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Wednesday, December 10, 2014
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Kincora Exploration Review and Plan for 2015
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 9, 2014) - Kincora Copper Limited (the "Company", "Kincora") (TSX VENTURE:KCC) is pleased to announce that it has concluded its exploration review following integration of this years results and analysis with previous geological and geophysical programs, and determined a number of proposed follow up programs at Bronze Fox in the 2015 field season.
· Copper porphyry targets: In 2014 drilling, including eleven holes for 9611 metres at three prospects, returned extensive low-grade copper and localized higher-grade porphyry occurrences with mineralization returned in each hole. All targets drilled remain open, with further trenching and scout drilling programs having been outlined that are supported by the systematic approach and prospective results to date.
· Gold exploration: 1461 metres of trenching and two holes for 474 metres at two prospects for the first time advanced the standalone gold potential at Bronze Fox with promising results. A new gold zone, including localized higher and broad lower grade zones, was returned in the second last hole for the year at Sophie North with further exploration planned.
· Funded base case 2015 field season: In 2015 surface exploration activities, including trenching, further geophysics, mapping and geochem, are proposed at the Sophie North, Happy Geo, Dunlop Fox, Hulan, and the SE Area prospects to systematically advance identified targets and is funded from existing cash reserves. Follow up drilling targets have been identified at the Leca Pass, Shargal Tolgoi and West Kasulu prospects that are planned subject to favourable resolution of our former Golden Grouse licenses, impacted by the 106-license dispute, and market conditions.
· Former Golden Grouse licenses: An exploration program has been outlined should Kincora be successful regaining our western licence, adjacent to Bronze Fox, focusing on both copper porphyries and gold targets. The Company previous incurred a ~$7 million impairment relating to the revocation of these licenses.
Commenting on today's announcement, Sam Spring, President and CEO of Kincora, said:
"As with previous field seasons, this years activities returned extensive copper mineralization at various targets without yet defining mineralisation that could be considered economic. One of the last holes of the year returned favourable gold mineralization in a new zone at Sophie North. A number of targets remain open and prospective for both copper and gold throughout the Bronze Fox license with further systematic surface exploration expected in 2015, a plan for which has been defined and supported by existing cash reserves, and drilling.
The Company has made the decision not to undertake any further drilling activities until resolution of our former Golden Grouse licenses, impacted by the 106-license dispute. Discussions with strategic groups and various corporate opportunities continue, albeit impacted by the 106-license dispute, recent instability and lack of implementation of legislation aimed at stimulating the mining sector in Mongolia. Kincora's license package continues to merit extensive explorations with various campaigns budgeted for in 2015, subject to market conditions and resolution the 106-license dispute, but underpinned by our existing cash position."
Prophecy Coal Announces $3,596,000 Private Placement With Strategic Asian Partner
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 8, 2014) - Prophecy Coal Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY)(OTCQX:PRPCF)(FRANKFURT:1P2) announces that it is undertaking a non-brokered private placement to raise gross proceeds of CAD$3,596,000 (the "Placement").
The Placement involves the issuance of 62 million common shares of the Company (the "Shares") at a price of $0.058 per Share to TBF Capital Management Group (HK) Limited ("TBF"), a corporation that is arms' length to the Company. The offering price is based on the 5-day volume weighted average trading price of the Shares calculated as of market close on December 5, 2014. Upon closing of the Placement, TBF will own approximately 19.75% of the Company's outstanding Shares, calculated on a non-diluted basis. TBF will be entitled to maintain its proportionate ownership percentage pursuant to certain rights granted by the Company under the terms of the subscription agreement between the parties (the "Subscription Agreement").
The parties have also entered into a voting agreement whereby for two years, among other things, TBF has agreed to not to sell the Shares and vote the Shares in favour of the slate of directors recommended by Prophecy's management.
Pursuant to the terms of the Subscription Agreement, TBF shall be entitled to nominate one member to Prophecy's Board of Directors for as long as TBF maintains at least a 10% share ownership in the Company, calculated on a non-diluted basis, and the Company has agreed to reimburse TBF's costs in relation to the transaction up to 5% of the total proceeds of the Placement.
The Placement is expected to close in January 2015. No finder's fees are being paid in connection with this Placement.
The proceeds of the Placement are expected to be used for Company's mineral project development and for general working capital purposes.
The Placement is subject to the approval of the Toronto Stock Exchange and other customary closing conditions.
MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -2.02% to 14,789.10, Turnover ₮1.17 Million, 52-Week T-Bills ₮205.7 Million
December 9 (MSE) On December 09, 2014, total 4,022 shares of 10 companies and 52 weeks Government retail bonds traded and total of MNT 208,505,282.00 transaction been made.
Total of 1,380 shares of 7 companies worth MNT 1,171,432.00 and 2,642 shares of 3 companies worth MNT 1,633,850.00 were traded on the "A" and "B" board respectively.
In addition, 52 weeks 2,057 Government retail bonds worth MNT 205,700,000 traded.
The TOP-20 index decreased by 2.02% to 14,789.60 units.
BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, December 9 Close
December MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:
BoM FX auction: USD bid/ask, CNY bid offers declined, accepts US$45m USD swap offers
December 9 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on December 09th, 2014 the BOM has received bid and ask offer USD and bid offer of 68.8 million USD as closing rate of MNT 304.20-305.85 from local commercial banks. The BOM has not accepted any offer.
On December 09th, 2014, The BOM has received USD SWAP agreement ask offer of 45.0 million USD from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
EIU: Togrog hits historic lows against the US dollar
December 8 (The Economist Intelligence Unit) --
Mongolia's currency, the togrog, slid to record lows against the US dollar in November. Despite a slight recovery in recent days its exchange rate on December 8th, of Tg1,879.1, remains weak.
The weakening of the currency in November partly reflected the turbulence created by the unexpected fall of the government. The administration's replacement by a "grand coalition" has helped to stabilise the togrog, although the currency's fundamental position remains fragile. The togrog's slide over the last two years has been precipitous. Its monthly average exchange rate in November, at Tg1,879.8:US$1, represents a depreciation of 25.9% since January 2013. The sharp fall in its value reflects many factors, not least a decline in global commodity prices and a collapse of foreign investment inflows into Mongolia amid unstable and unwelcoming regulatory conditions.
The weakness of the togrog has negatively affected consumption and investment levels, as shoppers and businesses have deferred purchases of increasingly expensive imported goods. Measured in US dollars, imports fell by 16.2% year on year in October. There are additional concerns about Mongolia's external debt, much of it owed by the government, which has increased sharply in the past few years. A weaker local currency will increase the repayment burden for foreign currency-denominated debt in togrog terms. Nonetheless, given that Mongolia's mineral exports are mostly priced in dollars, the country's foreign-exchange earnings will also have risen steeply when priced in togrog.
The outlook for Mongolia's currency remains finely balanced. The country's merchandise trade balance posted a surplus in October, of US$155.8m, which is in line with a recent improvement in Mongolia's mineral earnings as growth in export volumes has offset weak prices. Partly because of the improving trade balance, The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the exchange rate to stabilise next year, trading between Tg1,865:US$1 and Tg1,890:US$1. Yet foreign exchange reserves, at US$1.4bn, remain uncomfortably low. Further political instability or a failure to win back foreign investor confidence could lead to another big decline in the currency over 2015.
Impact on the forecast
The currency's slide in November was in line with our expectations, so we maintain our estimate that the exchange rate will average Tg1,817:US$1 in 2014, and our forecast that it will average Tg1,875:US$1 in 2015.
Ministers Receive State Stamps
Ulaanbaatar, Dec 10 (GoGo Mongolia) Ministerial candidates were discussed at State Great Khural yesterday and cabinet is now ready to operate at full capacity as all the ministerial candidates were approved.
After the parliament session PM Ch.Saikhanbileg handed over State Stamps to some of the newly appointed Ministers.
MP S.Bayartsogt (DP) Appointed as Head of Cabinet Secretariat
Ulaanbaatar, December 9 (MONTSAME) A member of parliament S.Bayartsogt was appointed the head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government after a voting at a plenary meeting of parliamentary session on Tuesday by 75 percent of 48 MPs gathered.
Mr Bayartsogt Sangajav finished the 1st secondary school of Selenge aimag's center in 1984, graduated from the State University of Moscow in 1989 and International Trade Academy of Germany in 1996, Mongolian State University (MSU) in 2003. He is an economist, teacher and lawyer.
Bayartsogt worked as the secretary of the Youth Union in 1989-1990, as a deputy chair of the Central Committee of Mongolian Revolutionary Youths' Union in 1990-1991. He was also a member of both People's Great Khural and State Conference in 1990-1992. He worked as the president of the Union of Mongolian Youths (UMY) in 1991-1997, as a scientific worker and teacher at the Education Academy of Politics in 1992-1994. He was elected MP in 1996, served as a deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party in 1996 and 1999. He was elected the Minister of Environment in 1998 and the Minister of Finance later.
Advisor to President L.Purevsuren Becomes Foreign Minister
Ulaanbaatar, December 9 (MONTSAME) A former advisor to the President on security and foreign policy Mr Purevsuren Lundeg was elected the Foreign Minister of Mongolia at a plenary meeting of the parliamentary session on Tuesday, with 93.3% votes of MPs.
After the voting, the parliamentarians obliged Mr Purevsuren to focus a great deal of attention on some specific matters, for example, on a preparation of professional staffers of the external relations and on relations with our two neighbours and the Third neighbour countries.
The preceded FM L.Bold emphasized that Mongolia has gained big achievements in the foreign ties under leadership of the President and appreciated that the name of the Ministry is coming back.
Mr Purevsuren graduated from Gobi-Altai aimag's secondary school in 1983, Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1989, he also completed various courses in Germany, New Zealand and the USA. He speaks English, Russian and German.
He worked as an attaché in the Administration Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in 1989-1991; as a translator at Germany's Embassy in Mongolia in 1991-1993; as an attaché at the Europe and American Department of the MFA in 1993-1995; as second and first secretary of Mongolia's Embassy in Bonn in 1995-2000; as the first secretary and the Councilor of the MFA's European Department in 2000-2009; and as an advisor to the President on foreign relations policy in 2009-2012. Since then, he served as an advisor to the President on security and foreign policy.
D.Oyunkhorol MP Becomes Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism
Ulaanbaatar, December 9 (MONTSAME) At the morning session on Tuesday, parliamentarians discussed an appointment of Ms D.Oyunkhorol MP the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism. Her candidacy was backed by 92% of the MPs.
After the approval Oyunkhorol promised to start her duties with air pollution-related actions.
She was born in 1963 in Tosontsengel soum of Zavkhan aimag, she graduated from Tov aimag's secondary school in 1981, State Institute of Pedagogy in 1986 majoring in mathematics teaching. In 2003, she completed Mongolian State University majoring in law, has defended PhD degree and assistant professor title. She worked as a math teacher in 26th secondary school in 1986-1987, and as a class in 1987-1989. The she was a secretary of the youths' union of "Tuul" committee in 1989-1990, a manager of the 32nd secondary school in 1990-1991, a director of "Otgontenger" private university in 1991-2000. Oyunkhorol was elected member of parliament in 2000. She became MP again in 2008, served as a head of the Standing committee on social policy, education, culture and science until 2009. By the 2012 parliamentary election, she was elected as a MP third time.
She was awarded the Polar Star Order in 2000, a title of State Honored Teacher in 2011.
Prosecutor-General D.Dorligjav Appointed Justice Minister
Ulaanbaatar, December 9 (MONTSAME) A former Prosecutor-General D.Dorligjav was elected the Minister of Justice during a plenary meeting of the parliamentary session on Tuesday. His candidacy was supported by 94.9 percent of the MPs.
Mr Dorligjav Dambii was born 1959 in Zuungobi, Uvs aimag. He graduated the Khovd aimag-based Agricultural Training Center in 1978, Moscow Institute of Military and Politics in 1983, and School of Law at the Mongolian State University (MSU) in 1987. He is a vet doctor and lawyer.
DP Caucus Leader D.Erdenebat appointed as Minister of Industry
Ulaanbaatar, December 9 (MONTSAME) A member of the State Great Khural D.Erdenebat was elected the Minister of Industry with 96.6% votes of MPs at a plenary meeting of parliamentary session on Tuesday.
A profile of Mr Erdenebat's background was presented by B.Garamgaibaatar, a head of the Standing committee on economy.
Born 1959 in Zuunkharaa of Selenge aimag, Mr Erdenebat Dondogdorj graduated from secondary school of Zuunkharaa in 1977 and Institute of Politechnics of Russian Irkutsk in 1983, majoring in auto-engineer and mechanics master. He was elected twice the governor of the city's Baganuur district. Between 2008 and 2012, he served as the secretary-general of the Democratic Party, was elected MP in 2012.
Ministers for Construction, Defense Appointed
Ulaanbaatar, December 9 (MONTSAME) A former State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Tsogtbaatar was elected the Minister of Construction and Urban Development, and Ts.Tsolmon MP--the Minister of Defense at a plenary meeting of the parliamentary session on Tuesday.
During the discussion of the latter, D.Arvin MP obliged Mr Tsolmon to pay attention to the social welfare matters of military servicemen and officers. J.Enkhbayar MP emphasized that the new Minister must give a conclusion over a present defense field of Mongolia, and that the country must renovate military techniques.
Mr Tsogtbaatar Damdin was born in Ulaanbaatar. He completed the UB-based former Soviet 14th secondary school; Moscow State Institute of International Relations; National University of Australia. He has been also involved in mid-career trainings in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the USA.
Mr Tsolmon Tserendash was born 1953 in Tsetserleg soum of Arkhangai aimag. He finished secondary school in Arkhangai in 1970, Institute of Politechnics of Russian Irkutsk in 1976, graduated from the Institute of Political Party and Diplomacy Academy of Moscow. He is an electric engineer and also had a title of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
New Finance Minister: I Will Boost Economy by Supporting Wealth-Creators
Ulaanbaatar, December 9 (MONTSAME) At a plenary meeting of the parliamentary session on Tuesday, parliamentarians discussed whether to appoint J.Erdenebat MP the Minister of Finance and then backed by 93.1% votes this proposal.
Mr J.Erdenebat admitted that the national economy is in hard condition and pointed out a necessity of working out a plan in order to overcome these difficulties. "This plan must be realistic," he added and noted that the very first work of him will be a clarification of the 2015 budget.
"We will fulfill all these works as much as possible, we must take all measures in order to overcome the crisis. Our economy will improve when we support our wealth-makers. Moreover, we will receive their views in case of taking assistance from foreign organizations," Erdenebat stressed.
Mr Erdenebat Jargaltulga graduated from secondary school of Selenge aimag's Mandal soum in 1991, Institute of Trade and Industry in 1995 majoring in economist, Institute of Professional Accountants and Management Academy. He worked as a head of the Finance, Economics and Policy Regulation section of Selenge aimag's aministration in 2000-2004; as deputy governor of Selenge aimag in 2004-2005; in 2008-2012, he was governor of Selenge aimag, and was elected MP in 2012.
He speaks English.
IAAC charges civil servants who neglected income declarations
December 9 (news.mn) The Anti-Corruption Authority investigated and revised the declarations of income of 385 civil servants, uncovering conflicts of interest.
Thrity-five officials were charged for the offenses, 12 officials received warnings, and 17 officials were fined 30 percent of their salary for three months.
Six officials stepped down from their positions or were fired. Head of the Department at the Ministry of Health Ch.Munkhdelger, and Head of Dornod Province's Department of National Auto Transport Center State Owned Enterprise P.Munkhtur were dismissed.
Expert at the UIaanbaatar City Tourism Department B.Jargalan and Deputy Director and General Engineer of the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority of Ulaanbaatar D.Erdenebat were imposed with fines of 30 percent of their salaries for three months for their failure to accurately declare their income and for conflicts of interest.
Japanese photographer commemorates Mongolia's Democratic Revolution with exhibition
December 9 (news.mn) On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the democratic revolution in Mongolia, a photo exhibition by Japanese photographer Hiroyuki Usami, "Mongolian Democracy in the Japanese Press", opened at the Government House on Monday, December 8th.
Hiroyuki Usami was reminded of the events in Mongolia, recalling during the opening ceremony for the photo exhibition, "I was worried about being able to take photos at - 26C. But now, I am glad I captured the events of that time in Mongolia, 25 years ago."
Usami, Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold, Acting Minister of Education and Science L.Gamtumur, one of the first representatives of the Mongolian Democratic Union Dari Sukhbaatar, and B.Khishigbat cut the ribbon for the opening of the photo exhibition.
Usami's "Mongolian Democracy in the Japanese Press" photo exhibition features about 70 photos of the Mongolian democratic revolution and news stories and documents about Mongolia which were published in Japanese newspapers like Sankei, Yomiuri, Nikkei, Asahi, and Mainichi between 1989 and 1996.
Chamber of Commerce Elects Urbanek's B.Lkhagvajav as President
December 9 (infomongolia.com) On December 08, 2014, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) held its 19th Assembly Meeting at the Central Cultural Palace in Ulaanbaatar, which usually takes place once in four years.
At the Meeting, attendees reviewed and summarized the last four-year's report and determined the future tasks and goals, moreover, made some amendments in the structural issues, where participants held its meeting until five o'clock in the morning and discussed the new leadership of the MNCCI for 2015-2018 by electing new President of MNCCI.
In the nomination for Board Director or President of MNCCI, three candidates promoted their nominees namely current Chairman S.Demberel, President of "UFC Group", Mr. O.Amartuvshin and Director of "Urbanek" JSC Mr. B.Lkhagvajav, but incumbent Chairman S.Demberel withdrew his name and following the poll, Baatarjav LKHAGVAJAV was elected as the President of MNCCI.
However, the Assembly Meeting lasted too long, attendees agreed to continue today at 05:00 pm and revise other candidates for MNCCI leadership.
Candidates for MNCCI Director:
Candidates for MNCCI Vice Director:
Candidates for MNCCI Secretary General:
New chair appointed for Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce – news.mn, December 9
Newly Elected Chamber of Commerce Leaders to Hold Press Conference
Ulaanbaatar, Dec 10 (GoGo Mongolia) Mongolian Chamber of Trade and Industry held their meeting to elect new management and B.Lkhagvajav was elected as the President of the Chamber. Whereas, M.Oyunchimeg was elected as the new Head of the Chamber.
Newly elected and appointed management of the Mongolian Chamber of Trade and Industry are to hold press conference today at 11AM.
Mongolian Sustainable Finance Forum 2014, December 16, Ulaanbaatar
December 9 (infomongolia.com) Mongolian Bankers' Association (MBA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Green Development, Central Bank of Mongolia (Mongol Bank), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Dutch Development Bank FMO are organizing the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Forum 2014 themed "Sustainable Finance: Creating Sustainable Development Through Collaboration" in Ulaanbaatar at Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel on December 16, 2014.
Although Mongolia is a mining-driven economy, other important sectors include agriculture/livestock and associated products (cashmere, wool, meat); construction and real estate development; and transportation. The 95% of investment funding in Mongolia comes from the banking sector. A number of challenges associated with these sectors include air pollution, climate change and water scarcity, as well as a need for inclusive development. All this amounts to increasing pressure on business and the banking sector to consider ways to balance economic, environmental and social considerations.
Last year in May, authorities of Government Agencies and Financial Institutions hosted the first Mongolian Sustainable Finance Forum in Ulaanbaatar to discuss how they can work together towards a green civilization for Mongolia. The Forum featured a CEO Roundtable at which all the participating banks expressed a desire for shared learning and collaboration, and agreed on the need for more awareness and capacity building - for bank staff as well as clients.
In accordance to that, the participating CEOs agreed to establish a Working Group for sustainable finance, convened by the Mongolian Bankers' Association, which worked for the past 15 months to develop the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Principles addressing the key E&S issues in Mongolia. Together with the Principles, the Working Group has been working to develop principle guidance notes and 4 sector (Mining, Agriculture, Construction and Manufacturing) specific guidelines that will be applicable across the industry. By implementing the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Principles, banks will integrate environmental and social considerations into business decisions, promote green initiatives, services and products as well as consider E&S issues of their own operations.
As the Mongolian banking sector is preparing for the implementation of the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Principles and Sector Guidelines from January 2015, it is an appropriate time for bankers, policy makers, industry players, clients, environmental experts and international representatives to gather together to discuss the upcoming changes in the Mongolian banking sector related to sustainable finance as well as share views on the further development of sustainability and green economy in Mongolia.
Sustainable Finance forum approaches – Montsame, December 9
2nd Mongolia-France Intergovernmental Meeting Concludes in Ulaanbaatar
December 9 (infomongolia.com) The Second Intergovernmental Working Group Meeting between Mongolian and the French Republic was successfully organized in Ulaanbaatar at the Foreign Ministry on December 08, 2014.
Mongolian side was chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister D.Gankhuyag and the other part was chaired by Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, Mr. Matthias Fekl, where representatives from both sides' Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Environment, Economy, Energy, Agriculture, Labor, Population Development and Social Protection, Education and Science as well as authorities from Government Agencies and officials from state-owned entities were present encompassing about 40 attendees to discuss and exchange views on bilateral cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure, energy, environment and cultural spheres.
During his stay in Ulaanbaatar, French Minister of State Matthias Fekl visited the National Traumatology and Orthopedic Research Center (NTORC) on December 08, where Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the French Republic to Mongolia, Mr. Yves Delaunay, Deputy Minister of Health J.Amarsanaa and other officials accompanied him.
At the NTORC, parties exchanged views on project implementation being carried out at the Center, where the French Government has provided a 5 million and 50 thousand EUR soft loans, of which 80% is planned to spend on supplying medical equipment and 10% on staff training program.
Moreover, Minister of State Matthias Fekl was received by Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg and held a meeting with Advisor to the President L.Purevsuren.
Mongolia and the French Republic are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment the diplomatic relations in 2015, which was inked back on April 27, 1965.
Mongolia and France exchange views on nuclear energy policy – news.mn, December 9
Mongolia and France share views on nuclear energy policy – Montsame, December 9
French State Minister for Foreign Trade Visits Trauma Center
Ulaanbaatar, December 9 (MONTSAME) The National traumatology center received December 7 Mr Matthias Fekl, the French Minister of State for foreign trade, promotion of tourism and French nationals abroad, and accompanying him officials.
The Minister got au fait with an implementation of the project on improving a quality of emergency services, funded under easy-term loan of the Government of France. The guests also exchanged opinions on the operating of the medical equipment supplied in a scope of the project and specialized trainings provided for physicians of the center.
Mr Fekl said the health sector relations between the two countries have been intensifying and noted an importance of further deepening of such ties.
He was accompanied by the French Ambassador to Mongolia Mr Yves Delaunay.
Nomads on the Grid
An ambitious program is bringing modern tech to Mongolia's 800,000-strong nomadic population.
TSETSERLEG, Mongolia, December 5 (The Slate)—As the crow flies, Gaaj, one of Mongolia's 800,000 fully nomadic citizens, doesn't live too far from Ulaanbaatar, the country's capital and only metropolis. His yak-felt-and-wood tent, or ger, stands in a valley 360 miles away, just outside of Tsetserleg, the administrative and commercial nexus of the Arkhangai province.
But crows and maps are deceptive in Mongolia—they hide how rapidly Ulaanbaatar's urban sprawl gives way to endless open plains and isolation. At 603,910 square miles, Mongolia is the 19th largest nation in the world, but 1.2 of its 2.8 million citizens live in the capital with the rest in far-flung villages or living nomadically like Gaaj. It has the lowest population density of any sovereign nation. Underlining this fact, the trip out to Gaaj's ger from the Dragon Bus Station on the eastern fringe of Ulaanbaatar is eight hours of an unending procession of yak dung and skulls dotting the plains.
These remains bear testament to the comings and goings of nomadic herds. Although elsewhere in the nation you're apt to wander into valleys choking with goats or sheep, yaks predominate in this region, where herders rely on them for almost every necessity. Yak fur socks and yak felt walls keep them warm. Yak meat jerky so hard it has to be broken up with an axe and boiled like shoe leather, served with hot and salty yak milk-and-butter tea, fills their bellies. Tiny balls of rock-hard cheese, tucked against the cheek and sucked over long rides, keep them occupied as they navigate the unpaved hills on tiny, plodding, sturdy ponies.
Although motorcycles and a smattering of cars help a nomad get to town on short notice, these steeds (or camels in the Gobi Desert) are the best way to move tiny herds in slow, regular annual orbits around the towns and markets the herders frequent to sell their excess meat and crafts, moving forward as the grazing gets scarce. It's not an easy life, but the connection to land and livestock is what they've grown up with. And the city, smoggy with coal fire, often more expensive, and lacking in easy, secure work for those with few skills or experience that don't involve milking or shearing, doesn't hold much appeal unless your herd is shrinking or dying, or you're desperate for cash.
Even Tsetserleg is only a blip, quickly swallowed up by the smooth slopes of the central steppe's Khangai Mountains. Cresting a pass in the hills, we see the two gerswhere Gaaj's family lives in a valley, but nothing else. No power lines, no hum of traffic, not even another family's camp breaks the isolation of the valley as far as the eye can see. Yet somehow when we duck through the tent's tiny wooden door we find Gaaj's family sprawled around a color TV watching a screening of 3:10 to Yuma (the more recent Russell Crowe version) broadcast with Mongol subtitles from a station back in Ulaanbaatar.
For all their isolation, Gaaj's family lives on the grid, connected to broadcast waves and cell signals by the trusty solar panel tilted up on a post between the gers. Gaaj, a thirtysomething man with a hoof-shaped indentation on his face (almost certainly from a horse, but misplaced politeness keeps me from asking outright) and skin so weathered he looks closer to 50, is an entrepreneurial nomad. He has a car that he uses to run a rural taxi service for other nomads, and he's the go-to host for foreigners passing through Arkhangai. Though hardly rich, even by Mongolian standards, he makes a bit more than the $3,780 average annual salary reported by goat, sheep, and yak herders in a 2010 study of nomad incomes in eastern Mongolia.
But his modest wealth didn't buy him his solar panel, nor is he unique in having one. Gaaj is one of the beneficiaries of the Mongolian government's "National 100,000 Solar Ger Electrification Program."
Before I left Ulaanbaatar, I overheard a guide named Bold tell two older tourists, "You can charge your phone in the gers," adding, "The gers all have these panels now."
"We save on candles, we can finish our dailytasks without having to postpone them, and we can sell our meat at a higher price because we have better access to information thanks to our TV and phone."
A nomad from the Khentii province
The project began in 2000, just as Mongolia's boom years were kicking off following the discovery of some of the world's largest untapped coal, copper, gold, and uranium deposits. These new resources revolutionized the economy of a nation that had until then survived mainly on cashmere and dairy. The wealth generated by mining developments—the Gobi Desert's Oyu Tolgoi mine alone, built in 2010, is set to boost the national economy by one-third within a decade—created an inexorable nomadic moth-to-the-light process of mass urbanization. (In 2000, Ulaanbaatar was just 61 percent of its current size.)
While Ulaanbaatar's skyline is dominated by construction cranes and newly minted skyscrapers, its fringes are made of nomadicgers fixed in place. Drawn in by a sense of missing out on wealth and development (nomadic salaries are still only 65 percent of the national average, and far lower than those of the rising Ulaanbaatar middle class), nomads feel compelled to abandon their lives to become a part of the nation's development. Most end up living in slums, working as menial laborers.
"The government of Mongolia was keenly aware of its rural residents' predicament," write World Bank energy specialist Peter Johansen and consultants Ivy Cheng and Roberto La Rocca in a 2014 review of the project, "and was committed to bring about development … while preserving the herders' traditional lifestyle."
The government decided that the best way to do this would be to get solar panels in as many homes as possible. In the early years, the program looked like a failure. Limited in its capacity over such a massive area, the central government could only distribute and repair systems out of the capital. Plus, even with subsidies, the smallest wattage setup still cost about a year's salary for an average nomad while the largest capacity cost two years' wages. In 2006, six years into the project, they'd only managed to unevenly distribute 33,000 systems. Then, in 2008, international donors stepped in, led by the World Bank, and for once actually delivered as promised.
The project was flooded with $12 million in grants from the World Bank, the International Development Agency, and the Dutch government, a surprisingly proactive ally of the Mongols who also helped to reintroduce a population of wild Przewalski (Takhi in Mongol) horses to the country. The cash boosted the subsidies, slicing prices in half, and helped with the logistics of trucking panels out to the most remote corners of the country.
6th Floor, NTN Tower
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