) --
Message from CEO
I am glad to inform that Invest Mongolia 2014 has been a great success. We managed to attract speakers from both public and private sector and the conference was very well attended, you can find several statistics in our summary section. As promised we discussed following points and tried to come up with actionable and measurable steps for government of Mongolia:
· We started the day one with very important panel discussion on Governance. From the public side, we had representative from ministry of economic development and private side was represented by Hogan Lovells, Moody's, PwC and AmCham
· US ambassador to Mongolia and ex-prime minister discussed third neighbor policy of Mongolia and its significance to national security of the country
· Representatives from public sector updated us on the current status of health of economy during the panel discussion on Mongolian economy
· We had a very interesting and lively discussion between private and public sector on about current global debt market and its significance to Mongolia
· Leaders from top four banks of Mongolia, along with Moody's, discussed the current banking sector of Mongolia
· Several mining sector experts discussed current mining scenario in Mongolia and outlook for China's needs
· Infrastructure development and financing options were discussed among experts
· Several panelists discussed the opportunities which lie with one of the Mongolia's closest ally, Japan
· Real estate experts discussed the opportunities that lie in real estate markets in Mongolia
· We wrapped up our two day conference with an exciting conversation among major private investors where they discussed the challenges and suggested measurable and actionable steps to government. Panel was attended by Invest Mongolia agency and we hope that the suggestions will reach to correct decision makers.
We were glad to see the involvement and interest from professionals working in Mongolia, government and even general public. Even with current challenges there was still a lot of hope and optimism among all the stake holders. Businesses and investors realized that with will and commitment from politicians, this country can realize its true potential. We hope that the constructive opinions, which were proposed during the panels and informal meetings at the conference, serve as yard stick for policy makers and result into positive impact on the state strategies, policies and regulations in a future. With the right changes, we still believe that Mongolia has a bright future.
We will continue to educate and drive our investors to Mongolia through our future events. We hope to see similar interests and support from everyone in our upcoming events.
In your service,
Founder and CEO
Frontier's Invest Mongolia conference is the longest running investor's forum in Mongolia in which we bring together several stake holders at one stage to discuss opportunities and challenges for in-vesting in Mongolia. By looking at the number of attendees, we observed some renewed interest in this country, below are some statistics.
· Out of 600 registered people, 450 people, along with 63 speakers attended this year's Invest Mongolia 2014 conference
· Attendees came from 15 different countries representing almost every continent, making the conference truly international
· This year's conference gathered 238 Mongolian and foreign organizations and companies from various industries including mining, banking and finance, real estate, tourism, agriculture and technology
· This year's local attendees includes Government of Mongolia, Ministry of Mining, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Industry and Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Bank of Mongolia, Mongolian Stock Exchange, Oyu Tolgoi, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, Khan Bank, TDB, Golomt Bank, Xacbank, major embassies and many others
· The international attendees includes Moody's Investors Service, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hogan Lovells, EBRD, World Bank, IFC, JICA, Rio Tinto, Fitch rating, CRU, Tokyo Stock Exchange just to mention a few
· The event was sponsored by Hogan Lovells, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Moody's Investors Services and Asia Pacific Investment Partners
Life in Ulaanbaatar's tent city is hard – but Mongolians won't give up their gers
Though Ulaanbaatar's sprawling informal 'ger district' lacks access to drinking water and sewerage, officials may struggle to coax residents to swap canvas for bricks and mortar
Ulaanbaatar, September 3 (The Guardian) "The ger is really special for Mongolians," says Tagtokhbayar Tuvaan, 63, over a bowl of salty milk tea in his home on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. "I was born in a ger, I grew up in a ger, I got married in a ger. I have never lived in a house. I love my ger."
Tuvaan and his wife have lived in the same ger – the circular yurts beloved of central Asian nomads – since 1978. Until eight years ago, their home was pitched in the province of Zavkhan, west Mongolia. Then Tuvaan retired from the fire service and the couple decided to move almost 700 miles to Ulaanbaatar, to be closer to their four children. Now, they live in the "ger district", the sprawling informal settlement that has mushroomed on the edge of Ulaanbaatar.
Life in the ger district is hard, but Tuvaan likes his home. "It's a quiet place, close to nature and the mountains," he says. Photographs of their family in long, colourful Mongolian tunics sit on a shelf above a television.
Mongolia is urbanising at a rapid pace, but for many citizens the ger remains central to their identity. The gentle hillsides around Ulaanbaatar are peppered with dome-roofed gers covered in white canvas, like rows of miniature circus big tops. When Mongolia was a communist state, these escarpments were largely unpopulated, save the occasional herder with their flock. Now they are home to an estimated 800,000 people. Though they lack access to drinking water, proper sewerage or internal heating, many are reluctant to leave behind their unique, millennia-old way of living.
The ger district is a product of Ulaanbaatar's rapid expansion. Under communism, just 500,000 people lived in "UB", as everyone calls the capital. Since the early 1990s, it has trebled in size. Cranes and construction sites now dominate the skyline. People who have got rich –often through mining – can live in expensive new apartment complexes with names like Sky Tower and Bella Vista. They can inch along the gridlocked traffic in four-wheel drives, shop in Louis Vuitton and Swarovski or go to work in gleaming glass-fronted office towers downtown.
Despite a recent drop in foreign investment, property prices continue to rise in the city. "Traffic is horrible, so real estate prices in the central business district are enormous. There are only a few cities that can compare – New York, Moscow and London," says Munkhdul Badral, also known as Mogi, who runs a market intelligence firm, Cover Mongolia.
A few miles from Chinggis Khan Square, the vast communist-era plaza that marks the unofficial centre of the city, the situation is very different. Buses flying Mongolian flags bump along badly rutted ger district roads. Stalls sell fruit and vegetables. A woman sits in front of a pile of matted goat and sheep skins bought from herders on their way to market.
Many of those who now live in the ger district are former herders, pulled into the city by the promise of a new life, or pushed off their land by desertification and extreme winter weather. In 2010, a dzud – which means "white death" – left about 10 million animals, including cows, sheep and yaks, dead. Thousands of herders left the steppe for the ger district, building hastas – small fenced enclosures – and erecting gers and tin-roofed brick houses. Week by week, the informal settlement grows. An estimated 40,000 people arrive every year.
In an office off Chinggis Square, Otgonbaatar Dorjgotov sits in front of a huge map of Ulaanbaatar. The ger district, marked in grey, covers vast swaths to the north and east of the city, but there are also bright yellow boulevards and attractive green circles and squares. "This is our masterplan for the city, approved in 2013," says Dorjgotov, head of project and co-operation development at the Ulaanbaatar city governor's office.
Planning has not been one of Ulaanbaatar's strengths. Set in a hollow between four hills, the city struggles for space, but satellite towns have not been built. Infrastructure is weak and underdeveloped. New large construction projects often take place in unsuitable city centre locations, including public parks. But Dorjgotov and his colleagues hope their masterplan will change that. The proposals for transforming the ger district are bold: invite private developers to sign deals with residents and replace the gers with high-rise apartments for 70,000 families.
The city government has also introduced micro-finance schemes and begun building schools, communal houses and paved roads in the district. Across the city, a $320m (£192m) soft loan from Asian Development Bank will be spent on infrastructure over the next nine years. The idea of an underground city railway has been discussed.
Not everyone is convinced that these ambitious plans can work. Agreements between developers and residents are likely to prove elusive, says journalist and commentator Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa. "We cannot force people to leave like in China."
Public officials may struggle to coax the ger dwellers to swap their felt and canvas for bricks and mortar. Mongolians' attachment to their gers is both practical – they are warm in winter and cool and summer – and emotional.
It is not just new migrants and impoverished residents who have homes in the district. Many successful city workers live here, too. "Some people prefer to live like this because they want space. They have small gardens, plant vegetables," says Tungalagtuya Khuukhenduu, who moved to Ulaanbaatar from the Gobi desert when she was 18, to attend university, and now works for a local NGO. In winter, she lives in an apartment in the city, but during the summer months she stays in the ger district.
But for year-round residents, life in the district can be a real struggle. The ger district is not connected to the city's piped central heating system that runs to many other suburbs. In winter, when temperatures can drop to -40C, raw coal, rubber and even plastics are thrown onto the stove. These toxic emissions are one of the main reasons Ulaanbaatar isone of most polluted cities on Earth, according to the World Health Organisation.
Unemployment in the ger district is more than 60%, triple that of other areas. Across Mongolia, inflation is at more than 13%. As the rural-urban divide grows, so does inequality.
At the furthest edge of the ger district, where the city gives way to rolling green steppe, lives 78-year-old Baabuush. Cows and sheep roam the fields around his hasta. He was born in Uvurkhuugai province, 285 miles away. "I really miss the nomadic life," he says. "If you came here 20 years ago there was nothing, just a few families inside the fence."
But he is optimistic about the future – for Ulaanbaatar and the ger district. Mongolia is a young country; half its citizens are under the age of 25. And it has a system of government that, Baabuush says, gives people a voice: "Democracy gave so many good things to Mongolians. That will not change."
Wrestling with Modernity, Peter Geoghegan's documentary about Mongolian wrestling, is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 11.00am on Monday 15 September. His trip was supported by the Royal Geographical Society.
Presidents of China, Russia, Mongolia likely to hold three-party meeting
BEIJING, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- China and Mongolia are calling for a three-party meeting among presidents of China, Russia and Mongolia in the near future, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Thursday.
The consensus was reached during President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit last month, Qin told a daily press briefing, adding the three countries are maintaining close communication.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Ulan Bator Wednesday for a one-day working visit and held talks with his Mongolian counterpart Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj to promote bilateral cooperation.
Both China and Mongolia, Russia and Mongolia are good neighbors and partners linked by mountains and rivers, Qin said, stressing China hopes the development of Russia-Mongolia ties will be conducive to regional peace and stability.
China is willing to work together with Russia and Mongolia to achieve stability and development of the region, he said.
During President Xi's state visit to Mongolia on Aug. 21-22, President Xi and President Elbegdorj signed a joint declaration to upgrade bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Mongolia balances between the dragon and the bear
September 5 (AFP) Mongolia was a Soviet satellite for decades but now fears economic domination by China, with this week's visit by Russia's Vladimir Putin, hard on the heels of Xi Jinping, highlighting its delicate balancing act, analysts say.
Although dwarfed by its massive neighbours, landlocked Mongolia is still one of the world's 20 largest -- though least densely populated -- countries, its three million people spread across more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) of mountains, rolling steppe and rocky desert.
In the face of strategic and geographic reality, it has sought to reach out to other powers, including the United States and Japan, in what is known as a "third neighbour" strategy.
Mongolia enjoyed world-beating growth in recent years -- peaking at 17.5 percent in 2011 -- on the back of a resources boom, primarily coal, copper and iron ore.
But resource nationalism has since become the defining issue in Mongolian politics, with rules on foreign investment tightened after corporate deals threatened to see one of the country's biggest coalmines fall into Chinese hands.
Foreign direct investment has since plunged, down 70 percent in the first half of this year (Mogi: revised to 62%), while growth slowed to 5.3 percent in the same period, and it also faces rising inflation and a falling currency.
Ulan Bator is looking to counter the decline by exploiting more of its estimated $1.3-trillion of mineral resources, and both presidential visitors oversaw the signings of multiple agreements in business and other areas.
But at the same time it is painfully aware of the risks of being dominated by any one partner.
"Mongolian foreign policy is based on precisely that balance between Russia and China," said Julian Dierkes, a Mongolia expert at the University of British Columbia.
- 'Differences in our cultures' -
To the south, China is responsible for more than half of all Mongolia's foreign business, but with the world's most populous country and second-largest economy on their doorstep, many Mongolians are highly suspicious of increased Chinese investment, and anti-Chinese sentiment is longstanding.
"This traces back in history ever since China has become an urban settled civilisation, (whereas) Mongolia has its nomadic civilisation," explained Munkhdul Badral, an entrepreneur and founder of news service Cover Mongolia.
"These are differences in our cultures, and where the very beginning of tensions began."
They "never stopped", he said, even at the height of Mongol power, when Genghis Khan's descendants ruled the largest contiguous land empire in history, stretching from eastern Europe to the South China Sea.
"There's always been fighting and wars," said Badral. "At one point we conquered China -- and at one point, China conquered Mongolia.
"But nowadays, it comes down to economic reasons why Mongolians are so suspicious of China."
Mongolia was in Moscow's orbit and under Communist rule from 1924 to 1990, when the Soviet Union to the north was its major trading partner.
It remains heavily reliant on Russian fuel and electricity supplies, and political ties with Moscow remain strong, as do post-Soviet nostalgia and pro-Russian sentiment in some quarters.
Many Mongolians speak Russian and many of its artistic stars were educated in Russian schools.
"Mongolia sees itself as culturally aligned with the West, and eager to distinguish itself from Asian countries," said Franck Bille, a social anthropologist at Cambridge University.
Putin's visit was his third since he first became Russian president in 2000, and in 2003 Moscow eradicated some 98 percent of Mongolia's Soviet era debt.
It then sought out mining and infrastructure projects, but its efforts have been "plagued by problems", said Sergey Radchenko, an international politics specialist at Aberystwyth University.
Notably it failed to secure a contract to develop Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia's largest coal deposit.
"It just does not have the leverage -- and what little it has is set to diminish in coming years as China's economic pull continues to bear weight on Mongolia," Radchenko told AFP.
China's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang played down any differences, describing the three countries as "neighbours linked by mountains and rivers".
"We are ready to make joint efforts with Mongolia and Russia to realise the common stability and development of the region," he said.
- 'Third neighbour' -
Squeezed between the Chinese dragon and the Russian bear, Mongolia has sought to develop a "third neighbour" strategy, seeking strong ties with countries beyond its immediate borders.
It has formed strong links with the United States, which views it as a strategic counterweight to its powerful neighbours and spends about $2 million a year on military equipment for its 10,000-strong army.
The then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the Mongolian people's "commitment to democracy" when she visited in 2012, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel came to Ulan Bator this April.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited last year, while Mongolia's President Tsakhia Elbegdorj signed a free trade deal in Tokyo in July.
"Mongolians are always balancing -- with Russia, with our 'third neighbours'," said Badral. "It's not to say that we don't want to trade with China, it's just that we need to protect our economic interests."
China is the only country with which Mongolia has a trade surplus, he pointed out. "We realised that it's inevitable that we'll have to deal with China. Anti-Chinese sentiment will always be there, but hopefully it will become more reasonable in future.
"All of China's neighbours, we should all have the same level of wariness when it comes to balancing Chinese economic influence over our countries."
Putin hails Soviet victory over Japan in courting Mongolia – Reuters, September 3
Putin visits Mongolia to promote cooperation – Xinhua, September 3
Russia, Mongolia to sign visa-free travel agreement as part of Putin's visit
Earlier, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said the signing of the agreement on visa-free travel was a breakthrough for Russian-Mongolian relations
MOSCOW, September 02. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia and Mongolia are planning to sign an agreement on visa-free travel as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit scheduled for September 3, presidential aide Yury Ushakov said on Tuesday.
"In total, 13 documents have been prepared for signing during Vladimir Putin's visit to Mongolia," Ushakov said.
Visa-free travel formalities existed earlier. But in 1994 it was suspended by Mongolia. "Now visa-free travel will be resumed for all citizens," Ushakov said. "This will give an additional impetus to the development of mutually advantageous business, cultural and tourist relations," he added.
On Monday, September 1, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry instructed the Russian Foreign Ministry to sign the agreement on the conditions for mutual trips of Russian and Mongolian citizens.
Earlier, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said the signing of the agreement on visa-free travel was a breakthrough for Russian-Mongolian relations.
"Of course, the agreement will create new additional conditions for business, cultural, humanitarian, youth and sports exchanges. It will facilitate the expansion of inter-regional border cooperation," Matviyenko said.
The agreement "will remove the barriers on the way to strengthening cooperation", she said.
Chairman of the Mongolian parliament Zandakhuugiin Enkhbold told ITAR-TASS, "We're sure that visa-free travel will attract new investors and tourists."
Mongolian president hopes Putin's visit to boost bilateral strategic ties – Itar-Tass, September 2
Was Putin's Visit a Success for Mongolia?
Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Sumati Luvsandendev, director of the Sant Maral Foundation, comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin's trip to Mongolia. He speaks with John Dawson on "First Up."
Russia Looks to Rekindle Old Ties With Mongolia
Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) –- Bloomberg's Dulamkhorloo Baatar discusses Russian President Vladimir Putin's 6-hour trip to Mongolia and the deals forged between the two countries. She speaks to Rishaad Salamat on "On The Move."
EU Commissioner for Education to visit Mongolia for 25th anniversary of cooperation
September 5 (European Commission) Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will pay an official visit to Mongolia from 7 to 9 September and have meetings with the Mongolian leadership, including Minister for Foreign Affairs Luvsanvandan Bold, Minister for Education and Science Luvsannyam Gantumur and Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Tsedevdamba Oyungerel.
The objective of these meetings is to take stock of relations between the EU and Mongolia, particularly in the areas under the Commissioner's responsibility, and to extend the scope of cooperation between the two regions, consolidated following the signature of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), to cover people-to-people exchanges.
"2014 is a special year for the bilateral relations of EU with Mongolia as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our cooperation, which started back in 1989. Over the past year we have witnessed a growing interest from both sides to raise the level of our cooperation, including people-to-people exchanges," said Commissioner Vassiliou.
During her talks with Mongolian leaders, the Commissioner is expected to underline the main objective of the PCA - to strengthen, promote and expand EU-Mongolia relations. Particular focus will be placed on the opportunities offered to Mongolian students and researchers through Erasmus+, the EU's new programme for education, training, youth and sport, and from the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions, under the Horizon 2020programme.
Key facts and milestones
The European Union and Mongolia launched bilateral relations in 1989. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was signed in 2013.
There is no formal dialogue between the EU and Mongolia in the people-to-people area. However Mongolia has participated in EU academic and research international cooperation and exchange programmes, notably:
Five Mongolian institutions (Mongolian University of Science and Technology; Mongolian State University of Agriculture; Health Sciences University of Mongolia; National University of Mongolia; Institute of Finance and Economics) have participated in Erasmus Mundus projects. The first two institutions participated in two projects aimed at enhancing the attractiveness of European higher education in the world: 'ISEKI'_(on internationalisation and sustainability of food networks) and 'AskAsia' (on agriculture, skills,knowledge in Asia: competences and employability).
16 Mongolian students and 2 doctoral candidates have been selected to follow an Erasmus Mundus joint masters or PhD programme in the period 2004-2013. Exchanges involving 227 Mongolians have taken place, or are envisaged, under Erasmus Mundus partnerships in the period 2007-2016.
So far only one Mongolian researcher has benefited from a Marie Curie fellowship, but this number is set to increase in the future as the programme becomes better known among Mongolian academics.
For more information
European Commission: Education and Training website
Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU
DPRK delegation to visit Europe, Mongolia
PYONGYANG, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- A delegation of the ruling party of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Saturday left here to visit Europe and Mongolia, the official KCNA news agency reported.
The Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) delegation, led by Kang Sok Ju, a political bureau member of the WPK Central Committee, will visit Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Mongolia, said the KCNA, without disclosing further details.
The DPRK, which faces strained relations with South Korea and the United States, is now seeking to break the ice in diplomacy with a series of moves.
Last week, Japanese lawmaker Antonio Inoki went to Pyongyang to stage a two-day international wrestling tournament. During his short stay here, he held talks with DPRK officials over the re-investigation into abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.
The visit, which drew worldwide attention, was widely called "sports diplomacy" and believed to help warm DPRK-Japan relations.
DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong was also reported to address the UN General Assembly later this month. The last time the DPRK sent a diplomat to attend the UN General Assembly was in 1999.
Feds to return 70-million-year-old dinosaur fossil to Mongolian government
Brooklyn federal prosecutors filed court papers to seize the fossilized skull and vertebrae after a dealer allegedly attempted to smuggle it into America.
BY JOHN MARZULLI
September 5 (New York Daily News) The feds are sending home a 70-million-year-old Mongolian dinosaur.
Its fossilized skull and vertebrae, that is.
Brooklyn prosecutors have filed a lawsuit to seize the stolen remains, which the fossil dealer falsely described in shipping documents as a cheap replica of dinosaur bones from France.
Last January, the ancient bones were shipped through the United Parcel Service by Geofossils Inc. of France with its destination a storage facility in Long Island City, Queens, according to papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
But suspicious Customs and Border Protection officers put a hold on the shipment and sought further documentation.
The fossil dealer confessed that the skull and vertebrae were originally from Mongolia and also clarified that although the UPS invoice stated that the items were being sold for $3,400, a buyer had actually agreed to a purchase price of $250,000, according to the court papers.
U.S. officials contacted the Mongolian government, which tracked down the original copy of the certificate of origin cited by Geofossils Inc.
The paperwork described the shipment only as four traditional dwelling structures. The Geofossils certificate of origin provided to the feds had been altered to add references to a combination of dwellings and Tarbosaurus dinosaur fossils in the shipment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin Orenstein alleges in the suit.
"Property of cultural and historic significance that has been stolen from other countries will not find safe harbor in our ports," said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.
"We are proud of our ongoing role in the repatriation of stolen and smuggled cultural property to its rightful owners.
"The fossils are the rightful property of Mongolia and cannot be sold to non-Mongolians or permanently exported out of the homeland," Lynch said.
WIM Mongolia 2nd Annual Breakfast Meeting on September 5th, 2014
September 6 (Women in Mining Mongolia) --
Mongolia Christian radio official part of worldwide ministry from Longview
September 6 (Longview News Journal, Texas) No one told Batjargal Tuvshintengel there is a God, and it never really occurred to him to wonder as he grew up in a satellite of the former Soviet Union.
Now a missionary with an alphabet soup name, pronounced Bot-jar-gal Turl-sheng-single, the 43-year-old brings a loving God to listeners in his Mongolian homeland in partnership with a worldwide radio network based in Longview, Christ to the World.
"I really believe radio's going to be the platform and the tool to bring Christ to my people," he said. "It reaches the multitudes, and also because it's a fad for young people."
Mongolia had one communist-controlled radio station as Tuvshintengel grew up in a system that Americans old enough remember calling "Godless communism." Tuvshintengel says that portrayal was dead-on.
"The communists tried to beat us to make us know there is no God, there's no meaning of life, there's no hope," he said. "Everybody just works hard and tries to get by. That's how we used to live until the gospel, and the Bible. It all makes sense — there's got to be a God that rules and organizes the earth into one thing and into one system."
That's what Tuvshintengel thinks now. But, in his spiritually barren childhood, such things did not occur to him.
"We had no Bible and no belief system," he recalled, sitting in a Longview Panera Bread during a recent visit to see Christ to the World founder Larry Alston.
A Longview business developer, Alston formed the now-global radio ministry in 2006.
"In a nutshell, we tell the story of Jesus to people around the world, and we do that by dramatizing the stories of Jesus," Alston said. "And we bring the story of Jesus to people where they live."
That began with broadcasts in eight countries.
"Today, we're working in 47 countries in 33 languages to a population base of 3.1 billion," Alston said. "With all this going on, we still have not been taken off the air in Baghdad. ... Even Muslims will say, 'We like the programs, because they are not aggressive.' Our programs are not threatening."
But, the world is very threatening, he added.
"We just had four members of our (missionary) family killed in the Ukraine," Alston said. "They beat them to death."
The ministry has grown, Alston said, in partnership with the three largest Christian media worldwide: Trans-World Radio, Ibra International Broadcast Associates and Far East Broadcast International, the latter Tuvshintengel's employer.
"They have the ability to reach the earth with their transmitters," Alston said. "Our vision is the same as the three media partners — to honor the final command of Jesus, known as the Great Commission. Jesus said, 'Go tell...' That's what we do."
Tuvshintengel says his atheism could not stand up to after-school class discussions over tea with an English teacher who was one of the first five Christian missionaries in his country after Soviet Russia fell.
The back-and-forth format in which Tuvshintengel discovered God is kind of what he strives for at Far East Broadcast's five-station network in Mongolia.
"We can actually change the radio format to be interactive — call-ins, text messaging, emails," he said. "We have a lot of call-in programs where we debate the issue of faith. The main idea is we want to let them know that there is a God out there who loves them."
The Bible says faith comes by hearing.
"Our understanding and our knowledge about God is not enough to know God," Tuvshintengel said. "Faith is the only gateway to God. When you get that message out, people start using their brains to process the message."
Having been a victim of indoctrination, Tuvshintengel said his mission is to broaden the experience he underwent, discovering God, to his fellow Mongolians.
"Our goal is to let people know who is God, what is the nature of God," he said. "And God, in his nature, wouldn't do anything to demand. In (cult leader) David Koresh's case, or the Moonies' case, it all depends on one thing — the leader. The leader has to be central, and the leader is supposed to be perfect. None of us is perfect. If you have people focus on you, you're in trouble."
Tuvshintengel, who met Alston in Bangkok, Thailand, a few years ago and added Christ to the World dramas to his lineup, has plans to open two more stations this year. That would blanket half the independent country of Outer Mongolia, population 2.8 million.
"We want to add more low-power radio stations, where we can put more programs like Christ to the World," he said. "That's what I plan to do in the next five years. I want to add as many radio stations as possible. And we are doing it, in partnership with Christ to the World."
Committing Mongolia to Memory
Ben Packham's arresting photo gallery is a window to Mongolia's lavish natural splendor, the sprawl of its growing capital city, Ulaanbaatar, and the icy beauty of the Mongolian steppes. Below, Packham recalls the important role photography played in his time living and working in Mongolia. His photos accompany "Bards of Heart, Wind, Sky," Sara Wilson's interview with translator Simon Wickham-Smith in the September 2014 issue of WLT.
September 2014 (World Literature Today) In July 2011 I left Australia to live in Mongolia for a year to work with the United Nations. Living in the capital, Ulaanbaatar (UB), I was fortunate that my work provided me with opportunities to travel around the country, and I soon discovered that there is more to this country than tales about Genghis Khan: the hustle and bustle of the rapidly developing UB; the vast, eerily quiet grassy plains; frozen lakes that are millions of years old; an ancient culture and unique traditions. I took my camera almost everywhere I went. It was almost impossible to take a bad photo.
Isolated by distance and lack of infrastructure, I quickly formed friendships with both expats and Mongolians. Sometimes the things we shared brought us together; other times, it was what we didn't have in common that helped form bonds. Photography helped me connect with lots of people—either through a shared interest or helping others with hints and tips. Having a camera in a developing country can also bring you attention—people are drawn to cameras, allowing you to get closer to people and events than would ordinarily be possible. I became known as "the guy that takes photos."
Taking photos was also a way for me to be in the moment, committing these experiences to memory. Photography can be a solitary pursuit, but I've never found it lonely. The isolation provides focus, giving you the time to appreciate your surroundings. Sometimes I would not even take photos; I'd just take my camera with me and sit, staring at the views and events taking place around me, letting it all sink in.
There is always more to a picture than the quality of the composition or having the right light. I'll look back at an overexposed shot of a sunrise and not worry about the flaws of the picture, but cherish the memories of nights spent talking and drinking with people until the sun came up. I may not see any of those people again, but the photos will always be there to remind me.
Ben Packham lives in Sydney, Australia, working as an accountant. In his spare time, he indulges his hobbies of photography, woodworking, and riding his motorbike. He spent a year living and working in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, with the United Nations between 2011 and 2012.
Editorial note: For more, listen to a recording of Mongolian poet G. Mend-Ooyo's "The Swallows." Enjoy the original while following along in Simon Wickham-Smith's English translation.
Nomads of western Mongolia with Tim Cope
Discover the ancient nomadic cultures of western Mongolia on this unique journey with Tim Cope
WHEN: 24 Sept - 11 Oct 2015
COST: Price on application
BOOKINGS: Call 1300 720 000 or www.worldexpeditions.com
Fly to Uliastai, journey through the remote Zavkhan province
Trek through the Kharkhirra Turgen massif
Drive to Uureg Nuur
Travel to Olgii
Drive to Tsambagarav mountain
Explore the broad slopes and open valleys of this region
Drive to Hovd
Fly to Ulaanbaatar
Trip concludes in Ulaanbaatar
What is Mongolian Cuisine?
Mongolian cuisine is influenced by Chinese and Russian cuisines
September 4 (The Daily Meal) Mongolia is a country that shares borders with both China and Russia. As such, Mongolian cuisine, though it has its own unique identity, is a cuisine that has been greatly influenced by Chinese cuisine and Russian cuisine.
Mongolia has very harsh and severe climates, and its food is very reflective of the environment. Mongolian cuisine concentrates on dairy products, meats, and animal fats. The animal fat that is a large component in Mongolian cuisine helps Mongolians to survive the extremely cold climates.
Additionally, many dishes in Mongolian cuisine are dishes that contain meat from, horses, camels, yaks, sheep, and goats, and other kinds of wild game as well as cattle. Mongolian cuisine often calls for meat that is often used in many soups and dumplings. The meat can also be dried for winter.
Common dishes in Mongolian cuisine include dumplings filled with meat (buuz) or other kinds of dumpling that are deep-fried in mutton fat (khuushuur). Noodle soups and dishes that combine meat with rice or fresh noodles into stews are also popular dishes in Mongolian cuisine.
- From Limerick to Mongolia and everything in between – Limerick Reader (Ireland), September 6
THREE Limerick men returned home to a heroes welcome after they completed the Mongol Rally, driving from Limerick to Mongolia in the process, and raising €12,000 for charity.
- Mini adventurers are back from Mongolia – IOM Today, September 7
Mongolia Bike Challenge:
- Cyclists saddle up for week-long race across Mongolia – AFPTV, September 2
Professional and high-level amateur cyclists saddle up for a week long race across Mongolia. Duration: 00:35
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