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Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Mongolia Eager for Oyu Tolgoi Deal by Year End, Official Says
October 31 (Bloomberg) Mongolia's prime minister is pushing to end the deadlock with Rio Tinto Group (RIO) over the expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine by the end of this year, according to an industry official of the landlocked nation.
Entree Gold Reports Results From 2014 Oyu Tolgoi Feasibility Study – Entrée Gold, November 3
Rio Tinto poised for $2.5 billion write-off on delayed Mongolian copper mine
by MARCUS LEROUX
October 31 (The Australian) RIO TINTO looks set to take a $US2.5 billion writedown on its huge but troubled copper project in Mongolia.
Moody's: Mongolian Mining's proposed equity issuance credit positive
[ET Net News Agency, 3 November 2014] Moody's Investors Service said that Mongolian Mining Corporation's (MMC, Caa2 negative)(00975) equity issuance of HKD1.56 billion is credit positive and will alleviate the company's liquidity pressures, given its large debt-servicing requirements and a challenging operating environment.
The rating outlook continues to be negative.
On 31 October, MMC announced that it will raise equity through the issuance of around 5.6 billion rights shares for a subscription price of HKD0.28 per share.
"A successful raising will boost MMC's liquidity position by about USD200 million -- which along with existing cash on hand of USD60 million as at 30 September 2014 -- will be sufficient to address its debt repayments for the next 12 months of USD144million," said Simon Wong, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer/ Manager.
NUR: FURTHER DELAY IN DESPATCH OF CIRCULAR IN RELATION TO ACQUISITION OF 29.95% OF SOUTHGOBI RESOURCES
October 31 -- Reference is made to the announcements made by National United Resources Holdings Limited (the "Company") (i) on 30 July 2014 in relation to a share purchase agreement entered into between the Company and Turquoise Hill Resources Limited ("Turquoise Hill Resources") pursuant to which Turquoise Hill Resources agreed to sell, and the Company agreed to purchase, 29.95% of the common shares of SouthGobi Resources Limited (the "Acquisition"); (ii) on 1 September 2014 in relation to the delay in despatch of the circular relating to the Acquisition (the "Circular") from a date falling on or before 29 August 2014 to a date falling on or before 30 September 2014; and (iii) on 30 September 2014 in relation to a further delay in the despatch of the Circular to a date falling on or before 31 October 2014.
The board of directors of the Company (the "Board") notes that the Company requires additional time to prepare and finalise the Circular. Accordingly, the expected date of despatch of the Circular has been postponed to a date falling on or before 14 November 2014.
XANADU MINES: KHARMAGTAI DRILLING CAMPAIGN-1 SUMMARY RESULTS
- Xanadu's recently completed diamond drilling campaign (comprising approximately 10,000 metres) at its flagship Kharmagtai project in Mongolia indicates potential for a large scale copper-gold system with a multiple near-surface, gold-rich centres including Altan Tolgoi, Tsagaan Sudal and Zesen Uul.
- Shallow, gold-rich stockwork mineralisation within the Altan Tolgoi and Tsagaan Sudal prospects remains open and potential for expansion of the mineralisation is clearly evident while Zesen Uul may represent an off-faulted block from a larger porphyry centre.
- Several of the shallow stockwork systems have bornite-rich cores, where mineralisation is characterised by high gold grades (0.7 to >5 g/t Au) that zone outward to chalcopyrite-rich and then outer pyritic haloes.
- Xanadu's drilling has intersected the first significant copper-gold (>1% CuEq) mineralisation associated with tourmaline breccia mineralisation at Kharmagtai to date and has caused us to review the economic significance of this geological unit.
- Copper and gold grades within the tourmaline breccia both increase and have stronger correlation at depth, suggesting a deeper potassic (possible bornite-rich) core to the system. This represents a new and previously undervalued exploration target at Kharmagtai.
- Access to near surface higher-grade, gold-rich mineralisation will have significant implications for potential future project development.
- These are extremely encouraging results and provide a solid base for Xanadu's objective to define an economic copper-gold resource.
- Exploration drilling continues with a supplementary campaign planned.
November 4 -- Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX: XAM – "Xanadu") is pleased to present the results of the recently completed drilling program (comprising approximately 10,000 metres), which has provided significant advances in our understanding of the Kharmagtai copper-gold project in Mongolia.
Xanadu's joint venture company, Mongol Metals LLC, acquired a 90% interest in Kharmagtai from Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd for US$14.0 million, including US$10.0 million of deferred consideration. The acquisition was approved by shareholders on 16 May 2014 and completed on 3 June 2014. Xanadu has the right to earn at least 85% of Mongol Metals LLC (currently 41.5%), equal to a 76.5% beneficial interest in the project.
Xanadu Mines Announces Appointment of Munkhsaikhan Dambiinyam as CFO
November 4 -- Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX: XAM – "Xanadu") is pleased to announce that Munkhsaikhan Dambiinyam has been appointed Chief Financial Officer of Xanadu from 3 November 2014. Munkhsaikhan is a finance professional with more than 10 years of experience in mining, mining services and financial advisory.
Munkhsaikhan is located in Ulaanbaatar and strengthens management capability within Mongolia.
Most recently, Munkhsaikhan was financial advisor at AREVA Mongol, a subsidiary of the French energy conglomerate AREVA, where he had responsibility for implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning system. Prior to AREVA, he held CFO and Executive Director positions at a mining services firm with operations in Central Asia and Hong Kong and played key roles in fund raising with international private equity investors and structuring debt financing.
Munkhsaikhan also held a tax and accounting advisory position at the Mongolian Economic Policy Reform and Competitiveness project funded by USAID, where he worked with Mongolian government and parliamentary working groups to execute the 2007 national tax reform and public utility accounting reform.
Munkhsaikhan holds a Master's in Finance from the University of Utah, a Bachelor's (Hons) in Accounting from Utah Valley University, and completed an Executive Program at Richard Ivey School of Business, Western University. He is a Certified Public Accountant.
Mark Langan, CFO since 5 September 2012, will assist Munkhsaikhan with the transition and has agreed to consult with Xanadu on a part-time basis. The Board would like to express its thanks to Mark for his efforts over the last few years through a period of significant change for Xanadu.
On announcing the appointment, Xanadu's Managing Director, George Lloyd, said: "On behalf of the Board and senior management team I would like to welcome Munkhsaikhan on board. We are extremely pleased to have someone with his capable experience and proven success joining our company at this exciting time and look forward to his valuable contribution going forward."
Tian Poh Announces Closure of IPO
October 24, Tian Poh Resources (ASX:TPO) --
Tian Poh Resources Limited is pleased to announce that its Initial Public Offering closed today.
Further details on the listing statistics will be announced in due course.
CG closed -14.29% Thursday to C$4.68
UPDATE 1-Centerra Gold loss widens as prices, sales drop
(Adds analyst expectations, data on production, sales and prices, production targets and background on assets)
Oct 29 (Reuters) - Centerra Gold Inc reported a deeper third-quarter loss on Wednesday, reflecting lower gold prices and the sale of fewer ounces of gold, the company said.
The Toronto-based gold miner's net loss widened to $3.2 million, or 1 cent a share, from $1.8 million, or 1 cent, in the year-ago period.
Analysts, on average, had been expecting a loss of 8 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Centerra, whose main asset is the Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan, produced 110,792 ounces of gold in the quarter and sold 107,367 ounces of gold. That is down from production of 113,840 ounces and the sale of 115,941 ounces in the same period last year.
The average price realized for Centerra's gold fell 5 percent to $1,265 per ounce from $1,337 an ounce in the year-prior period.
Centerra lifted its 2014 production target to between 600,000 and 650,000 ounces of gold. Kumtor is still expected to produce 550,000 to 600,000 ounces, while the Boroo mine in Mongolia is now seen producing 50,000 ounces, up from a previous 45,000 ounce estimate.
Centerra's Kumtor open-pit mine has faced several setbacks since the project started in 1994, including threats of nationalization, riots and more recently a $300 million ecological damages lawsuit. The mine contributes some 10 percent of the impoverished country's GDP.
Centerra and the government of Kyrgyzstan have been in discussions for more than a year on a deal that would involve the state swapping its 32.7 percent stake in Centerra for half of a joint venture that would control the Kumtor mine.
A recent Ontario court ruling may delay the finalization of an agreement.
Centerra Gold Reports Third Quarter Results – Centerra Gold, October 29
· Discussions with the Mongolian Government regarding the Gatsuurt project continued during the third quarter, including as to possible levels of Government ownership in the project as well as the potential designation by Parliament of Gatsuurt as a strategic deposit.
· The Company expects that the Mongolian Parliament will consider the designation of Gatsuurt as a strategic deposit by the end of 2014. If Parliament ultimately approves this designation, it would have the effect of excluding Gatsuurt from the application of the Mongolian Water and Forest Law and would allow the Mongolian Government to acquire up to a 34% interest in Gatsuurt. The terms of any such participation are currently unclear and will be determined through negotiations with the Mongolian Government. See "Other Corporate Developments - Mongolia".
Centerra Gold Announces Quarterly Dividend of Cdn$0.04 Per Share – Centerra Gold, October 29
GUF closed -6% to A$0.047 Friday. Cash at end of quarter at A$5.3m
Guildford Coal Quarterly Report
October 31, Guildford Coal Ltd. (ASX:GUF) --
· Haulage Permit issued 2 July 2014
· First Coal Sales achieved 25 August 2014
· Ramp-up of production from December 2014
· Rights issue funding of $5 million received. Maiora to exercise 73,500,000 of its 77,300,446 unlisted options resulting in $4,410,000 for Guildford by 7 November
· Successful renewal of the Springsure Project's Exploration Permit for Coal (EPC), and Mineral Development License (MDL) application receiving board approval
· Notice of intention of Off-Market Takeover received
During the quarter, Guildford Coal Limited (Guildford or the Company) via its wholly owned subsidiary Terra Energy LLC exported its first trial lot of Hard Coking Coal from the Baruun Noyon Uul (BNU) coal project. The coal was sent for trial washing and signaled the commencement of coal sales from the mine.
This significant milestone has now demonstrated the full process of extracting, exporting and delivering the premium product from the BNU coal project. Further shipments of coal will be prepared and exported over the coming months.
The BNU North Pit Operations has been preparing for the second, larger coal trial shipment. This coal is expected to perform better than the first trial batch due to the extraction direct from the mine, rather than long term stockpiles.
Further preparations at the BNU project are now focusing on continuous operations and a ramp up of production. The mine will be prepared through November to provide 25kt of coal in December 2014, 35kt in January 2015 and 65kt in February 2015, thereby setting the path to achieve 1Mtpa.
We are continuing to see great interest in BNU coal after completion of the first washing trial and further samples have been released to customers to aid in the offtake negotiations.
Mogi: another company with a tax dispute. Cash at end of quarter at A$1.25m
Modun Resources: September 2014 Quarterly Report
October 31, Modun Resources Ltd. (ASX:MOU) --
· New Board members and executive team
· Placement to sophisticated investors raising $1,000,000
Nuurst Thermal Coal Project
During the quarter, Modun has continued to focus on sourcing a local partner to help fund the development of the Nuurst Thermal Coal Project. Discussions with a number of potential partners remain ongoing.
Modun also held discussions with the relevant authorities in relation to its dispute with the Mongolian Tax Authority for additional withholding tax to be paid as a result of the acquisition of the Nuurst Licence in 2011. A date for the hearing is expected to be set in the near future.
Modun continues to believe that no additional withholding tax is required to be paid and is defending its position.
Cash at end of quarter A$1.3m
Eumeralla Resources: Quarterly Report
October 21, Eumeralla Resources Ltd. (ASX:EUM) --
Subsequent to the end of the quarter, as announced on 29 October 2014, Eumeralla Resources Ltd's 70% controlled Myanmar subsidiary, Mawsaki Mining Co., Ltd, received State Government approval for its exploration permit in the State of Kayah. The approval comes after successful negotiations with the Office of Chief Minister, Kayah State, State Minister, Ministry of Forest and Mines, both the State Forest Department and State Land Records Department in Loikaw and Office of Township Administration, Hpa-hsaung.
The approval was ratified by a Kayah State Government Cabinet resolution.
The approval allows the Company to now agree the exploration terms with the Department of Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration (DGSE). This process will include commissioning of an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for approval by DGSE. Once the exploration license terms are approved by the DGSE, Auditor General's office and the Attorney Generals office it clears the way for the Company to seek National approval from the Myanmar Ministry of Mines and granting of the exploration license.
In July 2014 the Company engaged Lunda LC (Lunda) to perform an IP/Res Gradient Survey. Lunda have performed the IP/Res Gradient Survey and are in the process of preparing a report to be submitted to the Mineral Resources Authority (MRAM) of Mongolia.
Subsequent o 30 September 2014, on 1 October 2014 the Company appointed Mr David Wheler as a non- Executive Director.
Cash at end of quarter A$26K
Voyager Resources: QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES REPORT
October 31 -- Voyager Resources Limited (ASX:VOR, "the Company") is pleased to provide its report for the quarter ended 30 September 2014.
During the quarter, the Company announced the acquisition of 100% of the Salobo South Copper Project in the Carajas Province of Brazil.
The Salobo South Copper Project is within close proximity to Vale's Salobo Copper Mine, one of the world's largest copper development projects which has recently commenced production.
200,000,000 Fully Paid Ordinary Shares were issued in October 2014 as part consideration for the acquisition.
The Company continues to assess copper opportunities in the Carajas to further supplement its existing portfolio of copper licenses. A total of five new properties were applied for as exploration licenses, covering a total land of 42,271 hectares.
In August 2014, the board of directors proposed that the name of the Company be changed to THE CARAJAS COPPER COMPANY.
A realization process for the projects and assets in Mongolia is continuing with sale and or joint venture partners being sought.
MSE News for October 31: Top 20 -0.28% to 15,547.65, Turnover ₮33.3 Million
Ulaanbaatar, October 31 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Friday, a total of 56,905 shares of 11 JSCs were traded costing MNT 33 million 338 thousand and 499.00.
"Binse" /47,950 units/, "Remicon" /5,615 units/, "Khovsgol" /1,166 units/, "Hermes Center" /1,068 units/ and "State Department Store" /603 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Binse" (MNT 28 million 98 thousand and 700), "Darkhan Nekhii" (MNT three million 787 thousand 400), "Remicon" (MNT 592 thousand and 880), "State Department Store" (MNT 332 thousand and 856) and "Hermes Center" (MNT 181 thousand and 560).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 557 billion 398 million 82 thousand and 348. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,547.65, decreasing 44.16 units or 0.28% against the previous day.
MSE Weekly Report, October 27-31: Top 20 +0.22%, Turnover ₮147.4 Million
Ulaanbaatar, October 31 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange on October 27-31 of 2014. In overall, 199 thousand and 626 shares were sold of 40 joint-stock companies totaling MNT 147 million 369 thousand and 877.78.
"Binse" /167 thousand and 950 units/, "Remicon" /14 thousand and 408 units/, "APU" /3,532 units/, "Hermes Center" /3,532 units/ and "HBOil" /2,090 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Binse" (MNT 103 million 698 thousand and 700), "APU" (MNT 13 million 92 thousand and 700), "Darkhan Nekhii" /MNT seven million 657 thousand and 400/, "UB-BUK" /MNT three million and 223 thousand/ and "Talkh Chikher" (MNT two million 581 thousand and 900).
MSE News for November 3: Top 20 -0.47% to 15,473.89, Turnover ₮7.2 Million
Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Monday, a total of 2,408 shares of 16 JSCs were traded costing MNT 7 million 158 thousand and 553.00.
"Hermes Center" /520 units/, "APU" /517 units/, "Jenco Tour Buerau" /500 units/, "Remicon" /150 units/ and "Tavan Tolgoi" /149 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "APU" (MNT one million 939 thousand and 550), "Material Impex" (MNT one million 95 thousand and 600), "Gobi" (MNT 785 thousand and 400), "Tavan Tolgoi" (MNT 715 thousand and 400) and "Atar Orgoo" (MNT 612 thousand).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 550 billion 110 million 82 thousand and 999. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,473.89, decreasing 73.76 units or 0.47% against the previous day.
BoM MNT Rates: Monday, November 3 Close
October MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:
Mongolia September FX Reserves Jump 13% M/m to $1.54b
By Michael Kohn
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's FX reserves rose 13.38% m/m to $1.54b in September, Bank of Mongolia says in statement on website.
* FX reserves fell 42.43% y/y
September FX Reserves Jump 13.4% from August, -42.4% YoY to US$1.54 Billion
November 3 (Bank of Mongolia) The Bank of Mongolia has changed its' policy regarding official foreign exchange reserves reporting. The statistics will be published with an one-month lag /previously published with three-months lag/ on the first business day of the following month. Policy is in effect since July, 2014
Mongolia Sept. FDI Less Than $100m for Seventh Straight Month
By Michael Kohn
Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's inbound FDI for Sept. was $57.3m, extending a streak of months under $100m to seven, according to data released today by the nation's central bank.
* NOTE: Monthly Inbound FDI in 2013 never fell below $100m.
* Inbound FDI in year through end-September was $697.5m, vs $1.675b a yr earlier, a 59% decline (Mogi: 58.4%)
* Current account deficit for year through end-September was $905.7m vs $2.415b yr ago
* Capital & Financial accounts a $213.2m surplus for year through end-September, a decrease of 78% from a year ago
* NOTE: Mongolia's current account deficit to GDP ratio was 15% in the first half of 2014, according to Bank of Mongolia Chief Economist Bold Sandagdorj.
Fitch: Mongolian Banks Face Rising Risks from Subsidised Mortgages
Hong Kong, 31 October 2014 (Fitch Ratings) Mongolian banks' mortgage exposure continues to rise amid the government's commitments to provide affordable housing to low- to medium-income households, and to contain inflation, Fitch says in its Asia-Pacific Banks: Chart of the Month report.
Ongoing securitisation by the Mongolian Mortgage Corporation supports banks' liquidity as banks can repay 90% of funding from the Bank of Mongolia with the senior tranche of the residential mortgage-backed securities. The securitisation also improves banks' interest spread. However, most of the credit risk remains in the sector as banks retain the equity tranche carrying a 1,250% risk weight for regulatory capital purposes.
The mining sector and the volatile operating environment for the banks remain the key pressure points for Mongolian banks.
The report "APAC Banks: Chart of the Month" is available at www.fitchratings.com or by clicking on the link above.
BoM issues ₮142.6 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -20.1% to ₮556 billion
October 31 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 142.6 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM issues ₮205 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -1.7% to ₮546.5 billion
November 3 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 205 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
World's fastest growing consumer...isn't Chinese, but Malawi, with Mongolia at #5
October 22 (CNBC) Burgeoning consumer markets usually bring the likes of China, India and Brazil to mind, but the top-five fastest growing ones aren't the usual suspects, according to a fresh report from Euromonitor International.
The fastest growing consumer market in the world is Malawi, a landlocked country in Southeast Africa, with a small population of 16.4 million consumers, Euromonitor found after analyzing markets by expected consumer expenditure and annual real growth this year. Consumer spending in Malawi, which is slightly smaller than the state of Pennsylvania, is set to grow 18.2 percent year-on-year in 2014, the report said.
Malawi's total consumer expenditure will likely reach $5.6 billion by the end of this year, translating into spending of only $335 per capita, the research firm said.
Mongolia rounds out the top five, with a tiny population of 2.8 million people. The east central Asia country, bordered by Russia to the North and China to the east, south and west, is set to enjoy 11.8 percent year-on-year growth in consumer expenditure this year, with the average per capita spending level reaching $1,785, the report said.
Euromonitor warned that the country's small population could restrict consumer demand growth in the future, but said nevertheless Mongolia is not to be ignored. It's one of the world's fastest growing economies and has taken enormous strides in tackling poverty and boosting incomes for consumers this year, it said.
Mogi: DP took a five-day recess on PM dismissal bill, due to end on Wednesday
DP holds in-party consultation amid power struggle, gathers support for PM
November 2 (UB Post) Authorities of the Democratic Party (DP) held a consultation at the State Palace to discuss internal affairs of the party, and review and exchange views on the current political situation.
A total of 400 administrative workers from all provinces and city districts attended the closed meeting.
The attendees demanded that the party quickly reach a consensus on allowing the head of the government to work with stable support. They reminded party leaders that they won't leave UB until they can solve the political issues of the party.
The DP's leader, D.Erdenebat said, "There is no need to call for a meeting of the National Consultative Committee (NCC) because of the draft on the Prime Minister's dismissal submitted by the Mongolian People's Party. However, we can call for a meeting of the NCC to change the party's regulations and rules, or solve the party's internal issues. If we are divided, then we lose."
News.mn spoke with the DP's regional representatives during the closed consultation.
Governor of Govi-Altai Province O.Amgalanbaatar: "The consultation's atmosphere is fierce. We concluded that the government is working well and reached a consensus that the government should work sustainably. It's good that the Head of the Government is listening to regional representative's suggestions and initiations. We believe that initiatives from the party's primary and secondary units would be implemented by the party's members. They should support our initiatives."
Governor of Bulgan Province, Province Head of the DP D.Erdenebat: "Today the party's primary and secondary units have gathered to discuss internal issues of the party. This isn't something new. We are discussing the implementation of the party's policy, results from 'Mongol Khun 2020' program, mistakes and sharing experience with each other. We were introduced to the party authority's position on the current political situation. The President said to ask for citizen's proposals. We should stop focusing on politics in the Government House. We are standing on a position that if our party's program is being carried out then members' suggestions should be considered as well. We broke up many times and conciliated. All members and leaders have agreed that now it is important to not disintegrate the government."
Governor of Khovd Province, Province Head of the DP D.Tseveenravdan: "The DP has declared 2014 as a year to listen to regional units. I have proposed to hold a session in Khovd Province to exchange views with chairmen. The party's leader accepted the proposal and today we are running a consultation. This consultation is unique, because it is being held in conjunction with the issue of PM's dismissal. The party's primary level members wish for the government to work sustainably. We are discussing the party's regulations and rules. I think the consultation is being organized at the right time. Because the political situation is difficult, some people are aggressively expressing their opinions, but we all agree that government should work sustainably."
Doing Business 2015: Mongolia Continues to Improve its Regulatory Environment for SMEs
Ulaanbaatar, October 29, 2014 (World Bank) Budding local entrepreneurs in East Asia and the Pacific continue to see improvements in the business environment, according to a new World Bank Group Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency. The region's economies implemented 24 regulatory reforms in the past year alone. Indonesia improved prospects for local entrepreneurs by implementing three regulatory reforms in 2013/14 in areas measured by the report. Across cities, the approval process for business incorporation was streamlined and labor taxes were reduced. In Jakarta, the process for getting an electricity connection was speeded up by eliminating the need to obtain multiple certificates.
The data show that many economies in the region, including Mongolia, made it easier for businesses to pay taxes in the past year. Vietnam reduced the corporate income tax rate, and China enhanced its electronic filing and payment system—while also making business incorporation less expensive. Mongolia introduced a new electronic payment system for taxes. Such reforms are saving entrepreneurs valuable time. In Mongolia, for example, local businesses saw the average time for tax compliance fall from 192 hours a year in 2013 to 148 hours—less than in Austria. Mongolia was also highlighted for improving transparency for investors by expanding disclosure requirements for related-party transactions.
The World Bank Group's Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice has worked closely with the Mongolian government to support regulatory reforms. Streamlining permits and inspections, for example, will help ease the administrative burden on SMEs, allowing them to focus on growth and job creation.
"The important thing is for Mongolia to keep moving forward in its efforts to make the regulatory environment simpler and more efficient. Mongolia's reforms have been highlighted in the Doing Business series for several years now, and we hope this continues," said James Anderson, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia. "We know from experience how important a clean and efficient business environment is for small and medium enterprises, and for reducing poverty. The World Bank Group will continue to support Mongolia's business environment reform agenda."
Doing Business 2015 finds that Singapore continues to provide the world's most business-friendly regulatory environment. Also among the top 10 economies in the ease of doing business ranking are New Zealand; Hong Kong SAR, China; the Republic of Korea; and Australia.
Moody's downgrades XacBank; lowers BCA to b3
Hong Kong, October 30, 2014 -- Moody's Investors Service has downgraded XacBank LLC's issuer rating to B3 from B2 and its foreign currency long-term senior unsecured MTN rating to (P)B3 from (P)B2.
Moody's has also lowered the bank's baseline credit assessment (BCA) to b3 from b2.
At the same time, Moody's has affirmed XacBank's local currency bank deposits rating of B2 and foreign currency bank deposits rating of B3.
The outlooks on the ratings are negative.
A full list of the downgraded and affirmed ratings can be found at the end of this press release.
"The action on XacBank's ratings reflects the fact that the bank's asset quality continues to deteriorate against the backdrop of adverse developments in its operating environment," says Hyun Hee Park, a Moody's Assistant Vice President and Analyst.
"At a macro-economic level, the ongoing decline in foreign direct investment inflows (FDI) -- coupled with the contraction evident in Mongolian exports in 2012 and 2013 -- have contributed to a rundown in foreign-exchange reserves, a weakening of the local currency, and a rise in the economy's vulnerability to external risks," says Park.
To mitigate these risks, Moody's notes that the Bank of Mongolia (BOM) has implemented pump-priming measures, some of which are heavily credit driven, including the Price Stabilization Program and Housing Mortgage Program.
The BOM had provided MNT4.3 trillion ($2.6 billion) in loans to the banking system as of end-2013, representing about 40% of all the system's loans.
Mongolian banks then on-lent these loans to targeted industries and, as a result, their assets grew 74% and loans 54% in 2013. For XacBank specifically, its own assets and loans grew 68% and 63% in this same time frame.
However, the BOM began to unwind its Price Stabilization Program this year, and funding from the BOM for the banks had fallen to MNT2.9 trillion ($1.6 billion), or 24% of total banking system loans, as of end-June 2014.
Moody's considers that this development -- against the backdrop of the deterioration in macro-economic and export conditions -- has materially increased the risks to the asset quality and liquidity of Mongolian banks, including XacBank.
Firstly, with asset quality, the banking system's problem loans ratio -- defined as the past-due and below loans ratio -- and the non-performing loans (NPL) ratio stood at 8.2% and 4.6% at end-June 2014, compared to 5.4% and 3.7% a year ago.
Moody's considers that XacBank's asset quality has been impacted more than that at other rated Mongolian banks because of its problem loans in the large corporates segment -- disbursed in 2012 and 2013 -- and in the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) segment.
Secondly, with liquidity, Moody's notes that such conditions have tightened as a result of the hike in BOM's policy rate by 150basis point to 12% and the unwinding of the pump-priming measures. The system's loan-to-deposit ratio jumped to 101% at end-June 2014 from 85% at end-2012 when the BOM had started its Price Stabilization Program and Housing Mortgage Program.
In terms of XacBank's strengths, Moody's identifies: (1) its growing franchise as the fourth-largest commercial bank in Mongolia and as the leader in retail and SME lending; (2) its solid and stable capital position, owing to supportive international shareholders; and (3) its transparent level of corporate governance, as supported by its international shareholders, such as the International Finance Corp and European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
However, the adverse developments in the operating environment and the increased level of concentration risk -- because of its rising share of corporate and SME customers -- challenge these strengths.
Moody's notes that XacBank's share of corporate and SME customers rose significantly to 67% of all its customers at end-2013 from 58% at end-2011. As a result, its non-performing loans ratio rose to 3.8% at end-June 2014 from 1.3% a year ago.
In terms of funding, traditionally the bank's reliance on deposit funding is lower than that of other rated Mongolia banks. Therefore, its loan-to-deposit ratio is normally higher, standing at 165% compared with the system average of 101% at end-June 2014.
However, as XacBank's non-deposit funding derives from international financial institutions and government agencies, such funds tend to be more stable and show longer tenors than deposits.
Moody's believes that the availability of stable relatively long-term wholesale funding from its shareholders means that the bank could be more resilient than its peers in the event of a run on deposits.
Moody's has not incorporated any systemic support notching uplift to XacBank's B3 issuer rating, given its assessment of the limited support capacity of the Mongolia government (B2 negative).
Moody's arrives at this assessment despite the systemic importance of XacBank -- as the fourth-largest lender in terms of loans -- to the Mongolian banking system.
However, Moody's has incorporated one notch of systemic support to its local currency deposit rating of B2, given the proven track record of the Mongolian government in providing support to the depositors of failed banks. This was the case with the failures of Anod Bank (unrated), Zoos Bank (unrated) and Savings Bank (unrated).
Moody's expects the government to continue to provide support for deposits at banks considered as of high systemic importance to the economy.
What Could Change the Rating - Up
Upward pressure on the b3 BCA of XacBank, while unlikely in the near term, could occur if it improves its asset quality and establishes a track record of maintaining healthy capital, liquidity and profitability metrics throughout the economic cycle.
What Could Change the Rating - Down
The following factors could exert negative pressure on the bank's ratings: (1) a significant deterioration in asset quality; for example, new NPLs to gross loans exceed 4.0%; (2) a rise in concentrations, or a rise in exposures to risky sectors, in particular construction; or (3) the Tier 1 ratio falls below 9%.
The resultant ratings and actions are listed below:
• Baseline credit assessment lowered to b3 -- which is equivalent to a Bank Financial Strength Rating of E+ -- from b2;
• Issuer rating downgraded to B3 from B2; and
• Foreign currency long-term senior unsecured MTN rating downgraded to (P)B3 from (P)B2.
All other ratings were affirmed: Bank Financial Strength Rating of E+; local currency bank deposits rating of B2; foreign currency bank deposits rating of B3; local currency/foreign currency short-term deposit ratings of NP; local currency/foreign currency short-term issuer ratings of NP; and short-term MTN program rating of (P)NP.
The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Banks, published in July 2014. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.
XacBank LLC, headquartered in Ulaanbaatar, reported total assets of MNT1.9 trillion (US$1.0 billion) at end-June 2014.
"Best Shoes" Unveils New Chinggis Bond-Financed Factory
November 3 (infomongolia.com) On November 01, 2014, a grand opening ceremony of "Best Shoes" factory in Ulaanbaatar was held with a participation of Government authorities headed by Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag.
The factory was first starting its activities with four employees in 2001 and following the announcement of Government tender in 2012 that aimed to increase export and replace import products, the "Best Shoes" LLC was granted to receive two billion MNT (Tugrug) from Chinggis Bond winning the tender.
In his opening remarks, Director of the factory B.Tuvdennyam said, "Today we are launching our factory with a capacity to produce 500-800 pair shoes a day with over 70 employees. Our factory is fully renewed with latest equipment from Italy and Germany and by operating this conveyer based plant in a new facility with 1,134 sq.m, now we can supply 30% of domestic demand".
DBM Allocated ₮3 Trillion in Financing Since 2011, ₮1.1 Trillion for Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar, October 30 (MONTSAME) The Executive director of the Development Bank (DB) N.Monkhbat participated Wednesday in an online meeting with the citizens at the "11-11" Government centre.
He spoke mainly about the investments the DB had made to the city. Since its establishment in 2011, the bank had allocated around MNT three trillion for financing constructions, projects and programs. Its one third or MNT 1.1 trillion was dedicated to Ulaanbaatar. Almost 93 billion went to roads maintenance, 81.9 billion--to renovation of 33 crossroads in the city in a scope of the "Street" project, "which means that an indirect annual economic benefit will amount to MNT 20 billion". Some MNT 202.3 billion were put into projects on engineering infrastructure and circuit lines, "so it is possible now to build schools, kindergartens and hospitals in seven locations of downtown and in eight zones of re-structuring".
A cost of producing one kW of electricity decreased from 74 togrogs to 36 togrogs thanks to USD 35 million of investment for the third thermal power station's 50kW extension. The fourth thermal station is now can provide ten percent of the domestic consumption of power, moreover, a financing of USD 25 million was made for the Amgalan thermal station, so that the eastern part of Ulaanbaatar has a reliable power, he went on.
The DB also had allocated a financing of MNT 16.2 billion for the capacity extension project of Baganuur coal deposit, the main source of fuel coal for the ger (national dwelling) districts, thus increasing a transportation capacity by 4.5 million tons, the exploitation–by ten percent, and improving stripping and earthworks by 11 percent, said N.Monkhbat.
Location Decided for Ulaanbaatar's Leather Processing Industry Amid Tuul River Pollution Concerns
Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) The cabinet meeting decided on November 1 to amend its resolution of July 6 of 2013 on some measures for leather industry. Accordingly, the leather industy complex is to be built in the gorge of "Shar Khots" in Khan-Uul district of Ulaanbaatar.
It fully meets the Government resolution No. 249, by which a goal has been set to erect leather-industry complexes outside Ulaanbaatar and Darkhan cities and a parliamentary resolution of 2012 on relocating the leather-processing factories from the two cities.
The cabinet told the Minister of Industry and Agriculture Sh.Tuvdendorj and the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul to start the construction of infrastructural facilities and waste-water treatment plant for the new complexes through cooperation with the Ministry of Road, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development within this November.
Mogi: didn't I see one in State Department?
Caffe Bene opens its first store in Mongolian capital
November 4 (Korea JoongAng Daily) Local coffee franchise Caffe Bene announced yesterday that it had opened its first Mongolia store in Ulaanbaatar last Friday. The coffee shop that measures 104.5 square meters (125 square yards) with 44 seats will be located inside Metro Mall Shopping Center. The store said the area is bustling with young people because the mall is close to Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture and the National University of Mongolia. Kim Sun-kwon, CEO of Caffe Bene, and actor Kim Beom participated in the opening ceremony on Friday. The chain has entered emerging Asian markets such as Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore through a master franchise agreement. The entry into Mongolia is part of the company's efforts to expand overseas.
Speaker Visits PetroChina HQ, Meets Vice-Chairman
Ulaanbaatar, October 29 (MONTSAME) The Speaker of parliament of Mongolia Z.Enkhbold visited China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in frames of his official visit to the PRC on October 28.
The Speaker and his delegation got au fait with the activities of CNPC and ran a meeting with the Deputy General Manager of CNPC and Vice Chairman and president of Petro China Co Ltd Wang Dongjin. He said Petro China started its cooperation with Mongolia in 2005 and that the company operates not only in oil sector, but also gives an attention to the social responsibility.
Mr Enkhbold recalled how the two sides set a goal to achieve trade volume of USD 10 billion by 2020 during the state visit of Mr Xi in August this year. The contribution of Chinese companies is crucial in achieving this goal, said the Speaker. After this the sides touched upon matters on gas pipelines, supply of oil products, and processing plant in Sainshand city of Dornogovi aimag.
Enkhbold Visits Sinopec HQ, Meets with Chairman
Ulaanbaatar, October 29 (MONTSAME) While being in China with the official visit, the Chairman of the State Great Khural Z.Enkhbold visited on October 28 China Sinopec, the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation.
The Speaker met with the chairman of board of Sinopec Corporation Fu Chengyu and got acquainted with this corporation. Mr Fu thanked the Speaker for visiting him and expressed a readiness to cooperate with Mongolia.
Mr Enkhbold said the collaboration between Mongolian and Chinese governments in building a coal gasification plant needs to be intensified. "It is due to the serious air pollution problem that the both countries face," he added.
"Decisive actions toward reducing the air pollution of Ulaanbaatar is not a business activity for making profit, but is a responsibility of government for the sake of its people's health and well-being," stressed the Speaker. He also mentioned that the Chinese President Xi Jinping had supported his initiative to build a processing plant capable of covering Ulaanbaatar's consumption in prior to realization of joint project with Sinopec Co Ltd for building the gasification plant.
Gandan Monastery sterilized following complaints over pigeons
October 30 (news.mn) The Veterinary and Animal Breeding Department of Ulaanbaatar conducted disinfection and sterilization of Gandantegchinlen Monastery on Wednesday, as the area is a place for the gathering of a large pigeon population that visitors feed by hand.
Conditions at the monastery pose a threat to safe public hygiene as the bird droppings create a mess and complaints have been made. Several Ulaanbaatar city agencies have also reported that the large pigeon population disturbs power lines.
The disinfection and sterilization of the city's historical site of was conducted by the Veterinary and Animal Breeding Department of the capital city, in collaboration with the monastery, and Bayangol District Police Department I.
A disinfectant that is not harmful to people and animals was used to make the area more pleasant for public use.
Authorities suggest that visitors to Gandantegchinlen Monastery do not feed the pigeons, to preserve the historical and cultural site and prevent possible electrical fires.
Paved road unveiled between UB – Baruun-Urt, Sukhbaatar
November 3 (business-mongolia.com) Last Saturday, the opening ceremony of 177.9 kilometers road connecting Undurkhaan (Khenty aimag), Munkhkhaan and Baruun Urt (Sukhbaatar aimag) was held. The opening ceremony was attended by Speaker Z.Enkhbold, MP Terbishdavga, The Deputy Prime Minister, other MPs and officials.
The paved road now connects Ulaanbaatar with Baruun Urt, Sukhbaatar aimag, which decreases travel time by half. Speaker Z.Enkhbold said "The Reform Government set goal to build 5400 milometers paved road connecting all aimag centers to Ulaanbaatar. In the last two years it succeeded to build 2500 kilometers and great construction work is undergoing. In the last 85 years of road sector of Mongolia managed to connect 6 aimag centers only, but this Government connects 6 aimag centers within 2 years. Soon there will be opening of 263 kilometers paved road connecting Ulaanbaatar to Khuvsgul aimag."
Governor J.Batsuuri also commented that the road will connect Asia Europe through the Bichigt border port.
Cameras installed along Tuul River to deter polluters, illegal gravel mining
November 3 (news.mn) The Tuul River Basin Authority has installed cameras along parts of the Tuul River flowing through the capital of Mongolia.
The authority believes that the cameras will help to control water pollution and deter people and companies from engaging in mining gravel from the river basin illegally, dumping trash, wastewater, and other destructive activities.
The Tuul River Basin Authority also plans to launch the River Basin Water Resources Study. The study is expected to give a clear view on Tuul River basin resources.
The river has been increasingly impacted and polluted in recent years. And the limited capacity of the city's freshwater treatment plants also contributes to the river's pollution as it pumps wastewater directly into the river.
The contamination of the river continues until it is well out of the city, in Lun sum of Tuv Province.
Russia, China & Mongolia Begin Trilateral Talks
The first round of talks will take place at the deputy foreign minister level and focus on transit corridors.
By Ankit Panda
October 31 (The Diplomat) Following up on Vladimir Putin's September invitation for trilateral talks, Russian, Chinese and Mongolia deputy foreign ministers met in Ulaanbataar for the first-ever Russia-Mongolia-China trilateral consultation. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov kicked off the talks by remarking that the three countries share "vast borders, rich historic traditions, firm friendship of peoples, huge potential and vast prospects for practical cooperation, as well as closeness of approaches to international affairs," according to Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency. He added that Russia sees China and Mongolia "not only as close neighbors, but also as time-tested and reliable friends."
According to ITAR-TASS, trilateral talks will likely focus primarily on economic matters, with an supplementary focus on humanitarian and foreign policy issues. Given that the talks are in their initial phase, no major agreements are expected to result from this first trilateral consultation.
The trilateral arrangement carries more meaning for Russia and Mongolia than it does for China. Russia, which faces alienation from Europe on its West, is increasingly looking at Mongolia and China as major economic partners. Earlier this year, Russia signed a major natural gas agreement with China, demonstrating the Kremlin's eastward economic gaze. Similarly, Russia and Mongolia are working to integrate their national rail networks, increasing connectivity between the two neighbors.
For Mongolia, this trilateral arrangement fits perfectly with its greater international aspirations. As I've noted on The Diplomat before, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj has almost single-handedly transformed the country's foreign policy. Under Elbegdorj, Mongolia has grown increasingly activist in the region. Mongolia's eagerness for this trilateral arrangement should be unsurprising as it remains sandwiched geographically between two behemoth neighbors. In order to realize its international aspirations, Mongolia necessarily needs to coordinate with both China and Russia.
Speaking to this sentiment, Mongolia's Deputy Foreign Minister Dambyn Gankhuag remarked that "Mongolia is actively cooperating with its neighbors — the Russian Federation and the Chinese People's Republic — to deepen the existing strategic partnership relations, as well as to give concrete substance to them."
This first round of trilateral talks will likely focus on the setting up of transit corridors between the three countries — in essence, connecting Russia to China via Mongolia. Specifically, the three countries will look into rail development, highway construction, and a gas pipeline. ITAR-TASS notes that "the Mongolian side is expected to offer Russia to build a section of the so-called western route pipeline not via the Altai mountains but across its steppe territories."
Cabinet Supports Outcome of Intergovernmental Committee Meeting with Russia
Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) The cabinet meeting on November 1 approved the results of the 18th regular meeting of the Mongolian-Russian intergovernmental committee on cooperation on trade, economy, science and technology, which was held this October 13-15.
The cabinet told the Deputy PM and a head of the Mongolian part of the committee D.Terbishdagva to approve a plan of measures to be taken on the outcome of the committee's 18th meeting and to control its realization, and considered that it had contributed to forwarding of the actions agreed during the working visit of Russian President V.Putin to Mongolia, "because it discussed a realization of decisions of the 17th meeting and focused on a broad range of issues such as Mongolia-Russia cooperation in trade, economy, infrastructure, finance, mining, energy and humanitarian sectors". For instance, the sides had agreed to cooperate in developing an action plan for the joint measures toward deepening the trade and economic cooperation in 2015-2020, to issue soft-term loans of RUB 50-100 billion to our Government, to provide favorable legal condition for conducting a trade in national currencies, the cabinet noted.
The committee's 18th meeting had also decided how to improve a production efficiency of Erdenet Mining Corporation and "MongolRosTsvetmet" LLC, to establish a working group for developing the recommendations of operations of Mongolian "Asgat" silver deposit in order to commercialize its riches, to hold a joint meeting of professional researchers in 2015 to have then exchange view on impact on environment of a construction and commission of the "Shuren" hydro power station, to activate a renewal of the intergovernmental agreement of 1949 on establishing joint venture of Ulaanbaatar Railways, to conclude within 2014 a draft agreement between the two Governments on transit transportation by railroads, to deliver the Mongolian products to the third countries through Russia's far-eastern ports, to invest in the Rajin port of North Korea and organize a trial transportation of coal through this ports.
Turkish Embassy Celebrates 91st Anniversary of Turkey Foundation
October 30 (infomongolia.com) On October 28, 2014, the staff of the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Ulaanbaatar headed by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkey to Mongolia Mr. Murat Karagoz hosted the celebration of the 91st anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey.
The event at the Embassy in Ulaanbaatar was significant because in 2014, Mongolia and Turkey are commemorating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Moreover, the 91st anniversary of the foundation the Republic of Turkey coincides with the day of founding the capital city of Mongolia on October 29th.
At the official reception over 250 guests were invited and Mongolian delegates were represented by Deputy Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Mr. R.Gonchigdorj, Minister of Environment and Green Development Mrs. S.Oyun, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar Mr. E.Bat-Uul, Chairman of Mongolia-Turkey Parliamentary Group Mr. A.Bakei, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Mr. M.Tumenjargal, Deputy Minister of Population Development and Social Protection Mr. E.Tamir, Deputy Minister of Labor Mr. J.Batkhuyag, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Economic Cooperation Mr. B.Boldbaatar and State Secretary at Defense Ministry, Major General Z.Boldbaatar and along with many other delegates from foreign offices in Ulaanbaatar, Deputy Mayor of Ankara city Mr. Ali Goksin was present.
At the event students from the Department of Turkic Studies, NUM were also invited and a quartet from the Theatre of Opera and Ballet performed during the evening banquet.
On the following day on October 29th, Ambassador Murat Karagoz and Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) Project Coordinator Ekrem Kalan have laid a wreath to the Monument of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which is located in front of the Secondary School No. 5, Ulaanbaatar.
Here below an address speech by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey to Mongolia Murat Karagoz at the reception event in Ulaanbaatar on the occasion of the Republic Day of Turkey.
Speech by H.E. Murat Karagoz, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey on the occasion of the Republic Day
Speech by H.E. Murat Karagöz, Ambassador of Republıc of Turkey – news.mn, October 30
Austrian Firm Signs €5.2 Million Deal to Equip NEMA with European Standard Fire, Rescue, Wildfire Equipment
October 30 (infomongolia.com) On October 29, 2014, Chairman of the National Emergency Management Agency of Mongolia, Colonel T.Dulamdorj and the Senior Vice President, Head of Rosenbauer Asia-Pacific, Mr. Herbert Poellinger have signed a Product Supply Contract in Ulaanbaatar in the scope of the Intergovernmental Agreement between Mongolia and the Republic of Austria to provide a long-term soft loan.
Under the Contract, the Rosenbauer Group to improve the technical capacity of the emergency and to implement a project to upgrade the equipment of the National Emergency Management Agency of Mongolia.
This project with a total cost of 5.2 million EUR or 12 billion MNT will be supplying a complete tools and accessories for firefighting, rescue and wildfire operations as well as fully equipped 4 types of 16 vehicles accompanied with over 2 thousand apparatuses.
These vehicles will be manufactured especially for Mongolian harsh climate and delivered by September 2015, moreover, 11 Aimags of Mongolia including Ulaanbaatar will be equipped with European standard fire fighting vehicles and equipment.
The Rosenbauer Group is one of the world's three largest manufacturers of fire-service vehicles, based in Leonding, Austria.
Rosenbauer supplies the firefighting sector in over 100 countries with a wide range of custom fire and rescue apparatus and services. It produces its extensive series of fire fighting vehicles and aerials in three continents, to both European and US Standards.
Police Seek Mongolian Tourist Who Went Missing in Manhattan
October 29 (NY1 News) Police need help finding a Mongolian tourist who went missing in Manhattan.
Authorities says 62-year-old Dolgorjav Bold was last seen Monday afternoon at 31st Street and Eighth Avenue.
The man was staying at a Fairfield Inn in Long Island City.
He is said to be in good health, but sources say he doesn't speak English.
He was last seen wearing a gray vest, red flannel shirt and black pants.
Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.
Cabinet Approves Concept of Dedicated "Law on Museums"
Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) The cabinet meeting on November 1 approved a draft concept of the "Law on museum".
The concept has been developed due to a necessity to determine all legal charges over the irresponsible actions toward museums' exhibits and to regulate esthetic norms in museums. If approved, the first new law of its kind will determine museums glossaries and activities principles, regulate all criteria, define rights and responsibilities of types of museums and organizations with similar activities, and will legalize a creation of a museum treasury, its registration, revision, researches, conservation, security, utilization, advertisement, and the ethics of museum staff.
Cabinet Approves Bills on Genetic Fund of Livestock, Update to Specially-Protected Areas
Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) The regular meeting of the cabinet on November 1 made the following decisions.
The meeting agreed to present to parliament for consideration the issue of establishing diplomatic relations with Uganda, The Republic of Rwanda, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Haiti, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of Chad, and the Republic of Mauritius.
- The cabinet discussed a draft concept of the law on Genetic fund of livestock and decided to support it having reflected in it the members' opinions.
- A draft new wording of the Law on specially-protected areas was discussed and approved and was settled to be presented to parliament after reflecting suggestions of the members.
Poachers caught for selling horns of endangered saiga antelopes
November 3 (news.mn) The combat team on environmental crimes at the Criminal Police Department's Organized Crime Division discovered a clue leading to the arrest of suspected poachers who sold the body parts of endangered species living in Central Asia.
The combat team arrested 10 men, all citizens of Mongolia, who were in possession of 162 saiga antelope horns in the Bayangol District, on October 24th.
Saiga antelope, included in the Mongolian Red Book, are close to extinction worldwide and critically endangered in Asia. The 162 horns mean that at least 81 saiga antelopes were illegally slaughtered. The saiga antelope population vanished in Mongolia in the 1950s. Now, only small herds exist in Kazakhstan, according to a study by the World Wildlife Fund.
The suspects were caught while attempting to sell the horns to Chinese traders. According to a source from the District Prosecutor's Office, the horns were smuggled in to Mongolia from Russia. The combat team on environmental crimes suspects that a large network of poachers is operating internationally, through Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and China.
The suspects are now being held in Detention Center 461, on the charges of violating Mongolian laws on hunting and trafficking the body parts of wild animals.
According to "Ecological and Economic Assessment of Wild Animals" approved by the Government of Mongolia in 2011, a male saiga antelope is valued at 2 million MNT and a female is valued at 2.2 million MNT.
The suspects face estimated damages against the environment of at least 162 million MNT.
If they are found guilty, the suspects will be fined three-times the loss to the environment, or 151 to 250 times the minimum monthly wage, or face three to five years in prison.
Legend comes to life: Menlowe Ballet premieres dance based on Mongolian folktale
Performances: Menlowe Ballet's "Legend of the Seven Suns" will be performed at the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, 555 Middlefield Road in Atherton, on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 15, at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets range from $28-$48. Go to menloweballet.org or call 800-595-4849 for more information.
October 30 (The Almanac) --
By Elizabeth Schwyzer | Arts & Entertainment Editor
A dream realized
Finally, that time has come. On Saturday, Nov. 8, Menlowe Ballet will premiere "The Legend of the Seven Suns," an original production based on an ancient Mongolian story.
In order to conduct research for the ballet, Mr. Lowe traveled to Mongolia last summer, where he lived with a Mongolian family in their "ger," or yurt, and joined them in their daily activities, milking cows, chopping firewood and riding horses in order to understand the rhythms of their lives.
From there, he went to the capital, Ulan Bator, where he spent time with the Mongolian State Ballet, studying its blend of classical technique and traditional folk dance.
The result of his research is a 30-minute work for 17 dancers: the largest and longest production Menlowe Ballet has yet staged.
It's not the only work they'll present. Dennis Nahat's classical "In Concert" and Mr. Lowe's more contemporary "Plague" round out the program. But "Legend" is the only premiere, and a milestone for both the choreographer and company.
Mr. Lowe first heard the Legend of the Seven Suns as a child, when his uncle told him the story. In traveling to Mongolia, he hoped to hear the most authentic version of the tale. Instead, he discovered that the legend varies from one telling to the next.
"There's a saying in Mongolia: 'There are as many versions of a story as there are tongues to tell it,'" he said. "What I found really intriguing was talking to the Mongolian people and learning just how true that was." He explained that he listened for the version that would most readily translate to the stage. The one he chose goes something like this:
"The God of Fire had three beautiful but selfish daughters. One day, they decided to compete to see who had the greatest fire-making skills. Determined to outdo each other, they hurled sparks into the woods, igniting a blaze that destroyed the forest.
"When their father returned, he was so angered that he cast them up into the sky, where they became six burning suns. Years later, the earth was hot and parched. The animals were suffering, and appealed to a brave warrior to help them. With his bow and arrows, the warrior shot down five of the suns, but as he aimed at the sixth, the swallow saw that his aim was off. Bravely, she flew into its path, redirecting the arrow to bring down the sixth sun, but splitting her tail in the process. With only one sun burning in the sky, the animals rejoiced."
From page to stage
For the most part, Mr. Lowe has been true to the legend, but with one significant change: He has added a female huntress: a powerful woman who loves the warrior but displays a strength of her own. Company member Julie Giordano dances the role.
"Michael wanted me to really focus on the character of a beautiful yet independent huntress," she said, noting that unlike some contemporary ballets, "Legend" tells a story from beginning to end, so nailing the characters is particularly important.
"I've never been the lead in a big premiere ballet, so it's a lot of pressure, but it's an exciting pressure," she added. "I'm trying to do my best to portray this character that Michael created for me."
Joining the company on stage will be a number of students from the Menlo Park Academy of Dance. Rather than thinking of them as "extras," said Executive Director Shiveley, Mr. Lowe integrates these talented students into the creative process.
Other dancers are traveling much greater distances to take part in the production. Brian Gephart, a former Joffrey Ballet dancer, has flown in from New York for the eight weeks of rehearsal and performance. He will dance the role of the warrior. Menlowe Ballet member Terrin McGee-Kelly lives in Antioch, California, and has been making the daily commute of up to three hours to attend rehearsals.
That level of devotion seems to characterize the small but talented company. From the way Ms. Giordano describes it, that loyalty is a response to the way Mr. Lowe works with company members. Formerly a member of Ballet Tuscon, she noted that Mr. Lowe is particularly good at recognizing each dancer's talents and drawing them to the forefront. "Even with 17 dancers this season, he sees each person's individual strengths, and knows how to broadcast them," she said. "He does a good job of making sure we look good on stage."
East meets west
Looking good is clearly important to Mr. Lowe, and to that end, he has commissioned an original animation that will accompany the dance. At the time of writing, costume designer Christina Weiland was still hard at work crafting 17 original costumes for the human and animal characters of the story. She's taking cues from what little is known of ancient Mongolian dress, and adding in plenty of her imagination.
The score for the production is an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary Mongolian songs with other musical arrangements, including those by Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble.
Part of what fascinates Mr. Lowe about Mongolian culture is its close relationship with bordering Russia. Much of modern Russia was once part of the Mongol Empire, and the two nations established close ties during the communist era. He says those ties are evidenced in the dances of both nations. The traditional dances of Mongolia utilize deep knee bends, high jumps, flexed feet and a rapid shimmying of the ribs and shoulders, all of which remind him of Russian Cossack dancing (though he noted his Mongolian hosts weren't particularly flattered by the comparison).
In translating these movements for the Western stage, he said he has made certain concessions. Western ballet is characterized by a lifted, weightless quality, while Mongolian folk dances rely on much earthier, weighted moments.
"The translator kept telling me, 'dig, dig!,'" Lowe remembered, demonstrating the way his Mongolian hosts encouraged him to bend his knees, flex his arms and stomp the ground, hard. "It was a reminder that these are dances done by real people, not sylphs." His approach with "Legend" blends elements of both Eastern and Western dance traditions.
"I want to maintain the integrity of Mongolian dance, but change certain aspects to integrate it into ballet," he said.
When asked whether he has any concerns about cultural appropriation, he noted that classical ballet choreographers and composers have long presented the dances of the East on the Western stage. "Think of the Chinese Doll dance in the second act of 'Coppelia,' or the Chinese dance in Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker Suite,'" he said. "The intent is narrative; not every step is authentic, but you try to translate in a sensitive way. I would hope that audiences understand that."
Back in the studio rehearsing for the show, lead dancers, Mr. Gephart and Ms. Giordano, are working on a complex lift. She is wonderful to watch: lithe and expressive, using her face as well as her body to convey the energy of the huntress. As the music rises to a crescendo of racing drums, she leaps high into the air, only to land somewhat clunkily in his arms. They both giggle, disentangle themselves, and try again.
Dinosaur discovered in Mongolia by Alberta team gets name
(An old dinosaur has been given a new name. The new species of ankylosaur, shown in a handout sketch, was discovered in Mongolia in 2000 by a team led by University of Alberta researchers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Alberta)
EDMONTON, October 28 (The Canadian Press) – An old dinosaur has been given a new name.
A new species of ankylosaur was discovered in the Gobi Desert in southern Mongolia in 2000 by a team led by University of Alberta researcher Philip Currie.
A zoological journal published a paper by Currie and others this week that names the creature Zaraapelta nomadis.
Zaraapelta is a combination of Mongolian and Greek works meaning "hedgehog" and "shield." Nomadis was added to honour Nomadic Expeditions, the Mongolian company that has aided dinosaur digs in the region for almost two decades.
Like other ankylosaurs, Zaraapelta was an armoured plant-eater with a gigantic club for a tail. But it was more spectacular than most, with distinctive horns and an elaborate pattern of bumps and grooves behind its eyes.
Victoria Arbour, a University of Alberta expert in ankylosaurs who has been tracking their family tree, helped write the paper that announced Zaraapelta in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
She said it's believed other kinds of dinosaurs, such as crested hadrosaurs or ceratopsians with horns and frills, once used their ornaments during sexual displays.
And ankylosaurs may have too.
Arbour thinks Zaraapelta, along with a couple of other flashy ankylosaurs called Saichania and Tarchia, may have evolved with elaborate embellishments to attract their mates.
"Bone requires a lot of nutrients and metabolic energy to create, and so that investment needs to pay off in some way," she said in a news release.
"Maybe ankylosaurs had this bumpy ornamentation for protection, but another good explanation is that the horns and bumps on their skulls showed that they were a good mate to choose, in the same way that male peacocks use their tail feathers."
The discovered Zaraapelta skull is part of a collection at the Mongolian Paleontologist Center.
Rugby - Honey Badger prepares for game by hunting foxes in Mongolia
The 'Honey Badger' Nick Cummins has prepared to take on his Australia team-mates at Twickenham by hunting foxes in Mongolia.
October 30 (PA Sport) The Coca Cola West Red Sparks wing has admitted it will be "weird" to face the Wallabies, when he turns out for the Barbarians on Saturday.
Cummins spent last week living in a "woollen tent" with Mongolian nomads, riding horses and hunting with eagles, but still managed to keep pace with Australia's Kurtley Beale fiasco.
The 27-year-old went a week without a shower, but arrived in London refreshed and ready to do battle with former comrades - while also bemoaning the fate of departed Australia coach Ewen McKenzie.
The 15-cap Wallabies wing believes "a lot of smoke and mirrors" led to McKenzie's resignation amid allegations of an affair with team business manager Di Patston and the suspension of centre Beale.
"I had a week off from the Japanese league over there, so I thought I'd go over to west Mongolia to do a bit of hunting, it was a last-minute decision," said Cummins, nicknamed the Honey Badger due to his love of the African weasel.
"It was the middle of nowhere: there are mountains, horses and eagles - mix them up and you end up with a fox.
"The eagle will spot the fox and hammer after it, then you've got to get there before the fox can hurt the bird.
"Normal for me is different every time, if that makes sense.
"It's got to be something different: you can't get bloody bogged down in the mundane.
"That whole tour was about seeing their culture: you live with a nomad family, see how they survive, I didn't shower for a week.
"You're eating all this tucker, drinking horse milk, but you have to, you've got to fit in with them.
"There was a massive language barrier, but the universal language is a joke, a laugh: if you drop your guts, that tends to break the ice a bit!"
Australia head coach McKenzie resigned after his side's tenacious 29-28 Bledisloe Cup defeat to New Zealand.
Michael Cheika has taken the helm and guided the squad north for their autumn Test series, that starts with the BaaBaas clash on Saturday.
Cummins said he felt for the Wallabies squad "copping a little bit of carry-on".
"There's a lot of smoke and mirrors, a lot of carry on," he said.
"They are good lads, they will band together: they will be looking to make a stand, and pretty much set the standard for what's coming with the World Cup.
"It's sad to see them copping a little bit of carry-on.
"They've got good hearts, they are doing the right thing: it's just waiting for it to work."
Cummins traded Australia for a two-year contract in Japan seeking money to help his family, with his father suffering an illness.
Refusing to rule out a return home to chase a spot at next year's World Cup, Cummins said he has always sought refuge from rugby in trips like his Mongolia adventure.
"It's more about making great memories with a good group of blokes than making a statement against Australia for me this weekend.," said the former Western Force wing.
"In 20 years' time sitting round the fire someone will bring out a story about the BaaBaas, that's why we do it.
"Sometimes I have to get away, If I thought about the game all the time, I would do my bloody head in.
When you cross the white line, that's when it's game time.
"I've spoken with the Force about going back, because you have to do a year of Super Rugby to be eligible to play for the Wallabies.
"At the moment it's not looking that good.
"But there's still a chance to make it work: I haven't heard a fat lady yet."
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