Tuesday, September 9, 2014

[PM announces cabinet reshuffle, to resolve OT, TT, railway in fall, MoF hiring consultants for MSE derivatives, and MNT on 5th straight decline]

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original


Overseas Market

Aspire Mining studies facility for Ovoot coal to upgrade other coals

September 8 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining's (ASX:AKM) Ovoot coal quality has been highlighted by a new concept study into the establishment of a 10 million tonne per annum coal blending operation at the Sainshand Industrial Park.

This recognises the ability for Ovoot coking coal to upgrade a wide variety of Mongolian low and non-coking coals and provides a commercialisation path for the project.

Under the  study by German engineers Tenova Takraf, coking coal will be delivered by rail from Ovoot in coking coal and blended with non or low coking coals from the South Gobi region at the €53 million (A$91.7 million) facility, which can be upgraded if required.

The resulting product will then be railed south to customers in China and to Chinese Ports for export under the recently agreed protocols.

Aspire has now applied to the Ministry Agriculture and Science to secure a suitable land parcel at Sainshand to establish this facility.

Coal Blending Facility

The impetus for the study arose from laboratory and pilot coke oven testwork on samples that clearly show the ability for Ovoot coking coal to upgrade a wide variety of lower and non-coking coals.

Aspire had in July 2013 noted that testing by the Mongolian Independent Research Group had found that coals from seams 0, 3 and 4 from the Tavan Tolgoi deposit that were blended with indicative coking coal from Ovoot resulted in a good quality coking coal with a Chinese classification of "Primary Coking Coal" or "1/3 Coking".

Seam 0 is generally classified as thermal coal and samples from seams 3 and 4 were confirmed as oxidised coal with nil remaining coking properties.

The Blending Facility would be constructed over 70 hectares of land at the Sainshand Industrial Park, which is strategically positioned along the existing Trans-Mongolian Railway and has both rail and road access to northeast China . 

The Trans-Mongolian Railway is currently the subject of agreed capacity upgrades and a railway connecting Tavan Tolgoi in the South Gobi to Sainshand is also currently under construction and due for completion in 2017.

The operation of the Blending Facility would incorporate the receival and unloading of coal from trains into a specially designed yard using combined coal stackers/reclaimers. 

These stockpiles will then be reclaimed in a sequence to match the blend recipe before being loaded onto trains to be exported to customers.

The Concept Study estimated a pre-contingency capital cost of €53 million. Should Takraf be appointed as the EPC contractor to construct this facility, up to 85% of the construction cost is available for Export Credit Agency backed debt funding.

In April 2014, the Company signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with the Mongolian Government entity responsible for the Sainshand Park development which names the Ovoot Coking Coal Project as one of the potential key raw material suppliers to Sainshand with the Mongolian Government owned Tavan Tolgoi Coal Mine.

Other Updates

The study follows the recent Russian-Mongolian agreement to study an extension of railway from Erdenet, past the Ovoot Coking Coal Project and linking into the Russian rail system that significantly improves the feasibility of the Erdenet - Ovoot Project section that would transport coal from Ovoot to Erdenet.

It also follows the China-Mongolia agreements that 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.


The ability for Ovoot Coking Coal to upgrade other lower ranking Mongolian Coal has been further highlighted by the completion of the Coal Blending Facility Concept Study.

This offers another potential commercialisation pathway for Ovoot's coal, which has also received significant interest from potential customers.

Indeed current offtake interest in Ovoot coking coal exceeds targeted production with MoUs signed for up to 7.4 million tonnes per annum, or 148% of planned initial production.

The project – along with the Tavan Tolgoi Coal operation – has also been recognised as one of the key potential coal suppliers to Mongolia's Sainshand Industrial Park.

Proactive Investors continues to maintain a 6 – 9 months share price target of $0.125 per share subject to the Northern Rail Line concession being granted for NRL.

Aspire had $3.5 million in cash as of 30 June 2014.

Link to article

Link to AKM release

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Local Market

MSE News for September 8: Top 20 -0.16% to 15,705.11, Turnover 35.5 Million

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades on Monday, a total of 10 thousand and 487 shares of 20 JSCs were traded costing MNT 35 million 477 thousand and 100.00.

"Genco tour bureau" /5,200 units/, "E-trans logistics" /1,245 units/, "Gutal" /1,101/, "Avto impex" /541 units/ and "Tavantolgoi" /460 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Gutal" (MNT 12 million 121 thousand and 010), "Bayangol hotel" (MNT 12 million), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT two million 395 thousand and 050), "Avto impex" (MNT two million and 164 thousand) and "Undraga-Omnogobi" (MNT one million 581 thousand and 300).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 611 billion 971 million 177 thousand and 384. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,705.11, decreasing 25.43 units or 0.16% against the previous day.

Link to article


VACANCY NOTICE: Local Consultant on Legal Assessment of Derivative in Mongolian Capital Market 

September 8 (MoF/World Bank) Mongolia has received a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for a Multi-Sectoral Technical Assistance Project (MSTAP). The Ministry of Finance (MOF) is seeking to recruit a qualified Local Consultant on Legal Assessment of Derivative in Mongolian Capital Market under Component C1.1.2 for Enhancing Capacity for Maintaining the Stability of the Financial Sector with the following skills to complement its dynamic team.

The main objective of the legal consultancy service is to review and assess current state of legal environment in relation to introducing derivatives to the Mongolian capital market and draft legal acts required to facilitate derivatives trading.


Key responsibilities will include the following, but not limited to:

1.    The Consultant shall study and prepare recommendations on how Mongolian Stock Exchange (MSE) and its stakeholder-Ministry of Finance (MoF), Financial Regulatory Commission (FRC), Mongolian Securities Clearing House (MSCH), Central Depository (CD) and other market participants can be involved in implementing derivatives in Mongolian stock market including listing and trading of derivatives and segregate agencies' functions improve coherence of duties among MoF, FRC, MSE and other respective bodies for capital market policy-making and regulatory procedures. 

2.    To conduct a comprehensive review of the current legal framework of derivatives in the Securities Market Law, the Investment Law, and the Investment Fund Law and assess MSE's relevant regulations on derivatives. 

3.    Based on the Task 2, the Consultant shall prepare a detailed list of regulations to be drafted, according to the international best practices available. The expected legal acts shall cover the followings:

-       The roles and responsibilities of each entity in derivatives listing, trading, surveillance, clearing and settlement; 

-       The detailed recommendation on international best practices of derivatives regulations, such as Central Counterparty; 

-       To produce a draft agreement coordinating the relations between the relevant parties in terms of derivatives;  

-       The recommendation on necessary amendments in Securities Market Law, Investment Law, and Investment Fund Law. 

4.    To provide technical assistance to implement above drafted regulations. 

5.    To conduct at least two seminars/trainings during the contract period covering above mentioned tasks. 

6.    Undertake such other tasks as reasonably requested and/or assigned by the management administration of (MSE).

Link to notice


VACANCY NOTICE: Local Consultant for Commodity Derivative Market Assessment in Mongolian Capital Market

September 8 (MoF, World Bank) Mongolia has received a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for a Multi-Sectoral Technical Assistance Project (MSTAP). The Ministry of Finance (MOF) is seeking to recruit a qualified Local Consultant for Commodity derivative market assessment in Mongolian Capital Market under Component C1.1.2 for Enhancing Capacity for Maintaining the Stability of the Financial Sector with the following skills to complement its dynamic team.

The main objective of the consultancy service is to assess current market infrastructure, its capacity to implement the laws, trustworthiness and recommend well adjusting model considering specifics in the country including implementation tools for Mongolian Stock Exchange (MSE) and relevant authority roles in the sector. The consultant will be placed at the MSE. 


Key responsibilities will include the following, but not limited to:

1.    Based on studying International best practices in the field of commodity derivatives market, including its legal, regulatory environment and market infrastructure determine specific conditions covering following tasks:

·         Commodity derivatives registration procedures based on common international best  practices and standards

·         Trading infrastructure

·         Clearance and settlement services

·         Market participants

2.    Conduct market research on the commodity market of Mongolia including following tasks:

·         Determine current supply of metal and agricultural markets by their producers, demonstrating produced products volume and price, and

·         Determine current demand of metal and agricultural markets by their consumers separating as foreign and domestic consumers, and 

·         Clarify the markets' capacity for the next 5-10 years; 

3.    Conduct research on information network & data-base system of relevant markets, information provider' institutions and state agencies;

4.    Based on the researches determine possibility of introducing derivatives products in Mongolia and determine prospective derivative market structure as follows: 

·         Contract types, contract specifications  

·         Venues/platforms for trading commodity contracts 

·         Systems: Trading system, matching system, warehouse stock reporting system (if needed), trade reporting systems, other support systems;

·         Membership and clients structure, eligibility criteria and requirements,  

·         Trading times and dates

·         Fees: Membership fees, trading fees, annual fees, listing fees, distribution of market prices charges, others

·         Risk management

·         Clearing and Settlement 

·         Price setting including real time prices, reference prices, such as Settlement price

·         Order types, account specifications 

·         Data distributors

·         Compliance, including  market surveillance and member surveillance; 

5.    Review and assess current MIT systems at the MSE and its capability, and reveal its suitability and requirements' satisfaction with the proposed systems; 

6.    Review and assess current market structure and participants capability, and determine its suitability and requirements' satisfaction with the proposed structure, and define missing elements, such as required entities and their roles and functions in the market; 

Link to notice


VACANCY NOTICE: Local Consultant for Currency Derivative Market Assessment in Mongolian Capital Market

September 8 (MoF/World Bank) Mongolia has received a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for a Multi-Sectoral Technical Assistance Project (MSTAP). The Ministry of Finance (MOF) is seeking to recruit a qualified Local Consultant for Currency derivative market assessment in Mongolian Capital Market under Component C1.1.2 for Enhancing Capacity for Maintaining the Stability of the Financial Sector with the following skills to complement its dynamic team.

The main objective of the consultancy service is to assess current capital market infrastructure, its capacity to implement the laws, trustworthiness and recommend a well adjusting model considering specifics in the country including policy implementation tools for Mongolian Stock Exchange. The consultant will be placed at the Mongolian Stock Exchange. 


Key responsibilities will include the following, but not limited to:

1.    Based on studying International best practices in the field of currency derivatives market, including its legal, regulatory environment and market infrastructure determine specific conditions covering following tasks:

·         Currency derivatives registration procedures based on common international best practices and standards; 

·         Trading infrastructure

·         Clearance and settlement service

·         Market participants

2.    Conduct research on information network & data-base system of relevant markets, information providers institutions and state agencies. Based on the researches determine possibility of introducing currency derivatives products in Mongolia;

3.    Determine prospective derivative market structure: 

·         Draft contract

·         Venues/platforms for trading currency futures and options contracts 

·         Systems: Trading system, matching system, trade reporting systems, other support systems;

·         Membership and clients structure, eligibility criteria and requirements,  

·         Trading times and dates

·         Margining, premium, fees including membership fees, trading fees, annual fees, listing fees, distribution of market prices charges, others

·         Post-trade services: Matching, clearing Settlement of contracts, settlement cycle, market surveillance, member surveillance 

·         Price setting including real time prices, reference prices (such as Settlement price)

·         Determine data distributors

·         Role of Bank of Mongolia

·         Reforms required in OTC market

4.    Review and assess current MIT systems at the MSE and determine its capability, and its suitability and requirements' satisfaction of the proposed systems with the MIT systems at the MSE; 

5.    Review and assess current market structure and participants capability, and its suitability and requirements' satisfaction of the proposed structure, determine missing entities; 

6.    Undertake such other tasks as reasonably requested and/or assigned by the management administration of MSE. 

Link to notice

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Early morning rates: Khan (Non-Cash Buy 1,826 Sell 1,842), TDB (Non-Cash Buy 1,827 Sell 1,849), Golomt (site not working for some reason this morning), XacBank (Non-Cash Buy 1,830 Sell 1,847), State Bank (Non-Cash Buy 1,823 Sell 1,846) FX rates

BoM MNT Rates: Monday, September 8 Close

















































September MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:


Link to rates


BoM issues 139 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -3.8% to 404.9 billion

September 8 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 139 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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Mongolian PM Signals Cabinet Shake Up in Address to the Nation

By Michael Kohn

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolian PM Altankhuyag Norov plans to shuffle cabinet after start of autumn session of Parliament, will consolidate govt structure, he said in a televised address yday.

* Altankhuyag addresses nation on state of economy, results of 100-day economic stimulus plan

* Cabinet changes to be made with parliamentary approval: Altankhuyag

* Govt intends to resolve issues related to railway, development of Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi mines this autumn: Altankhuyag

* Resolving Oyu Tolgoi deadlock will create opportunity to draw $4b in investment: Altankhuyag

* Altankhuyag mentions circumstances that harmed investment, including license cancellations, mine dispute, "irresponsible" statements by politicians, detention of domestic, foreign investors




September 8 (IMM&MR) According to Mongolian Government (GoM), Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag has said in televised address to the people of the country( among other things, summary translation by IMM&MR):


·         In just two years power capacity of 200 mWt , equivalent to past 20 years capacity, has been reached, next spring 7 times more capacity will be constructed

·         In just two years 2500 km of new roads have been built, which compares to  total of 2300 kms of roads for the past 12 years of 5 Governments, in next two years all provincial centers will be connected to capital as well as first UB highway will be constructed

·         Only in one year 36 thousand families can have apartments now and 1.2 million square meters of residential space has been built compared to previous maximum annual construction of 800 thousand sq.meters

·         Residential mortgage interest has been reduced from 16% per annum to 8% ( IMM&MR- below risk-free rate on Mongolian Government securities), monthly payments have been reduced by 400 thousand MNT and every family will save 50-70 million MNT

·         New cement plant with capacity of 1Mtpa has started production at Khutul; next year , capacity will increase by total of 2Mtpa

·         Discovery of major reserve of methane gas( similar to natural gas) of 20-30 billion cubic meters has been proven by exploration. It  can supply heating and power needs of UB for 30 years. This is most quick, efficient way to resolve UB pollution.

·         By implementing price stabilization programs with Mongolbank (BoM)  we saved citizens 650 billion MNT. For two years we forgot about gasoline price which because of exchange rate volatility were to far exceed 2000 MNT

·         Mongolia supplies 100% domestic needs in wheat, potatoes and flour

·         11 provincial diagnostics centers, 105 kindergardens have been built

·         Many important decisions were made during historic visits by leaders of our two neighbors, moment is close for leaders of three countries to open major roads, pipes and lines infrastructure through Mongolia

·         Mongolia has now 60 million herds of livestock including 3 million horses

Mongolia will soon have, for the first time in history, 3 million citizens


·         GoM made decision to build new railroad and submitted to Parliament. Mongolia was able to establish agreements to transport its products and reach ocean ports by cheap price

·         Customs tax and VAT has been waived for constructive development projects, bills on income tax and VAT refund have been submitted

·         Boosting economy should not stop by 100 days, further this work momentum will be kept

·         GoM will report to Mongolian Parliament and every Mongolian family on results of 100 days plan and two years of Government


·         Economic difficulties did not appear in one day

·         Mongolia was spoiled by rapid growth of coal and copper prices

·         Some folks have understood that initial OT investment, large inflows of US dollars will always be there and we can develop on our own

·         On the other hand, investors were scared off, exploration frozen, 106 licenses cancelled by court, unhealthy politicization surrounding OT, TT was stuck, politicians made irresponsible statement, foreign and domestic investors were taken in custody and imprisoned

·         Today, we are paying charge for all this by our Mongolian tugrugs in our pockets, by slow decline of economic growth

·         But we are overcoming  increase in exchange rate that has origins in drop in mining products prices, dramatic decline of FDI,  lavish social transfers, curse of absence of production not by sensationalizing it or panicking but by conscious efforts based on realistic research and calculations

·         Time has come now to ignore empty politics and resolve issues thoroughly

·         Time is for national, not political interests and hard work

·         Many foreign and domestic investors are praising dramatic improvement following new law and investment environment

·         Only impasses on OT and TT projects have become main obstacles on investment into Mongolia.

·         Therefore, this fall , by getting OT unstuck , we will form condition for 4 billion USD investment to come in

·         Within this year TT issue will be resolved by attracting foreign and domestic investors with condition of building washing plant with 30Mtpa capacity within two years, exporting this amount, finishing construction of railroad, paying prepayment and being responsible for management

·         This fall we must get behind many major decisions

·         Railroad issues should be finalized and we must move TT and OT

·         Debt management law should be approved as well as economic transparency

·         We must move from family friends corporate governance to  open to public corporate governance


·         Result of political struggle should be measured not by failing Government or by having some Minister to resign but by overcoming difficulties together

·         Public majority views that political stability is one of the major conditions of overcoming economic difficulties

·         I announce today that I will introduce to Fall session of Parliament issue of Cabinet's re-shuffle in order to work more quicker, more powerful, more thoroughly, with high responsibility

·         Cabinet re-shuffle will include introducing and resolving Government Structure, besides issues of some ministers

Independent Mongolian Metals & Mining Research will shortly summarize today's briefing by opposition MPP as well as provide its analysis of the developments.

Link to GoM press release:

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Speaker Addresses Opening of Molybdenum Concentrator Plant in Orkhon

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 (MONTSAME) While in Orkhon province with a working tour, the Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold last Friday participated in an opening of a molybdenum concentration plant at the "Shim-technology" LLC.

Co-founded by the "Erdenet Mining" Corporation and foreign investors, the plant has reopened with an investment from the Russian "Uralgipromez" company since it was closed in 2009 due to financial crisis, the Speaker noted and expressed a satisfaction with the reopening "which has coincided with times of the working visit of the Russian President Putin to Mongolia".

The plant will provide some 250 people with jobs, it will process 3,600 tons of molybdenum a year, it has become a vital step to implement the state policy on industrialization, manufacturing value-added products and reducing unemployment, he said. He also hopes that both Mongolian and Russian engineers, technical experts and workers will make all their efforts to operate the plant.

During this ceremony, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Mongolia Mr I.K.Azizov highlighted that the plant's reopening "is an expression of the Mongolia-Russia cooperation", and thanked the top legislator for addressing the ceremony.

Link to article


300tpa Iron Ore Concentrator Plant Commissioned by Focus Metal Mining in Bulgan

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 (MONTSAME) A wet concentrate plant of Khudag Baishint iron deposit in Bulgan aimag was commissioned on September 6. The plant has been constructed by "Focus Metal Mining" LLC.

The commission of this new plant's first line has opened a new page in Mongolia's metal industry development. The Khudag Baishint mine has spent USD 20 million of investment for the plant construction and has completed set-up and test works during 2012-2014.

The new plant, which has offered 100 workplaces, has a capacity of 600 tonnes of iron ore exploitation and 300 tonnes (TPA) of concentrate production per year. For five years of operation since commissioning, the plant will put on the market 1.9 million TPA of wet concentrate and 69 thousand TPA of regular concentrate, making a profit of USD 228.2 million, according to estimation. The 66% iron concentrate is 20% higher than the regular concentrate in terms of iron content, and is traded up by USD 40-60.

Link to article


Mining Minister receives Anglo American delegation

By N. Khaliun

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 (MONTSAME) The Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag Monday received a delegation led by Mr James Harman, a chairman of the Anglo American Group in charge of business and development affairs.

Mr Gankhuyag noted that parliament adopted on January 21 of 2014 in the third reading draft bills on amendments to the Law on Mineral Resources, "and this has created more favorable legal environment for foreign investments".

To this Mr Harman said the Anglo American Group is interested in investing coal and copper industries in Mongolia.

Anglo American plc is a multinational mining company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's largest producer of platinum, with around 40% of world output, and a major producer of diamonds, copper, nickel, iron ore and metallurgical and thermal coal. It has operations in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America and South America.

Link to article


Mongolia and Germany to Promote Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources

September 8 ( Intergovernmental meeting on development policy partnership between Mongolia and the Federal Republic of Germany was successfully held at the Ministry of Economic Development in Ulaanbaatar on September 05, 2014.

The meeting was significant in the scope of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and at this time parties focused on three priorities sectors of partnership - to promote the sustainable management of mineral resources, to increase energy efficiency and to preserve the biological diversities. Moreover, the Federal Government resolved to allocate 36.2 million EUR financing these and other 11 projects and programs, which will be implemented in 2014-2015.

In 1990-2013, Government of Germany provided with a total of 310 million EUR soft loan and aids.

Link to article


Mongolia and Germany Hold Negotiations on Developmental PolicyMontsame, September 8


Hydroelectric Power Plant Discussed to Fully Supply Western Mongolia

September 8 ( Recently, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Republic of Turkey B.Batkhishig received in his office the General Manager of ZTM Engineering and Consulting Co. Inc., Muslum Gunduz, where sides talked about the implementation of hydroelectric power station to be erected in Khovd River basin in Bayan-Ulgii Aimag.

During the meeting, Muslum Gunduz introduced some measures to carry out on investment and financing conditions on this station and acknowledged that the feasibility studies for hydroelectric power station will be accomplished within this year and in order to accelerate the progress, Ambassador B.Batkhishig pledged to integrate the affiliated Ministries and organs of the two countries.

According to preliminary discussions, the hydroelectric power station will be erected on water gap of Khovd River in Nogoonnuur Sum, which is located some 40 km from Ulgii, the center of Bayan-Ulgii Aimag and it requires about 160 million USD for construction work and will have a capacity to produce 56 MW of electricity that enough to supply with power the western regions of Mongolia.

Link to article


Sides Discuss Construction of Hydro Power StationMontsame, September 8


TDB Named "Best Commercial Bank" by Finance Asia

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 (MONTSAME) Trade Development Bank of Mongolia received the "Best Commercial Bank in Mongolia" award from the "Finance Asia" magazine last week.

This magazine, a provider of the most reliable professional information on finance in Asia, awards outstanding financial organizations every year. This time, according to the magazine's website, the Trade and Development Bank showed the highest growth and best financial performance in Mongolia, as it covers 40 percent of the banking sector profits of the country. Moreover, the TDB was the first in Mongolia to issue bonds, and has the "Most highly-qualified assets". The award was given to B.Medree, the executive director of the bank.

"Our bank has received this award for its constant growth in the recent years. The banking sector in Mongolia is the fastest developing in the country," he said.

The awards of Finance Asia magazine is recognized on a global level, as it takes recognition, prestige, operational sphere, financial performance and other capacities of banks, into their account during the selection process.

Link to article


Mongolia proposes to boost trade with Russia to $10 billion within six years

By Lawrence Pinkel

September 8 (CISTran Finance) The Mongolian government recently proposed increasing annual bilateral trade with Russia to $10 billion by 2020, according to Mongolian President Tsakhiagin Elbegdorj.

As part of the proposal, Mongolia and Russia would introduce a duty-free regime for exported Mongolian products for 20 years, ITAR-TASS reports.

"I have proposed to start talks on a deal to relieve Mongolian products supplied to Russia of taxes and duties for the period of 20 years," Elbegdorj said, according to ITAR-TASS.

Elbegdorj recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on an official visit to Mongolia, discussing bilateral trade payments in national currencies and how bilateral trade would be boosted if Russia offered Mongolian companies exporting products to Russia loans in rubles.

"Cooperation in trade and economic sphere had been recently developing very calmly, even with some negative tendency although Russia remains second largest trade partner for Mongolia after China," Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said, ITAR-TASS reports.

Link to article


Mongolia vies for Russia-China gas transit

By Tom Washington, James Byrne, Svetlana Savateeva and Alexey Novikov

September 5 (Interfax Energy) Russia and Mongolia appeared to resurrect a long-dormant plan to pump Siberian gas through the Central Asian country to China this week, as President Vladimir Putin flew in six months after a stopover by Rosneft Chief Execuive Igor Sechin. 

During the visit, which went ahead despite mounting tensions in Ukraine, Mongolia's president expressed an interest in transiting Russian gas to China. 

Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia has long been interested in securing energy transit fees from Moscow and Beijing. Meanwhile, faced with being frozen out of its traditional export markets in Europe, Russia is looking for new export corridors to Asia. 

The advantages of such a pipeline route include "security, [a] convenient short route, and steppe conditions", Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said at a joint press conference with Putin on Wednesday. 

However, with Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) recently closing an eastern supply deal, it remains unclear whether Mongolia would transit Russian gas along the planned Western route, or supply a third line into China's province of Inner Mongolia. 

Mongolia was originally under consideration as a transit country in the 1990s, when a multilateral agreement was made between Russia, China, Mongolia, South Korea and Japan to conduct a feasibility study for a transnational pipeline project. 

While the project was deemed feasible, Russia and China decided to move ahead on a bilateral basis, with a major gas discovery in China's Ordos Basin reducing the need for a Mongolian corridor. The Power of Siberia pipeline will transport Kovykta and Chayanda gas into China's eastern province of Heilongjiang without crossing other countries. 

Despite the lack of any open multilateral discussions on gas transit through Mongolia in recent years, leaked United States diplomatic cables show the government in Ulan Bator has pressed Moscow into granting transit rights as an act of good faith. 

Western route

With Gazprom also pursuing a Western route into China's Xinjiang province, Mongolia could also prove a useful transit state for the sale of Western Siberian gas into China. 

Western Siberia has well-developed infrastructure and is a key source of gas for Europe. This would mean the same gas Gazprom sends to Europe – where relations have been strained over pricing and Ukraine – could be diverted to China. 

Russia would therefore be in a strong position in its dealings with both Europe and China. Analysts say this is one reason why China pushed for an eastern pipeline deal, which guarantees Russian supplies from new infrastructure in eastern Siberia not connected to western Siberia or western markets. 

Preferred options

Mongolia is not the only country interested in transporting Russian gas to China along a possible western route. Kazakhstan also has expressed interest in doing so. 

"The idea was to reorient [the Altai gas pipeline project] and build it in a southwestern direction from Novosibirsk through the relatively smooth plains area and then enter China down south through Kazakhstan, avoiding the Altai mountains," Alexei Kokin, an oil and gas analyst at Russian investment bank Uralsib, told Interfax. "But Mongolia doesn't look to me like the right terrain, so I'm not sure it's a viable alternative. But this is all separate from the big issue, which I think is pricing." 

Deliveries along the western route under the Altai gas pipeline project would mean lower costs for Gazprom. It was expected that this 30 billion cubic metre per year pipeline would transport gas from fields in Western Siberia across the Altai region straight to the Russian-Chinese border, sandwiched between Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

Taking gas from western Siberian fields straight to the Russia-China border between Mongolia and Kazakhstan would be expensive, as the route goes through mountainous territory. 

Kokin said China is not committed to a western route through either country and could walk away from negotiations at any point. 

"At this moment, it is unclear if Gazprom needs to get involved in another major capex consuming project with only long-term prospects," analysts at VTB Capital said in a note. "However, a second country offering its territory for gas deliveries in [a] short period of time might mean Gazprom is actually seeking an additional route for export to China... Given the track record, we believe that this project is unlikely to proceed in the near term," they said.

Link to article

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Bogd Mountain Road Commissioned Connecting Yarmag, Bayanzurkh Post via Zaisan

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag last Friday attended an opening of a new 17.1 km road which runs from "Yarmag, a northern part of Bogd Khaan Mountain, to the checkpoint of Bayanzurkh district.

This paved-road has installations at 70 spots and an iron-concrete bridge of 24.7 meters, near the "Bayanzurkh" checkpoint, and another 19-meter bridge near the Zaisan Hill. A 1.2 km sector of the road near the Zaisan Hill has been illuminated as well.

All these works have been executed in 1.4-year time under MNT 24.7 billion togrog, "thus becoming one of the biggest constructions done by the cabinet for reforms," said Altankhuyag.

The works have been performed by the "ESTO" company under the monitoring of the "Monkonsalt" company in accordance with a contract. The ultimate aim was to reduce traffic jam at least by one third.

At the above ceremony the PM told officials to pay attention to this road because it has many turns, high dams and might be slippery in winter.

Present at the ceremony were also E.Bat-Uul, the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar; Ch.Saikhanbileg, a head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government; and D.Nanzaddorj, a head of the City's Auto road Department.

Link to article


2nd Ulaanbaatar International Film Festival set to place October 8-12

September 8 ( Ulaanbaatar city will host the II Ulaanbaatar Film Festival on October 8-12th.

Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism in collaboration with the Arts Council of Mongolia organizes the Film Festival with purpose to expand international cooperation in movie industry, screening the selected world movies to Mongolian audience.

Over 10 film directors, producers, artists and film festival organizers from Mongolia, USA, Asia and Europe will arrive at the Ulaanbaatar Film Festival.

The Opening for the Ulaanbaatar International Film Festival will be held at Tengis movie theatre for five days.

The Ulaanbaatar International Film Festival was held for the first time in 2013.

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Mongolia and Japan: the road to economic partnership

By Mark Golman, Ph.D, history, head research partner at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, specially for the Internet-magazine "New Eastern Outlook."

September 8 (New Eastern Outlook) Japan was one of the first great powers to have accepted the Mongolian People's Republic and establish diplomatic relations with it in February 1972. Since then Japanese-Mongolian relations have undergone several stages and always have evolved along the same line.

Political relations with that country were ceremonial in nature up to 1990. But the main dimension of these relations had already emerged in 1977, namely, Japan's providing economic assistance to Mongolia. Thus, already in that year, Japan helped create the "Gobi" cashmere factory in Ulaanbaatar. Presently, thanks to repeated Japanese grants, it has become a powerful plant – the main manufacturer of mohair, cashmere and wool products for export.

After victory of the democratic revolution in 1990, Mongolia, as is well known, underwent a deep economic crisis from 1991-1993, due to the fall of the USSR, the country's main support, which placed the country on the brink of catastrophe. It was in these years that Japan became one of Mongolia's main sponsors, if not the main sponsor. Japan moved to the head of the movement it had initiated, together with the World Bank, to provide donor assistance to Mongolia. As a result, in 1991 alone, Mongolia received $150 million in grant foreign assistance and $250 million in 1992-93. Note that this movement has grown with time from 24 to 30 member states, including the United States, Russia, China, the Republic of Korea, Germany, and others, as well as 10 international financial organizations. From 1991 – 2003 donors have met 10 times, mainly in Tokyo, and the total amount of assistance provided amounted to $2.4 billion, 52% of which is grant assistance and 48% – repayable loans. 50% of all donor income came from Japan.

Moreover, at about the same time and later on, Japan has independently provided Mongolia with financial and technical assistance, so that the total Japanese support by 2010 amounted to $3.6 billion. (More than 50% of the aid has been in the form of grants, the rest in repayable loans).

This assistance was comprehensive in nature, concerning almost all sectors of industry and agriculture, public transport, road construction, heavy equipment and machine repair, repair and restoration of school facilities, kindergartens and hospitals, the development of telecommunications, business management, etc.

Expressing the Mongolian people's deep gratitude to Japan for assistance and support since the the beginning of the democratic transition in 1991, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj particularly noted that this assistance " … has always been timely and relevant. We will always remember with warmth and gratitude how Japanese people lent us a hand in the most difficult of times, when due to the thermal power plant stop Mongolia could have frozen, when public transport stopped, when fire and emergency services vehicles no longer functioned, when we did not have enough schools and kindergartens for our children. … Japanese taxpayers' money played a decisive role in overcoming our difficult times, and have been vital in the development of the country".

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said these words in his statement at the business-forum of Mongolian (150 people) and Japanese (180 people) entrepreneurs, which included representatives of about 500 leading firms from both countries and was held in Tokyo at the time of Elbegdorj's visit to Japan, on July 21-24, 2014. This was a landmark visit because it marked the end of sponsorship and nonrecoverable grants and the transition to Japanese-Mongolian economic relations based on mutual benefit and complementarity.

Mongolia is interested in introducing Japanese technology, technical equipment, management, and work methods. Japan, lacking any mineral wealth to speak of, is interested in obtaining from Mongolia mineral raw materials (coal, copper, zinc, etc.) and agricultural products: beef, horse and other meat, wool.

The parties have agreed to develop broad cooperation in agriculture, industry, infrastructure, and the mining and tourism industries. They have also agreed on financial and technical assistance from Japan in the realisation of such major projects as the construction of a medical training and diagnostic center in Ulaanbaatar, a refinery plant in Darkhan and a new international airport near the capital.

But the main result of President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj's and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's negotiations was reaching accord on an economic partnership Agreement to be concluded sometime in the near future. It will be the 15th agreement of this kind for Japan, and the 1st for Mongolia.

The idea to develop such a document first came about in 2010, during President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj's state visit to Tokyo – a visit which declared Japan Mongolia's strategic partner. Since that time, the idea has progressively taken on flesh and blood.
And in 2014, 80 professionals, after 2 years of work, presented the preliminary text of the Agreement, comprising more than 1000 pages.

The Agreement is currently under revision, and is to be ratified in the year 2015.

Both leaders highly praised the forthcoming Agreement. Speaking at a press conference following the negotiations, S. Abe noted that it "will bring our complementary economic connection to a new level", while Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj stressed that it creates "a stable legal environment for enhancing bilateral economic and investment ties". "We suggest," Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj continued, "finding a way to produce together and operate in international markets together". Indeed, the entry into force of the economic partnership Agreement – and there can be no doubt that after finalization it will be ratified, as it is beneficial to both parties – will essentially mark the beginning of free trade and co-production using Japanese technology and know-hows, and will breathe new life into all spheres of business cooperation.

First of all, it will certainly help to promote trade between the two parties, which has amounted on average to 100 million dollars and alone in 2013 reached 280 million dollars, which, as Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj complained in Tokyo, does not meet the needs and the sales capabilities of either party.

It is also intended to smooth the structure of trade. Today Mongolia imports 90% and exports 10%, with 50% of imports being used Japanese cars, and exports being beef, horse and other meats, and cashmere.
For the expansion of quantity of goods, the parties agreed on removing the 11% tax on Mongolian cashmere and progressively reducing the 5% tax on the import of Japanese cars and the 38.5% customs duty on the import of Mongolian meat.

Finally, the Agreement will pave the way for an increase in direct Japanese investment, currently at $500 million, which in the opinion of the Mongolian President, is clearly "unsatisfactory".

It appears that the final text of the Agreement on economic partnership will be responsible for solving the problems outlined above, and the two countries will enjoy an increase in mutually beneficial joint economic interaction. This could potentially lead to the weakening of Mongolia's economic dependence on China and Russia and, in any case, will sharpen Japan's position as an important player on the Mongolian economic field.

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FM meets visiting EU Commissioner for Education on 25th anniversary of ties

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 (MONTSAME) The Foreign Minister L.Bold received the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Ms Androulla Vassiliou on Monday.

The sides exchanged opinions on expanding cooperation in education and culture and on involving Mongolian students and youth in educational and cultural programmes, implemented by European Commission.  

After this the sides participated in a ceremony of celebrating the 25th anniversary of relations between Mongolia and EU.

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EU and Mongolia Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Cooperation

September 8 ( On September 07-09, 2014, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Mrs. Androulla Vassiliou is paying an official visit to Mongolia and during her visit will have meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold, Minister of Education and Science L.Gantumur and Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Ts.Oyungerel respectively.

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 A.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 Sklodowska Curie Actions, under the Horizon 2020 programme.

On September 09, Commissioner A.Vassiliou will officially open the "History of Europe" exhibition in Ulaanbaatar. The exhibition, featuring illustrations by the Czech artist Renata Fucikova, depicts the history of Europe from thousands years ago to the present day.

Organized by the Delegation of the European Union to Mongolia in cooperation with the Embassy of the Czech Republic, the exhibition will take place at the Red Ger Art Gallery (Ulaan Ger Gallery, Seoul Street 25, Khan Bank Building 1st Floor) and runs from September 09 to 27. It consists of 20 panels of illustrations and accompanying text which take the audience on a journey through thousands of years of European history in a fun and informative way.

Ahead of the opening, Commissioner A.Vassiliou said, "The way we approach art should mirror how we examine history – by asking probing questions and encouraging the exploration of subjects from a multitude of angles in order to learn as much as possible about our collective past, to avoid repeating mistakes and work towards a brighter future".

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EU and Mongolia to Celebrate 25th Anniversary of CooperationMontsame, September 8


Ambassador Requests to Open Indian School in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

September 8 ( Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, E.Bat-Uul received in his office the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India to Mongolia, Somnath Ghosh on September 08, 2014.

During the meeting, sides exchanged views on the city development and further collaboration issues to implement and Ambassador S.Ghosh noted, "Currently, about 200 nationals of India are residing in UB and we would like to ask your assistance to these citizens if necessary. Moreover, we wish to accelerate an intergovernmental agreement on founding an Indian School in Ulaanbaatar".

In response, Mayor E.Bat-Uul expressed his readiness to provide all necessary supports, particularly in legal frames on opening the School in the capital city of Mongolia.

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Indian Ambassador asks to establish Indian school hereMontsame, September 8


No invitation required for Mongolians to travel visa-free to Russia

September 8 ( Mongolia and Russia signed an agreement on terms for the reciprocal visa-free travel of citizens during Russian President V.Putin's 5-hour visit to Mongolia on September 3rd.

A representative of the Department of Law and Treaty of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, A.Tumur, said that the agreement is not yet effective. The agreement will be effective when related regulations required to make it work are complied with.

The government must first approve the agreement and will cooperate with Russia on implementing the new policy. Russia will also notify the Government of Mongolia of the finalization of its own regulations required to support the agreement. Within 30 days of the reciprocal notices of internal regulations being complete, the agreement will be effective. A.Tumur said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to have the agreement and regulations passed by the Government soon.

When the agreement becomes effective, passport holders of both countries will be allowed to travel visa-free for up to 30 days in a single visit.

Passport holders of both countries should not stay longer than 90 days over a period of six months or 180 days since from the date of their first entry under the visa-free travel terms. Those looking to stay longer than 30 days for temporary residence, work or business should apply for a visa.  When the agreement is effective, all kinds of passport holders, including ordinary passport holders, will be able to travel to Russia without a visa.

According to the agreement, no invitation will be required to travel visa-free.

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The USSR's legacy in Mongolia

More than two decades after the collapse of communism, the legacy of Soviet rule remains strong in the country.

By Philippa H Stewart (@Flip_Stewart)

September 6 (Al Jazeera Blog) Mongolians are fiercely proud of their fledgling democracy.

It is, they say, a sign that Mongolia is politically independent, a free nation that will not be controlled by its much discussed neighbours – Russia and China.

The government – seen by many to be failing the poor, the environment, the herders, and other mainstays of Mongolian life – will nevertheless complete its term of office and by voted out "in the right way".

It is relatively new, this idea of a democratically elected government.

The "democratic revolution" of the 1990s spelled the beginning of the end of seven decades of socialism under the influences of the USSR.

So democracy in modern Mongolia can be traced back to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Seemingly, so can almost everything else.

From traffic jams to the struggle of the LGBT community – the end of the Soviet era in the early 1990s is the cause.

"Ulaanbaatar was not designed for everyone to have their own cars," my fixer, Ganbat said as drivers honked their horns and to navigate the crammed streets of the capital.

"It is a Soviet city – it is designed for people to use public transportation."

The Soviet slump

The collapse of the Soviet Union meant Mongolia's economy collapsed. Nomadic people began flocking from the countryside into UB in an attempt to find work.

Sprawling districts of ger, the Mongolian yurts used by nomadic herders, began to take shape – forming the bones of today's UB that has 800,000 of Mongolia's three million residents living in these fringe areas.

The city was growing too quickly for its new government to match.

"Under the Soviets, people became used to the government doing everything for them. Education was all taken care of, for example. When that stopped there was just a vacuum that needed to be filled," said Gerelmaa Amgaabazar, who works at one of the many education NGOs attempting to fill that void.

Even the lack of understanding of the LGBT community can be traced to Mongolia's Soviet era.

Previously, the harsh realities of a nomadic lifestyle had meant gender norms were not rigid – men and women were expected to be able to fulfil any and every role, but the arrival of communism in 1921 changed that.

"Homosexuality was criminilised and patholigised," said the director of Mongolia's LGBT centre. It was decriminalised in 1961 – but the legacy of fear lived on.

"All trace of what we would now term LGBT was eradicated – it essentially means we have a 70-year gap in our culture and nothing to fill it with."

Positive relationships

For good or for bad, it cannot be denied that the Soviet Union left its mark on Mongolia – but there is still strong positivity towards Russia.

Despite China making up the majority of Mongolia's export market – it is Russia that enjoys the bulk of the land-locked nation's finer feelings.

Altai Dulbaa, a professor of Russian studies, said: "To truly understand the relationship between the two countries you must go back to the 13th century, when Mongolia invaded Russia and brought the tribes together."

But even this historic relationship was affected by 1990.

"After the collapse, the relationship became cold," Dulbaa said, "Boris Yeltsin was dealing with many problems at home and did not look to Mongolia."

But Vladimir Putin, his successor, "is very distinctive because he has visited Mongolia many times", said Dulbaa.

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Social, Environmental and Other

Grand Master T.Batchimeg finishes 6th at third FIDE Women's Grand Prix

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 (MONTSAME) A player of the national selected chess team T.Batchimeg GM took 6th place in the third series of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2013-2014, which was concluded Sunday in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates.

The tournament was attended by 12 top women chess players from Mongolia, Russia, China, India, Georgia, Armenia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Qatar, Bulgaria and Kazakhstan.

After 11 games, Batchimeg had three wins, seven draws and one lose, collecting 6.5 points. This id how she satisfied a condition of receiving the title of men's Grand Master of FIDE.

Two Chinese Ju Wenjun and Hou Yifan took first two places, Indian Dronavalli Harika finished the 3rd.  

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Judo World Champion G.Boldbaatar awarded three-room apartment by Erdenet Mining Corp

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 (MONTSAME) Director-general of the "Erdenet" Mining Corporation Ts.Davaatseren last week received judoka G.Boldbaatar, a gold medallist of the 2014 World Judo Championship.

Mr Davaatseren congratulated the judoka on becoming the third in Mongolia World champion for judo, and gave a key to a three-room flat. Moreover, the world champion was given a cash prize of MNT 25 million.

G.Boldbaatar started his sport career in the "Khangarid" sports club at the Mining Corporation coached by Sh.Bat-Orshikh. He is still a member of this club.

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Khoromkhon FC Wins 2014 Niislel National League

September 8 ( The "Niislel" National League 2014 championship organized by Mongolian Football Federation was successfully held in two rounds from June 25 to August 30, 2014.

The first round was held from June 25 to July 08 and the second on August 01-30 among "Erchim", "Khangarid", "Khoromkhon", "Ulaanbaatar University", "FC Ulaanbaatar" and "Selenge Press" clubs.

The final match of the Niislel League 2014 was held on September 03, 2014, where "Khoromkhon" won over "Erchim" by 1:0 score and becomes the 2014 Champion of National Niislel League.

The Bronze medal game was held between "Khangarid" and "Ulaanbaatar University". However the match tied with 0:0, winner was determined by penalty kicks, where "Khangarid" FC dominated by 4:3.

Winners of 2014 National "Niislel" League:

Champion - "Khoromkhon" FC

Runner-up - "Erchim" FC

Third place - "Khangarid" FC

Best Goalkeeper - B.Ariunbold, "Erchim" FC

Best Defender - B.Anar, "Erchim" FC

Best Midfielder - Kh.Tsend-Ayush, "Khoromkhon" FC

Best Forwarder - Yusuke Minami, "Ulaanbaatar University" FC

Best Referee - B.Khash-Erdene, Mongolian Football Federation

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Summer Camp for Children with Disabilities Empowers Mongolians and Provides New Perspectives

Ulaanbaatar, August 30 (U.S. Embassy) Alumni from this year's State Department-funded Sports United Exchange Program from the Mongolian Sitting Volleyball Association organized the very first sports camp for disabled children in Mongolia. 

The camp, entitled "Children Our Future," was a five-day summer camp in a national park outside of the capital city that expanded the horizons of the participants.  Twenty secondary school children, ages 8-15, were selected to participate in the camp, which was funded through an Embassy local grant program. 

This was the first time that any of the children, who had different physical disabilities including epilepsy, mobility impairments, and vision impairments, to be away from their families and to know they have the potential to live independent lives as adults. 

More importantly, this was the first time that the children were included and encouraged to participate in sports, and they learned about the possibilities available to them through Paralympic sports. The Sports United Program Alumni were inspiring role models who encouraged participants to stay healthy, play sports, staying motivated, and to set goals. 

On August 30, the final day of the camp, Public Affairs Cultural Specialist Shannon Moore visited the camp and saw the results of the five-day camp.

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American Corner provides accessible location for English classes

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, September 8 (MONTSAME) During these August and September, the "American Corner" in Ulaanbaatar hosted eight-week English language classes for the disabled. This training was initiated by local NGO that works for the rights and empowerment of people in wheelchairs and other disabled, reported the US Embassy on Monday.

On August 29, Public Affairs Cultural Specialist Shannon Moore and "American Corner" coordinator Bolormaa met participants of the training, listened to their English-language presentations and heard their feedback. The participants, many of whom are in wheelchairs, expressed their gratitude that there was a space for them to go to learn English. 

The closing ceremony was attended by 20 people, mostly from Ulaanbaatar.  

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Mongolia's lost secrets in pictures: the Kazakh horsemen


September 8 (Lonely Planet) The wild and remote western edge of Mongolia is home to a group of Kazakh nomads. Here, among the soaring Altai Mountains, which climb up to 4100 metres, the nomads have lived an isolated existence for hundreds of years. On this rugged frontier, there are no paved roads and the horse is central to the Kazakh way of life.

The Kazakh ethnic group makes up around 90% of the population of Mongolia's Bayan-Olgi province, with around 100,000 Kazakhs spread thinly across the wilderness. Kazakh culture is distinct here: the nomads are Muslim and they speak Kazakh in everyday life, using Mongolian only when they need to communicate with other tribes or groups. They can trace their roots back to the 15th century and to Chinngis Khaan. They settled in this region of the Altai Mountains in the 18th century after fleeing the Russian Empire.

The nomads live in the empty and remote mountainous terrain of the Upper Dayan Valley, which spreads out near the border with China.

RELATED ARTICLE: Mongolia's lost secrets in pictures: the last Tuvan shaman

Today, the Kazakhs maintain their traditional lifestyle, typically moving their animals three or four times a year to find new grazing pastures. Living in Kazakh-style gers (bigger and taller than a Mongolian tent) they must maximise the summer grazing period to ensure they and their livestock can survive the brutal Mongolian winters, where temperatures regularly fall to -40°C.

Tavay is the group's 63-year-old patriarch and leader. His people pride themselves on being incredibly noble and hospitable. They happily welcome strangers into their gers for a meal or fermented mare's milk.
Every Kazakh nomad's ger has a vented section in the roof and a central wood- or dung-burning stove for cooking and heating. The food preparation area is small (above left), with the family's beds around the remaining walls. Each bed is lined with beautiful handmade rugs.

For the Kazakh women of the Upper Dayan Valley, daily life includes feeding and caring for their herds, which usually consist of yaks, goats and horses, all of which contribute essentials like milk.

All members of the family are expected to help with the main chores that ensure the Kazakh's traditional way of life can function. For girls, this often includes churning horse milk, which will later be made into fermented mare's milk, a staple part of the Kazakh diet.

Link to full photo essay


Racers complete Mongolia Bike Challenge

September 8 (AFPTV) Canada's Cory Wallace wins the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge, a week long race across Mongolia.

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Cyclists saddle up for week-long race across Mongolia – AFPTV, September 8


Mongol Rally:

Former North Shore classmates complete Mongol Rally for River House shelterThe Salem News, September 7


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