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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

[Moody's warns Mongolia coal miners, Aspire jumps on railway policy, FRC sanctions brokers, and UB school bans smartphones]

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

Mogi: parliament by way of votes removed mention of Nariin Sukhait (MAK, SouthGobi, Terra Energy, …) – China and Sainshand – Zamyn-Uud narrow gauge railways from the bill, leaving just the two. This is also a step forward for Aspire's Ovoot as Erdenet – Arts Suuri border port will pass thru Ovoot.

Mongolia Embraces Standard Gauge Railway to Lower Transport Costs

By Michael Kohn

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's parliament adopted for the first time a rail gauge compatible with China, to ease transport of its second-biggest export, coal, to its largest customer.

The landlocked nation's 1900-kilometer (1,200 mile) rail network was built with help from the Soviet Union in the last century, as Mongolia looked westward for markets and political support. Constructing the 240-kilometer railway from the Tavan Tolgoi coal basin using China's standard gauge will save on transportation costs, and helps draw a line under Mongolia's historical mistrust of its southern neighbor, now the world's largest energy consumer.

The Chinese gauge was adopted for two routes to the border with 84 percent of votes in favor, according to the parliament's website. The passage follows years of discussion.

"With this debate now put to rest, investors are likely feeling a sense of relief," Chris MacDougall, managing director of Ulaanbaatar-based Mongolia Investment Business Group, said in an e-mail.

Winners from the change will include the operator of projects at Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia's largest coal deposit with 6.4 billion metric tons of reserves, including Hong Kong-listed Mongolian Mining Corp. and state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC.

Track Contract

South Korea's Samsung C&T Corp. was awarded a $483 million contract in May 2013 to build the tracks. Securing power and building signaling and maintenance depots will increase the costs of the project to $820 million.

In May, Mongolia Railway, the state-owned company overseeing the line, said construction was slated for completion in late 2016, according to Zorig Alimaa, the head of the project department at the time.

Using standard gauge rail instead of the broad gauge used elsewhere in the country will reduce the cost of transporting coal to China by $2 a ton to $4 a ton, Zorig said. Broad gauge adds costs because of the need to unload and reload coal before it reaches China, he said.

Imperial Russia adopted a gauge of 1,524 millimeters in 1842 for military purposes, as a way to slow down an invasion by rail. The gauge was built across the Soviet Union and many of its allies, including Mongolia. Standard gauge, used in China, is 85 millimeters narrower.

In April, a consortium of four companies established the Gashuunsuukhait Railway joint venture, which is planning to build and operate an 18-kilometer standard gauge railway to straddle the Chinese-Mongolian frontier. The 240-kilometer railway from Tavan Tolgoi will connect with this trans-border line. The shorter line didn't require parliamentary approval.

Link to article

 

Mongolia Parliament Approves New Railways to China to Use Standard Gauge

October 24 (infomongolia.com) At the morning plenary session of the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia held on October 24, 2014, final discussion of the Government Policy to Adhere on Railway Transportation and Measures to Implement was revised among 51 Parliamentarians, who were present out of 76 MPs.

The summary for final discussion was introduced by Chairman of Economic Standing Committee of the Parliament MP B.Garamgaibaatar saying, "At the Cabinet and Standing Committee meetings it was agreed to resolve the issue of constructing the new railway track's width to China as a set of consideration, which was included in this draft bill. Also, if the Government of Mongolia negotiates with China, some routes directed to the PR of China will be enabled to construct with a narrow gauge of 1,435 mm and some with a broad gauge of 1,520 mm".

Following some answer-question debates, the third reading of the bill on the Government Policy to Adhere on Railway Transportation and Measures to Implement was ratified with 84.3% of votes.

In this regard, the Parliament of Mongolia approved to construct new railway between Tavan Tolgoi - Gashuun Sukhait and Khuut - Bichigt using narrow gauge of 1435 mm, and new railway between Arts Suuri - Erdenet, Tavan Tolgoi - Sainshand - Baruun Urt - Khuut - Choibalsan, and Khuut - Numrug will be constructed under broad gauge of 1520 mm.

Link to article

Related:

Measures for Railways Transportation ApprovedMontsame, October 24

State Policy on Railway Transportation finally approvednews.mn, October 24

 

AKM closed +16.3% Monday to A$0.05

Aspire Mining' Ovoot Coal Project set to gain from new Mongolian rail policy

October 27 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining's (ASX:AKM) Ovoot Coking Coal Project may have just been given the key to unlocking the coal riches within, from the Mongolian Government's decision to approve the Erdenet – Ovoot – Arts Suuri Railway as part of its new National Rail Policy.

Shares in the company should trade higher on the news, which should pave the way for a rail solution connecting Ovoot with major international coal markets.

It will also underpin economic development and regional integration of Northern Mongolian Provinces.

Last Friday, the Mongolian Parliament approved the new National Rail Policy by a strong majority.

The new policy includes the extension of rail from Erdenet to Ovoot and on to the Russian border at Arts Suuri.

This represents a new important rail connection between Russia, Mongolia and through the Trans-Mongolian Railway to China.

The Mongolian Government is now empowered to negotiate a Concession Agreement for the railway between Erdenet to Ovoot as the first stage of the Northern Rail Line.

"We are very pleased that the Erdenet – Ovoot – Arts Suuri Rail Line has now been added to Mongolia's National Rail Policy," managing director David Paull said.

"The Mongolian Parliament's decision provides the rail solution to unlock the value of the Ovoot Project.

"We expect that this railway, along with the current expansion of the Trans Mongolian Railway towards 100 million tonnes per annum, will have a dramatic effect on the competitiveness of northern Mongolian coal in both the Chinese and seaborne coking coal markets. 

"In addition, this new railway will bring major economic and social benefits to the Northern Mongolian provinces as economic development and regional integration is fast-tracked.

"Aspire's dedicated rail subsidiary, Northern Railways LLC, looks forward to the opportunity to provide a tender proposal for the Concession Agreement in the near term."

Mongolian Rail Policy

The Mongolian Government's Rail Policy decision follows the recent addition of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway onto the Mongolian Government's Concession List of '"Approved Projects".

In the medium term, the Erdenet to Ovoot railway is positioned to form a critical link within a highly strategic rail network connecting the Ulug Khem coking coal basin in Russia's south with the Trans-Mongolian Railway through to China. 

The Ulug Khem coking coal basin is estimated to contain approximately 2.5 billion tonnes of metallurgical coal reserves and when combined with Aspire's wholly owned Ovoot Coking Coal Project, will represent a major new long term source of high quality coking coal. 

Exports from this very large coal basin in Russia to China are expected to provide substantial transit freight volumes for both the Erdenet to Ovoot railway and the Trans-Mongolian Railway.

In September, Mongolia reached a rail agreement with Russia that included a study into an extension of railway from Erdenet, past Ovoot and linking into the Russian rail system.

This means that 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.

Mongolia also reached agreements with China that provide Ovoot with more efficient transport across border points; allow negotiations for rail access to a number of Chinese North-Eastern seaports; and potentially access Chinese financing.

Analysis

Shares in Aspire Mining should trade higher on the news that the Mongolian Parliament has approved the Erdenet – Ovoot – Arts Suuri Railway as part of the country's new National Rail Policy.

This is now a strategically important railway to further enhance Russian and Chinese trade through Mongolia with the railway path passing past Ovoot.  

The policy also affirms the recent rail and trade agreements that Mongolia has reached with Russia and China. It also places the company a step closer towards unlocking the value of its Ovoot Coking Coal Project.

Ovoot has enjoyed strong interest in its coking coal.

Aspire has also entered into an advisory mandate with corporate advisory firm and investment house Argonaut to progress the project.

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

 

Mongolia Coal Miners 'Burning Cash' as Prices Drop, Moody's Says

By David Yong 

October 27 (Bloomberg) Mongolian coal producers are "burning cash" and face pressure in the next 12 months because low prices and weak demand from China will persist, according to Moody's Investors Service.

Coking coal at Queensland has declined 17 percent this year to $112.80 per metric ton on Oct. 16, extending annual losses since 2010, according to Energy Publishing Inc. At that level, producers may just break even until prices recover to about $125 to $140 from the second half of next year, according to senior credit officer Simon Wong.

"At current levels, many operators are not generating enough cash flow to service their debt and capex," Hong Kong-based Wong said by phone on Oct. 24. "They are burning cash. Liquidity will continue to be under pressure for these companies and they will need to conserve cash for the next 12 months."

Mongolia's economic growth is set to cool to 6.3 percent this year versus 11.7 percent in 2013, according to World Bank forecasts. The Asian nation is becoming more dependent on volatile mining revenues amid rising government debt and foreign-currency borrowing, Moody's said in a report on Oct. 24.

The 2017 notes of Mongolian Mining Corp., an Ulaanbaatar-based miner listed in Hong Kong, have lost 11.5 percent this year, according to Bloomberg-compiled prices. The company had a $28 million net loss in the six months through June 30, following losses in 2013 and 2012.

Junk Debt

Moody's rates the securities Caa2 (975), or eight levels below investment grade. Standard & Poor's ranks the debt CCC+, or the seventh-highest junk rating.

Other Hong Kong-listed companies with coal operations in Mongolia have shown signs of financial stress.

SouthGobi Resources Ltd. said in September it was seeking more funding because it may run out of money by December to remain a going concern. Mongolia Energy Corp. said on Oct. 24 it's seeking to extend HK$3.45 billion ($444.8 million) of debt by five years under a restructuring to be voted by shareholders on Nov. 12.

Hidili Industry International Development Ltd. bought back some of its dollar-denominated notes this month, while Winsway Enterprises Holdings Ltd. sold its stake in a Canadian coal unit to cut debt.

Apart from weak selling prices, land-locked Mongolia presents more challenges because in-land producers are geared toward selling to the Chinese market, compared with other seaborne producers that can ship to more countries, Moody's Wong said.

Link to article

 

NUR closed +0.433% to HK$0.232

NUR HOLDINGS issues HK$100M 6% bonds

October 24 (AAStocks) NUR HOLDINGS (00254.HK) announced that the company issued 6% bonds with an amount up to $100 million and a term of 2 years. The net proceeds is $97 million and will be used for general working capital. 

Link to article

Link to NUR release

 

Viking Mines Issues Shares in Relation to Auminco Acquisition and Prospectus

October 27 -- Viking Mines Limited ("Viking" or "Company") advises that it has completed the issue of:

(a)   45,753,330 shares and 15,251,168 options under its off-market takeover bid for all of the fully paid ordinary shares in Auminco Mines Limited ("Auminco"); and

(b)  55,285,849 shares and 13,821,471 options under its capital raising prospectus offer to raise approximately $2.1 million ("Prospectus Securities"). Subscriptions to issue 2,000,000 shares and 500,000 options on the same terms as the Prospectus Securities to raise a further $76,000 require shareholder approval which will be sought at the forthcoming AGM.

Viking's Appendix 3B notice in respect of these security issues accompanies this announcement.

The Prospectus Securities include 11,000,000 shares and 2,750,000 options that have been issued under the offer made in the prospectus to entities associated with directors of the Company, Mr Jack Gardner and Mr Peter McMickan ("Director Securities"). These securities were issued on the same terms and at the same price as all other Prospectus Securities.

Breach of listing rules

At the Company's general meeting held on 2 May 2014 ("General Meeting"), shareholders approved the issue of the Prospectus Securities and the Director Securities.

In accordance with the requirements of the Listing Rules, the shareholder approvals of the issue of these securities were subject to requirements that the Prospectus Securities (other than the Director Securities) be issued within 3 months of the General Meeting and the Director Securities be issued within one month of the General Meeting.

Unfortunately in issuing the Prospectus Securities and the Director Securities the Company overlooked these time limits under the mistaken belief that the time limits did not apply to securities issued under a prospectus. As a consequence the Company understands it has inadvertently breached:

(a)   Listing Rule 7.1 in respect of the issue of 15,675,426 shares and 13,821,471 options issued under the prospectus in excess of the 15% and 10% limits permitted under Listing Rules 7.1 and 7.1A for the issue of securities without shareholder approval; and

(b)  Listing Rule 10.11 in issuing the Director Securities later than the one time period permitted by the Listing Rules and the previous shareholder approvals.

The Company has notified ASX of the breaches and is presently consulting with ASX as to the action the Company will be required take with respect to the breaches. The Company will inform the market of ASX's determination.

The Company anticipates that it may be precluded from issuing securities without shareholder approval for a period of time, and that the issue of the Director Securities will be required to be reapproved by shareholders in general meeting if the relevant Director entities are to continue holding the Director Securities.

The Director Securities are presently the subject of a holding lock preventing their sale or transfer.

The inadvertent breach of the Listing Rules does not affect the validity of the securities issued under the prospectus or the issue of the securities to former Auminco shareholders under the Company's takeover bid for Auminco.

The other securities approved for issue to lenders and advisers at the Company's general meeting held on 2 May 2014 have not been issued and the Company will seek shareholder approval for the issue of these securities at its forthcoming annual general meeting.

Link to release

 

Cash at end of quarter A$406K. HAR closed +5.56% Friday to A$0.019

Haranga Resources: Quarterly Report

October 24 -- Haranga Resources Limited (ASX:HAR, "the Company" or "Haranga") is pleased to report on its activities for the September 2014 quarter.

HIGHLIGHTS

·         The Company is extremely pleased with the current results of the Metallurgical test work at ALS Technical Centre in Wangara, WA. The magnetite range metallurgical programme shows excellent processing attributes of the iron ore from the Selenge Project.

·         The preliminary results demonstrate a magnetite concentrate of marketable specification with high iron grade and low impurities suitable for Chinese steel producers.

·         The Company expects the metallurgical test will be complete, with final results of the test work delivered in the coming weeks.

·         An exploration programme focused on identifying high grade zones was completed during the quarter. The Company is now evaluating results of this programme.

Recent news in Mongolia's iron ore industry

·         The country's first wet magnetite separation with final grinding size of 75 micron plant was recently brought into operation. This is a small scale (300Ktpa) production capacity (China invested) export oriented operation producing 66% iron concentrate. The initial CAPEX was approximately USD15M.

·         The average price for domestic Hebei Iron Ore 62% Fe Tangshan during the quarter was 107$/t.

·         This newly constructed wet magnetic iron ore processing plant serves as an excellent example for Haranga's Selenge Project development plan with a small scale start up scenario.

Link to full report

Link to cashflow report

 

Cash at end of quarter A$1 million

Newera Resources Quarterly Activities Report

October 27 -- Newera Resources Limited (ASX:NRU) ("Newera") is pleased to present the following report on its activities for the September 2014 quarter.

Activity during the period has concentrated on continuing exploration of the Ulaan Tolgoi J/V licence in southern Mongolia, raising capital and researching potential new projects.

Ulaan Tolgoi Project: The northern sector of the Ulaan Tolgoi licence was recently covered by a ground magnetics ("GM") survey, resulting in the interpreted identification of two substantial sedimentary sub-basins and six interpreted coal prospective areas within the two sub-basins.

Subsequently in order to refine the target areas and locate the best fit drill hole collar locations Newera contracted geophysical contractors Logantek Mongolia LLC to undertake Inversion modelling of the GM data to produce a 3D model of the magnetic contours. The inversion modelling has now produced detailed imagery of the magnetic response contours underlying the GM survey area ( Figure's 4. and 5. ).

GM Interpretation Highlights:

·         Logantek modelling appears to confirm work by Geo Oron LLC in identifying two potential coal bearing sub-basins.

·         Logantek modelling suggests a maximum depth to basement within the potential coal bearing sub-basins of 200 metres.

·         Coal discovered recently in adjacent licence 12990X produced a core from a 100m deep hole wherein a combined thickness of up to 16 metres of coal was observed by Newera's geological consultants.

·         Interpretation of the Logantek inversion model also indicates a relatively extensive belt of magnetic highs near the northern boundary of the Ulaan Tolgoi licence.

·         The indicated magnetic highs lie under an area of extensive cover where basement is interpreted to be at approximately 70 metres depth.

Link to full report

Link to cashflow report

Link to NRU Annual Report 2014

 

TRQ closed -1.89% Friday to US$3.12, -15% in last 1 month

Turquoise Hill Appoints Dr. James Gill as Independent Director

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - October 24, 2014) - Turquoise Hill Resources today announced the appointment of Dr. James Gill to the Company's Board as an independent director effective November 1, 2014.

Dr. Gill is an experienced explorer, developer and operator with more than 40 years of international mining experience. From 1981 until 2007, he was President and CEO of AUR Resources, which was acquired by Teck Resources in August 2007. Dr. Gill currently serves as Non-Executive Chairman and director of Thundermin Resources Ltd. and as a technical advisor to Gowest Gold Corp and Asset Chile's Fenex Fund.

Link to release

Related:

Jean-Sébastien Jacques, Chief Executive of Rio Tinto Copper, appointed Chairman of the ICAInternational Copper Association, October 24

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Local Market

MSE News for October 24: Top 20 -0.4% to 15,513.93, Turnover 13.2 Million

Ulaanbaatar, October 24 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Friday, a total of 5,246 shares of 22 JSCs were traded costing MNT 13 million 171 thousand and 472.20.

"E-trans logistics" /2,000 units/, "Hermes center" /1,000 units/, "Khokh gan" /510 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /496 units/ and "Talkh chikher" /247 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Talkh chikher" (MNT four million and 940 thousand), "Bayangol hotel" (MNT three million and 120 thousand), "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT one million and 850 thousand), "Gobi" (MNT one million and 656 thousand) and "APU" (MNT 353 thousand and 400).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 556 billion 903 million 936 thousand and 890. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,513.93, decreasing 63.02 units or 0.40% against the previous day.

Link to article

 

MSE Weekly, October 20-24: Top 20 -0.64%, Turnover 258.9 Million

Ulaanbaatar, October 24 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange on October 20-24 of 2014. In overall, 143 thousand and 758 shares were sold of 35 joint-stock companies totaling MNT 258 million 890 thousand and 691.20.

"Hai Bi Oil" /57 thousand and 810 units/, "Mongolian Development National Corp" /44 thousand and 886 units/, "E-trans logistics" /21 thousand and 719 units/, "Mongolia Telecom" /4,818 units/ and "Tavantolgoi" /2,868 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Mongolian Development National Corp" (MNT 157 million and 101 thousand), "Hai Bi Oil" (MNT 22 million 603 thousand and 800), "Talkh chikher" /MNT 18 million and 400 thousand/, "Tavantolgoi" /MNT 14 million 321 thousand and 300/ and "Sharyn gol" (MNT 13 million 875 thousand and 800).

Link to article

Link to MSE Weekly Trading Report

 

MSE News for October 27: Top 20 +0.14% to 15,535.83, Turnover 87.9 Million

Ulaanbaatar, October 27 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Monday, a total of 122,256 shares of 17 JSCs were traded costing MNT 87 million 876 thousand and 458.00.

"BINSE" Ltd. /120,000 units/, "APU" /1,815 units/, "State Department Store" /149 units/, "Darkhan Nekhii" /100 units/ and "Arig Gal" /92 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "BINSE" Ltd. (MNT 75 million and 600 thousand), "APU" (MNT six million and 726 thousand), "UB-BUK" (MNT two million and 152 thousand), "Darkhan Nekhii" (MNT one million and 845 thousand) and "Makh Impex" (MNT 299 thousand and 300).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 562 billion 926 million 878 thousand and 357. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,535.83, increasing 21.90 units or 0.14% against the previous day.

Link to article

 

MSE Meets Brokers on Upcoming Trading of Government Securities on MSE

October 27 (infomongolia.com) On October 24, 2014, in accordance with decision to trade Government securities through Mongolian Stock Exchange (MSE), authorities of the MSE JSC and Mongolian Securities Clearing House and Central Depository JSC have received representatives from broker and dealer companies to introduce and inform about new regulations.

Three-month government securities orders for 2014 will be accepting from October 29th, and the first day of trading will be held by authorized securities companies on November 04, 2014.

Before, the Government security actions were used to held at the Bank of Mongolia and the latter Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 20.0 billion MNT on October 15, 2014. Face value of 20.0 billion (out of 35.3 billion bid) Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 15.470%.

Link to article

 

TDB Obtains Custody Service License

October 24 (MSE) Custody service license is granted to "Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia" according to resolution No.:388 of Financial Regulatory Commission, dated on 21 October 2014 and article No.:2.1 of "Custody Service Regulation" approved by the joint resolution No.:85/A-106 of Chairman of FRC and President of Mongol Bank, dated on 3 July 2014 which was based on articles No.:6.1.3, 22.1 of "Law on the Legal Status of FRC", the articles No.:28.1, 63.1.5 of "Securities Law of Mongolia", the article No.:10.1.1 of "Law of license for business entities" and the article No.:6.2 of "Banking law of Mongolia".

Link to release

 

Munkh-Ogtorgui LLC Brokerage License Revoked

October 24 (MSE) In accordance with the article No.: 6.1.3 of "Law on the Legal Status of FRC", the articles No.:10.1.5, 14.1.1 of "Law of license for business entities", clause No.:30.1.1, 63.1.5 of "Securities Law of Mongolia", the article No.:11.3.1 of "Ordinance on regulation of licensing and permits in the securities market", which approved by resolution No.:506 of Financial Regulatory Commission of 2013, and Resolution No.:384 of Financial Regulatory Commission, dated on 21 October 2014, brokerage license of "Munkh-Ogtorgui"LLC had been revoked on MSE. 

Link to release

 

Grandline, Tuushin Invest Brokerage Licenses Revoked

October 24 (MSE) In accordance with the article No.: 6.1.3 of "Law on the Legal Status of FRC", the articles No.:10.1.5, 14.1.1 of "Law of license for business entities", clause No.:30.1.1, 63.1.5 of "Securities Law of Mongolia", article No.:11.3.1 of "Ordinance on regulation of licensing and permits in the securities market", which approved by resolution No.:506 of Financial Regulatory Commission of 2013, and Resolution No.:353, 354 of Financial Regulatory Commission, dated on 8 October 2014, brokerage licenses of "Grandlain"LLC and "Tuushin Invest"LLC had been revoked on MSE. 

Link to release

 

ABJYA, Tavantolgoi Khishig Brokerage Licenses Suspended for Three Months

October 24 (MSE) In accordance with the article No.: 6.1.3, 6.2.2 of "Law on the Legal Status of FRC", article No.:10.1.4, 13.1 of "Law of license for business entities", clause No.:29.1.4, 63.1.5 of "Securities Law of Mongolia", on article No.:11.1.11 of "Ordinance on regulation of licensing and permits in the securities market", which approved by resolution No.:506 of Financial Regulatory Commission in 2013, and Resolution No.:378, 379 of Financial Regulatory Commission, dated on 21 October 2014, securities market's brokerage, dealership licenses of  "ABJYA" LLC and "Tavantolgoi Khishig" LLC suspended respectively for three months each.

Link to release

 

FRC Suspends Five Brokers' for Three Months

October 23 (MSE) In accordance with the articles No.: 6.1.3, 6.2.2 of "Law on the Legal Status of FRC", the articles No.:10.1.4, 13.1 of "Law of license for business entities", clause No.:29.1.4, 63.1.5 of "Securities Law of Mongolia", the article No.:11.1.11 of  "Ordinance on regulation of licensing and permits in the securities market", which approved by resolution No.:506 of Financial Regulatory Commission in 2013, and Resolution No.:377, 381, 383 of Financial Regulatory Commission, dated on 8 October 2014 and 23 October 2014,  securities market brokerage, dealership, advisory licenses of "I Trade" LLC, "Bumbat Shigtgee" LLC, "Capital Market Corporation" LLC "Ochir Capital" LLC and "Sanlavmed" LLC had been suspended respectively for three months.

Link to release

 

BBSB LLC Brokerage License Restored

October 24 (MSE) In accordance with the articles No.: 6.1.1, 6.2.2 of "Law on the Legal Status of FRC", article No.:10.1.4 of "Law of license for business entities", clause No.:29.2 of "Securities Law of Mongolia", Resolution No.:351 of Financial Regulatory Commission dated on 8 October 2014, which based on article No.:11.2 of "Regulation of license and permits for securities market", brokerage license of "BBSS"LLC had been renewed.

Link to release

 

MSE Launches iOS Mobile App "MN Stocks"

October 24 (MSE) Mobile application of Mongolian stock exchange became available at Apple Store under the name of "MN Stocks". This application provides information about stock prices with five minutes delay, and possible to create own profile as well. This application has main two sections named "Price" and "Settings".

Link to release

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Economy

Early morning non-cash USD rates: Khan (Buy 1,846 Sell 1,858), TDB (Buy 1,846 Sell 1,857), Golomt (Buy 1,850 Sell 1,857), XacBank (Buy 1,848 Sell 1,857), State Bank (Buy 1,846 Sell 1,857)

BoM MNT Rates: Monday, October 27 Close

 

 

10/27

10/24

10/23

10/22

10/21

10/20

10/17

USD

1,854.56

1,853.21

1,853.30

1,852.67

1,852.31

1,851.39

1,850.11

EUR

2,353.71

2,342.74

2,342.48

2,355.76

2,376.05

2,364.23

2,365.55

CNY

303.28

302.92

302.88

302.85

302.67

302.37

302.06

GBP

2,985.66

2,970.97

2,971.58

2,979.19

2,993.70

2,981.48

2,972.94

RUB

44.21

44.17

44.59

45.23

45.21

45.30

45.09

October MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:

 

Link to rates

 

Mongolia set to almost double minimum wage to 380,000 a month

October 27 (news.mn) The national monthly minimum wage is increased annually, following three-party negotiations between the labor unions, employers and the Government of Mongolia.

The national minimum wage was set at 192,000 MNT, with a 36 percent increase set in 2013.

Now the re-setting of the national monthly minimum wage will be 380,000 MNT, a nearly twofold increase.

The government budget has planned 320 billion MNT for the increase of salaries and 170 billion MNT for pension and allowances next year.

The average salary is expected to increase as the minimum wage sees another increase.

Nationwide, it is estimated that the workforce is made up of 1.1 million workers in Mongolia, and 8.4 percent (over 200,000 employees) are paid the minimum monthly wage.

Link to article

 

BoM issues 214.5 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +12.2% to 681 billion

October 27 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 214.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

BoM issues 100 billion 4-week bills at average 12.49%

BoM issues 4 week bills worth MNT 100 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.49 percent per annum. /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

8% Mortgage Program Update: ₮524.1 Billion Refinanced, ₮1.43 Trillion Newly Issued

October 27 (Cover Mongolia) As of October 27, 524.1 billion (₮539.1 billion as of September 23) existing mortgages of 18,614 citizens (18,618 as of September 23) were refinanced at 8% out of 817.7 billion (₮857.6 billion as of September 23) worth requests.

Also, 1,432.1 billion (₮1,358.2 billion as of September 23) new mortgages of 25,209 citizens (23,945 citizens as of September 23) were issued at new rates out of 1.4 trillion (₮1.3 trillion as of September 23) worth requests.

Link to release (in Mongolian)

 

BoM Mortgage Loan Report, September 2014

October 27 (Bank of Mongolia) --

For the month of September 2014, a total amount of MNT 92.1 billion mortgage loan was issued to 1872 borrowers, with the total outstanding mortgage loan reaching MNT 2619.21 billion and the total number of borrowers reaching 61164.

Year-on-year growth rate of total mortgage loan outstanding decreased by 12.2 percentage points from the previous month, by 66.9 percentage points from the beginning of year and by 42.2 percentage points compared to the same period of the previous year.

Among the outstanding mortgage loan, 70.0 percent or MNT 1833.5 billion was issued by the "Housing Mortgage Program" (including refinanced mortgage loan with reduced interest rate of 8 percent per annum), 27.3 percent or MNT 714.9 billion was financed by commercial banks' own capital and 2.7 percent or MNT 70.8 billion was issued from other sources.

By the end of the reporting month, mortgage loan in domestic currency made up 97.9 percent of the total outstanding mortgage loan.

The share of nonperforming loan in the total outstanding mortgage loan is relatively stable.

By the end of September 2014, the share of nonperforming loan in total outstanding mortgage loan was 0.5 percent.

Mortgage loan issued in the reporting month

The amount of mortgage loan issued in the reporting month has increased by 4.1 percent from the previous month.

Majority of the mortgage loan issued in the reporting month (MNT 61.8 billion, which made up 67.1 percent) was issued by the "Housing Mortgage Program" with an interest rate of 8 percent per annum.

The amount of issued loan per borrower has reached MNT 49.2 million by the end of September 2014.

In the reporting month, MNT 27.6 billion mortgage loan has been repaid, which is 7.4 percent lower compared to the same period of the previous year.

Number of borrowers

In the reporting month, mortgage loan by the "Housing Mortgage Program" was issued to 1117 borrowers, mortgage loan from commercial banks' own capital was issued to 755 borrowers.

By the end of September 2014, the total number of borrowers has reached 61164.

Term and interest rate of mortgage loan

The term of mortgage loan issued in the reporting month ranges between 0.5 to 20 years and has a weighted average term of 15.5 years. The weighted average term of total outstanding mortgage loan is 14.8 years.

The weighted average interest rate of issued mortgage loan stood at 10.6 percent. The weighted average interest rate of mortgage loan issued in the reporting month by commercial banks' own capital by domestic currency was 15.8 percent per annum.

Link to report

 

The Sales Managers' Index: Mongolia

Headline Index signals further deterioration in economic activity in October

·         Business Confidence falls after improving in September

·         Market and Sales Growth contract at a faster pace

·         Staffing Levels decline for the seventh month in a row

October 24 (World Economics) The World Economics Sales Managers' Index (SMI) for Mongolia provides the most up-to-date monthly assessment of economic activity in the country. 

Overview

The Headline Index (derived from an average of the Business Confidence, Market Growth, Sales, Prices and Staffing Indexes) signalled a faster deterioration of economic activity in October. The Index fell to 39.8, from 42.1 in September, remaining well below the 50.0 (no-change) mark that separates growth from contraction. 

Business Confidence

The Business Confidence Index fell to 35.9 in October, after rising to 37.9 in September. Panellists reported continuing falls in the price of coal, and decrease in foreign direct investment as main factors contributing to these very low levels of business confidence. The overall rate of contraction was, however, slower compared to August. 

Market Growth 

The Market Growth Index dropped by 2.6 points to 36.2 in October. This follows an increase of 0.8 points in the prior month and a decline of 3.7 points in August, suggesting that growth in the marketplace continues to decelerate at a strong pace which is consistent with the ongoing fall in business sentiment. 

Product Sales 

The Product Sales Index came in at 37.1 in October, down by 3.5 points on September, the sharpest decline since last February. Panel members mentioned that the ongoing depreciation of the Mongolian tugrik versus the U.S. dollar had resulted in higher prices paid for imported goods (in particular, basic foodstuffs and construction materials). 

Prices Charged 

The Prices Charged Index registered 51.4 in October, down from 53.3 in September, indicating that prices continue to increase but at a moderate and slower pace compared to last month 

Staffing Levels 

The Staffing Index fell to 38.5 in October, from 39.8 in September. The Index has been falling for the past seventh consecutive months, indicating that growth in the job market continue to decelerate due to slower demand in the marketplace. However, October's decline was the weakest since last April. 

Summary

World Economics Chief Executive Ed Jones commented:

"Mongolia's SMI saw a sharper contraction in October compared to the previous month. All indexes experienced a decline, with Market Growth and Product Sales registering the fastest month-on-month decline. Business Confidence also fell sharply and Staffing levels fell for the seventh successive month. 

With a balance of payment crisis, a continuing fall in the price of coal due to slower demand from China, and a significant decrease in foreign direct investment, Mongolia's economy faces a continuing decline in activity over the coming months. Also, the ongoing disputes between the government and Rio Tinto Group about Oyu Tolgoi's project are certainly not good news." 

Link to release

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Politics & Legal

Dozens of anonymous SMS messages sent on behalf of MPs

October 24 (news.mn) Concern about dozens of anonymous SMS messages sent on behalf of MPs  was raised at the plenary session meeting of Parliament today, during the review of the State Policy on Railway Transportation.

Anonymous SMS messages saying, "Will you vote on issues 1. Cut broader gauge with narrow gauge, 2.To be arrested by Bank of China, 3. Rent land for 100 years to foreigners," were sent to customers mostly of MobiCom, the nation's largest mobile telephone service provider. The messages began arriving in inboxes last night, with gathering complaints. The SMS messages appeared to be sent on behalf of Members of Parliament, which is a violation of their authority.

Several MPs, including Speaker of State Great Khural, also received anonymous SMS messages which appeared to be sent from their own phone numbers.

Speaker Z.Enkhbold ordered Chief of the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia B.Ariunsan to investigate the issue.

The Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Affairs announced that they will look closely into the issue and have their information verified by a sub-committee following a special report.

MobiCom Corporation, Mongolia's largest mobile phone operator, held a press conference today. CEO of MobiCom Corporation LLC, David Holliday, and the Vice President of MobiCom Corporation LLC issued a statement during the press conference:

Earlier in the afternoon, there was attack of violating SMS messages via customers of MobiCom and other mobile phone operators, targeting political issues involving foreign countries.

MobiCom Corporation has investigated the issue and discovered the source of the anonymous SMS messages, as result of our prompt action. MobiCom officially announces that this is not a leak of personal data of our customers, or information.  

MobiCom networking experts found that the anonymous SMS messages were sent from Romanian mobile phone network operator Vodafone.

Unitel customers also found the same anonymous messages and the company discovered that they were sent from Malta. MobiCom Corporation is now working to identify if they used SIM cards or electronic devices to send the messages.

Experts have found that 20 customers' phone numbers were used. But how many messages were sent is still unknown."

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Business

Bor-Undur, Khentii Chosen for Major Copper Smelter Construction

Ulaanbaatar, October 24 (MONTSAME) A proposal of a working group, the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture, has been supported by  the government on building a major copper smelting plant in Bor-Undur of Khentii aimag. 

A necessity to have such a plant in own country was raised by the Vice-Minister of Industry and Agriculture B.Tsogtgerel.

This place has been chosen after several discussions on the location among which were Choir and Khutul. Bor-Yndur is the closest to a site where the raw materials will be mined.

According to the document submitted, it is estimated that the plant construction will run in 2015-2018, with a financing of USD 300-400 million. Private entities have presented their proposals to erect same smelters in several other areas as well, says the Ministry.

Link to article

 

Newcom plans four more wind farms in Mongolia with 400MW capacity

October 27 (Recharge) Ulaanbaatar-based Clean Energy LLC plans to build as much as 400MW of wind capacity at four sites throughout Mongolia.

"There's huge potential… we could supply electricity to Northeast Asia. That's our goal," said Clean Energy chief executive Sukhbaatar Ts, without revealing specific timelines.

The company's most ambitious project is a 250MW wind farm it wants to build in Khanbogd, near the massive Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine in southern Mongolia.

"The wind resources are very high there," Sukhbaatar told Recharge.

Clean Energy plans to build a 50MW wind farm near the Chinese border in the Gobi Desert near Tsogtu Tsetsi, as well as another 50MW project in Sainshand, on the eastern Gobi Desert steppe.

It also intends to develop a 50MW site near the city of Choir, eastern Mongolia.

Clean Energy, a unit of Mongolian investment group Newcom, switched on the 50MW Salkhit wind farm — the country's first and only such installation — in June 2013.

GE installed its 1.6MW turbines — which feature 40.3m blades — at Salkhit.

Last February, Germany's Ferrostaal Industrial Projects revealed plans to invest approximately $120m to purchase a majority stake in a 52MW wind farm at an undisclosed location in the eastern Gobi Desert.

"The potential (in Mongolia) is enormous — it's an issue of getting it to market," Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), said earlier this month in Beijing.

Link to article

 

New Asia Group granted permit to build agro-industrial park next to its planned Zavkhan power plant

October 26 (business-mongolia.com) The Government of Mongolia is granting soft loan in building industrial and technology park to process animal raw material domestically, renewal of equipment and technology, and increase of cash flow. Also additional subsidy is given to herders who sold their animal products (sheep and camel wool) to domestic factories.

Within the framework of this policy, "New Asia Group" LLC was granted in return to its request, with the 4 year special permit to run Industrial and Technology Park in Zavkhan aimag, as presented by the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture.

According to the project, Industrial and Technology Park will be built in the territory of Telmen soum, next to the planned 100 megawatt power station, with purpose of processing raw material from animal according to the main standard, correctly coordinating raw material trading, and producing value added and export oriented goods with ecological and complex water treatment facilities.

Zavkhan aimag has good location to get supply from 5 aimags of the western Mongolia with reserve of 22.5 million animals in the region.

The following production will be made at the Industrial and technology Parks with purpose of replacing import, increasing export and producing final products of high technology.

-       Hide and leather processing factory

-       Hide and leather product factory

-       Wool processing factory

-       Meat processing factory

-       Milk processing factory

-       Fruit processing factory

Link to article

Related:

Industrial Park to Be ErectedMontsame, October 26

 

AXA moves into Mongolia's health insurance market

By B. Enkhtsetseg

October 24 (Mongolian Economy) Laurent Pochat-Cottiloux, Managing Director at AXA Healthcare Management based in Singapore, has spent 18 years in the private medical insurance industry. With an MBA from the London Business School, he has worked both in start-ups—launching the UK health subsidiary of French insurance group Azur-GMF—and in mature corporate environments—as UK Health Commercial Director for Standard Life.

Laurent, as Managing Director of AXA, is blazing the trail for private medical coverage in Mongolia, where basic healthcare has been traditionally covered by the state. Yet as state healthcare falls further behind the times—with long waiting lists, outdated facilities, and doctors without the specialized expertise found in better equipped hospitals abroad—there is an opportunity for private hospitals and private insurers to fill the void. While there are currently 17 domestic insurance companies in Mongolia, AXA is the first international company to enter the marketplace, and is working in partnership with top domestic insurer Bodi to bring employer-based coverage to Mongolia. 

How many years have you been in this business?

The health insurance which I am representing, AXA, has been in the health insurance business for 70 years. I have been in this business for 18 years, and four years with AXA. I like the fact that health insurance gives medical treatment to people when it's needed. It's nice to see that we are helping people's lives.

You are trying to bring world standard health insurance to the private health sector in Mongolia. What kinds of products are you trying to introduce here?  

There are already private health insurance companies in Mongolia. What we are trying to do here and elsewhere in Asia such as in Korea, Pakistan—we are introducing comprehensive coverage. It means you can get more for your money. You get medical expenses paid. You can go to the best hospitals in Ulaanbaatar, like the recently opened private hospital InterMed, with lots of doctors and brand new machines. We would also allow people to go to six countries for medical treatment—Korea, China, Europe, Singapore, Bangkok and so on. There are mid- to high-end market products not for mass market but for the middle-class and above. Maybe in Mongolia, a hundred thousand people could buy it.

There are very few employers who offer insurance to their employees. Is it hard for you to penetrate a market with such a foreign concept to Mongolia? 

Yes it will be a little bit slow in the beginning because people are not used to it. It will take a few years but we're patient. We've done a lot of research and we've asked a lot of companies here and employers in Mongolia. Practically every HR manager we've talked to has said "we're looking at this, we're thinking about it." They haven't yet bought the products but they're thinking about it, and that this might be something they need to do in the future.

As a business person, why come to Mongolia?

I am covering a big region, Mongolia was one of the last markets where I didn't have an insurance partner. Although it's not a big market, we're very excited about what it could become in a few years' time. We just need a few large employers like MCS for example to start providing health insurance to their staff. Then everybody will have to do the same, and people will start comparing the market and they want to look good. It could move quite quickly. Of course we're in bigger markets as well. We're in China, we're in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand. 

Why did you choose Bodi insurance out of the 17 insurance companies in Mongolia?

AXA and Bodi are going to enter into a partnership, not just on health but also on large industrial risks like insuring airplanes, power plants, and stuff like that. There is a logic to it. Bodi is a large insurance company—number two in the market. They're dynamic, they have good managers and they've got good distribution, hundreds of agents. 

It seems like most investors are moving out of Mongolia, so it's interesting to see you coming into Mongolia and bringing business—is this a difficult decision to make? 

The slowdown in the market is really just a blip. As soon as you have the next big project coming in they start reemploying people. We have the same situation in other countries who are very dependent on a few projects like Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, in some parts of Indonesia, eastern Indonesia. Right now it's a little bit down, but we're not worried about the long-term prospects for Mongolia. 

Which is the leading country in Asia buying health insurance today?

Practically every emerging and developing market has a lot of trouble with public health systems—it's very difficult in places like India, Indonesia, and China to provide good public health care. So there's a need for private healthcare as well. There's waiting queues in lots and lots of places. Indonesia has introduced social security, universal health insurance, but there are very long waiting lists at Indonesian hospitals. We sell a lot in Indonesia, but we are successful in most markets. 

How many hospitals can you cover in Mongolia? 

Approximately, six to eight main hospitals. We will also be giving access to hospitals outside of Mongolia. AXA has contracts with 12,000 thousand hospitals worldwide.

What percentage of costs can your health insurance cover?

It depends on the product you buy. Typically, we cover 100 percent. We compare 100 percent of costs as long as treatments that you are claiming for are covered. So typically, insurance products don't cover for your illnesses that you had prior to joining. If you have had a heart attack just before buying products, you are not going to be covered for health services. But otherwise, if it's new, we should be able to cover everything.

Do you have a different policy for people working in the mining sector?

We would apply price loading. So it is more expensive for mining sector workers and less expensive if you work in a bank. We are working on a range of products with Bodi insurance, equivalent to 500 dollars per year to about 3,000 dollars. 

What services can I receive with my insurance?

Well if you claim, and get surgery, you will get many times your premium back. The idea of insurance is that we're hoping one out of ten users use the product in a year and you share the risk. So if it might cost 20,000 to have heart surgery or 10,000 dollars to have knee surgery, and if you have to go to the hospital for treatment, the benefits you get would be many many times what you pay in premiums.

How do you know that the diagnosis is correct?

We spend a lot of time managing claims' costs. We have doctors and nurses employed by us. They know how much things should cost. We question—why is this guy staying 10 days when it should only be five. Why are you doing all these tests when you can only do two tests? Hospitals and doctors, their business is to treat people, they sometimes overspend. As an employer you don't want to pay too much for medical treatment that makes your premiums go up. We do a lot of work trying to keep medical expenses low by making sure that people get the right treatment. 

I think you heard that Mongolia is a country with a very high rate of heart disease. Are there other lifestyle factors you might take into account when you enter a market?

We take into account other lifestyle factors when we supply products. The product would have to take into account all the risk factors. So in countries where there's more smoking, the product is more expensive. Each market has its own price. Launching this product with Bodi insurance, we want to better educate people to lead better lifestyles. To be healthier to have a better diet, do more exercise. In some countries we include a 'wellness' service in the product. They will tell you what you need to change in your life to be healthier. This kind of service will be included in the products. 

What are the main benefits for Mongolians using your services?

You get treatment faster, you get to spend more time with your daughter, you get better diagnostic services, better facilities, you can get treated in the best hospitals abroad if you want to. We've met a lot of people who told us they went to Korea, to Inner Mongolia, to Germany, Bangkok, Singapore, to get treated, because for whatever reason they prefer to do that. It's a good opportunity for Mongolia to acquire the kind of products used everywhere else in the region.

Link to interview

 

EU to Launch Project on Improving Mongolia's Food and Product Standards

October 27 (infomongolia.com) The EU and Mongolia will launch the Support to the Modernization of Mongolia's Standardization System (SMMSS) Project that aims to improve food and product standards at the "Ikh Tenger" State Complex in Ulaanbaatar on October 28, 2014.

Project activities will focus on standardization, accreditation, market surveillance, national quality programs and human resource capacity building, with the aim of contributing to Mongolia adopting, adapting, and applying parts or the totality of the European principles governing its quality infrastructure (including market surveillance) in order to stimulate trade and assist in ensuring the safety of products and food, as well as aid institutional capacity building. It will assist in enabling the Mongolian administration to effectively develop and manage the modernization of Mongolia's standardization system.

The kick-off event for the SMMSS Project will be held in the presence of representatives of all high-level stakeholders and decision makers, such as Members of the Mongolian Parliament, the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as officials of the EU Delegation, EU Ambassadors, and representatives of the project partners. The aim of this event is to trigger the commitment of partners and stakeholders to cooperation, exchange information among all parties, and provide further instructions and directions regarding the implementation of the project.

The event, which is expected of 150 participants, will be opened by Mr. D.Terbishdagva, the Deputy Prime Minister, whose remarks will be followed by welcoming remarks by Mr. Lars Gronvald, Head of Development and Cooperation, the EU Delegation to Mongolia. Next, presentations will be delivered by the Project Partners and beneficiaries focusing on the role of standardization in trade between the European Union and Mongolia and the future of Mongolia's standardization system, as well as a project introduction and presentations.

About the SMMSS Project

The aim of the project is to support the initiative of the Government of Mongolia (GoM) to adopt European principles, norms and standards relating to the first pillar "Free Movement of Goods" through institutional capacity building.

The EU project "Support to the modernization of Mongolia's standardization system" started on April 01, 2014, and will run for three years. The project has a 3.7 million EUR budget (9.25 billion MNT).

The objectives of the project are:

-       A national quality policy and a national quality programme are in place, managed by the working group under the Deputy Prime Minister, which is actively supported and implemented by all stakeholders.

-       The provisions of Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety and of Directive 1999/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 May 1999 amending Council Directive 85/374/EEC on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning liability for defective products are transposed into the Mongolian legislation.

-       The legal framework for the quality infrastructure is in place, ensuring institutional separation of the regulatory, standardization, accreditation and conformity assessment functions.

-       The Mongolian national standards body, MASM, is able to operate as a WTO compliant national standards body.

-       The national accreditation body is able to operate according to ISO 17011 (general requirements for bodies providing assessment and accreditation of conformity assessment bodies) and that it has carried out first (joint) accreditations in the priority sectors.

-       A market surveillance body is established and the transition from state technical inspection towards market surveillance is established.

-       A first set of product regulations is in place.

The overall objective of the project is to improve capacities of the Government of Mongolia for better delivery of good quality public services.

Link to article

 

Ulaanbaatar - Manchuria Travel Conference held on October 17-20

October 24 (news.mn) The Ulaanbaatar – Manchuria Travel Conference was held in North East China, on October 17-20th.

The travel conference featured Mongolian travel exhibitions and workshops for the Chinese travel industry.

Manchuria is the largest region in China that borders with Russia. In the past several years, Manchuria has been a focus of Chinese authorities for development as a special region for vacations and tourism.  Manchuria is visited by 4.6 million visitors a year, earning 6.9 billion CNY.

Mongolia's Hunnu Air launched an Ulaanbaatar-Choibalsan-Manchuria flight in October 2013 to provide opportunities for both Chinese and Mongolian passengers to travel between the regions.

Due to visa free policy in place for Mongolian and Russian passport holders, effective in November, parties are talking about possible ways to conduct Russia-Manchuria-Ulaanbaatar-Russia trans-regional travel.

The Ulaanbaatar – Manchuria Travel Conference came after the Mongolia-China Travel Forum  in Ulaanbaatar, held in June.

Link to article

Related:

Tourism Meeting Held between Ulaanbaatar and ManchuriaMontsame, October 24

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Ulaanbaatar

The Asia Foundation Partners with Ulaanbaatar City's Metropolitan Department of Information Technology

Satellite imagery from the Khan-Uul district shows a dense neighborhood butting up against the Tuul River. © 2014 DigitalGlobe / Mapbox

Ulaanbaatar City, October 24, 2014 (The Asia Foundation) — On October 25, The Asia Foundation and Ulaanbaatar City's Metropolitan Department of Information Technology organized a Map "Edit-a-thon" to promote Open Street Map (OSM) at the School of Information Telecommunications Technology, Mongolian University of Science and Technology. The event brought together 60 enthusiastic young mappers and was facilitated by experienced local OSM mappers, who are actively engaged in building, editing and developing OSM in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The main objective of the event was to provide information regarding OSM and to increase knowledge of building, editing and developing OSM in Mongolia. During the morning session, the experienced mappers provided hands on guidance on OSM mapping skills; later in the day, participants gathered in pairs to start mapping. On the OSM platform, these mappers were able to view, edit, and trace using newly available digital satellite imagery of Ulaanbaatar.

This high-resolution satellite imagery was recently made available to the Foundation for tracing in OSM by DigitalGlobe, a leading provider of global commercial Earth imagery and geospatial information. The new imagery is more recent and of higher quality than anything previously available to OSM editors, who will use it as a guide: adding roads, buildings, rivers, railways, and other features to OSM's map of Ulaanbaatar. Mapbox, which provides a powerful and diverse platform for the creation of custom online maps, has processed the raw satellite imagery to prepare it for use in OSM and is hosting the resulting map tiles.

There are now more than 2,000 square kilometers of high-quality satellite imagery of Ulaanbaatar available for viewing and editing in OSM. With this DigitalGlobe imagery, Mongolian citizens and the rest of the world will have an opportunity to build a map of Ulaanbaatar that is more comprehensive than any other publicly available map.

The Asia Foundation has been supporting Ulaanbaatar City Municipality's efforts to improve urban service delivery in ger areas, especially solid waste management. Accurate information and constant development of OSM in Ulaanbaatar will further support the Ulaanbaatar City Municipality's in making informed decisions, and ultimately improve urban planning and urban service delivery, particularly for Ulaanbaatar's gerareas.

Read more about the Foundation and its work in Mongolia.

Link to release

 

Smartphone use banned at UB secondary school

October 27 (news.mn) The use of smartphones during school hours has been banned for pupils at the 84th Secondary School in Ulaanbaatar.

The school board issued the decision as pupils use smartphones for browsing the internet, taking photos, and listening to music during school hours. Concerns were also raised about students losing expensive phones and having property stolen. This is the only school in Ulaanbaatar that has banned the use of smart or expensive mobile phones.

Social worker of the 84th Secondary School, R.Tserensodnom spoke about the decision.

When did the school board make this decision?

The school board issued the decision to ban the use of smart or expensive mobile phones at school when it discussed the school rules last year. Although smartphones are technological advancement, they spoil students, hindering their learning. The school also believes that mobile phones are just a tool. Due to heavy usage, a smartphone battery lasts only one day or less, but a normal mobile phone can keep battery power much longer, and it is more economical as well.

There has been a significant rise of youngsters with poor vision in recent years. Looking at a smartphone display panel contributes to this somehow.  Considering a number of these facts, the school board has made this decision. We also think the ban will prevent students from committing crime. Students may be victims of smartphone robbery and theft after classes in the evening.

How has the decision been complied with by students at the school?

How do you enforce the decision?

There are 3,367 students, and the students know and comply with the decision. The school installed cameras. Parents still tend to buy expensive smartphones for school children, not knowing the consequences.

Link to article

 

Rare photographs of Ulaanbaatar to be exhibited for 375th anniversary

Ulaanbaatar, October 24 (MONTSAME) On the 375th "birthday" of the capital city to happen on October 29, many actions will take place. Among them will be an exhibition of photographs delivered from a house-museum of XX century's Russian scientist and Mongolist P.K.Kozlov. 

The scientist who lived and worked here in the beginning of the 20th century, possessed rare and unique photographs of Ulaanbaatar.

This exhibition will undoubtedly attract a great interest of the city people.

Link to article

 

Postage Stamp Issued for 375th Anniversary of Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar, October 27 (MONTSAME) In respect of the 375th anniversary of the Ulaanbaatar, postage stamps called "The Capital City of Mongolia–The 375th Anniversary" were published and offered on October 27.

The stamps have been created at the order of the Mayor's Office, and designed by B.Damdinbazar.

A legendary bird Geruda--the symbol of the Mongolian capital--is depicted in the center of the stamp. According to Mongolian beliefs, the Geruda symbolizes courage and honesty. On the forehead of the Geruda is the Soyombo, which symbolizes statehood and wisdom. The Geruda bird is depicted holding in its right hand a key, which symbolizes openness and prosperity, and in the left--a lotus flower, a symbol of equality and purity. In its feet the Bird holds a snake, which means that everything evil and bad will not be tolerated. Surrounding the Geruda, displayed are the views of central streets of Ikh Khuree in 1911, of Ulaanbaatar in 1958, 1982 and 2014.

Link to article

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Diplomacy

Speaker to Hold Talks with Sinopec Board of Directors on China Visit

Ulaanbaatar, October 24 (MONTSAME) The Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold is to pay an official visit to the People's Republic of China (PRC) on October 27-28.

He has been invited by the Chairman of the Standing committee of the National People's Congress of China Zhang Dejiang.

Mr Enkhbold will be received by the President of the PRC Mr Xi Jinping, will run official talks with his Chinese counterpart Dejiang and sign the memorandum of understanding on establishment of permanent cooperation mechanism between the State Great Khural of Mongolia and the National People's Congress of China.

The Speaker is also expected to give interviews to Chinese Central Broadcaster "CCTV-9" and Phoenix TV, and to visit CNPC Corporation to hold a meeting with the board of directors of Sinopec Limited.

He will be accompanied by S.Byambatsogt, S.Odontuya, M.Batchimeg and D.Sumiyabazar MPs, also by senior advisor to the Speaker S.Lambaa, Mongolia's Ambassador to China Ts.Sukhbaatar, and the foreign Vice-minister D.Gankhuyag.

Link to article

 

Mongolia and China Hold Talks on Energy Sector Cooperation

Ulaanbaatar, October 27 (MONTSAME) The first Mongolia-China energy sector consultative meeting ran October 23 in Beijing. Discussed there were issues such as energy trade, renewable energy, and financing of the power stations to be built on Mongolia's major coal mines.

The action was organized in a scope of the memorandum, inked during the visit of Mongolia's former Minister of Energy to China in May this year. According to the memorandum, the two sides will hold such consultative meetings regularly and expand cooperation in the energy sphere.

The meeting was chaired by D.Delgertsogt, acting state secretary of the Ministry of Mining and Energy of Mongolia, and by Zhang Yuqing, deputy chief of China National Energy Administration. The gathered reached general understandings on some issues, reflected in the bilateral official documents, namely, the Agreement on Medium- and Long-term Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the Memorandum between the former Minister of Energy of Mongolia and China National Energy administration. The issues included matters on bilateral energy trade, renewable energy and others. The sides also agreed to establish a group of experts to draw Chinese investments for the large capacity power station to be built on a coal mine.

Link to article

 

China, Mongolia to improve legislative cooperation

BEIJING, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang held talks with his Mongolian counterpart Zandaakhuu Enkhbold in Beijing on Monday and both pledged to boost legislative cooperation between the two countries.

Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), hailed the development of bilateral relationship, highlighting frequent high-level interactions, increasing political trust and expanding practical cooperation.

China is highly appreciative of Mongolia's enduring support on affairs regarding Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, Zhang said.

China also regards the relationship with Mongolia as a priority in China's neighborhood foreign policy, Zhang said, recalling Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Mongolia in August, when the two countries upgraded their relations to an all-round strategic partnership.

Zhang said the first China-Russia-Mongolia trilateral summit held in September has also set up a new platform for cooperation between China and Mongolia.

China adheres to the principles of "amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness" when interacting with neighboring countries and will make efforts to make its own development more beneficial for Mongolia and other neighbors, said the legislator.

China stands ready to work together with Mongolia to bridge the two countries' development strategies as well as comparative advantages in pursuit of common prosperity, Zhang said.

Briefing Enkhbold on the fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Zhang said the NPC plays an important role in advancing rule of law and is willing to increase exchanges with the State Great Hural of Mongolia on legislation-related issues.

The fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, concluding last week, focused on comprehensively advancing the rule of law in China.

On Monday, the NPC and the State Great Hural signed a Memorandum of Understanding on setting up a mechanism of regular exchanges between the two legislatures.

"I hope the two sides will take this opportunity to expand and deepen cooperation," Zhang said, calling for more exchanges of experience on governance, more political trust in each other and more people-to-people exchanges to lay a solid social foundation for the relationship between the two countries.

Enkhbold said the establishment of the all-round strategic partnership has opened a new chapter for the Mongolia-China relationship and the State Great Hural of Mongolia will increase exchanges with the Chinese side to make more contribution to the friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Enkhbold is visiting China from Monday to Tuesday at Zhang's invitation.

Link to article

 

Chinese president vows to strengthen ties with Mongolia

BEIJING, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Chairman Zandaakhuu Enkhbold of the State Great Hural of Mongolia, the country's top legislative body, vowing stronger ties with Mongolia.

Xi recalled his state visit to Mongolia in August this year, during which both countries upgraded their relations to an all-round strategic partnership reaching consensus on a range of issues.

Calling both countries good neighbors and partners, Xi said China always considers the development of China-Mongolia ties as an important direction for its diplomacy towards neighboring countries.

China respects Mongolia's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and respects the developmental road that the Mongolian people choose for their country, Xi said.

"We are willing to work closely with Mongolia to further enhance political trust, substantial cooperation and cultural exchanges, and inject new vitality and contents to our ties," said the Chinese president.

Hailing the cooperation between the two countries' parliaments, Xi hoped them to take the advantage of their regular exchange mechanism to share experience and offer helpful references for each other.

Applauding Xi's fruitful visit to Mongolia, Enkhbold said his country is in close coordination with China to implement the important consensus reached between their state leaders.

The State Great Hural as well as other departments of Mongolia hope to join hands with China to cement cooperation and push forward bilateral ties up to a new stage, he said.

China's diplomacy towards its neighboring countries, which features common development, has offered important opportunities for bilateral cooperation, he said.

Mongolia will firmly support China on issues regarding the country's core interests including Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, he said.

Enkhbold is visiting China from Oct. 27-28 at the invitation of Zhang Dejiang, chairman of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislature.

Link to article

 

UN Approves Mongolia's Initiative on Literacy Education

Ulaanbaatar, October 27 (MONTSAME) The Plenary meeting of the Third Committee of the UNGA enacted on October 23 the resolution on Literacy Education which was initiated by Mongolia. The resolution has been approved by the gathered without voting.

Member-countries appreciated Mongolia's constant efforts to realize this initiative which has been reflected in the Development Goals Beyond 2015 as an independent goal. The co-authors of the draft resolution were 81 UN member-countries.

The UNESCO research report for the 69th session of the UN GA says that, in spite of decades of global commitments to improve literacy, there are 781 million adult illiterates, 58 million children of primary school age and 63 million of secondary school age who do not go to schools, and 250 million young children have no access to decent literacy education. Thus, the nations and international subjects should reflect this issue to the policies of any level and promote literacy through political and economic leverages.

Link to article

 

Mongolia gathers Freedom Online Coalition members in NY ahead of 2015 Ulaanbaatar summit

Ulaanbaatar, October 27 (MONTSAME) As the current chair of the Coalition, Mongolia gathered the representatives of its member-countries on October 23 in New-York to hold a discussion with the UN Special rapporteur on Freedom of opinion and expression.

The meeting was co-organized by the former chair of the Coalition Estonia. The ambassadors and permanent representatives to the UN from the coalition members participated in the event. Special rapporteur David Kaye complimented the member-countries for their mindfuk union at this turning point when human rights' issues have been extended to cyber world, and shared the conclusions and recommendations from his report to be discussed at the committee meeting of the UN GA.

He also stressed an importance of determining responsibilities of all parties involved as well as of Governments, on the protection of secrets and freedom to opinion and expression.

During the discussion, a permanent representative of Estonia to the UN gave status report on the realization of Tallinn Strategy, enacted at the Fourth Conference of Coalition in 2013. Mongolian representative to the UN O.Och, chairing the meeting, informed about the measures taken by Mongolia on Online Freedom, and preparation status of the upcoming Fifth Conference of the Coalition to happen in Ulaanbaatar in May of 2015.

Link to article

 

ANU Mongolian Studies Centre: Mongolia Update, 10 November

University House, Building 1, Balmain Cres 
The Australian National University (ANU), Canberra

Mongolia Update program and participants

On 10 November 2014, the Mongolia Institute of The Australian National University will host the second Mongolia Update in Canberra. The event, hosted by the ANU and supported by the Embassy of Mongolia, is aimed at informing Australian government, business and academic specialists, as well as the interested general public, of recent developments and trends in Mongolia's politics, economics, society, culture and environment. Mongolia-Australia relations and cooperation have been successfully developing thanks to the Australia's growing interest in Mongolia and the reciprocal interest in Australia on the part of Mongolians.

The update covers analysis on Mongolian politics, international relations, economy and mining by top policy makers, scholars and analysts from Mongolia.

Mongolia Update is sponsored by School of Culture, History and Language, Research School of College of Asia and the Pacific, Foundation for the Promotion of Mongolian Studies, Ministry of Education and Sciences and Mongolia and Embassy of Mongolia to Australia.

The update is open to public and there is no fee for attendance. 

Register at: mongoliaupdate.eventbrite.com.au 
For more information contact: li.narangoa@anu.edu.au

Link to release

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Social, Environmental & Other

The Mongolia Bike Challenge Photo Epic

by Danielle Baker

October 23 (Pink Bike) When I first set foot in the Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar the idea of travelling to Mongolia had only been a reality for roughly fourteen days. I had agreed to photograph the Mongolia Bike Challenge at the encouragement of my travel partner and Videographer, Darcy Turenne, after exchanging only a handful of Facebook messages with the Race Director, Willy Mulonia. I had no idea what to expect, but knowing that I didn't need any vaccinations to enter the country somehow made me feel surprisingly confident about the trip. I had also received advice from those who had gone before us; photographers and videographers who have all documented the race previously were sure to tell us about everything they experienced from the flash floods to the lack of toilet paper, and especially to beware of the fermented horse milk – it is for sipping, not chugging. The most valuable piece of advice, however, came from Aaron Larocque who said, "if you want the experience of a lifetime, you should go." 

Darcy and I barely knew each other when she first mentioned this adventure, but intuition told us that we shared the ability to roll with the punches and a contentment to go without running water. We also share a fear of snakes, but we found that out later. 

After only a night in Ulaanbaatar our buses rolled out of the city and headed for the countryside. We had taken our last showers, posted our last Instagrams, and – as two of the only ten women along for the race – said goodbye to the ability to freely look around our surroundings without seeing a penis. 

There was a calmness to our first morning; we breathed in the fresh air and watched the sunrise over the hills. Our first night in a yurt had left us feeling well rested and eager for the race to start. We loaded ourselves and our gear into our dedicated 'Media' Kombi bus and met our driver, Senna. The only English he spoke was "stop, stop" and "go, go." Sometimes when we needed to go quickly, like that time the camel was chasing us, we threw in a third 'go'; "go, go, go!" 

When the race started, Senna managed to hit speeds of 100km an hour through open fields as we competed with other buses to get in front of the peloton. It was at that moment that we realized we were on a real adventure. Our travel between camps felt like we had been dropped into a paint mixer that occasionally stopped for us to hop out and get a shot before getting back to the shaking. Inexperienced and unprepared on the first leg of the race, our gear, our things, and ourselves all mixed to a perfect shade of green in the back of the bus. But despite our lack of helmets, seat belts, roads, or speed limits, we valued the the many moments over the week that we never would have experienced otherwise. We would often speed ahead of the racers and wait for them, sitting in wide open fields where the crickets were so loud you couldn't hear yourself think, or standing in the middle of a herd of horses, or watching yaks nuzzle their babies, or talking to goat herders – the only word we shared was 'vodka,' – or seeing the look on the faces of the local children when the pack of racers rode by in a place where it can be weeks before they see a new person. 

We took the opportunity to visit some of the families inhabiting the remote yurts, always prepared to welcome strangers they would have cheese, bread, and tea laid out for us by the time we crossed from the van to their doorway. The warm and slightly salty yak milk tea that was heated over a dung fire, was soothing for our carsickness, but the hard and sour cheese, carved off the aging block next to the bed, was more of an acquired taste. Like little kids with vegetables, we often hid the thoughtfully offered treats in our pockets to dispose of later, so as not to appear rude. 

Back at camp at the end of each day over a hundred relative strangers from all over the world were forming a community, new friendships were being forged, and encouragement offered. When you are in the middle of nowhere, with no outside distractions, you have little choice but to get to know the people around you. We were all becoming more comfortable; Darcy and I were less discerning about the size of bushes we peed behind and the men were less concerned about wearing pants. It all made for good conversation and light-hearted joking.

The feats achieved by the racers who attend the Mongolia Bike Challenge have little to do with actually turning the pedals on your bike and everything to do with an adventurous spirit, incredible mental perseverance, and a want to have stories to tell in life. The shear distances covered, let alone the mountain passes, that these racers conquered is something to be admired. But it is the small things for each individual that makes a trip like this leave a lasting impression, and some may say that it even changes their lives. 

As someone who only lived vicariously through the riders while racing alongside them in our Kombi, bracing myself so that my head didn't make contact with the roof again, I can say that this trip changed my view of the world. It sparked a want for travel, an understanding of just how strong I am, and gave me the knowledge that I need very little in life, other than a warmer sleeping bag.

Most importantly it allowed me to see a temporary but strong community come together. No one organizes a race to get rich; it is purely driven by passion and by the look on the faces of the participants when they cross the finish line at the end of the week. Sitting around the campfire on our last night of the event, everyone involved, from racers, to organizers, to support crew like us, felt an accomplishment and felt connected to each other through our shared experience. The Mongolia Bike Challenge is a journey more than it is a race, and no matter how your cross the finish line, you will have gained from it. 

Link to photo essay

 

Mongolia Finishes 2014 Asian Para Games at 17th Place with 12 Medals

October 27 (infomongolia.com) The 2014 Asian Para Games, also known as the Second Asian Para Games for Asian athletes with disability were successfully concluded in Incheon, South Korea on October 24, 2014.

The Para Games, that continued six days after conclusion of the XVII Asian Games, brought about 4,500 athletes from 41 countries competing in 23 sports events and representing Mongolia, 61 athletes under 15 coaches have competed in 9 sports categories including Archery, Athletics, Goalball, Judo, Powerlifting, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, and Sitting Volleyball.

Following the final standings, Mongolian athletes achieving a total of 12 medals (2+1+8) stood at the 17th place and the medal table list was led by the Team of China (174+95+48), South Korea (72+62+77) and Japan (38+49+56).

In the First Asian Para Games held in Guangzhou, PR of China on December 13-19, 2010, Mongolian athletes won five medals (0+2+3), and finished at the 24th spot in a medal table out of 45 Asian member nations participated.

Link to article

 

New Sumo Star Ichinojo Beats Record to Reach Sekiwake Title, Skips Komusubi

October 27 (infomongolia.com) On October 27, 2014, the Japan Sumo Association has released the Banzuke - rankings of professional sumo wrestlers for 2014 Kyushu Basho or Grand Sumo November Tournament to take place in Fukuoka cityon November 09-23, 2014.

Most notably, new "star" Ichinojo, A.Ichinnorov, who boomed and debuted in the top division with a Maegashira (ME-10) title in the past September Tournament will be competing with a new Sekiwake title.

The Sekiwake title is the top third rank in the top Makuuchi Division and this is the first ever occasion that a new wrestler is skipping the fourth top of Komusubi from a Maegashira title. Moreover, it is recorded in a sumo history as the first achievement to reach this title after 5 tournaments and as of today, Ichinojo becomes the 7th Sekiwake born from Mongolia and 15th foreign national to compete under Sekiwake.

Banzuke for 26 Mongoliansumowrestlers, 2014 KyushuBasho

Makuuchi Division

1. East Yokozuna Hakuho - M.Davaajargal

2. West Yokozuna Kakuryu - M.Anand

3. East Yokozuna Harumafuji - D.Byambadorj

4. West Sekiwake Ichinojo - A.Ichinnorov

5. MW-3 Terunofuji -G.Gan-Erdene

6. MW-10 Tamawashi - B.Munkh-Orgil

7. MW-11 Kyokutenho - N.Tsevegnyam

8. ME-13 Takanoiwa - A.Baasandorj

9. MW-13 Arawashi - E.Dulguun

10. MW-15 Kyokushuho - T.Erdenebaatar

Juryo Division

11. E-1 Tokitenku - A.Khuchitbaatar

12. W-1 6 Kagamio - B.Nanjid

13. W-3 Seiro - A.Unubold

14. E-4 Shotenro - D.Nyamsuren

15. W-7 Asasekiryu - B.Dashnyam

16. E-10 Azumaryu - S.Todbileg

17. W-12 Sakigake - Ya.Battushig

Makushita Division

18. W-11 Chiyoshima -G.Munkhsaikhan

19. W-14Gochozan - D.Uuganbaatar

20. E-18 Ryuonami - B.Buyanjargal

21. W-23 Daishoho- R.Shijirbayar

22. W-25 Sensho - E.Bayarbat

23. E-53 Aratoshi - V.Tserendorj

24. W-60 Daionami - B.Uuganbayar

Sandanme Division

25. E-24 Takakasuga - E.Enkhmanlai

Jonidan Division

26. E-9 Sadahikari - D.Narantsogt

Link to article

 

ACMS: This Month in Mongolian Studies - October 2014

This is a monthly listing of selected academic activities and resources related to Mongolia. This list is based on information the ACMS has received and is presented as a service to its members. If you would like to submit information to be included in next month's issue please contact the ACMS at info@mongoliacenter.org and/or the editor, Marissa Smith, at msmith@mongoliacenter.org.

This publication is supported in part by memberships.  Please consider becoming a member of the ACMS, or renewing your membership by visiting our website at mongoliacenter.org. Thank you!

In this Issue:

Upcoming ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events

New Books Acquired for the ACMS Library

Calls for Papers, Conferences and Workshops

Research Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants

Resources

Other News and Events

Recent Publications

Link to full newsletter

 

The Intentional Expat Interview Series: An English Teacher in Western Mongolia

October 21 (The Intentional Expat) The past few weeks of interviews have been a huge success! The first week we heard from J Russell Mikkelsen, an avid traveler and blogger and last week got a glimpse at life abroad for a Spaniard living in the USAToday's interview comes from fellow blogger Tina, who got in touch with me a few weeks ago to be part of the interview series. I took one look at her blog, Kulturschock! and sent the questions her way. While we haven't met personally, Tina has the Intentional Expat spirit written all over here. An American who got an MA in Germany and is now teaching English in none other than Western Mongolia, this is a woman who is taking life by the horns and living her best life abroad. Like she says in her "About Me" section of her blog: 

¨Three years and one M.A. later, I needed a new challenge, so I looked at a map and asked: "What is the worst decision I could possibly make?" And that is how I came to be in Mongolia: the best worst idea I ever had.¨

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, where do you currently live, what do you do for work, what are your hobbies, what are you passionate about…?

My name is Tina, I'm 26, and I'm originally from New Jersey. Currently I live in Khovd, Western Mongolia, where I work as an English teacher. I'm an avid hiker and equestrian, and luckily, I'm in the perfect place to do both!

What motivated you to move abroad?

A lot of things! My family immigrated to the States before I was born, so I grew up very aware that there was a world outside America's borders and feeling very in-between US culture and my parents' culture. In college, I majored in anthropology and was really driven to see the world that I had been reading about in all my classes. So all of that, plus the fact that I was getting bored in America and wanted to see if I could hack it abroad. And the only way to find out was to do it.

Where all have you lived abroad?

My expat journey began when I studied abroad in Germany and Bolivia as an undergrad; I moved to Germany after graduating to improve my language skills enough to enroll in an MA program at a German university. I lived there for three years, with a short stint in Mexico for field research. Then I briefly moved back to the States for a few months so I could save up money, and now I'm in Mongolia.

What's the most difficult part about living abroad? What's the best part?

Dealing with the feelings of isolation that come from living on the other side of the planet from your closest friends and family.

What's the best part?

The best part is the whole host of new experiences and people. And the stories. The stories you get are pretty good too.

What is your secret to keeping a positive attitude while living abroad?

Good friends, keeping myself interested and engaged, and the ability to call my family. Also, acknowledging that it's okay to have crappy days where you're culture-shocking, you're not feeling your job, or you're prepared to sell your soul for a Wawa and a car. Sometimes, you just need a day to sit in your pajamas and watch movies in order to emotionally prepare yourself to get up the next day and get back to meeting a world that's so different from your own.

What's the best place you´ve ever traveled to?

Ahhh, so hard! Cycling around Ireland with my best friend was an incredible way to see an Ireland that's not on the tourist maps. In Mexico, we took a pickup truck up a mountain and found ourselves at a naturally-occurring infinity pool, which was both unexpected and super cool. In Bolivia, I went spelunking. And as an introduction to Mongolia, I spent two days driving across the country in what was probably the most brutal single journey I've ever taken, but also one of the most amazing. I can't pick a single best place, I have favorite memories from all my travel destinations

Do you have a bucket list? Would you share with us a couple of things on that list?

My bucket list is mostly places I want to live: Iceland, Scotland, Mozambique, Sweden, Namibia, Argentina. The list expands more or less on a weekly basis.

Can you share one experience abroad that´s been truly ¨blogworthy?¨¨

One time, in Mexico, I almost got my friend and I trapped in a riot because somehow I missed the fact that the agitated crowd we were walking through were preparing to fight the police, and not have a party (or something). Somehow I got in my mind that the banging sounds we were hearing were a drum corps that I really wanted to stick around and watch—except my friend hurried us out of there, and I was so mad at her. Not five minutes after we left, the rubber bullets and teargas started flying. Later, watching the riot on television, she asked me, "So was there a reason you almost got us trapped in the riot?" "What riot? I wanted to watch the drum corps." "Tina, that wasn't a drum corps, those were cops in riot gear banging on their shields not fifty feet from us." "Oh. Oops."

Do you watch TED Talks?

Sadly, my internet isn't good enough to stream videos anymore.

What advice do you have for people who are considering moving abroad, but are feeling doubtful? 

The first step is the hardest part—you just have to make yourself do it. Which is easier said than done, but truly, once you get the ball rolling, it's hard to stop. The challenge is getting the ball rolling—it's so easy to logic yourself out of your plans to move abroad because it's scary and far away and insert more reasons here. Don't think, book a plane ticket. Now. Figure out the rest as you go.

Thanks so much Tina for reaching out and offering to be part of the Intentional Expat Interview Series! Your experience is proof that wherever in the world you are, there are great stories to be lived and that living your best life abroad is truly a matter of perspective. I´m definitely feeling inspired to get out there and travel to more places after hearing some of your stories and I¨m sure my readers are too!

Are you living abroad? Love to travel? or living at home and have exciting stories to share? If this sounds like you and you want to be featured in a future interview, send me an email.

Link to post

 

Bishop says Mongolian life better, but material, spiritual needs persist

Washington, October 22 (Catholic News Service) Nearly 10 years after being ordained as the first Catholic bishop of Mongolia, Bishop Wenceslao Padilla said though he has seen major improvements in the society, the country is still in need of great material and spiritual support.

"Even though Mongolia is spearheading into progress, I think many of the people are still very poor," he said. "That's why our presence is still very much needed here."

Bishop Padilla works in the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, with people in poverty and children living on the street, who have limited access to social services. Currently, there are two care centers in the city, set up through Bishop Padilla's congregation, that provide food, shelter and education to street children.

The Philippines-born bishop is a member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, also known as Missionhurst.

He explained his involvement in bringing Catholicism to Mongolia in an online video interview Oct. 16, hosted by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Leading the questions was Oblate Father Andrew Small, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.

"In the very beginning, we found out that the street children ... were calling for our attention to do something for them," said Bishop Padilla. "They come from the countryside, especially the children who run away from home, and so we had to do something for these children."

Bishop Padilla was one of three missionary priests sent to Mongolia in 1992 to rebuild the church after the country was liberated from the grip of communism under Russian rule. St. John Paul II extended an invitation to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to establish a mission in Mongolia that would lend physical and spiritual support to the population. When he arrived, Bishop Padilla said, he found people "searching for holiness."

"When we arrived here, there was no church structure, there was no church building. And then, not even a single Mongolian was baptized," he said. "Since we started from zero we had to see how the society was at the time when we arrived."

With help from the U.S. Department of State, Bishop Padilla and the other missionaries, none of whom spoke Mongolian, learned more about Mongolian society and the troubles the people there were facing. They were able to implement programs that have led to positive changes in the capital city and the lives of people living there.

"To compare the society 22 years ago and now, it is a very stark difference," said Bishop Padilla, who gave the interview as part of the Catholic Church's observance of October as Mission Month. This year, World Mission Sunday was Oct. 19.

There are currently 1,019 baptized Mongolians in Ulaanbaatar, Bishop Padilla said, and the church has between 20 and 50 more people joining each year. Despite the increase, the present society provides a somewhat discouraging atmosphere for the church's continued growth.

"We are struggling with the fact that Mongolia is becoming a materialistic society," Bishop Padilla said. "So my feeling at the moment, especially here in Ulaanbaatar, (is) we have ... to sow the seeds of Christianity in the hearts of the people."

While Bishop Padilla continues to provide ministry and outreach to the people of the region, he said drawing young people into the church, and having them stay, has been difficult.

"Sometimes I really feel sad that many of the youngsters, who we have baptized in the church, they are already leaving," he said. "We don't see them anymore."

The bishop emphasized that the best way for one to really understand the needs of the church in Mongolia is to visit.

"The coming of visitors to us is not only for bonding and for (making) acquaintances and friendship but gives us encouragements and support," he said. "Most often I capitalize on the spiritual support that (people) can give."

The Mongolians that Bishop Padilla has encountered in his time there have shown to be "very friendly and very kind," he said. Their simplest wish, he said, is to have "the joy of having a secured life."

"I think what they are aspiring for is the joy, the happiness, in their lives ... and especially in their families," he said.

Bishop Padilla implored people to continue praying for him and other missionaries that are working to restore Catholicism in Mongolia.

"We need special intentions for the work that we are doing here," he said. "Otherwise we cannot be inspired or we cannot be encouraged to have the strength to keep on doing our hard work."

Link to article

 

Mongolia Names Scabiosa As Its National Flower of Pride

October 27 (InfoMongolia) The regular Cabinet meeting of the Government was held on October 25, 2014, and one of the issues resolved was to name the National Flower of Pride.

In the Government Action Plan for 2014-2016, one of the tasks to implement is included a policy to adhere in accordance with the principles of sustainable development in tourism sector to attract travelers and promote special interest in the natural and cultural diversification developing in each regions.

Accordingly, Government of Mongolia resolved to name the Falcon as the "National Bird of Glory" in October 2012, the Burkhan Khaldun as the "National Mountain of Pride" in 2013.

In September 2014, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Mongolia stated to announce the National Pride of Flowering Plant or Magnoliophyta by conducting a poll among the population. The studies were made in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Green Development and the Institute of Botany by establishing a working group, where citizens, students, experts and researchers were involved in this program to announce the National Flower of Pride.

In the list of the first announced flowering plants, it was promoted eight species as below, but the working group agreed to add the ninth type namely Ber Tsetseg (mon. Бэр Цэцэг, lat. Scabiosa (Delphinium grandiflorum) or Butterfly Blue) and this flower gained most opinions and votes to be named, because the first promoted 8 species mostly do not meet the requirements of international practices. For instances, Mongol Altankhundgana is an endangered plant, which may soon not exist and the most expected Vansemberuu is grown only on high mountains, but the selection-winning Ber Tsetseg flower is spread across all over and long-exist during the summer months as well as nectar rich and attract a variety of insects including moths and butterflies, moreover the flower is able being cultivated in the garden that require less maintenance.

As of today, 153 countries have their own national flowers of pride and the Ber Tsetseg becomes a new flower adding the list of species.

The eight species first promoted to be named as the National Flower of Pride of Mongolia:

1.    Mongol Altankhundgana (mon. Монгол Алтанхундгана, lat. Adonis mongolica),

2.    Ikh Shuudergene (Их шүүдэргэнэ, Chelidonium majus),

3.    Numrugt Banzdoo or Vansemberuu (Нөмрөгт банздоо, Вансэмбэрүү, Saussurea involucrata),

4.    Durvulsun Mugez or Altangagnuur (Дөрвөлсөн мүгэз, Алтангагнуур, Rhodiola quadrifida),

5.    Tsagaan Tseene (Цагаан цээнэ, Paeonia lactiflora),

6.    Goviin Khyalgana or Mongol Uvs (Говийн хялгана, Монгол өвс, Stipa gobica)

7.    Mongol Potanin (Монгол Потанин, Potaninia mongolica),

8. Mongol Dogar (Монгол догар, Caryopteris mongolica) 

Link to article

Related:

Scabiosa Named as National FlowerMontsame, October 26

Mongolia has named its national flowernews.mn, October 27

 

Gobi-Altai to Organize 9th Annual Great Gobi Camel Festival on November 16-17

October 27 (infomongolia.com) The Govi-Altai Aimag Governing Administration is organizing the "Camel Festival of Great Gobi 2014" in its Tugrug Sum on November 16-17, 2014.

This annual festival was first organized under the initiation of incumbent Parliamentarian Ts.Dashdorj in 2005 and now became the traditional event and this year's festival is being co-organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture.

In the frameworks, consultation among breeders of camel will be hosted that aims to consider government policy to adhere on raising the number of heads of camel and exchange opinions with local breeders.

During the celebration, many sports and cultural activities will be held such as a Camel Parade, Camel Races for two-year and five-year animals, Camel Polo, selecting Best Male and Female Camels. Also, hand-made exhibition originated by camel products will be displayed along with arts exhibits. Winner of the race will be awarded as customary with a silver peg for a camel weighing about 370 gr.

Link to article

Related:

Camel Festival in Gobi Desert celebrates its 9th yearnews.mn, October 27

 

Mongolia Approves Joining International Union for Conservation of Nature

October 27 (infomongolia.com) At the Cabinet meeting held on October 25, 2014, Ministers agreed it is appropriate that Mongolia to join the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the organization dedicated to finding "pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges".

In the scope of joining the IUCN, Mongolia will be accessed to implement major projects of the Union and provided with regular assistance to develop its policy papers and capacity building of staff under further collaboration. In other words, Mongolia to join the XXI century's most comprehensive and most advanced environmental network.

The IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects globally and brings governments, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy. IUCN is the world's oldest and largest global environmental network - a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by more than 1,000 professional staff in more than 40 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. The Union's headquarters are located in Gland, Switzerland, near Geneva.

Link to article

Related:

Mongolia to Join World Conservation UnionMontsame, October 26

 

WHAT DO A MONGOLIAN HERDER, A BEER BREWER AND COKE'S GLOBAL WATER STEWARDSHIP DIRECTOR HAVE IN COMMON?

By Greg Koch, Global Water Stewardship Director at The Coca-Cola Company

October 12 (Coca-Cola) A little-known meeting took place at Stockholm World Water Week which, in my opinion, was the most impactful and most promising meeting of the week. In a second-floor conference room of the hotel adjacent to the conference venue, the 2030 Water Resources Group convened an all-day meeting of country partners from around the world where WRG is active: Mexico, Peru, Tanzania, India, South Africa and Mongolia.

We joined WRG from their start as we saw the power of convening multiple representatives of industry and civil society to engage governments to define, explore and implement policy transformation that closes water supply gaps. WRG has made great strides and this was not better reflected than the best practice sharing and way forward discussions held in that conference room.

I sat with a Mongolian herder, a water resource minister, a beer brewer, an agriculture minister secretary, an agriculture company, a water-sector transparency NGO, an energy company, a miner and many more. These were all part of the multi-stakeholder convening groups from the WRG countries. They were there to reflect on their progress and challenges, as well as to learn from similar groups from other countries. I was amazed at the diversity represented and the power their commitment to solve water resource issues brings. Collective action through mutual understanding, respect and action is clearly a key part of solving the many water resource challenges we all face.

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Mongolia strives to save the Gobi Bear

October 24 (Vital Ground) The Mongolian government designated 2013 as "The Year of Protecting the Gobi Bear," making Mongolia among two countries to recognize conservation of a bear as a national priority.

Gobi bears are critically endangered; the species has less than 45 individuals left and is confined to an area of about 15,000 square kilometers in the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area (GGSPA). Until 1970, these bears had 30,000 square kilometers to roam.

Saving the Gobi bear has been a priority for Mongolia since 2003, when the country's government teamed up with United Nations Development Program and the Global Environmental Facility to fund a project called "Conservation of the Great Gobi and its Umbrella Species." Research for the Gobi Bear Project started in 2005 and became vital to the success of the conservation of the habitat as a whole.

When the project started, the goal was to learn more about the bear so a plan could be made to help save the species.

During 2013, the Gobi Bear Project team conducted several genetic and demographic studies and explored several methods of reclaiming the land the bears occupied prior to 1970. Iridium satellite collars were purchased to place on bears to track their location and habitat use. Remote trail cameras were put out and monitored by the team. The team documented family groups, showing that the population is successfully reproducing. The team also observed great biodiversity.

Based on the team's findings, the population has remained stable since 2009. As of 2009, the population had a minimum of 23 bears and a maximum of 31. 2013 shows a minimum of 27. So while it can't be said for sure if the population has increased, it most likely hasn't declined.

However, the issue of people interfering with the habitat is still a big problem. Illegal mining has recently increased dramatically. The miners rely on the same springs that the bears rely on for water and food. The human presence in the bears' habitat could exclude bears and other wildlife from using those areas and potentially lead to the killing of bears or ungulates.

In 2012, a bill was proposed to place mining operations on much of the remaining Gobi habitat. But Mongolia's will to conserve the Gobi habitat prevented the bill from passing. Harry Reynolds, who started the Gobi Bear Project said that while things are going well right now, they still need help. "The mining companies have the money and resources to keep trying," he said. "As biologists, we don't have those resources."

The funding for the rangers who protect the Gobi habitat is extremely low, making it very hard to enforce the law. The GGSPA rangers are only given enough fuel for one ranger patrol per month, the patrols only last two to three days and the rangers' motorcycles are often too slow to catch violators. If the rangers are going to be able to protect this habitat, it is critical that funding allows them to be better equipped. However, Reynolds said plans are underway to better equip the rangers to protect the habitat.

"Any success we've had since 2012 wouldn't have been possible without the help from Vital Ground," he said.

Vital Ground has been a financial supporter of the Gobi Bear Project since 2012

This summary was excerpted from the 2013 Progress Report to Vital Ground Foundation

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Welcome to the Altai Mountains, nature's own ancient gallery

October 23 (The Siberian Times) It is a place unlike any other and is, arguably, one of the greatest art galleries anywhere in the world. Yet you won't find masterpieces in the traditional sense here, with no Rembrandts, Monets, or Da Vinci's anywhere in sight.

Instead, this is the Russian Altai mountain range, where art exists in its most natural sense, carved into the rocks by ancient civilisations 5,000 years ago.

Located in Siberia, at its borders with China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, it is home to literally thousands of petroglyphs and drawings that continue to fascinate archaeologists today. Experts have been studying the area for more than a century, with each expedition deep into the heart of the valleys and gorges uncovering more fingerprints of the past.

Strangely some parts of the Altai Mountains have no petroglyphs at all, while others are like alfresco picture galleries from millennia past. One such place is remote Saldyar, on the banks of the Katun River, a place separated from the outside world by the high jagged peaks of the Saldyarskiy pass.

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