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Monday, February 16, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
TRQ closed flat Friday at US$3.06, -0.52% to C$3.81
Rio Tinto rejects offer to lift Oyu Tolgoi stake, but open to Mongolia selling to "someone else"
By Matt Chambers
February 14 (The Australian) RIO Tinto will not take up a Mongolian government offer to boost the company's stake in the $US11 billion ($14bn) Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine but says it would not be averse to the country selling its mine stake.
Rio finance director Chris Lynch says he feels no closer to resolving a stand-off with Mongolia over the stalled $US5bn second stage of Oyu Tolgoi, in which Mongolia has a 34 per cent stake, despite proposed mining law changes from Mongolia and an earlier offer to forgo royalty payments by Rio.
The comments by Mr Lynch come after he and chief executive Sam Walsh handed down expectation-beating full-year profit and a $US2bn shared buyback that sent shares on their biggest one-day surge in nearly six years.
As revealed in The Australian last week, Mongolia's Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg wants to help his country's struggling finances by amending mining laws so mine operations can buy some of Mongolia's equity in projects in exchange for royalty payments, meaning Mongolia would reap the benefits earlier.
"We're quite happy with our current stake," Mr Lynch told The Weekend Australian yesterday. "If the government wanted to sell to someone else, so long as there was a good partner," Rio would not object, he said. Rio operates Oyu Tolgoi, which is 66 per cent-owned by Rio's Canadian-listed subsidiary, Turquoise Hill Resources.
The second stage of the project, an underground expansion that would create most of its value, has been stalled for 18 months as various Mongolian governments have tried to get more of the project and extract compensation for cost blowouts on the first stage.
"I can't get any more confident on the underground expansion than I was six months ago," Mr Lynch said.
In August, after Rio's half-year results, Mr Lynch told analysts that if the delay continued, Rio needed to question whether the mine expansion would get done.
"The key really is what can you put in place that binds the future investment framework," Mr Lynch said yesterday.
"You want to have a setting where there's more external eyes on the country to make sure you get maximum common sense."
In an attempt to break the impasse, Rio in November offered to drop a 2 per cent royalty Turquoise Hill would receive from Oyu Tolgoi, expected to about $US1.5bn over the mine's life.
Yesterday, Rio shares had their biggest one-day jump since May 2009 after Rio's Thursday night profit report, leading most mining stocks higher. Rio rose 6.5 per cent, BHP 4.8 per cent and FMG 5.7 per cent.
Strong earnings and cashflow led to a bigger-than-expected paydown in Rio's debt.
Rio reduced its 2015 capital spending budget by $US1bn to $US7bn and has guided it will stay at these levels until 2017.
Rio shuns Mongolia plan to swap Oyu Tolgoi equity for royalties – Reuters, February 12
Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd Analyst Rating Update – Wall Street Pulse, February 12
Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd Short Interest Drops by -6.7% - Stafford Daily, February 11
Rio Reports $1.7 Billion 2014 Gross Revenue at Oyu Tolgoi
February 12 --
Rio to Buy $2 Billion of Shares as Profit Tops Estimates
By Jesse Riseborough, David Stringer
February 12 (Bloomberg) -- Rio Tinto Group, the world's second-biggest mining company, plans to spend $2 billion in a share buyback after reporting full-year profit that beat estimates as higher output and lower costs countered a slump in commodity prices.
Video: Rio Tinto CEO Sees Stable Iron Ore Supply, Demand in 2015 – Bloomberg TV, February 12
UPDATE 3-Rio Tinto defies commodity rout with big payout – Reuters, February
Mogi: looks like I was a bit premature on saying RS gave up on TRQ. RS's resources team formed a new advisory firm SailingStone Capital Partners LLC, and has transferred its stake, as I was rightly corrected by an expert, currently at 8.5%.
Pentwater Reduces, RS Disposes Substantial Stakes in Turquoise Hill
February 15 (Cover Mongolia) Valentine's Day filings reveal that Pentwater Capital Management LP has reduced its stake in Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ, TSX:TRQ) to 6.61% (132,946,400 shares) as of December 31, 2014 from 7.38% (148,482,292 shares) a year earlier.
UPDATE 1-Mongolia looks at equity for royalties swap to break mining deadlock
* Mongolia plan could break Oyu Tolgoi deadlock
* Oyu Tolgoi copper expansion could boost economy by third
* Rio Tinto has long been against re-opening investment agreement (Adds comment from analyst, Turquoise Hill, Rio Tinto)
By Terrence Edwards
ULAN BATOR, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Mongolia is looking to revive stalled foreign investment in large mining projects by cutting its equity stake in strategic mines in exchange for more royalties, according to a government plan due to be unveiled on Friday.
The country holds some of the world's largest copper and coal deposits but its economy has been held back by disputes with foreign investors over assets such as the $6.5 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.
Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto has stalled a $5.4 billion underground expansion project at Oyu Tolgoi, which could boost the economy by a third, because of arguments over cost overruns and $30 million in tax that the government says it owes.
On Friday, Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg will propose in parliament an amendment to the mineral resources law to allow the government to exchange state-owned equity in "strategic mines" for higher royalties, according to a spokesperson for the prime minister.
Analysts said the move made sense for Mongolia which is keen to boost its revenue in the near term, but without knowing details on the size of the royalty, they said it was unclear whether it would be good for Rio Tinto, whose Turquoise Hill Resources arm owns two-thirds of the Oyu Tolgoi mine.
"Rio would take on more project risk, but they also take on more Mongolia risk. It's a function of returns," said a Sydney-based analyst who declined to be named as he had not seen terms for an equity-for-royalties swap.
Higher royalties would help the government earn more from the mine faster than under the current arrangement. With equity, Mongolia must wait until after investors recuperate their initial costs before receiving dividends for its shares.
"Without phase two there's limited value in the project to a strategic investment," said Nick Cousyn, chief operating officer for Ulan Bator-based broker BDSec. "Going forward with phase two will unlock the option for Mongolia to choose higher royalties or keep their equity."
Mongolia has 16 strategic deposits, including Oyu Tolgoi and the Gatsuurt gold deposit currently licensed to Toronto-listed miner Centerra Gold Inc. These deposits have the potential to generate at least 5 percent of the country's GDP.
The government currently takes a minimum of 34 percent equity in strategic deposits, but could ask for up 50 percent if state funding was used for exploration.
Some Mongolian MPs have repeatedly demanded a larger stake in Oyu Tolgoi. Others have invoked Resolution 57, passed in 2009, which states that the government can negotiate to increase its stake to 50 percent once investors earn back their initial investment.
Turquoise Hill and Rio, operator of the mine, have consistently rejected requests to renegotiate the investment agreement they signed for the mine in 2009.
However, implementing the terms the prime minister has suggested may require some sort of renegotiation.
Rio Tinto and Turquoise Hill declined to comment on the government's plan.
Mongolia wants to sell stake in Oyu Tolgoi mine – The Australian, February 6
Mongolia raises hopes over Oyu Tolgoi mine expansion – FT, February 5
Prime Minister Firing On All Cylinders – MIBG, February 5
Hold the airag: Despite sweet talk, it's not yet time to celebrate – Mineweb, February 6
Can Turquoise Hill Overcome Consequences From Mongolia's Divided Leaders?
By Gary Bourgeault, Long only, research analyst, portfolio strategy, media
· SouthGobi tax case could have negative ramifications for Turquoise Hill.
· Rule of law needs to be consistently enforced in Mongolia to regain the trust of investors.
· I wouldn't add to my position in Turquoise Hill until there is more visibility with taxes and law.
February 3 (Seeking Alpha) The recent verdict concerning SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (OTC:SGQRF), whereby three former employees received harsh prison sentences, and the company was fined $18 million for alleged tax evasion, underscores the growing threat Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) faces in Mongolia, specifically with its flagship mine - Oyu Tolgoi.
Internal government battles
The major reason I see for the decline in share price of Turquoise Hill isn't delays, but the uncertainty surrounding the rule of law and the changes that seem to be made on a whim by those in authority.
Even when it's proven by an independent auditor that SouthGobi didn't do anything illegal based upon the tax laws of Mongolia, that finding was simply ignored by the court.
While the delays are a factor, it's what's causing the delays that is the issue, and it goes beyond economics, unfortunately, to nationalism and politics.
Turquoise Hill has now fallen behind in its progress, and investors have to consider it as standing still. It will of course continue to mine and produce some resources, but it will now take a lot more time than expected to launch and complete the underground phase of the project, and that means it will take some time for anything of significance to positively change at Oyu Tolgoi.
With my own money at stake, I'm not too concerned about my initial investment, but I'm no longer adding to my position, as I consider the business environment in Mongolia as being too negative to justify the risk.
I also see the share price having moved to a lower range of about $2.80 to about $3.30. In the past I've seen a $0.40 to $0.50 range being how the price moved under normal conditions, and I don't think that's going to change. What has changed is the share price itself, which has dropped by about 40 cents from the low of about $3.20 I have previously been looking for.
Now that Mongolia has shown it is making decisions more on ideology and politics, rather than economics, it's anyone's guess where that may lead to. This is a very inexperienced group of leaders that are not trusting of the companies doing business there, and that makes everything harder, especially when the rules are changing on a consistent basis and tax laws can be interpreted in a way that contradicts the letter of what is on the books.
Those leaders that would be a positive for Turquoise Hill look to be fewer in number and influence, so aren't likely to change the way business is being done, although there is the possibility the tax laws may be changed, so, those under investigation aren't tried as criminals.
The bottom line to me is, the reason the share price of Turquoise Hill has recently dropped again is because investors have become tired of lack of predictable laws and rules which can be counted on for analysis. That and the lengthening timeframe of the underground phase of the mine makes it less attractive to hold.
I'm not going to sell my shares in Turquoise Hill, but until I know rule of law is respected in Mongolia, I'm not going to add it to my shares.
The reason I'm keeping my shares is based upon the tremendous potential of the mine and its vast resources over time. I also originally invested to hold for the long term, so it doesn't move me much to see it going to take longer to get the types of returns I'm looking for.
Finally, one thing that could happen is Mongolia could decide to nationalize the mine. For me, I'm willing to take that risk because of the potential reward, but only with what I now have invested in the company.
In the short term I don't see the share price going anywhere. It will continue with its typical volatile performance, moving in an approximate range of 40 cents per share. If the time it takes to resolve the issues continues to extend out further, we're likely to see it continue to drop in price over time.
Also keep in mind the negative impact from the SouthGobi issue if the judgment is allowed to stand. It could take a hit if it isn't able to sell part of its position in the company, or if it is forced to declare bankruptcy before the deal is closed.
If it wasn't for the unpredictability of Mongolian authorities, I would be loading up at this time. But as I said, I no longer view this as being considered an economic decision by the government, but an ideological and national one. For that reason, the normal ways of doing business aren't on the table.
YAK +4.23% since announcement, MNGGF +2.93%
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. Successfully Executes Cost-Savings Plan; Eliminates Over CDN $1,000,000 of Recurring Costs
Toronto, Ontario, February 11 (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK - TSXV and MNGGF - USA) ("MGG") or ("the Company") a commercial real estate investment and development company participating in the dynamic growth of the Mongolian economy announces the successful completion of cost cutting initiatives.
Over the past few months, the company has undertaken a thorough review of its expenditures with the goal of dramatically reducing all expense categories. In total, the Company has identified in excess of CDN $1,000,000 in recurring costs that have now been eliminated either through the discontinuation or renegotiation of contractual terms.
The majority of these savings have already taken effect with several additional expenses expected to trail off over the next few months. These costs primarily relate to staffing, service providers and various professional fees. It is anticipated that the elimination of these expenses will have a negligible effect on the operating business.
"This first round of savings will directly strengthen our profitability. I feel strongly that there are substantial additional savings to be realized in the next few months as we continue our process of evaluating every expense in the business," said Harris Kupperman, Chairman and CEO of MGG.
The Company is currently preparing for a second round of substantial expense reductions primarily targeting professional fees and various discretionary expenses. It is expected that these reductions will be finalized and implemented during the second quarter of 2015.
KCC last traded C$0.025 February 10
Kincora set to regain gold licences in Mongolia
February 11 (Proactive Investors) Kincora Copper (CVE:KCC) expects to be handed back both of its gold licences in Mongolia as no other bidders emerged in the recent tender.
The explorer had seen both permits, held by its Golden Grouse subsidiary, annulled along with 104 others in Mongolia due to government concerns over the way they were issued.
The licences were put out for re-tender, but with no other interested parties Kincora expects a final administrative review and process will see it regain both as new with a full 12-year term.
Kincora has already taken a C$6.95mln impairment charge in relation to the licences. Its main asset is the Bronze Fox copper deposit in Mongolia.
Kincora Copper License Update – MIBG, February 13
ERD closed +20% to C$0.15 since announcement
Erdene lands partner, possible owner, for Zuun Mod project in Tian Poh
February 12 (The Chronicle Herald) Erdene Resource Development Corp. has found a partner — and possibly a new owner — for its Mongolian mining project in a deal that may be worth at least US$4.8 million.
The Dartmouth company announced an agreement Thursday with Singapore's Tian Poh Resources Ltd.
The Asian mining company will acquire a 51 per cent interest in the Zuun Mod molybdenum-copper venture.
Erdene will receive US$4.8 million in cash and equity, with Tian Poh having the option to further increase its stake, which could lead to 100 per cent ownership.
Peter Akerley, Erdene president and CEO, said Thursday the deal will allow the junior mining company to focus on another Mongolian project, its flagship Altan Nar gold-polymetallic venture.
"We're very happy with the deal that's been arranged," Akerley said in an interview.
"It really allows us to move forward with Altan Nar with potentially significant cash injections in the future from this deal."
The Altan Nar project is further along and requires a smaller investment at a time capital is scarce for major mining projects, Akerley said.
The agreement could be worth C$17 million to C$23 million if Tian Poh ends up with full ownership of the venture, including Erdene's royalty interest, the CEO said.
The deal was brokered by another Singapore outfit, Khan Investment Management Ltd., which Akerley approached a few months ago about finding a potential buyer for Zuun Mod.
Akerley said Tian Poh, part of Poh Group Pte. Ltd., is one of the largest logistics groups in Asia and has worked with Chinese state-owned enterprises on megaprojects around the world.
"They've looked at this southwestern part of Mongolia as an area they'd like to focus (on) for metals processing and power plant construction. This kind of fits into their wheelhouse, if you will, in terms of their goals and objectives in the region."
The option, which still requires regulatory and Tian Poh shareholder approval, expires June 9.
The agreement requires Tian Poh to spend US$1.5 million on the project in the next 21/2 years and US$10 million over six years. The Singapore company can acquire the other 49 per cent of the mining venture at any time by paying Erdene US$10 million in cash or Tian Poh shares.
To date, the Dartmouth company has received US$50,000 in cash and a US$200,000 note.
Erdene Intersects Multiple High Grade Gold-Polymetallic Zones at Altan Nar Including 30 m of 5.1 g/t Gold Equivalent 35 m from Surface
Editors Note: There are four maps associated with this press release.
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - Feb. 9, 2015) - Erdene Resource Development Corp. (TSX:ERD) ("Erdene" or "Company") is pleased to report final drilling results from the Q4 2014 resource drilling program at its wholly-owned Altan Nar gold-polymetallic project in southwest Mongolia. The assay results for the full program are provided in the Table below and displayed in the maps attached to this press release.
"Results from the resource drilling program have confirmed continuity of near-surface, high-grade mineralization within the Discovery Zone," said Peter Akerley, President and CEO. "In addition to the significant grade and size potential of individual targets, what continues to be most impressive about Altan Nar is the high frequency of mineralized zones encountered throughout the 5.6 kilometre long district, indicating that Altan Nar has tremendous potential for the discovery of additional mineralized zones. We are looking forward to establishing our maiden mineral resource in accordance with NI 43-101 in the coming months and moving the project through expansion and towards development."
Highlights - Q4 Altan Nar Resource Drilling Program
• Continuity of a high grade zone established in south end of Discovery Zone North
• Discovery Zone North returns widest and highest grade zone to date with 30 m of 5.1 g/t gold eq. (4.2 g/t gold) including 8 m of 13.6 g/t gold eq. (11.4 g/t gold)
• Drilling at the northern extent of Discovery Zone North returns broad zones of low grade mineralization, 96 m of 1 g/t gold eq. that is open along strike and at depth (>150 m)
• Discovery Zone South returned 51 m of 2.5 g/t gold eq. including 7 m and 3 m intervals with greater than 7 g/t gold eq. (reported January 12, 2015)
• Union North exploration defines continuity of main zone mineralization as well as multiple mineralized structures extending south of the main zone
• Detailed exploration to date has explored the near surface extent of only two of the 18 targets identified across the Altan Nar property
• The Altan Nar Project has been selected as one of the new discoveries that will be showcased at the Core Shack at this year's PDAC Conference, to be held in Toronto March 1-4
Guildford Commences Shipment of Offtake Coal to China
February 13 -- Guildford Coal Limited (Guildford or the Company) (ASX: GUF) is pleased to provide a further update on the ongoing positive progress made at the Baruun Noyon Uul (BNU) coking coal mine in the South Gobi.
As previously announced production at the BNU Mine has successfully and safely recommenced and the Company has secured inaugural offtake agreements with two (2) end-users in China under the marketing guidance of Noble Resources International Pte. Ltd. (Noble).
Shipment of this coal under these agreements has commenced from the BNU mine to the Ceke Border at China. The following photos show the unloading BNU Coking Coal at the Ceke Border stockpile in preparation for coal processing.
The Board is also pleased to announce that it has formalised the engagement of Mr Craig Ransley as a Non Executive Director in line with the previously announced covenant contained in the Noble finance package documents that Mr Ransley continue to hold a position as a director of the Company. The Board's Remuneration Committee has determined that Mr Ransley will be entitled to receive director's fees in accordance with the company's policy on remuneration of non-executive directors. Craig's remuneration will be payable from within the non-executive director aggregate remuneration cap previously agreed by shareholders and is commensurate with fees paid to previous directors acting in the Chairman role. The company continues to investigate options for the engagement of an independent Chairman.
BNU Mine Offtake Agreements and Coal Benchmarking Study – Guildford Coal, February 10
Guildford: Extension of Entitlement Offer Closing Date to 19 February
February 10 -- Guildford Coal Limited (ASX: GUF) (Guildford or the Company) advises that it has extended the Closing Date of its pro rata renounceable entitlement offer to Eligible Shareholders to Thursday, 19 February 2015. Guildford has decided to extend the Closing Date in response to a number of shareholders advising that there has been a delay in them receiving their Prospectus and Entitlement and Acceptance Form.
The entitlement offer is on the basis of 1 new share for every 4.85 shares held at the Record Date at an issue price of $0.037.
Modun: Update on Sale Process of Nuurst Thermal Coal Project
February 5, Modun Resources Ltd. (ASX:MOU) -- The Company is pleased to report that the due diligence process is progressing with the purchaser and the board has entered into an agreement to extend the exclusivity period for a further 8 weeks in order to finalise information requirements and advance contractual negotiations.
The revised expiry date for this process is 30 April 2015.
Mogi: 1 out of 2
Mining Minister: It's more beneficial for Mongolia to impose special taxes on Gatsuurt rather than owning a stake
By E. Enkhmaa
February 13 (gogo.mn) Last week State Great Khural received two draft bills on mining. One is the Draft Bill on Amendments to the Mineral Resources Law and the second one is Draft Resolution on Renewing the State Ownership at the Gatsuurt Deposit. These two draft bills have sparked huge debates at the State Great Khural so that Justice Coalition requested five days break. We met with R.Jigjid, Minister of Mining on those two draft laws.
What amendments have been proposed to the Mineral Resources Law?
Currently the law states that state ownership is to be up to 50 percent at those deposits where the exploration has been done with state funding, while the ownership rights reduce to 34 percent on deposits explored by private companies and Mongolia is proceeding with such regulation with joint mines.
For instance, Oyu Tolgoi. We are making amendments in order to change the regulations. Special Taxes are to be imposed for the use of the strategic deposits. In other words, state will be able to receive taxes equal to the ownership of a particular deposit.
If the amendments are approved which deposits will fall under the law?
Mineral resources are finite. Therefore state ownership implies the involvement of it in day-to-day operations and at the end is to receive the dividends.
Dividends are applicable only after years of operations and declines if the operation costs increase. The same situation we are facing with Oyu Tolgoi currently. This amendment draft focuses more on resolving such issues and bringing transparency. State is to impose the special taxes equal to the stake at the deposit.
Does it mean that state is not aiming to own a stake at every deposit?
Yes, that is correct, we going to impose the taxes, which will equal to the stake the state, holds.
Will there be changes in Oyu Tolgoi agreement if the amendment is approved?
This is more on the negotiation side with the investors. There will be more opportunities opening up for both sides. The estimates will be much clear.
How the special taxes been calculated?
After many studies the special taxes are set to be 5 percent at most. It is now up to the State Great Khural.
Many have been criticizing the 20 percent of stake at Gatsuurt deposit. Why it was estimated to be that low?
We proposed the 20 percent of state stake. If the amendments to the Mineral Resources law are approved there will be a question whether to own 20 percent stake or receive taxes that are equal to those 20 percent. Working group is set to work on this matter.
Where does the number 20 come from?
Working group members negotiated with the investor side. Gatsuurt deposit exploration has been done with private funds; meaning state is entitled to up to 34 percent of stake for the deposit. Working group conducted assessments on 34 and 20, where it came up with number 20 as being less risky option for Mongolia. It is more beneficial for Mongolia to impose special taxes on Gatsuurt rather than owning 34 percent of stake.
Can we say that Gatsuurt deposit will not bring much profit to Mongolia?
It is early to say so without any proper and detailed studies conducted. It is still in talks that Mongolia will provide 20 percent of the investment if the joint company is to be established. Further the negotiations are provisioning that the initial investment not to be increased and the additional funding can be solved with loans. With such estimates it is calculated that Government of Mongolia is to provide USD 100,000. But these numbers are not set yet.
Could you please explain more on 5 percent special taxes?
Royalties for the use of the mineral resources will depend on the type of the mineral resources and the average base for the royalties are set to be 5 percent and gradual increase further. For copper the gradual increase calculated to be at 35 percent at highest. For gold it will remain at 2.5 percent, no changes are proposed for gold.
On top of this royalty state should receive dividends from the operations, which is entitled by the state stake at the deposit. The amendment then will be a new mechanism to collect those dividends in the form of special taxes. Taxes are to be imposed in regards with the deposit, meaning that based on the feasibility studies of the deposit dividends and taxes are to be set.
What are the international experiences with collecting the dividends in such way?
The percentage varies with countries. We adhere to the average estimates. There is the form of one-time royalties as well.
What are the risks associated with owning 34 percent stake?
At Gatsuurt deposit, for instance, there is risk of high interest payments to be imposed on our shoulders. With that risk the dividends and the profits of owning 20 percent are not far from each other.
What is the gold reserve estimates at Gatsuurt deposit?
Currently it is at 50 tons.
Centerra Gold, 2014 Year-End Reserve and Resource Update and Fourth Quarter Exploration Update
TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - February 09, 2015) - Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX: CG) today issued its 2014 year-end estimates for reserves and resources and a fourth quarter 2014 exploration update. The estimates of reserves and resources are based on the Company's 2014 exploration programs and, with respect to the Kumtor project, on an updated mine plan and block model. The Company has used a gold price of $1,300 per ounce as the basis for its reserve estimates, which is unchanged from the 2013 year-end reserve estimates.
• At Centerra's 100% owned Öksüt Project in Turkey, total measured and indicated resources increased to an estimated 1.4 million contained ounces of gold (40.0 million tonnes (Mt) at 1.1 grams per tonne gold (g/t Au)), an overall increase of 295,000 ounces of contained gold. During 2014, in-fill and exploration drilling on the Keltepe and Güneytepe deposits and related improved level of confidence in the estimation of the resources converted 946,000 contained ounces of gold of indicated resources to a measured resource. For both deposits, the identified resources are oxide or transition material that is expected to be amenable to heap leach processing. The Company continues to work on completing an environmental impact assessment and expects to complete the feasibility study for the Öksüt Project mid-2015.
• At Kumtor, the Company has completed its analysis of the impact on reserves and resources of the buttress on the pit design, the updated geotechnical information that requires lower pit slope angles in some sectors of the pit, and the performance of the Kumtor block model. The results of this work, together with the negative production reconciliation experienced in 2014 have resulted in a reduction in Kumtor's reserves and resources. We expect that this reduction in reserves and resources will result in an approximate $120 million impairment charge to the goodwill of the Company's Kyrgyz segment. See "Kumtor Update on Block Model and Mine Plan".
• At the Gatsuurt Project in Mongolia, which has been designated as a mineral deposit of strategic importance, the gold mineral reserves and resources remain unchanged from the 2013 year-end statement. Now that the project has been designated as a strategic deposit, the Company expects to carry out further exploration drilling on the deposit, since no exploration work has been done on the property since 2010.
Centerra Gold Lowered to "Reduce" at TD Securities – The Carlyle Group, February 11
UPDATE 1-Centerra teams with Premier to develop Ontario gold property
(Figures in Canadian dollars, unless specified) (Adds details on agreement, executive and analyst comments, stock prices)
Feb 5 (Reuters) - Centerra Gold Inc and Premier Gold Mines Ltd have formed a joint venture to develop Premier's Trans-Canada property in Ontario, including the advanced Hardrock gold project, the Canadian companies said on Thursday.
Centerra, which operates gold mines in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia, will pay an initial C$85 million ($67.84 million) for a 50 percent stake in the partnership, and could contribute a total of C$300 million in cash.
"Initially we view this transaction positively since it represents a dilution of (Centerra's) Central Asian risk," TD Securities analyst Greg Barnes said in a note.
Centerra Gold Price Target Increased to C$7.50 by Analysts at TD Securities (CG) - The Carlyle Group, February 6
Centerra Gold Given New C$10.00 Price Target at Scotiabank, Up from C$8 - The Carlyle Group, February 6
Wolf Petroleum: Notice of General Meeting, 16 March
February 11, Wolf Petroleum Ltd. (ASX:WOF) --
RESOLUTION 1 – RATIFICATION OF PRIOR ISSUE – SHARES
RESOLUTION 2 – RATIFICATION OF PRIOR ISSUE – OPTIONS
RESOLUTION 3 – ISSUE OF SHARES – PALISADE BUSINESS CONSULTING PTY LTD
RESOLUTION 4 – ISSUE OF SHARES TO RELATED PARTY - BRIAN MCMASTER
RESOLUTION 5 – ISSUE OF OPTIONS TO RELATED PARTY – MATTHEW WOOD
RESOLUTION 6 – ISSUE OF OPTIONS TO RELATED PARTY - BRIAN MCMASTER
RESOLUTION 7 – ISSUE OF OPTIONS TO RELATED PARTY – GEORGE TUMUR
RESOLUTION 8 – ISSUE OF OPTIONS TO RELATED PARTY – BATAA TUMUR-OCHIR
RESOLUTION 9 – ISSUE OF OPTIONS TO RELATED PARTY – JASON PETERSON
RESOLUTION 10 – ISSUE OF OPTIONS TO RELATED PARTY – JARGALSAIKHAN DAMBADARJAA
RESOLUTION 11 – ISSUE OF OPTIONS TO PALISADE BUSINESS CONSULTING PTY LTD
RESOLUTION 12 – ISSUE OF OPTIONS TO JONATHAN HART
RESOLUTION 13 - SECTION 195 APPROVAL
Progress Seen On Mongolian Mining Corp.'s Tavan Tolgoi Deal
By Khangai Tserenraash
February 13 (Seeking Alpha) --
· More details of the proposed TT deal emerging through Minister M.Enkhsaikhan's interviews in the local media.
· The project to be financed 70% debt, 30% equity.
· MMC to contribute its assets as in-kind investment and to utilize shareholder loan from other Consortium members.
· GoM seeks a license fee that is equivalent to >40% of royalty.
Government of Mongolia has tendered the right to develop the massive Tavan Tolgoi coking coal deposit in early 2014 changing its policy to self-develop the mine. The tender was won by a Consortium that consisting of Shenhua Energy (OTCPK:CUAEF), Mongolian Mining Corporation (OTCPK:MOGLF) and Sumitomo Corporation (OTCPK:SSUMY) beating Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU).
Now the Consortium is negotiating with Government on the terms of key contracts (Investment Agreement, Concession Agreement, License fee agreement). The Parties are hoping to finalise the agreements before Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian Lunar New Year which is on 19th February).
More details of the deal became available through Minister M.Enkhsaikhsan's interviews to local media. Below I summarise my interpretations of the key aspects of the deal based on public sources.
The project to be financed 70% debt, 30% equity
· Assuming US$4.0bn capex, this implies US$1.2bn equity financing, US$2.8bn debt financing.
· MMC equity contribution at 51% should then be close to US$600m.
· The Consortium is most likely targeting Chinese and Japanese ECAs for the debt portion.
· These ECAs are likely to be supportive of the deal, given it secures their respective country's access to strategic resource (met coal).
· However, assurance for the market for met coal is essential for the proposed level of debt financing - some form of take guarantee expected (both volume and price).
MMC to invest in-kind and make use of shareholder loan to meet its funding requirements
· In my last article, I raised a concern that MMC does not have the capacity to fund its 51% share in the consortium. Below I outline an option that MMC might be considering to meet its US$600m equity contribution.
· MMC to use proceeds from the rights offering: Current cash position is~US$250m (US$67m as of H1 2014+US$190m proceeds from rights offering).
· MMC to contribute some or all assets of Energy Resources (ER) in-kind: Book value of MMC's physical assets is US$376m (Property Plant and Equipment net of capitalised stripping activity as of H1 2014). Current book value of washery is ~US$185m (author's estimate based on MMC filings).
· The remainder to be financed through shareholder loan from other Consortium members. If we assume US$200m cash investment and US$185m (washery) in-kind investment, then the shareholder loan will be approximately US$215m.
· MMC might refinance its outstanding debt after the deal. If the deal goes through, MMC will have a better business prospect and therefore better chances of refinancing its current debt. So MMC might not be in a hurry to use the proceeds from the recent rights offering to repay debt.
GoM seeks a license fee that is equivalent to >40% of royalty
· In an interview to local media, Minister M.Enkhsaikhan mentions about the ETT license fee being 40% current royalty. This confirms the preposition in my previous article that GoM will seek a license fee.
· Current royalty of 5% (that is applied on the coal sales revenue calculated based on the border price).
· The license fees will be a revenue stream for Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi. This will give some value to ETT shares distributed to citizens of Mongolia, addressing one of the key requirements of the deal.
Public interest in the deal is picking up
· The lead negotiator from GoM Minister M.Enkhsaikhan is actively engaging with various GoM stakeholders promoting the key concepts around TT deal.
· Speaker of the Great Khural (Parliament) issued a public letter in the media criticising certain aspects of the TT deal including Shenhua's involvement in the rail project, and selection of the consortium being not transparent.
· Minister M.Enkhsaikhan conducted an explanation session to major parties in the Great Khural. Some 15 MPs issued a list of questions on the TT deal for Minister M.Enkhsaikhan to respond. He promised to respond in writing.
· Official position being announced publicly to conclude contracts with GoM before Tsagaan Sar on 19th February 2014 (Mongolian Lunar New Year).
· Two key agreements being negotiated with GoM: IA on the mine, Concession Agreement on the rail.
· If agreement is reached before Tsagaan Sar, this will be an unprecedented event in contract negotiation with GoM. OT IA [Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ)] took 8 years to conclude.
Deal structure diagram
Editor's Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.
MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -0.92% to 13,905.51, Turnover ₮380.3 Million, T-Bills ₮2.2 Billion
February 13 (MSE) Mongolian Stock Exchange organized 5 securities trading sessions and made transaction of MNT 2,572,720,646.00 between 9 February 2015 and 13 February 2015.
1,140,372 shares of 48 joint stock companies' worth of MNT 380,320,646.00 were traded.
Government retail bonds trading:
21,874 Government retail bonds worth of MNT 2,187,400,000.00 traded through one trading session.
50 Government retail bonds worth MNT 5,000,000.00 traded in the secondary market trading.
As of 13 February 2015, market capitalization was MNT 1,372,207,185,383.00 which indicated increase of 0.31%, and MSE ALL index decreased 0.75% from previous week.
MSE Primary Offer: ₮26.5 Billion 28-Week T-Bills at 7.8% Discount, Yield 15.745%
February 11 (MSE) --
1. The issuer's name: Mongolian Ministry of Finance
2. The purpose of the issuance of bond: Fund management of State treasure
3. Offering scope of securities: Offering to the public
4. Type of securities: Government securities
5. Face value: MNT 100,000
6. Discounted price: MNT 92,204.00
7. Total amounts issued: 264,815 Units
8. Securities performance:
*Coupon of Government Securities will be determined within 365 days.
9. Rate of interest: interest rate of the Government Securities, which will be issued weekly, will be based on auction results of Central Bank basis State Government Securities weighted average interest rate. If the Central Bank's weekly trading cancelled, the interest rate will be set based on the previous trading of Government Securities weighted average interest rate.
10. Order deadline: The Mongolian Stock Exchange will take orders 6 days and the trading will close on the 6th day at 14.00 PM and information on total orders will be delivered to the securities issuer.
11. Trading period: Total registered orders distribution of MSE trading system will be determined based on the Ministry of Finance votes.
MSE Trades ₮2.1 Billion 12-Week T-Bills on Primary Market
February 10 (MSE) On 10 February 2015, 12 weeks Government retail bonds worth MNT 2,114,909,564 with 14.896% annual interest rate traded successfully on primary market at Mongolian Stock Exchange.
Bellow member brokerage companies participated in the bond trading as follows:
Baganuur celebrates exploitation of 100 millionth ton of coal
By Ch. Khaliun
February 12 (UB Post) On Monday, one of the biggest Mongolian mining companies, Baganuur JSC, exploited its 100 millionth ton of coal, coinciding with the 37th anniversary of the mine's opening.
The mine was founded in 1978 to provide thermal power stations with coal. Exploiting 100 million tons of resources is a historical success among Mongolian mining companies, especially in coal mining.
Baganuur JSC is registered on the Mongolian Stock Exchange, and 75 percent of the company is owned by Erdenes Mongol LLC, while 25 percent is owned by citizens.
The Baganuur coal mine is located 130 km from Ulaanbaatar, and has resources of 708.2 million tons of coal.
Baganuur is a strategic deposit with the capacity for producing four million tons of coal annually, and now produces 3 to 3.2 million tons of coal, making up 40 percent of the nation's coal consumption.
Baganuur Mine Extracts 100 Million Tons – Montsame, February 12
Major Holder O.Narankhuu's Offers to Buy Remaining 81.7% Stake in Undurkhaan JSC
February 13 (MSE) In accordance with the Articles No.:22.1.1, 22.4 of "Securities Law of Mongolia", the issuer who wants to buy controlling packet of shares, could organize a block trading on MSE after he or she declares it to FRC and public, and send notification to the MSE.
Therefore, MSE is informing that Narankhuu Oidovsuren who wants to buy 91,443 or 81.7 percent of "Undurkhaan" JSC, made an offer to other shareholders.
Major Holder Offers to Buy Remaining 48.8% of AHH at ₮207/Share
February 10 (MSE) One month duration buy offer to purchase 1,318,569 shares or 48.8 percent of "Khorin Khoyor dugaar baaz" JSC for MNT207.00 per share, made by Nomundare Zorigtbaatar.
If any shareholders of "Khorin Khoyor dugaar baaz" JSC who have intention to sell their shares, please contact your brokerage companies.
Click here to view share price of "Khorin Khoyor dugaar baaz" JSC.
MSE Grants "Market Maker" Status to BDSec, Standard Investment, Capital Market Corp, Tenger Capital
February 13 (MSE) Performance of brokerage companies plays an important role in improving trading turnover and liquidity. Even though brokerage companies of Mongolian stock exchange have double duties for broker and dealer, activities of brokerage companies mainly limited by implementing buy and sell order of its clients.
Thereupon investors face problems with buying and selling their shares at any time they want, and it has a negative impact on market liquidity. Therefore, Mongolian Stock Exchange has been preparing to introduce international capital market structure of "Market Makers" from 16 February 2015. Today, member companies of Mongolian Stock Exchange, such as "BDSec"JSC, "Standart Investment"LCC, "Capital Market Corporation" LLC and "Tenger Capital" LLC received the ratification as "Market maker" and signed the agreement with MSE.
Brokerage companies with "Market maker" ratification will participate in daily shares and government securities trading and hence, liquidity of securities in the primary and secondary market will increase as well. In near future, introduction of market makers structure will be available in stocks and derivatives market.
By the way, Government securities started trading through MSE from November 2014 and total of MNT74 billion worth government securities were owned by bond investors. Secondary market of government securities commenced on 19 January 2015.
Annual Shareholders' Meetings Scheduled in March
February 13 (MSE) Presenting notice of annual shareholders' meetings of MSE listed JSCs' in March.
"Mon-It Buligar" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 05 March 2015 at 10:00AM. During the meeting, Board of Directors' decision of operation and financial report of 2014 and amendment of company charter and discussion of replacing Board members will approved respectively.
Click here to view detailed information.
"Sonsgolon barmat" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 09 March 2015 at 10:00AM. During the meeting, operation and financial report of 2014, amendment of company charter, Board of Directors' report and discussion of replacing Board members will be approved respectively.
Click here to view detailed information.
"Mon Nab" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 12 March 2015 at 14:00AM. During the meeting, Board of Directors' decision of operation and financial report of 2014, Board of Directors' report and company's operational goal will be approved respectively.
Click here to view detailed information.
"Technic import" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 16 March 2015 at 09:00AM. During the meeting, Board of Directors' decision of operation and financial report of 2014, company's business plan for 2015, report of Audit Committee and amendment of company's organizational structure will be approved respectively.
Click here to view detailed information.
"Gazar Shuljmel" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 19 March 2015 at 16:00AM. During the meeting, operation and financial report of 2014 and distribution of dividends will be approved respectively.
Click here to view detailed information.
"BDSec" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 26 March 2015 at 10:00AM. During the meeting, Board of Directors' decision of operation and financial report of 2014, distribution of dividends, discussion of replacing Board members, discussion of changing company's name and other discussions will be approved respectively.
Click here to view detailed information.
Mongolian GDP Growth Slows to 7.8% in 2014: Statistics Office
By Michael Kohn
February 12 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's gross domestic product grew 7.8% y/y in 2014, slowing from 11.6% in 2013, according to release from National Statistics Office on Thursday.
* Economy grew 12.3% in 2012 and 17.3% in 2011
* 2014 Data is preliminary reading
* Loans outstanding were 12.1t tugrik at the end of January, a 9.8% increase y/y
* Principles in arrears were 317.7b tugrik at the end of January, a 109% increase y/y
* Total external trade turnover increased 9.4% y/y in January; exports increasing 47.3% and imports decreasing 26.6%
* External trade balance was surplus of $225.4m in January vs a deficit of $16.1m in the same period yr ago
* Consumer price index increased 9.8% y/y in Jan.
* Mining and quarrying rose 13.8% y/y in Jan.; industrial production index was up 4.4% y/y
* GDP data compiled by production approach at 2010 constant prices
* Related story: IMF Standby Program Only One Option for Mongolia, Premier Says
Social and economic situation of Mongolia (As of January 2015) – NSO, February 12
Link to NSO Monthly Statistical Bulletin, January 2015 (click on Review on left pane)
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, February 13 Close
MNT vs USD, CNY 3-Month Chart:
Mongolia Copper Concentrate Exports Increase 109% Y/y in Jan.
By Michael Kohn
February 12 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia exports of copper concentrate rose to 132,900t last month from 63,500t in Jan. 2014.
* National Statistical Office releases Jan. 2015 trade data in statement on website on Thursday
* Total exports were $472.7m compared to $321m in the same period yr ago
* Value of copper concentrate exports rose to $267.7m from $95.8m a yr earlier
* Coal exports fell to 1.1m tons from 1.26m tons a yr earlier; value of coal exports fell to $38.4m from $61.4m
* 343,300 tons of iron ore exported compared to 302,200 tons a yr earlier; value of iron ore exports fell to $21m from $31.7m
* Crude oil exports rose to 690,700 barrels compared to 513,700 barrels in same period yr earlier
* Exports to China in the first month were worth $393.2m
* Minerals products exports were worth $382m
* * Mongolia imported $247.3m worth of goods compared to $337.1m in the same period yr ago.
* Trade surplus was $225.4m vs. a deficit of $16.1m in the same period yr ago
NPLs Surge 5.1% in January, 13% YoY to ₮657.4 Billion, 5.4% of Total Outstanding Loans
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 (MONTSAME) According to the Bank of Mongolia, a money supply (broad money or M2) reached 10.3 trill.tog at the end of January of 2015, decreasing 311.3 bln.tog or 2.9 percent from the previous month, and increasing 302.6 bln.tog or 3.0 percent against the same period of the previous year.
At the end of January, a currency issued in circulation reached MNT 732.4 billion, decreasing 77.3 billion Togrog or 9.5 percent from the previous month, and by 161.9 billion or 18.1 percent against the same period of the previous year.
Loans outstanding amounted to MNT 12.1 trillion at the end of the period, going down 413.7 billion Togrog or 3.3 percent from the previous month and increasing 1.1 trillion Togrog or 9.8 percent against January of 2014.
Principals in arrears reached MNT 317.7 billion, showing an increase of 48.2 billion Togrog or 17.9 percent against the previous month, and of 165.4 billion Togrog or 2.1 times compared to the same period of 2014.
As for the non-performing loans over the bank system, the total amount reached MNT 657.4 billion, showing increase of 31.7 billion Togrog or 5.1 percent against the previous month, and of 75.6 billion Togrog or 13.0 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.
In January 2015, 5.8 million shares were traded valued at MNT 65.1 billion at the stock market. The securities' trading increased MNT 64.2 billion or 70.1 times, and shares increased 4.1 million or 3.5 times against the same period of 2014.
Mongolia: Inflation Slows Single Digits in January to 9.8% from 11% in December
February 12 (Bank of Mongolia) –
Ulaanbaatar Housing Index Falls for 6th Month, Down 2.2% YoY
February 12 (Tenkhleg Zuuch, Mongolian Properties, Aktiv Zuuch) --
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Mongolia shuts down $10m bond auction after no bids received
February 12 (AFP) Mongolia shut down a $10 million government bond auction on Wednesday after receiving no bids, the central bank said, in what analysts said was a fresh sign of the resource-rich country's economic struggles.
The 20 billion tugrik ($10.2 million) bond remained unsold due to an "absence of both competitive and non-competitive bids", the Bank of Mongolia said in a statement on its website.
The bond is one of a handful of bonds planned by the central bank and sold regularly throughout the year.
The landlocked country, wedged between China and Russia, has sought in recent years to settle on a government policy that balances resource nationalism with the development of its estimated $1.3 trillion in unexploited mineral deposits.
The prolonged struggle has led to economic turbulence, with the central bank's failed bond auction the latest symptom of systemic troubles.
"There have been several failed auctions by Mongol Bank over the last six to nine months," said Nick Cousyn, chief operating officer of BDSec JSC, Mongolia's largest stock brokerage.
In every previous auction, domestic banks have represented the largest percentage of demand for government bonds.
But Cousyn noted: "The banking system is tight on cash due to delinquencies and deposit flight."
Mongolia enjoyed world-leading economic growth in recent years -- peaking at 17.5 percent in 2011 -- on the back of a minerals boom exemplified by the copper- and gold-laden Oyu Tolgoi mine, operated by Anglo-Australian resources giant Rio Tinto.
Before the mine could move forward on its $4.9 billion underground expansion, however, revenue-sharing negotiations between Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government stalled.
In addition, foreign direct investment plummeted 74 percent in 2014, while the turgrik, Mongolia's currency, is currently at an elevated 11 percent.
The future of Oyu Tolgoi was part of a government SMS referendum last week, in which the public voted by text message to reject austerity and protectionism in favour of welcoming foreign investment for the state's megaprojects.
With future success increasingly dependent upon expansion of the mine project, Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg's government, in its third month in office, has found opportunity elsewhere.
This week in Tokyo, Saikhanbileg signed a free trade agreement with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.
Mongolian entrepreneurs and Japanese investors are pursuing an array of agricultural enterprises, from strawberry greenhouses to shrimp farms, to attract non-mineral investment.
Mongolia receives no bids at bond auction – fastFT, February 11
GoM 3-Year ₮20 Billion Bond Auction Receives NO Bids
February 11 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 3 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 20 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Government Bond was not sold due to absence of both competitive and non-competitive bids.
GoM Treasury Auction: ₮20 Billion 28-Week Bills Sold at Discount from ₮40 Billion Offered
February 11 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 40.0 billion MNT. Face value of 20.0 billion MNT /out of 20.5 billion MNT bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 15.745%.
Please find expanded information from Table.
Announced amount /by MNT/
Received bid amount /by MNT
Sold amount /by MNT/
Weighted average yield
Maximum yield of fulfilled bids
Minimum yield of fulfilled bids
GoM Treasury Auction: ₮20 Billion 12-Week Bills at Discount, Average Yield 14.896%
February 4 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 20.0 billion MNT. Face value of 20.0 billion /out of 25.5 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 14.896%.
BoM FX auction: CNY36m sold at ₮313.95, accepts US$11m MNT swap offers
February 12 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on February 12th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 29.4 million and CNY 79.0 million from local commercial bank. BOM has sold CNY 36.0 million with rate of 313.95.
On February 12th, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer equivalent to USD 11.0 million from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
BoM FX auction: US$6m sold at ₮1,957.21, CNY51.5m at ₮312.85, accepts $15m MNT, $20m USD swap offers
February 10 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on February 10th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 31.7 million in a closing rate of MNT 1951.51-1957.51 and CNY 105.8 million in a closing rate of MNT 312.24-313.24 from local commercial bank. BOM has sold USD 6.0 million in a rate of 1957.21 and CNY 51.5 million with rate of 312.85.
On February 10th, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to USD 15.0 and USD Swap agreement bid offer of USD 20.0 million from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
BoM issues ₮83.8 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -8.9% to ₮217.6 billion
February 13 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 83.8 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Mongolia May Consider IMF Standby Program, Prime Minister Says
By Michael Kohn
February 11 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia sees a standby program as only one of several options for International Monetary Fund support to help its faltering economy and looks to a new trade deal with Japan as essential to boost its economic and security role in Asia, Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed said.
Ain't No Party Like an IMF Party – MIBG, February 5
ING's Condon Sees IMF Program Positive for Mongolia USD Bonds
By Lilian Karunungan
February 4 (Bloomberg) -- An IMF program for Mongolia, which sought support from the lender, would reduce likelihood of crisis involving devaluation of fx and spiraling inflation, Tim Condon, head of Asia research in Singapore, writes in note.
* Govt will need IMF/World Bank to finance banking losses resulting from a "shock" in GDP: Condon
* Conditionality may be related to lending program reforms at Development Bank of Mongolia and Bank of Mongolia, he says
* "Putting the external finances on a sustainable footing would be positive for Mongolia's USD bonds and enable them to claw back their January losses, which we attribute to repricing from lower commodity prices:" Condon
* Says IMF program would imply "modest depreciation" for Mongolian currency in medium term
* NOTE: Yield on Mongolia USD bonds due 2022 falls 6 bps to 7.85% as of 9:55am Singapore time after 31 bps slide y'day; bonds lost 4.6% in January: data compiled by Bloomberg
* NOTE: Tugrik drops 0.1% to 1,945/USD; reached record low of 1,947 on Jan. 29: data compiled by Bloomberg
Speaker Receives IMF Delegation Led by Asia Deputy Director
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 (MONTSAME) The Speaker Z.Enkhbold received Friday the Deputy Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Asia and Pacific Mr Markus Rodlauer, the head of the IMF working group for Mongolia Mr Koshy Mathai and the IMF Mission Chief for Mongolia Mr Neil Sacker.
The sides exchanged views on the current state of budget and finance in Mongolia. Present at the meeting were also a head the Standing committee on economy J.Batsuuri MP, a president of the Bank of Mongolia N.Zoljargal, and economic adviser to the Speaker D.Lkhagvasuren.
Report: Foreign Direct Investment to Mongolia
February 13 (Frontier Securities) Today we would like to discuss about FDI inflow to Mongolia, but from different angle. We all aware, that FDI inflow to Mongolia has been decreasing significantly for last few years. This time we tried to analyze the FDI data since 1991, and the structure of FDI inflow, brief comparison with the global data and other developing countries in Asia to see the bigger picture.
Download full PDF report from the following link: Foreign Direct Investment to Mongolia
Japan, Mongolia sign economic partnership agreement
BY MASAAKI KAMEDA
February 11 (The Japan Times) Japan and Mongolia have signed a bilateral economic partnership agreement that will expand trade and enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries.
The agreement was signed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his visiting counterpart Chimed Saikhanbileg at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Tuesday. Over the next decade, it is expected to remove tariffs on about 96 percent of the combined total value of trade between the two countries, which was valued at ¥41.8 billion in 2012.
It will be the 15th EPA for Japan once it takes effect following Diet approval, and the first for Mongolia, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Statistics for 2012 from the Mongolian government show that 66.4 percent of Japan's export value to Mongolia — ¥39.9 billion — was made up of automobiles and their components, followed by machinery at 18.5 percent and chemical engineering products at 5.1 percent.
Meanwhile, 53 percent of Mongolia's export value to Japan, which totaled ¥1.9 billion in 2012, was made up of coal, followed by mineral products representing 25 percent and clothing at 15.4 percent, according to the Finance Ministry.
At a joint news conference following their summit, Abe welcomed the signing of the trade pact, which took about three years to negotiate.
"I'm sure (the EPA) will become an important foundation for the two goals that we are pursuing simultaneously, which are to further deepen the bilateral relationship and to promote Mongolia's economic development," Abe said.
Saikhanbileg said the pact will not only help expand trade and people exchanges between the two countries, it will contribute to his country's efforts to become more integrated in the regional economy.
"I strongly hope the EPA will foster further investment by Japan and help introduce knowhow from Japan," he told reporters.
Abe pledged an additional ¥36.85 billion in loans to help the ongoing construction of an international airport in Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital. He also said Japan will send experts to Mongolia to help draw up a medium- to long-term economic policy.
Saikhanbileg was set to wrap up his three-day visit to Japan on Wednesday. It was his first overseas trip since taking office in November.
Japan, Mongolia Ink Free Trade Pact – AP, February 10
Japan and Mongolia sign free trade agreement – JOC.com, February 10
Japan secures access to Mongolian REEs in FTA – Argus, February 10
Japan Gets Access To Mongolia Rare Earths In FTA – International Business Times, February 13
Mongolia, Japan sign economic partnership agreement – UB Post, February 13
PM Submits Mongolia-Japan EPA to Parliament for Final Approval
February 13 (gogo.mn) PM of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg during the official visit to Japan has on February 9-11 has signed the EPA with PM of Japan Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. Draft bill on Mongolia-Japan EPA approval to be submitted for discussions at the State Great Khural.
According to the International Agreement law it is obligatory that any agreement differing from the laws and regulations under Mongolian law to be discussed and approved by the State Great Khural.
The aim of the EPA agreement with Japan provisions free trade, investment and export of value added industrial products, introduction of technological know-how to Mongolia, reduce obstacles in trades with Japan and ease the customs clearing procedure.
The discussion has covered 17 issues covering origin of the goods traded, elimination or reduction of customs duties, health issues, reduction of trade obstacles, improvement of service trade, investment and business environment, intellectual property regulations, online trade, competition policy, disputes resolution, general and conclusive provisions, individual migration and Government procurement.
The EPA consists of 17 articles and 10 appendices.
Draft law presented on ratifying Mongolia-Japan EPA – Montsame, February 13
Economist L.Ariunaa: It's time for major reform
February 13 (UB Post) Head of the Economic and Financial Department of the Academy of Management (AoM) and PhD of economic science L.Ariunaa gave an interesting interview about the cause and countermeasure for the present economic and financial crisis in Mongolia.
She's been actively working at the Economic Department of the AoM since 1997, and attained her doctoral degree in Germany in 2010.
Some experts explain that slow settlement liquidity is causing the current economic difficulty while others believe it's caused by the global economic crisis. What exactly is causing the current economic situation in Mongolia?
The economy is facing crisis because basic macroeconomic indicators have exceeded appropriate levels. Mongolia had the fastest economic growth in 2011, expanding by 17.5 percent.
Economists believed that Mongolia could reach the same level as countries with world average wage if the index continued to have two digit numbers for the next three to four years. Yet, the economic growth decelerated in the last four years and became seven percent lower than the expected index for 2014. This means that the economic growth became 2.5 times lower and slower.
Secondly, inflation issues haven't been addressed at all. The next fundamental issue is unemployment. In 2010, unemployment rate in Mongolia was at around 10 percent. It's still 10 percent today. Economists consider five or lower percent as an acceptable unemployment rate. The fact that Mongolia's unemployment is double that of this amount certainly shows that there's a problem.
These statistics haven't improved for four years and our foreign trade has been constantly facing losses. These poor macroeconomic indicators suggest that the economy's failing and facing a crisis. The economic difficulty is a short-term issue.
What do you think is the main reason for Mongolia's economic crisis? If the cause isn't fixed, what could be the consequences?
If this crisis prolongs, an even direr crisis will occur. The common factor in the recent economic crisis throughout the world is political issues.
I believe that two factors generated Mongolia's economic crisis. The first factor is the inflation caused by the expansion of public expenditure. Government expenditure was three trillion MNT in 2010, but now it's expanded to 7.4 trillion MNT, increasing by 2.5 folds in only four years. Two thirds of this expenditure comes from tax revenue and the rest from inflation tax – money printing.
To lower inflation rate quickly, the state budget deficit and money supply should be reduced massively. For instance, the budget deficit can be removed by decreasing budget expenditure by 25 percent and stopping money printing. With this method, inflation issues can be stabilized in six months.
Secondly, Mongolia's economic system is extremely disorganized. The system should be adjusted into the correct market economic system oriented for the society. The instrument of economic policy is the country's economic system.
Many changes and reforms were made since 1990. But they were all inconsistent with one another and aimed to fix a specific issue. In other words, the outcome of previous policies for "extinguishing fire" is the current economic system.
Do you think that an excessively disorganized economic system has worsened the economy?
Indeed. Mongolia aims to create a humane, civil and democratic society through the Constitution. We need to form a correct economic system to establish this society.
In my opinion, if the market economic system oriented towards the society is developed correctly, we'll be able to create stable economic growth quickly and provide affluent livelihood for the public.
Some people refer to the market economic system as wild capitalism. Can you comment on this?
There are many countries that have succeeded by developing the market economic system oriented for the society.
Particularly, Japan, German, and Chile. Germany and Japan chose the third path to overcome economic destruction after the WWII, and accomplished economic miracles. Chile was able to eliminate its dependence on the mining sector by using the market economic system oriented for the society, and became a prosperous country.
Mongolian politicians seem to believe that decreasing budget deficit means that we have to eliminate social welfare services. Is this true?
Overcoming the economic crisis by minimizing social welfare services is a wrong logic. Social welfare services aren't the cause of the economic crisis. It should actually be increased. That way, the economy will grow.
Some people are quite surprised to hear this. The poor and vulnerable groups need to be cared for. Furthermore, an insurance system to protect all citizens should be developed. The government is obligated to provide health, education, housing, and other social services to people with low income and vulnerable groups.
Now, Mongolia needs to change the social welfare and security system, and create a market economic welfare and security system that's based on the market. Social expenses may increase, but a policy for decreasing the state budget expenditure with fiscal management will be enforced.
The market economic system is based on three factors, which are to create a competitive market, transfer market efficiency to social equity, and define relationship between market efficiency and social equity with the principle of hierarchy of authority and responsibility.
Competitiveness, labor market, and environmental policy should be given high priority for creating favorable economic conditions.
Most people don't trust inflation statistics. They think the statistics are false. Why is this?
Inflation is the general increase of price. For example, prices of petrol and food products rise while prices of cell phones and electronic goods fall. This may be the reason why people don't believe official statistics. Inflation rate is determined through the consumer price index.
If you see the structure of consumer's shopping basket, you'll be able to see the difference of price spike and price fall. People's livelihood becomes difficult when the prices of consumer goods and services increase.
People think the data that states that inflation rate is at 13 percent is too low and inaccurate. In reality, 13 percent isn't a small number. Inflation rate in developed countries are at two to three percent. Mongolia is getting very low return on capital – almost in the negative margin – because of high inflation rate. That's why the stock market isn't developing in Mongolia.
Return on capital will gradually increase once the inflation rate slows down and the value of money stabilizes. High budget deficit and excessive money printing were the main factors leading Mongolia to its current situation.
Parliament is going to discuss the Development Planning Law, which includes the development of perspectives for next 30 years. How effective do you think this is?
Long term plans can be done for the next 30 years. Above all, knowing where we will have reached by then is very important. We have to set specific goals for our future standards of living and work towards them. It's best to plan the structure of the economy and regional development at the strategic level.
Mongolia has become significantly dependent on copper and coal. This dependence needs to be eliminated. To trigger competitiveness in the market, Mongolia needs policies aimed at eliminating burdens that obstructs activities of private sectors and reduce production costs.
What kind of a policy is enforced in Mongolia at the moment?
Overall, Mongolia is resolving issues bit by bit without looking at the bigger picture. This becomes the source of other issues. For instance, traffic congestion is being regulated with license restrictions for now. However, this will bring bad consequences such as illegal trade of license plate which will make it difficult to find criminals of hit-and-run cases. Humans are living beings and naturally, we prioritize our own interests.
Developing policies based on research is absolutely essential.
Source: Zuunii Medee
Cabinet Taps BCM Chairman B. Byambasaikhan to Head Erdenes Mongol
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 (MONTSAME) At its irregular meeting on Thursday, the cabinet discussed a draft amendment to a Mongolia-Russia intergovernmental agreement and a draft intergovernmental protocol on actions of the "Erdenet" Mining Corporation and the "Mongolrostsvetmet" joint venture.
These drafts will be consulted with a related Standing committee of parliament.
- The cabinet discussed a bill on casino and decided to submit it to parliament after reflecting in it proposals from some Ministers.
- The cabinet appointed B.Byambasaikhan the executive director of the "Erdenes Mongol" LLC.
Mogi: Painter Law Firm, as you may remember, is Robert Painter's firm, Mongolia's US lawyer that stopped the auction of smuggled T-Bataar fossils. Nice payback.
MPs Call for Bayartsogt's Resignation for Budgeting ₮17.5 Billion to Painter Law Firm
February 12 (UB Post) Five members of Parliament submitted a draft resolution calling for the resignation of Cabinet Secretariat S.Bayartsogt for alleged embezzlement of public funds last Friday. This is the first draft resolution demanding for someone's dismissal received by the two month old Ch.Saikhabileg government.
MPs S.Ganbaatar, Kh.Bolorchuluun, Ts.Davaasuren, G.Uyanga, and L.Tsogt stated, "Under the guise of receiving legal advice for state-owned company Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi, S.Bayartsogt incorporated 17.5 billion MNT into the budget amendment for a U.S. company consisting of two of his family members, Painter Law Firm PLLC. 455 million MNT was transferred in 2014. This is an act of embezzling public funds collected from taxpayers as well as an illegal spending on an unauthorized objective."
In accordance with the law, the issue will be discussed at the associated Standing Committee meeting for a week. Parliament will have to "prosecute" itself if the draft resolution is discussed.
Cabinet Secretary signs all resolutions to be presented to Parliament
Approving resolutions to be submitted to Parliament is the duty imposed by the law to the Cabinet Secretariat. Accordingly, Chairman of Standing Committee on Budget B.Bolor received and signed a list of projects and programs to be financed by the Development Bank of Mongolia under repayment terms from government sources and state budget during the plenary session. Several MPs kept this document as evidence.
Until 2015, Mongolia had three separate budgets; state budget, bonds, and the Development Bank. The three were integrated into the state budget in 2015 due to criticism from opposition parties. At the time, Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan briefed that the budget deficit increased by 4.5 percent. During N.Altankhuyag's government, it was decided that this amount of capital from the Development Bank will be spent on hiring highly-qualified legal, financial, and public relations consultants from abroad from 2014 to 2016. Therefore, over 260,000 USD (approximately 455 million MNT at the time) was issued to provide annual salary for Robert Painter, an attorney and member of Painter Law Firm PLLC, in 2014.
Robert Painter worked for a year at Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC. The remaining money of the 17.5 billion MNT is currently saved at the Development Bank, and will be used to hire more consultants. S.Bayartsogt wasn't part of former Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag's cabinet, meaning that he signed the resolution to integrate bonds and Development Bank financing with the state budget as Cabinet Secretariat. In this case, grounds for his resignation are beside the point as S.Bayartsogt isn't related to the case. This means that the five MPs have wrongfully accused him with something not related to S.Bayartsogt.
Minister S.Bayartsogt wanted MPs to first realize their mistake of attributing the previous government's decision onto him. He said that he will complain to the Sub-Committee on Ethics of Parliament if the MPs don't admit their mistake.
Are expensive foreign consultants necessary?
Experts speculated that Mongolian lawyers and attorneys are capable of taking on the tasks that the government hires foreign experts for, so such large sums of money shouldn't be spilled out from Mongolia to foreign consultants.
Mongolia has rarely heard good news from International Court of Arbitration. The latest example is a 326 million USD international arbitration action against Mongolia for the illegal expropriation of its asset, launched by Canada's Khan Resources Company. Despite fighting with the best local legal organizations and lawyers, Mongolia still lost the case. This type of issue is likely to arise as megaprojects are being commercialized at the moment.
Even though people are complaining about the high salary, Mongolia is in need of capable foreign consultants and attorneys. Spending several thousands of USD will help protect Mongolia's resources worth several billion USD. Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC had its reasons to hire an attorney. Investor of Oyu Tolgoi project, Rio Tinto, delayed the launch of its underground mining operations for nearly two years because of a disagreement with the government over fiscal terms. Rio Tinto sent a draft memorandum of understanding to begin underground mining. The 48 articles in the draft with 53 chapter were breaching investment agreements and applicable laws. The Oyu Tolgoi investment agreement was developed based on the feasibility study approved by the Mineral Resource Authority.
The initial investment was negotiated to be 5.1 billion USD. Yet, Rio's side changed it to 9.4 billion USD. By the end of initial investment, 7.1 billion USD of this amount became an international loan. During disputes over the draft memorandum, the copper concentrator at Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia had been resuming operations and earning revenue. Rio could've used profits from the concentrator to finance the underground mine, but they ceased further work at the underground mine. Some experts suspect that Rio is using the profit to repay its debts, and "collateralizing" Oyu Tolgoi's underground mine to escape from all risks. The Mongolian side disapproved the draft memorandum, and is developing an arbitration case against investors who violated the Mongolian Law. Under this condition, the best and most experienced lawyers who specialize in international law are essential for Mongolia.
Mongolians wouldn't want to be left with nothing after letting foreigners use Mongolia's resources. Mongolia will be able to reach favorable negotiations with Rio Tinto only with capable and experienced legal, financial, and public relations consultants. As for Robert Painter, he remained and fought along Mongolia's side since the auction of Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton until the fossil was returned to Mongolia. His great efforts were rewarded with the Order of Altan Gadas (Order of the Polar Star), bestowed by Mongolian President Elbegdorj.
Mongolia chased away many foreign investors and lost their trust. Now, the nation is doing everything it can to bring them back. Mongolia will face even greater loss if capable consultants are driven away because of disputes like the recent case involving Cabinet Secretariat S.Bayartsogt and the concerning 17.5 billion MNT. Mongolia's reputation has already fallen considerably among other countries.
Former Deputy Police Chief M.Enkh-Amgalan Appointed General Prosecutor
By Kh. Kugershin
February 13 (gogo.mn) Today, at the plenary session of the State Great Khural, members of Parliament discussed on President`s proposal to appoint M.Enkh-Amgalan as the General Prosecutor and approved the proposal with 90.6% voting.
He was working as Police Department Investigator of Khuvsgul aimag in 1987-1988, Police Department Investigator of Ulaanbaatar Railway in 1988-1991, Chief Investigator at State Investigation Department in 1991-2008 and Vice Head at General Police Authority.
Enkh-Amgalan becomes Prosecutor-General – Montsame, February 13
State Secretaries of Five Ministries Appointed
February 13 (GoGo Mongolia) State Secretaries for five ministries have been appointed based on a proposal by the Civil Service Council of Mongolia.
· D.Nyamkhuu - State Secretary at the Ministry of Industry
· J. Bat-Erdene - State Secretary at the Ministry of Road and Transportation
· D.Artag - State Secretary at the Ministry of Mining
· S.Magnaisuren - State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour
· N.Ariunbold - State Secretary at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
State Secretaries of some Ministries appointed – Montsame, February 13
Jailed Ex-SouthGobi Employees Seek Mongolian Presidential Pardon
By Michael Kohn
February 12 (Bloomberg) -- Three former employees of a SouthGobi Resources Ltd. subsidiary have requested a pardon from the Mongolian president two weeks after being sentenced to between five and six years in jail on tax charges.
American Justin Kapla and Philippine nationals Hilarion Cajucom Jr. and Cristobal David requested the pardon, Tsogt Natsagdorj, the lawyer representing David, said by phone.
The three men, former employees of SouthGobi Sands LLC, were found guilty of tax evasion in an Ulaanbaatar court on Jan. 30 and handed sentences of five to six years. The court ordered SouthGobi to pay 35.3 billion tugrik ($18.3 million).
SouthGobi rejects the court decision and said it will appeal "what it considers to be a gross miscarriage of justice," according to a statement released by the company on Feb. 1.
Tsagaan Puntsag, chief of staff for the office of the president, didn't answer his phone or answer an e-mail requesting information on the presidential pardon.
Enkh-Amgalan Sengee, head of SouthGobi Sands, declined to comment when contacted by phone today.
Mongolia CEOs Join Protest Against Jailing of SouthGobi Staff
By Michael Kohn
February 9 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's CEO Club joined other business groups in protesting a court decision to criminally prosecute and jail three foreign professionals and fine their former employer for tax evasion.
The Jailing of Foreigners in Mongolia Is Unnerving the Business Community
In 2011, the resource-rich landlocked nation ranked as one of the fastest growing economies on earth, though falling commodity prices have since taken their toll
By Hannah Beech
February 5 (TIME) On Jan. 30, three men were sentenced to more than five years in prison for tax evasion in Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital. A tax case in a remote, landlocked nation's capital might have gone unnoticed if not for the fact that the three men are foreigners: American Justin Kapla and Filipinos Hilarion Cajucom Jr. and Cristobal David. Rather than symbolizing due process in an emerging democracy, the trial's numerous irregularities have raised fears that a country struggling with a resource curse has further dulled its economic prospects. Despite Mongolia's trove of minerals, the first 11 months of 2014 saw foreign direct investment plummet 71%, year on year. "This case sends a message to foreign investors that if they want to do business here, they have to play by Mongolian rules," says Munkhdul Badral Bontoi, a market analyst in Ulan Bator.
The three foreigners are former employees of a subsidiary of SouthGobi Resources, a Canadian mining outfit whose largest stakeholder is an arm of Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian mining giant. (Rio Tinto runs Oyu Tolgoi, the massive copper-and-gold mine that single-handedly contributes around 45% of Mongolia's total exports.) SouthGobi, which was considering a majority-stake offer from a Chinese state-owned enterprise when its subsidiary's offices were raided by Mongolian authorities in May 2012, was also fined around $18 million for evading taxes. The case dragged on for almost three years, with the expatriate trio barred from leaving the country, even though formal charges against them were not issued until just eight months ago.
U.S. Ambassador Piper Campbell attended the trial, and the U.S. embassy in Ulan Bator criticized the lack of adequate interpretation for the foreign defendants. "Because of these problems, the defendants stated during the trial that they could not understand the interpretation, nor could they express themselves clearly," read a statement. "Mr. Kapla's case has lasted nearly three years and the repeated delays and exit ban have caused him enormous hardship."
Could Tax Case Chase Investment Away? – MIBG, February 13
Day 815: American And Filipinos Wrongfully Detained In Mongolia
By Jon Springer
February 12 (Forbes) American Justin Kapla along with Filipinos Hilarion Cajucom Jr. and Cristobal David have been wrongfully detained in Mongolia for 815 days. Although Mongolia's courts stated on multiple occasions that the prosecution had insufficient evidence in the legal case against them in Mongolia, they have been in the medieval circumstances of Mongolia's jails for the past 13 days now.
In the tax evasion case against the three former employees of SouthGobi Resources, Mongolia's judicial system put them and SouthGobi's tax liability in infinite jeopardy. When the court ruled the prosecutor had insufficient evidence (or when the prosecutor failed to appear for a court hearing), the court gave the prosecutor a set amount of time – and then extensions as needed – to build up better evidence.
Two weeks ago on a Thursday the prosecutor came to court with newly revised evidence to present and requested probation sentences for the three men. The court hearing extended to Friday. On Friday, the prosecutor entered court and changed the sentencing request to prison. All three men were given sentences between 5 ½ and 6 years and taken to jail at the end of the court hearing that Friday, January 30.
Day 816: Mongolia Prefers Economic Suicide Over Ending SouthGobi Vendetta
By Jon Springer
February 13 (Forbes) While former SouthGobi executives American Justin Kapla and Filipinos Cristobal David & Hilarion Cajucom Jr. have been detained in Mongolia for 816 days, Mongolia's economy has mirrored the despair of their situation in its death spiral. 2012 was the year Mongolia changed laws that would reduce foreign investment more than 80% annually on average for the next two years. 2012 was also the year the country had its last national parliamentary elections and the year the government's legal team began a stubborn endless pursuit to destroy the coal company SouthGobi Resources and the lives of three former employees.
It is not accidental that Mongolia's commitment to destroy SouthGobi has coincided with its economy imploding. As a frustrated top executive running his international company's business in Mongolia vented to me two months ago:
"A government determined to build its economy may or may not succeed. A government determined to destroy its economy will always succeed. That should be the opening quote for your next Mongolia article."
Day 817: Mongolia Has Chance To Shine Or Face Legal Global Image Failure
By Jon Springer
February 14 (Forbes) Global attention for events in Mongolia is unusual. The cases of imprisoned coal mining executives American Justin Kapla and Filipinos Hilarion Cajucom Jr. and Cristobal is providing Mongolia's President Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Saikhanbileg an opportunity to show their strength of leadership at home and abroad. This opportunity comes at a critical time for Mongolia with the economy in a state requiring conversations with the International Monetary Fund.
Day 818: Mongolia's Lacking Due Process Versus Families On Social Media
By Jon Springer
February 15 (Forbes) American Justin Kapla and Filipinos Hilarion Cajucom Jr. and Cristobal David have been detained in Mongolia for 818 days now. Americans who wish to draw this case to President Obama's attention can sign this linked petition to accomplish that. Supporters of Hilaron Cajucom can likewise sign this iPetition to draw attention to his case. Facing clear failings of due process by Mongolian and international standards alike, family members and friends of the three imprisoned men have taken their cause to social media.
Elk River, Minn. man sentenced to prison in Mongolia for tax evasion
by Maury Glover
ELK RIVER, Minn., February 5 (KMSP) - A man who used to call Minnesota home is now facing several years in a Mongolian prison for tax evasion while his family fights to get him out.
"I think my son's innocent and I don't think he should be in jail and I think he should be free to leave the country," Justin Kapla's father Bill Kapla said.
After watching Justin Kapla grow up in Elk River, it's hard for his father and brother to imagine him sitting in a jail in a third world country halfway around the world. Kapla moved to Mongolia, sandwiched between Russia and China, over a decade ago to become an executive for a coal mining company, SouthGobi Resources, Ltd. He fell in love with both the country and one of the locals, and he and his wife Solongo have two children. But soon after a visit back to Elk River two years ago, Mongolia wouldn't let Kapla leave the country again because the company he worked for was under investigation for tax evasion.
"The thing about my brother is he's the most honest person," his brother Josh Kapla said. "We just couldn't believe the charges against him because that's not who he is."
Kapla wasn't working for SouthGobi when the prosecutors claim the tax evasion took place, and two other trials against him were dismissed for lack of evidence. Last Friday, Kapla and two co-workers were found guilty and sentenced to 5 to 6 years in prison on what his family says are trumped up charges. His lawyer told the family their son and brother is safe, but they just wish he'd get home.
A recent post on a Facebook page administered by a family friend said the following:
"I talked with Sue today, Justine's mom. She said Justin's wife was able to visit. She brought him warm clothes and some personal items. Justin also got a message to Sue stating he is fine and currently working on a plan to keep his family safe. He's trying to set up a financial plan to make sure they are ok in case he does not get out in the near future. He has a great team of lawyers and friends in Mongolia that are working hard to get him released. He also relayed that he thinks the US is working on helping him. Please keep emailing our Politicians to ask for there help. The politicians work for us and we do need their help in this case. Sue gives a HUGE thanks to all of you for your emails and help. Sue is working diligently behind the scenes. As I said before, she is not a social media person. I love this family so much, and we need help from all of you through social media to spread the word. Thank you so much and God Bless."
Statement from Sen. Al Franken
"I can only imagine what a difficult time this is for Justin and his family. My office has been working on this case for more than two years, and we've contacted the US consulate in Mongolia, the Mongolian Ambassador to the United States, the Mongolian Prosecutor General, and Secretary of State John Kerry —all in the hopes of helping Justin to be able to leave Mongolia and see his family in Minnesota. I will continue to work with the State Department on this and will consider every possible action that may be helpful to Justin and his family."
'Free Justin Kapla'
Kapla's loved ones have set up a Free Justin Facebook page in hopes of putting pressure on Washington to help. In the meantime, they pray for the day he makes Minnesota his home on a permanent basis.
Mongolia Opts for Foreign Investment as Foreign Investors Jailed
By Michael Kohn
February 5 (Bloomberg) -- When Mongolia Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed took office in November, he said his first three priorities were the economy, the economy and the economy.
UPDATE 1-Mongolian "text referendum" backs mine investment over austerity – Reuters, February 4
Mongolians in SMS vote for foreign investment – AFP, February 4
A tiny share of Mongolians have decided the country's future, by text message – Quartz, February 4
Mongolians text 'no' to austerity – FT, February 4
Mongolians 'approve foreign investment' in SMS referendum; concerns over low turnout – ABC/AFP, February 4
Mongolia text poll impact: Dust off your exploration plans – MINING.com, February 4
No victors in Mongolia's text vote on mining – Mineweb, February 4
Poll Results – Direct and Indirect
By Julian Dierkes
This announcement is important because we learn about this particular direct democracy initiative, but also because it included an announcement of proposals to revise the Mining Law to allow for the trading of extra royalty payments for the government stake in strategic deposits. If this proposal passes parliament it might well turn out to be the big shift away from previous policy that Saikhanbileg's super-coalition might enable.
In some ways, the poll has been a flop. Participation was low and the vote somewhat inconclusive.
356,841 votes were cast (out of 3mio+ subscribers that had seemed "eligible") and of those 56.1% voted for mega-projects while the remaining 43.9% expressed a preference for austerity.
With somewhere around 1.6mio Mongolians eligible to vote (let's assume that this is the likely maximum number of SMS respondents, though minors might well have been invited to respond to the poll on the basis of their ownership of a cell phone contract), that would be a turnout of less than 25%. Not particularly inspiring given that the practical hurdles to participation were much lower than for voting (no registration, no need to visit polling station, 3-day window, but note potential confusion about process).
And, 56:44 is not exactly a decisive majority that makes this result a ringing endorsement of a particular path to take.
So, perhaps "flop" is a strong statement as the experiment has not gone awry entirely, but also not exactly an inspiring result or encouragement to pursue SMS polls further.
Why Disappointing Participation?
I can only imagine that the wording and the false choice must have played a role in Mongolians' decision not to participate. From jokes about the choices being akin to being forced to choose between mother or father (while really preferring one's spouse) to comments about the trustworthiness of the polling and Saikhanbileg's intentions in asking for the poll in the first place, there was not a lot of enthusiasm for the poll in the public.
As is surely the case with an democratic participation, when voters/citizens' perceive participation to be meaningless they stay away. It is hard to resist the conclusion that meaningless is how many Mongolians may have seen this poll.
The Big Results
When I wrote about the poll last week, I offered an interpretation of Saikhanbileg's initiative that does not rely on a view of his weakness as PM. Instead, I wrote
Maybe [Saikhanbileg] has a sense that he is actually nearing a breakthrough on major projects. If such a breakthrough is coming and if it includes some drastic decisions by the government (for example, to sell their stake in OT, but lots of other options might be considered), he will be able to make any announcements at least in the course of the Spring in reference to the expression of popular support that the SMS poll might provide.
It appears that this interpretation may have been right.
Saikhanbileg's announcement appears to include a proposed amendment to legislation on strategic deposits that would "establish a legal framework to transfer state-owned shares to the special license holder in order to collect special royalty payments".
That sounds like an offer of a deal to Rio Tinto (and others, obviously) to trade the 34% stake in Oyu Tolgoi for a higher rate of royalty payments. Presumably that would mean that the government would no longer invest in development at the mine, but would instead begin to collect a higher royalty on current and future production.
Two recent developments may have also been stepping stones along the way to this announcement.
When Gatsuurt was designated a strategic deposit recently paving the way for further development by Canadian Centerra Gold there were discussions of a lower stake (say, 20%) in exchange for a reduced investment. The new initiative might see this stake go to 0 in return for a higher royalty, it appears.
Two weeks ago there were discussions in Australia that Rio Tinto had offered to forego the royalty on a smelter that would be constructed under the Investment Agreement. Perhaps this was part of a round of negotiations about what might be traded for the 34% government stake.
Presumably, Saikhanbileg will introduce amendments along the line of what he has suggested here. But, this is unlikely to happen before Tsagaan Sar, lunar new year celebrations. Then March will bring some holidays (women's day on Mar 8, for example), and perhaps some commemorations/celebrations of 25 years since the resignation of the Politburo paving the way for democratic elections. So, it is not clear how quickly this amendment might be before the Ikh Khural.
When it does come to parliament it will make its way through committees and discussion, obviously, and I would not guess at the level of support this proposal might get in parliament, even in the context of a super coalition, and especially if it is introduced some weeks from now.
But, if this amendment does receive support, it could be enacted in the course of the Spring (more than a year ahead of parliamentary elections) and apply to OT negotiations almost immediately. In the meantime, some negotiations on the basis of the hope for this amendment to pass might be occurring already.
In a very different way, this poll might thus have been a turning point for the Saikhanbileg government and for Mongolia.
2015 World Press Freedom Index: Mongolia Rises The Most, Up 34 Spots to #54
The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks the performance of 180 countries according to a range of criteria that include media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
Top of the list, as so often, are three Scandinavian countries: Finland, which has been in first place for five years in succession, followed by Norway and Denmark. At the other end of the scale, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, in last place, were the worst performers. France is ranked 38th (up one place), the United States 49th (down three places), Japan 61st (down two places), Brazil 99 (up 12 places), Russia 152 (down four places), Iran 173rd (unchanged) and China 176th (down one place).
There are few of these. Mongolia (54th) rose 34 places, the Index's biggest jump. It had few violations in 2014, while the benefits of legislation on access to information began to be seen. Problems remain, however, including on the legislative front, but there has been a clear improvement.
Parliament Adopts Amendments to Nuclear Energy Acts
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 (MONTSAME) At its plenary meeting on Friday, the parliamentary session adopted draft amendments to the laws on nuclear energy and on minerals, and a draft resolution of parliament on approving a policy on radioactive minerals and on nuclear energy.
Presentation of the drafts was made by L.Tsog, a Vice Speaker of parliament, after the final discussion of these documents had been run.
The plenary session is currently continuing a discussion on whether to consider a draft resolution of parliament on overcoming current economic problems.
Parliament adopts renewed law on free trade zones
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 (MONTSAME) Plenary meeting of parliament on Thursday ran final readings of a renewed draft wording of the law on free trade zone and other related draft laws and resolutions.
The final reading of the draft wording, which had begun at the plenary meeting several days earlier, was presented with a conclusion made by the Standing committee on economy. Parliament held a voting on the recommendations and wordings issued by this committee an then adopted it with a majority approval.
Bill Seeks to Reform Mongolia's Medical Service Sector
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 (MONTSAME) S.Odontuya, D.Battsogt, L.Enkh-Amgalan and other MPs Friday submitted to the Speaker Z.Enkhbold a draft law on a management of medical service and aid.
The main purposes of the bill are to improve a quality and effectiveness of medical service and aid, to reform a structure of hospitals in order to ensure a development of the health sector, to alter the legal status of state-run hospitals, and to introduce a management that exploits the financial resources for the hospitals.
The draft law also aims to improve working performance of medical organizations and +professional skills of medical experts and doctors, and to upgrade a system of granting special license of medical activities, the draft initiators said.
Don't get in Enkhsaikhan's way, says mining expert
By B. Erdenechimeg
February 13 (gogo.mn) Mineral Resources Sector 2025 – II Open forum is taking place today with attendance of the officials from Ministry of Mining, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources Agency. Participants of this forum have been sharply criticizing the state involvement in the mining sector being high.
Glogex LLC CEO have has emphasized the obstacles Mongolia encountered on the way to be recognized at the coal market:
· Mongolia waited for 70 years to enter the coal market. Tavantolgoi deposit was discovere back in 1934 and only after 70 years it has chance to be recognized as one of the biggest coal mines. Chinese coal market is opening up for us enormous opportunities. We initiated Coal Mongolia summit in 2011 with vision to enter this big market with a slogan 'Mongolia to become biggest player in the world coal market'. At that time over 1500 investors came to the event and the price for coking coal was USD 400 per ton. Mongolia was a shining star. We have lost our opportunity to become biggest player in the coal market. Now we are facing another big challenge. We have been delaying the Tavantolgoi project with nonsense political debates of gauges. We might have to wait for another 10 years for the next opportunity to come up. The more delays with the agreement with consortium the closer Mongolia is to being bankrupt.
Will the coal prices go up in near future?
Analysts are being pessimistic with their estimates that coking coal prices are not to be attractive until 2020 with excessive supply. We need to grab on the opportunities at the moment. Coal is widespread mineral throughout the world. We must understand that we are not the only ones facing problems; the whole world is facing the downturn at the coal market. For instance, Peabody has licenses to several deposits in Mongolia, but still no mine is developed on those yet, their value has sunk. It is not only Mongolian companies are struggling. Everywhere companies are concerned over the market. Geopolitical competition is happening. If we succeed with Tavantolgoi project we might be able to become number one or two at the coking coal market.
You have mentioned that politicians are creating obstacles. Which party or whom exactly are you directing your critics?
Although I am member of DP our members at the State Great Khural are exercising too much populist approach. They are not creating any stability in the sector. I have a right to critique my party members. Today Speaker Z.Enkhbold and Minister A.Gansukh are discussing of backing up from their decisions.
We had a chance to hear opinion of D.Damba, CEO of the Mongolian Mining Professional Engineers Association.
· FDI is clearly depending on how Mongolia is to resolve the issues with Tavantolgoi deposit. PErsonaly I see M.Enkhsaikhan as one of the proper candidates to lead this project. He has done huge amount of work on the study alone. From the side I see him as the most competent project leader. He is laying the proper grounds for further development of mega projects in Mongolia. But he is facing so many obstacles.
What obstacles exactly?
I want to say to other politicians to stay away from his way. Mega projects are very sensitive. We must understand that if this project is to be used for different purposes Mongolia will suffer, not M.Enkhsaikhan. There is no good in replacing him with other person. There is no proper candidate for this job.
Mineral Resources Sector 2025-II Open Forum takes place
By B. Erdenechimeg
February 13 (gogo.mn) Mineral Resources Sector 2025-II Open Forum is taking place at the Government Building. The discussion is being organized to improve the competitiveness and transparency in mining and oil sectors.
The Forum consists of two parts "Social and Economic Impacts of Mining Sector" and "Sector Competitiveness" under slogan "Mineral Resources Our Opportunities.
Minister of Mining R.Jigjid addressed with the opening speech and gave information on reforms in Mining sector legislation.
Law on Oil approved in 1991 has been renewed completely, provisioning the regulations for the unconventional oil resources for the first time. Moreover, Mongolia has generated income of MNT 290 billion from the oil sector last year. Also the renewed law states that Government is to approve the agreements on oil extraction and the oil exploration is to be regulated by the local government.
Also Minister informed that projects on rare minerals are being implemented at the ministry level and more focus will be directed at the oil sector.
Mongolia to Open 30 Million Hectares of Land for Exploration
By Michael Kohn
February 11 (Bloomberg) -- Exploration license area will be a minimum of 25 hectares (62 acres) and a maximum of 150,000 hectares: Otgochuluu Chuluuntseren, the General Director of the Department of Strategic Policy and Planning at the Ministry of Mining, wrote in an e-mail yesterday.
* Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia processing 51 applications for mining exploration licenses
* No licenses issued yet this year
* NOTE: The exploration licenses in process will be the first to be issued since by MRAM since 2010.
AFCCP reports illegal practices in license applications at MRAM
By Ch. Khaliun
February 13 (UB Post) At a press conference held on Tuesday, the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP) reported violations found during an investigation of the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), announcing that the process of issuing exploration licenses violates the law.
Head of the AFCCP T.Ayursaikhan said measures will be taken to invalidate the illegal decisions of the MRA, actions which violated the law on competiveness, but officials from the MRA denied claims made in the report.
Ayursaikhan said, "The MRA was selling devices to entities for 280,000 MNT, and the right to access the system for 500,000 MNT to two million MNT without any legal regulations. They don't have any valid legal grounds to charge these fees. The law on minerals doesn't have any regulation that states applications must be submitted electronically, or that the issuing of application numbers will be conducted electronically. During the investigation, we found out that the head of the MRA issued an order to limit the number of applicants, violating their legal right to apply for the exploration licenses. The MRA also violated the legal rights of entities in legally owning exploration licenses and operating mines."
Head of the MRA's Monitoring, Evaluation, and Statistics Department S.Tsogzolmaa said, "The AFCCP's conclusion that our operations violate the law doesn't have any grounds. The payment for the virtual private network (VPN) device that applicants are purchasing is being transferred to Acsense IT Support Ltd's account. The VPN device is the company's intellectual property, so it's right that they receive the money. The fee for accessing the system from 500,000 MNT to two million MNT is being transferred to a state account. The MRA didn't take any money. We are sorry that the AFCCP is spreading false information through the media when they didn't give us a statement about their investigation."
Why Porsche Is Betting on Mongolia's Luxury Market
February 16 (Bloomberg) There's been little to cheer for investors when it comes to Mongolia of late, so why does Porsche think now is the right time to enter the market? Bloomberg TV Mongolia's Duuya Baatar took some fairly pricey German engineering onto the streets of Ulaanbaatar to find out.
Doing Business with Mongolia seminar, February 25, London
(Mongolian British Chamber of Commerce) -- This will take place at Ernst & Young LLP, Becket House, 1 Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7EU.
The speakers will include:
• Tim Pinkstone, Ernst & Young
• Robert Court, Rio Tinto
• Tom Kendon/Helen Eccles, Cambridge Assessment
• Batzaya Erdene, Judo Wrestler
• Bataa Tserenbat, Invest Mongolia Club.
The seminar will be conducted under Chatham House rules. Registration will be from 6pm and the event will start at 6.30pm. Drinks to celebrate the recent Mongolian New Year (Tsagaan Sar) will follow including the finest Mongolian vodka.
To confirm a place please email Altansuvd.email@example.com
Fitch Rates Mongolia's State Bank 'B'; Outlook Negative
Fitch Ratings-Hong Kong-04 February 2015: Fitch Ratings has assigned Mongolia-based State Bank LLC a Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of 'B' with a Negative Outlook. A full list of rating actions is at the end of this rating action commentary.
KEY RATING DRIVERS - IDRS, SUPPORT RATING (SR) and SUPPORT RATING FLOOR (SRF)
The IDRs, SR and SRF of State Bank reflect Fitch's view that it would be the domestic bank most likely to receive state support in case of need. This assessment reflects State Bank's strong relationship with the government as evidenced by its 100% state-ownership and the Ministry of Finance has seconded personnel to take up key positions at the bank. Furthermore, State Bank is Mongolia's fourth-largest bank with a 13% share of total system deposits. It maintains a comparatively strong nationwide retail banking presence and the authorities have designated it one of the country's six systemically important banks.
State Bank emerged from the government's efforts to maintain banking sector stability by bailing out two failed banks: Zoos Bank, which failed in 2009, and Savings Bank in 2013.
KEY RATING SENSITIVITIES - IDRS, SUPPORT RATING and SUPPORT RATING FLOOR
The IDR is driven by the SRF and as such State Bank's ratings are sensitive to Fitch's assessment around the likelihood for government support. Fitch applies a one-notch differential between the Long-Term IDR of the sovereign (B+/Negative) and State Bank's SRF. A potential change in the government's ownership, which is not yet reflected in these ratings, could lead to a wider notching if Fitch believed this would impact the state's willingness to provide support.
The Negative Outlook indicates that a downgrade of Mongolia's sovereign rating would result in a downgrade of State Bank's IDR, SRF and SR.
Positive action on the IDR could derive from the sovereign's stronger ability and propensity to provide support or from a substantial improvement in State Bank's intrinsic financial strength, as expressed in the Viability Rating (VR). In accordance with Fitch's bank rating methodology, the IDR is the higher of the SRF or the VR.
KEY RATING DRIVERS - VIABILITY RATING
State Bank's VR reflects the bank's leading franchise and adequate asset quality, characterised by limited foreign currency lending (2.3% of total loans at end-November 2014). The rating also captures the bank's limited loss absorption capacity, moderate profitability and Fitch's assessment of corporate governance, which is considered weaker than privately-owned peers' due to the lack of external or international shareholder representation.
The bank's Fitch core capital ratio of 13.8% at end-1H14 compares favourably with peers'. This calculation applies a 100% risk weighting to zero-risk weighted loans under the government subsidy scheme for which the credit risks reside with the banks. State Bank's capital, however, also benefits from substantial property revaluation reserves (1.2% of regulatory risk-weighted assets at end-2014), which render the tight regulatory total capital ratio particularly susceptible to fluctuations in property prices. The regulatory total capital ratio was 15.1% at end-2014 compared to the minimum requirement of 14%.
Liquidity is adequate with the bank maintaining a low 83.8% loan-to-deposit ratio at end-1H14 compared with peers'. Profitability is weakened by low revenue contribution from non-loan businesses and high operating costs from managing its large branch network. In addition the bank incurred non-recurring expenses related to performing structural adjustments and improving bank practices following the takeover of Savings Bank's non-problematic assets. Furthermore, the regulator's 60% net loan to asset cap constrains State Bank's growth and profitability.
RATING SENSITIVITIES - VIABILITY RATING
An upgrade of the VR would result from a substantial improvement in capital and an extended track record in performance and loan quality. The ratings could be downgraded if there is material erosion of capital, including from fluctuations in property prices. Intensifying pressure on the corporate loan portfolio from a further deterioration of the operating environment, resulting in a significant weakening of loan quality, could also result in a downgrade.
The rating actions are as follows:
Long-Term Foreign Currency IDR assigned at 'B'; Outlook Negative
Long-Term Local Currency IDR assigned at 'B'; Outlook Negative
Short-Term Foreign Currency IDR assigned at 'B'
Support Rating assigned at '4'
Support Rating Floor assigned at 'B'
Viability Rating assigned at 'b-'
Hunnu Air suspends Murun flights on low passengers
February 11 (news.mn) Hunnu Air, the domestic airline in charge of air transportation service to the provinces, has decided to temporarily stop flights between Ulaanbaatar and Murun starting from March 1.
Since the launching of the new tarmac road from Khuvsgul to Ulaanbaatar, the number of passengers traveling to the area by plane has decreased.
Hunnu Air is still offering flights to Manchuria and Khailar, and to Uvs, Khovd, Zavkhan, Dornod and Khuvsgul provinces.
Mongolia Discusses Procuring Milk Cooling, Grain Storage Facilities with China Exim
By B. Ireedui
February 13 (gogo.mn) Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture B.Batzorig met with the representatives of Exim Bank of China.
During the meeting sides have discussed on implementation of two bids 'Procurement of Equipment for Milk Cooling Center' and 'Grain Storage Elevator' facilities.
The Grain Storage Elevator facility with total capacity to store 91 thousand tons of grain requires USD 20.4 million funds in order to cover the major agriculture regions in Mongolia, while the Milk Cooling Center will enable to provide the city residents with pure milk uninterruptedly.
After information exchange sides proceeded with discussions and concluded that more studies need to be carried out and addressed within the project delivery period.
Dairy product and grain is the leading sectors in Mongolian agriculture and the development of the above mentioned facilities is to ensure food safety and uninterrupted supply with higher economic benefits.
Ryton-based Gradon Architecture becomes first British architect to launch in Mongolia
February 4 (Bdaily) Ryton-based architecture firm Gradon Architecture has made history by becoming the first British practice to set up in Mongolia.
Gradon has opened a new design studio in the country's capital Ulan Bator, taking on three new Mongolian staff as part of the expansion.
The move is the first overseas office for the fast-growing practice, which has increased its international business from zero to 25 per cent of the company's total turnover in the last two years.
The new venture will be managed by Tanja Smith, who was recently promoted to the role of Technical Director, and has since relocated to the country to oversee the firm's expansion.
Ms Smith said: "We're delighted that Gradon has become the first UK architect practice to open for business in Mongolia. This exciting new venture will make us a unique and experienced multi-cultural design team with the ability to share ideas between the UK and Mongolia.
"In many ways the country is as modern as the UK with an enthusiasm for forward thinking and a desire for change. However, as one of the coldest and most polluted places to live on earth, Mongolia and especially its capital Ulan Bator, continues to face significant environmental challenges.
"By being here and bringing UK standards of best practice to the country we hope we can inspire further environmental awareness across the country."
Gradon first visited Mongolia in January 2011 and since then, with support from the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the British Embassy in Mongolia, has completed a number of design projects in Mongolia from its North East base, NE40 studios in Ryton, including proposals for a number of energy-efficient homes and commercial projects in Ulan Bator.
The new studio in Ulan Bator was formally opened by the British Ambassador to Mongolia, Chris Stuart, who worked with Gradon to help establish the business in the country.
Ambassador Stuart said: "The arrival of Gradon Architecture is a defining moment in bringing to Mongolia some of the best that the UK has to offer in the world of architecture.
"I am delighted that Gradon as a young, dynamic and innovative award-winning practice is the first British architectural studio to establish a presence here.
"The Embassy team has been privileged to work with Graham and his team and will take great pleasure in seeing the studio go from strength to strength in this growing market."
Graham McDarby, Design Director at Gradon Architecture, said: "Many people ask us 'Why Mongolia?' In short, we want to help. There is a desperate need for environmentally friendly architecture out here and sustainability is at the heart of what we strive to achieve as a practice.
"Designing modern, sustainable homes for the future can truly improve the lives of people in Mongolia. If our proposals can deliver a project that future developments can draw from, we believe thousands of families will benefit from improved living standards.
"Our expansion into Mongolia will also serve to strengthen our business in the UK, adding extra experience, strength and depth to our team. What's more, the opportunity to share cultural influences and our implementation of BIM (Building Information Modelling) means what we learn in Mongolia can also be used to shape and inform our work in the UK."
Gradon's sustainable designs, which exceed British Building Regulation standards, could potentially form a blueprint for the regeneration of the city's 'Ger districts', where thousands of families live in tents without access to electricity or running water.
As well as growing overseas, Gradon has recruited two new staff in the UK, taking its total number to 17. Liam Nelis joins the team from RPP Architects to work on a mixed use commercial, retail and residential project in Derry, Northern Ireland. Meanwhile Scott Savin, an experienced architect who joins from PJC Architects, will be strengthening the Residential sector and Urban Design team.
Registered with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Gradon Architecture delivers high quality architectural design across a range of different sectors. These include commercial, residential, retail, leisure, health, education, private housing, master-planning, interior design and conservation.
UK architect expands into Mongolia – The Northern Echo, February 6
VIVOTEK Outperforms Competitors in Trial: Wins Privilege of Providing Mongolia's Largest Commercial Bank, Khan Bank, with the Latest Surveillance System
Khan Bank: Helping Mongolia Grow Since 1991
Khan Bank is Mongolia's largest commercial bank. It provides banking services to an estimated 70 per cent of Mongolian households. Established in 1991, Khan Bank has continued to grow and expand its service since its inception. Today, Khan Bank has 530 branches throughout Mongolia and provides comprehensive banking services to individuals and companies. Never settling for the status-quo, Khan Bank has also continuously invested in technology to enhance the quality of service it provides its customers, such as an extensive ATM network covering Ulaanbaatar, aimag capital and major district centres and nationwide access to internet and mobile banking. Moreover, the rapid growth and development of Khan Bank is expected to continue as Mongolia continues to perform economically. This young bank is preparing to gallop, like Mongolia's world famous horses, into the future.
The Challenge: Khan Bank's Previous Security System Unable to Keep Pace. A Trial is Held to Determine the Ideal Solution.
In this climate of rapid growth and expansion, Khan Bank required a thoroughbred surveillance system which could keep pace with its changing demands and keep Khan Bank ahead of the field. At the heart of any bank is its ability to secure its customers' property, and as such the safes at each of Khan Bank's branches required the utmost level of security. Unfortunately, the bank's previous security system was not able to keep up with Khan Bank's security needs, leading to a need to revolutionise its entire security system. The bank needed high quality and high megapixel surveillance cameras not only for its central headquarters, but for every branch across urban and rural areas, and all ATMs in the Ulaanbaatar area.
In order to determine which surveillance system could provide them with the absolute best performance for this vast network, Khan Bank decided to run a trial between the leading providers of security systems, including VIVOTEK.
The Solution: VIVOTEK – Ahead of the Field and Ready to Help.
No stranger to a challenge, VIVOTEK, along with local distributor ITZONE LLC's highly qualified and experienced engineers and sales team, were able to provide the strongest solution and exceed Khan Bank's demanding expectations.
A total of 675 VIVOTEK cameras were installed across Khan Bank's Mongolian network. The broad coverage, high resolution, variable focus and specialised design of VIVOTEK cameras ensured that Khan Bank's offices, branches, safes, ATMs and entrances could all be monitored on a secure and stable high-performance IP network system. Khan Bank, thoroughbred among Mongolian banks, had finally found a surveillance system that could keep pace.
Farming in winter greenhouses
February 13 (UB Post) When Unuudur journalists visited a winter greenhouse in 13th khoroo of Khan-Uul District last week, a scent of summer, and lush vegetables and fruits welcomed them in the middle of winter. Bees were buzzing around ripe strawberries in the solar heated greenhouse.
The following is an interview with vegetable farmer and owner of the greenhouse who harvests all year round, Kh.Altantsatsralt, about how he came up with the idea to grow vegetables in winter and current progress of his work. He is currently studying for his doctoral degree in fruit cultivation at the State University of Agriculture.
Source: Unuudur Daily
Ambassador guides Mongolia tour for Turkish tourists
Turkey's ambassador to Mongolia Murat Karagöz personally guides his guests during their visits to Mongolia and promises to offer a cup of Turkish coffee to Turkish tourists
February 3 (Daily Sabah) With a surface area double the size of Turkey and home to a mere 3 million people, Mongolia is a country of differences. Interestingly, half of the population lives in Ulan Bator, which must be one of the world's coldest capitals. The bidirectional traffic has become a chronic problem in the city, while vast and deserted steppes extend around the city. After Ulan Bator, the most populous Mongolian city has a population of only 100,000 people. The capital suffers from air population, but Lake Khovsgol located in northwest Mongolia is one of the world's cleanest lakes with a picturesque landscape.
Murat Karagöz has been assigned to be Turkey's Ambassador to Mongolia for over a year and said that each day he learns something different about the country and its traditional culture. Although he is nearly 8,000 kilometers away from Turkey, Karagöz still feels close to his homeland. He recently spoke about his experience in Mongolia and shared interesting information about the East Asian country:
Festival on icy lake
If you travel to the northern parts of the country, you discover Lake Khovsgol. From November to the end of March, the lake is covered with ice. The depth of the ice is at least one meter and you can cross it by car for about 60 kilometers. However, we hear each year about at least three or four cars falling into the lake while crossing. In March, even festivals are organized on the icy lake.
A country of wild horses and red deer
Hustai National Park, which is 100 kilometers from Ulan Bator, offers you a chance to see the Prezewalski wild horses, which live unattended around the mountain, as well as red deer and reindeer herds. It is also possible to spend the night at the park.
Genghis Khan everywhere
Undoubtedly, Genghis Khan was one of the most powerful leaders in all of human history. As soon as you step into Mongolia, you will discover that the country's airport, squares and biggest complexes as well as various places are named after the Great Khan. There is a monument 60 kilometers from the capital city, which was erected in the area where Genghis Khan allegedly erected his imperial tent. At 40 meters high, the metal monument is one of the tallest monuments in the world. Visitors can go inside the structure and climb all the way to the top as well. Moreover, the monument features a museum, a restaurant and cafes
Experience moorland life
Mongolia has rich culture and traditions. When you visit the country, you should not only see Ulan Bator, but go out to the steppes and experience life there too. Nomadic life is in the genes of the Mongols, and 30 percent of the Mongols still maintain nomadic lifestyles. Moreover, Mongolia is composed of 18 different communities and each of them has different rituals and traditions. In order to experience this culture, you should be a guest in a nomad's tent. You can observe the order, where people sit, where they eat, gender roles and which foot you should use while you enter and leave the tent. You should also take the opportunity to ride a horse.
Cashmere as a souvenir
A well-known souvenir from Mongolia is cashmere. It is possible to find cashmere at different qualities and prices, but it is definitely cheaper than it is in Turkey. Producing cashmere is a very difficult process both for people and the animals, as the hair of goats is ripped off or plucked.
A country rich in minerals
In the wider world, little is known about Mongolia, even though it has one of the richest mineral deposits of coal, gold, copper, silver and uranium in the world. Western companies from Australia, Canada and the U.K. are mining these deposits and the neighboring countries of Russia and China are investing in the region. Turkey also has much to contribute to the region in terms of agriculture and soil improvement. With the country's numerous animals, livestock breeding has much potentially as well.
Stay at least 1 week
A few days are not enough to tour Mongolia. In my opinion, you need at least a week or 10 days to travel around the country. If you are not restricted by time and have a passion for travel, you can go to China or Russia while you are in Mongolia as well. The Trans-Siberian railroad travels through Mongolia and takes you to Beijing or the Tuva region of Russia from Ulan Bator. If you are more adventurous, the Trans-Siberian railroad goes all the way east to Valdivostok. You can also travel to South Korea in three hours by plane, or Japan in only four-and-a-half hours.
Three million horses
Mongolia is a fascinating country for history, nature and geography enthusiasts. Although the country is somewhat isolated, it features one of the world's most appealing geographies. Almost 52 million animals live on the country's moorlands. Among them are 3 million horses. If you would like to ride a horse or want to experience tranquility in nature, then you should visit Mongolia. The Gobi Desert is another must-see attraction. It extends all along the country's south. Tourists can enjoy touring on camels and there are also beautiful sand dunes. Moreover, the country's rich landscape has much to offer photographers.
Be a guest at Mongolian festivals
In order to observe Mongolian traditions, there are two main festivals you can attend: Tasman Sar (White Moon) at the end of February or Naadam (Games) in the summer. Naadam, which entered UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010, runs for three or four days and includes the games of wrestling, archery and horseback riding. Almost the entire country attends the festivities and nearly 1,000 wrestlers take to a field almost as big as a stadium. You should witness the wrestlers' way of saluting the crown and their opponents as well as their costumes and songs. Additionally, an official parade takes place between July 11 and July 13 during the opening ceremony of the games. You can also see people dressed in traditional Mongolian costumes on the streets on these days.
Home of the Orkhon Inscriptions
The first Turkic civilizations were established on this land. Furthermore, the Orkhon Inscriptions, which mentioned the word "Türk" for the first time, are found here. As part of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) project titled Turkish Monuments, the inscriptions have been on display since 2008 at a museum built on the same location. Turkey also built a 46-kilometer road to Karakorum, where the museum is located. The inscriptions dedicated to Bilge Khagan and Kül Tigin, the younger brother of Bilge Khagan, are located about 340 kilometers southwest of Ulan Bator as well. The inscriptions dedicated to Bilge Tonyukuk, the counselor of Göktürk Khagans, is situated 60 kilometers from Ulan Bator. Together, the inscriptions are all called the Orkhon Inscriptions. There are many other historical artifacts that are waiting to be uncovered as well, which is the responsibility of not only our Mongolian brothers and Turkey, but also anyone who prioritizes history and culture.
World's coldest capital
I believe the world behaves cruelly toward Mongolia, as it has one of the world's coldest capitals. Bear in mind, Ulan Bator is not the coldest city in Mongolia; you feel the bitter cold when you head for the steppes. Winter lasts eight months and the capital's average temperature in January is between minus 27 C and minus 28 C. This year, the temperature even dropped to minus 32 C. A continental climate surrounds the entire region, and the temperature differences between summer and winter months are high. While you can experience 35 C during the summer, it decreases to minus 40 C in the winter - almost a 70-degree difference. Sand storms can occur when the spring approaches, but fortunately they do not look like those in the Middle East even though we feel their disturbing impact in the city center. In short, we live in a rather harsh climate.
World Bank criticizes UB planning, real estate regulations
February 11 (news.mn) World Bank has introduced to the Administration of Ulaanbaatar the results of research conducted on land utilization, the legal environment, and management.
Governor of the Capital E.Bat-Uul, Deputy Governor of the Capital N.Bataa, World Bank Resident Representative Jim Anderson, members of the research team, officials from the Property Relations Office of Ulaanbaatar, the City General Planning Authority, and ger area development agencies participated in today's event.
Work Bank research looked at the population growth of Ulaanbaatar, which has risen dramatically since 2000, and confirmed that land occupied by construction and buildings has increased by 40 percent.
Due to the expansion of the capital, in comparison with cities with the same area in the region, it is still a city with low population density.
Expansion of this low density spatial area has negatively influenced an increase in traffic and air pollution, which has also had negative impacts on a decreased availability of schools, hospitals, and insufficient state services.
Due to unplanned land privatization, public land often becomes the property of others. Land as property falls under laws on land ownership and fees, but opportunities to direct these fees towards infrastructure development are not being acted upon.
Landowners who are paying land fees today are still paying fees according to the property value rates of past years, which was criticized by the World Bank.
Construction of New Ulaanbaatar International Airport will finish in 2017
By B. Erdenechimeg
February 12 (gogo.mn) Today, "Additional loan agreement on constructing the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport" between the Government of Mongolia and the Japan International Cooperation Agency is to discussed by Budget Standing Committee.
Construction of "New Ulaanbaatar International Airport" requires USD 560 million. Currently, USD 245 million had already granted.
The Government of Mongolia requested additional loan with worth of USD 360 million from Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The additional loan will be increased the debt ceiling. Thus, Debt Management Law needs to be approved urgently.
Project director, N.Enkhbat said that Construction of "New Ulaanbaatar International Airport" will be finished in 7th of January, 2017.
Two new state-financed kindergartens open in Ulaanbaatar
By M. Zoljargal
February 13 (UB Post) Ulaanbaatar opened two new kindergartens on Wednesday. The construction of the kindergartens was financed through the state budget.
One of the buildings was for Kindergarten No.5 in Chinggeltei District whose operation was halted from April as its building was no longer operable. The establishment has resumed operation at the new building.
Olon Toosgo LLC constructed the building in ten months.
The previous building had a capacity of 120 children, while doubled number of preschoolers will be able to study at the new building, with four new classes opening up.
A total of 350 children registered at the kindergarten so far, but the standard number of 240 will be kept. Mayor E.Bat-Uul reported that the kindergarten will receive children of public servants.
Resident S.Byambadolgor whose son studied in Kindergarten No.5 said, "My son went to both private and public kindergartens near our home when the building was under construction. It was hard for us to register our child to other kindergartens in different khoroos and we had to seek help from people that we know who work in kindergartens. But the new building was completed in a rather short time and we are pleased."
21st khoroo of Bayanzurkh opens third kindergarten
Another new kindergarten opened in 21st khoroo of Bayanzurkh District which was one of the 18 khoroos in the city without any kindergarten until September 2014, when two Canadian-style kindergartens started operation with financing from the World Bank.
The new kindergarten, has a capacity for 150 children is the third to open in the khoroo. It has 150 beds and was also constructed in the Canadian-style. So far, 210 children have registered at the kindergarten.
The decision to build another kindergarten in 21st khoroo came after a public vote among residents. Approximately 970 million MNT was spent for the project.
ISOHaus company, which constructed the kindergarten, provided a 50-year guarantee and assured that the building does not lose heat, ensuring a warm environment for children.
Three more kindergartens will open in Bayanzurkh District this year and two of them will be ready to receive preschoolers shortly after Tsagaan Sar, reported district officials.
Chairman of Russian State Duma to Visit Mongolia February 15-16
February 13 (news.mn) By invitation of the Speaker of Parliament, Zandaakguu Enkhbold, Chairman of the State Duma of Russia's Federal Assembly, Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin is going to pay an official visit to Mongolia from February 15-16, 2015.
Within his official visit to Mongolia, Chairman Naryshkin is going to hold a discussion with Speaker Z.Enkhbold, pay an official visit to the President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj, and he will also meet with Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg.
The Chairman of the State Duma will be introduced to the Parliamentary session hall, and he will pay respect to the statue of Marshal Jukov, visit Jukov's museum, and will participate in a round table meeting to be organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the subject "History and Literature of the Relationship of Mongolia and Russia".
Chairman Naryshkin will also grant testimonial mandates to soldiers who participated in the World War II Battle of Khalkhin-Gol.
Below is a biography of Chairman of the State Duma of Russia's Federal Assembly Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin:
Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin was born in October 27, 1954, in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). He completed a degree at the University of Mechanics in engineering and radio mechanics, and graduated from the International Management Institute of Saint Petersburg. He holds a doctoral degree in economic science.
In 1982 he was Deputy Rector of the University of Polytechnics of Leningrad, and also served as an expert of the State Committee of Science and Engineering. In1992 he became a Department Head at the Bureau of Administration Economy and Finance, and in 1995 he became Head of the Foreign Investment Department of Promstroybank of Saint Petersburg. In 1997 he was Head of the Investment Authority of the Government of Leningrad Committee on Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation.
In 2004 Naryshkin became the Deputy Director of the Economic Management Department, working closely with the President of the Russian Federation, and in March 2004 he was made Deputy Director of the Russian Government Mechanism, a position he held until September 2004 when he was promoted to Head of the Russian Government Mechanism and Minister of the Russian Federation. In 2007 he served as Head of the Russian Government Mechanism and Deputy Director of the Russian Government. And from May 2008 to December 2011 he was Head of the President's Administration Office. In December 2011 Naryshkin became a Member of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of Russian Federation, and presently he serves as Head of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of Russian Federation.
Chairman of Russian Duma to visit us – Montsame, February 13
S.Y.Naryshkin, Speaker of the State Duma to pay state visit to Mongolia – gogo.mn, February 13
Russian Analytical Digest, No. 161: Russia and Mongolia
January 30 (The Center for Security Studies, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) --
Author(s): Yury Kruchkin, Matthew Kupfer, Jeff Reeves
Editor(s): Stephen Aris, Matthias Neumann, Robert Orttung, Jeronim Perović, Heiko Pleines, Hans-Henning Schröder, Aglaya Snetkov
Series: Russian Analytical Digest (RAD)
Publisher(s): Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich; Research Centre for East European Studies, University of Bremen; Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, George Washington University
Publication Year: 2015
Jeff Reeves assesses Mongolia's motivations for deepening ties with Russia at a time when Moscow's foreign policy has many former Soviet Bloc states concerned, arguing that for Ulan Bator a strong and assertive Russia is seen as preferable for counterbalancing China. Secondly, Yury Kruchkin analyses recent Mongolian political and economic developments, and suggests that Russian diplomacy and business has failed to take advantage of opportunities to develop relations in the past, although many possibilities remain open for Russian small and medium businesses. Thirdly, Matthew Kupfer considers the growing economic ties between Mongolia and the Russian Federation's Republic of Tuva, outlining that these development should be seen as an example of how other southern Siberian border regions could use cultural commonalities to develop greater economic ties with Mongolia.
China plans Tumen River Delta tourism zone with North Korea, Russia; South Korea, Japan and Mongolia to Join Later
BEIJING, February 13 (Reuters) – China is planning an international tourism zone in its northeastern border area with Russia and North Korea, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday, in Pyongyang's latest push for new investment.
Jiang Chaoliang, governor of China's northeastern Jilin province, said the province would draw up a blueprint for the Tumen River Delta international tourism area this year, according to Xinhua. The Tumen River divides China and North Korea.
Officials are exploring a management model of the tourism zone that would involve China, Russia and North Korea, Xinhua said. Visitors will enter the tourism zone without visas and shopping will be duty-free, Xinhua said, citing officials.
In the long run, South Korea, Japan and Mongolia will join the tourism area via highways, railways and air routes, Xinhua said, citing Zhao Xiaojun, director of Jilin Provincial Tourism Administration.
The initiative was put forward by the Hunchun city government in Jilin in 2013, Xinhua said.
The zone is the latest push by North Korea to transform itself into a tourist attraction — a move with potential economic gains in the short term that avoids restructuring ailing industrial plants.
Many of its projects target Chinese tourists, for whom the North is a cheap destination. While many Chinese flock to Paris, London or New York, some visit North Korea for a slice of nostalgia from the days before their own country opened up to the outside world in the 1980s, according to regular western visitors to Pyongyang.
China is North Korea's most important diplomatic and economic ally, although three nuclear tests, several rounds of saber-rattling and violence on the China-North Korea border have tested Beijing's support.
Tumen Tourism Region Gains Russian and North Korean Cooperation – The Beijinger, February 13
Kazakhstan's WTO accession hampered by Mongolia and Ukraine: Deputy PM
February 5 (Tengrinews) Kazakhstan's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) is hampered by two countries - Ukraine and Mongolia, Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev said during his visit to Pavlodar Oblast in Kazakhstan, Tengrinews reports.
The reason for the talk was the proposal of Pavlodar authorities to develop a new state program for development of local content. The currently implemented program has served well to improve the exiting regulations and develop new measures to enhance coordination between the government agencies and national companies for development of local content and non-tariff regulation, they said, proposing to bring the work forward even further with the next program.
"The program was designed for the years 2010-2014. Under this program we held cooperation forums on a regular basis, where potential buyers could meet with companies to discuss cooperation. The program has proven its effectiveness, so we kindly ask to either renew the program for the development of local content or develop a new one," Deputy Akim (Mayor) of Pavlodar Oblast Duisenbai Turganov said at the meeting the Deputy Prime-Minister of Kazakhstan where they discussed government support to industrial enterprises.
However, Sagintayev did not support this proposal and said that all the efforts had to be pulled into Kazakhstan's accession into the WTO.
"We cannot do this, we are entering the WTO. We have almost completed all the preparations and the negotiation processes for the accession onto the WTO. But we still have some unresolved issues with Mongolia and Ukraine. There are some unclear points. Mongolia opposes, citing some historical issues. It probably wants to bargain a better deal for itself, you know how talks happen in such cases. There are also issues with Ukraine. But I think that in the near future all of these issues will be resolved," Sagintayev said.
India-Mongolia joint exercise culminates at Gwalior Military Cantonment
Gwalior, Feb.6 (ANI) The tenth India-Mongolia joint training exercise, which was held with an aim to enhance interoperability between the security forces of both nations during the UN peacekeeping missions, culminated with a grand closing ceremony at the Gwalior Military Cantonment on Friday.
The joint exercise had commenced on January 23 this year.
Brigadier SC Panwar of the Indian Army stated that this exercise has enhanced mutual interoperability for counter terrorism/ insurgency assignments under the United Nations mandate, as required.
Brig. Gen. Enkhbaatar of the Mongolian Army addressed all participants and commended them for their enthusiasm, jointmanship and professionalism during the successful conduct of training which he said would contribute significantly towards operating jointly in an United Nations environment, whenever the need arises.
He also stated that understanding of each other's method of carrying out operational assignments and logistics tasks was an important takeaway of the joint exercise.
Mongolian President's Gift to President Xi Arrives in Erenhot
February 13 (Xinhua) On Feb 12, 2015, two horses presented by Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj to Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrived in China through the port of entry in Erenhot. President Xi paid state visit to Mongolia on August 21 – 22 last year. The two hourses were named Altay and Cherlen by Xi, meaning China and Mongolia are joined by mountains and rivers and in good neighborly and friendly relations.
Mogi: looks like Turkish media is still getting the identity of the boy's father wrong. P. Bat-Erdene is the youngest of the Shunkhlai brothers (MP G. Batkhuu, P. Batsaikhan) and runs MTS Group.
Mongolian couple's walk along the Bosporus ends tragically
Istanbul, February 13 (Daily Sabah) Tragedy struck two prominent Mongolian politicians whose daughter and nephew drowned in Istanbul's Bosphorus on Wednesday night. Mongolian Justice Minister and brother of a renowned wrestler turned lawmaker arrived in Istanbul to fly the bodies of their daughter and son respectively back home.
Sereter Bat Erdene (Mogi: Sereeter Bat-Erdene), 23-year-old nephew of Mongolian wrestler turned politician Badmaanyambuugiin Bat Erdene and his 22-year-old girlfriend Sarangeral Dorligjav (Mogi: Sarangerel Dorligjav), daughter of Mongolian Justice Minister Dambii Dorligjav died on Wednesday. The young man drowned when he fell from a wall overlooking the Bosporus outside the upscale Four Seasons hotel in Istanbul's Beşiktaş district where he was staying with his girlfriend. Sarangeral Dorligjav jumped into the icy water to rescue him but both went missing.
Hotel staff found a woman's handbag in the courtyard and then checked the security camera footage, seeing the couple falling and jumping into the sea. They alerted police and police divers combed the area and discovered the bodies several hours later.
The families of the young couple arrived in Istanbul from Ulan Bator late Thursday to fly the bodies back to Mongolia for burial. The grieving parents did not speak to the press surrounding them at the airport. They were scheduled to fly back to Mongolia with the victims' bodies on Friday night.
Bat Erdene and Dorligjav had arrived in Istanbul on February 7 from Switzerland where they both attend university, for a Valentine's Day vacation. Turkish media outlets reported that the couple returned to their hotel after drinking at a night club in the city's Ulus district. After entering the hotel, the two went out to the courtyard overlooking the Bosporus and Bat Erdene climbed over the retaining wall separating the hotel from the sea. He reportedly lost his balance and fell into the water and his girlfriend jumped after him in a bid to save her boyfriend.
Daughter of Mongolia Justice Minister drowns in Istanbul with boyfriend, son of MP B. Bat-Erdene - Hürriyet Daily News, February 12
Mogi: Oh, America! You and your absurd understanding of how parents should raise their children.
How a family adoption trip to Mongolia led to a charge of criminal child neglect
February 9 (The Washington Post) For three years, Jessica Smith's son had been begging her for a little brother.
Then the orphanage in Mongolia that had given her Ziggy called to tell her that it had another young boy for her. At the time, Ziggy, whose given name is Zorigt, had just started second grade at a D.C. public school.
Smith had to make a decision. Should she and Ziggy fly to Ulaanbaatar and adopt the child they'd been seeking to make their family three? Or should she avoid the risk of too many classroom absences and give up on the child for which they had been longing and waiting?
The decision she made landed Smith in D.C. Superior Court last month on a charge of criminal child neglect. In a city battling a sky-high truancy rate, her story illustrates the absurd rigidity of the rules, which forbid excusing more than 10 absences without a doctor's note, a court note or an emergency.
Smith knew there was little chance she could travel to Mongolia, endure the rigorous, in-person vetting process, get all the adoption paperwork finished and make it back to Washington in fewer than 10 days. She's a single mom with no family in the District, and she didn't have anyone she could ask to care for Ziggy while she was gone.
She also knew that if she brought the first child she had adopted from that orphanage — now a bright, articulate, independent and bubbly hockey player beloved by his friends — she would have a better chance of being approved for a second child.
And Ziggy had been asking about his homeland. His mother thought three weeks in Mongolia would be a vastly richer experience for him than three weeks in second grade. He would learn so much from seeing people who look like him, hearing people who talk like the Mongolians he meets at local cultural gatherings, and eating the lamb and beef dumplings he had heard so much about. Plus, maintaining a connection to his heritage was part of that country's adoption requirements.
Smith asked Peter Young, the principal of Brent Elementary School on Capitol Hill, if this trip could be considered an emergency, if she could put Ziggy on a study plan while they were gone. She exchanged e-mails with Young and another school administrator. Those e-mails led Smith to believe that she had received permission and that Ziggy's absences would be excused.
She got a study plan, lugged along a six-inch-high pile of homework and even hired a tutor in Mongolia to keep Ziggy up on his studies.
But, according to D.C. Public Schools records, the principal signed a truancy referral less than two months after Ziggy, his new brother, Nergu, and Smith returned from Mongolia. That referral went to a school social worker and then to the courts.
Young wouldn't comment on his e-mails with Smith, and DCPS spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said she wouldn't comment on an individual case.
But what happened — according to the paper trail Smith gave me and four interviews with her — was that Smith took Ziggy to Mongolia, returned with a 2-year-old brother for him, and life went back to normal.
There were no calls or e-mails from the principal, Smith said, and Ziggy successfully finished second grade and started third grade in August. There were also no robocalls, no scary truancy letters or brochures about truancy law, like the kind that Avery Gagliano's parents received when their middle-schooler missed class to perform at international piano competitions and prestigious festivals two years ago.
Avery, a 13-year-old piano prodigy, is now being home-schooled because her parents were so rattled by their brush with the truancy system.
Smith said the first sign that she had been ensnared by the city's truancy law came just a few weeks ago, when someone knocked on her door and served her with a summons. She was ordered to appear in court on a criminal neglect charge because Ziggy was absent for 20 days nearly a year and a half ago.
Outraged, she contacted the school — and Young — demanding to know why this was happening.
In an e-mail to her, Young called it the result of "miscommunication. I am the person who, as the 'personal institution' last year, ultimately approved the days as 'excused.' My signing of the truancy referral must have been made initially when I communicated that the days would be 'unexcused.' I will work on my end to contribute to an amicable resolution in hopes that we are all able to move forward in a positive way from this."
For Smith, the prospect of a court appearance on Jan. 27 was frightening. She texted me from court as she waited for her case to come up: "I didn't realize this is a criminal charge. Even more scary. I can't believe a principal would do this and not know the consequences."
Adoptive parents are forever under a microscope. And a single mother who has adopted two orphans from a foreign country may be judged a little more harshly, she worried.
Smith, 48, recently left her job as a producer for National Public Radio to focus on her boys. Jail time would be disastrous.
When the judge took the bench and Smith approached with her packet of files, letters and paperwork, the two recognized each other from their sons' sports teams.
The judge recused herself from the case, and Smith's court date was rescheduled. She was assigned a public defender but also started shopping for a lawyer, dipping into the savings that was meant to carry her and the boys through her time at home with them.
Then, another surprise arrived several days ago, when Smith heard from her public defender. The case had been dismissed. Young had written a letter excusing the absences.
Victory? Not quite.
Like the Gaglianos, Smith said she has lost faith in the school system because of this episode. School officials had her child in class for a year and a half, knew her family well and still proceeded with a court referral. "It's a slap in the face and it's insulting," she said.
DCPS stands by the way the case was handled.
"What I believe is most important to emphasize here is why these protocols exist in the first place, which is to protect children," Salmanowitz said. "It is explicit for a reason — that reason being that no matter why the absence, someone is looking out to make sure the child is safe."
For example, Salmanowitz said, what if a parent told the school that he or she would be taking a child on a trip to a foreign country?
"It is likely that is the case at face value," she said. "It is also possible, however, that a parent could say they were going somewhere and instead put that child in harm's way. We wouldn't know unless we have a protocol that is thorough and explicit. We have to protect children. We do not have to protect or excuse a parent who wants their child to miss school."
Yes, that sounds good. And it's a great way to protect a child in real danger, such as Relisha Rudd.
Relisha was 8 when she was last seen nearly a year ago. Someone at her elementary school — also on Capitol Hill — finally realized she had been missing classes for about 30 days and sounded an alarm. It didn't help that her mother had lied to the school about where Relisha was. But that protocol didn't save the girl.
No one is trying to play down the truancy problem, either locally or nationally. Studies show that frequent absences lead to low test scores, high dropout rates and trouble. Between 5 million and 7.5 million kids miss about a month of school every year in America.
And the last thing we want to do is create a two-tiered system that gives the thumbs-up to affluent parents skipping school for long trips to Vail, Colo., when the skiing conditions are great, classes be darned.
But Ziggy's and Avery's cases aren't exceptional. I've received dozens of calls and e-mails from parents whose kids also got caught in the truancy system because of legitimate absences. There were other horror stories about lawyers and court dates, too.
The problem isn't going after chronic truancy. The problem is an absence of common sense when resources are heaped upon students who are doing just fine in school, whose parents are engaged and communicating with teachers while the kids who desperately need more support, more help and more attention — like Relisha — end up at the bottom of the pile, again.
That's why this is absurd. And why badgering parents such as Smith and the Gaglianos is a waste of everyone's time.
Washington D.C. Truancy Laws Led To Criminal Charge For Mom Who Took Son On Trip To Mongolia – Opposing Views, February 12
Photos Of Mongolia's Desertification Reveal Shocking Effects Of Changing Climate
By Priscilla Frank
February 10 (The Huffington Post) To this day, at least 25% of Mongolia's population lives a nomadic life, and in doing so, they remain fiercely dependent on open land for survival. However, due to the fluctuation in climate in recent years, changes to the landscape have rendered this lifestyle difficult, if not impossible, to maintain. Over the course of the past 30 years, approximately a quarter of the country has turned to desert, with around 850 lakes and 2,000 rivers having dried out. If this pattern persists, the Mongolian tradition that's existed for thousands of years will become extinct.
Korean-born photographer Daesung Lee captures the impending desertification of Mongolia, and the threat such a transformation would present to its inhabitants, in a photography series titled "Futuristic Archaeology."
Lee's photographs transform the endangered landscape of Mongolia into a sort of limbo, somewhere between a current way of life and a carefully prepared exhibition peering back at an old tradition. Each image features a billboard with a printed image, stuck in the real Mongolian desert. The billboard operates like a museum display or a diorama -- think the Woolly Mammoth display in the Natural History Museum. By juxtaposing a natural photograph and what appears to be a museum display, Lee captures the precarious position of nomadic life in Mongolia, teetering on the verge of obsolescence.
By CARSON WALKER
Science Academy Launches Online Mongolian Language Dictionary
February 13 (news.mn) The presentation of the beta version of an online Mongolian dictionary and language website created by linguists from the Academy of Literature at the Science of Academy of Mongolia along with scholars from the Academy of Informatics was held today.
The process of creating the online dictionary was presented by academic L.Bold, Director of the Literature Academy of the Science Academy of Mongolia.
In its beta stage, definitions of about 60,000 root words and more than 80 standard phrases are offered on the website.
The project to create an online dictionary was launched on December 17, 2014, and it is expected to be complete on December 17, 2015.
In Mongolia, Preparing Herders' Children for School and Improving Their Learning
• In Mongolia, a project improves education for herders' children aged 6-10 living in the most disadvantaged rural communities.
• The project promotes innovative initiatives to improve education services and facilities at the local level, and to mobilize parents and community members.
• These initiatives are well suited to the needs of herding communities and effectively reduced the number of school drop-outs and out-of-school children.
February 5 (World Bank) Uuriintsolmon, 6, lives in Ulziit Soum (district), Arkhangai Aimag (province). Her parents are nomadic herders so their family moves about three or four times a year in search of good grazing lands for the sheep, goats, horses and cows that are their livelihood.
Because of this, Uuriintsolmon was not able to go to kindergarten. Her parents worried that she might lag behind her peers when she starts primary school. That was until help came their way.
Children's First Teacher
Video: Mongolian children to receive heart surgery at Mayo Clinic Monday
By Devin Bartolotta
ROCHESTER, Minn., February 10 (KTTC) – The Med City is once again living up to its reputation of providing world class care.
Four children from Mongolia are in Rochester to undergo heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic on Monday. They've traveled more than 6,000 miles and are staying with host families, one of which has experience with the Cardiology Department at Mayo.
"We have a lot of empty bedrooms in our house, so why not!" said one of the host family members, Pam Dose.
The mother of one of the children was able to speak to KTTC with help from a translator.
"Then in December they called us and told us we got the news that he had been selected, and that was the best news," Batsaikhan Munkhtuya said through the translator.
The children, ages one and a half to eight, are part of the Samaritan's Purse Children's Heart Project. They're four of more than 1,000 kids having heart surgery in the U.S. because the care at home isn't easy to get.
"In the past we tried to take actions on our own, if there was anything we can do, but it was going to take a long time and lots of finance and it was difficult, but we received good news from Samaritan's Purse and we're very thankful," Munkhtuya said through the translator.
This week, all four of them will undergo surgery, hoping to get a second chance at living a normal life.
"We are peaceful, and happy, and excited," said one of the children's grandmothers, Hurgaa Otgonbayar.
They are four families feeling the global impact of the Med City, and kids getting loving care just in time for Valentine's Day.
The Mayo Clinic is one of about 65 hospitals in North America who have participated in the Samaritan's Purse Children's Heart Project.
Mongolian becomes professor at Korean local university
By Jhoo Dong-chan
February 13 (The Korea Times) Odkhuu Dorj, 34, an international student from Mongolia, has become a physics professor at Incheon National University (INU), the University of Ulsan said Tuesday.
Odkhuu was appointed to an assistant professor in the department of physics there, teaching students in the classes of magnetic and multiferroic materials, graphene and low-dimensional materials, and energy storage materials since last August.
Many international students in Korea get academic degrees here and later become professors in their home countries, or teach their native languages in Korean colleges.
But Odkhuu's case is very rare for foreigners to become a professor with natural science in a Korean university, according to an official at the University of Ulsan.
"It was just unbelievable," said Odkhuu.
"I am so grateful. The University of Ulsan gave me an educational opportunity, and INU appointed me as a physics professor. Both universities treated me without prejudice."
Odkhuu majored in physics at the National University of Mongolia for bachelor's and Ulaanbaatar University for master's degree. Both universities are known to be the most prestigious schools in Mongolia.
Odkhuu came to Korean in 2007 to become a first Mongol researcher of the Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics at the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province.
Odkhuu then entered the University of Ulsan majoring physics for Ph.D. In 2013, his thesis, "Magnetostriction of B2-structured FeX Alloys: A First-principles Study," was granted for the degree under Prof. Hong Soon-cheol's supervision.
In his thesis, Odkhuu studies the methods to apply iron alloy, instead of the rare and expensive earth elements, on physical instances in the applied physics. His thesis is believed to be applied in various fields of industries including space science with reduced cost.
Prestigious academic journals like "Physical Review B" and "Applied Physics Letters" put his degree thesis in their regular publications. His 10 other works over the applied physics were also published in other renowned journals of the Science Citation Index (SCI).
The SCI is a citation index launched in 1964 that covers more than 6,500 notable and significant journals, across 150 disciplines, from 1900 to the present.
"My wife also studies at the University of Ulsan with the same major. My wife and me want to contribute to the development of physics education for both countries," Odkhuu said.
ACMS: This Month in Mongolian Studies – February 2014
February 7, American Center for Mongolian Studies -- "This Month in Mongolian Studies" is a monthly listing of selected academic activities and resources related to Mongolia. This list is based on information the ACMS has received and is presented as a service to its members. If you would like to submit information to be included in next month's issue please contact the ACMS at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or the editor, Marissa Smith, at email@example.com.
This publication is supported in part by memberships. Please consider becoming a member of the ACMS, or renewing your membership by visiting our website at
mongoliacenter.org/join. Thank you!
Jury tosses Mongolian's $1 million suit against NYC over hot manhole cover, police
Jamiyansuren Jadamba testified that when Officer Juan Virella cuffed him after bouncers threw him out of a Varick St. club, he deliberately dragged him to a spot on the sidewalk where manhole lids scorched his knees and then held him down.
February 5 (NY Daily News) A mining executive from a politically prominent family in Mongolia lost a $1 million lawsuit against New York City after a jury Tuesday dismissed his claim that cops deliberately forced him onto a burning hot manhole cover while restraining him.
Jamiyansuren Jadamba, 38, told Manhattan jurors he would be scarred for life from his August 2008 encounter with cops outside a Varick St. club called SOB, or Sounds of Brazil.
Jadamba said he sustained third-degree burns on his forearms after club bouncers forced him to the sidewalk and onto the manhole covers, which were scalding hot from Con Ed steam pipes.
When cops arrived, they cuffed Jadamba and a friend until determining there was no cause to arrest them.
Jadamba testified that when Officer Juan Virella cuffed him, he deliberately dragged Jadamba to a spot on the sidewalk where the manhole lids scorched his knees and then held him down.
Jadamba said he cried out, "I'm burning. I'm burning," but that Virella told him "Shut the f--- up. I'll move you when I'm ready to move you."
Jadamba, whose great-great-grandfather was Mongolia's first prime minister, said he passed out.
A bouncer for the club, which settled with Jadamba for his forearm injuries before the trial, confirmed that cops left Jadamba on the manhole covers for five to seven minutes.
But both the bouncer and the police said they never heard Jadamba complain about the heat and cops said they had no entries in their log books of having gone to the club.
City attorney Kevin Connolly argued that if Jadamba didn't complain about the heat, the cop couldn't know he was hurting him.
"We are disappointed with the verdict, but this was a very difficult case as we were required to prove that the police intended to burn Mr. Jadamba — and it was his word against four officers," said Jadamba's lawyer, Daniel Leav.
Hear tales from trekker stalked by wolves and battered by sand storms in Mongolia
by Gregor Vasconcelos
February 7 (Wandsworth Guardian) Ash Dykes is relaxed, his biggest adventure is behind him, he is now enjoying the victory lap.
Last year, Ash embarked on a quest to become the first man to trek across Mongolia solo.
It was a trip of 1,500 miles and 78 days that pitted the 24-year-old Welshman against nature, as well as his own body and mind.
Today he has finished writing a book about the journey and is getting ready to travel the UK to talk about his adventures.
It was such an incredible feat that people in Mongolia speak of it as if it was a legend, that of the 'Lonely Snow Leopard'.
"They were surprised I'm alive, and wasn't eaten by the wolves," he says. "They now call me that because snow leopards are the only ones afforded such respect from wolves."
It is little wonder they are amazed, even Ash wasn't aware of the enormity of the task until late on in the planning stages.
"The only other person who I could find evidence had attempted it, was a solider and explorer who didn't make it," he said.
"Of course it scared me as I'm neither, but it was such a big motivation. This had become much bigger than I ever dreamed."
Ash had survived a few days in the Australian Outback before, but that in no way prepared him for the solitude he was to face, when he would go days without seeing a single soul.
"How many places in the world are you afforded such freedom and complete solitude? I enjoyed it, it was such an incredibly unique experience," he says.
"It only dawned on me how alone I was, when I was suffering from heat stroke and dehydration days away from a water source. But at that point it's do or die, so you keep going."
He kept going and is enjoying the perks of his perseverance, encouraging people to go out and see the world.
"People will be negative, they'll say it can't be done. I was told so at the start, but you never know how far you might go if you don't push yourself."
#BreakingMongolia - The Lonely Snow Leopard will be coming to Epson Playhouse next month. The book of the same name does not yet have a release date.
Epsom Playhouse, Ashley Avenue, Epsom; Thursday March 5; from £12; from £12; call 01372 742555; visit www.epsomplayhouse.co.uk
Hakuho to receive top honor in Mongolia
February 11 (Kyodo) Yokozuna Hakuho, who became the all-time record holder of the most championships after winning his 33rd career Emperor's Cup at the New Year Sumo Tournament, revealed on Wednesday he will be feted with the equivalent of Japan's People's Honor Award in his homeland of Mongolia.
Hakuho, who took part in a charity sumo event at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan the same day, will follow in the footsteps of former yokozuna Asashoryu as well as his father, Jigjid Munkhbat, a yokozuna great of Mongolian sumo and a silver medalist in freestyle wrestling from the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
"I hear it's the first time for both a father and son (to receive the award). I am happy," said Hakuho. "I have already won 33 championships. Now I want to be carefree going forward."
Hakuho, who will turn 30 on March 11 during the Spring basho at Bodymaker Colosseum in Osaka next month, recently got into hot water for criticizing ringside judges for calling a do-over in his match against ozeki Kisenosato last month. He later apologized.
Hakuho has not touched on the subject since and refused to speak to reporters about it on Wednesday.
Hakuhō Rewrites Record Books as Foreign Wrestlers Tighten Grip on Sumō World – Nippon.com, February 12
Olympic silver medalist N.Tugstsogt signs pro contract with Al Haymon
By B. Tungalag
February 13 (UB Post) Professional boxer N.Tugstsogt has signed a contract with famous American manager and advisor Al Haymon.
N.Tugstsogt joined the professional boxing ring on January and will do his training at Ten Goose Boxing Gym in Los Angeles, with coach Joe Goossen.
The following is an interview with N.Tugstsogt.
Congratulations on drawing up a contract for your first venture as a professional boxer. What's the duration of your contract and which club have you joined?
According to the contract, Al Haymon and Goossen Promotions will be managing me. I signed a contract last week that will last for five years.
Can you tell us how much your contract is worth?
I want to keep it a secret. But the contract is beneficial to me. Al Haymon is a great promoter and he gives many opportunities to boxers. He doesn't draw up contracts with just anybody. He also doesn't give interviews to televisions and newspapers. There are lots of boxers that haven't seen the face of Al Haymon. He is "Mr Mysterious", who is famous in the professional boxing world. He is the adviser and manager of Floyd Mayweather, Andre Berto, Amir Khan and Robert Guerrero. I am very happy because I'm linking up with a great man by forming the contract.
How were you introduced to him?
He is the best friend of my instructor Joe Goossen. I have received a number contract offers from other promoters such as Golden Boy. I had two or three other choices.
How did you meet your instructor Joe Goossen?
I visited a number of boxing clubs in the U.S. through the advice of older professional boxers. I visited to Ten Goose Boxing Gym and met Joe Goossen. He was my dream coach. He shook my hand when we first met and we did a one-on-one training on the second day. I felt different with him. I am doing my training well under Joe Goossen. I sparred with nearly 20 boxers from Russia, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico in the past days. My instructor said my fighting was brilliant.
What's the difference between professional and amateur boxing?
Everything is different. Boxing gloves of professional and amateur boxing are also different. Most important thing is that professional boxers have to analyze the mistakes of their opponents first and work on it. Training in professional boxing is more intensive than amateur. I am doing three or four sparring matches in six to eight rounds a week. I was tired at first. Now I am adapting to the weather, food, and environment.
Has your first fight in the professional boxing ring been planned?
Yes. It will be at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on March 6. It might be delayed. But I will have my first fight before March.
Are you nervous?
No, I am not feeling nervous. I can do it. I have nothing to be scared of. I left all my fear in Mongolia. I have no choice now. I have to go ahead.
Who will be your first opponent? Do you have an idea?
I don't know yet. I will do my best, whoever he is. There are around 1,000 boxers in a particular weight category in professional boxing.
Did you get the ring name "King Tug"? Your training videos on social media was tagged with this name?
Boxer Don, who is training at Ten Goose Boxing Gym, named me King Tug. I didn't choose it officially. I will fight with the name TGT or King Tug.
You visited the U.S. last year and had the chance to see professional boxing up close. You came back from the U.S. and said you wanted to fight in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Why did you change your mind?
I trained in a professional boxing club in Chicago last year and went back to Mongolia. I wanted to fight in the Rio 2016. I took part in three international tournaments after April 2014. But I didn't really like those tournaments. Especially because the judging was so unfair. I won at an international tournament in Kazakhstan but the referees gave the victory to my opponent. After that, at the Incheon Asian Games, I was also judged unfairly.
When did you decide to go to the U.S.?
After the Incheon Games, I went to the U.S. No one asked me to go to the U.S. and no one helped me. I asked nothing from anyone. I decided to go to the U.S on my own. I don't want people to blame me. Professional sport is a big opportunity for any athlete.
What was the reaction of administrators, coaches and athletes of the Mongolian Boxing Federation to your decision?
I didn't tell anyone. I want to express my gratitude to the national boxing team, and instructors and coaches, namely E.Badar-Uugan, P.Serdamba, U.Munkh-Erdene, president of the Mongolian Boxing Federation D.Bat-Erdene, and former president of the federation D.Ganzorig.
Your amateur boxing path has now ended. Do have any regrets?
I think I am a very unlucky person. I had a chance to become an Olympic and world champion. I was beaten by Puerto Rican boxer 2:18 at the 2009 World Boxing Championship in Milan. I still haven't dealt with this defeat.
At the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, I was very tired at the final fight for gold. I didn't know why I was so tired and I lost. I regret this. I would have become a professional boxer sooner, if I had won a gold medal at the London 2012.
Niigata to Host Training of Mongolian Team for 2020 Olympics
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, February 13 (MONTSAME) A Vice Minister of Health T.Boldbaatar Thursday received D.Dagvadorj, a Grand champion of the professional sumo, and a delegation of Japan's Niigata prefecture.
In conjunction with the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, the Japanese delegation expressed a willingness to collaborate with Mongolia's Ministry of Health and Sport in training Mongolian athletes in sports training and exercise camp in Niigata Prefecture with 100-percent sponsorship of the Japanese side.
Niigata Prefecture is quite similar to Mongolia in terms of climate, "so Mongolian athletes can easily get adapted to our climate and achieve brilliant success at the 2020 Olympics," said Mr Kichii Murakami, a director of the "Good Ageing Club" company at the Daiei Probis Group.
Thankfully accepting this proposal, Mr Boldbaatar said their Ministry will work on creating all possible nice conditions for the Mongolian athletes.
Mr Dagvadorj asked the Ministry to give a help in preparing our national team for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Summer Olympics. To this Mr Murakami said athletes of the two countries can organize joint trainings.
Ride to Yosemite to Support Khuvsgul Park Rangers
February 2 (MotorcycleUSA) The Blue Waves Global Campaign is hosting a ride from San Francisco to the entrance of Yosemite National Park to help raise funds for the purchase of motorcycles for Ulaan Taiga National Park Rangers in Mongolia. A $25 registration fee is required of all participants. The first wave of riders will meet at Java House Restaurant at Pier 40 on the Embarcadero in San Francisco on Friday, April 24, 2015 at noon with a 12:30 p.m. departure time. For riders that can't leave Friday, a second wave will meet at the same location the day after, Saturday, April 25, at 8 a.m. with an 8:30 a.m. departure time.
In addition to the $25 fee, riders will need to show their valid motorcycle license and provide proof of insurance in order to participate.
Accommodations will be provided by Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort. Riders will need to indicate they are part of the rally ride when contacting Bug Rustic Mountain in order to book rooms for the 24th and 25th. Booking is on a first come, first served basis. There are also campsites available for overflow reservations. Click here to go to the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort webpage for more information.
Food and beverages will be available for purchase at the resort, and on Saturday night there will be free live music provided by the Gravel Spreaders, a San Francisco-based bluegrass band that covers classic rock songs. DJ Malderor will also be on hand to provide additional musical entertainment.
This is a family-friendly event and there will also be activities for children in attendance.
Rare Snow Leopard Footage from Mongolia
February 9 (National Geographic) Rare footage of wild snow leopards taken in the Tost mountain range in Mongolia's South Gobi province shows a vibrant population of these endangered cats – including a mother with three cubs. Click the image or read the whole post for video footage.
The Tost mountains are home to more than a dozen snow leopards. These cats are part of what may be the most studied snow leopard population in the world. The area has been the focal point of the Snow Leopard Trust's pioneering long-term ecological study since 2008.
Thanks to research tools such as GPS collars and remote-sensor research cameras, Trust scientists have been able to observe Tost's snow leopard population in unprecedented ways. They've found wild cubs in their dens. They've tracked and photographed cats as they migrated to neighboring mountain ranges across the steppe, and they've revealed fascinating population dynamics.
This research has helped convince Mongolian authorities to grant parts of Tost "Local Protected Area" status– a first step to saving this important snow leopard habitat for future generations.
Despite these efforts, led by the local community and our Mongolia team, Tost remains under threat: Various mining licenses had already been issued for the area before it was granted a minimum level of protection – and some of those have yet to expire.
This new snow leopard footage, taken in 2014, is further proof of the urgent need for better protection for Tost!
Hyattsville resident to visit Mongolia to coach hockey
Former professional player shooting international documentary
By Jamie Anfenson-Comea
February 3 (The Gazette, Maryland) Mongolia is known for its plains and steppes and horse riding tradition, but Hyattsville resident Boe Leslie is traveling to Mongolia in the hopes it will one day be known for ice hockey.
"Our goal is to give both kids and coaches of Mongolia an experience they've never had before. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first professional coaches who have come to work locally with kids," Leslie said.
Leslie, his brother, Nate Leslie, and a small team will travel to Mongolia late February to teach ice hockey, and they plan to make a documentary out of the experience, tentatively entitled "Ice at the End of the Earth."
The goal, Leslie said, is to help establish ice hockey in a country where the sport has struggled, due to lack of facilities and equipment, despite some dedicated volunteers.
In 2014, Mongolia was ranked 49th — dead last — in the rankings for the International Ice Hockey Federation, the worldwide body governing ice hockey.
"We wanted to do all we could for them and started offering all of our coaching mentorship manuals pro bono to them to help grow the great game of hockey in Mongolia," Leslie said.
Jeff Halpern of Bethesda, who played for the Washington Capitals from 1999-2006 and again from 2011-2012, said he found out about the proposal last fall. He said ice hockey is a growing sport, but that many countries don't have the coaching or facilities to support a program.
"I think that when you're able to reach another part of the world with a new sport, it's a very special opportunity," Halpern said.
Leslie said he and his brother, both former professional hockey players, were contacted by the president of Mongolia's ice hockey federation, Purevdavaa "Pujee" Choijiljav, regarding online training materials.
Leslie and his brother began a $20,000 Kickstarter campaign online to raise funds and equipment for a trip to Mongolia, to hold an ice hockey camp for children and coaches, as well as to pay for a cameraman and film editor. The group has raised $23,000.
"We thought the documentary would be an ideal way of making people aware of what is going on in a remote part of the world," Leslie said.
Hudson Akarlilar, 8, of New York and his mother, who know Leslie through his hockey camps, have begun their own campaign to raise hockey supplies and funds for the project.
"We thought, given that we have so much exposure to hockey here, why don't we ask if people have equipment to donate?" said Tracei Akarlilar, adding they have received supplies and funding from hockey groups in their area. "We have been so pleasantly surprised by the response we've received. It's been absolutely amazing."
Leslie said his group will leave in late February, where they will run a one-week camp after school and on the weekend for children ages eight to 17 and mentorship for coaches.
He said he hopes the experience will help Mongolia further develop the sport.
"We hope we can share our love and compassion for the game and pass on that love as well," Leslie said. "We also want to work with their local coaches and help them develop their program as well."
To learn more about the project, or to donate, visit online www.lgsportsamerica.com.
'Wolf Totem' vies for Oscar nomination
By B. Baatar
February 13 (UB Post) "Wolf Totem", a film directed by French director Jean Jacques Annaud, opened on February 4 in France and China. Mongolian Cultural Merit Actress R.Ankhnyam was cast as the brave Inner Mongolian girl Galsmaa in the film based on Jiang Rong's famous novel of the same name.
The Chinese film industry hopes that "Wolf Totem" will be a contender for next year's Academy Awards. Annaud has noted such promise for his film in interviews with Chinese media.
"Wolf Totem" will be screened in Mongolian cinemas starting February 27.
Mongol walks fall 2015 at New York Fashion week
February 13 (Examiner.com) Mongol was on tap today here at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, New York taking their newest fall collection to the ever-present runway. Bayarmaa Bayarkhuu founded Mongol back in 2005 inspired by the country of Mongolia where Bayarmaa was born carrying Mongolia's truly rich culture and history.
Mongol brought some heat into the fall months with designs defying the change from hot to cold temperatures with dresses of asymmetrical design as well as semi-loud but element. Notable colors include bold and bright purple dresses, silky hot pink, and a dash of hunter green to keep a little summer going even into October.
Mongol too removed itself out of dresses in favor of crop tops splashed with pink and white big polka dots all over it while extending the crop top into semi-dress mode consisting of nothing but strips. Leotards colored in burgundy and green complemented this new design concept with high-waisted suade briefs built into some crop top dresses.
Mongolia's rich culture definitely had presence in Mongol with kimono inspired coats touch with fur around and down below the collar in deep red and extended designs as well. More Mongolia inspiration included shoulder-less long pink dress with blue surrounding the edges, and the same goes for sky blue having burgundy on edge.
Aside from dresses, Mongol gave attention to peach and flower pedals with a turtleneck top and translucent trousers consisting of pedals from top to bottom. Finally, Mongol even put male designs in play going with what appears to be a brown suade jacket and beige v-neck top and brown pants bringing out the boy who grows up to be a soldier.
Mongolia brings nomad chic to NY Fashion Week debut – AFP, February 14
Mongol Fall/Winter 2015 – Washington Square News (NYU), February 13
Naadam Cashmere Fall/Winter 2015 Collection
By Tiffanie Hwang, Contributing Writer
February 14 (Washington Square News, NYU) Using a variety of textures, colors and silhouettes, Naadam's Fall/Winter 2015 presentation showcased cashmere in an entirely new light, successfully combining simplicity and comfort with upscale trendiness.
Dimly lit candles and sparkling chandeliers illuminated the fresh faces of the models, whose dewy skin, soft brows and tussled hair complemented the earthy undertones of the collection, which was inspired by the nomads of Mongolia. Naadam merges luxury with comfort in a collection that consisted mostly of cashmere, but was not monotonous or repetitive as one might expect. Each design played with layering, muted colors and lines, showcasing pieces from turtlenecks to floor-length cardigans, draping tunics to strappy, open-toed sandals.
Monochromatic pieces of muted and gentle colors, such as olive green, charcoal brown and light cream were mixed between many layers that displayed different lengths, draping, textures and accents of rich, burgundy wine pieces. Silver, cord-like bracelets and necklaces of bright orange, blue and yellow subtly accessorized the looks with just the right amount of striking hardness and pops of bold colors to complement the soft designs.
The men's collection mixed and matched with different patterns and fabrics of camouflage, stripes and denim, paired with pieces like quilted blazers and canvas pants. The scarves and capes seemed to drape and flow effortlessly across the body, but even just a second glance highlighted the intricacy and delicacy of these pieces.
Naadam successfully debuted a collection that displays exquisiteness and encompasses their humble, nomadic inspiration with this beautiful presentation.
Off the beat: What's in a name?
BY SOYOLMAA LKHAGVADORJ | STAFF
February 12 (The Daily Californian) After brief introductions, my seventh grade teacher started calling roll, and I took it as my cue to be extra attentive, just in case. She would get through the Cs, Es and Gs with relative ease and I would look at all the Annes, Joes and Peters with jealousy at having won the easy name lottery. When she finished with the Ks and moved toward the Ls, I knew I had to prepare myself for battle once again. Would there be a pause, a sigh or an apology coupled with an "I'm probably going to say this wrong, but here we go" this time?
Whenever this would happen, I'd hear the unsure panic forming at the back of their throats and to save them from their misery (and just unnecessary embarrassment for the both of us), I learned to automatically raise my hand whenever there was a hint of deceleration near the middle of the alphabet. Other teachers would start spelling out S-O-Y-O-L-M-A-A for fear of butchering my name and deeply offending me but end up sounding ridiculous while doing it anyways. They would move onto my last name and say with a chuckle, "I'm not even going to try that one," and we would laugh and laugh until those with Ms and onward became uncomfortable. I would patiently repeat my name a good three to five times and watch the sparkle in their eyes slightly diminish at their inability to grasp the foreign formation of the letters they thought they knew so well.
Needless to say, I formed a love/hate relationship with first days of school since I moved to the United States from Mongolia at the tender age of 8. Of course, like any other kid, I would be ecstatic about seeing all my friends again and praying for at least one of them to be in my lunch period lest I should have to eat alone in a bathroom stall, but something else also held a strong anxiety in my heart as I lay awake in the middle of the previous night. I wondered how many times I would have to repeat my name, tell everyone its origins, and disappoint them for not having a cool, short nickname that could simultaneously capture all of my personality in a few letters. Why couldn't my name just be Jane, Tchaikovsky or The Real Slim Shady or something people could actually pronounce?
Unfortunately, my search for an easier nickname has been fruitless as it's proven difficult to shorten or even make an anagram out of the letters of my name. It's way harder than Voldemort made it seem, and the only shortened nickname I and others could come up with was Soy. Seemingly clever middle school kids and grown adults have all thought they were being original for adding food products after it, which is why I refuse it as a nickname and as a dairy substitute.
Having a unique name always holds disappointment for some and inspires awe in others. All of a sudden, people want to know the meaning behind your name and are not satisfied when it doesn't have some deep, spiritual explanation they had wanted. I want to tell them that I'm the equivalent of a Britney or a Sara in Mongolia, but they're too busy asking me to repeat it 10 more times, allowing me to forget their names in the process.
There are some perks to having an extremely unique name by American standards. First, there will most likely never be two Soyolmaas in a class, which prevents any confusion. Second, in my 10th grade driver's ed class, I had a teacher who feared mispronouncing my name so much that she refused to even say it out loud. She would call on everyone in the class to answer questions but me. I would sit there and make direct eye contact with her knowing full well that she would never call on me if I didn't raise my hand. It was honestly too much power for a teenager without a driver's license.
At age 16, my stepfather asked if I wanted to adopt his family name, Evans, like my mother had done years after they married. For a split second, I thought this would somehow miraculously solve all of my problems. No longer would I have to wait with bated breath as I'm called for attendance or wonder what name to give to make reservations easier. Heck, I would never have to endure the panic of needing to quickly choose what name I want written on my Starbucks coffee cup, but Evans just didn't feel right. I had had to endure the burden of both my first and last names for years and to change one felt like I was changing a part of my identity.
And at the end of the day, my name is constant red underlines in Word and being asked whether I hit random letters on a keyboard so people couldn't find me on Facebook. My name is not Sonoma, but it is having less than a handful of people know how to spell it correctly. My name is having an abundant amount of anecdotes to fill up an autobiography titled, "That's not my name," and that's perfectly okay.
"Off the Beat" columns are written by Daily Cal staff members until the semester's regular opinion writers begin.
The Yurt: Mongolian Living in North Dakota
February 10 (KXNews) Here's a chance to disconnect from technology and live like they used to way back when.
Alicia Ewen reports on what it's like staying in a yurt.
"A lot of people will come up and say what's the deal with the grain bins over there." said Eric Lang, Cross Ranch National Park Manager.
What looks like a piece of farm equipment is actually a little piece of history-- recorded back in time -- in ancient Mongolia.
"We got really interested and then we decided it would be a good fit for cross ranch." said Lang.
These circular houses are call yurts.
"I don't think there's anyone that can't get some enjoyment out of some part or whatever of the yurt." said Lang
Originally made of logs and mud, these yurts provide North Dakotans with a one of a kind camping experience.
"I think just the opportunity for people to rent yurts and be able to have that unique experience." said Lang.
Every Yurt has their own guest book where people can write their own experiences in it. J&M McMullen from Buffalo, North Dakota wrote if only walls could talk. What a good idea to have Yurts in a State Park. Here's to happiness and delight in all of the small wonders of nature.
"I think people feel like they can really get in touch with nature and kind of have the place to themselves." said Lang.
So despite having perks that people three thousand years ago might not have, it's what's outside the yurt that continues to captivate people to this day.
"They really like the opportunity check out the stars at night and see birds as they fly through during the day." said Lang.
Regardless of where you might be staying.
Reporting from Cross Ranch State Park, I'm Alicia Ewen.
Lang said that the amount of yurt reservations is almost catching up to the amount of cabin reservations at Cross Ranch State Park.
Link to video
Mongolian mummified monk 'was disciple of one of great Buddhist teachers'
By Anna Liesowska & Derek Lambie
09 February 2015 (Siberian Times) Identity revealed of incredible 200-year-old remains found in lotus positon amid reports criminal planned selling him for 10 million roubles.
New details have emerged about the identity of a mummified monk whose remains were found in the lotus position in Mongolia.
The Mongolia Morning Newspaper has reported that lead researchers are certain the body is that of a bearded religious man called Tsorzh Sanzhzhav, who lived 200 years ago.
According to experts, he was a disciple of one of the greatest Buddhist teachers that ever lived and had been buried alongside his elder master until being stolen two weeks ago.
It is now believed he was a student of His Holiness Incarnate Ovgon Geser Lama, who is revered in the region and whose grave is visited annually by pilgrims wishing to pray.
His identity was discovered after police paid a visit to the cave high in the mountains of the Arkhangai district of Mongolia and found his mummified body to be missing.
An investigation is under way into the theft and a criminal case is being prepared against a 45-year-old unnamed man, who had planned to smuggle them over the border. Local media reports he wanted to sell them for 300 million tugriks (10 million roubles/£100,000).
Lead researcher Ganhugiyn Purevbat, who is the founder and professor of the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art at Ulaanbaatar Buddhist University, said he is certain the remains are those of the great elder lama's disciple.
He said: 'When I first learned about the unusual discovery, I sent people to check in Arkhangai, suspecting that it might be imperishable body of Tsorzh Sanzhzhav, a disciple of Geser Lama. I had hoped that I was mistaken about Sanzhzhav.
'However, the special committee found that the imperishable body and the shrine does belong to Tsorzh Sanzhzhav.'
The mummified remains of the disciple, which were covered in cattle skin, were found on January 27 in the Songinokhairkhan province of Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.
Investigators travelled to Sodnomdarzhaa Mountain, 50km from the Tsakhir in the Arkhangai district, where they found the tomb from where body had been stolen.
On opening the burial chamber, 2,000 metres above sea level, they found only one body inside a wooden box, that of the Geser Lama.
The Geser Lama had lived near Khukh Nuur Lake and when he died in about 1890, he passed away while meditating. His body was cleaned and embalmed with a special solution then dried for a year, with his resting place becoming a shrine.
Like his recently-found student, he died in the lotus position and was placed in a wooden box, which was then buried and surrounded in stones. His disciples took him to the top of Sodnomdarzhaa Mountain by camel, where they buried him according to his wishes and to the rituals of the time.
Believed to be 25 years younger, the student was taught everything he knows from his lama master and he left a will asking to be entombed beside him upon his own death. Mr Purevbat said their tests on the mummy have allowed them to build a picture of the monk in life, and in his death.
Last week there was speculation that the monk was not dead and was instead in 'very deep meditation' in a special spiritual state known as tukdam. But now he said this has proved to be unfounded.
He said: 'Earlier I said that maybe Lama is not dead but was in very deep meditation in the ancient tradition of Buddhist lamas. But it is not so. Tsorzh Sanzhzhav and his teacher were specially buried in this form.
'Tsorzh Sanzhzhav was a close disciple of His Holiness Incarnate Geser Lama, who lived about 200 years ago. We see that he passed away at the age of about 70 years. He had a black beard and a large hooked nose, his height was about 180cm.
'In 1999, the local lamas restored part of his head and chest that had been damaged by birds and stones from the mountains or by the light when the wooden parts of the box [housing him] were broken and these parts of the body left out.'
The expert said that the remains will be cleaned and taken back to the mountain.
During the police investigation into the theft, officers managed to locate a descendant of the mummy's lama teacher and he is also convinced the body belongs to his ancestor's pupil.
The man, called Batchuluun, said: 'On the night of January 28, people from the district administration, police and security services came to our home, and asked us to lead them to the burial place of Geser Lama and his disciple.
'There they took a lot of photos and video footage. I told them not to touch the burial site. If they really wanted to do that, they needed to come with researchers and related monks.
'I have a painting of Geser Lama that I keep at home and don't show to the public. I saw the photograph of the mummy that was found and it looks familiar in some ways.'
He added: 'Geser Lama lived over two hundred years ago. He was one of the biggest lamas, and I am one of his descendants. Things that were used by him are placed around my home. My parents told me about him. Every year many people from different soums and provinces would visit the mountain to pray at his burial site.'
When he last visited the site in 2000 Batchuluun said he saw two bodies, with the remains of the disciple able to be seen through the box. The monk's head and shoulders were visible, and there was evidence that they had been pecked at by birds, so he repaired the damage to the casket and replaced the stones.
He added: 'The mummy [found recently] looked very similar to the one I saw in the mountain.'
Police are remaining tight-lipped about the progress of the investigation into the man who had planned to sell the mummy.
Colonel B Baatarkhuu, director of public relations at the General Police Department, said: 'The investigation process, as well as the full examination of the mummy, is still underway.
'A team was assigned to the case recently, which includes researchers, scientists, and the staff from Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The team will work on the issue and an official announcement will be made by them.'
The monk is now being guarded at the National Centre of Forensic Expertise at Ulaanbaatar, where visitors are now turning up to pray, believing it to be a holy deity.
'It looked like it was alive,' said one man. "There was no cold aura about it. It is wonderful that the mummy has hair, a beard, hands, fingers and ears. The overall colour was grey and brownish.'
THE 46A TO MONGOLIA: MEET THE DUBLIN LADS TAKING THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME FOR CHARITY
Many people in their early 20s will spend this summer in Manhattan; these lads are off to Mongolia instead.
6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.