Wednesday, December 3, 2014

[SGQ sale date extended; 73:3 coalition coalition confirmed; JPMorgan to help set up SWF; and China SOE to build Nalaikh road]

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

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Overseas Market

TRQ/NUR announcements made after HKEx close, NUR closed +6.1% to HK$0.244. TRQ closed +4.82% to US$3.26, SGQ +8% to C$0.54

Turquoise Hill Extends Outside Closing Date of Proposed SouthGobi Resources Divestment

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - December 02, 2014) - Turquoise Hill Resources (Turquoise Hill or the Company) (NYSE: TRQ) (NASDAQ: TRQ) (TSX: TRQ) today announced that it has signed an amendment (the Amendment) to its previously announced and signed sale and purchase agreement with National United Resources Holdings Limited (NUR) providing for the sale to NUR of a 25.65% stake in SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (SouthGobi, TSX:SGQ, HKEx:1878), which Amendment provides, among other matters, for an extension to the outside closing date from November 30, 2014 to April 30, 2015. At the time of signing the original sale and purchase agreement on July 29, 2014, the transaction represented a 29.95% stake in SouthGobi, which was before giving effect to the private placement of common shares announced by SouthGobi on December 1, 2014.

Closing remains subject to certain conditions, including the Hong Kong Stock Exchange approving the circular to be provided to NUR's shareholders for a vote on the transaction and NUR's shareholders approving the transaction. NUR has not yet issued the circular for purposes of conducting a shareholder vote and a further delay in NUR's shareholders approving the transaction would impact the timing of the closing. There can be no assurance that the transactions contemplated by the sale and purchase agreement, as amended, or closing of the transaction itself, will be completed.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was effected in accordance with and in reliance upon the "private agreement" exemption under the Canadian takeover bid regime, Turquoise Hill has agreed to sell 56,102,000 common shares in the capital of SouthGobi to NUR at a price of CDN$0.455 per common share, following which Turquoise Hill would continue to hold 48,705,155 shares of SouthGobi, representing approximately a 22.27% stake in SouthGobi after giving effect to the SouthGobi private placement. Approximately CDN$12.8 million in cash will be received by the Company at closing and deferred consideration of approximately CDN$12.8 million will be payable one year after the closing of the transaction.

Link to release

Link to NUR release


Landmark agreement on Gatsuurt in the offing for Centerra

By S.Bold-Erdene      

December 2 (Mongolian Mining Journal) Parliament is discussing whether or not to make the Gatsuurt gold deposit a strategic deposit. The licence holder, Centerra Gold Mongolia, has offered to the Government free ownership of a certain percentage of shares in it. The Government wants Parliament to approve the draft decree to include the deposit in the list of strategic deposits and to set the State's ownership at 20%. The deposit was not in the initial list of 15 strategic deposits and was also not among the 39 potentially strategic deposits. People are wondering why it should qualify as strategic now and also why the state should want 20% ownership, and not 34% as it can legally claim. 

Centerra Gold Mongolia has been trying to sign an investment agreement on the deposit since 2009, but its location brings it under "the law with the long name" and thus disallows mining operations there. The only way out is to be named a strategic deposit, and this was why the company made a request to consider the deposit a strategic one.

Centerra's offer is quite generous. It is not demanding any tax benefits and is offering free shares to the Government. This is in sharp contrast to what happened at its Boroo deposit, where the company mined 40 tons of gold in just five years while enjoying substantial tax exemptions under a stability agreement. In an attempt to make over its image before the people and the Government, the company is now building maternity wards etc. 

Parliament has the absolute right to fix the percentage of State ownership in strategic deposits, and over a period of time, Centerra has of its own proposed several options. It wants a joint venture with the State to mine the Gatsuurt deposit, and has, at various times, offered to split the stakes (the company's share first) 95:5, 80:20, 75:25, and 66:34. Each of these options has its own unique feature. 

Percentage perceptions

The 95:5 division was proposed in the very beginning, with Centerra making it clear that the 5% would be its gift to the Government, which would also not have to invest in the mine's development. Compared to Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi, 5% is insignificant but it is also not 0% like that in Tsagaan Suvarga. However, a working group appointed by the Mining Ministry did not accept the offer and asked Centerra to come up with a fresh one. The company then suggested the three other options.  

If the 20% ownership offer is accepted, the Government will have to incur 20% of the investment costs of the project. The other two options also require the Government to invest according to its percentage of ownership and the funding required for such investment is under discussion to be borrowed from investors. However, if the 20% offer is chosen, this loan from Centerra to the Government will be interest-free, making it a tempting deal for the latter. 

The catch is that the price of gold may not be rising in the long run as the economies of the United States and Europe revive. In that case, it will take longer to repay the loan, and profits will be less. Another disadvantage will be that a 20% ownership will give less say to the Government in management issues. The influence within the Board of Directors and at the executive management level will be limited as the share of ownership is not 34% as in Oyu Tolgoi LLC. 

The 75:25 option is half way between a 'too small' 20% and a 'too big' 34%. If this is accepted, the interest rate on the loan would be LIBOR+6%. The working group has rejected this option as unprofitable. 

The 66:34 option gives the Government the largest stake legally permissible in a strategic deposit run jointly with a private investor. The interest rate for the loan will again be LIBOR+6%, as was the case in Oyu Tolgoi. That agreement has been marked by disputes over the loans from the investor and the interest payable. This must be one reason the working group has been persuaded that 20% ownership with an interest-free loan is more profitable and less risky than 34% ownership with its different conditions. In the case of Oyu Tolgoi, it was said in Parliament, the Government borrowed over $1 billion to meet its 34% share of the initial investment and the stipulated interest rate of LIBOR+6% means the annual repayment amounts to approximately $70 million. With the mine still to run at full capacity and the investment payback period getting delayed, the interest on the repayment puts further pressure on the Government. 

Choosing between dividend and tax

A decision on the appropriate percentage of ownership can be taken only after carefully considering the expected revenue from the project. Would it be more profitable to receive dividends from the project or to collect more tax? The official calculation at present is that the yield from taxes would be higher, and the final receipts more or less the same, no matter what percentage of shares is owned, 34% or 20%, but the former will mean more interest on the loan.  

Gatsuurt is the second biggest gold deposit in Mongolia after Oyu Tolgoi, but going by data in the feasibility study, the net profit from mining here would not be as high as one would expect. The amount of gold to be extracted has been put at 42 tons, from a total reserve of 70 tons. The total investment will be approximately $320 million, with a mine life of 12 years. The amount invested will be recouped after 4 years and 3 months. Assuming the average price of gold will be $1300, the expected total revenue is $1.1 billion, of which Mongolia will receive $400 million in tax. There will be no tax relief, and the investment agreement is likely to ensure that most taxes would remain stable.  

$108.8 million of the total investment of $320 million will be spent on raw material, equipment, infrastructure and a concentrating plant. The last is a matter of argument. The concentrating plant at the Boroo deposit, set up at a cost of over $100 million, will be used as the cost of relocating it to Gatsuurt is too high. Instead, ore from Gatsuurt would be transported to the plant at Boroo, and, for this, a 55-km-long road has been constructed. Since the existing plant is to be used, the Government will surely demand removal of the cost of building a new plant from the feasibility report.

A redeeming message

The remaining $200 million of the projected investment will be spent in the next two years. If Parliament approves the 20% ownership plan, Mongolia's share of the $320-million investment will be $64 million. The entire amount will come from Centerra Gold Mongolia as an interest-free loan, to be paid back from dividends. How much the dividend will be is uncertain, but the net profit has been estimated at $170 million or MNT350 billion. That is not so high, but a major fall-out of any agreement with Centerra will be the reassuring message sent out to foreign investors. 

The major imperative behind the haste to start work at Gatsuurt is directly related to the state of our foreign exchange reserve. The gold from Gatsuurt will be sold directly to Bank of Mongolia, raising its reserves by 40%-50% at a time when they are being depleted fast. The central bank hopes to purchase 10 tons of gold from miners this year. The average annual output at Gatsuurt will be 4-5 tons, which means this project alone will help the central bank's foreign currency reserves to rise by anything between $250 million and $300 million. Apart from this, the coming two years will see over $200 million of direct foreign investment and some 50 companies will get business as subcontractors for the Gatsuurt project. 

If Gatsuurt is made a strategic deposit, a message will be sent to foreign investors and investment consultants that the Government can, and does, work with foreign investors. Foreign investors held back by the prolonged dispute with Rio Tinto on the Oyu Tolgoi project will see it as a project-specific dispute, and not a matter of general policy. A joint venture with Centerra Gold at Gatsuurt will lift investor confidence, even as failure to reach an agreement there will seriously damage the reputation of Mongolia among foreign investors. 

The likely deposit extraction agreement on Gatsuurt will be the first such agreement since the revision to the Law on Minerals, and is expected to pave the way for many more. As of today, there are few differences of any real import between Centerra Gold Mongolia and the Government, raising the hope that the Gatsuurt agreement may become the model of those that will follow. Once Parliament decides on the ownership percentage, work will begin on formulating the terms of reference for the joint venture and final talks on the deposit extraction agreement start. 

The Gatsuurt deposit

The deposit is a major deposit discovered in the North Khentii gold zone by the Mongolian gold metallogen subdivisions. It contains ores with relatively high percentage of gold and there is a potential for the deposit reserve to increase in the future. A few local companies have been mining at the gold placer deposits of Gatsuurt since 1992, and it was during these operations that the main gold deposit was discovered in 1997. Centerra Gold Mongolia says it spent a total of $49.7 million on exploration work at Gatsuurt between 1997 and 2006. Gatsuurt is located on the famous Noyon Mountain, an important and valuable historical heritage place where the tombs of Khunnu-era kings and lords were found. 

Centerra Gold Mongolia is a company with experience of working on the Boroo deposit. The company reports that it mined around 1.5 million ounces of gold from the Boroo deposit between 2004 and 2013. It also owns the Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan. Of the total 9.2 million ounces of gold mined at Kumtor between 1997 and 2013, 600,000 ounces were extracted in 2013. Kumtor is approximately 12 times bigger than Gatsuurt and it is the biggest foreign invested project in Kyrgyzstan with a huge impact on its economy. 

Link to article


Head of TT Power Plant Project M.Enkhsaikhan to introduce studies made on OT

Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (GoGo Mongolia)  M.Enkhsaikhan, Coordinator for Tavantolgoi Power Plant Project, is to make introduction of results of the study conducted on Oyu Tolgoi.

The conference by M.Enkhsaikhan is to be held at 11AM today at 3rd floor of Blue Sky Tower.

Link to article


OT Watch's Sukhgerel Dugersuren: Defender working on corporate accountability in Mongolia

25 November (International Service for Human Rights) Mongolia is a brand new star on the extractive industry's stage. Being brand new means it does not have the necessary legal framework, norms and standards aimed at protecting the environment and the rights of local communities.

Rio Tinto leads the list of large foreign and transnational corporations operating in Mongolia.

The World Bank leads a team of international financial institutions, namely the International Financial Corporation (IFC), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Asian Development Bank (ADB), that are financing mining and supporting infrastructure projects.

Owing to this support, the mining sector is booming nationwide regardless whether there is water in the Gobi desert or that minerals have to be transported on bare soil through national protected areas.    

There is an urgent need to start holding all players in the minerals sector responsible for their footprint.  

The Government is 'issuing' laws as demanded by mining corporations, or as they prefer to call themselves – foreign investors.

In the past one year, the Government eliminated the Law on Prohibiting Mineral Extraction and Exploration in Headwaters of Rivers and Forest Resource Areas (also known as 'The Law with the Long Name'). This law had been passed in 2009 thanks to the efforts of a decade-long civil society struggle.

Meanwhile, the Government introduced a Policy on the Minerals Sector, a legal guideline on the main principles of operation in the minerals sector. In 2014, the Government subsequently amended it and adopted the Law on Conventional Minerals to bring it in line with the Policy, which permits minerals exploration without impact assessments required by the Law on Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.

These abusive practices by corporations, with Government complicity, are made possible due to the lack of knowledge in Mongolia about corporate responsibility as well as environmental and human rights standards. The Government, international financial institutions and corporations have obligations under UN conventions, safeguard policies of institutions and standards set by the International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM).

Oyu Tolgoi Watch (OT Watch) has started using various international accountability mechanisms to raise awareness to these human rights and environmental instruments in Mongolia, especially among the civil society organisations.

Oyu Tolgoi is the largest mining project owned and managed by Rio Tinto (66%) and the Government (34%). We have been engaging with Ivanhoe Mines and Rio Tinto since 2010, attempting to draw attention and raise awareness around the violations of international environmental and human rights standards.

Our goal is to create demand at community level for corporate accountability.

We are basing this on the fact that companies react to demand and they are acutely sensitive to reputational damage. Rio Tinto, for example, fails to comply with its own policies as well as standards set by potential lenders.

We have two complaints in mediation since 2012 through the IFC's Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman mechanism. Word about the use of complaints mechanisms has reached other communities and there are requests to assist them in filing complaints with relevant accountability mechanisms. The process is slow - but it is slowly moving.

Challenges of human rights defenders in Mongolia start with the fact that there is no knowledge about who HRDs are, what they do and how the Government should create a legal and practical framework for their activities.

Some emblematic examples of the types of threats faced by HRDs in Mongolia working in the area of land and environmental rights are as follows:

Ts. Munkhbayar is a 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize winner and known for his work with the government and grassroots organizations to shut down destructive mining operations along Mongolia's scarce waterways.

Ts. Munkhbayar is a former nomadic herder who lost access to traditional pasture and water resources as a result of mining operations.

He had organized a nationwide movement to develop and push through parliament 'The Law with the Long Name', and was subsequently jailed for 7 years in attempts to safeguard this law from problematic amendments. 

On 16 September 2013, as deliberations were underway to repeal 'The Law with the Long Name', he entered the Government compound armed with a rifle in a symbolic act to demonstrate that all legal means of struggle had been exhausted.

This act did not cause any damage and there are no victims in this incident.

On 12 August 2014, Eugene Simonov, an Environmental Whitley Fund winner, was deported from Mongolia for requesting access to technical documents of hydro-engineering projects financed by a World Bank loan under the Mining Infrastructure Investment Support (MINIS) project.

All three hydro projects have the potential to cause harm to UN-protected sites in Mongolia, Russia and China. He was not informed of his deportation until he tried to make his way back to Mongolia from China.

Four members of the local community of Govi-Altai aimag were taken to court by an iron ore mining company for briefing a Government working group on the negative impacts of the mine on their community.

They were part of the briefing due to their public service roles: a Bagh governor (smallest administrative-territorial unit), a medical doctor, a kindergarten manager and a head of a cooperative.

Mining corporations or businesses generally have a record of using police, prosecution and judiciary to harass local community members for attempts to protect their rights.

The Government unfortunately engages in vilification, indirect threat and influence on judicial decisions evidenced by speeches of top-tier country leaders, as well as the lack of investigation or accountability on allegations of threats, intimidation and harassment by representatives of corporations.

Challenges faced by HRDs working on corporate accountability in Mongolia include the absence of an enabling legal environment, the vilification and smear campaigns, the denial of the right to information, the lack of redress and effective remedies,

as concluded by the 2012 fact-finding mission undertaken by FORUM-ASIA. Since then, there have been many recommendations to the Government to create necessary enabling environment.

The UN Working Group on Transnational Corporations has also conducted a country visit to Mongolia and expressed their concerns officially to the Government.

Engagement with the UN human rights bodies, especially with the UPR process since 2010, has raised awareness on the issue of business and human rights in Mongolia.

The issue appears to have moved forwards as a result of several activities including briefing the UPR Working Group,

drafting the submission of a civil society report to the UPR and engagement with all relevant Government ministries, parliament bodies and political party caucuses seeking information on government plans to implement the Business and Human Rights Guidance.

The UPR system is promising in terms of engagement with States to show that the UN is serious about its conventions and their implementation.

It brings in much broader engagement, exposure and support to start implementing commitments. I hope the next round of review will actually look at the budgets set aside for their implementation and move on from voluntary to mandatory recommendations where necessary.  

We are also hoping for more capacity building support to civil society engaged in this process, especially beginning to work on the new Business and Human Rights Guidance monitoring.

We hope that the Government will implement the recommendations of the UN Working Group on Transnational Corporations  as per its report on Mongolia from its  first fact-finding mission to a member State.

In 2013, a 7-member delegation led by a Parliament member visited the Human Rights Council but never attended the Forum itself.

Our engagement with Government found that there is no knowledge of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Working Group report mentioned above and generally no clarity about its role in ensuring that businesses respect human rights on its territory.

Monitoring the compliance of foreign and transnational corporations without engagement of international human rights systems is simply dangerous as well as ineffective.

In a globalized world, the goal should be to bring international norms and standards together with the transnational corporations, to eliminate double standards in business operations in Mongolia.

Rio Tinto has been able to monitor and prevent a major disaster in its Kennecott's Bingham Canyon mine in the US but does not prevent mine collapses in other parts of the world they operate in.  In Mongolia they have huge white clouds floating over their mine, which they would not do in the US.

If transnational corporations publicly commit to upholding international standards everywhere they work, they should do so in practice and we will monitor compliance with their own commitments.  

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Local Market

MSE News for December 2: Top 20 -0.38% to 14,945.34, Turnover 8.1 Million, T-Bills 2.7 Billion

On  December 02, 2014, total 8,330.0 shares of 19 companies and 12 weeks Government retail bonds traded  and total of MNT 2,689,726,391.00 transaction been made. 

Total of 8,219.0 shares of 16 companies worth MNT 6,457,291.00 and 111.0 shares of 3 companies worth MNT 1,669,100.00 were traded on the "A" and "B" board respectively. 

In addition, 12 weeks 26,816 Government retail bonds worth MNT 2,681,600,000 traded. 

The TOP-20 index decreased by 0.38% to 14,945.34 units.

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Early morning non-cash USD rates: Khan (Buy 1,870 Sell 1,876), TDB (Buy 1,865 Sell 1,876), Golomt (Buy 1,870 Sell 1,876), XacBank (Buy 1,872 Sell 1,892), State Bank (site down)

BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, December 2 Close


















































December MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:


Link to rates


BoM FX auction: US$6m sold at 1,874.11, accepts $110m USD, $3.5m MNT swap offers

December 2 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on December 02nd, 2014 the BOM has received bid offer of 18.4 million USD and 30.0 million CNY and ask offer of 1.2 million USD from local commercial banks. The BOM has sold 6.0 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1874.11.

On December 02nd, 2014, The BOM has received USD SWAP agreement ask offer of 110.0 million USD and MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to 3.5 million USD from local commercial banks and accepted all offer.

See also:

·         FX Auction Statistics

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Politics & Legal

MPRP Announces Decision to Join Government

Ulaanbaatar, Dec 2 (GoGo Mongolia) MPRP Executive Council at Great Khural held meeting on Dec 1, to discuss possibly entry into new government. Today G.Shiilegdamba, Secretary General of MPRP, had announced decision of MPRP to join the coalition.

MPRP had 4 ministerial seats at the Government for Change as the cabinet structure had 16 ministries. As the number of the ministries was reduced to 13, the number of ministerial seats for MPRP was also reduced to 3. But the situation might change as MPP made decision to join the big coalition and as they have 26 seats at the State Great Khural, number of ministerial seats for MPRP might go down.

G.Shiilegdamba addressed this concern as: "During the government reshuffling MPRP was allocated 3 ministerial seats. Executive Council has expressed their interest in keeping this quota. But the final decision is up to Prime Minister."

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Speaker Vows Support for Proposed World Bank Projects in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) The Speaker of Mongolia's parliament Z.Enkhbold received on December 1 the Country manager of the World Bank for Mongolia Jim Anderson.

While focusing on projects the WB is ready to launch here, Mr Anderson said the methodologies and mechanisms introduced during the First and Second Sustainable Livelihoods projects will be adapted in the scope of the implementation of the project's third phase. The Third Sustainable Livelihoods, costing USD 23.5 million, aims to promote the implementation of the Law on budget, to give technical support for building a capacity of required staff, to asses and analyze activities of Community Development Funds, and to encourage good performance through allocating budgets.

As for E-Health, he went on, the project's implementation cost stands at USD 19.5 million. The main objectives of this project are to build an Internet database for health to improve a usefulness and consistency of the health information, to refine a sufficiency of medical care and health services by developing a local information network on patients.

About the Smart Governance project Mr Anderson said it would be costing USD 19.4 million and will aim at promoting the Government initiative on building smart governance and at improving transparency in the governance by use of information technology.

Education Quality Reform project's estimated cost is USD 30 million, it supposed to better a quality and outcome of the Mongolian language and mathematics classes and to improve primary education quality by strengthening an effective planning of study programmes, said Mr Anderson. 

In response, the Speaker promised to have the Third Sustainable Livelihoods Project discussed by related Standing Committees and to work on enabling the projects drawing rights. As for the three other projects, Mr Enkhbold suggested discussing them after a formation of a new Cabinet.

After this meeting, the WB Country manager was received by a head of Standing Committee on social policy, education, culture and sciences D.Battsogt MP to seek his support for the projects. 

Link to article


Mongolia Should End Its Debate Over Rail Gauge

December 1 (Mongolian Economy) For eight years, Mongolia has debated which gauge the rail transport system should adapt—Russian or Chinese, a difference of 85 millimeters. During recent visits to Mongolia, both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping advised officials to make an immediate decision on the rail gauge.

Way back in 2010, parliament passed its rail transport policy: 1,800 kilometers to be constructed immediately, and up to a total of 5,600 kilometers in the coming future. Apart from 225 kilometres of railway construction underway between Ukhaakhudag and Gashuunsukhait on the Chinese border, little has been done since. The decision to use two different types of gauge—the Chinese narrow gauge for Tavantolgoi-Ganshuunsukhait, Sainshand-Zamiin Uud and Khuut-Bichigt, and the Russian broad gauge, covering 550 kilometers, for Tavantolgoi-Sainshand, Khuut-Choibalsan-Numrug, and Erdenet-Mogoin Gol at the Russian border—has sparked heated debate.

A speedy end to the rail gauge debate will bring about far-reaching economic benefits—dramatically increased commodity exports, increased exit points to Russia and China, and lucrative expansion of exports to third neighbours through direct access to an already-agreed-to seaport in China.

Mongolia has lost its way

Mongolia is increasingly dependent on commodity exports like coal. The Prime Minister, during a visit to China in 2013, signed a deal to export 50 million tonnes of coal, a contract worth billions. Thus far in 2014, only 12 million tonnes of coal have been exported to China. What's the holdup? The preferred method is by rail, which can transport 10,000 tonnes. The current method of delivery is by truck, which carries 140 tonnes of coal. The lack of rail transport is keeping a vast windfall of cash out of Mongolia's pocket.

"We have to settle our domestic matters urgently. Mongolia has lost its way in the railway sector. So the railway transportation policy must be cleared up as soon as possible," said G. Bayarsaikhan, Member of Parliament and Head of the Standing Committee for the Environment and Agriculture.

As of 6th October, 2014, the 225 kilometers of rail from Ukhaakhudag to Gashuunsukhait are close to 80 percent completion. When completed in 2015, Mongolia's total rail capacity will reach 30 million tonnes, rising to 67 million tonnes in 2016. Total rail currently extends to 1,905 kilometres, of which 1,807 kilometres are owned by the joint Mongolian-Russian Ulaanbaatar Railway Company. The company employs 15,000 people. According to the state-owned Mongolia Railway Company, a commissioning of railways in the east would offer new jobs for as many as the aforementioned.

Third neighbours

Coal demand is projected to increase in Japan and Korea by 2020 to 40 million and 15 million tonnes respectively, according to the Mongolian Railway Company, which insists these demands can be supplied by Mongolia.

To link the rail network to domestic sites and the rest of the world, Mongolia will need to construct 5,600 km of rail. The first stage of 1,800 km construction will connect Tavan Tolgoi mines, through Tsagaan Suvarga cooper mine to the Sainshand Industrial Complex.  Two exits to China are planned, one at Gashuunsukhait and the other at Bichigt. The exits correspond with regions in China where coal shortages mostly occur. Hebei province in China will face a shortage of 85 million tonnes of coal by 2020, while Liaoning province 30 million tonnes, according to the Mongolian Railway Company.

Despite debate over whether to export through Gashuunsukhait or Bichigt to reach Hebei and Liaoning provinces, exits to China mean more than increased access to Mongolia's southern neighbour.

"The President of China, Xi Jinping, signed various agreements during his visit to Mongolia last August. One of them was to make Mongolia a country with a sea exit." said G. Bayarsaikhan.

A sea exit would allow Mongolia access to third-market demands. According to the Ministry of Road and Transportation, Mongolia could deliver mining products to Japan and Korea, where the steel and coking coal demand is still high.

Financing the rail projects

Preliminary estimates suggest approximately USD 5.2 billion is needed to build the initial 1,800 km of rail—far more than Mongolia's State budget can handle alone.

Both domestic and foreign investment will be needed to complete the projects. Mongolia announced an open tender, where 20 companies from 12 countries have sent their proposals. The Ministry of Road and Transportation estimates to attract 60 percent of total expenses from investors, whose investments are expected to return in just over 9 years.

Samsung Corporation is currently in charge of constructing the 225 km of railway between Ukhaakhudag and Gashuunsukhait. Once completed in 2015, the new rail would enable transportation of commodities from Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi to China. The completed rail transport will kick-start a significant boom for the economy—a boom that should continue as the rail network sees further development.

Mongolian Railway Company associates said, "It is not important which gauge is favoured by the government. The most important thing is that the rail policy must be stable. Frequent changes cause certain damages in the project implementation. Rail is cost effective. Thus construction needs to proceed."

And so the argument continues over which gauge Mongolia should use. Time passes and coal demand in China, Korea and Japan is filled by other countries, despite Mongolia's ample supply.

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Mongolia Enlists JPMorgan in Establishing State Investment Fund

December 2 ( On December 01, 2014, the first regular Cabinet meeting took place in the Government House and one of the issues resolved was authorizing to establish an Investment Fund.

At the Cabinet meeting held on July 02, 2014 it was noted that the Development Bank of Mongolia was holding negotiations with several international financial institutions to establish the Investment Fund in Mongolia.

As a result, the JP Morgan Bank (JPMorgan Chase & Co) was chosen to collaborate and under the submitted proposal an opportunity to establish the Investment Fund was created.

In this regard, the Board of the Development Bank was entrusted to issue a financial commitment of 100 million USD with aims to implement the first stage of the Fund establishment following negotiations with foreign and local financial institutions.

Moreover, the Ministry of Finance is also allowed to ensure with operation policies and give directions in the establishment of the Investment Fund. 

Link to article


Investment Fund to Be EstablishedMontsame, December 2


Mongolia Projects & Investment Summit HK 2014: Presentations

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Anglo American Hosts "Doing Business in Mongolia" Seminar in London

Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) Such a meeting was held last week in the headquarters of the Anglo American Company in London of the United Kingdom.

Organized by the Mongolia-Britain Chamber of Commerce, the meeting brought together 100 people such N.Tulga, the Ambassador of Mongolia to the UK; diplomats; authorities of British enterprises, members of the Mongolians' Association in the UK.

Reports were given on Mongolia's present politics, economy, investments, business environment and opportunities by Graeme Hancock; George Hunt, a business development manager of the Sunderland University; Ch.Erdenedalai, a Chevening scholarship student and independent researcher; Association of British Mining Equipment Companies, a member of the Association of British Mining Equipment Companies; and Carsten Livermore, a former member of parliament of Australia.

Mr Hancock noted that difficulties are facing investors due to "unstable condition of legal environment and poor maintenance of laws although it is easy to found enterprises with foreign investments". He said the Anglo America Company is focusing on obtaining information about Mongolian mining industry and business environment, on setting up ties with the government, business and civil society representatives, on designing future opportunities, on evaluating projects on copper exploration and on ensuring a preparation for applying for exploration special license.

"Mongolia needs high quality education, and investments have been increasing to this sector," said George Hunt. Presently, two Mongolian students are studying in the Sunderland University, this university plans to training five students next year. The UK earns 17 billion pound sterling from the education industry and trains 300 thousand foreign students a year, he added.

Erdenedalai spoke about how he sees nowadays political and economic situation in Mongolia. He said the governmental stability is important in ensuring of normal conditions for economy and that the reasons of current economic downturn must be compared to the conditions of 2008-2009.

Despite a slower economic growth of Mongolia and decrease in foreign investments, there are big opportunities to launch business in Mongolia, to make investments and to boost win-win cooperation.  

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Head of President's Office Receives Founder of Oxford Business Group Ahead of 2014 Mongolia Report

Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTRSAME) Head of the Presidential Office Mr P.Tsagaan Monday received Andrew Jeffreys, a founder and chief executive officer of the Oxford Business Group (OBG).

The parties discussed Mongolia's political and economic situation and exchanged views on interviews and other news pieces that will be published in the 2014 Report of the OBG.

Founded in 1994 Group is running activities in 33 countries; since 2010 it started publishing reports on Mongolia's macro economy. The Group has issues reports on 17 fields such as Mongolia's mining, banking, finance, infrastructure and macro economy.

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China Railway Construction Signs Road Concession Deals with Ulaanbaatar

December 2 ( On December 02, 2014, Chairman of Ulaanbaatar City Citizens' Representatives Khural (City Council) D.Battulga received a delegation from China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) headed by Vice President Hu Fan.

At the meeting, the CRCC delegates expressed its interest to invest and participate in the development of Ulaanbaatar, after which parties signed a Memorandum of cooperation to construct road and bridge under Concession Agreement.

The CRCC is the second largest state-owned construction enterprise in China and under the Agreement, a 17.5 km road work between Bayanzurkh and Nalaikh Districts will be executed; besides, 3.4 km road will be constructed from "Uliastai" intersection to Bayanzurkh Road Post and a 228 m bridge is also included. Moreover, the CRCC authorities also expressed its willingness to participate in the construction of apartments in Ulaanbaatar. 

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Ulaanbaatar and CRCC Ink Agreement on Road BuildingMontsame, December 2


Ulaanbaatar to Hold Discussion on 2015 Budget

December 3 (GoGo Mongolia) Capital city budget was developed in accordance with 2015 Budget law and introduced at City Council discussions.

According to City Council resolution the City Budget is to discussed in two phases. First discussion was held on Nov 27 including City Council committees and party groups.

Final discussion is to be held tomorrow Dec 4 together with the following issues concerning:

·         Capital city economic issues

·         Social objectives for 2015

·         Privatization of city property in 2015 and complilation of items to be privatized

·         Land allocation plan for 2015.

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Mongolia-France Intergov'tal Working Group Meeting in Ulaanbaatar, December 8

Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) The second meeting of the Mongolia-France intergovernmental working group will run this December 8 in Ulaanbaatar.

In view of this, the cabinet meeting on Monday ordered D.Gankhuyag, acting Vice Minister of External Relations and Economic Cooperation, to approve directives the Mongolian side will maintain during this meeting, and to ensure a preparation. As supposed, at this meeting the sides will exchange specific views on the bilateral relations in agriculture, infrastructure, energy, environment and culture spheres. From the French side, the meeting will be chaired by Mr Matthias Fekl, the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad during his working visit here. He will also meet with the Mongolia's Prime Minister, the Minister of External Relations and Economic Cooperation, the Minister of Industry and Agriculture, the Minister of Mining, and the Minister of Energy.

The Mongolia-France intergovernmental working group, established in 2013, has purposes to inform France--one of our Third neighbors--about the Mongolian governmental policy, to activate the bilateral relations, to augment both trade turnover and investments. The group's first meeting was held in Paris in 2013.  

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Mongolia, India Conclude First Consultative Meeting of Foreign Ministries

December 1 ( The First Consultative Meeting between Foreign Ministries of Mongolia and the Republic of India was held in New Delhi on November 27, 2014.

The Mongolian side was chaired by Director of the Department of Asia and the Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Economic Cooperation, Ch.Bayarmunkh and the Indian part was headed by Director General of the East Asia Division at the Ministry of External Affairs, Pradeep Kumar Rawat.

During the meeting, parties exchanged information on the political, socio-economic situations and priority objectives of the foreign policies of the respective countries and talked about possibilities for fostering Mongolia-India comprehensive partnership relations, particularly, for stimulating bilateral cooperation in the fields of defense, education, culture, agriculture, trade and economy and renewable energy.

The sides highlighted a particular importance of regular top and high-level reciprocal visits for promoting bilateral relations and cooperation and agreed to host such visits in the light of the 60th anniversary of the Mongolia-India diplomatic ties to be marked in 2015.

The Mongolian delegation also had a meeting with Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs of India Mr. Anil Wadhwa, reports Mongolian Foreign Ministry.

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Mongolia and India's foreign affairs ministries hold their first consultative, December 1


Mongolia awards its Afghanistan peacekeepers

Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) A ceremony took place Tuesday at the General Headquarters of Mongolian Armed Forces (GHMAF) to grant state prizes to military officers and troops who have served in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan.

Pursuant to the decree of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Mongolian Armed Forces Ts.Elbegdorj, the Order of Military Merit was bestowed upon Colonel D.Olziibayar, the commander of the military contingent; the Honored Medal of Military--upon Major L.Tseregbayar.

The Medal for Peace went to 48 servicemen, whereas the Medal for Peace in Afghanistan--to 38 servicemen, and the Medal for Peace in Afghanistan-2--to 49 servicemen.

Present at the ceremony were Lieutenant-General Ts.Byambajav, a Head of the GHMAF; authorities of the GHMAF and the Defense Ministry; military personnel and their families. 

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Social, Environmental & Other

Mongolia Approves Quotas for Hunting Wild Animals in 2015

December 2 ( At the Cabinet meeting held on December 01, 2014, the Government of Mongolia approved the quotas for hunting and trapping wild animals in 2015.

In 2015, 40 hunting regions in 15 Aimags of Mongolia were included in the hunting management plan to hunt or trap wild animals for special purposes. Accordingly, special permits will be allocated to hunt a total of 40 Ugalz (male wild sheep and female species called - Argali), 60 mountain goats (Ibex - Yangir), 15 red deer, 20 wolves, 10 roe deer, and 10 wild boars in 2015.

It is estimated to collect 2.1 billion MNT (Tugrug) as Hunting Reserve Use Fee that will be budgeted into local administrations and at least the 50% of total income is obliged to spend for the protection and reproduction of animals.

As of today, there are 58 hunting regions in Mongolia, where 11 entities, 2 nature protection unions, 10 cooperatives and 6 local NGOs are registered responsible to implement hunting management plan.

In recent studies, the number of wild animals shows an increased tendency and more than 6,000 Ugalz and Argali as well as approximately 12,000 Yangir are counted today. 

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Quotas of Special Purposes Hunting ApprovedMontsame, December 2


Stolen Dinosaur Skull Can Go Back to Mongolia: U.S. Court

(Federal officials in New York say they've seized an illegal Alioramus fossil from France that was going to be sold for $250,000.)

NEW YORK, December 2 (NBC News) — The remains of a 70-million-year-old dinosaur that was falsely labeled as a cheap replica and smuggled into New York earlier this year can be returned to its native Mongolia, the United States Attorney's Office said on Tuesday.

A federal court judge in the Eastern District of New York ruled that the skull and vertebrae of the Alioramus dinosaur, a relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, must be forfeited by the French fossil dealers who exported the remains.

"We are determined to expose and halt the flow of stolen cultural property entering our ports," Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

In January, U.S. Customs and Border protection officials seized the dinosaur fossils, sent to New York from France by Geofossiles Inc, which claimed that the skull was a French-made replica, the statement said.

In a petition for the items' release, Geofossiles later conceded that the fossils were genuine, originating from Mongolia, and provided forged documents claiming that the remains could legally be exported, the statement said. The company also attached a contract to sell the skull for $250,000.

Under Mongolian law, significant fossil discoveries cannot be permanently exported or sold to non-Mongolians, even if privately owned.

Geofossiles could not immediately be reached for comment.

Now that the skull and vertebrae have been forfeited, the Mongolian government, which assisted with the forfeiture case along with the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs, can submit a petition for the return of the fossils.

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Stolen dinosaur skull can be returned to Mongolia: U.S. courtReuters, December 2


Troon Woman's odyssey back to Outer Mongolia gets BBC audience

By Stephen Houston

AUTHOR Uuganaa Ramsay shares her fascinating journey which has taken her from Africa to Ayrshire

27 November (Daily Record) It's 5500 miles from Troon to her old life in Outer Mongolia.

Yet it may as well be a million miles away, such is the cultural gulf.

Author Uuganaa Ramsay, 37, left the high plains and deserts for London 14 years ago before settling in Troon.

On Monday her amazing story was broadcast by BBC Radio 4, who whisked her back to her homeland to get the full on Mongolian experience.

She spent two weeks in Mongolia, staying in the old family yurt and becoming a minor celebrity with free access to government ministers and no less than six interviews with television stations.

What drives Uuganaa is the death in 2009 of her son Billy, who was born with Down's Syndrome and was buried just three months later at Troon Cemetery.

She said: "Mongolians refer to themselves as Mongols and are very proud. Billy was a Mongol not because he had Down's but because I am a Mongol."

As a key part of the 30 minute programme she challenges the use of the word Mongol and its link to Down's.

It has two dictionary definitions - 1 a member of a pastoral people now living chiefly in Mongolia. 2. (offensive) a person affected with Down's Syndrome.

She was accompanied by a lone radio producer and took 22 hours to reach her dramatic destination, via London, Moscow and the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.

They then caught a 90 minute internal flight 700 miles to the west to Uliastai, capital of the wild Zavhan province, flanked by the Gobi desert and glacial mountain ranges.

It is a land of traditional grassland steppe on which Uuganaa looked after and milked sheep and goats, made cheese and reared horses in the summer.

Zavkhan is the same size as Scotland, yet has a population of 65,000.

In the winter when the temperature can plunge to -50C, her mum Tsetsgee and dad Purevdorj moved the yurt into town where Uuganaa and her sister were schooled.

The mum-of- four now lives in Troon in the centrally-heated comfort of a villa with Glasgow-born husband Howard and their kids.

She said: "I am delighted how the trip went and thrilled at the documentary, which is available on iPlayer and will be broadcast again by the BBC World Service in January.

"I interviewed the Culture Minister and the Minister of the Environment because she has a son with Downs and set up the Mongolian Downs Syndrome Association.

"I felt proud the BBC was interested in the Mongolian lifestyle and was trying to understand where I come from. It gave me the chance to show them that life is not just about how big your house or car is, or how much money you have in your wallet."

Uuganaa, who works in careers in Kilmarnock, doesn't quite accept her old country is caught in a time warp, saying: "My parents now have a satellite dish on their yurt, powered by a solar panel and a generator and even a satellite phone.

"Yet at the same time you can be in any age when you see the stars from the window in the roof and the fire creates a cozy glow.

"There is not a sound and the stars are like glitter spread on black silk."

The documentary takes Uuganaa further along the road of recovery from the loss of her son, but she admits: "My pain will never leave me and this is not the end of the journey for me."

She hopes her book 'Mongol' will ultimately be turned into a movie on the silver screen.

Listen to The Meaning of Mongol at

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Mongolia to Host 14 International Sports Events in 2015

December 2 ( At the Cabinet meeting held on December 01, 2014, it was resolved to host 14 international sports events in Mongolia next year.

In 2014, Government allocated 1.2 billion MNT (Tugrug) to finance 10 international sports competitions organized in Mongolia, where a total of 5,472 athletes, coaches and official representatives have participated and from these sports events, 6.7 billion MNT was collected in the state budget by the means of indirect income.

Increasing the number of international events in 2015, officials deem it is important not only to promote Mongolia, but also the National Team will be provided more joint trainings with proficient foreign athletes as well as to gain more experiences.

The 14 international sports events to be organized in Mongolia in 2015

1.    Model Aircraft World Championship

2.    Chinggis Khaan 2015 Judo Grand Prix

3.    FIDE Women's Grand Prix

4.    Asian Individual Deaf Chess Championships

5.    Asian Youth Fencing Games

6.    "Asian Cup 2015" Football competition

7.    Asian Eastern Zonal Men's Volleyball Championship

8.    "Mongolia Open 2015" International Tournament for Senior Freestyle and Women Wrestling

9.    "Mongolia Open 2015" Speed Skating

10.  "Mongolia Open 2015" Soft Tennis

11.  "Mongolia Open 2015" Practical Shooting

12.  "Ulaanbaatar Marathon 2015"

13.  "Mongol Tuurgatan" Traditional Wrestling Tournament

14.  International Sports Festival for Seniors

Accordingly, the Cabinet budgeted one billion MNT to finance above events and Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ts.Oyungerel is obliged to introduce the report within the fourth quarter.  

Link to article


Mongolia to Host 14 Int'l Sport Events Next YearMontsame, December 2


Internet Changing Life in Remote Parts of Earth: Mongolia

By Aldemaro Romero  

28 November (The Intelligencer) Today we say that we live in a globalized world, one where everybody is connected to everybody else through social media and the Internet. Yet, we forget that there are still places so remote that communication is still a challenge.

One of those places is Mongolia, a relatively large country between Russia and China with a very sparse population.

So how did a native of Mongolia wind up as the newest faculty member in the department of mass communications at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville? It is an interesting story.

Her name is Undrah Baasanjav and she was born in Ulaanbaatar, the capital and largest city in Mongolia.

She obtained her bachelor's in computer systems from Novosibirsk State Technical University in Russia, her master's in telecommunications and her doctorate in mass communication, both from Ohio University.

When asked if the fact that she was born in a country with such a sparse population was her motivation to study mass communication, she was unequivocal.

"Exactly," she said. "You are hitting the center of my interest in communication. It's a very sparse population and communication is key.

Mongolia is a very far distance form America. If you drilled down all the way through the earth you would probably end up in Mongolia." In Mongolia, she explained, people have to travel days to get anywhere.

"It was interesting when the Internet came in and shortened the distance. It thrilled me and that is why I got interested in communication networks and communication systems and satellite communication," she said, adding that the Internet was introduced to Mongolia in 1997.

"I precisely remember that was when the whole country had 64k bandwidth and we used to collect all of the emails in the country via satellite," she said. "The whole country would collect the emails and then send them out once a day.

It was a fascinating experience. I remember very clearly waiting for a minute for a Netscape login to download." 

Mongolia has gone through a number of transformations. At one point it was under the shadow of the Soviet Union.

After the Soviet Union collapsed it became much more independent and adopted a number of market reforms. To what extent has the Internet helped in transforming Mongolian society?

"When I was in Mongolia I worked on several projects that were trying to bring in Internet communication technology and to increase the transparency and free flow of information in the country," Baasanjav said. Now Mongolia has adopted market and democratic reforms.

"Those types of transitions changed a lot of the society and the culture," she added. "To a certain extent the communication helps the people in Mongolia to have opportunities and become more integrated with other societies.

And the Internet has been very well integrated into society. Even people in the countryside have the Internet." 

Being sandwiched between Russia and China – two countries that keep tight reins on the Internet – makes Mongolia unique to the region.

"Compared to our neighbors, Mongolia is a relatively open country," she said. "The Mongolian government tries to stick to the open democracy more consistently.

Compared to its neighbors Mongolia is a relatively new country, and one of the  founding cornerstones of democracy is the free flow of information." 

Baasanjav said that this flow of information is facilitated through the Internet, where people can read about different types of ideologies or different developments throughout the world. 

Another area in which Baasanjav works is web design, and she has definite opinions of what makes for an effective design.

"First of all, when I teach the course to the students we start with the basics," she said. "Think about your audience.

What is the purpose of your Web site? Who are you communicating with? So if you are communicating with young children you will want to design with different colors, some shiny and bright colors.

If you are targeting the elderly you will want to make the font type bigger." For her, the best Web sites are the ones that meet a purpose. "If you are designing for a mobile phone then it has to be a mobile phone design." 

Another area of her research is the Internet and national identity, which is interesting given that the Internet is a global phenomenon. 

"The Internet allows people dispersed around the world to get together and have certain kinds of identities," she said. "Diasporas are very big on the Internet.

So many people who are sort of thrown into a different part of the world still keep together and communicate with each other, and they have the newspapers and social networks.

They are kind of still tied to their own kind of background identities." Yet, she explained that the language of the Internet must in many ways transcend cultures.

"The Internet has to be standardized for everyone to communicate," she said. "It must have a kind of linguistic uniformity where you have to follow certain standards and it has to be captured in a certain way and it has to be communicated a certain way."

Aldemaro Romero Jr. is the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His show, "Segue," can be heard every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. on WSIE, 88.7 FM. He can be reached at

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AIT and Mongolian University of Life Sciences close to inking partnership  

26 November (Asian Institute of Technology) Just one month after a delegation led by AIT President Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai visited Mongolia, the President of the Mongolian University of Life Sciences Dr. Tumurbaatar Kheruuga returned to the favour by visiting the Asian Institute of Technology on 24 November 2014 to follow up on ideas for formal collaboration.

President Kheruuga, who was accompanied by Mr. Sukhtulga Tserennadmid, Chief of Administration and International Affairs, was welcomed to the AIT Boardroom by President Worsak.

His visit came less than a fortnight after Mongolia's Ambassador to Thailand H.E. Mr. Battumur Chimeddorj visited AIT on November 12.

Discussions also involved Prof. Chettiyappan Visvanathan, Dean of the School of Environment, Resources and Development, (SERD), Prof. Voratas Kachitvichyanukul, Dean of the School of Engineering and Technology (SET), Dr. Gabrielle Groves Punyaratabandhu, Head, External Relations and Communications, Mr. Sanjeev Jayasinghe, Executive Director Fundraising and Interim Director of Alumni Affairs, and Dr. Zakir Hossain, Senior Program Officer, IT, AIT Extension.

Referring to a recent decision by the Mongolian Ministry of Education and Science to allow qualified student applicants to AIT to avail of government-funded scholarship opportunities, Dr. Kheruuga announced that 31 MULS students have just submitted applications for funding support to the Government of Mongolia. "I will try my best to send Master and PhD students to AIT," he told the AIT officials.

Pleased with the news, President Worsak also suggested that MULS could dramatically increase its international profile by seconding some of its young 30 to 40 year old faculty members to AIT for short term teaching and research assignments.

At AIT visiting academics could make use of the institute's considerable external networks to build up their international connection with universities and organizations across Asia and the West, he said.

Fields of study such as natural resources management, energy, and geo-technical and earth resources engineering offered at SET could be promising areas for joint work, the president recommended.

AIT is keen to attract top students from MULS, and could look to tap third-party funding sources, President Worsak explained.

The MULS president noted that his university wished to increase its research capability and would consider sending young researchers for attaining higher degrees as well as for specific professional short course training during the yearly summer break.

Indicating interest in aquaculture science, President Kheruuga later visited the lab facilities at the School of Resources and Development's Aquaculture and Aquatic Resources Management field of study. 

Dean Visvanathan outlined a raft of collaboration possibilities involving joint programs academics and research.

SERD could boost the degree qualifications of MULS faculty he said, adding that MULS might in turn identify top students and work with the government to facilitate their enrollment in AIT postgraduate programs.

Tailor made short term certificate programs could also be arranged in the summer of 2015, the dean mentioned, as did Dr. Hossain, who outlined a number of possibilities for working with AIT Extension.

Link to article


Mongolian Who Played Khubilai's Brother to Attend "Marco Polo" Premiere

Ulaanbaatar, December 1 (MONTSAME) A Mongolian actor B.Amarsaikhan will attend a premiere of "Marco Polo", a new TV Show by NetFlix, to take place on December 2 in AMC Loews theatre of Broadway in New York.

The actor has played a role of Arigbokh, the younger brother of the Mongolian Khubilai Khaan, becoming thus the first Mongolian actor to star in a Hollywood film.

The TV serial cost over USD 90 million in production and is scheduled to be screened from this December 12.

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Dalai Lama begins teachings for Mongolians at Dharamshala

DHARAMSHALA, December 2 ( Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama today began four-day teachings on Tsongkhapa's "Great Stages of the Path" at Tsugla khang, the main temple in Dharamshala.

The teachings were requested by a group of Mongolians. Around four thousand people from 48 countries including 700 Mongolians are attending the teachings that is due to conclude on Dec 5. 

Describing the relationship between Tibet and Mongolia before the start of the teachings, His Holiness said, "Earlier in Asia, China, Tibet and Mongolia shared a long history. Tibet and Mongolia have a special relationship. Not only the two countries had same religious faith in Buddhism, but I think we also share similar customs and traditions."

His Holiness explained the background of the name "Dalai Lama", a Mongolian name, he said, "The 3rd Dalai Lama Sonam Gyatso visited Mongolia and made a good relation. That's how the word 'Dalai' came. When people asked me for an autograph, I signed Dalai Lama and then when they asked me for meaning, I say, Dalai is a Mongolian word."

The title 'Dalai Lama' meaning Ocean of Wisdom was offered to the 3rd Dalai Lama Sonam Gyatso by the Mongolian King Altan Khan and in return, the Dalai Lama conferred on Altan Khan the title of Brahma, the King of religion.

"Because the 3rd Dalai Lama Sonam Gyatso has Gyatso (Meaning Ocean in Tibetan) in his name, I think this is why he was called Dalai (meaning ocean in Mongolian) Lama," His Holiness added.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also commended the Mongolian disciples for the translation of Lamrim Chenmo into Mongolian language.

Live webcasts of the teachings from December 2-5, 2014 is available here. His Holiness will be speaking in Tibetan with English, Chinese, Hindi, Vietnamese, Mongolian and Russian language translations available.

On the last day of the teachings, His Holiness will also confer the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment.

From December 12-14, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Rome, Italy to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace laureates which was chosen after South African government refused visa for the Tibetan leader. 

He will then continue his teachings on the 18 Great Stages of the Path (Lam Rim)Commentaries in Mundgod at the request of Ling Choktrul Rinpoche and Gaden Sharte Monastery from December 23- 29.

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