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Monday, February 2, 2015

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

SouthGobi Risks Insolvency If Mongolia Tax Verdict Stands

By Michael Kohn

February 2 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian miner SouthGobi Resources Ltd. said it could be forced into insolvency if a Mongolian court's ruling that it evaded taxes isn't reversed.

SouthGobi and three former employees were found guilty of the charge on Friday, ending a three-year investigation that's been scrutinized for its impact on foreign investment and the nation's treatment of overseas nationals. U.S. citizen Justin Kapla and two Philippine nationals, Hilarion Cajucom Jr and Cristobal David, each received prison sentences of between five and six years, while the company was fined 35 billion tugrik ($18 million).

"There is a complete lack of evidence to support this harsh verdict," SouthGobi, partly owned by Rio Tinto Group unit Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd., said in a statement yesterday. "We fully support our former employees and will lodge an immediate appeal against the court's decision."

SouthGobi said as of Friday it had $3.3 million in cash and another $1.2 million held in Mongolia and that it is "likely to be unable to meet its obligations, which could result in voluntary or involuntary insolvency proceedings," unless the verdict is reversed. The company has suspended its stock, which trades in Toronto and Hong Kong.

The three employees have been held in Mongolia since 2012. Free to move around the capital, Ulaanbaatar, but not to leave the country, they weren't formally charged until May last year.

Major Repercussions

The verdict could have major repercussions for Mongolia's struggling economy. Some members of government say it has been handled badly and has sent the wrong message to foreign investors. It has also put the spotlight on a legal system that makes employees liable for a company's wrongdoing and allows authorities to prevent witnesses from leaving the country.

The case has coincided with Mongolia's conflict with Rio Tinto that's blocking $4 billion in project financing to expand one of the world's largest copper and gold mines. Foreign investment has plunged more than 85 percent in the past two years, sending a once-roaring economy into a tailspin.

"It is an unusual practice in Mongolia that tax and other disputes are classified as criminal cases," said Chuluunbat Ochirbat, economic adviser to Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed. Chuluunbat, who was previously head of the country's central bank, said last week, before the court case began on Wednesday. "This is a wrong practice and we have to make changes," he said.

Case Resonates

The SouthGobi tax case resonated with the engineers, lawyers, accountants and other foreign professionals that mining companies and others need to do business in the country, which besides copper and gold has some of the world's biggest coal deposits.

"A criminal conviction would make huge waves internationally," said Dale Choi, founder of Independent Mongolia Metals & Mining Research in Ulaanbaatar, speaking ahead of the court case. "It would create very negative publicity. Foreign investors and executives would be scared of signing documents in Mongolia."

Within Mongolia, some politicians are tapping into a nationalism that portrays foreigners as a rich elite robbing the country of resources, said Choi.

U.S. ambassador to Mongolia, Piper Anne Wind Campbell, was at the court and drew attention to problems over interpreting. "The defendants stated during their trial that they could not understand the interpretation provided or express themselves clearly," Campbell said in a statement from the U.S. embassy on Friday.

Exit Bans

Commenting on Chuluunbat's remarks, Campbell said the economic adviser had "reiterated what international investors have long made clear - that exit bans on foreign business executives whose companies are involved in business litigation in Mongolia have had significant, detrimental impacts on foreign direct investment."

Other foreigners have been detained in similar circumstances. A former lawyer for SouthGobi, Sarah Armstrong, was held in late 2012 as a witness in the case concluded Friday. Following weeks of interrogation and considerable media attention, she was allowed to leave.

Banking consultant Chris Bradley was in the country at the end of 2013 as part of a team investigating loan defaults for Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa's biggest lender. He was banned from leaving for six weeks after police said he had become part of a corruption investigation. After the New Zealander got home, he said he wouldn't go back.

In October, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it would investigate a claim by Kapla that his detention violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Prosecutors had alleged that SouthGobi evaded taxes of 230 billion tugrik and that it was involved in money laundering. The laundering charges were dropped in December and the alleged tax evasion was cut to 35 billion tugrik.

Come spring, Mongolia's Parliament will review legal changes related to commercial disputes and if passed, the amendments will end the practice of detaining individuals without charges, said Chuluunbat.

Link to article

Link to SGQ release

Similar:

Mongolia jails American, two Philippine citizens in tax evasion caseReuters, February 1

Mongolian court convicts American, Filipino mining firm executives over tax evasionAFP, February 1

 

Three Innocent Men Went to Prison Friday: Liotta

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- MahoneyLiotta LLC Founding Partner James Liotta discusses the case surrounding Canadian Miner SouthGobi and the three former employees that were found guilty by a Mongolian Court of tax evasion. He speaks to Bloomberg's John Dawson on "On The Move."

Link to video

 

U.S. Embassy Press Release

January 30 (U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar) On January 30, 2015, a Mongolian panel of judges convicted U.S. citizen Justin Kapla of tax evasion charges.  Several Embassy officials attended the trial, including Ambassador Piper Campbell, and noted that there were interpretation problems during the trial.  Because of these problems, the defendants stated during the trial that they could not understand the interpretation, nor could they express themselves clearly.  Mr. Kapla's case has lasted nearly three years and the repeated delays and exit ban have caused him enormous hardship.

Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister Mr. Chuluunbat recently reiterated what international investors have long made clear – that exit bans on foreign business executives whose companies are involved in business litigation in Mongolia have had significant, detrimental impacts on foreign direct investment.

Mr. Kapla's lawyers have informed us that the United Nations Human Rights Committee has accepted his petition to review what he alleges to be the violation of his intrinsic human rights by Mongolian authorities.  The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Link to release

 

AKM closed flat Friday at A$0.033. Cash at end of Q A$1.9m

Aspire Mining: Quarterly Activities Report

January 30, Aspire Mining Ltd. (ASX:AKM) --

Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture

·         Nuurstei 2014 exploration programme completed confirming coal continuity along 1.2km strike.

·         Nuurstei indicative washed coking coal specification confirms hard coking coal with low volatile matter and high G index. Coal is classified as Bituminous Mid Volatile coal.

Ovoot Coking Coal Project

·         Blend of indicative Ovoot fat coal and other Mongolian low and non-coking coals confirmed as a premium JM Primary Coking Coal, competitive with coals from Australia, USA and Canada.

·         Engineering review by Sedgman identifies significant cost savings of approximately US$127m on washplant and materials handling for the Ovoot Coking Coal Project.

·         Gravity survey completed over Ovoot Basin confirms additional coal exploration potential particularly in the northwest, southwest and central area of the Basin.

Northern Railways Investment Update

·         Erdenet – Ovoot – Arts Suuri Railway added to Mongolia's National Rail Policy.

·         Erdenet – Ovoot section (Phase 1) identified as a priority rail construction project and added to the official Mongolian Concession list of approved projects.

·         Northern Railways agreed EPC Framework Agreement with China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corp.

·         Northern Railways has signed Rail Bankable Feasibility Study contract with China Railways 20 Bureau Group Corporation.

·         Preliminary Feasibility work has commenced.

Link to full report

Link to cashflow report

 

HAR last traded A$0.019 January 27. Cash at end of Q A$233K.

Haranga: Quarterly Activities Report

January 30 -- Haranga Resources Limited ("the Company," ASX:HAR) is pleased to report on its activities for the quarter ended 31 December 2014.

HIGHLIGHTS

Project Development

Ø  The Company continues to make significant progress to develop its Selenge Iron Ore project ("the Project") having completed the Development Stage to enable the Project Construction to commence.

Ø  The Company is in the final stages of developing and optimizing a small scale production scenario.

Subsequent to the end of the quarter:

Ø  Results of metallurgical tests demonstrated a magnetite concentrate of marketable specification with high grade iron and low impurities suitable for Chinese steel producers.

Ø  The Company entered in to a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with Ulaanbaatar Railway, a Mongolian-Russian Joint Venture company which owns the Trans - Mongolian Railroad that connects Russia, Mongolia and China. The MOU enables the allocation of up to 1Mtpa export rail capacity for iron concentrate from 2016.

Corporate Matters

Ø  Issue of 19,850,000 shares to Golden Rain Holdings Limited ("Golden Rain"), a wholly owned subsidiary of Lippo China Resources Limited, for a total consideration of AUD357,300 (before costs).

Ø  Mr Marshall Cooper was appointed as Executive Chairman following the resignation of Mr Matthew Wood from this positon. Mr Wood remained as a Non Executive Director.

Subsequent to the end of the quarter:

Ø  Completion of a fully underwritten non-renounceable rights issue to raise AUD$1.4 million (before costs). The rights issue was fully underwritten by Golden Rain.

Ø  Following completion of the Placement and Rights Issue, Golden Rain's ownership of the Company's shares increased to 33.58%.

Ø  The completion of the Placement and Rights Issue puts the Company in a strong cash position (with cash at bank at 27 January 2015 circa $1.4 million) to continue the development of the Project.

Ø  Mr Lukman Wijaya (Stephen Lo), a director of Lippo Group, and Mr Jack James were appointed Non Executive Directors.

Ø  Mr Daniel Crennan resigned as a Non Executive Director

Link to full report

Link to cashflow report

 

WOF last traded A$0.04 January 27. Cash at end of Q A$1.1m

Wolf Petroleum: Quarterly Activities Report

January 30 -- Wolf Petroleum (ASX:WOF) is pleased to release the quarterly activities report.

Highlights:

·         The Company successfully closed a fully underwritten rights issue to shareholders for $1.5M.

·         The Company successfully completed a placement of new shares for $252,000.

SB BLOCK FARM OUT PROCESS

The Company continues to make steady progress towards farming out its 100% owned SB Block to potential industry and financial partners. Discussions are ongoing with a number of groups and the Company would hope to be able to make further comment in the coming quarter.

The Company's 100% owned SB Block provides an exceptional opportunity to potential partners with an estimated 460 million to 2.2 billion barrels of oil estimated in resources.

Link to report

Link to cashflow report

 

GUF closed +2.9% to A$0.035 Friday, cash at end of Q A$2.2m

Guildford Coal: Quarterly Activities Report

January 30, Guildford Coal Ltd. (ASX:GUF) --

HIGHLIGHTS

·         Production at Guildford Coal Limited (Guildford) BNU coking coal mine successfully and safely recommenced in mid-December 2014 with all major equipment recommissioned and the following material movements reported year to date at the end of December 2014:

o    Total waste movement of 324,000 bcm and ROM coal mined of 2,765 tonnes

o    Estimated 16,000 tonne of coal on stockpiles at the BNU mine

o    Total coal trucked from the BNU Mine to the Ceke border port station of 24,900 tonne

·         The BNU coking coal mine ramp up is progressing well having no Lost Time Injuries since commencement of development and is on track to produce 1.15Mt for the calendar year of 2015.

·         The Mineral Resources Progression Committee from the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia (MRAM) formally approved an increase in the allowable mining capacity to 1.5Mt in 2015 and 2.0Mt in 2016.

·         Strategic supporters and debt providers the Noble Group (Noble) and Orchard Capital Partners (OCP) agreed to continue to support the company by providing additional working capital and delaying the date for further principal and interest payments on their facilities to allow Guildford to ramp up production at BNU coking coal mine.

·         Preliminary results from the washing and laboratory testing confirmed the target specification of the primary product from BNU coking coal mine is for a low ash premium quality hard coking coal with low sulphur and the following key parameters; Ash 8%, VM25%, G 80, Y17, CSR 50+, S <0.7, TM 8% which is highly desirable amongst Chinese steel makers.

CORPORATE

Sino Takeover Offer

·         On 25 September 2014, Sino Construction Limited (Sino) announced an unsolicited off-market takeover bid for all of the shares in Guildford (Sino Takeover Offer). As set out in Guildford's Target's Statement (announced 24 December 2014), the Directors unanimously recommend that the Sino Takeover Offer be REJECTED.

Link to full report

Link to cashflow report

 

XAM closed -10% to A$0.09 Friday

Xanadu Mines: Quarterly Activities/Cashflow Report

January 30, Xanadu Mines Ltd. (ASX:XAM) --

HIGHLIGHTS

      A$14.6m of new equity funds raised during the quarter.

      A$6.6m payment of the Kharmagtai deferred consideration made during the quarter with a further A$0.5m payment on 5 January 2015 (total A$7.1m).

      Strong balance sheet with A$7.5m cash at 31 December.

      Kharmagtai drilling establishes a large scale copper-gold system with multiple near-surface, higher-grade, gold-rich centres and has positive implications for potential future project development.

      November drilling at Kharmagtai extended high-grade mineralisation at Altan Tolgoi and identifies a potential new porphyry centre at the Pigeon prospect.

      2015 Kharmagtai exploration campaign will include step-out drilling from known mineralisation and to investigate prospective geophysical anomalies.

      Kharmagtai advances towards the release of a maiden JORC resource.

      Exploration program ready to commence at the Oyut Ulaan project.

Link to full report

 

Cash at end of Q A$1.7M. TPO last traded A$0.20 on Jan 12

Tian Poh: Quarterly Activities Report

January 30, Tian Poh Resources Ltd. (ASX:TPO) --

Overview

      Completed the acquisition of Poh Golden Ger Resources Limited to acquire the interests in a coal mining license and nine (9) exploration licenses which are prospective for gold, copper and coal in Mongolia.

      Listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on 11 November 2014 and raised $2,396,400 in an initial public offering.

      Induced Polarization (IP) surveys were conducted over the several tenements with at least 8 geophysical targets being delineated from the results of the IP survey, including 4 on Concession 14767X. A geophysical survey is planned to be undertaken in 2015 to target potential mineralized intrusions at depth.

Projects

The Company's licences are grouped into four project areas across the south of Mongolia (Figure 1):

      Amulet Project in the Govi-Altai Province of Western Mongolia;

      Mandal-Urgukh Project in the Omnogovi Province of Southern Mongolia;

      Khangailand Project also in the Omnogovi Province of Southern Mongolia; and

      Huabei Kuangye Project in the Bayankhongor Province of Southwest Mongolia

Activities during the quarter

Link to report

Link to cashflow report

Back to top

Local Market

MSE News for January 30: Top 20 +0.05% to 14,290.63, Turnover 12 Million

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Friday, a total of 23 thousand and 564 units of 25 JSCs were traded costing MNT 12 million 816 thousand and 518.00.

"Khokh gan" /15 thousand and 807 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /4,902 units/, "Khasu-mandal" /570 units/, "Sharyn gol" /441 units/ and "Binse HK" /390 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Sharyn gol" (MNT two million 549 thousand and 800), "Khasu-mandal" (MNT two million and 337 thousand), "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT one million 636 thousand and 800), "Khokh gan" (MNT one million 533 thousand and 279) and "APU" (MNT one million 299 thousand and 100).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 378 billion 363 million 060 thousand and 774. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 14,290.63, increasing 7.60 units or 0.05% against the previous day.

Link to article

Link to MSE trading report

 

MSE Weekly Review: Top 20 -0.9% to 14,290.63, Turnover ₮108.3 Million, T-Bills ₮19.6 Billion

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange January 26-30 of 2015. In overall, 317 thousand and 268 units of 46 JSCs were traded costing MNT 19 billion 731 million 037 thousand and 945.

"State Department Store" /47 thousand and 255 units/, "Binse HK" /20 thousand units/, "Khokh gan" /15 thousand and 837 units/, "Moninjbar" /11 thousand and 197 units/ and "APU" /5,985 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "State Department Store" (MNT 25 million 990 thousand and 250), "APU" (MNT 21 million 534 thousand and 400), "Binse HK" (MNT 15 million and 780 thousand), "Gutal" (MNT 13 million and 012 thousand) and "Makh impex" (MNT four million 343 thousand and 350).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 378 billion 363 million 060 thousand and 774. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 14,290.63, decreasing 130.10 units or 0.90% against the previous week.

Link to article

Link to MSE weekly report

 

 

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Economy

Early morning bank rates: Khan (Buy 1,935 Sell 1,946), TDB (Buy 1,935 Sell 1,946), Golomt (Buy 1,938 Sell 1,946), XacBank (Buy 1,934 Sell 1,946), State Bank (Buy 1,936 Sell 1,947)

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, January 30 Close (Mogi: new low for MNT vs USD)

 

 

1/30

1/29

1/28

1/27

1/26

1/23

1/22

1/21

1/20

1/19

USD

1,944.78

1,943.97

1,943.64

1,944.61

1,944.02

1,944.06

1,944.43

1,942.39

1,940.80

1,936.78

EUR

2,205.19

2,194.35

2,204.77

2,187.69

2,184.98

2,206.41

2,251.65

2,244.04

2,247.16

2,238.05

CNY

311.21

311.21

311.14

311.27

310.93

312.24

313.20

312.62

312.23

311.49

GBP

2,933.51

2,941.32

2,946.95

2,932.08

2,923.81

2,912.88

2,941.92

2,945.05

2,930.03

2,929.38

RUB

28.17

28.17

28.85

28.54

29.53

30.61

29.73

29.56

29.84

29.79

1-Year MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:

Link to rates

 

BoM issues 128 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding +14.8% to 347.5 billion

January 30 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 128 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

Back to top

Politics & Legal

 

Digital Democracy: PM Saikhanbileg's Policy Choice SMS Poll

By Julian Dierkes

January 30 (Mongolia Focus) This week Prime Minister Ch Saikhanbileg has posed a question to Mongolians on television and he is asking them to reply by SMS.

There are examples of direct involvement by the electorate in political decisions, of course (from Athenian voting to Swiss market places and beyond), but this is certainly an interesting initiative that at least looks like it could have some impact on democratic engagement.

What's the Question?

So far, the exact wording has not been announced (see Comments below for more discussion and exact wording), but the choice that Saikhanbileg wants to hear from Mongolians on is essentially whether his government should prioritize the pursuit of big projects (presumably meaning OT and TT) in 2015/16 or respond to the on-going economic challenges with austerity measures.

Since the exact wording is not available yet, it is a little difficult to say how exactly the question will be play out.

On the face of it, however, it seems unlikely that many people would chose austerity in this situation.

I would comment, of course, that this is a false choice in that austerity is not the flip-side of the pursuit of major projects, one choice does not preclude the other choice, so this is an odd way to frame this particular question unless it gets re-worked for the version that will actually be sent out.

Why this Poll?

The initial interpretation might be that Saikhanbileg might be acting out of weakness in turning to the people for a mandate. Such weakness might be perceived in that the honeymoon period has been very brief and that there are rumblings about dissent in the coalition already, particularly focused on the DP's handling of appointments below the cabinet level.

But there are alternative explanations to the PM's decision for this poll.

Since he is asking specifically about big projects (and probably assuming that a majority of responses will pick those over austerity), the weakness explanation is less plausible. In all likelihood, cabinet (including the various parties represented in this super-coalition) as well as parliament in general appears to be supportive of any progress Saikhanbileg might be able to make on the big projects. If that is the case, a popular "mandate" based on an SMS poll would not add much.

Instead, it seems more plausible that Saikhanbileg has created this poll as an opportunity to communicate with Mongolians. He has just created a chance for himself to send a message to just about every Mongolian!

Why would he want to communicate with citizens?

Maybe he 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.

If a breakthrough is not coming any time soon, the poll presents an opportunity for Saikhanbileg to illustrate to voters that he is facing very difficult choices (nothing unusual about that in politics) and to recognize that following some populist arguments against big projects, for example, has consequences by necessitating savings or a cut in expenses. So perhaps this is aiming at populist arguments (in and around parliament) rather than any opposition within cabinet or within the coalition.

Digital Democracy?

This is not the first time that SMS polling is being used in Mongolia. The mayor of Ulaanbaatar, E Bat-Uul, has gone to the residents of the capital on three occasions to seek their input via SMS, though in combination with web polling.

It is also important to point out that there is no legal or legislative basis for this poll. It is not a formal referendum of any kind that would be based on legislation for the holding of such plebiscites. Instead it is a poll that happens to have been mentioned by the current Prime Minister.

It is somewhat of an official poll as the PM is clearly involving state resources in the administration of this poll. I learned from Independent Mongolian Metals & Mining Research's Dale Choi, for example, that the Information Technology, Post and Telecommunications Agency has briefed the public on procedures that are to be used [more on that below]. But at the same time, this does not elevate the poll to anything other than that, an opportunity for some part of the population to voice their opinion on a specific topic in a non-binding way.

The fostering of a democratic consciousness has been a prominent element in official rhetoric, especially under President Elbegdorj. The most concrete implementation of direct participation has been the Local Development Fund which has now placed discussions about priorities in local infrastructure spending in the hands of citizens' halls. It is still very unclear how evenly this is being implemented and with what results, but it has been a prominent initiative nevertheless. Note also that many of these discussions are likely to be occurring around this time of year, i.e. after the budget was passed in parliament at the end of the year and at a time when rural populations are relatively less busy with herding. The poll might thus compliment any discussions that are occurring in citizens' halls around the same time. I have not heard any mention of institutionalizing these kinds of polls as an element in participatory democracy and would frankly be surprised to see another poll of this kind before the 2016 parliamentary election, but it may well be an experiment that will be mentioned in Mongolia and beyond. As Mongolia is engaging Myanmar and the Kirghiz Republic on democratization in particular through its development program, this might be an experiment that will have more replications or at least produce discussions beyond Mongolia as well.

Digital Democracy as Mongolia's Future

If the argument that this poll is at least to some extent an opportunity for the Prime Minister to communicate with the electorate is plausible, what might this imply for Mongolian politics and for political culture? One of the obstacles to decision-making in Mongolia has been the fact that parties have been primarily identified with individuals and patronage and not with policy agendas. This is far from unique or limited to Mongolia and in fact very common across democracies. In the Mongolian context, however, where a single route to economic development seems to present itself forcefully, the absence of substantive policy choices in political debates has been particularly acute and has led to some policy failures in my eyes.

Will a communication to voters that points to the stark choices politics involved change this? Will voters demand more substantive electoral platforms that would actually specify a party's stand on questions like the prioritization of large projects or austerity. Probably not in a major way, but perhaps somewhat.

Obviously, this kind of poll might breed democratic cynicism, especially if the results are in doubt, are very mixed, or Saikhanbileg/government does not implement what emerged as the popular view. But it might also foster an understanding in voters of policy choices and difficulties associated with them.

Procedures in an SMS Poll

There have been three SMS polls (in combination with in-person and web polling) in Ulaanbaatar city. Two about car regulations in 2013 (a ban on right-hand drive cars, and a system by which even/odd license plate numbers would allow drivers to use their cars) and one about a recycling scheme in 2014. In all three cases there have been some rumblings about the reliability of the results announced and contradictions int he results of the polling through the web as opposed to SMS. In the end, however, the UB city administration accepted the polling results and acted accordingly.

Voting is meant to happen between Jan 31 and Feb 3. Every cell phone number gets one vote (excluding very recently acquired numbers). The SMS will be sent free of charge allowing even subscribers who do not have any credits to send this message. The message will be in response to an SMS that will be sent out and the response will only be 1 or 2 referring to the options offered in the question posed.

Some obvious challenges:

·         there is no connection to voter registration, reinforcing the lack of a legal or official status to this poll

·         people might vote multiple times if they have multiple subscriptions

·         it is unclear whether there will be a record of any kind

·         who knows about security of SMS?

·         any technical issues with overburdened servers or anything like that

·         cell phone usage is not distributed equally (in regional or socio-economic status terms) though it is certainly common enough to use as a tool in Mongolia

Acknowledgements

As so often, my views particularly my views on what might motivate Saikhanbileg to call for this poll, were formed in conversation with Mongolian graduate students at UBC, including but not limited to Damdinnyam G and Mendee J.

The focus on "digital democracy" and the implications for this in Mongolia came in part out of a conversation with David Williams, Senior Desk Officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Development.

Link to post

 

Mongolia PM Establishes Economic Council in Efforts to Stabilize Economy

January 30 (infomongolia.com) The first meeting of freelance Economic Council established under Prime Minister's Decree with aims to develop recommendations on measures to stabilize the economy and advise on investment policy was held in the Government House on January 29, 2015.

In his remarks addressing the members of newly formed Economic Council, Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg stressed, "The Council's priority duties are focused on stabilization the country's macro economy, to create a friendly business environment and attract domestic and foreign investment as well as to give directions and advices on implementing mega and infrastructure projects and programs. In order to recover the economy, we should bring investors back and thereof, we should move forward large projects to be operational. Thus, we need your knowledge, skills and experience to overcome the economic difficulties facing today".

The Economic Council is entrusted and responsible to carry out measures overcoming economic and financial difficulties, take actions against possible negative impacts on the economic environment, and resolve the reasons and mitigate the effects on negative banking and financial outlooks as well as develop a policy to implement and introduce to the Economic National Committee.

Moreover, the Council is obliged to promote Mongolia's current socio-economic, investment and development tendencies to foreign countries and to issue recommendations on measures to attract domestic and foreign investment.

Link to article

Related:

Economic Council established to revive nat'l economyMontsame, January 30

 

No MPs arrive on time for Friday plenary session

By U. Badamtsetseg

Ulaanbaatar, Jan 30 (gogo.mn) Glass Account Law of Mongolia is now affecting the attendance of the MPs and the Parliament Office is informing the public on the attendance of MPs to the Plenary sessions.

Speaker Z.Enkhbold warned the MPs as he is to install cameras inside the Parliament Session hall emphasizing that from now on public will see which MP is attending the sessions and who is not, stating that this is the first step on transparency and responsibility of the State. He also warned MPs that he is to show each MPs seat one by one and assured if the MPs are supportive of the initiative of the President.

We are delivering the attendance of the MPs for January 30th.

Plenary session today started at 9AM. From the reports none of the 76 MPs arrived on time, while Speaker Z.Enkhbold registered his arrival at 9.05AM today.

Below is the lagging list of MPs as of 11 AM.

Link to article

 

Mongolian Journalists Establish Self-Regulating Ethics Council, Mongol TV CEO Elected Chair

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) Prior to holding a session of founding the Press Council of Mongolia (PCM), a meeting has been held to establish the Ethics Council for Journalists NGO, and it approved the council's charter.

At the meetings of the PCM's branches of newspaper, radio and local media, members of the Council's Board and Ethics Council were elected, and it was approved on Wednesday at the session of the PCM. Accordingly the Council's Board has 15 members, and the Ethics Council has 30 members divided into two committees.

An executive director of the Mongol TV channel Ch.Nomin was selected as the PCM's Board; a legal advisor to the Daily Newspaper Sh.Sukhbaatar--as a chair of the Ethics Committee of Printing and Online Media; and a teacher of the Mongolian State University of Education Dr J.Batbaatar--as a chair of the Ethics Committee of Broadcasting.

A general manager of the Government News S.Batbaatar underlined an importance of the PCM's establishment, saying that it is an historical event.

"The PCM's key importance is to ensure a formation of ethics at the journalism sector which provides the public with receive information, and it will help journalists prevent go to trial," said U.Tamir, head of the Developmental Forum for Information and Communication Potential NGO. According to a survey, 297 civil cases and 16 criminal cases were resolved by the court against journalists between 1999 and 2011.

The PCM's main objectives are to protect the media freedom, reputation of the media and the interests of journalists and to ensure the ethics of journalists and professional norms with an aim to form the responsible journalism in Mongolia. 

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Local journalists to self-regulate Mongolian mediaUB Post, January 30

 

Mongolian Journalists Union Holding 16th Congress

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) The 16th session of the Confederation of Mongolian Journalists (CMJ) kicked off Friday in the City's Civil Hall.

The CMJ president B.Galaarid delivered a report about works done in last four years within his duty at the session which brought together some 240 journalists of Ulaanbaatar city and aimags.

At its session, the CMJ will select a new president and a composition of authorities. Apart from the confederation's incumbent president B.Galaarid, five people such as M.Naranbaatar,a former head of the Mongolian National Public Radio and Television; E.Dagiimaa, the editor-in-chief of the TV5 channel; and D.Boldkhuyag, a former manager of the "Zuuny Medee" newspaper have been nominated for the CMJ's presidency.

Link to article

 

Freedom in the World 2015: Mongolia – FREE, Score 1.5

2014 SCORES

STATUS: Free

FREEDOM RATING (1 = BEST, 7 = WORST): 1.5

CIVIL LIBERTIES (1 = BEST, 7 = WORST): 2

POLITICAL RIGHTS (1 = BEST, 7 = WORST): 1

OVERVIEW: 

Incumbent president Ts. Elbegdorj won a second four-year term in the June 2013 presidential election, defeating two opponents in the first round of voting. In late July he pardoned his predecessor, N. Enkhbayar, who had been convicted on corruption charges in 2012. The country continued to experience economic growth based on its mineral wealth during 2013, even as corruption, the power of politicians associated with specific business interests, and the politicization of the media remained key challenges to freedom and democracy.

POLITICAL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES: 

Political Rights: 36 / 40 [Key]

A. Electoral Process: 11 / 12

B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 16 / 16

C. Functioning of Government: 9 / 12

Civil Liberties: 50 / 60

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 15 / 16

E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 11 / 12

F. Rule of Law: 12 / 16

G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 12 / 16

Link to Mongolia page

 

Elbegdorj Issues Directive to Cabinet on Industrialization

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) Head of the Presidential Office P.Tsagaan Friday granted to the Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat a decree of the President on giving a direction for intensifying industrialization in Mongolia.

By his decree, the President gives directions to the cabinet to take certain measures to support partnership between the government and private sector, to boost exports and enhance domestic value-added productions, competitive, environment friendly, processed goods, in order to replace the import products.

The President urged citizens and mass media organizations to actively participate in the promotion and consumption of the domestic products.

By the document, the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg is entrusted to budget necessary expenses for the implementation of the Decree and work out quarterly reports to the President.

Link to article

 

MP Erdenechimeg's bill seek to tighten control on alcohol

By E. Oyundari

January 30 (UB Post) The Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Sciences held a meeting on Wednesday and discussed the draft bill on Controls on Alcoholic Beverages. However, the committee took a break of five days after discussions calling for stricter controls and legal parameters.

The draft was developed and submitted by MP L.Erdenechimeg on November 25, 2014, and reviewed by the government on January 20, 2015.

The draft bill from the government includes principles to implement control on alcoholic beverages based on factual research, to increase alcohol tax, and to prevent the influence of parties with conflicting interests in determining policy on alcoholic beverage control.

The government also wants permits to produce and import alcoholic beverages to be granted through the selection of the best projects and based on the assessments and suggestions of qualified inspectors who would also oversee the extension and validation of permits.

The bill developed by MP L.Erdenechimeg mostly focused on reducing alcohol consumption and production, and managing production permits that have been granted widely.

As of today, a total of 93 entities with permits, including seven alcoholic spirit manufacturers, 57 vodka manufacturers, 19 breweries, and 10 wine producers are in operation. Lawmakers believe that alcoholic beverage supply in the market is the root of increased alcohol consumption by the population, and that the alcohol being consumed does not meet quality standards.

According to statistical data, one third of all crimes in Mongolia are serious offenses and two thirds are categorized as criminal offenses. Some 57.7 percent of all crimes in Ulaanbaatar are committed by people under the influence of alcohol. This shows that crime and offenses are directly connected to excessive alcohol consumption, say the bills' developers.

During the discussion of the draft bills, parliamentarians said that alcoholism has been reduced and expressed that the illegal trade of alcoholic beverages will fall into order when limits on alcohol are in force. There is a demand to reduce alcohol consumption by showing the public the extent and impact of alcoholism in Mongolia, say some Members of Parliament. They take the position that it is better to take heavy legal measures to prevent breaches of the law, instead of fighting this negative social trend with strict regulations.

MP A.Bakei expressed his position on the draft bill, stating, "These two draft bills both have the intention of strengthening control on alcoholic beverage at all levels, including alcohol trade, production, retail trade, services, and consumption. I doubt that all Members of Parliament will support these draft bills. Prohibiting the use and trade of alcohol won't be beneficial. It is better to reduce alcohol consumption through economic leverage."

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Stakeholders Give Status Report on Local Govt Capacity Building Project

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) "Community-led Local Governments Capacity Building" and "Promoting Participatory Legislature" projects are being realized in Mongolia by the Office of the State Great Khural, the UNDP, and the Swiss Agency for Development (SDC). On Friday, the stakeholders met to share information on the states of projects.

According to the representatives, various trainings were held in frames of the projects for 7000 people on a national level to give knowledge about legal environment, decision-making processes, civic involvement, budget estimation and adoption, financial management, ethics, green development, human rights and gender equality. The projects also facilitated citizens with ability to study online, and created website that is joined by 361 organizations and groups so far.

Reportedly, the website is accessed 600 times a day, and refreshed everyday by over 80 news, said the stakeholders.

Present at the meeting were, the Secretary General of the office of the Parliament and the national coordinator B.Boldbaatar, and the permanent representative of the UN to Mongolia Sezin Sinanoglu.

Link to article

 

Asia Foundation: Third National Horizontal Learning Workshop - Experience Sharing on Public Participation

January 30 (infomongolia.com) On January 30, 2015, The Asia Foundation shared with InfoMongolia.com with the following press release, the NGO that marked 20 years in Mongolia in 2013.

Third National Horizontal Learning Workshop - Experience Sharing on Public Participation

Office of the President of Mongolia and The Asia Foundation have successfully cohosted the Third National Workshop of the Fostering Civic Engagement at the Subnational Level (FOCE) Project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation at the President's Citizens' Hall in the Government House on January 29-30, 2015.

The workshop brought together approximately 60 citizens from the FOCE pilot sites in 14 Sums of six Aimags across the country and 3 Khoroos of Ulaanbaatar. The two-day discussion was focused on sharing experiences among citizens on methods and lessons learned to increase citizen participation at the local level.

The goal of the FOCE project was to increase the transparency and accountability of local governments and contribute to more responsive local government policy-making and service provision for citizens. This is in support of the President's agenda for direct democracy and fiscal decentralization. Local governments are being supported to increase civic participation in decisionmaking through small grants and technical assistance. This has helped to establish fully-equipped Citizens' Halls in all sites and has supported a regular agenda of public consultations.

The national workshop brought together citizen activists from all pilot sites to share experiences and learn on participatory practices in the Mongolian context. While previous horizontal learning workshops have been combined to host both local government officials and citizens, this is the first workshop that only included citizens.

Some of the points that were discussed at the conference include:

1) Citizens to discuss their impressions of having a Citizens' Hall, or dedicated space for public-private discussions. Citizens will describe how they are using the Citizen's Halls in their communities. The concept of Citizen's Halls was initiated by President Ts.Elbegdorj in 2009 to create an independent meeting space for citizens to gather and discuss their issues and priorities. At the local level many Sums and Khoroos have now opened their own citizens' halls allowing for citizens to have discussions and develop proposals to present to their local government. This fills an important gap since many Sums did not previously have many public meeting spaces and it was often not suitable or feasible to meet at people's homes. Before local Citizens' Halls established (most in the last year), people submitted requests or complaints to the local government on an individual basis and this was not very effective. Proposals submitted by groups of people are more likely to receive attention from the authorities.

2) Citizens have also shared their experience participating in public discussions with professionally-trained facilitators and whether this practice is effective. The FOCE project enabled local citizens to be trained as professional facilitators in a number of the pilot sites. These citizens are now organizing discussions among citizens of their Bags and Khesegs. Project monitoring is hearing positive feedback about this new method of conducting meetings, whereby participants have concrete time to develop ideas and speak, rather than the top-down method traditionally used to conduct meetings in Mongolia.

3) Citizens from the pilot sites have shared their experiences on social accountability and citizens score cards, which have been supported by FOCE in each of the pilot sites. One of the aims of the citizens score card methodology was to encourage better cooperation between citizens and government service providers. For example, the citizens in Undur-Ulaan Sum, Arkhangai Aimag, discovered during the score card exercise that in fact their local health center provides more services then they were aware of. The score card helped the health center management understand the importance of better sharing information with the public, so that the citizens were able to request services and were more satisfied.

These are just a few of the anticipated best practices on citizens' participation were discussed over this two day workshop.

Link to article

 

Hogan Lovells Review: Mongolia Introduces Law on Glass Accounts

January 30 -- On 1 July 2014, the Parliament of Mongolia adopted the Law of Mongolia on Glass Accounts ("Accounts Law") in an attempt to ensure the efficient and proper use of state and local government funds, the transparency of decisions and actions concerning budget management and public overview of the same.  The Accounts Law entered into force on 1 January 2015.

The key feature of the Accounts Law is that it obliges all government agencies and legal entities with state involvement to make information on budgets and financial matters, including the utilisation of financing and other government indebtedness, available to the public.  It should be noted that many of the reporting obligations imposed on government agencies under the Accounts Law were already in existence and reflected in the Law of Mongolia on Transparency of Information and the Right to Receive Information and the Law of Mongolia on the State Budget.

However, the Accounts Law introduces a number of new measures:

(a)   it provides the details of what type of information must be provided;

(b)  it broadens the type and number of organisations subject to reporting obligations;

(c)   it identifies those officials who are responsible for ensuring the disclosure of information;

(d)  it consolidates the different timeframes for disclosure; and

(e)  it provides that the main performance indicator of an entity or official shall be its compliance with the Accounts Law.   

The Accounts Law aimed to address the criticism that information concerning the funds raised by the government through the issuance of securities and the use of those funds was not publicly available and accordingly, there was limited accountability to the public.  The Accounts Law prescribes that debentures and other financial instruments, foreign and domestic loans and grant aid, public and private partnerships, concessions and guarantees which create budgetary payables and receivables will only become effective upon being disclosed to the public by placing them on the central "glass account" website.1      

1. ENTITIES AND OFFICIALS SUBJECT TO THE ACCOUNTS LAW

The Accounts Law applies to the following entities and the officials who have the authority to contractually bind those entities:

(a)   legal entities with state or local government ownership such as ministries, agencies, local governors' offices and all other entities established by the government;

(b)  state-owned enterprises;

(c)   companies where one-third or more of the shares therein are held by the state, local government or their affiliated parties;

(d)  business entities and organisations making investments and implementing projects and programmes, activities, work and services with state and/or local funds; and

(e)  entities implementing state functions pursuant to law or contract.

2. TYPE OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION SUBJECT TO THE ACCOUNTS LAW

The Accounts Law applies to the planning, spending and reporting of the following budgets and/or financial activities:

(a)   state and local budgets, and the budgets of the Social Insurance Fund and the Human Development Fund;

(b)  local development funds;

(c)   specialised government funds;

(d)  procurement of goods, work and services with state and local funds;

(e)  grant aid given to, and foreign and domestic loans, debentures and other financial instruments entered into by, central and local government;

(f)    public and private partnerships and concessions; and

(g)  guarantees given by the government and local governments and other acts which create budgetary payables and receivables.

3. DISCLOSURE OBLIGATIONS

The Accounts Law prescribes that the Ministry of Finance shall maintain a central "glass account" website and all other subject entities must provide ancillary information on their individual websites through a dedicated section on accounts and financial information.

The Accounts Law also specifies the type of information which must be disclosed and the relevant timeframe for disclosure.  For example, legal entities with state or local government ownership and state-owned enterprises must publish their annual budgets and procurement plans by 10 January each year, annual financial reports by 25 April each year and any budget deficits or surpluses must be reported every quarter. 

Further, such entities must issue a public notice in relation to the following with a week of any such occurrence:

(a)   in respect of government tenders, tender documents, tender regulations and criteria imposed on bidders.  Where a bidder has been selected, a brief introduction of the selected bidder and those who were not selected and the reason/rationale for such decisions;

(b)  details of procured goods, work and services with a value of more than MNT 5 million (approximately US$ 2,700) including the contract value and the name and address of the supplier and/or contractor; and

(c)   the entry into of any bonds, loans, debentures, guarantees and other forms of financial indebtedness, public and private partnership agreements, concessions, any decision concerning budgets, properties, assets, expenditures and budget receivables and payables.

Further, the Ministry of Finance must publish the state budget twice annually and on quarterly basis publish a report on the use of debt and aid, in particular any debt raised by way of the issue of government securities.  Similar reporting obligations are imposed on companies where one-third or more of the shares therein are held by the state or local governments or their affiliated parties to the extent that such information relates to state or local government budgets/funds.

4. ROLE OF CITIZENS

The law prescribes that its implementation shall be monitored by citizens' parliaments (whose representatives are elected from local citizens) and the state auditing authority. 

The Accounts Law also provides that citizens may monitor the implementation of the Accounts Law by submitting a complaint to the respective entity or official regarding the implementation of the Accounts Law or any potential infringements.  If such complaint is not addressed, then citizens or legal entities may submit a complaint directly to the state auditing authority and request an audit to be undertaken.  The state auditing authority must undertake relevant measures and notify the concerned citizen and the public in writing of the outcome. 

5. SANCTIONS FOR NON-COMPLIANCE

The Accounts Law imposes disciplinary actions as well as fines for breaches of the law.  Depending on the type of violation, disciplinary action includes warnings, reductions in pay by up to 20 per cent for six months or dismissal from public office with a prohibition on taking public office for a period of one year. 

Fines ranging from MNT 9,600,000 (approximately US$ 5,189) to MNT 19,200,000 (approximately US$ 10,378) may be imposed on executive management of private entities and public officials which fail to comply with the provisions of the Accounts Law.  The level of these fines is relatively high compared with sanctions imposed in similar laws.

6. CONCLUSION

Mongolia has enacted the Accounts Law in an effort to improve financial accountability and make information on government budgets and finances easily understandable and accessible to the public.  

The enactment of the Accounts Law should be positively received by both foreign and domestic investors as it obliges government agencies and their affiliated entities to make information on their budgets and procurement accessible to the public in a timely manner.  Nevertheless the effectiveness of the Accounts Law will depend on how its provisions are applied in practice. 

1 The Glass Account Law provides that the Government will determine the date upon which the central "glass account" website becomes active and the date should be no later than 30 June 2016.

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Business

MAK Signs Construction Agreement with China's Harbin for Nariinsukhait Power Station

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) At the Mongolian Embassy in Beijing, an agreement was signed last Tuesday by MAK Energy LLC and Harbin Electric International Company Ltd. The agreement was about commissioning a power plant basing on Nariinsukhait coal mine located in Omnogovi aimag.

Present at the agreement signing ceremony were the leaders of the two companies, and Ambassador of Mongolia to China Ts.Sukhbaatar, along with his advisor on trade and economy B.Khurelbaatar.

Through commissioning the power station, a reliable provision of electricity of Omnogovi aimag will be facilitated and the capacity of the coal mines will be improved. This is also of high importance in reducing the costs by using high-tech electric equipment, and increasing exports.

The power station will serve as additional power source for large mines such as Oyu Tolgoi, Tsagaansuvarga, and Tavantolgoi.

The bilateral agreement on this matter was already signed during the visit of the Chinese president Xi Jinping to Mongolia.

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Mining Ministry: Transparent Mining Monthly Conference, January 2015

By Badrakh Yadmaa, Head of the International Cooperation Division, Ministry of Mining

January 28 (Ministry of Mining) The Ministry of Mining of Mongolia holds "Transparent Mining" conference every month, headed by the Minister of Mining, to report its activities, and work being implemented in geology and mining sector in Mongolia. Following is the conference newsletter for the month of January.

"Transparent Mining" conference newsletter

No.2                                                     Ulaanbaatar

Cooperation with municipalities and and central government, NGO's and wealth creators is to be emphasized

The Ministry is working to reflect the ideas and suggestions of wealth creators, the professional associations, non-governmental organizations, academic and research institutions in its policy and activities. Accordingly, the management of the Ministry met the representatives from affiliated agencies, professional associations of minerals sector, academic and research institutions, and acquaint with their operations and activities in detail, and exchanged views on how to deal with the challenges faced. The Ministry officials headed by the Mining Minister paid a working visit to Zaamar soum of Tov, and Buregkhangai of Bulgan province. Itinerary included on-site trips and to: security firm "Zaamar Khaan" operating in öliin davaa, Tsagaan chuluut soums of Tov province overseeing the sites where gold mined illegally; Zeregtsee gold mine of "Mongolrostsevetmet" LLC, 2nd dragline of Tuul polygon; Ogoomor village; Ikh tokhoirol gold mine camp of "Ikh tokhoirol" LLC; and reviewed the erection operation of Holland made dragline. Visit to the seabuckthorn seadling project on the biological reclamation of degraded mine land, Khailaast, being executed by "Altan Dornod Mongol" LLC were also included in the trip.

Delegates also visited and reviewed reclaimed mine field, artificial lake, greenhouse/nursery fields of "Monpolimet" LLC, as well as "Mining National Operator" LLC to observe operations and reclamation work. Minister met the management and staff, representatives of artisanal miners to exchange views on current issues.

In the framework of this working tour, the Ministry is working to strengthen the role of the the mining sector to overcome the economic crisis, support and promote the principles of responsible mining enterprises, analyze the current state of artisanal and small-scale mining and develop proposals for further action.

Strategic Designation of Gatsuurt is set by the Mongolian Parliament

Gatsuurt Project, located approximately 35 kilometres from the Boroo Mine, has been designated as a mineral deposit of strategic importance by the Mongolian Parliament.

Certified reserves of 50 tons of gold deposit, and 25 tons of gold reserves effective under certain conditions, meets the criteria for mineral deposit of strategic importance of the project. Minerals Professional Council has proved the Centerra Gold Mongolia's reserves and resource report of Gatsuurt project in 2013; and the feasibility study in 2014.

Operation of the mine would start mine infrastructure such as road construction, add on about 1,000 jobs, and haul in about MNT660 billion in taxes, fees and charges. State Treasury will increase by the remitted gold to the Central Bank, and stabilize the exchange rate.

The audit done by the professional organizations concluded the special exploitation area does not contain historical and cultural artifiacts and monuments. The Hun era historical sites and graves are located 5.8 km to the southwest (straight line) of the exploitation area. Hun era park memorial of the Mount Noyon is located in three different locations of Sujigt, Zuramt, and Khujirt of this mountain, and belongs to Bornuur and Batsumber soums of Tov province.

Audit done by Institute of History of the Mongolian National Academy of Sciences in 1999 and 2000, as well as Department of Anthropology, Archeology of Mongolian National University in 2005, concluded no findings of Hun era archaeological findings in the exploitation area of "Centerra Gold Mongolia" LLC.

The Ministry of Mining believes that the historical and cultural artifacts and monuments found in the Gatsuurt deposit area should be protected in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.

Regulatory Compliance for Laws and regulations of "Law with Long Name" being introduced by Parliamentary groups

"Regulation Act" for "To Prohibit Mineral Exploration And Mining Operations At River Headwaters, Protected Zones Of Water Reservoirs And Forested Areas" law (LLN /Law with long name/ here on) was enacted by the Parliament on July 16, 2009.

The Government issued Decree No.174 in 2011, and No.194 in 2012 to set the boundaries for the regions where the long-named law would apply. Ministry of Environment and Green Development announced 488 exploitation, 845 exploration, and total of 1333 special permits in the said boundary. This equals to about 48 percent of the active special permits.

Regulations Act of LLN law directs that this law is to be implemented within five months upon enacted. It's been five years since this act was enacted.

Therefore, "Regulation Act of Law To Prohibit Mineral Exploration And Mining Operations At River Headwaters, Protected Zones Of Water Reservoirs And Forested Areas" draft law was submitted to the Parliament, and a working group was formed.

Study done by the Ministry of Environment and Green Development that states that the 2130 hectares of land restricted under this law is already damaged.

In accordance with the regulations stated under the government's 2010 resolution number 299 the reimbursement of payments are calculated as such:

With the use of information provided by the General Department of Taxation the initial figure for reimbursement is 2,223.93 billion tugrugs (this number is calculated with the operational profits of the entities).

Since the compliance procedure of the said law has expired, it is necessary to make amendments to the law. If the siutation is to continue as is, opportunites will be presented to those who have interest in the illegal mining, posing negative impacts on the environment.

Draft law on "Transparency in the Mineral resources industry" is discussed by the Parliament

The Ministry of Mining brought forward the draft law on "Transparency in the mineral resources sector" that has successfully passed by the Government and the Economical standing committee discussions, and is now ready for Parliament discussions.

With the formation of favorable legal environment on the transparency of mineral resources sector the following long-term socio-economical advantages are projected:

1.    The basis for cooperative administration, cooperative control administration and organizational structures will be enabled by bringing the transparency in the mineral resources industry to advanced international standards.

2.    Establishment of information database for the mineral resources industry.

3.    The establishment of legal basis to avoid and prevent unreasonable expenses, illegal payment transactions performed by industry enterprises.

4.    Build the correct partnership between the state, private sector and the civil society in the mineral resources industry. 

5.    Public scrutiny, transparency on operational fundamentals and communication between producing companies, state and public organizations will be enabled.

6.    The expense reduction of producing companies will enhance profit consequently increasing the tax, revenue and payments to the local government and the country budget.

7.    Transparency on industry taxes, payments, revenue spending and allocation will enable the implementation of correct management of mineral resources.

Mineral exploration licenses to be granted online

Starting 26th of this month the mineral exploration license applications are have started granted online.

The Mineral Resource Authority (MRAM) will grant 30 online application numbers and all private entities that have a number will have the opportunity to provide their application and relevant documentation to the MRAM at the allotted time. MRAM's Cadastre Division will accept the application and that same day will take the coordinates that are being applied for and take it off the overall coordinates of the exploration areas being applied for and inform the public. By doing this any private entities applying for an exploration license will not be applying for an area that is already being applied for. Online numbers will now be provided every other business day (on the first week it will be Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the next week Tuesday and Thursday). With this change being made a private entity that has access to the system for one week will be able to access for two weeks and if they have access for one month then it will grant them access for two months.

Mining Sector Statistics

Commodity prices on the world market in 2014 continued to fall, however, as for Mongolia, volumes of exploitation and export of major types of minerals have increased compared to that of previous year significantly contributing the economy.

The mining sector accounted for 18.7 percent of the GDP, 68.7 percent of the total production of the industrial sector, 21.9 percent of the total budget, 83.0 percent of total exports, respectively. Compared to 2013, the proportion of the total industrial production has risen by 0.5 points, the proportion of the budget by 4.2 points, and the proportion of exports by 1.1 points, respectively.

As for the major types of minerals production volume by the end of 2014:

1.1 million tons of copper concentrate, 4.1 thousand tons of molybdenum concentrate, 24.4 million tons of coal, 11.5 tons of gold and 374.9 thousand tons fluoride. Furthermore, 10.3 million tons of iron ore, 93.2 thousand tons of zinc concentrate and oil production of 7.4 million barrels, or 1.0 million tons.

Production volume of copper concentrate has risen by 277.4 thousand tons or 34.5 percent, molybdenum has risen by 321.9 tons, or 8.6 percent, gold has risen by 2.6 tons or 29.2 percent, fluorite has risen by 136.8 thousand tons or 57.5 percent and oil production has increased by 2.3 million barrels or 44 percent, respectively, compared to that of last year.

In addition, 19.5 million tons of coal, 1.4 million tons of copper concentrate, 4.0 million tons of molybdenum concentrate, 313.9 thousand tons fluorspar, 6.3 million tons of iron ore, 99.4 thousand tons of zinc and 6.9 million barrels of oil or 939.3 thousand tons have all been exported respectively.

In comparison to previous year, coal exports has increased by 1.1 million tons or 6.1 percent, export of gold by 2.4 tons or 31.6 percent, oil exports by 1.6 million barrels or 31.3 percent and copper concentrate by 728.3 thousand tons or 2.1 times, respectively in 2014.

The sector contributed MNT1 trillion 346.3 billion to the state budget in 2014.

Revenue performance of the Minister's Budget

MRAM has contributed a total of MNT44.6 billion in revenue to the state budget, including MNT41.0 billion in mineral exploration and exploitation permit fees, reimbursement fees of state funded prospecting at MNT1.8 billion, other income of MNT1.8 billion.

Petoleum Authority contributed a total of MNT288.5 billion to the total budget, of which MNT285.6 billion were petroleum revenue, and other revenure accounted for MNT2.9 billion.

Fuel Prices are stable

1.3 million tons of petroleum products were imported in 2014. 90.8 percent were from Russian Federation, of which 63 percent was supplied by the state-owned "Rosneft". Oil prices declined by 50 percent on the world market. Mongolia, for the past two years, imported fuel with the price calculated on a formula based on the world market prices. Soft loan programs, in the framework of sub-programs to stabilize the petroleum retail prices, as well as the currency rate and tax discounts through forward agreement is being halted in stages.

Excise tax rate for petroleum and diesel fuel is set by the Cabinet meeting (Jan.19.2015) to be as follows: MNT250,000 per tonne for A-80; MNT259,000 for AI-92; MNT265,000 for diesel fuel respectively. Such tax revenue should contribute approximately MNT220 billion to the state budget. Retail prices were stable for more than two years, and is expected to remain so.

"Mineral Resources Industry 2025-II" discussion is to be held

The Ministry of Mining will organize annual "Mineral resources industry-2015-II" discussion on 11th of February 2015.

The discussion, under "Mineral resources - our opportunity" slogan, will consist of four parts including "Impact of the minerals resources industry on the socio-economics of Mongolia", "Community Relations", "Major projects in the Geology, Mining and Petroleum sectors", "Competitiveness of the Industry".

It is forcasted that about 300 guests and delegates representing ministries and agencies, professional associations and enterprises operating in the mining industry is to take attend the Discussion.

State Fuel reserves

As of 27 Janauary, the state fuel reserve is at 43 days of regular consumption. Hereof, A-80 has 65 days, Ai-92 has 53 days, diesel fuel has 46, and TS-1 jet fuel 15 days.

MINISTRY OF MINING

Tel: 264057                                                                            

Email: badrakh@mm.gov.mn, bodibilguun@mm.gov.mn

Link to release

 

Post Conference Report: Invest Mongolia Tokyo, December 11

By Masa Igata, CEO

February 1 (Frontier Securities) I am very pleased to announce that 2nd annual Invest Mongolia Tokyo has successfully finished on Dec 11, 2014 with 30 speakers and 282 attendees. Invest Mongolia Tokyo aimed to address following opportunities, risks and concerns that have been put forward by the investment communities from Mongolia, Japan and other nations. 

1.    The outlook of both political and economic relations between Japan and Mongolia

2.    The economic outlook in Mongolia and risk/return of the investments in Mongolia

3.    The outlook for Mongolia's Mineral Exports and its implications to Japanese investors

4.    The opportunities and risks for Japanese small to mid-sized corporations to do business in Mongolia

5.    The opportunities in Mongolian Banks

6.    The reform of the Mongolian Stock Exchange and its opportunities

7.    The infrastructure Development in Mongolia

8.    The opportunities in Real Estate and Education 

We have prepared the program with various topics and industries. We have touched on the concerns and risks for investing in Mongolia as well which in other events on Frontier markets rarely discuss. After the conference, I believe many of the attendees have become familiar with investment opportunities in Mongolia and have acquainted with many experts in Mongolia through the networking event.

Lastly, I would like to thank our sponsor and supporting organizations. The conference was supported by the Embassy of Mongolia in Japan and WTO Center at Aoyama Gakuin University. Also, Hogan Lovells and TDB were our valuable premier sponsors. Without their commitments, the conference could not have been materialized. 

We are planning to organize the event annually and want to come back to Tokyo in December 2015. So, we welcome more active participation from each of you in the events next year. 

Please click here to download post conference report

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Mongolia Holds First Mega Project Development Forum

By B. Erdenechimeg

January 30 (gogo.mn) Mongolia is starting to promote its mega projects and yesterday Mega Project Development Forum was organized at Blue Sky Tower.

Minster of State M.Enkhsaikhan made speech with his presentation on Mega Projects in Mongolia: Challenges and Opportunities. He is leading the Government working group to negotiate with the Tavantolgoi investors. Before, he was leading Tavantolgoi Power Plant project as well.

Next presenter was the representative of Sumitomo Mitsui Bank speaking on Project Financing and Public and Private Partnership. D.Odkhuu, Director of Egiin River Hydro Power Plant Project unit made introductions on the project that needs USD 827.6 million investments.

The forum was co-organized by Mega Project Development Institute NGO and Government of Mongolia.

Link to article

 

Google Fiber-less and sick of slow Internet? Move to Mongolia

U.S. 35th in this ranking of Internet bandwidth available per user, Mongolia 24th

January 29 (Marketwatch) Google this week announced plans to expand its ultrafast Internet service to Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Nashville, Tenn., and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

The Internet service has download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second—that's roughly 100 times faster than the national average.

And the cost? It's currently $70 a month in the cities where it already exists: Provo, Utah, the Kansas City metro area and Austin, Texas.

If you don't live in one of those six cities, odds are you would vote Time Warner Cable or Comcast the most unpopular company in America.

Don't want to move to Provo, Utah, or Kansas City for faster Internet? If the only thing you value is speedy Internet, move to Moldova, Mongolia, Serbia or Lithuania. All those countries have faster average Internet speeds than the U.S. In fact, 34 countries rank higher than the U.S. for Internet bandwidth per Internet user, according to data from the World Economic Forum.

Here's its list of the 35 countries and their international Internet bandwidth in kb/s per Internet user, as of 2012.

Country/Economy

Value

1. Luxembourg

4,091.4

2. Hong Kong SAR

1,239.8

3. Malta

638.5

4. Singapore

391.1

5. Iceland

371.2

6. Switzerland

322.7

7. Sweden

279.8

8. Portugal

193.8

9. Norway

189.1

10. United Kingdom

188.9

11. Belgium

184.9

12. Denmark

175

13. Netherlands

172.9

14. Finland

159.5

15. Puerto Rico

135.4

16. Romania

116

17. Austria

108.5

18. Canada

101

19. Czech Republic

101

20. Ireland

97

21. Slovenia

95.9

22. Bulgaria

94.4

23. Moldova

94

24. Mongolia

91.9

25. France

84.6

26. Spain

81.3

27. Italy

76.2

28. Germany

75.5

29. Serbia

70.5

30. Poland

70.4

31. Lithuania

70.1

32. Cyprus

69.7

33. Barbados

69.5

34. Australia

69.5

35. United States

62.3

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Ulaanbaatar

Korea's Ruisansa Corp. Donating 140 Urine Test Apparatuses to Household Health Care Centers

January 30 (infomongolia.com) On January 30, 2015, Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul received a delegation from South Korea's Ruisansa Corporation led by the President Kin Jung-bun.

During the meeting, the delegates introduced the portable urine test apparatus to be presented each to 140 household health care centers in Ulaanbaatar, which was agreed by signing a MoU between the UB City Health Authority and Ruisansa Corporation in November 2014.

These devices are conferred as a non-refundable aid to those health care centers, which is able to proceed 700 urine samples per hour. Moreover, the test results will be sent via owner's cell phone number or e-mail address, and chronically ill and bedridden patients as well as underage children can receive such service from home.

Such apparatuses are in high demand, particularly, before the start of a new academic year, because all kindergarten children are required to take urine tests and in UB only couple centers do the tests.

The affiliated officials noted that these 140 devices worth of 3 billion MNT (Tugrug) contribute greatly in the health sector by bringing close the service to customers. Following the presentation, Mayor E.Bat-Uul expressed words of appreciation and awarded the Ruisansa Corporation President Kin Jung-bun, Ruisansa Corporation Director General Ho U-bun and Chairwoman of "New Village" NGO B.Jargal with a Capital City's 375th Anniversary Medal.

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Save the Date: Urbanization Documentary Film Screening at American Corner on February 4, 2015 5:30PM

(US Embassy) -- The U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar is hosting a screening of Gary Hustwit's documentary film Urbanized at the American Cultural and Information Center, co-jointly with Smart Growth Mongolia and Think Urban on Wednesday February 4, 2015 at 5:30PM. Urbanized discusses the issues and strategies behind urban design, and features some of the world's leading architects, planners, policy makers, and thinkers.

After the screening, there will be a discussion related to urban planning with young professionals active with Smart Growth Mongolia.  The discussion will focus on the rapid urbanization of Ulaanbaatar and how urban planning, and Mongolia's citizens, can help address important long-term economic, social, and environmental problems.

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Diplomacy

Foreign Minister receives chairman of Russia's ESN Group (Euroseverneft)

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of the Mongolia-Russia intergovernmental commission for the Mongolian side Mr L.Purevsuren Friday received a delegation headed by Mr G.V.Berezkin, chairman of the Russian ESN Group.

The sides exchanged views on the bilateral economic and trade relations and on a chance of Russian businessmen to make investments to Mongolia.

In a scope of the visit here, the Prime Minister and some members of parliament will meet the Russian delegation.

Mr G.V.Berezkin founded the "Euroseverneft" company in 1991, and has expanded this company, making it the ESN Group that works for raising capitals for big projects mostly on energy and mining sectors. Moreover, companies at the ESN Group provide Russian largest companies such as the Gazprom, Rosneft and the Russian railway with electricity.

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Belarus Ambassador meets Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Culture of Mongolia

January 29 (MFA of Belarus) On January 29, 2015 the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Mongolia Stanislav Chepurnoy held a working meeting with the Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Culture of Mongolia Buya Tulga.

The sides discussed the whole range of bilateral relations in humanitarian and scientific-technical sphere. In particular, the issues concerning creation of the joint Belarusian-Mongolian commission on cooperation in science and technology, implementation of joint research projects and exchange of Belarusian and Mongolian students for training in the universities of the two countries.

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US Embassy to Focus on Water Issues in MCA 2nd Compact

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol received Thursday the Ambassador of the USA to Mongolia Ms Piper Anne Campbell. The latter noted that Embassy is to focus on water issues in 2015 in frames of the Second Millennium Challenge Account project being implemented under the support of the US government.

The Minister Oyunkhorol said that the Government plans to take many actions in a short period of time. The Ministry faces with many issues that need to be settled, for example, reducing greenhouse gas, nurturing the planted trees, increase their numbers, reducing the air and soil pollution of Ulaanbaatar. She also noted that the Ministry should promote with policy the voluntary unions formed to preserve the environment, because the environment protection must be conducted with citizens' involvement and state support. "The Ministry will, therefore, work for forming the most efficient system of environment protection" she said. The changes must help reduce the unemployment rate in the localities, and the remediation of the environment in after mining activities should be refined, she added.

Ms Oyunkhorol said that Mongolia will attend the ITB Berlin exhibition to be held in March with focus of the landmark-based tourism, and asked the ambassador to collaborate on this.

In response, Ms Campbell promised to study the cooperation opportunities in the proposed fields, and informed that the US embassy in Ulaanbaatar is implementing a project on protecting cultural and historic monuments that are encountered in the travel destinations.

The dignitaries agreed to hold a meeting once again to discuss the prior directions of cooperation.

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Mongolia parliament approves establishing diplomatic relations with further eight UN countries

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) The majority of the parliament members attended the plenary meeting of Friday approved establishing diplomatic relations with UN member state, Uganda, Rwanda, Micronesia, Haiti, Kiribati, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, and Mauritius.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren made the introduction of draft resolution on establishing diplomatic relations with the above countries. Conclusions by the Standing committee on Security and Foreign policy were presented by L.Bold MP.

The Government intends to establish diplomatic ties with another ten UN member states this year, in a scope of the objective to form diplomatic relations with all members of the United Nations.

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Exequatur presented to Honorary Consul of Mongolia to France's Alsace Region

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to France Mr M.Batsaikhan Wednesday presented the exequatur to Mr Laurent Hincker, the Honorary Consul of Mongolia to France's Alsace Region.

The Ambassador mentioned that Mr Hincker became a new Honorary Consul of Mongolia in the year coincided with the 50th anniversary of the bilateral relations, and hoped that he will significantly contribute to widening the bilateral relations and cooperation in all spheres, protecting interests of Mongolians in France and helping them within his duty.

Mr Laurent Hincker has been majored in human rights, freedom and international law. He has worked as an instructor for the training on laws, and published several books. 

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Australia Awards Scholar from Mongolia - Usukhbayar Sainjargal

Usukhbayar Sainjargal is an Australia Awards Scholar with disability from Mongolia, studying Master of Laws at the University of Queensland.

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Altantuya, more questions than answers – Zaid Ibrahim

January 28 (The Malaysian Insider) The Federal Court has ruled that Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar are guilty of murdering Altantuya Shaariibuu. Sentencing them to the gallows offers some measure of justice to Altantuya and her family, but despite the highest court's ruling, the wound that this case has afflicted on this country's soul has not been healed.

People are still demanding answers to many unanswered questions. There can be no closure to this gruesome and senseless murder until they know why she was killed in the first place.

Ordinary men and women want to know if Altantuya was killed by Azilah and Sirul under instruction from someone else. They want to know if the offer of RM100,000 to Sirul (by Sirul's own admission) was true, and who made the offer.

They also want to know what was the instruction given to the two commandos; the exact words used to "assist Razak" as the judge puts it.

They want to know why there were changes to the prosecutors and the High Court judge hearing the case.

They want to know if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak knew Altantuya despite his much publicised mosque declaration that he did not.

They want to know why Bala the private investigator and his family were asked to leave the country.

Federal Court judge Datuk Suryadi Halim Omar reportedly said Najib's former aide-de-camp DSP Musa Safri never instructed Azilah on how to assist Razak Baginda, that Azilah was merely told to meet with him.

How does the judge know this for sure? Azilah could have said this but Musa was never called as a witness.

Did the judge have access to Musa's police statement, or to some other reliable piece of evidence adduced at the High Court?

It seems to me the court accepted that Musa was the one who gave instructions to Azilah, but it somehow came to the conclusion that the instruction was of a friendly and innocuous nature; something like, "Do what you can to assist Razak."

That bothers me. Altantuya was here to ask for money from Razak that she claimed was due to her.

She was not waging a war against the country. She did not bring along commandos from Mongolia to kill someone if her demands were not met.

Razak/Musa could easily have asked a friend to mediate and see Altantuya on their behalf. Even if they had wanted a man in uniform, someone from the Cheras police station – helped perhaps by an immigration officer – would have sufficed.

All they needed to do was persuade Altantuya to leave the country peacefully if her claim was frivolous. I am anxious to know what was on Musa's mind when he decided to introduce Razak to Azila and Sirul.

When you ask people whose job is to eliminate and destroy to "assist" you, and they are in possession of C4 explosives, you cannot expect them to engage in peaceful and polite negotiations. You expect them to do exactly what they were trained to do: take orders, ask no questions and kill if necessary.

Many people want to know what were Musa's exact instructions. Did Musa, for example, give any kind of caveat to say no harm should come to the woman?

Some are happy with the Attorney-General's explanation for why he chose not to call on Musa during the trial, and obviously the judges are within their rights to convict a murderer without any known motive. But in the real world, nothing like that ever happens.

In the real world, a prosecutor would want to present the full story, for only a madman kills for no reason. Everyone else has a motive for doing something.

That is why there has to be closure for this case. Our country will forever be seen as callous with human lives , with no regard for the truth, until the mystery surrounding Altantuya's murder is solved.

I believe there are things we don't know about the murder, and the conduct of the police and the AG regarding the matter has hardly been beyond reproach.

Justice is about more than compliance with the letter of the law. It is more than just a court decision, for the court can only do so much based on the materials the AG and the police put forward.

Justice in this case requires the country to have an independent inquiry to ascertain why the case unfolded as it did and to determine if the roles played by the police and the AG were aboveboard.

Although we cannot depend too much on Royal Commissions of Inquiry nowadays to determine the truth, if we can get enough men of courage and integrity to conduct the inquiry we might be able to get some justice.

So far we have found two men guilty. There could be more if the truth were allowed to finally surface.

I may be a lone voice in seeking to know more about the murder of Altantuya, but for our system of government to operate well, we need to have enough conviction to raise questions and get answers when we are in doubt.

We need to defend what is just and right. I hope the opposition leader (who has been unusually silent on this matter) will be willing to support my proposal for a full inquiry.

We need to make sure that we have not left important clues behind, and remove all doubt that the stakeholders in our justice system might have been less than honest in dealing with the case. – The Zaidgeist, January 28, 2015.

* Datuk Zaid Ibrahim is a lawyer turned politician and a former minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of legal affairs and judicial reform.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

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Social, Environmental & Other

Minister Burmaa thanks ADB for agriculture development assistance

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 (MONTSAME) Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa received on January 30 the Water Resources Specialist of the Asian Development Bank Mr Zhang Qingfeng.

The Minister expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the ADB for issuing credits and non-refundable aids for Mongolia's agricultural re-construction, which sector is the country's main economic sphere, and for its support in times of dzud.

The sides also discussed renewing of the medium-term program implemented by the ADB, forwarding the development of action plans for 2014-2016, and increasing the number of ADB projects and technical assistance to Mongolia's agricultural sector, and forwarding the second phase document on "Agricultural Development Project" worth USD 50 million.

ADB Specialist Mr Zhang informed that the Bank intends to issue additional credit sources for Mongolia for the coming years. The Minister appreciated the news and promised that the Ministry will study the means of efficient use of the ADB assistance.

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Inside the Dangerous World of Amateur 'Ninja' Gold Miners

BY PETE BROOK

January 29 (The Wired) Mongolia is in the midst of an epic gold rush spawning the modern equivalent of the forty-niners who rushed to California in 1849.

The county is rich in natural resources—stunning scenery, yes, but also vast deposits of coal, copper, gold, and other metals. Over the years, industrial mining has punched gaping holes into the landscape, then moved on after taking all it could. Then the locals scour the open pits, taking what the corporations left behind and creating an informal but dangerous industry.

As many as 100,000 Mongolians—nearly 20 percent of the country's rural workforce—work as independent and unlicensed miners, sifting the dirt for the smallest flecks of gold. Spanish photographer Alvaro Laiz is fascinated by this trend and chronicles this dangerous endeavor in Ninjas: Gold Rush In Mongolia.

"I've been always interested in how human beings interact with our environment and how the search for natural resources affects us," he says.

The term "ninja" refers to the large green pans (used to carry ore and sift gold) the miners carry on their backs, which makes them look like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is a difficult way of life; these miners descend into shafts with little structural support and endure bitter cold or searing heat deep underground. There is little in the way of safety equipment or oversight as they chip away at the earth using rudimentary tools.

"When I ventured down a shaft, the heat, the dust and the noise was so intense I couldn't see my hands," says Laiz. "I was there for 40 minutes. It felt like a century. Afterward, I saw with different eyes, the men who spend 10 hours each day down those same holes.

"Watching them work was like traveling back to the times of the Gold Rush."

Though ninjas are drawn by the promise of riches, most merely get by. The mining is tough on them, and on the landscape. According to rough estimates by officials and non-governmental organizations, the ninjas pulled as much as 5 tons of gold from the ground in 2013 alone, earning as little as $8 a day for their efforts.

All things told, the Mongolian economy is booming and The Economist says mining industries will drive the country's economic growth at a faster rate than any other nation on earth in the next decade. The government recently acknowledged the ninjas' contributions to society and their needs as a migratory and nebulous workforce, but the amateur miners remain at the bottom of the heap because of their crude methods and associated risks. Until there's employment alternatives, it's likely the ninjas will continue to speculate.

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"Empower Women" – World's First and Fourth Annual Conference of Mongolian Women in the U.S.A

When:      March 7, 8, and 9th, 2015 
Where:     Marriott Denver Tech Center 
Address:   4900 S Syracuse St, Denver, CO 80237
Airport:     DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Hotel Reservation: $75.00 per night (between 03/06/15-03/10/15). Please send your reservation request to info@monwdf.org . Deadline of the hotel reservation: February 13, 2015.

The Conference Purpose:

1. Introduce distinguished Mongolian Women
2. Develop and empower Mongolian Women's self-esteem
3. Support exchange of ideas and experiences and women's networking
4. Introduce the activities of Mongolian Women's Development Foundation
5. Promote creativity, inspire and educate Mongolian Women

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Hakuho leads sumo's Mongolian invasion

January 29 (Reuters, Kyodo) Hakuho returned to his corner for a third time to grab another fistful of sat, his face a picture of concentration, his eyes narrowed and focused as the crowd in Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena bristled with anticipation.

He turned, tossed the granules high into the air and made his way back toward the center of the dohyo, slapping his thighs and pumping himself up as he completed the centuries-old pre-bout ritual.

Opposite the Mongolian-born yokozuna (grand champion) stood, somewhat fittingly, Japan's top-ranked wrestler, Kisenosato, the last barrier between Hakuho and a history-making triumph.

Seconds later, Hakuho fended off his opponent's initial barrage of slaps and pushes before planting his feet, seizing the momentum and forcefully marching Kisenosato out of the ring for his 13th straight victory in the New Year Basho.

Hakuho allowed himself a smile and nodded knowingly. His 33rd Emperor's Cup was won with two days to spare, sumo's chronicles had been rewritten and his quest to surpass the legendary Taiho's all-time tournament victories record was complete.

The 29-year-old's landmark triumph last Friday evening was also the starkest reminder yet that the most Japanese of sports has become the domain of Mongolian wrestlers both in the ring and now the history books.

Sumo had been practiced by only Japanese competitors from its first organized basho (tournament) back in the 17th century until a little more than 100 years ago, when foreign-born wrestlers started to participate.

The first wave of overseas powers had a distinctly Polynesian flavor with Takamiyama laying down a marker for Hawaiian-born wrestlers in the late 1960s, before Konishiki rose to prominence two decades later and Akebono became the first foreign yokozuna in 1993.

Samoan Musashimaru was the second non-native grand champion when he was promoted to the top rank in 1999 and his 12 basho victories marked the onset of foreign domination that Mongolia took over with the controversial Asashoryu leading the way.

Currently, all three yokozuna are Mongolian — Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu — with the last Japanese grand champion retiring in 2003 and final homegrown tournament winner coming nine years ago when Tochiazuma won his third and final basho.

While Japanese fans bemoan a lack of local competitors at the highest level, Edo-Tokyo Museum head Makoto Takeuchi, who teaches the history of the sport to new sumo recruits, feels too much is being read into the situation.

The museum is next door to Ryogoku Kokugikan in Sumida Ward.

"As a Japanese, it is regrettable that a record held by a Japanese wrestler is broken by a foreigner. This is true," Takeuchi said. "I do not actually care about the nationality of wrestlers, as long as they make efforts to understand and learn what sumo means."

The essence of sumo to most Japanese is "hinkaku" (dignity), something a yokozuna must possess to earn the respect of fans, the media and his peers to help plant a legacy of greatness both during and after a wrestler's career.

"Sumo is not just a sport . . . it is not just about who wins and who loses. In addition to the results, wrestlers are required to have hinkaku and the beauty of every movement is a reflection of their dignity that we can appreciate," Takeuchi added.

"Sumo has this extra value that other sports do not."

A perceived lack of hinkaku blighted Asashoryu's reign as a yokozuna, with the Mongolian having several scrapes with sumo authorities during a career that saw him win an impressive 25 tournaments but was cut short by a retirement in 2010 he felt was forced upon him following an alleged assault charge.

Hakuho, born Monkhbatyn Davaajargal in Ulan Bator, has avoided such controversies and risen through the ranks on the back of his great strength, agility and flexibility.

While he took a beating from a comment he made Monday, in which he criticized the judging at Friday's tournament, he has apologized to his stablemaster for the breach of etiquette. "It shouldn't matter what color your skin is," Hakuho was reported as complaining Monday, after a rematch was ordered after an inconclusive first bout with the Japanese ozeki Kisenosato.

Many have compared his rural upbringing in Mongolia to that of the great Japanese wrestlers of the past, able to develop his core power by riding horses and carrying heavy objects as a youth.

His determination and extra training set him apart from his stable mates and rivals, but like Asashoryu he struggled to win over the Japanese public with a tendency to over-celebrate victories and displays of disregard toward defeated opponents.

It was perhaps a meeting with Taiho in 2008, who became a father figure to the young Mongolian, and his marriage and subsequent parenthood that have helped calm down the wrestler as he marched toward greatness.

"Even though he has more wins than Taiho, it does not mean he has surpassed him as a person," Takeuchi said.

"Hakuho must be given credit, though, in that he is really trying to become as similar as possible to those historical champions.

"Not only does he want to wrestle like them, he wants to become a man like them as well."

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Wrath of Khan: Netflix show Polo-rises Mongolians

by Khaliun Bayartsogt

The big-budget American series "Marco Polo", on the 13th-century Venetian explorer and his years at the court of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan, is riddled with historical errors, say Mongolian viewers and experts.

Ulan Bator, January 29 (AFP) US movie distributor Netflix has spent tens of millions of dollars on the show, touted as its answer to HBO's huge hit Game of Thrones.

With swashbuckling swordfights, mass battles, intricate costumes and palace plots, the series portrays conflicts and rebellions in the Mongol empire under Kublai Khan, as seen through Marco Polo's eyes.

Kublai, the grandson of the great Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, was a phenomenal warrior himself, reigning from 1260 to 1294, subjugating swathes of China and establishing the Yuan dynasty of Chinese emperors.

Mongolian viewers were excited to see one of their own being cast as Kublai's brother Ariq Boke and hearing the occasional Mongol phrase, despite most leading roles going to Chinese actors or those of Chinese descent, such as Briton Benedict Wong, who plays Kublai.

But according to Mongolian historians, much of the plot plays fast and loose with the facts.

Batsukh Otgonsereenen, who spent 10 years researching his book The History of Kublai Khan, told AFP: "From a historical standpoint 20 percent of the film was actual history and 80 percent fiction."

The fate of Ariq Boke, who briefly took power following the death of their father but lost the subsequent civil war, was particularly twisted, he said.

"The part where Kublai and Ariq Boke fight to a bloody death in front of their soldiers is completely untrue," he said. "Yes, Ariq did try to seize the throne, but in history Kublai and Ariq resolve their issues."

A concubine-assassin supposedly sent by a minister of the rival Song dynasty to seduce Kublai and kill his queen was another fantasy.

"Mongolian Khans never wed or had concubines that were totally unknown," said Otgonsereenen.

"Kublai also did not live in a palace. He lived in his royal ger in Beijing, in a traditional Mongolian manner."

In a press release, Netflix described the series — shot in Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Italy, rather than Mongolia or China — as set in a world "replete with exotic martial arts, political skullduggery, spectacular battles and sexual intrigue".

But Otgonsereenen said the creators' research on Kublai seemed "very sloppy".

"I think they tried to show Mongolian history like Game of Thrones with conspiracy, betrayal, blood and sex," he said.

"Mongolian youth who watch this series might get the wrong impression of Kublai Khan being quite cruel and perverted."

– Big in the Middle Ages –

Polo — played by Italy's Lorenzo Richelmy in the show — was a Venetian merchant who spent more than two decades in central Asia and China with his father and uncle, serving for years as Kublai's minister and envoy.

After his return the story of his journeys, "Book of the Marvels of the World", also known as The Travels of Marco Polo, propelled him to mediaeval superstardom.

He was not the first European to travel to Asia but became by far the most famous, and his descriptions of the Far East are said to have inspired Christopher Columbus to attempt to travel there himself, only to discover the Americas instead.

But US critics panned the show, with news site vox.com's reviewer writing: "This is a show about Kublai Khan that doesn't realise it's about Kublai Khan because Marco Polo has better name recognition.

"Is it worth watching?" he asked rhetorically. "Eh, not really, no."

The series, released last month, has a 30 percent rating on review aggregator rottentomatoes.com, which describes it as "an all-round disappointment".

Nonetheless a second season has been commissioned.

– Neighbourly tensions –

Some Mongolian viewers praise the series, and many welcome the space it gives their remote country on the global small screen.

Orgil Narangerel, who played Genghis Khan in a BBC documentary, said it was more accurate than any previous foreign portrayal of Mongolian culture.

"As a Mongol and an artist, 'Marco Polo' makes me feel like our dreams are coming true," he told AFP. "I watched all 10 episodes in just in one day."

Although Mongol forces conquered China and ruled it for almost a century, modern Mongolia is overshadowed by its giant southern neighbour — a key market for its raw materials — and fears being economically dominated by it.

China proclaims itself as the world's oldest civilisation and has a historical tendency to co-opt successful invaders and declare them Chinese, including Kublai.

Mongolia was later part of Qing dynasty China, only securing independence in the early 20th century and falling into the Soviet sphere soon after, while the Nationalist Republic of China maintained a sovereignty claim over the country.

Amateur film maker Narantsogt Baatarkhuu said Marco Polo correctly showed China and Mongolia as "totally different countries with different cultures and ways of life".

Movie blogger Tegshjargal Jalanajav added: "To people who like to argue that Kublai Khan was a Chinese king, this show makes it clear he was a Mongolian king."

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Similar:

Marco Polo: Age of Exploration - Netflix captures the epic adventures of Marco Polo – WIRED/Netflix

 

Booze Traveler S01E06 Mongolian Road Trip

December 30

Description

Plot: In 15 1-hour episodes of Booze Traveler cocktail connoisseur Jack Maxwell travels around the world, one drink at a time. Maxwell grew up in south Boston where bars served as the neighborhood living rooms, hosting family dinners, birthdays and weddings. In this new series, he will take his respect and appreciation for specialty cocktails to explore new locales, seeking out the people, places, customs and cultures behind drinks across the globe.

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The 11 fathers of Asia: 800 million modern men are descended from a handful of ancient leaders - including Genghis Khan

·         Scientists from the University of Leicester traced DNA in modern men to 'founding fathers' that lived across Asia between 1300BC and 1100AD

·         The geneticists traced each the eleven lineages back to their potential roots in the Middle East, India, China, Mongolia and south east Asia

·         They analysed Y chromosomes from 5,000 men from 127 populations

·         16 million men are thought to be directly descended from Genghis Khan

·         1.5 million are descended from 14th Century Chinese leader Giocangga

January 28 (The Daily Mail) More than 800 million men living today are descended from just eleven men, including the ruthless Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, according to new research.

Geneticists have been able to find eleven distinctive sequences in Y-chromosomes - the chunk of DNA that is only carried by men - that are persistent in modern populations in Asia.

By systematically analysing the DNA of more than 5,000 men, they have been able to trace these male lineages to their approximate 'founding fathers'.

They found that along with Khan, who is reputed to have sired hundreds of children as his hoards cut a swathe across much of Asia, they traced ten other lineages.

These are thought to originate from the Middle East to Southeast Asia between 2100BC and 1100AD.

They found that 37.8 per cent of the 5,000 men they tested belonged to one of these eleven lineages.

If this is reflected in the entire Asian population, then it could mean around 830 million men living in Asia currently owe their Y-chromosomes to one of these eleven men.

Among them is a lineage that has previously been attributed to a Chinese ruler called Giocangga, who died in 1583 and whose grandson founded the Qing Dynasty that ruled China between 1644 and 1912.

Giocangga is thought to have had many children with his wives and concubines and is the direct male ancestor of more than 1.5 million men.

The researchers also found that another of the lineages appears to have population clusters that are concentrated along the Silk Road trading route and date back to around 850AD.

This suggests they may have their origins among the powerful rulers who dominated the steppes where the route passed - the Khitan, Tangut Xia, Juchin, Kara-Khitan and Mongol empires.

The researchers suggest that Abaoji, Emperor Taizu of Liao and the Great Khan of the Khitans, who died in 926AD in the Khitan area of China, is a possible candidate for the father of this lineage. 

'What I really hope is that at some point someone will find Genghis Khan's tomb and remains.'

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Genetic Legacy of Genghis Khan in Challenge? Experts Discover 10 More Ancestors Who Spread Lineages in Asia – Tech Times, January 28

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