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Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
1878 closed +13.9% to HK$4.50, SGQ flat at C$0.60 Tuesday,
SouthGobi Announces the Successful Completion of the Initial Tranche of the Previously Announced Private Placement Raising US$3.5 Million and the Appointment of Ted Chan as Executive Director
HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - March 3, 2015) - SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX:SGQ)(HKSE:1878) ("SouthGobi" or the "Company") announces the closing of the initial tranche of a two tranche private placement with Novel Sunrise Investments Limited ("Novel Sunrise"). The initial tranche closing consisted of the issuance of 10,131,113 mandatory convertible units of the Company ("Mandatory Convertible Units") to Novel Sunrise for US$3.5 million. The private placement was approved by the Toronto Stock Exchange (the "TSX") pursuant to the financial hardship provisions of the TSX Company Manual on March 2, 2015 and the TSX has informed the Company that it has been placed on remedial delisting review.
As announced on February 24, 2015, the closing of the initial tranche was completed pursuant to the terms of a private placement agreement entered into between the Company and Novel Sunrise on February 24, 2015. On February 24, 2015 Novel Sunrise also entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement ("Novel SPA") with Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. ("Turquoise Hill"), the Company's largest shareholder, to purchase 48,705,155 Common Shares of the Company currently held by Turquoise Hill subject to applicable regulatory approvals and other customary conditions.
Each Mandatory Convertible Unit issued to Novel Sunrise in the initial tranche is convertible on a one for one basis into a Common Share of the Company, resulting in a deemed issue price of CAD$0.432 per Common Share ("Placing Price"). The Mandatory Convertible Units mandatorily convert into Common Shares upon the earlier of the closing of the Novel SPA or the termination thereof. The 10,131,113 Common Shares underlying the Mandatory Convertible Units represent 4.63% (on a pre-issuance basis) of the total number of the Company's 218,753,970 Common Shares issued and outstanding at the date of this announcement. The Mandatory Convertible Units do not have any voting rights until converted into Common Shares in accordance with their terms.
Upon closing of the Novel SPA, the private placement agreement provides for a further subscription by Novel Sunrise of up to 11,618,887 Common Shares for additional gross proceeds of approximately US$4.0 million on or before April 10, 2015 (being 45 days from the date of the Private Placement Agreement), subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
Appointment of Executive Director
In accordance with the private placement agreement, on March 3, 2015, Mr. Ted Chan was appointed to the Company's management team and joined the Company's Board of Directors as an Executive Director. Mr. Chan has over 25 years of enterprise management experience. Mr. Chan is currently President of Novel Sunrise which, together with its affiliated companies in China (collectively, the "Novel Group"), is a leading private enterprise in the real estate, logistics and supply chain management industries. Mr. Chan has been with the Novel Group for over 20 years. Under his leadership, the Novel Group significantly increased its involvement in the procurement of construction materials and established strong relationships, as a customer, with a number of the leading steel and cement manufacturers in China. In the 2000s, the Novel Group further expanded its business into the logistics and trading of construction materials including iron ore, coking coal, steel and cement products. The Novel Group has since grown these relationships and developed further relationships with well-established state owned trading corporations. As it has expanded its business, the Novel Group has also established strong relationships with key commercial banks in China and Hong Kong.
Prior to his position with the Novel Group, Mr. Chan was the General Manager for Beijing Wanhai Real Estate Development Co. Ltd, which developed several residential and commercial properties in gateway cities of China. Between 1991 and 1993, Mr. Chan was the Chief Representative of Ocean Trading Corporation for their Beijing office. Ocean Trading Corporation was a US based company overseeing investments and trading activities between China and the United States. Mr. Chan holds a Bachelor of Art degree from the Communication University of China in Beijing.
There is no specific term or proposed length of services for Mr. Chan's appointment, but he is subject to retirement and re-election at the Company's annual general meeting in accordance with the articles of continuation of the Company. Mr. Chan's compensation is to be determined by the Company's Board of Directors based on the recommendation of the Compensation and Benefits Committee, which is comprised of independent directors, consistent with existing Company director compensation. Mr. Chan does not have any relationship with any other directors, senior management, substantial or controlling shareholders of the Company other than as disclosed above. Save as disclosed above, there is no other information relating to the appointment of Mr. Chan as an Executive Director that is required to be disclosed pursuant to Rule 13.51(2)(h) to (v) of the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the "Listing Rules") nor any matters that need to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the Company. Save as disclosed above, the new Executive Director does not have any interest in the shares of the Company within the meaning of part XV of the Securities and Future Ordinance.
TSX Financial Hardship Exemption Application and Status of Listing on TSX
On February 25, 2015, the TSX confirmed that the Company had been placed on remedial delisting review in connection with its reliance on the financial hardship exemption from approval by its shareholders of the private placement and advised the Company that its financial and operating results may not warrant that its securities continue to be listed on the TSX. A delisting review is customary practice under TSX policies when a listed company relies on the financial hardship exemption. SouthGobi has 90 days to comply with all requirements of the TSX for continued listing and a meeting of the TSX Continued Listing Committee to consider this matter has been scheduled for May 19, 2015. The Company believes the proceeds of the private placement will allow it to meet its short term financing needs and that it will be compliant with the continued listing requirements of the TSX within the 90 day compliance period following full completion of the private placement; however, no assurance can be provided as to the outcome of the remedial delisting review and the Company may become subject to delisting from the TSX.
Current financial position and funding plan
At March 3, 2015, the Company has cash of US$5.8 million. The funds raised from the initial tranche of the private placement are expected to enable the Company to continue to operate as a going concern through March 31, 2015, and upon closing of the balance of the private placement, through April 30, 2015.
The Company is entering into the transaction with Novel Sunrise as a new significant shareholder and strategic partner intending to bring its operational and marketing expertise to the Company. Novel Sunrise, together with its affiliated companies in China, is a leading private enterprise in the real estate, logistics and supply chain management industries. In this connection, Novel Sunrise has agreed to assist the Company in the implementation of a funding plan intended to improve cash flow for the Company and support its business strategy and operations in a difficult market, with the goal of positioning the Company with a strong future as a coal producer. The proposed plan includes introducing potential customers in China to the Company to allow the Company to expand its customer base further inland in China, and helping the Company to secure longer-term coal offtake arrangements, thereby allowing the Company to ramp up production to capacity. Novel Sunrise has also advised the Company that as part of the financing plan it intends to help the Company establish relationships with commercial banks in China and Hong Kong to help the Company to secure short term bridge loans, trading credit facilities and other types of financing.
While it is the Company's intention to proceed to implement the new funding plan with Novel Sunrise's assistance as soon as possible, the proposed plan is indicative only and the Company's ability to implement it successfully is dependent on a number of factors beyond its control, including but not limited to, China's economic growth and coal demand growth, market prices of coal, the availability of credit and market interest rates, and exchange rates of currencies of countries where the Company operates, and there can be no assurance that the Company will be able to do so, or that it will be able to do so in sufficient time to continue as a going concern. In such event, the Company is likely to be unable to meet its obligations, which could result in voluntary or involuntary insolvency proceedings involving the Company as discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Management Discussion and Analysis issued on November 10, 2014 and available on SEDAR atwww.sedar.com.
The Company intends to continue to seek additional financing to fund its operations and meet its objectives following the closing through the implementation of the financial plan described above.
EXTENSION OF TIME FOR FULFILMENT OF CONDITIONS FOR COMPLETION OF THE DISCLOSEABLE TRANSACTION RELATING TO THE SUBSCRIPTION OF BOND TO BE ISSUED BY HENG XIN CHINA HOLDINGS LIMITED AND EXTENSION OF TIME FOR FULFILMENT OF CONDITION FOR COMPLETION OF THE ISSUE OF BOND – National United Resources, March 3
Turquoise Hill Given C$4 Price Target, Sector Outperform Rating by Scotiabank
March 2 (Analyst Ratings Network) --
Consensus Ratings for Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TSE:TRQ):
3 Hold Rating(s), 1 Buy Rating(s)
Hold (Score: 2.25)
Analysts' Ratings History for Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TSE:TRQ):
Set Price Target
Hold -> Speculative Buy
C$4.25 -> C$4.50
BMO Capital Markets
Boost Price Target
C$4.25 -> C$5.50
Underperform -> Sector Perform
Guildford mulls Singapore listing, relocation following strategic review
JOHANNESBURG, March 2 (miningweekly.com) – Mongolia-focused Guildford Coal is considering a potential listing on the Singapore stock exchange and plans to relocate its corporate office to the South East Asian island country.
The ASX-listed company announced the potential listing and relocation decision on Monday, when it detailed the outcomes of a strategic review that was started December last year.
Guildford stated that a potential listing on the Singapore exchange – either dual or sole – would take the company closer to its operational activities and its majority shareholder base. Asian shareholders represent about half of the coal firm's investor base.
The corporate office relocation from Spring Hill, Queensland, to Singapore was also aimed at bringing the company closer to the majority of shareholders, financiers, existing operations and customers. It would maintain streamlined regional offices in Queensland and Mongolia to manage its projects.
Guildford reported that it had advanced discussions on restructuring its finance to reduce its debt burden and that it would implement a zero-based cost-reduction programme aimed at achieving between A$3-million and A$5-million in yearly savings.
The group further confirmed that it would look for an equity joint venture (JV) partner for its Australian assets, comprising its two priority Queensland projects –Northern Galilee and Springsure. Discussions were reportedly under way with potential JV and/or ofttake partners to provide self-sustaining funding to develop these projects into operating mines.
The company stated that both projects had large proven resources with access to existing coal logistics infrastructure that could connect them to the market.
In Mongolia, Guildford would focus on achieving the planned one-million-tonne output for 2015 from the Baruun Noyon Uul (BNU) mine, which recently started shipments to China.
The group would expand its production profile from the South Gobi project through increasing output from BNU and by opening additional satellite pits to achieve two-million tonnes in 2016 and three-million tonnes in 2017. It was targeting sustainable production of five-million tonnes by 2020.
Organic and acquisitive growth options were also under consideration.
Mongolia Holdings, Inc. Appoints Asia Private Equity Expert Allen Andersen to Its Board of Directors
Harvard MBA, Allen Andersen brings 35 years of private equity experience and contacts from throughout Asia. This along with his business and banking relationships in Mongolia should prove valuable during the Company's deployment of its exclusive Hertz Equipment Rental franchise operations in Mongolia.
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (PRWEB) March 03, 2015 -- Mongolia Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB: "MNHD") is pleased to announce the appointment of Allen Andersen to its Board of Directors. Allen brings over 35 years of experience residing and conducting business in Asia to the Board. He has a track record that includes a background in every APAC nation, with a focus on China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mongolia, having lived in Ulaanbaatar from 2007 to 2010. Since 2013, Allen has served as Managing Director and Founding Partner of Peace Field Limited, a financial, strategic and operational advisory group in Hong Kong.
As a former Managing Director with Sun Hung Kai Properties Direct Investments Ltd. and with PAMA Group, Allen is deeply experienced with the private equity world in Asia. Most recently, he served as Managing Director of the Hong Kong office of Portfolio Advisors, a prominent private equity fund of funds manager and financial advisory firm. Allen has served as a board member of a number of private and public companies in the US (NYSE and NASDAQ), Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Singapore, and Korea. Allen began his career with six years at General Mills and twelve years with Continental Grain Company, including managing their Asian industrial businesses. He has served as a manager, director, and / or investor in over thirty companies across many industries in China since 1981. Allen has a bachelor's degree with majors in Accounting and Chinese from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Allen is a fluent Mandarin speaker and resides in Hong Kong.
In reference to Allen Andersen, Company CEO, Gary Kucher said: "He is among the most dedicated and conscientious professionals I've had the privilege of working with during my career. We are honored to have Allen join the Mongolia Holding's team at this exciting moment for our Company and the Mongolia economy. Allen and his Hong Kong-based team at Peace Field possess a deep understanding of markets and market timing in Asia."
Allen Andersen stated: "In frontier and emerging markets, it's important to remain focused on people, processes and products. Management at Mongolia Holdings has clearly demonstrated their ability to consistently succeed in identifying and securing the best of each." He further added: "It's an honor to join the exemplary team assembled here for this unique opportunity. Future economists could look back at 2015 as the single best moment to have entered the Mongolia market. This seems especially true now for any industry not directly exposed to mining risk or commodity prices."
MSE News for March 2: Top 20 +0.16% to 13,929.75, Turnover ₮6.3 Million
Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Monday, a total of 2,667 units of 13 JSCs were traded costing MNT six million 255 thousand and 463.00.
"Merex" /1,000 units/, "State Department Store" /448 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /300 units/, "Gobi" /200 units/ and "APU" /175 units/were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "UB-BUK" (MNT one million and 900 thousand), "Gobi" (MNT one million and 480 thousand), "Material impex" (MNT one million 064 thousand), "APU" (MNT 628 thousand and 500) and "Tavantolgoi" (MNT 384 thousand and 900).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 366 billion 250 million 739 thousand and 361. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,929.75, increasing 0.16%and the all index of MSE was 990.98, increasing 0.10%against the previous day.
MSE News for March 3: Top 20 +0.84% to 13,812.66, Turnover ₮30.2 Million, T-Bills ₮1.5 Billion
Ulaanbaatar, March 3 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Tuesday, a total of 96 thousand and 099 units of 20 JSCs were traded costing MNT one billion 551 million 696 thousand and 967.30.
"Hermes center" /70 thousand and 714 units/, "Merex" /3,679 units/, "E-trans logistics" /1,700 units/, "APU" /1,472 units/ and "State Department Store" /1,345 units/were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Hermes center" (MNT 10 million 041 thousand and 388), "Gobi" (MNT six million 612 thousand and 200), "APU" (MNT five million 199 thousand and 050), "UB-BUK" (MNT one million and 482 thousand) and "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT one million and 190 thousand).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 353 billion 392 million 519 thousand and 579. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,812.66, increasing 0.84% and the all index of MSE was 985.88, decreasing 0.51% against the previous day.
MSE Primary: ₮1.5 Billion 52-Week T-Bills Sold with 16.625% Yield
March 3 (MSE) On 3 March 2015, 52 weeks Government retail bonds worth MNT1,521,500,000.00 with 16.625% annual interest rate traded successfully on primary market at Mongolian Stock Exchange.
Bellow member brokerage companies participated in the bond trading as follows:
BDSec Market Watch, Episode 26
March 3 (BDSec) --
13 MSE Stocks Announce Annual Meetings in March
March 2 (MSE) Presenting notice of annual shareholders' meetings of MSE listed JSCs' in March.
"Mon-It Buligar" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 05 March 2015 at 10:00AM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Sonsgolon barmat" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 09 March 2015 at 10:00AM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Mon Nab" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 12 March 2015 at 14:00AM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Technic import" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 16 March 2015 at 09:00AM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Gazar Shuljmel" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 19 March 2015 at 16:00AM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Bluesky Securities" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 25 March 2015 at 06:00PM. Click here to view detailed information.
"BDSec" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 26 March 2015 at 10:00AM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Binse" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 26 March 2015 at 11:00AM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Khungun beton" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 27 March 2015 at 05:00PM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Digital catalist" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 27 March 2015 at 12:00PM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Kharkhorin" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 28 March 2015 at 02:00PM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Gobi Financial Group" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 30 March 2015 at 12:00PM. Click here to view detailed information.
"Merex" JSC - annual shareholders' meeting to be held on 30 March 2015 at 10:00AM. Click here to view detailed information.
MSE Reinstates Grand Development LLC Trading License
March 2 (MSE) According to the decree No.:149 of CEO of Mongolian Stock Exchange dated on 01 October 2014 and "Cooperation Agreement", there were some member companies temporary halted from trading due to failed to follow duties that stated on the agreement.
Accordance with decree No.: 61 of CEO of MSE dated on 02 March 2015, the trading license of "Grand Development" LLC has been reinstated due to executed duties.
MSE Glass Account Report, February 2015: Profit ₮57.6M, Revenue ₮209.7M
March 2 (MSE) As of 28 February 2015, "Mongolian Stock Exchange" JSC had revenue of MNT209,645,859.20 and expense of MNT152,070,894.13. Salary and related other expenses were MNT114,051,906.50 and maintenance and other expenses were MNT38,018,987.62. Overall, total profit accounted to MNT57,574,964.99.
Mongolian Stock Exchange has been operating with a profit for the last two months in a row since 1 January 2015. In addition, MSE did not make any transaction with more than MNT 5.00 million.
BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, March 3 Close
MNT vs USD, CNY in last 1 year:
FX Reserves Fall 45.7% YoY to $1.3 Billion in January, Down 19.5% from December
March 2 (Bank of Mongolia) The Bank of Mongolia has changed its' policy regarding official foreign exchange reserves reporting. The statistics will be published with an one-month lag /previously published with three-months lag/ on the first business day of the following month. Policy is in effect since July, 2014
BoM FX auction: US$15.5m sold at ₮1,978.11, CNY57m at ₮315.14, accepts $21.3m MNT swap offers
March 3 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 3rd, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 25.23 million in a closing rate of MNT 1970.11-1980.15 and CNY 114.0 million in a closing rate of MNT 314.70-315.90 from local commercial bank. BOM has sold USD 15.5 million in a rate of 1978.11 and CNY 57.0 million with rate of 315.14.
On March 3rd, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to USD 21.3 from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
BoM issues ₮42.5 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -9.95% to ₮357.5 billion
March 2 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 42.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
8% Mortgage Program Update: ₮548.9 Billion Refinanced, ₮1.68 Trillion Newly Issued
February 27 (Cover Mongolia) As of February 27, ₮548.9 billion (₮548.2 billion as of January 30) existing mortgages of 18,646 citizens (18,645 as of January 30) were refinanced at 8% out of ₮820.3 billion (₮820.3 billion as of January 30) worth requests.
Also, ₮1,679.2 billion (₮1,636.7 billion as of January 30) new mortgages of 29,751 citizens (29,106 citizens as of January 30) were issued at new rates out of ₮1.69 trillion (₮1.65 trillion as of January 30) worth requests.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Mongolia: 23rd Most Miserable Country in the World
The World Misery Index: 108 Countries
January 22 (The Cato Institute) Every country aims to lower inflation, unemployment, and lending rates, while increasing gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Through a simple sum of the former three rates, minus year-on-year per capita GDP growth, I constructed a misery index that comprehensively ranks 108 countries based on "misery."
Below the jump are the index scores for 2014. Countries not included in the table did not report satisfactory data for 2014.
The five most miserable countries in the world at the end of 2014 are, in order: Venezuela, Argentina, Syria, Ukraine, and Iran. In 2014, Argentina and Ukraine moved into the top five, displacing Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe.
The five least miserable are Brunei, Switzerland, China, Taiwan, and Japan. The United States ranks 95th, which makes it the 14th least miserable nation of the 108 countries on the table.
Mongolia ordered to pay $100 mln for expropriating uranium asset
March 3 (Reuters) - Mongolia has been ordered to pay about $100 million to Canada-based Khan Resources Inc as compensation for cancelling its uranium licences in a long-awaited decision from an international tribunal.
Khan Resources took Mongolia to international arbitration four years ago after the government cancelled its licences over the Dornod uranium project in 2009, handing the asset to Russia's ARMZ (Mogi: not exactly, created a JV with ARMZ as far I remember).
Khan had claimed $354 million in compensation, including interest, but the international arbitration tribunal based its calculation of $100 million, including interest and costs, on previous offers made for the Dornod asset.
"We are very pleased with the Tribunal's ruling that the expropriation of the Dornod asset violated Mongolian law," Khan CEO Grant Edey said in a statement.
The ruling comes just as Mongolia's new prime minister, Chimed Saikhanbelig, has been trying to revive foreign investment after previous governments rattled investors by backtracking on mining agreements, changing investment laws and cancelling mining licenses.
A Mongolian Mining Ministry spokesman had no immediate comment.
The penalty would be a heavy impost on the country, which has some $1.3 billion in reserves following a sharp slump in coal revenue, said Market intelligence group Cover Mongolia.
"A hundred million - I'm sure it can be managed by the government, although I'm sure it won't be easy. It'll constrain Mongolia's finances further," said Badral Munkhdul, Cover Mongolia chief executive.
Khan Resources shares jumped 28 percent after the ruling to C$0.55 a share, a four-year high close.
Khan's CEO said foreign investors would be closely watching whether the government meets its obligation.
"While the current government of Mongolia has taken certain progressive action to diminish the harmful acts of former regimes, western investors and governments will scrutinize the Mongolian government's action in this matter as the rule of law also dictates prompt payment of compensation," Edey said.
Mongolia fined $100M for expropriating uranium mine – MINING.com, March 3
Khan compensated for Mongolian expropriation – World Nuclear News, March 3
Miner's $100m award deals blow to Mongolia
By Lucy Hornby
March 3 (FT) A Canadian mining company has been awarded $100m by an international arbitration panel in an expensive setback for the Mongolian government as it tries to improve ties with foreign investors.
Mongolia has resolved a string of disputes with foreign miners, including a pardon for three foreigners convicted of tax evasion, in an effort to reignite investment interest amid a global downturn in commodity prices that has battered its currency and economy.
Khan Resources, which lost its Dornod uranium prospect to state-owned Monatom in 2009 when the deposit was declared a strategic resource, announced the award in a filing to the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday. It said it would pursue further action if the money was not paid.
Mongolia's finances are stretched, with declining export revenues resulting from sharp falls in the prices of coal, copper and other mineral exports, plummeting foreign investment and a weakened currency. Bond auctions have flopped horribly.
Khan did not specify whether the award should be made at once or over an extended period. The latter would be much easier for the country's beleaguered economy to absorb.
"It can be managed, with some pain of course," said Badral Munkhdul, who runs the economic consultancy Cover Mongolia, pointing to the nation's $1.3bn in foreign exchange reserves.
In recent years Mongolia has wooed western allies as part of its "third neighbour" policy to offset the influence of China and Russia, the two giants on its borders, but the terms for foreign mining investors have gyrated as Ulan Bator tries to maximise state revenues from those investments.
The country has already resolved two other cases dating from the commodities boom, when the prospect of windfall wealth from the mammoth Oyu Tolgoi mine triggered a backlash of resource nationalism.
Last month the president pardoned one American and two Filipino businessmen who had been jailed for tax evasion allegedly committed by their company, Rio Tinto subsidiary SouthGobi.
Before their conviction the three had been the most prominent examples of a policy of preventing foreigners involved in business disputes from leaving the country, labelled "Hotel Mongolia" after the line in the Eagles' song "Hotel California": "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."
Unresolved disputes include protracted negotiations with Rio Tinto over the second, $2bn phase of the Oyu Tolgoi mine and tangles with Japanese and western investors over other failed mining and investment deals.
Arbitration Award to Khan Resources and Its Effect on Canada-Mongolia Relations
By Julian Dierkes
March 2 (Mongolia Focus) On Mar 2 2015 it was announced that erstwhile Canadian uranium miner Khan Resources was awarded US$100mio in arbitration proceedings administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague (Netherlands). The proceedings were rooted in the 2009 cancellation of Khan Resources' mining licenses in Mongolia and consist of $80mio of compensation + $20mio of interest.
What does this mean for Canada-Mongolia relations and for foreign investment into Mongolia?
Of significant relevance is the fact that this announcement comes on the heels of the presidential pardon for three foreign employees of South Gobi Resources who had been convicted of tax evasion. This is one of a series of decisions and events since 2009 that have soured investors on Mongolia due to perceptions of shifty and sometimes arbitrary policies.
As far as I can tell (without being a specialist of any kind in these kind of arbitrations), this award is final, binding and can be enforced because Mongolia is a signatory to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. A quick scan of news coverage of arbitration awards to junior mining companies seems to suggest that this award is not unusual in its amount.
Canada and Mongolia are currently negotiating a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement. This appears to be a priority for the Canadian government and at times it has seemed that other activities regarding Mongolia have been held hostage to progress on these negotiations. While the Conservative government has made it explicit policy to pursue trade agreements, it is not clear to me who exactly would benefit from the conclusion of such a FIPA. Would Khan Resources have been in a different situation had a FIPA been in place in 2009? If you have views on this, please do comment below.
So, will this award have an impact on FIPA negotiations if these are on-going?
It's easy to imagine populist arguments that might be made in Mongolia that would portray this as "yet another" case of Canadian greed displayed in Mongolia (Mogi: perhaps for the doc it's a little TOO easy to imagine this will have negative effect on the relations). Personally, I would very much disagree with this position, but its proponents would point to Robert Friedland's role in Oyu Tolgoi, various activities around Centerra's Boroo mine, and so forth. It is of course particularly Friedland's controversial role that has produced most of the latent Mongolian resentment towards Canada, but for some, this award will clearly be one element in a series of events.
Note also that observers who were inclined to a negative portrayal of Canada-Mongolia relations will point to an arbitration panel that included a Canadian, L. Yves Fortier Q.C.. From what I can gather from the Permanent Court of Arbitration website, it appears to be the practice that the two parties in a corporate-state dispute appoint a member of the tribunal each and that the two appointed members then select a third member (Permanent Court of Arbitration Arbitration Rules, 2012, Art. 9). Based on that I would surmise that Khan Resources had appointed Mr. Fortier who is not only a former Canadian ambassador to the UN, but also previously presided over the London Court of International Arbitration. Clearly, his involvement and qualifications appear to be above any reproach.
It's also easy to imagine that this narrative might produce some kind of opposition to the FIPA negotiations in particular (Mogi: again, seems a little too imaginative for my taste). "See how we're getting treated by Canada, now we're meant to sign an agreement that protects Canadian investors further?" Perhaps this is an ignorant position, but it's one that might well get some attention.
A more generic isolationist sentiment might see this as an instance of Mongolia being cheated by international investors/actors, rather than specifically Canadian ones and thus argue for much greater care in entering into any agreements with international investors.
Impact on Mongolian Politics
There's the very real practical challenge of raising US$100mio to pay this award. As far as I read the announcement, Khan Resources' legal costs will also have to be reimbursed to the tune of US$9mio.
Beyond this practical challenge that obviously comes at a very inopportune time in terms of the fiscal crisis that Mongolia is facing at the moment, the most likely impact will be a whole lot of finger-pointing to place blame on a series of events on someone and explain why every Mongolian man, woman and child now individually "owes" a Canadian company approx. ₮65,000 (Mogi: 100m / 3m – 33.3K, no?).
Khan Resources' licences were – as far as anyone can tell from the outside – yanked under strong Russian pressure to push into the uranium sector in Mongolia. The process was centred around passage of the Nuclear Energy Law on July 16 2009. Note that some of the events around Khan Resources and the Nuclear Energy Law feature in a US cable that is part of WikiLeaks.
So, some will surely blame Russia as the source of the pressure that led to passage of the Nuclear Energy Law. But I suspect that no actors in Russia will be particularly bothered by this blame.
The presidential election had been held on May 24. Current President Elbegdorj won his first term in this election and was sworn in as president on June 18. S Bayar was leading a grand coalition of MPP and DP at the time.
Surely, some will blame Bayar directly as prime minister for caving to Russian pressure on this. But, parliament was implicated as the Khan Resources licenses were ultimately cancelled to comply with the Nuclear Energy Law which had been passed by parliament, though without much debate or consultation.
Presumably, the DP will blame Bayar and the MPP, while the MPP might point to Pres Elbegdorj.
The fact that China National Nuclear Corporation made an offer for Khan Resources in 2010 is also likely to colour discussions.
One of the main conclusions that should be reached about this is that international agreements should not be entered into lightly, and more significantly that when you make binding commitments, you will be held to these commitments.
Impact on Foreign Investment
Some investors will cheer this arbitration award as a victory of the rule of law. As one of the members of then-PM Batbold's delegation argued during the PM's visit to Canada in 2010, "Would you rather invest in a country where you can take the government to court [i.e. Mongolia], or one where you cannot?"
That is true to some extent, of course. Investors are likely to be somewhat reassured that ultimately their investments may be protected by international agreements that Mongolia has entered into.
On the other hand, these arbitration proceedings began over four years ago, a period during which Khan Resources' investment was stuck. While investors may feel somewhat compensated by the LIBOR + 2% interest awarded by the tribunal, some investors may still not be pleased with the risk of capital being tied up for that long a period.
Another view might also be that this award confirms the arbitrary interventions in mining licences that they government of Mongolia has engaged in and thus raise the spectre of future interventions.
Whatever implications and interpretations will follow this announcement, it is likely to take its place in a series of events that are structuring Mongolia's (investment) relations with the rest of the world.
Open Discussion Held on Noyon Mountain, Gatsuurt Deposit
Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) A discussion on Noyon Uul cultural heritage site was held on February 27 at the Citizen's Chamber under the President of Mongolia. It gathered representatives of the stakeholders: Government and NGO's, civil society organizations, Mongolian Academy of Sciences and Centerra Gold Inc.
Chief of Staff of the President's Office P.Tsagaan opened the discussion noting that in the recent times, disputes and movements are intensifying on mining of Noyon Uul site. "Noyon Uul" movement, "Bosoo Khukh Mongol" NGO and Mongol Nature NGO submitted over 10 letters to President of Mongolia.
"President's position on cultural heritages and development in mining sector is clear. During the visit to the Russian Federation in 2011, President Elbegdorj visited the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and got acquainted with its exhibits that found by P.K.Kozlov's expedition in Noyon Uul site in 1924-1925. And the President and former President of Russia D.Medvedev agreed to release a comprehensive catalogue of Noyon Uul exhibits. In the scope of this initiative, a joint team of Mongolian and Russian researchers are working to release this catalogue within this year. It is well known for our historians and archaeologists that this catalogue includes the rarest and the most remarkable cultural treasures of Noyon Uul" he said.
President's position on mining of Noyon Uul heritage site has never changed, he added and noted that the President took a strong stance against the mining of Noyon Uul and wants to leave the cultural heritage site intact. "Archaeologists and experts should undertake research and then make decision on mining this site and mining companies should fully ensure their exploration costs. Findings will be introduced to the local or state museums and this site will be one of Mongolia's major tourist attractions" concluded Mr Tsagaan.
Mongolia's Coal Chief Jailed for Abuse of Power, Embezzlement
By Michael Kohn
March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Batsuuri Yaichil, the chief executive officer of the state-owned company that controls the development of Mongolia's largest coking coal deposit, has been arrested on charges of embezzlement and abuse of power.
Batsuuri is to be held at Detention Facility 461 in Ulaanbaatar for 14 days from February 25, Munkhtuya Lhagvasuren, spokeswoman for the first level District Criminal Court, said by phone. She declined to comment on the details of the case as the investigation remains under way.
The arrest comes as Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC is negotiating with companies including Energy Resources LLC, China Shenhua Energy Co. and Sumitomo Corp to develop a $4 billion coal extraction project at its Tsankhi coking coal pits.
Batsuuri, a former member of parliament who also served in Mongolia's foreign service, has been head of Erdenes TT since October 2012.
Batsuuri's tenure at Erdenes TT has been plagued with work suspensions due to disputes with Chinese coal buyers and a disagreement with Macmahon Holdings Ltd., the main contractor for the site. Erdenes TT and Macmahon are currently in a standstill agreement as they negotiate over payments.
Mongolia announces move to fuel efficient government vehicle use
March 2 (news.mn) The Prime Minister of Mongolia has made a decision to reduce the use of state vehicles high fuel consumption in the city.
Officials have responded by saying it is difficult to implement the PM's decision.
It is being reported that civil servants, especially mid-level chairmen, are reluctant to give up the use of luxury cars and SUVs, and are opposed to giving up those vehicles for city transport.
Officials have said that they will not announce the names of chairmen who are refusing to comply with this decision, but if changes are not made before March 17, they will officially announce their names.
As of today, there are 757 state organizations and enterprises. Of 5,058 cars used by the state, there are 812 luxury cars and 159 cars are mid-sized SUVs. An average of 3,889 liters of fuel is used for one car per annum.
These conditions violate Government Resolution #349, established in 2007. At present, civil servants are prohibited from driving vehicles which use more than 16 liters of fuel per 100 kilometer in the city.
Critics point out that an economic crisis has spread across the country, and most middle class people have had to cut expenses for food, but high ranking officials are buying SUVs that are state property, utilizing an enormous amount of fuel.
These high cost cars don't only require large expenses for fuel consumption but also for the utilization of garages. In 2014, a total of 50 billion MNT was spent on state vehicles, 3.6 billion MNT for garages, 5 billion MNT for spare parts, and for the salaries of drivers, 25 billion MNT was spent.
To reduce this kind of luxury consumption by civil servants, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg has instructed the Head of the State Property Committee to take appropriate measures, but there are still several directors who are not observing this order.
Government Approves Structure and Functions of Nuclear Energy Commission of Mongolia
March 3 (infomongolia.com) At the regular Cabinet meeting held on March 02, 2015, it was discussed a new structure and functions of formerly known Nuclear Energy Agency of Mongolia.
During the Autumn Session of the State Great Khural (Parliament), some amendments were made to the Law on Nuclear Energy to close-down the Nuclear Energy Agency and thereby, Nuclear Energy Commission was in charge of functions to date.
At the meeting, Cabinet members reviewed and approved the structure and functions of the Nuclear Energy Commission of Mongolia.
Accordingly, the Commission will be chaired by the Prime Minister of Mongolia, where relevant Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Authority Chairpersons will be members of the Nuclear Energy Commission. Moreover, the Commission staff will not exceed 33 personnel.
Composition of Nuclear Energy Commission re-approved – Montsame, March 3
PM to chair Nuclear Energy Commission – gogo.mn, March 3
Mogi: sister of ex-pres. Enkhbayar used to be in charge of giving out permits for using Mongolia's flag in Singapore, last I heard she was on the Interpol wanted list when Enkhbayar was arrested.
International Chamber of Shipping warns against registering ships with Tanzania, Mongolia, Moldova, Cambodia and Sierra Leone
MWANZA, Tanzania, March 1 (East African Business Week) – The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has warned ship owners about registering ships and flying the flags of Tanzania.
Other state flags on the list include states of Mongolia, Moldova, Cambodia and Sierra Leone.
The ICS says Tanzania does not comply with the United Nations' labour standards and tops the list of states with sub-standard ship registers.
Last month, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) published its annual Shipping Industry Flag State Performance Table.
Amongst the 19 largest ships registers, covering more than 85% of the world fleet, none have more than three potential indicators of negative performance.
However, there are a number of smaller flag states that still have considerable work to do, and ICS continues to suggest that ship owners may wish think very carefully about using such flags.
According to the ICS table the largest of these is Tanzania, but Mongolia, Moldova, Cambodia and Sierra Leone are also conspicuous examples of sub-standard ship registers.
When contacted last week David Mziray, Public Relations Manager, Tanzania's Surface and Marine Transport Authority (SUMATRA) said he was not aware of such development.
He told East African Business Week that red-flagging Tanzania might have been caused by the open registration that was being conducted in Zanzibar.
"So such ships do carry Tanzanian flags that's why you see our country on the list of smaller flag states that do not comply," he said.
According to the annual ICS flag state performance table published last week, these are examples of sub-standard ship registers, reported London's Tanker Operator.
"One area on which we would like to see more progress is with respect to ratification of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention," Peter Hinchliffe the ICS Secretary General said. (Mogi: cabinet submitted the bill for parliament approval, no knowledge of whether it was passed or not)
"But following the entry into force of the convention, it is now being enforced worldwide through Port State Control and the vast majority of international shipping companies are operating in compliance," he said.
According to ICS largest flag states have very impressive levels of performance.
Mr Hinchliffe says the fact that a certain IMO Convention may not have been ratified by a flag state does not necessarily mean that its requirements are not being implemented in practice.
"One area on which we would like to see more progress by certain flag states, including some of those with otherwise better performance, is with respect to ratification of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention," he said.
Moody's assigns first-time ratings to State Bank LLC
Hong Kong, March 02, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has assigned first-time ratings to State Bank LLC; namely a global local currency long-term deposit rating of B2, a foreign currency long-term deposit rating of B3, and a bank financial strength rating (BFSR) of E+.
The outlook for all the ratings is negative.
Moody's points out that State Bank's BFSR of E+, is equivalent to a baseline credit assessment (BCA) of b3.
"State Bank's BFSR reflects firstly, the bank's solid franchise in Mongolia, which results in a less concentrated loan book when compared with its domestic peers, and secondly, its capitalization and liquidity levels, which are stronger than those of its similarly rated domestic peers, and which therefore support its BCA," says Hyun Hee Park, a Moody's Assistant Vice President and Analyst.
"On the other hand, State Bank's strengths are offset by its limited track record of asset quality, as well as its lower but improving profitability when compared with its domestic peers. These factors have also been taken into account in our assessment of its BCA," adds Park.
State Bank's local currency long-term deposit rating of B2 incorporates a one-notch uplift from its BCA of b3, based on Moody's assessment of systemic support.
Moody's says the high probability of support from the Government of Mongolia (B2 negative) to the bank is underpinned by the bank's ownership by the government as well as by the bank's systemically important position as the fourth-largest bank in the country by assets.
The key drivers of State Bank's ratings are:
1) The bank's solid franchise; namely its strong retail footprint in Mongolia, given its position as the country's fourth-largest commercial bank by assets.
2) Its strong capital position. The bank's Tier 1 ratio of 13.1% at 30 June 2014 was the strongest in Mongolia's banking system.
3) Its limited track record of maintaining good asset quality, given that it received Savings Bank's good assets less than 18 months' ago, in July 2013. In addition, the bank has not established a track record of maintaining its asset quality through economic cycles. Nevertheless, Moody's notes that State Bank's asset quality is sound, driven by its granular loan book.
4) Its low loan-to-deposit ratio. The ratio was at 88.6% at end-June 2014, a result which was low when compared to the system average of 100.8% in the same period.
What Could Change the Rating - Up
Upward pressure on State Bank's B2 local currency deposit rating is unlikely, unless the sovereign rating is upgraded, because the bank's B2 local currency deposit rating is at the same rating level as the sovereign rating.
Moody's would consider raising State Bank's BCA of b3 if the bank demonstrates a track record of stable asset quality over the next 4-6 quarters, while improving profitability and maintaining capital and liquidity levels.
What Could Change the Rating - Down
The following factors could exert downward pressure on State Bank's ratings: (1) a significant deterioration in asset quality, for example new non-performing loans to gross loans exceeding 4.0%; (2) an increase in concentration or exposure to risky sectors, particularly construction; (3) a Tier 1 ratio falling below 9%; or (4) if profitability deteriorates significantly, such that net income falls below 1.0% of average risk weighted assets.
The principal methodology used in this rating was Global Banks published in July 2014. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.
State Bank LLC is based in Ulaanbaatar. It is the fourth-largest bank in Mongolia by assets. The bank's assets totaled MNT1.9 trillion at end-June 2014.
State Bank is 24.78% owned by Mongolia's Ministry of Finance. While the bank is 75.22% owned by the Deposit Insurance Corporation, the majority shareholder does not hold any voting rights.
Mongolia's energy sector leaders hold consultative meeting
March 2 (news.mn) A consultative meeting of executive directors of companies working in the energy sector is being organized today.
The meeting will address the implementation of the energy sector's plans, reports, winter operations in 2014-2015, difficulties facing the energy sector, generated decisions, general plans for winter preparation for 2015-2016, the winter preparation budget, and the presentation of information from the executive directors of the nation's energy companies, proposals and conclusions.
As of 2014, the energy sector general system produced 5,476.7 kWh of energy, and 7,075.5 giga calories of energy. In comparison with 2013, the production of energy and power increased by 6.7 percent, or 344.4 million kilowatts, and thermal power production grew by 4.3 percent, or 305,200 giga calories.
Presently, 10,340 employees are working at 21 energy companies. The company with the highest number of employees is Ulaanbaatar Electricity Distribution Network, with 1,728 employees.
In previous years, 21 companies were working in the energy sector with losses of 30.7 billion MNT, which decreased in 2014.
The following projects were complete in 2014: increasing the capacity of Thermal Power Plant 4 by 50 MW, increasing the capacity of Thermal Power Plant 3 by 123 MW, the building of Amgalan Power Plant, and the building of thermal lines in Uvs, Khovd, and Khuvsugul aimags.
Minister of Energy D.Zorigt, Deputy Minister U.Purevbaatar, State Secretary of the Ministry of Energy D.Delgertsogt, and other officials of energy sector participated in the consultative meeting.
Mongolia pardons foreign workers, but will investors pardon Mongolia?
Terrence Edwards in Ulaanbaatar
February 27 (bne) Mongolia's pardon for three foreign workers convicted of tax evasion in late January is a victory for their friends and family who campaigned for their return home. But it will not quickly heal the wounds inflicted on investment sentiment for a country dependent on foreign investment to develop its $1.5tn in resource wealth.
Mongolia's jailing of American citizen Justin Kapla and Filipinos Hilarion Cajucom Jr and Cristobal David sparked accusations from other foreign workers in Mongolia that the charges were politically motivated. Perceived resource nationalism and disputes over the country's largest mines have rocked the mining sector, as foreign investment fell 74% last year.
"The business community has made clear to us that this case negatively affects its assessment of Mongolia as a destination for foreign direct investment," said the US embassy in Mongolia in a statement.
Mongolia's President Tsakhia Elbegdorj pardoned the three former employees on February 26, according to a statement from the Office of the President, after they received prison sentences of more than five years each. Kapla was president of SouthGobi Sands while Cajucom and David held management positions.
A court found the three former employees guilty of tax evasion and levied a fine of MNT35bn ($18mn) on SouthGobi Sands, the Mongolia-based mining unit owned by Toronto-listed SouthGobi Resources.
Many have been critical of the investigation made into SouthGobi Sands and its employees because of how long they were kept in the country and breeches of protocol. The three former employees were banned from leaving the landlocked country for nearly three years while Mongolia's Independent Agency Against Corruption investigated them for embezzlement and tax evasion. Kapla registered his case with the UN Human Right Committee when the exit ban prevented him from visiting a relative in hospice care.
The US embassy was critical of the court hearing held because of the defendants' communication challenges. "We hope that in the future, the Mongolian authorities will conduct such cases through a fair and transparent process, in full accordance with Mongolian law," the US embassy said.
The prosecution's request for jail before sentencing, after recommending it unnecessary the day before, was another cause for raised eyebrows.
SouthGobi Resources said in a statement that it planned to appeal the verdict and labelled the charges from the government as "gross violations of Mongolian law".
Southgobi Resources Chief Executive Officer Sengee Enkh-Amgalan in an interview shared by the company argued that it had been audited by top four auditors KPMG and PricewarehouseCoopers without discovering any of the alleged crimes claimed by the government. SouthGobi's legal defense has also argued that the anti-corruption group that led the investigation had no right to audit them when that responsibility belongs exclusively to the country's General Tax Authority.
"We are fully confident that we've been operating in accordance with the taxation law and other related laws of Mongolia," Enkh-Amagalan said.
Meanwhile, the pardon has failed to give either side a sense that justice was served. Tensions are mounting between the tens of thousands of foreign workers and the 3mn Mongolians in the world's most sparsely populated country. Investors have grown tired of what seems to them is an inability to commit to long-term agreements. On the other side, locals remain suspicious of foreigners buying up their natural wealth.
There is also a sense of favoritism among local citizens who feel the former SouthGobi workers received special privileges with their pardons. "Where is equal right? Where is democracy? Americans are just insulted our independence and judgment system," reads a comment on the Facebook page for the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia by one. "Got the money, break the law... the capitalism it is..." reads another.
Even the president's pardon has raised concerns. Elbegdorj posted on the social media site Twitter that he granted the pardon on the basis that the imprisonment of Kapla and company was hurting the country's reputation, rather than any sense that they were innocent.
UB SME Center Signs MOUs with Business Schools and Moogol Search Engine
Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) This center signed a Memorandum of Understanding on February 27 with the University of Finance and Economy (Mogi: Institute of Finance and Economics) on cooperation in providing professional consulting for small and medium enterprisers, conducting demanded trainings and researches, incubation programs, running process audits and monitoring over the activities of small and medium enterprises that have taken easy-term credits from the Fund for Promoting these enterprises, and in improving the coherence between these businesses and trainings.
Same MoU was signed between the Center and the Institute for Economic Studies of the Mongolian State University (MSU). On the same day, the Center agreed to cooperate with "Vital News" press agency in establishing a profile page on the portal website and conduct discussions on promoting the small and medium enterprises that operate in Ulaanbaatar.
Moogol Cloud LLC and the Center for Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises signed a MoU in order to cooperate in the submission of information regarding business activities into the National Search Engine and the database network, developing the virtual awareness-raising, improving the business environment, providing training for the citizens to teach the use of information technology, and co-promoting the implementation of "Smart Ulaanbaatar" program, as well in intensifying the Public and Private Partnership.
Merkel eyes airline, commodities cooperation with Mongolia
BERLIN, March 3 (Reuters) - Mongolian airlines want to intensify cooperation with German flag carrier Lufthansa , Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday after talks with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj that also touched on a commodities partnership.
At a joint news conference, Merkel said the two leaders had discussed the interest from Mongolian airlines in forging closer ties with Lufthansa.
"In Germany the government doesn't do that, the companies have to do it. We want to talk to Lufthansa to call their attention to the potential cooperation and maybe there can be an intensification of the cooperation between Lufthansa and Mongolian airlines," said Merkel.
Lufthansa was not immediately available for comment.
Merkel also emphasised Germany's interest in pursuing a commodities agreement signed in 2011 when she visited the Central Asian country.
Mongolia, which has Russia and China as its neighbours, has large quantities of natural resources including copper, gold, silver and uranium deposits. It also has big reserves of rare earths which the high-tech industry needs to make products.
Merkel outlined the difficulties involved in getting start-up financing for infrastructure and mining projects, and the need for infrastructure expansion in Mongolia.
"Thirdly, Mongolia has big neighbours who have their own ideas about infrastructure," said Merkel, pointing mainly to Russia and the need to discuss with Moscow ways to make exporting materials from Mongolia to Europe easier.
"I don't think that things are hopeless," said Merkel.
President of Mongolia Heads to Berlin for Working Visit
March 2 (infomongolia.com) Mongolian delegates headed by the President Ts.Elbegdorj are paying a working visit to the Federal Republic of Germany on March 02-04, 2015.
During the visit, President Ts.Elbegdorj will hold meetings with the President of Germany, Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel respectively as well as to attend the Mongolia-Germany Business Forum in Berlin.
As Mongolia is participating as an Official Partner Country of the "ITB-Berlin 2015", President Ts.Elbegdorj will also take part in the opening of the event to take place in Berlin on March 04-08, 2015.
President to pay working visit to Germany – Montsame, March 2
President to make working visit to Germany – gogo.mn, March 2
The President of Mongolia to visit Germany – news.mn, March 2
ITB Berlin 2015: Mongolia welcomed to Berlin as Official Partner 2015
March 3 (Breaking Travel News) As the Official Partner of ITB Berlin 2015 Mongolia is keen to show off its modern, dynamic tourism culture, with new air, rail and road links all coming into operation in recent times.
Indeed there are now more options than ever on offer when it comes to travelling around the country of the legendary Genghis Khan.
As an example, a flight from Berlin to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, takes seven hours only. Worldwide, the country can be reached by more than 180 international airline routes operated by Mongolian airlines MIAT as well as Hunnu Air, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, Korean Air and Air China.
In the period between 2003 and 2013 passenger numbers doubled, reaching 800,000 annually.
Currently, direct flights to Ulaanbaatar are available from Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Moscow, Istanbul, Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, Seoul, Bishkek, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Bangkok.
"The far-reaching reforms and developments in the road network and transport sector are the foundations on which we will build the future of our country," commented Amarjargal Gansukh, Mongolian minister of roads and transport.
In order to meet rising demand, a new airport is under construction in Khushigt, in the valley of Tuv Province, only 52 kilometres from Ulaanbaatar.
As of 2016, two million passengers are expected to arrive there. A number of international airlines, including Korean Airlines, Aeroflot, Lufthansa, Air China and Turkish Airlines, have already expressed interest in the new airport as a hub for their Central Asian flights.
Starting in Russia or China, a journey to Mongolia on the legendary Trans-Siberian Express is one of the last great railway adventures in the world.
International trains connecting Moscow, Ulaanbaatar and Beijing run four times a week.
To mark the 65th anniversary of this railway line, the Mongolian government is investing $US250 million dollars, part of which will be spent on 15 new passenger-carts from Russia.
These modern trains are built to EU standards and offer passengers a high degree of comfort. Features include smart technology that provides Wi-Fi internet access and lets passengers watch videos and films or choose from five different news channels.
"This is the first major investment in the 65-year history of the Ulaanbaatar railway network," said minister Gansukh.
The railway project, ratified in August 2014 during the official visits of the Chinese president Xi Jinping and the Russian president Vladimir Putin, is a milestone in Mongolia's history and in the economic development of Central Asia.
However, it is not only the improved transport links to Mongolia, with Ulaanbaatar as the gateway, that are significant.
The government has also worked hard to ensure a better infrastructure in the country's interior.
In a country that is more than four times the size of Germany, flights are one of the fastest ways to travel; in order to reach the Gobi Desert in the south or Huiten Peak in the west, for example.
Last year improvements were made to the landing and take-off conditions at the two of the country's 22 airports. In the past, it often took three days to reach the farthest corners of Mongolia on unpaved roads.
Nowadays, it takes only a few hours. In order to make journeying over difficult terrain in the country's interior easier the Mongolian government plans to increase the number of airports to 24 in 2015.
By 2020 the Mongolian government intends to have paved roads connecting all provincial centres with the capital.
Several of the main tourist attractions, such as Kharkhorin in Arkhangai Province and the Gobi Provinces, can be reached by paved roads already.
According to minister Gansukh: "Close to 1,900 kilometres of paved roads were built in 2013. This year we aim to finish building over 2,200 kilometres of roads, including in the Gobi Desert which is three and a half times the size of Austria and one of Mongolia's most popular attractions.
"The public transport network is also being expanded. More than 930 buses that belong to the Intercity transit network travel between Ulaanbaatar and over 70 other cities.
"Safety is of utmost priority both in air travel and road transportation.
"We have introduced Police Reader Equipment, a system the traffic police can use to monitor the state of vehicles and their safety," added minister Gansukh.
"Furthermore, GPS equipment has been installed on all buses, which makes it possible to monitor the speed and geographical position of a bus.
"Particularly for foreigners, public bus transport is an ideal way to explore the most sparsely populated country in the world, its cultural traditions, and to experience the hospitality of the Mongolian people."
Mongolia features at Berlin's ITB travel fair – DW, March 3
J.J. Annaud's 'Wolf Totem' premieres in UB
March 2 (news.mn) The dramatic film based on the novel by Chinese writer Lu Jiamin and directed by French director Jean Jacques Annaud, "Wolf Totem", is now screening at Tengis, Urguu, and Soyombo cinemas.
The main character is played by the Mongolian actress Ch.Ankhyam, and as she has reported that she bought the rights for screening the film in Mongolia. The premiere of the film was organized on February 27, 2015, with inner Mongolian subtitles.
The novel "Wolf Totem" was translated by the Mongolian translator, D.Boldbaatar in 2010, from Chinese to Mongolian, and at that time it was considered one of the best novels with high sales at bookstores.
Artists from China, France, Mongolia, Canada and Australia worked to create the film and it premiered on February 16 in France, and on February 19 in China.
PHOTO REPORT: "Wolf Totem" premiers in Mongolia – gogo.mn, March 2
Mongolia's B.Ser-Od Finishes Third in Japan's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon
March 2 (infomongolia.com) On March 01, 2015, the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon took place in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture of Japan, which has been conducting since 1946 and is considered to be the oldest marathon held in Japan.
In 1962, the marathon moved to Otsu city, which is home to Japan's oldest and largest lake - Lake Biwa and since this move, the race has been renamed as the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon and been celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
Many of the world's foremost athletes have taken part in this 42.195 km race organized by Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF), the Mainichi Newspapers as well as many other local organs and sponsors, where Mongolia's top long-distance runner Bat-Ochir SER-OD has successfully run finishing at the third place.
At the 2015 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Kenyan runner Samuel Ndungu came in the first with records of 2:09:08, who won the 2012 edition, followed by Daniele Meucci (Italy) with 2:11:10 and B.Ser-Od (Mongolia) with 2:11:18 times respectively out of 184 athletes, who successfully finished the course.
Top three finishers of the 2015 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Otsu, Japan
1. Samuel Ndungu Kenya 2:09:08
2. Daniele Meucci, Italy 2:11:10
3. Bat-Ochir SER-OD, Mongolia 2:11:18
B. Ser-Od wins bronze medal in Lake Biwa Marathon – Montsame, March 2
B.Ser-Od won bronze medal at "Lake Biwa Marathon-2015" – gogo.mn, March 2
After more than a month away from his mountain cave, 200-year-old lama will soon be taken on journey back to cave from where he was stolen.
March 3 (The Siberian Times) The mummified monk whose remains were found in the lotus position in Mongolia is being prepared for a return to the grave from where he was stolen.
Tsorzh Sanzhzhav, who was born about 200 years ago, was a disciple of one of the greatest Buddhist teachers that ever lived and had been buried alongside his elder master.
He was a student of His Holiness Incarnate Ovgon Geser Lama, who is revered in the region and whose grave is visited annually by pilgrims wishing to pray.
But his identity became known around the world when his body was taken from that final resting place, in a mountain cave, and was destined for sale on the black market.
His body has been guarded at the National Centre of Forensic Expertise at Ulaanbaatar, where visitors have been turning up to pray, believing it to be a holy deity. Now the monk will finally travel back to his grave, 2,000 metres above sea level, where it is likely a shrine will be built to allow pilgrims to visit.
Lead researcher Ganhugiyn Purevbata, who is the founder and professor of the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art at Ulaanbaatar Buddhist University, said that a 'more secure structure' will be built to safeguard against any further possible thefts.
The news comes amid controversy after it emerged a Mongolian actor had managed to sneak an unauthorised photo with the monk on his mobile phone. B. Enkhtuvshin, who began his career in music videos, posed beside the 200-year-old body in a 'selfie' uploaded to his social media page.
It is not clear how he managed to get so close to the sacred remains, which have been kept under strict security since they were recovered. Taking unauthorised images of the mummy – identified as a disciple of one of the greatest Buddhist teachers that ever lived – is also banned.
The mummified remains of the disciple, which were covered in cattle skin, were found on January 27 in the Songinokhairkhan province of Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. Investigators travelled to Sodnomdarzhaa Mountain, 50km from the Tsakhir in the Arkhangai district, where they found the tomb from where body had been stolen.
On opening the burial chamber, 2,000 metres above sea level, they found only one body inside a wooden box, that of the Geser Lama.
The Geser Lama had lived near Khukh Nuur Lake and when he died in about 1890, he passed away while meditating. His body was cleaned and embalmed with a special solution then dried for a year, with his resting place becoming a shrine.
Like his recently-found student, he died in the lotus position and was placed in a wooden box, which was then buried and surrounded in stones. His disciples took him to the top of Sodnomdarzhaa Mountain by camel, where they buried him according to his wishes and to the rituals of the time.
Believed to be 25 years younger, the student was taught everything he knows from his lama master and he left a will asking to be entombed beside him upon his own death. Mr Purevbata said their tests on the mummy have allowed them to build a picture of the monk in life, and in his death.
There had been speculation that the monk was not dead and was instead in 'very deep meditation' in a special spiritual state known as tukdam. But that was subsequently proved to be unfounded.
Mr Purevbata said: 'Earlier I said that maybe Lama is not dead but was in very deep meditation in the ancient tradition of Buddhist lamas. But it is not so. Tsorzh Sanzhzhav and his teacher were specially buried in this form.
'Tsorzh Sanzhzhav was a close disciple of His Holiness Incarnate Geser Lama, who lived about 200 years ago. We see that he passed away at the age of about 70 years. He had a black beard and a large hooked nose, his height was about 180cm.
'In 1999, the local lamas restored part of his head and chest that had been damaged by birds and stones from the mountains or by the light when the wooden parts of the box [housing him] were broken and these parts of the body left out.'
Mummy of Buddhist monk discovered in Mongolia shows 'living gods' tradition – The Star Online, March 4
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