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Monday, March 16, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Mongolia's Debt to Chalco Stalling $4 Billion Tavan Tolgoi Deal
By Michael Kohn
March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's accord with a group planning to develop its largest coking coal deposit for $4 billion is being stalled by the government's $150 million debt to a Chinese state-owned company, Mongolian minister Enkhsaikhan Mendsaikhan said.
Negotiations drawn out over Mongolia's largest coal mine
BY TERRENCE EDWARDS
March 10 (Reuters) - Talks to allow a consortium led by China's Shenhua Energy to take over Mongolia's largest coal mine have yet to be completed, with the project still paying off debts to another Chinese state miner, an official said on Tuesday.
Mongolia is desperate to kick-start a deal expected to be worth as much as $4 billion, with foreign investment into the country falling 74 percent last year, largely because of disputes between companies and the government.
Last year, China's top coal firm Shenhua formed a consortium with Japan's Sumitomo Corp and Energy Resources LLC, a wholly-owned unit of the Mongolian Mining Corp, to take over the management of the Mongolian state-owned firm in charge of the huge Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit.
The mining project in the country's southern Gobi region includes the East and West Tsankhi blocks.
Negotiations with Shenhua were due to be completed before Mongolia's lunar new year in February, but have already missed the deadline, according to Mongolian Minister Mendsaikhan Enkhsaikhan, who oversees Tavan Tolgoi and other giant mining projects.
One challenge is how to handle debts owed to China's Chalco Group by Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, the Mongolian state-owned firm in charge of the project.
Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi borrowed $350 million from Chalco in 2011 and agreed to pay back the debt in the form of coal deliveries from its East Tsankhi block. It still owes about $150 million to the company, as well as other commitments.
The government used most of the funds it borrowed from Chalco to finance a short-lived social welfare programme that distributed about $15 to every citizen each month.
"After the repayment of outstanding loans to Chalco, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi still has an obligation to sell 80 percent of its coal (to Chalco) from the East Tsankhi mine for five years," said Enkhbaatar Myagmarulzii, a project manager working under the minister.
Mongolia has set up a working group to lead negotiations with the consortium, which will be entrusted with developing and managing both the East and West Tsankhi blocks, which hold a combined 1.8 billion tons of coking coal.
The Tavan Tolgoi project has attracted the attention of dozens of foreign investment banks and mining conglomerates, but its progress has stalled as a result of financial strains and interference from the government.
Mongolia's previous attempt to find investment for Tavan Tolgoi ended in failure, when its decision to award the project to a consortium consisting of Shenhua, Peabody Energy and a team of Russian and Mongolian firms was criticised by Japanese and South Korean rivals and subsequently annulled.
Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi is also still in dispute with MacMahon Holdings, which was contracted to develop the mine's east block. MacMahon claims it is owed about $30 million.
"It's a complicated issue, but the working group and consortium are seeking to reach a win-win solution now," said Myagmarulzii.
Aspire Mining secures 12 month extension to US$5M loan from Noble Group
March 16 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining (ASX:AKM) has secured a 12 month extension to a US$5 million loan from Noble Group (SGX:N21) and has also agreed to an option to acquire Noble's 50% interest in the Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture.
The ECJV currently owns a 60% interest in the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project in northern Mongolia with an option to earn up to 90%.
Aspire has also granted Noble additional marketing rights over coal sold from the Ovoot Coking Coal Project and options over Aspire shares with a two year expiry to enable Noble to maintain a diluted 13.9% interest in Aspire in the event of additional capital being raised within the next 12 months.
Noble will supply fuel, marketing and supply chain services for the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project supplying coal directly to end users.
It will also consider providing working capital funding support for the Nuurstei project subject to the project meeting Noble's internal financing criteria.
Both companies have also committed to accelerating future development of the Nuurstei project.
"This is an important transaction for Aspire as the Nuurstei project presents as a potential early production opportunity while we pursue the development of the Erdenet-Ovoot Railway to open up export opportunities for Ovoot and also add substantial value to the Nuurstei project," managing director David Paull said.
"The Nuurstei Coking Coal Project will benefit greatly from leveraging Noble's established marketing capability and logistics capacity and experience in Mongolia and China."
Noble Term Sheet
Under the binding term sheet, Noble has extended the due date for repayment of the US$5 million loan by 12 months to 15th March 2016.
This will be secured by Aspire's 50% interest in the ECJV.
The loan was provided to assist with pre-development expenditures for the Erdenet-Ovoot railway.
Noble has also granted Aspire a 12 month option expiring on 15 March 2016 to acquire Noble's 50% interest in the ECJV.
The exercise price of the Option comprises a cash component payable by Aspire to Noble of US$1 million plus a capped royalty on future production from Nuurstei.
Adding to the interest, Noble has agreed to supply all of the marketing and logistics services to the Nuurstei project and increase scope of the coal marketing services to be provided to Aspire's wholly owned Ovoot Coking Coal Project to 40% of its production.
Noble supplies multiple commodities direct to customers globally from Mongolia and in particular its supply chain network will enable the company to deliver coking coal from suppliers in Mongolia directly to end customers in China, resulting in greater pricing power.
Nuurstei Coking Coal Project
Aspire and Noble will look to fund a US$2 million exploration and development plan for Nuurstei in 2015 with the aim of establishing a JORC 2012 coal resource sufficient to support permitting and a development decision in early 2016.
Nuurstei project is located within close proximity of a newly completed sealed road that will allow for the transport of Nuurstei coal to existing rail services at Erdenet.
It would also be an early user of rail along the planned Erdenet-Ovoot-Arts Suuri Railway being promoted by Aspire's rail subsidiary Northern Railways LLC.
Through 2015, the ECJV will continue to be active in applying for new exploration licenses prospective for coking coal near existing or planned transport infrastructure in Mongolia.
Noble will retain marketing, logistics and the right to supply fuel for any new projects acquired by the ECJV. It may also consider providing working capital funding support for the Nuurstei project subject to the project meeting Noble's internal financing criteria.
Aspire has also agreed to provide Noble with options to subscribe for additional shares in the company as is required to maintain Noble's current 13.9% shareholding interest in Aspire on a diluted basis in the event that additional capital is raised in the Company during the next 12 months.
Erdenet to Ovoot railway
Aspire and its subsidiary Northern Railways, in which Noble has an option to acquire 10%, continue to make progress in developing a technical, environmental and funding case to support an application for a Rail Concession.
It is expected that the concession for the Erdenet – Ovoot railway will be considered in the next three months.
The 547 kilometre Erdenet-Ovoot rail line is a key requirement to unlock the value of the Ovoot Coking Coal Project and future earnings from mining and production from the project for Aspire.
Aspire Mining now has more time to progress development of the key Erdenet-Ovoot railway after securing a 12 month extension to a US$5 million loan from Noble Group.
It will also benefit from Noble leveraging its established marketing capability and logistics capacity for the Nuurstei project and increasing the scope of coal marketing services to the Ovoot project to 40% of its production.
News flow ahead includes progress in discussions with potential funding partners as well as further advances towards securing the Rail Concession.
Guildford: Transition from Explorer to Miner Complete
First commercial coal shipment milestone
March 10 -- Guildford Coal Limited (Guildford or the Company) (ASX: GUF) is pleased to advise that the Company has successfully completed the transition of the Company from explorer to miner with the completion of the first commercial shipment of 6,000t of coal to Baotou Iron & Steel (Group) Co. Ltd in China from the Baruun Noyon Uul (BNU) coking coal mine in the South Gobi Mongolia to the Ceke Border station.
Production at the BNU coking coal mine successfully recommenced in late 2014 and this significant milestone marks the final step to commercial production.
The Company has now commenced the next shipment of 20,000 tonne for Jiuquan Iron & Steel (Group) Co Ltd (JISCO) which is part of a 60,000 tonne contract to be completed in March and April 2015.
The Company is also pleased to advise that Sojitz (Hong Kong) Ltd. have made pre-payment on these two initial shipments.
The Company is focused on continuing to build the BNU coking coal brand and locking in long term contracts.
Please contact Tony Mooney, 0423 841 259 for further information.
AKM last traded A$0.028 on 6 March
Aspire Mining granted voluntary suspension, to finalise extension of loan payment to Noble
March 10 -- The Directors of Aspire Mining Limited (ASX: AKM) hereby request a voluntary suspension of the Company's securities pending finalisation of a terms sheet on the extension of the due date for payment of the loan owed to Noble Resources International Pte Ltd and revised arrangements in relation to coal interests in Mongolia.
The Directors requested and were granted a trading halt on 6 March 2015.
The Directors expected the announcement of the terms sheet execution to be made to the market prior to the opening of trading on Wednesday 11 March 2015.
However, the announcement is now expected to be made prior to the opening of trading on Monday 16 March 2015.
Khan's Genghis experience and other foreign investment nightmares
By Peter Foster
The fate of the Khan project in Mongolia is of more than passing interest to other foreign investors
March 12 (Financial Post) Genghis Khan, the 13th-century Mongol emperor, is reported to have said that "The greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies and drive them before him. To ride their horses and take away their possessions."
Present day Mongolia is still struggling to emerge from the bitter legacy of 70 years of a rule arguably even less enlightened than that of Genghis: the Soviet Union.
One of those legacies – which it has in common with many underdeveloped countries – is the reflexive attempt to grab the possessions not merely of its enemies but its foreign investors, thus damaging its own prospects.
The vast, thinly-populated country is a resource treasure house, which means that foreign investment is the surest route to economic growth, but an immature political system and a commodity price collapse have slowed development. Sitting between Russian history and Chinese resource demand has also proved to be something of a mixed blessing.
Khan Resources is a Toronto-based company that knows something about sitting between Russia and China too. It was attempting to develop a uranium deposit at a site a four-hour drive from the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbataar (Mogi: L). When commodity prices started to rise a decade ago, suddenly both the Russians, who had held the rights to the deposit, and the Mongolian government (both still hold stakes) started adopting Genghis-style tactics.
The Russians attempted a low-ball takeover. Khan brought in a Chinese white knight. The deal fell apart. The Mongolian government cancelled the company's licences.
The Russians evaded a lawsuit from Khan by successfully invoking sovereign immunity (in Ontario, of all places), but last week, after four years of litigation, Khan received a US$100 million award against Mongolia from an international arbitration tribunal under the auspices of the United Nations.
The award is worth around $1.50 a share. Khan has been trading at little more than 50 cents, so the market clearly thinks the company is going to have trouble collecting. However, Mongolia's desperate desire to boost foreign investment may be on Khan's side.
As a stunning indicator of how governance techniques have changed not merely since the thirteenth century but the fall of Berlin Wall, Mongolian cellphone customers recently got a text from their Prime Minister, Saikhanbileg Chimed. He wanted to know if the government should push ahead with more foreign investment in mining, or pursue austerity, slashing public spending. Talk about direct democracy.
Like most polls, this one was obviously loaded, but it certainly laid out genuine alternatives: foreign investment or autarchic poverty. This makes the fate of the Khan judgment of more than passing interest to other foreign investors.
A far larger project – again with a major Canadian element – relates to the development of the vast Oyu Tolgoi gold/copper deposit, which is now being overseen by Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. Oyu Tolgoi was discovered in 2001 by Robert Friedland's Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines.
Disputes between Ulaanbataar and Rio Tinto have led to a virtual halt of activity. This, combined with the commodity price slump, has led to a reported 88% decline in foreign investment in the past two years, and a sharp drop in Mongolian growth rates.
Collecting arbitration awards against countries is always a complex and fraught business. The most spectacular award in recent history is that of US$50 billion against the government of Vladimir Putin for his government's flagrant expropriation of oil company Yukos. One can imagine how seriously Vlad the expropriator is treating that .
Vancouver miner Gold Reserve won a judgment for US$740 million last year against Venezuela following the expropriation of one of its properties by the regime of the late Hugo Chavez. Venezuela, thanks to the legacy of Mr. Chavez's misrule, was already in desperate straits before the oil price collapse. Now there are fears it may default on its government debt.
Another intriguing case is that being pursued by the Toronto-based Tokmakjian Group against the Castro regime in Cuba after the expropriation of its business there and the imprisonment of its founder and three managers, all of whom have now been released.
The Cuban regime provides a depressing example of how a "stationary bandit," as the great economist Mancur Olson called predatory governments, can expropriate wholesale and get away with it for a very long time.
Although the U.S. Embargo has signally failed to bring down the Castro dictatorship, President Obama's recent announcement of détente is undoubtedly being viewed cynically by the Castro brothers as a means of extending their rule.
The Mongolian Prime Minister's recent text/poll suggests that its government does not want to tread such a path. Khan, meanwhile, is hoping that the government will wish to demonstrate its adherence to the rule of law. If it doesn't, the company is no doubt investigating where it might lay its hands on Mongolian assets overseas.
The Canadian government has adopted a low-profile on this issue, as it usually does in such cases, even if Canada is the second largest investor in Mongolia, and Mongolia is a "priority market" under the Conservatives' Global Markets Action Plan. Ottawa has for some years been working on a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with Ulaanbataar.
Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, met with Rentsendoo Jigjid, Mongolia's Minister of Mining, "on the margins" of the recent Prospectors and Developers conference in Toronto. One wonders if Mr. Fast suggested – diplomatically, of course — that Mongolia pay up.
Khan Resources Director Raffi Babikian Sells 71,000 Shares (KRI)
March 9 (Analyst Ratings Network) Khan Resources (TSE:KRI) Director Raffi Babikian sold 71,000 shares of the company's stock in a transaction dated Monday, March 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of C$0.50, for a total value of C$35,500.00.
Raffi Babikian also recently made the following trade(s):
On Friday, March 6th, Raffi Babikian sold 3,000 shares of Khan Resources stock. The stock was sold at an average price of C$0.52, for a total transaction of C$1,560.00.
Khan Resources Inc (TSE:KRI) is a Canada-based company. It is a mineral exploration and development company engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of uranium in Mongolia. The Company is engaged in the exploration and development of certain uranium properties that are located in the Dornod district of north eastern Mongolia.
MMC Announces Board Meeting to Approve 2014 Results
March 9 -- The board of directors (the "Board") of Mongolian Mining Corporation (HK:975, the "Company", and its subsidiaries, the "Group") hereby announces that a meeting of the Board of the Company will be held on Monday, 23 March 2015 for the purpose of considering and approving the final results of the Group for the year ended 31 December 2014 and its publication, the recommendation of a final dividend, if any, and transacting any other business.
Zacks: Brokerages Expect Turquoise Hill Resources to Post $0.06 EPS
March 12 (Analyst Ratings Network) Shares of Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) have been given a consensus broker rating score of 2.67 (Hold) from the three brokers that cover the company, Zacks Investment Research reports. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell recommendation, one has given a hold recommendation and one has assigned a strong buy recommendation to the company.
Analysts have set a 12-month consensus price target of $5.25 for the company and are expecting that the company will post $0.06 earnings per share for the current quarter, according to Zacks. Zacks has also assigned Turquoise Hill Resources an industry rank of 167 out of 265 based on the ratings given to related companies.
Shares of Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) opened at 3.05 on Thursday. Turquoise Hill Resources has a one year low of $2.65 and a one year high of $4.11. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $3. and a 200-day moving average of $3.. The company has a market cap of $6.14 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 105.17.
Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd., formerly Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. is an international mineral exploration and development company. The Company's principal mineral resource property is the Oyu Tolgoi Project, located in Mongolia. The Company also has two subsidiaries, through which it holds interests in coal resource properties in Mongolia and molybdenum, rhenium, copper, gold and uranium resource properties in Australia.
To get a free copy of the research report on Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ), click here. For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com
First Call Gives Buy Rating to Turquoise Hill, Short Term Price Target US$5.34
March 11 (Ashburn Daily) Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (NYSE:TRQ): First Call has given a Buy rating to Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd.. The consensus released highlights the optimistic view of the firm regarding the counter.
Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (NYSE:TRQ): The mean estimate for the short term price target for Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (NYSE:TRQ) stands at $5.34 according to 3 Analysts. But, the investors should remain cautious as the stock may face wide vicissitudes from its mean price; the higher price target estimate for the stock has been calculated at $11 while the lower price target estimate is at $2.
In an unimpressive trading session, Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (NYSE:TRQ) slid 2.22% or 0.07 points. The opening transaction was registered at $3.1, during the intraday the shares touched the lowest point at $3.07 and the rally climaxed at $3.18. The closing trade was executed at $3.08 and the daily volume had increased to 1,836,998 shares. The previous close of the stock is $3.15. The 52-week high of the stock is $4.17 while the 52-week low is $2.65. According to the latest information available from the exchange, the company has a market cap of $6,198 million and approximately 2,012,299,000 shares are in outstanding.
1878 jumped +18.47% to close at HK$6.99, intraday high HK$8.28
SouthGobi Not Aware of Any Reasons for Unusual Price and Trading Volume Movements
This announcement is made at the request of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited.
March 6 -- The board of directors (the "Board") of SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX: SGQ, HK: 1878) (the "Company") has noted the increases in the price and trading volume of the shares of the Company today. Having made such enquiry with respect to the Company as is reasonable in the circumstances, save as disclosed in the announcements of the Company, the Board confirms that it is not aware of any reasons for these price and volume movements or of any information which must be announced to avoid a false market in the Company's securities or of any inside information that needs to be disclosed under Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Chapter 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong).
This announcement is made by the order of the Company. The Board collectively and individually accepts responsibility for the accuracy of this announcement.
Shareholders of the Company and potential investors are advised to exercise caution in dealing in the securities of the Company.
254 jumped 13.68% to close at HK$0.216, intraday high HK$0.29
NUR Not Aware of Any Reasons for Unusual Price and Trading Volume Movements
This announcement is made at the request of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited.
March 6 -- The board (the "Board") of directors (the "Directors") of National United Resources Holdings Limited (HK: 254, the "Company") has noted the recent increases in the price and trading volume of the shares of the Company. Having made such enquiry with respect to the Company as is reasonable in the circumstances, save as the announcement of the Company dated 4 March 2015 in relation to a profit warning, the Board confirms that it is not aware of any reasons for these price and volume movements or of any information which must be announced to avoid a false market in the Company's securities or of any inside information that needs to be disclosed under Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Chapter 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong).
This announcement is made by the order of the Company. The Board collectively and individually accepts responsibility for the accuracy of this announcement.
Shareholders of the Company and potential investors are advised to exercise caution in dealing in the securities of the Company
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. to Present at NYSSA Mongolia Conference
Toronto, Ontario, March 9 (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK - TSXV and MNGGF - USA) ("MGG") or ("the Company") a commercial real estate investment and development company participating in the dynamic growth of the Mongolian economy is pleased to announce that it has been invited to present at the 3rd Annual "Investing in Mongolia" conference hosted by The New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA) on April 9, 2015.
Chairman and CEO Harris Kupperman will be speaking on behalf of MGG at the event.
The mission of the New York Society of Security Analysts is to serve the needs of all members and investment professionals and to educate the investing public.
For more information on the conference, please visit http://www.nyssa.org/programs/mastercalendar/ctl/viewdetail/mid/512/itemid/2284/d/20150409.aspx
XAM lasted traded A$0.08 Thursday
Xanadu: Annual Report Chairman's Letter
March 13 -- Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX: XAM – "Xanadu") has lodged its Full Year Statutory Accounts for 31 December 2014. The Chairman's Letter is attached to this announcement; highlights include:
– this is a shortened financial year as Xanadu transitions to a 31 December year end;
– the primary focus of the period was adding value to the Kharmagtai copper-gold project with around 12,500 metres of diamond drilling completed in the six months to late November 2014;
– the exploration team has made outstanding progress extending the mineralisation around the three central outcropping prospects at Kharmagtai and there are many indications that we are defining a major copper-gold system;
– the drilling results significantly expanded the project's scale, increase its development potential and demonstrate that the licence area remains significantly under explored;
– the Oyut Ulaan copper-gold project has several common characteristics with the Kharmagtai project. Xanadu will continue exploration at Oyut Ulaan over 2015, potentially positioning Xanadu with two of the most exciting emerging copper exploration projects in North Asia;
– Xanadu raised approximately $15.3 million of new equity funds through a private placement approved by shareholders at the November AGM and a subsequent rights issue which recently closed placing Xanadu in a strong position to add value through exploration activities;
– the Kharmagtai deferred consideration has been reduced from US$10.0 million to around US$3.8 million including the 5 March 2015 subscription funds and the repayment date has been extended to 31 July 2016; and
– the year end cash balance was $7.5 million.
Xanadu has an exciting and challenging year ahead of it in 2015. The Company is starting in a strong position and has the capacity to add value to its Kharmagtai and Oyut Ulaan copper-gold projects through exploration.
VKA last traded A$0.017 Feb 25
Viking Mines: Interim Report
March 6, Viking Mines Ltd. (ASX:VKA) --
Your directors present their report on the consolidated entity (referred to hereafter as the Group) consisting of Viking Mines Limited ("Viking" or "the Company") and the entities it controlled at the end of, or during, the half year ended 31 December 2014. In order to comply with the Corporations Act 2001 the directors report as follows:
The following persons were directors of Viking during the whole of the period and up to the date of this report:
John W (Jack) Gardner – Executive Chairman
Peter McMickan – Executive Director
Raymond Whitten was appointed a non-executive director of the Company on 29 October 2014.
Trygve Kroepelien was a non-executive director of the Company until his resignation on 29 October 2014.
During the half year Viking completed a successful takeover of Auminco Mines Limited (Auminco) and completed its first drilling program on the Berkh Uul coal project in Mongolia.
· Successful completion of 100% acquisition of Auminco, adding two advanced Mongolian coal projects to the Company's portfolio.
· Four Memoranda of Understanding (MOU's) now signed with Mongolian government entities for potential coal supply from the Berkh Uul coal project.
· First drilling program at Berkh Uul confirms both the thickness and quality of the coal seams as indicated in historic drilling, and
· Berkh Uul drilling has extended the deposit 1.5km to the south of previous drilling. Coal intersected at shallow depths of less than 80 metres in 17 of the 18 holes drilled.
In addition the Company advanced the Akoase gold project by undertaking a soil sampling program on the Akoase West tenement, with results outlining two parallel gold anomalies of 2.5 km and 1.4 km strike length, and >50ppb Au. These anomalies represent excellent drill targets for future exploration.
Eumeralla: Interim Report
March 12, Eumeralla Resources Ltd. (ASX:EUM) --
Your directors submit the financial report of the Group for the half-year ended 31 December 2014. In order to comply with the provisions of the Corporations Act 2001, the directors report as follows:
Review of Operations
In July 2014 the Company engaged Lunda LLC (Lunda) to perform an IP/Res Gradient Survey. Lunda have performed the IP/Res Gradient Survey and are in the process of preparing a report to be submitted to the Mineral Resources Authority (MRAM) of Mongolia.
On 1 October 2014 Mr David Wheeler was appointed as a non-Executive Director.
Parmelia Resources: Interim Report
March 12, Parmelia Resources Ltd. (ASX:PML) --
During the period the entirety of the Mongolian project was impaired, the amount of $782,946 is recognised in the profit and loss as part of the total of $807,231 recognised during the period. The Directors' assessment of the carrying amount for the Group's exploration properties was after consideration of prevailing market conditions; previous expenditure for exploration work carried out on the tenements; and the potential for mineralisation based on the Group's independent geological reports.
The ultimate value of these assets is dependent upon recoupment by commercial development or the sale of the whole or part of the Group's interests in these exploration properties for an amount at least equal to the carrying value. There may exist on the Group's exploration properties, areas subject to claim under Native Title or containing sacred sites or sites of significance to Aboriginal people.
Newera Resources: Interim Report
March 12, Newera Resources Ltd. (ASX:NRU) --
Review of Operations
On 5 December 2014, the Company announced that following a review of recent exploration within the Ulaan Tolgoi project and armed with the knowledge that despite the identification of interpreted potentially coal bearing sub-basins and the more recent interpretation that potential mineral bearing intrusions may exist below significant cover in the northern sector of the licence, Newera acknowledged that any future exploration within the Ulaan Tolgoi licence at this point, would remain high risk green fields exploration.
In addition, in order to maintain the Ulaan Tolgoi Joint Venture, Newera was facing a significant annual Statutory Licence fee immediately payable to the Mongolian Department and a long period of inactivity over the harsh Mongolian winter.
To that end, Newera advised that it had issued a formal letter of notice to its Ulaan Tolgoi Joint Venture partner, advising that Newera has withdrawn from the Ulaan Tolgoi Joint Venture, effective immediately.
Modun Resources: Interim Report
March 11, Modun Resources Ltd. (ASX:MOU) --
Review of Operations
Since June 2011, Modun has been focusing on the exploration and development of the Nuurst Thermal Coal Project (Nuurst Project) in Mongolia. Despite the success the Company has achieved in generating a 478 million tonne 2004 JORC Compliant Coal Mineral Resource at the Nuurst Project (326 million tonnes Measured, 104 million tonnes Indicated, 48 million tonnes Inferred) and culminating in the granting a mining licence in July 2013, Modun has not been able to convert this asset into growth in the Company's share price nor has it been able to secure the finance to bring the project into production.
As a consequence, the Company has been considering other opportunities available to it to bring value to its Shareholders. The Company has been investigating the opportunity to diversify into other industries including the technology sector via the acquisition of a technology business. The Company has been advised by ASX that, if it does pursue this strategy, then it will most likely need to re-comply with Chapters 1&2 of the Listing Rules. Shareholder approval will be required to sell the Nuurst Project.
During the period, Modun appointed new members to the board to assist the Company implement its new strategy. On 1 September 2014, Mike Hill, Andrew Gray and Philip Kapp were appointed as Directors. This provides Modun with more than 30 years private equity investment experience that will be used to accelerate the transformation of Modun into a high growth and strong cash-flow generating business. The Directors will continue to assess opportunities across the range of the alternative strategies listed above.
On 24 November 2014, the Company entered into a highly conditional agreement to sell 100% of the issued share capital of its subsidiary, Modun Resources LLC (Modun LLC), which owns 100% of the Nuurst Project.
The consideration for the sale is US$8m payable as to US$1,000,000 in cash and US$7,000,000 in deferred (royalty) payments, paid on the basis of $0.50 per tonne for the first 14 millions tonnes of coal extracted and sold by the purchaser.
The Agreement is subject to a number of conditions including:
a) The purchaser completing, to its satisfaction, legal, accounting and technical due diligence by 30 April 2015;
b) The granting of any necessary consents, approvals, exemptions, authorisations and regulatory approvals including:
· the approval of Modun shareholders
· the consent from the Government of Mongolia's Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia regarding the transaction (if required by Mongolian Law).
The due diligence process by the purchaser remains ongoing at the date of this report.
Events Occurring After the Balance Date
On 5 February 2015, the Company agreed to extend the exclusive due diligence period for the prospective purchaser of Modun LLC for a further 8 weeks in order to finalise information requirements and advance contractual negotiations. The revised expiry date for the exclusive period is 30 April 2015.
There have been no other events subsequent to the balance date, which would have a material effect on the Group's financial statements.
Modun: Resignation of Neil Hackett as Non-Executive Director – MOU, March 11
Draig Resources: Interim Report
March 10, Draig Resources Ltd. (ASX:DRG) --
RESULTS AND REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES
Draig is involved in the exploration for coal within two exploration licences that are located in Mongolia.
The Company's interest is held by a controlled entity, BDBL LLC ("BDBL"). BDBL is a participant in the Mongolian Coal Joint Venture (No.1) ("MCJV") with two other companies; Khan Mountain Pty Ltd ("KM") and Khan Mountain 2 Pty Ltd ("KM2"). KM and KM2 are wholly owned subsidiaries of Trinity Mongolia Pty Ltd ("Trinity"). BDBL has a 75% interest in the MCJV. KM has a 10% interest, which is free carried, and KM2 has a 15% interest in the MCJV. The Company has a 28% interest in Trinity.
The Company's investment in coal exploration in Mongolia has not progressed as positively as was originally planned. Consequently, prospective purchasers of these assets are actively being sought whilst the assets are being maintained.
The priority for the Company is now the acquisition of a suitable alternate opportunity. The main focus has been in resources, although some opportunities outside this sector have been reviewed. There are several potential opportunities which the Company is currently evaluating.
The Board continued to focus on minimising costs and conserving the Company's cash.
Administrative expenditure for the half year ended 31 December 2014 was $0.3m compared to $0.5m for the half year ended 31 December 2013.
Total comprehensive loss for the period was $0.2m (2013: $3.4m).
The Group was debt free and held cash and term deposit investments of $2.1m at the end of the reporting period.
The view of the Directors is that the Company and the Group are operating as a going concern.
There has not arisen in the interval between the end of the financial year and the date of this report any item, transaction or event of a material and unusual nature likely, in the opinion of the Directors of the Company, to affect significantly the operations of the Group, the results of those operations, or the state of affairs of the Group, in future financial years.
GMM: Interim Report
March 13, General Mining Corp. Ltd. (ASX:GMM) --
REVIEW OF OPERATIONS
No activities were carried out in Mongolia and the shutdown of the Mongolian subsidiary continued.
Denison Mines Corp. Reports 2014 Results
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 5, 2015) - Denison Mines Corp. ("Denison" or the "Company") (TSX:DML)(NYSE MKT:DNN) today reported its results for the three months and year ended December 31, 2014. All amounts in this release are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.
In Mongolia, exploration expenditures on the Gurvan Saihan joint venture ("GSJV") properties totaled $394,000 in 2014, compared to $550,000 in 2013. Expenditures during the year primarily relate to annual license payments required to maintain the GSJV properties in good standing, while the Company continues to explore strategic alternatives regarding its ownership interest in the GSJV. In 2013, the Company focused on completing field programs and studies necessary to convert the Company's exploration licences to mining licences.
In Mongolia, the Company continues its efforts to pursue strategic alternatives for its 85% interest in the GSJV. Further guidance regarding the Company's interest in the GSJV will be provided in the first half of 2015. The budget for Mongolia is estimated to be $725,000 for 2015.
Centerra Gold Announces Retirement of President and Chief Executive Officer Ian Atkinson
TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - March 12, 2015) - Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX: CG) announced today that Ian Atkinson, its President and Chief Executive Officer, has informed the Board of Directors of his intention to retire by year-end. October, 2015 will mark 10 years of service by Ian at Centerra as Vice President Exploration, Senior Vice President of Global Exploration, and as President & Chief Executive Officer and a Director. The Board has retained STM Associates to assist in a search, considering internal and external candidates.
Asia Frontier Capital Newsletter – Country Snapshot: Mongolia
March 13 (via EmergingMarkets.me) Although it is the least densely populated country in the world, with less than 3 million people living in a land area of 1.5 million km2, Mongolia has the potential to see the greatest growth of any country within the AFC Asia Frontier Universe. Mongolia's economy is traditionally based on herding and agriculture, but is expanding aggressively due to foreign investments in large mining projects that capitalize on the country's vast deposits of coal, copper, gold, tungsten, tin, nickel, zinc, silver, and iron. Real GDP is expected to expand by 8.4% in 2015 and this should accelerate sharply if the government can resolve an ongoing dispute with a large foreign mining company. Mongolia's growth is also steered by high levels of agricultural production and the spill-over from China's epic growth.
The Mongolian Stock Exchange (MSE), located in Ulan Bator, is the country's sole stock exchange. The history of MSE's securities market began between 1992-1995 when 475 state owned entities were successfully privatized through MSE distributing 96.1 million shares worth 8.2 billion MNT (7.0 million USD) to the citizens of Mongolia within the framework of implementing "Privatization Policy" of the Mongolian Government during the transitional period of a central planned economy to a market economy in Mongolia. Secondary market trade began on August 28, 1995 auctioning 16,000 shares of three companies that valued 15,000 USD.
The MSE now lists 212 companies and has a market capitalization of USD 700 million as of February 2015.
Mongolian Stock Exchange website: www.mse.mn
Country snapshots for all of AFC's markets can be found on our website at www.asiafrontiercapital.com
The key topic that will continue to dictate investor confidence in Mongolia is the issue of Oyu Tolgoi, the USD 6 billion copper and gold mine that has become the focal point of a well-publicized dispute between Turquoise Hill Resources (a subsidiary of mining giant Rio Tinto), which owns 66% of the mine, and the Mongolian government, which owns 34% of the project. Hailed as a transformational discovery that would account for more than one-third of Mongolia's GDP upon completion, the project has become a litmus test for foreign investment in the country, with many outside observers expressing worry over the ongoing disagreements between the two joint venture partners regarding profit sharing and financing.
Mongolia's new Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbelig (Mogi: I suggest the authors to get names of important folks right first) has tried to revive foreign investment in the wake of the Oyu Tolgoi dispute and several other incidents involving backtracking on mining licenses and changing foreign investment laws. He has proposed an amendment to the minerals law to allow the government to swap its ownership stake in the Oyu Tolgoi project in exchange for future royalty payments from mine developers (Mogi: this clause is not retroactive, therefore not applicable to OT). The amendment would mean that the Government of Mongolia would be off the hook for providing a significant amount of the USD 5 billion necessary for the construction costs of Phase Two of Oyu Tolgoi, which would help develop the underground portion of the mine, which contains 80% of the deposit's total value. Rio Tinto, however, does not want to increase its ownership percentage in the project by buying the Government's stake, especially in light of the fact that global commodity prices are down – in January, copper fell to its lowest price since the 2008 global financial crisis.
One potential glimpse of hope for foreign investors watching the Mongolia situation came in early March when an international tribunal ordered the Government of Mongolia to pay USD 100 million to Canada-based Khan Resources in compensation for cancelling the company's uranium mining licenses granted in 2009. Khan's shares jumped +28% on the news, and the court ruling is hopefully a signal of a move towards better enforcement of laws, contracts, and agreements in the country between the government and foreign companies. (Mogi: this I agree with)
More good news came when the government announced its plan to renew the granting of mineral exploration licenses commencing on 26th January 2015 after a more than 5 year hiatus. There may also be signs of hope for continued political reform as the President of Mongolia also pardoned three foreign employees of coal miner SouthGobi Resources Ltd who had been sentenced to over 5 years in prison for tax evasion. The foreigners had been banned from leaving Mongolia, and the case was plagued by murky details and translation problems, threatening to further derail investor sentiment in the country.
Forward progress by the government is vital to coax back foreign investment, as the country's Central Bank announced in August of last year that FDI entering Mongolia from January to July 2014 had fallen 70% year-on-year to a total of USD 873 million, following a 43% drop during the same period in 2013. Slumping foreign investment has been the main catalyst for Mongolia's woes, but dipping commodity prices and a weakened currency have also contributed to the country's slide.
Byambasaikhan Bayanjargal, the CEO of Erdenes Mongol, the umbrella company that holds the Mongolian government's stakes in various mining projects in the country, believes he can transform the outlook for mining projects and foreign investment in the country. Bayanjargal, who previously worked for the Asian Development Bank in project finance and helped manage a USD 120 million wind farm project in the country, wants to raise foreign capital and sell shares in the company to create a "Mongolian Temasek" modeled after the highly-successful Temasek Holdings investment company in Singapore that manages about USD 164 billion on behalf of the Singaporean government.
Ex-UBS Banker to Wealthy Goes Solo, to Focus on East Africa, Mongolia, Vietnam
March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Albert Momdjian quit his senior job at UBS Group AG last year to start an investment firm in Dubai. After more than 20 years in banking, he decided it was time to put his own money on the line.
Bishrelt's Undarmaa Speculated to Replace MSE Acting CEO
March 12 (Mongolian Economy) There is a rumor that Bishrelt Group CEO B.Undarmaa will step into the role of Mongolian Stock Exchange CEO, replacing acting chief D.Angar.
This issue was discussed during Mongolian Stock Exchange's (MSE) board of directors meeting on 6 March. By law, the MSE board of directors has the privilege to elect or replace the CEO. The Ministry of Finance, which has the responsibility of implementing the MSE's shareholder rights, submitted the executive appointment proposal. A decision has yet to be made.
There's speculation that B.Undarmaa's appointment to the CEO of MSE would create a conflict of interests, because she owns a certain amount of stock in two companies and operates a broker-dealer company under her son's name.
B.Undarmaa graduated from the Moscow Institute of Management and majored in engineering economics. She has a PhD in Economics. In 2012, she was appointed as Deputy Minister of Education. Currently, she is CEO of Bishrelt Group, head of the Mongolian Family Development Center, on the board of directors of the Mongolian Social Democratic Women's Association, and has been a member of Mongolian People's Party since 2007; in 2008, she was elected as the City Council's Chairman of the Standing Committee on Social Policy.
Acting CEO of the MSE D.Angar entered the office only a half year ago. He majored in finance from the University of Central Arkansas, and holds a master's degree in international finance and accounting from the University of Liverpool. Previously, he was the Head of Debt Management Department of the Ministry of Finance, and trade and economic advisor for the Mongolian Embassy in the UK from 2011 to 2014.
After his appointment as CEO of MSE, he mentioned in an interview with www.mongolianeconomy.mn: "Reforms are being done. Works to improve regulation and operations to meet international standards will be conducted. It's as if we're still using wooden wheels, while it's confirmed that rubber tire run faster."
During his tenure, he managed to reform and revitalise the MSE. Over the past three years the MSE worked with no profit; but in each of the last two months, the MSE has generated a profit MNT 50 million.
MSE Weekly Active Players Report
March 13 (MSE) Mongolian Stock Exchange organized 5 securities trading sessions and made transaction of MNT 17,703,375,042.00 between 9 March 2015 and 13 March 2015.
106,893 shares of 56 joint stock companies worth of MNT 369,174,542.00 were traded.
MOST ACTIVILY TRADED SECURITIES
DORNOD AVTO ZAM
MOST ACTIVE BROKERAGE COMPANIES
Ard Capital Group
Government retail bonds trading:
173,332 Government retail bonds worth of MNT 17,333,200,000.00 traded through one trading session.
MOST ACTIVE BROKERAGE COMPANIES IN GOVERNMENT SECURITIES TRADING
As of 13 March 2015, market capitalization was MNT 1,378,547,310,649.08 which indicated increase of 2.36%, and MSE ALL index increased 0.65% from previous week.
MSE Primary Offer: ₮83.3 Billion 28-Week T-Bills at 7.9% Discount, 16% Yield
March 11 (MSE) --
1. The issuer's name: Mongolian Ministry of Finance
2. The purpose of the issuance of bond: Fund management of State treasure
3. Offering scope of securities: Offering to the public
4. Type of securities: Government securities
5. Face value: MNT 100,000
6. Discounted price: MNT 92,088.00
7. Total amounts issued: 833,395 Units
8. Securities performance:
Government Securities name
Value /billion MNT/
Form of Interest payment*
Interest rate (percent)
Starting date of the order
Closing date of the trading
9. Rate of interest: interest rate of the Government Securities, which will be issued weekly, will be based on auction results of Central Bank basis State Government Securities weighted average interest rate. If the Central Bank's weekly trading cancelled, the interest rate will be set based on the previous trading of Government Securities weighted average interest rate.
10. Order deadline: The Mongolian Stock Exchange will take orders 6 days and the trading will close on the 6th day at 14.00 PM and information on total orders will be delivered to the securities issuer.
11. Trading period: Total registered orders distribution of MSE trading system will be determined based on the Ministry of Finance votes.
₮17.3 Billion 12-Week T-Bills Issued on MSE
March 10 (MSE) On 10 March 2015, 12 weeks Government retail bonds worth MNT17,333,200,000.00 with 15.54% annual interest rate traded successfully on primary market at Mongolian Stock Exchange.
Bellow member brokerage companies participated in the bond trading as follows:
Name of Brokerage Companies
Daewoo Securities Mongolia
ACE and T Capital
Mogi: looks like Ard found a vehicle for a reverse-listing
Ard Financial Group Launches Bid for Jinst Uvs JSC for No Lower than ₮975.28 a Share
March 12 (MSE) In accordance with the Articles No 22.1.1, 22.4 of "Securities Law of Mongolia", the issuer who wants to buy controlling packet of shares, could organize a block trading on MSE after he or she declares it to FRC and public, and send notification to the MSE.
Therefore, MSE is informing that "Ard Financial Group" LLC wants to buy 45,028 shares or 84.6 percent of "Jinst Uvs" JSC, made an offer to other shareholders with not lower than MNT975.28 per share.
MSE Reinstates National Securities' Trading License
March 6 (MSE) According to the decree No.:42 of CEO of Mongolian Stock Exchange dated on 10 February 2015 , there were some member companies temporary halted from trading due to failed to follow duties that stated on the agreement.
Accordance with the decree No.: 72 of CEO of MSE dated on 05 March 2015, the trading license of "National Securities" LLC has been reinstated due to executed duties.
AGMs in March-April
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, March 13 Close
MNT vs USD, CNY in last 1 year:
BoM FX auction: USD ask, bid, CNY ask offers declined, accepts $5m MNT, $35 USD ask offers
March 12 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 12th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 0.4 million in a rate between MNT 1988.91-1989.0, selling bid offer of USD 2.0 million MNT 1990.0 and CNY 4.0 million in a rate of MNT 317.73-317.82 from local commercial banks. BOM has not accepted the offer.
On March 12th, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to USD 5.0 and USD Swap agreement bid offer of USD 35.0 million from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
BoM FX auction: US$20.5m sold at ₮1,986.45, CNY47m at ₮317.26, accepts $16.3m MNT, $10m USD swap offers
March 10 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 10th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 20.5 million in a rate between MNT 1986.45-1990.50 and CNY 86.0 million in a rate of MNT 316.81-317.80 from local commercial banks. BOM has sold USD 20.5 million in a rate of 1986.45 and CNY 47.0 million with rate of 317.26.
On March 10th, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to USD 16.3 and USD Swap agreement bid offer of USD 10.0 million from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
Mongolia's 2014 Inbound FDI Drops 76% to $507.6m: Central Bank
By Michael Kohn
March 6 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of Mongolia revises inbound FDI for 2014 to $507.6m, central bank says in statement on website.
* NOTE: Link to statement: http://alturl.com/vufca
* Revised data show:
* Inbound FDI was $2.14b in 2013, $4.45b in 2012: statement
* 2014 current-account balance registered $981.7m deficit, shrinking 69% y/y: statement
* 2014 capital and financial account balance registered $771.5m surplus, down 46% y/y: statement
* 2014 capital and financial account balance registered $771.5m surplus, down 46% y/y:
Mongolia Sees $88m FDI Withdrawal in Jan.: Govt
By Michael Kohn
March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Foreign direct investment in Jan. into Mongolia was -$88.1m, according to preliminary data released by central bank today.
* Total inbound FDI in 2014 was $507.6m vs $2.1b in 2013
* Current account surplus at end-Jan. was $116.7m vs $122.2m deficit yr ago
* Capital and financial account was a deficit of $278.8m, compared to surplus of $216m in Jan. 2014
Mongolia's International Investment Position - Q4, 2014
March 13 (Bank of Mongolia) --
/In thousand USD/
International Investment Position (net)
1. Mongolian direct investment abroad
2. Portfolio investment
3. Financial derivatives
4. Other investment
5. Reserve assets
1. FDI into Mongolia
2. Portfolio investment
2.1 Equity securities
2.2 Debt securities
3. Financial derivatives
4. Other investment
4.1 Trade credits
4.3 Currency and deposits
4.4 Other liabilities
Mongolia Jan.-Feb. Trade Surplus Is $290.9m: Statistics Office
By Michael Kohn
March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Trade surplus of $290.9m in the first two months of 2015 compares to $19.5m deficit a yr earlier, the National Statistical Office says today in statement.
* Exports rise 26.7% y/y to $753.2m in Jan.-Feb.
* Imports fell 24.7% y/y to $462.4m in Jan.-Feb.
* Feb. CPI increased 0.4% m/m, 9.3% y/y, the slowest increase since July 2013
* M2 money supply reached 10.3t tugrik at the end of Feb., a 0.6% decrease m/m and a 4.1% increase y/y
* Loans outstanding were 12.2t tugrik at the end of Feb., a 9.2% increase y/y
* Principal in arrears reached 397.6b tugrik at the end of Feb., a 25.2% increase m/m (Mogi: NPLs +1.5% MoM, +11.6% YoY to ₮667.2 billion)
* Industrial production index at the end of February increased 12.5% y/y
* Total expenditure and net lending of the General Government Budget reached 930.9b tugrik, a 16.1% increase y/y in Jan.-Feb.
Mongolia Jan.-Feb. Copper Exports Rise 68% Y/y: Govt
By Michael Kohn
March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia exported 205,800 tons of copper concentrate in the first two months of 2015 vs. 122,600 tons yr ago, the National Statistics Office reported on its website today.
* Revenue from copper concentrate exports rose to $363.3m in first two months vs. $186.5m yr ago
* Mongolia exported 2.5t of gold in the first two months compared to 1.5t yr ago; value rises to $98m vs $63m
* Crude oil exports rise to 1.2m barrels from 1m barrels yr ago; value falls to $58.7m vs. 97.2m yr ago
* Volume of coal exports fell to 1.7m tons in first two months compared to 2.1m yr ago
* Revenue from coal exports down 40% to $65.5m from $108.6m yr
* NOTE: Coal export revenue was $122.9 in first two months of 2013 and $187.8m in first two months of 2012
* China purchased took 79% of Mongolia's total exports, buying $596m of $753m in shipments
Budget Cuts Expected in Spring Over Poor Copper Projections
March 13 (gogo.mn) State Budget approved by the State Great Khural provisioned the copper prices to be at USD 6500, while the current market prices are at USD 5700, which might impose negative outcomes at the budget income.
Budget deficit usually come evident around October of each year with the interruption of the operations of state entities. This situation has started quite early for this year as Ulaanbaatar Railroad and other state owned entities are facing problems with their salaries.
As the prices of main commodity of Mongolia copper, which is the main contributor to Mongolia's state budget, is falling at the international market, there might be possible adjustments at the State Budget this spring.
UB Housing Prices Fall for 7th Month in February, Down 5.06% from 2014
8% Mortgage Program Update: ₮554.4 Billion Refinanced, ₮1.73 Trillion Newly Issued
March 12 (Cover Mongolia) As of March 12, ₮554.4 billion (₮₮548.9 billion as of February 27) existing mortgages of 18,790 citizens (18,646 as of February 27) were refinanced at 8% out of ₮823.4 billion (₮820.3 billion as of February 27) worth requests.
Also, ₮1,722.9 billion (₮1,679.2 billion as of February 27) new mortgages of 30,510 citizens (29,751 citizens as of February 27) were issued at new rates out of ₮1.77 trillion (₮1.69 trillion as of February 27) worth requests.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Unemployment Up 0.8% in February to 33.8K, Average Salary ₮844K in Q4
Ulaanbaatar, March 12 (MONTSAME) The number of unemployed reached 33.8 thousand at the end of February, showing an increase of three hundred people or 0.8 percent compared to the same period of the previous year and a decrease of two thousand people or 5.6 percent against the previous month, reports the National Statistics Office.
In the report of the social security contributions by the fourth quarter of 2014, the average wages of employees was at 844 thousand Togrog, of which women's -- 782.8 thousand Togrog and men's -- 905.1 thousand Togrog.
In the first two months of 2015, the revenue of Social Insurance Fund amounted to MNT 190 billion, reflecting an increase of 1.1 billion Togrog or 0.6 percent, and the expenditure of the fund reached MNT 231.2 billion, reflecting an increase of 38.1 billion Togrog or 19.7 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
Moody's: Ghana and Mongolia's Commodity Dependence Strains Weak Credit Profiles
Singapore, March 12, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service says that the credit profiles of Ghana and Mongolia - both rated B2 with negative outlooks - are constrained by their exposure to commodities, strained public finances and external vulnerabilities.
Ghana's high debt and deficit levels are a key drag on its credit quality, while Mongolia's elevated vulnerability to external risks and weak governance are its primary rating constraints--both sovereigns were downgraded by one notch in 2014.
Moody's conclusions were contained in a just-released report, "Ghana, Government of and Mongolia, Government of: Commodity Dependence Strains Weak Credit Profiles".
The two countries have abundant natural resources that have attracted high levels of foreign investment and have produced rapid economic growth. However, dependence on natural resources has exposed both economies to volatility in commodity prices and shifts in investor sentiment, undermining growth prospects in both countries and straining government finances.
In addition, downward pressures on exports and capital inflows have reduced foreign-exchange reserve buffers. Unpredictability in the policy environment has weighed on economic growth more in Mongolia than in Ghana.
While both countries will face heightened external pressures from sovereign bond repayments in the coming years, falling commodity prices will hurt Ghana more than Mongolia, given the former's position as a net oil exporter. But Mongolia's external risks are more pronounced due to a sharp drop in foreign direct investment over the last year.
Weak fiscal management is also a shared credit risk, but while Mongolia's fiscal performance is strongly correlated with commodity cycles, Ghana's public finances outcomes are more closely tied to electoral cycles.
Moody's further notes that Ghana's public finances are more strained, as seen in its much heavier debt burden and weaker debt affordability metrics. In the case of Mongolia, interest payments comprise a lower 4.5% of revenues, versus 23% for Ghana -- but this relative strength is diminishing as interest payments rise and mineral and corporate tax revenues decline.
Subscribers can access the full report at http://www.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBC_1002422
Moody's: Mongolia banking system outlook negative; economic pressure rising
Hong Kong, March 06, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service says the negative outlook on Mongolia's banking system -- unchanged since 2013 -- reflects the multiple headwinds that continue to challenge Mongolian banks.
"While Mongolia's expanding mining capacity is a main driver in our growth assumption, weak commodity prices and slowing global demand continue to weigh on the outlook for the country's national income and external position," says Hyun Hee Park, a Moody's Assistant Vice President and Analyst.
"We expect Mongolian banks' credit profiles to suffer broad pressure after a period of rapid policy-triggered credit growth in recent years, which will be reflected in a continued deterioration in asset quality, liquidity and capitalization," adds Park.
Park was speaking on the release of Moody's "Banking System Outlook Mongolia".
The report -- whose outlook expresses Moody's expectation of how bank creditworthiness will evolve in this system over the next 12-18 months -- looks at Mongolia's banking system in terms of five factors: Operating environment (which is classified as deteriorating); funding and liquidity (deteriorating); asset quality and capital (deteriorating); profitability and efficiency (deteriorating); and systemic support (stable).
Moody's says economic growth will remain subdued in Mongolia over the next 12-18 months, driven by a slowdown in foreign direct investment and tightening macroeconomic policies.
The country's weak external position could keep its exchange rate under pressure and its inflation rate high, thereby requiring the Bank of Mongolia to maintain its tight monetary policy stance.
Moody's assessment of Mongolia's banks takes into account the consideration that published metrics may not accurately reflects the true financial situation. For example, Moody's estimates that reported capital ratios are overstated by as much as 100 basis points due to regulatory forbearance.
While a resolution of the government's dispute with Rio Tinto plc (A3 stable) over Phase 2 of the Oy Tolgoi mining project would facilitate further foreign direct investment, such rebound is by no means a panacea, says Moody's.
It would take several quarters for foreign direct investment to have a tangible economic impact, and will do little to ease the immediate strains the banks face over the next 12-18 months.
Moody's rates the four largest commercial banks in Mongolia as well as the government-related policy bank Development Bank of Mongolia LLC (B2 negative). Moody's-rated commercial banks accounted for 65% of total system loans and 66% of total system deposits as of 30 September 2014.
Of the four commercial banks that Moody's rates, it assigns a baseline credit assessment of b2 to Khan Bank LLC and a BCA of b3 to Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia LLC, State Bank LLC and XacBank LLC. All four carry long-term local currency deposit ratings of B2 and negative rating outlooks.
Subscribers can access the full report at http://www.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBC_1002544
BoM issues ₮99 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +24.9% to ₮217.4 billion
March 13 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 99 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
GoM Bond Auction: Announced ₮15 Billion 3-Year Bills Sold at Premium, Average Yield 16.9%
March 11 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 3 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 15 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 15.0 billion /out of 15.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at premium price and with weighted average yield of 16.900%
GoM Treasury Auction: ₮5 Billion 28-Week Bills Sold at Discount, Average Yield 16%
March 11 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 30.0 billion MNT. Face value of 5.0 billion MNT /out of 25.0 billion MNT bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.000%.
Please find expanded information from Table.
Announced amount /by MNT/
Received bid amount /by MNT
Sold amount /by MNT/
Weighted average yield
Maximum yield of fulfilled bids
Minimum yield of fulfilled bids
Mogi: GoM's next Naomi Watts for King Kong
Mongolia Govt Gives Go-Ahead to State Bank to Issue $300m Bond
By Michael Kohn
March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Govt resolves to allow State Bank of Mongolia board of directors to issue $300m bond in international mkts, according to a report on state web site zasag.mn March 10.
* Decision reflects a govt plan on overcoming economic difficulties, passed by parliament on Feb. 18
* Plan seeks to promote lower interest rates and long-term foreign-currency funding
* Plan seeks to promote lower interest rates and long-term foreign-currency funding
* NOTE: Moody's assigned a first-time foreign currency long- term deposit rating of B3 to State Bank on March 2
Mongolia's State Bank to Issue Bond on International Stock Market Equivalent up to 300 Million USD – InfoMongolia, March 11
MPP Reform Committee Calls for Zoljargal's Resignation
March 12 (gogo.mn) MPP Reform Committee held Bank of Mongolia and Economic Downturn discussion today. At the beginning of the discussion researchers Kh.Batsuuri and L.Gangerel briefed the participants on the current economic situation, currency reserves and export income of Mongolia.
About two and a half years ago MPP Reform Committee has been established and it has come out with the announcement that Bank of Mongolia management should resign citing the economic situation of the country is getting worse, tugrug depreciation went on, 119 thousand people have lost their jobs and the purchasing power of the residents has been declining. Also they have mentioned that Ch.Altankhuyag, Ch.Ulaan and N.Batbayar have resigned, while N.Zoljargal is still holding his position.
Also they have said that Mongolian citizens are living in between the loans, whereas Bank of Mongolia is not doing its job to stabilize tugrug depreciation and holding the currency reserves at the safety level. During past period Bank of Mongolia supplied total of MNT 4 trillion into market and now it is time that we demand the results of those money supply and ask how many jobs have been created.
While D.Boldbaatar, Director of the Monetary Policy and Research at the Bank of Mongolia replied with denial that Bank of Mongolia supplied total of MNT 3.3 trillion and that number never reached 4 trillion and 2 trillion those 3.3 trillion where directed at financing the 8 percent mortgage loans, as at that time GoM was not able to finance the program alone and BoM supplied money. And added that due to complications at Oyu Tolgoi 2700 employees were laid off alone, while the mining sector has seen downsizing of 50 thousand jobs, it was inevitable that BoM had to support the construction sector.
MPP Reform Committee is convinced that resignation of BoM Governor N.Zoljargal will prevent any more malicious monetary policy. Also the critics have touched president as well.
Head of the MPP Reform Committee B.Gankhuyag said: "The nation is still tightening its belts. There is no direction in our economy. How long the nation should wait? President is beating around the bush. Does Prime Minister have any power?"
Mongolia to Show Further Support of Gold Production with Soft Loans
Ulaanbaatar, March 12 (MONTSAME) The cabinet of Ministers at its irregular meeting on Wednesday discussed ways of increasing the gold mining activities. In order to sustain the economic growth, promote the realistic development of the sector, and to increase the foreign exchange reserve, the Minister of Finance J.Erdenebat and the Minister of Mining R.Jigjid were told to undertake works on promoting the gold mining, studying investment possibilities for the registered gold deposits, and settling the easy-term loan sources.
Financing these promotion activities was assigned to the executive director of the Development Bank of Mongolia (DB) N.Monkhbat, whereas a president of the Bank of Mongolia (BoM) B.Zoljargal was obligated to support the development of appropriate financing scheme.
The Ministers of Finance and Mining were also charged to provide possibility to take out loans from commercial banks in cases of reaching agreements with any gold-mining companies that are able to continue operations in frames of the amendments to the "Law on Prohibiting Mineral Exploration and Extraction Near Water Sources, Protected Areas and Forests".
The cabinet also told the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol and the Minister R.Jigjid to issue regulations and agreement/contract templates regarding the amendments to the above law, to determine the boundaries of the protected and specially-protected areas within the referred territories of water reserves, and to register and receive resource clarifications, feasibility studies, and detailed analyses of environmental impact, within the first quarter of 2015.
D.Oyunkhorol, R.Jigjid, also the Justice and Defence Ministers D.Dorligjav and Ts.Tsolmon were obliged to take under the protection the gold deposits and occurrences that overlap with the state borderlines and special-use areas, and, if required, to consider commercializing such deposits and to develop and present proposals on the issues.
Regarding the growth in gold mining operations, the Deputy Premier U.Khurelsukh along with the Ministers of Finance and Mining were told to develop and submit proposals on the capacity building of the Assay Office at the National Agency of Standardization and Metrology, and on the improvement of clearance system.
Speaker Takes Site Tour of Oyu Tolgoi
March 9 (news.mn) On March 6, administrators of Oyu Tolgoi LLC met with Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold and accompanying officials at the OT mine site, and presented updated, general information regarding the operation of the mine.
Director of Local Relations Sh.Baigalmaa introduced local projects being implemented by the company.
Since the export of its first copper concentrate 19 months ago, on February 18, the amount of exported copper concentrate reached one million tons.
In 2014, the Oyu Tolgoi mine produced 148,400 tons of ore containing copper and 589,000 ounces of gold containing concentrate.
Ore containing concentrate from the mine is processed at the mine's factory, and administrators of the factory told the Speaker that in 2015, the factory is going to produce 175,000 to 195,000 tons of copper concentrate and 600,000 to 700,000 ounces of gold concentrate for export.
Presently there are 16 female drivers operating heavy machinery from Komatsu for production, and the OT officials introduced the work of one of the women.
The Speaker stressed that Mongolian women are very strong, which could be seen from the driving of heavy machinery by these women.
The Speaker was also introduced to the crushing plants for ore from the mine and with the packaging factory for final products. Specialists from the central Geological Laboratory of Germany are working at the packaging factory and drying ready concentrate. After the determination of the concentrate's dry weight, it is sent to an authorized laboratory for inspection.
There are 6,500 employees working at Oyu Tolgoi, 95 percent of whom are Mongolians. Twenty-one percent of the Mongolian employees are residents of Umnugobi Province. The officials also pointed out that Oyu Tolgoi has purchased goods valued at 42 million USD from supply companies in the province.
In 2014 Oyu Togloi LLC paid 250 million USD in taxes and fees to the Government of Mongolia.
As reported by the Media and Public Relations Department of the Parliament the following MPs and officials accompanied the Speaker on his visit to the Oyu Tolgoi mine: MP D.Bat-Erdene, Senior Advisor of the Speaker S.Lamba, Advisor of the Speaker D.Lkhagvasuren, Head if the Board of Directors of OT G.Batsukh, Executive Director of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC D.Ganbold, General Operational Manager of Oyu Togloi LLC Andrew Miller, and others.
Speaker visits Oyu Tolgoi Mine – Montsame, March 9
Mongolia to Incrementally Increase Energy Prices to Cut Losses
March 13 (news.mn) Minister of Energy D.Zorigt has participated in an open meeting named " Time & Questions to the Minister" and spoke to journalists about the current implementation of projects in the energy sector and future plans to be implemented in this field.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Minister noted the present activity being carried out in the energy sector and introduced future plans. Presently, Mongolia is receiving 20 percent of its total energy from Russia and China. The Minister mentioned that outstanding projects which have been talked about for several years have still not been implemented yet. As the prices for energy consumption have been regulated by the state power stations and energy distribution companies have been working with losses, the sector has faced difficulties and has not been able to renovate its technology.
As reported by the Minister of Energy, as of today, power stations are trading produced energy for 122 MNT, however, the cost without value added is 144 MNT, resulting in losses of 22 MNT per 1 kw/hour. As of 2014, the energy sector has faced losses of 68.5 billion MNT.
The consumption of energy is continuing to increase. In the past year, the number of businesses and households consuming electricity has increased by 35,000 and users of heating by 40,000.
The energy sector has declared 2015 the year of improving efficiency and decreasing expenses. With this goal, the energy sector is planning to save 17 billion MNT. The Minister of Energy has raised several important issues in the energy sector and answered the questions of journalists.
At the end of the meeting, the Minister stressed that the Ministry of Energy is working on the elaboration of a state policy document to be adhered to in this sector.
D.Zorigt at "Minister's 30 minutes" – Montsame, March 13
Banks Ruled to Be Double-Charging Consumers on Loans, Loses Appeal to AFCCP
March 12 (gogo.mn) Nine commercial banks have appealed at the administrative court over the charges raised by the Fair Competition and Consumer Protection Agency and lost the case.
Earlier Fair Competition and Consumer Agency held audit on 13 commercial banks in regard of consumer complaints being charged double fees at the banks. Banks are still charging the double fees as of now, hitting hard the borrowers:
- Bank loan fees supposed to be one time charge only and of one type, whereas banks tend to misinterpret and mislead its customers as separate charges, which is an illegal action.
- Above actions are seen as the conflict of interests and intended act of illegal overcharging of the customers.
- Loan fees are interpreted as unpredictable charges, which have been set too high and derogatory in view of the customers rights, breaching the equality of the contract.
Although Fair Competition and Consumer Agency has sent the notes on eliminating those violations nine commercial banks: Capitron Bank, Trade and Development Bank, Golomt Bank, Arig Bank, Khan Bank, Capital Bank, Chinggis Khaan Bank, Ulaanbaatar City Bank and Xac Bank have appealed the decision and the 20th Initial Administrative Court hearing, which took place on March 11th, ruled out in favor of Fair Competition and Consumer Agency.
Bank regulations for loans indicate the charge of fees equal to 1% of the total loan sum. Meaning, for a loan sized MNT10 billion bank will charge MNT10 million and for MNT20 billion fee will rise to MNT20 million for service charges. Fair Competition and Consumer Agency claims that service fee for 10 and 20 billion should not vary that much and fees should not base on a flat rate.
Mongolia to Issue Electronic Health Insurance Cards in Reform Efforts
March 12 (news.mn) The Ministry of Welfare and Population Development told journalists yesterday about reforms to the Health Insurance Law approved on January 29, 2015.
Under the revised law, insured citizens who have paid social insurance fees will be entitled to receiving high quality, secure, healthcare services with health insurance expenses to be paid from the social insurance fund.
Insured citizens will be able to receive discounts when purchasing prescribed medication from district out-patient clinics, and also have the right to claim deductions and discounts for family members. Starting this year, electronic medical identification cards will be provided to each person with state health insurance.
The new Health Insurance Law will take effect on July 7, 2015.
Cabinet Backs Bill on Trade for Submission
Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) At its meeting on Monday, the cabinet backed a draft law on trade of Mongolia and then obliged D.Erdenebat, the Minister of Industry, to submit it to parliament.
With 35 clauses in 11 articles, the bill has been formulated to ensure NGOs' participation in the trade structure, types, methods, criteria for the domestic and external trade, responsibilities and rights of traders, to form a data of trade, to support, regulate and facilitate trade.
According to the draft, the trade is divided into the types of products, services and intellectual property. The law also aims to create a general policy for the external and domestic policy, to ensure the unity of trade activities and to do trades within the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international contracts and agreements.
Saikhanbileg: Bill to Be Submitted to Streamline Business Permitting - PM Weekly Briefing
March 12 (news.mn) The Government of Mongolia says it is taking step by step measures in order to create a favorable business environment in Mongolia.
Drafts of laws on regulations, inspection, and permits have been submitted to the Parliament and will be discussed in their spring session.
Today's topic of the meeting "Solution Time", organized each Wednesday by the Prime Minister, introduced the topic of a transparent regulation system.
Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg told the meeting's attendees, "The economy will recover only by sustaining tax payers and employers.
"Repressing wealth creators through inspections is similar to repressing the economy. In our country there are a lot of bans with the name 'permission' attached. Therefore, the Government of Mongolia has initiated a draft law about permits and submitted it for the approval of Parliament."
At the beginning of the meeting, the Prime Minister stressed that he has instructed the information and technology management sector to establish a similar regulation system. As a result, starting today, a new website is now online to share information about the industry's regulations, www.shilenhyanalt.gov.mn.
The Prime Minister instructed officials who participated in the meeting to share this website with business owners and launch its promotion.
Saikhanbileg: Mongolia Will Take Legal Steps to Not Repeat Hotel Mongolia
By G. Orkhon
March 10 (Mongolian Economy) Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg held a meeting with American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia (AmCham). At the beginning of the meeting, Chairman of AmCham Mongolia Jackson Cox said: "We believe Mongolia will find solutions to the economic issues very soon. Amcham will support the Prime Minister and other decision makers, and try to cooperate henceforth." More than 100 representatives of foreign and domestic companies gathered during the meeting.
Most of the investors and entrepreneurs who were participating in the meeting wanted to know the current investment atmosphere in Mongolia, and what measures parliament is undertaking to improve the situation. Participators emphasised the case of the management of SouthGobi Sands, which sent a nightmarishly negative message to foreign investors. The Prime Minister said: "Judicial departments must correct the incomprehensible court decrees and laws. In order to avoid such situations in the future, we shall discuss if need to make amendments to the tax law during the spring session. I am confident that we will not face situations like this again, because Mongolia is heading in the right direction."
The Prime Minister added that participation of private sector actors in the development of value added manufacturing will bring about success. The meeting participants expressed their support of this belief. The government will provide support to the megaprojects Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi and Sainshand Industrial Park by increasing the involvement of the private sector and letting them handle management.
Ch.Saikhanbileg stressed that Mongolia is not against investors. The government considers making changes to address both the past and current situations. A government study of international tax system standards is underway, in order to change the tax system during the forthcoming spring session. The Prime Minister said: "I think it would be wise to invest during the world market commodity price decline. I hope the investors see this opportunity to benefit when commodity prices rise again. We will continue our current work vigorously."
Cabinet Appoints Heads of Customs, Meteorology Agencies
Ulaanbaatar, March 12 (MONTSAME) By a decision of the cabinet made at its irregular meeting on Wednesday, D.Tsogt-Ochir has been appointed the head of the Authority of Meteorology and Hydrology (AMH), and B.Tsengel--the head of the Customs Office of Mongolia.
Mr Tsogt-Ochir used to work as a first deputy head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government and as acting head of the AMH.
Mogi: law to implement laws, lol
Standing Committee Holds 4th Discussion of Rule of Implementing Laws and Regulations Bill
Ulaanbaatar, March 11 (MONTSAME) The parliamentary Standing committee on justice held Wednesday a fourth discussion of a bill on the rule of implementing laws and regulations for formulating and submitting draft laws.
This bill has been worked out and submitted by the cabinet to parliament with a support of the "Backing legislative actions with civil participation" project, which is being co-implemented by parliament and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Head of the Standing committee D.Ganbat opened the discussion. He said that a plenary meeting of the parliamentary session on January 30 backed a matter on discussing this bill, submitted by the cabinet on January 23, and that a working group has been set up to prepare the draft for the first discussion.
After this, a speech was given by B.Boldbaatar, the secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office and director of the above project. Main objectives of the project are to improve legislative actions by running policy research at parliament and consulting participants, to strengthen the ties between citizens and elected representatives, to issue a report on the UN Anti-Corruption Convention and to support a process of implementation and realization of policies and laws regarding ethics and conflicts of interests, he said.
Minister of Justice D.Dorligjav gave a report on the bill's concept and preamble. Moreover, delegates from the Union of Mongolian Lawyers and NGOs and businessmen expressed their positions on the draft law.
Mongolia Parliament Holds Discussion on Present Situation of Implementation of Laws
Ulaanbaatar, March 12 (MONTSAME) The Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold addressed a "Present situation of implementation of Mongolian laws and regulations" discussion on Thursday at the State House.
He emphasized that it is vital to take some measures for improving a fulfillment of national laws and regulations, to upgrade the working correlations of Ministries and agencies, and to draw a special attention to increasing of the responsibilities and disciplines. The monitoring over decisions made by parliament is important in resolving urgent social-economic problems in times of economic difficulties, he stressed.
The secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office B.Boldbaatar took the floor to say Mongolia currently has 434 valid laws, "it is important to improve the correlation of state organizations in realizing laws, and citizens and public organizations must control the implementation".
Department heads of the Parliamentary Office delivered some reports "Present situation of laws' fulfillment in Mongolia", "Implementation of laws and regulations and audit of harmonization", "Ongoing measures for improving monitoring over laws' implementation and their effectiveness", "Evaluating aspects of laws' implementation", and "Parliamentary monitoring system of laws' realization".
After this, then gathered considered issues such as a general data system, information exchange about methods of monitoring and evaluating, an update of a control over laws' implementation and its effectiveness.
Among the participants were S.Demberel, Kh.Temuujin MPs; S.Lambaa, a chief advisor to the Speaker; authorities of bodies at parliament; officials of parliament, government, Ministries and agencies.
President Elbegdorj ready to submit domestic violence bill to Parliament
March 9 (news.mn) As explained by State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice J.Bayartsetseg, President Ts.Elbegdorj has a draft law against domestic violence ready for submission to Parliament for approval.
The President has participated on the morning talk show to exchange views on women rights in conjunction with the celebration of International Women's Day, on March 8, in participation with MONFEMNET's annual meeting on women's rights organized with the President's Office.
MONFEMNET is a national network of Mongolian women. This year's meeting was named "Viewpoints of Women".
The assembly focused on the topic of accountability of the state according to women's viewpoints, addressing the issue of national security, individual and economic security, and the security of nature and the environment.
At the end of the meeting President Ts.Elbegdorj addressed the public:
I would like to express my gratitude for the discussion of a very wide range of political issues.
For a long time, the issue of women has been considered as an issue only concerning women. Now this is an issue for Mongolia as a whole. This is a social issue. We are not talking about women; we are talking about the political structure, and the Constitution of Mongolia.
We are talking about how the government is being supervised, how to change poor structure; we are presenting our suggestions regarding this and trying to find proper solutions.
I have initiated an open discussion at the Civil Hall and gave a presentation and led a discussion regarding this topic.
I would like to submit the draft law before the opening of the spring session of the Parliament. At the spring session, we would like to approve the draft law against domestic violence.
After long discussions and talks about domestic violence, we authored several clauses for the Criminal Law. However, I should point out that the changes made to the Criminal Law are very unclear.
We should note that some of the female MPs have put much attention on this issue. I would like to invite female MPs whose hearts are dedicated to this issue to be included in a working group on domestic violence.
Lessons from Rio's Mongolian adventure
By Neil Hume and James Wilson
How to minimise the risks of joint ventures with governments
March 13 (The Commodities Note, FT) If Rio Tinto could start again with Oyu Tolgoi, a $12.6bn copper and gold mine in Mongolia, what would it do differently?
The question is addressed in an academic paper that examines ways to reduce the risks resource groups take when investing in frontier markets.
OT, which has already cost more than $6bn, is expected to be one of the biggest copper producers in the world and to last for decades. However, development has stalled as the Anglo-Australian mining group and the Mongolian government argue over how to pay for the second underground phase.
Rio is refusing to proceed until disagreements over cost overruns and taxes have been ironed out, while the cash-strapped Mongolian government wants to cut its 34 per cent equity stake in the project in return for higher royalties from the mine. (Mogi: not exactly, the royalty for equity swap is not retroactive)
Much is at stake for both sides. For Rio, the expansion of OT will bulk up its copper business and reduce its dependence on iron ore. For Mongolia, it needs cash quickly from the mine to meet spending commitments.
So what can be done to prevent this situation happening again? The paper, written by Henry Steel, a special adviser at Rio, and Stefano Gatti, of Bocconi University Milan, focuses on the investment agreement between Rio and the Mongolian government as a key source of tension.
Under the complex arrangement, the Mongolian government will not receive dividends from OT until a loan, used to finance its 34 per cent equity stake in the project, has been repaid. According to the report that could take almost 20 years. That is because the loan is being repaid using cash flow from the mine.
"This has been a great source of contention in Mongolia, where a dispute over the cost escalation has delayed the project, further exasperating the problem," says the paper, which has been reviewed by the Financial Times.
In fact it arguably renders the government's 34 per cent stake in OT close to worthless — and presumably explains why the Mongolian government is to keen to swap its stake for higher revenues and why Rio is not interested. (Mogi: again, not exactly, the royalty for equity swap is not retroactive)
A spokesperson for Rio Tinto said: "The document is an independent academic report. It was not commissioned, contributed to or reviewed by Rio Tinto and in no way represents the views of the company."
To better align interests the report examines a number of other approaches. One idea is to have host governments swap their project level equity for shares in the ultimate parent company of the developer - in this case Rio Tinto.
"Whilst the host government may not obtain great influence over a project through the holding of a minority position in top level equity, we believe that the benefits of such a proposal outweigh the losses of such a structure: a host government will no longer have to take on project risk," says the paper, titled "Risk management for multinational corporations in high risk jurisdictions".
"Further, using top level equity to acquire assets…would be preferable to a host government because the top level of cash flows consist of a more diversified portfolio of…assets, allowing an improved ability to plan a sustainable government budget," the paper says.
To prevent that government from selling its shares, the report says a lock-up period could be included as well as a clause that would allow the shares to be cancelled if the agreement is changed by the host government. This could be determined by an independent arbitrator.
Whether sovereigns are willing to accept shares in a multinational mining company, where they would be exposed to stock market fluctuations and have no control over dividend policy, is open to question. Equally, mining companies would probably be wary of giving equity to host governments that cannot be prevented from selling their shares for ever.
However, what the paper shows is two things: the importance of getting the investment agreement right and also getting cash to governments as soon as possible. Failure to address these issues results in disagreements and delays. It could also increase the risk of "resource nationalism", which is as much of a problem for global developers as commodity prices or challenges at the mine face.
The Commodities Note is online commentary on the industry from the Financial Times
Cabinet Backs Construction of Egiin Gol, Erdeneburen Hydro, Baganuur Coal Power Plant
March 11 (infomongolia.com) At the regular Cabinet meeting held on March 09, 2015, it was resolved to finish started one and construct two more power plants in Mongolia, of which two hydroelectric power generation facilities and one coal-fired power station.
The first, hydroelectric power plant of the Egiin Golyn (Eg River's) Hydropower Plant Project was first initiated in 2013 and the Feasibility Study for the Project was approved by the Science and Technology Council at the Ministry of Energy of Mongolia on August 25, 2014 and pursuant to project estimation, it would be required 827 million USD of finance. The Egiin Gol Hydropower Plant will be executed on the Eg River, which locates in the territory of Khutag-Undur Sum of Bulgan Aimag about 450 km from Ulaanbaatar and to produce 606 MWh/yr of electricity with capacity of 315 MW. This is a strategically important project to supply with reliable energy and thus, authorities agreed to set up negotiation with the Government of the People's Republic of China on establishing an intergovernmental soft loan agreement to finance the Project at the latter Cabinet meeting.
The second, hydroelectric power plant or the Erdeneburen Hydropower Plant Project will be constructed on the Khovd River in the territory of Erdeneburen Sum of Khovd Aimag and at the Monday Cabinet meeting, Minister of Energy D.Zorigt was entrusted to accomplish the Project. The Feasibility Study for the Project will be developed within 2015 and necessary fund will be allocated from the Energy Minister's Package set in the 2015 State Budget. Moreover, the selection of executive contractors will be started in the second quarter of 2016.
The third, coal-fired power plant in Baganuur District will be executed under concession contract of Build-Operate-Transfer by "Baganuur Power" LLC, which is authorized to supervise by Chairman of Invest Mongolia Agency. According to contract, the construction and assembly works estimate 4 years with 21 years of utilization period. In order to implement the Concession agreement, Minister of Energy D.Zorigt, Minister of Roads and Transportation N.Tumurkhuu, Minister of Mining R.Jigjid, Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol and Minister of Construction and Urban Development D.Tsogtbaatar are obliged to carry out necessary measures.
Power plant to be erected in Baganuur – Montsame, March 11
Financing resolved for Eg River Power Plant – Montsame, March 11
Khovd to have another Water Power Plant – Montsame, March 11
News about the building of Power Plants – news.mn, March 11
$827m China Soft Loan to Fund Construction of Egiin Gol Hydro Power Plant
March 10 (business-mongolia.com) The Cabinet Minister's Meeting grants green light to "Eg River" Hydro Power Plant to start its construction
According to the Resolution 375 of the Government of Mongolia, "Eg River" hydropower plant project started to improve the stability of the central power line system and reduce the dependability from import, where Mongolia pays US$25-26 million for the imported electricity.
US$827 million of "Chinese soft loan (US$1 billion), penned during the Chinese President Xi's visit to Mongolia autumn 2014, will be the funding source of the Eg River Hydropower Plant, located in over 600 kms north of Ulaanbaatar.
When the project is in operation, it will decrease coal consumption of Ulaanbaatar City by 200 thousand tons, further reducing the most of the pollution in the urban areas.
The hydropower plant dam is expected about 95 meters tall, 730 meters long, producing 500 million kw with its 4×55 megawatt aggregates.
Funding of Eg river hydro power plant resolved – gogo.mn, March 10
Civil Will-Green Party Celebrates 15th Anniversary
March 10 (infomongolia.com) On March 09, 2015, the Civil Will-Green Party, CWGP (Иргэний Зориг Ногоон Нам), a political force having two seats at the 2012-2016 State Great Khural (Parliament), organized its Plenary Meeting celebrating the 15th anniversary of founding the Party.
The ceremonial event commenced with laying wreathes and flowers to the statue of late Sanjaasuren ZORIG and the meeting gathered over 500 delegates at the Drama Theatre in Ulaanbaatar.
The greeting remarks were delivered by CWGP Chairwoman, incumbent MP Sanjaasuren OYUN, CWGP Chairman, incumbent MP Sambuu DEMBEREL and CWGP Secretary General B.Khuder-Yan.
The meeting focused on Party structural issues and according to regulations, the CWGP is administered by three Chairpersons, where the third Chairman, former MP D.Enkhbat withdrew the Party membership in 2012 and since then the post was vacant to date.
At the voting, Ts.Gankhuyag, who used to be a member of CWGP Political Council, was elected as the third Chairman of the Civil Will-Green Party.
The Civil Will-Green Party was first founded under Civil Will Party on March 09, 2000 and called its first Plenary Meeting electing S.Oyun as the Head of the Party. In 2002, the Civil Will Party merged with Mongolian Republican Party and renamed as CWP-MRP until 2006 when the CWP became an opposition force on political arena and restored its initial name of Civil Will Party during the IV Plenary Meeting held in January 2006. Later, the Party authorities made some amendments in its regulation during the VIII Meeting held in January 2012 and it was resolved to obtain current name of the Party as the Civil Will-Green Party.
A Mentality Revolution: Essay by President Elbegdorj
By President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj
February 12 (President.mn) One day, years ago, I felt a burning sense of shame. It was my first day as a student at one of the world's renowned universities. I was given an assignment to solve a problem. My classmates were divided into three groups and we set to come up with the best solution. To me, there seemed to be a simple solution to the problem. Instead of torturing our brains to solve it, it seemed it was easier to avoid it, to work not to solve it. So I told my group members what I thought about the issue. I spoke about what we call in Mongolia "making a poison", a stratagem to solve the problem.
In my group there were seven or eight young and middle-aged fellows from different countries. They attentively, if perplexedly, listened to my idea, but none of them picked up what I offered for a solution. Each of them shared their own versions of solutions, put them on paper and started discussing how most effectively resolve the problem—a totally different approach from the one I offered. I was terribly embarrassed and deeply ashamed of what I proposed. It was a profound, burning sense of shame and disgrace. Ever since then I have always sought to mean, do and speak to solve, to enable, to create, to support and to facilitate.
So, it was a wrong attitude, a contaminated mentality, a dirty way of thinking that left me so badly embarrassed and ashamed. I feel that burn even now, years after the incident. Human beings are psychological beings. A human mind can awaken quickly; and if and when one really wants, really regrets and repents, the mind is something that can change.
When we, Mongolians, talk about the sources of our pride, we begin by recounting the virtues of our Chinggis Khaan. Nothing in the human experience was alien to our Great Khaan; he was not immune to fortune or misfortune, to triumph or failure. The young Temuujin saw the source of the Mongolian ordeal in a corroded mentality, in factionalism. He learned well that internal strife, rivalry and enmity would block Mongolia's path to prosperity.
He was faithful to friendship. He couldn't stand treachery and sedition. He forgave mistakes that were regretted, and promoted unity and collective efforts for achieving shared, common, objectives. One source of his success was his very ability to turn the Mongols' internal rivalry and destructive, coercive, temper into a productive, cohesive, progressive force.
Indeed, all of the great transformations, revolutions, and episodes of great progress recorded in our history were accompanied by changes in the mindset of the Mongol people. The most famous words of the young General Sukh , whom the people of my generation all read in school, confirm this truth. He taught that if we can unite in the call of our minds, "the way for us to move on will gain any perspective". The ordeal we live with today is not associated with the new choice the people of Mongolia have made; rather, the ordeal stands because we still haven't been able to turn the unparalleled opportunities of freedom into a creative force.
Some people, especially our politicians, have been tampering with freedom too lightheadedly, too easily. Why? To easily succeed, easily earn money, easily get promoted, easily resolve problems, easily expand the sphere of influence and rows of supporters, govern easily, easily become an opposition, etc. The "easy" path is like an addiction, and the number of addicts, and the depth of their addiction to such transgressions are increasing at the speed of light . A whole group, even a class, of such people emerged as the winners, whose money, success and victories are fed by such trampling of virtue for the sake of the easy path.
What now looks more appealing is not creating, but destructing. What looks more rewarding is not investing in plants or development, but paying to defame and vilify. And this is what they take for a "true love for country". And the public tends to embrace and support this phenomenon , while those who oppose and criticize are crowded out. The Khamba Lama Choijamts says with a heavy sigh that we Mongolians have stepped beyond any possible boundary in disparaging and deriding each other. In one of his recent interviews, the Khamba Lama laments the behavior of a housewife who, while watching TV in between her house chores, spoke badly of every person she saw on TV.
Mongolians are savvy. People have started openly talking about wrong attitudes and wrong actions taking ever wider strides in our society. We have a thick pad of lessons from our history. We had fallen from a great empire to a poor country; we have gone through both decadence and prosperity. And the underlying causes stem from inside, from ourselves, the Mongols. This is true about today's Mongolia, too.
It is not because Mongolia is a democracy that we engage in internal conflict and discord. It is because our contention is useful for someone else. Plus, we have lived for too long in a vicious circle. Those who learn how to get out of the circle are pulled back into it by those who haven't found any means of subsistence out of the circle. We can't even walk on a straight path. The one in the back stumbles in the way of the other in front. And the road is all laid out with stumbled people lying awry. We must come to our senses to realize this viciousness. We will not succeed, Mongolia will not develop, if this situation persists.
After all, the fundamental interest and benefit of the Mongolians is the development and prosperity of our country; the free and happy life of the Mongolian people. What we must get rid of is our underdevelopment, our stagnant mentality. Here we must do a revolution. Mongolia cannot afford energy and resources for internal fights and discord. No matter how poor it is, Mongolia is our home, our motherland. And it is we, Mongolians, who must take care of our home. A Mongolian must support a Mongolian, and that will make us all better off.
Mongolia is a country with a unique past, a unique present and a unique future. Our geographic location is unique; the environment is vulnerable. And there are few of us, very few. There are shortcomings that we can tolerate. Also there are games that we just cannot play. For any country, a favorable development opportunity is a rarity to be treasured. And this is especially true for Mongolia. And such a rare chance occurred eight hundred years ago – an auspicious time when the wisdom of our forefathers brought about that chance. And maybe today, we might be standing at the doorstep of another such historic chance. At such a moment in time, every Mongolian must pull out of the vicious circle, and must not serve as the patsy puppets of others.
The "Heads'" Ordeal
Baabar once wrote that the "revolutionaries feed with "heads"". There are some human heads that are really Mongolia's misfortune. But we are a people who chose freedom not to feed ourselves with such heads, but to co-exist even with such heads. We made our choice believing that it is better to live with our own heads however bitter the life, than to live with another's head, however sweet the life is. Modern Mongolian society is beset by two misfortunes that have even become social phenomena – corruption and harassment.
We speak a lot about corruption. We all know of it. And we do have some knowledge about how to reduce, restrain, this evil. But we have yet to address harassment. Those who want to create and to build are harassed. Right and appropriate decisions are harassed and are not made. Timely assignments and tasks are harassed and are not carried out. Those of good will are harassed to turn their backs to us. A Mongolian is harassed to dispirit. A foreigner is harassed until he leaves the country. The right-minded are harassed to dishearten. But the ill-willed are cheered up. And, harassment does away with the last person to ask for responsibility for this very omnipresent harassment.
And, it makes no sense to talk about the things that were not created, not built, not resolved, and not implemented. Who is to be held responsible for unaccomplished works, for unimplemented decisions? Who? It's void, it doesn't exist for it never happened. We can talk about a thing that exists, that is built, created, or produced no matter how well or bad it is done. Things can be improved, or worsened. Things can be praised or criticized. There goes even a saying that in a free society, however bad things tend to go, the tendency is always for better. But what do you do about a thing that doesn't exist?
Over the past 25 years, how many unbuilt power stations, unlaid railroads, unestablished plants and factories were created! Of these, how many are operating? Perhaps, only one. That very ore-dressing plant of the hard-destined Oyutolgoi! Yet, we have the decisions made, the contract concluded, the plant built; therefore, we have something tangible to talk and discuss about.
Halting one construction that affects Mongolia's development is like killing a life, a heart beating for Mongolia. It's like killing a foetus in the womb. What can you say about an aborted fetus? But if the baby is born, it develops and grows no matter how well or bad people talk about him. Oyutolgoi plant is a baby born by Mongolia and the investor.
If we have bad practices, they must be improved, and good ones must be promoted. Good or bad, if you have started something, you move on through struggles, criticism, and denunciation. If the next generation is smarter, it learns lessons, corrects the wrongs and moves on. Sometimes the best judge is time, and not the outrage-mongers.
As I consistently emphasize, the most favourable opportunities to create and develop occur only rarely. And especially for countries like Mongolia, time is the most valuable asset. If the Erdenet copper deposit was discovered in our times, it's quite likely that the Erdenet mine wouldn't be built at all. Even when building the socialist system, a system where mistakes were feared, Mongolians recorded both success and failure. Erdenet mine, described as the best development project of the century, only started earning profits for Mongolia after 25 years of operation. An asset is an asset when it is used, when it starts creating value.
If Mongolians got the chance to fly to space in our times, Mr. Gurragchaa, our hero cosmonaut , would never have left the Earth . A paid TV program would have "killed" his spaceship. Our space hero is just so lucky that he was born at the right time. Time and opportunities are the two things that are valuable for Mongolia, more than any foreign currency, so we just can't afford to lose them. Mongolians will have a new source of pride if we manage to accomplish our tasks on time, if we use opportunities rightly. But if we fail to do so, we will end up with one more head-ache.
It is inspiring to wear out your shoes delivering the best messages for your country. It's hard to get a slap in the face upon returning home. There is not a single Mongolian who would speak badly of Mongolia to foreign leaders and people. But at times, when you see the people who you trusted so much dispirit you, when the agreed principles are broken apart, I feel embarrassed for having so sincerely praised my country, for adamantly taking my working so hard as my duty. But I am grateful to the destiny of being called "a Mongolian".
Every time I say "We can fix our mistakes. Mongolia is a free country, a country which does not hide its shadow" I am inspired.
I do believe in the greatness of the destiny of Mongolia—Mongolia's path is much longer than that of any good, or bad, man. Any bad act leaves a lesson to learn; any good deed serves as a model for others to follow. My Mongolia will be left with my children. With our grandchildren, our younger generation. It will be left with tens and hundreds of thousands of Mongolians. We, in our turn, must carry our burden, must do what we have to do. Say what we have to say at the right moment, do the things we ought to do, make necessary decisions, even enduring our mistakes and failures, and persevere to move on. We cannot expect ovations for all of our performances . Not all ovations are well deserved.
For a distant observer, a solution to a problem may look two-sided like a double-edged blade. Either right, or wrong. Taking an example on one of the "Hills" [ironically, "Tolgoi" in the Mongolian language means both "a head", and "a hill"], for Oyu Tolgoi deposit, there wasn't any easy solution either right or wrong. If there were, of course, the right one would have been chosen. There wasn't an issue of negotiating a good or a bad investment agreement, either. For the contractor, there was only an issue of perseverance at that very moment, environment and circumstance.
For the investor, there were not many choices in Mongolia. Nor was there a right to lose time, or extend the time. And because we worked honestly and fairly, I said then "we Mongolians made one step forward". In history, a step taken cannot be undone. Nor is it possible to change the course of time by stating or writing "IF". A person's mind-set and scope of thinking, on one hand, and the historic moment and historic solutions, on the other, are two distinct things. Behind an individual's heroic struggle and policy criticism, as one wise man put it, hides a "small private interest" whereas behind a country lies the people's collective interests and benefits.
As for investors, there are no good or bad ones. There are just investors. Yet for Mongolia, there is a notion of a third investor. I think we must carry on this policy from generation to generation. And, it is not that important to differentiate between large or small volumes of investment–the more capital is spent in Mongolia, the more capital is "absorbed" by Mongolia, the better. Spending more in Mongolia is good for a regular Mongolian citizen, for our businesses, for Mongolia. And indeed, Mongolians don't really need to covet the investor's money before the investor himself chooses to spend it.
It's been a quarter-a-century since I left home in a cold winter resolved to dedicate my mind and courage for the good of my country and people. And during this time, what I have learnt and sensed to my bone and flesh is that when it comes to the economy, words and tales produce little . Nothing can cheat, can fool the economy around – not election promises, not paper reports, not wordy debates at conferences, not TV programs, however exciting they may be. "The smiling or the crying" of the economy is measured by money, by labour and by how much you accomplish. If the economy incurs losses, the costs are borne, without mercy, by both the poor and the rich.
The many trillion tugrug-worth cost of the cold war that Mongolians waged against each other at meetings and gatherings, through radio, TV and newspapers, is being paid by every single Mongolian. Lost time, missed development, unbuilt wealth, flown-out foreign exchange add to the heavy load of payments weighing on our shoulders.
Mongolians are paying that cost with cut salaries, pensions, and income. Mongolians are paying with frustration, with the last tugrug in their purses, with the weight of debt. Mongolians are paying by devaluing our national currency, by mobilizing all they saved, inherited and earned through their hard work. People are paying by halving a kilo of meat and flour, by halving a loaf of bread and a bottle of oil. Those who cannot afford even this much are paying too by subsisting without food, without firewood. Mongolians are paying by scrimping on the clothing of their wives and children. Mongolians are paying to the utmost for the fun and pleasure of those who brought about this payment, who perpetuated that "harassment".
Besides, we have learned that we cannot attract other's capital, other's money, by lying. We cannot restore confidence and trust by cheating. We must pay the price, the cost for all of this mess. This is a lesson I learned from the turbulent developments and misguided decisions of the past few years. It is true that the life of an open society is a learning process. And it is also true that the tuition fee for this learning is paid by all. In fact, we could move ahead without paying some of the payments we incurred to ourselves so thoughtlessly.
Let's engage in populism for the sake of creating
The more Mongolians linger behind in our quest for development and wealth creation, the more often we hear the word "populism". Populism does not necessarily have to be associated with destruction or harassment, or with any person's ways of subsistence or prominence or rise. Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg visited Japan, discussed, agreed and achieved good things for Mongolia. So let's engage in populism by supporting what he says, by inviting investors, by encouraging wealth creators, by implementing mega projects. Let's do populism for the right purposes: for creating more, for doing and achieving, by encouraging each other and meaning the good.
To me the word "motherland" carries a connotation of "keeping inside". Let's stop wearing it like a badge and trying to profit from it. It is too dear, its essence is too precious to be bandied about for outward appearances . If you want to love your motherland, love inside yourself – love by working, doing, creating, by supporting each other. Anyone can shout out loudly, especially in our time, but true love of the motherland resides in the heart not the mouth.
In the old society, in socialism, it was a heroic deed to criticize the society and blame the leaders. But there were very few people who dared to do so. And the punishment was also severe. Today such deeds are no longer heroic. It is just a matter of rights, your right. You decide for yourself what to say and not to say, what to do and not to do. Your life depends on your own self.
The ordeal we Mongolians go through today comes not because we suddenly ended up in a bad society, or because we elected a bunch of bad guys. Perhaps the situation will change for better, but most likely it will not change much. Most of our sufferings are caused by the very fact that each of us come to manage our own life. If everyone could take care of his own life, could really be the owner of his fate, most of our problems would be solved. We didn't earn freedom for someone else, we chose it for ourselves. But freedom is a choice that requires thoughtfulness, demands patience.
I thank you, dear reader, for having read this article thus far. I now would like to remind those people who partake in policy making and implementation three points. There is a saying "To break a family, spoil its children; to break a country, spoil its officials".
One. It is a precious and rare honour to participate in guiding the direction of Mongolia. Serving your state, your people is a rare duty, and rare opportunity. If your actions, policies and activities are likely to hurt and damage Mongolia, from the moment you realize this, stay away from the state, the government. There are jobs that one cannot, may not, do. I have been reminding some people of this principle, one that I always keep in my mind.
Two. A statesman, a public official, must serve the supreme interest. This supreme interest is the interest of the Mongolian people, the interest to achieve development and prosperity. Development for Mongolia is the guarantee of our security, sovereignty and independence. It is the common interest of every Mongolian. This is the essence of public service of all levels. Self-interest, egotism is unacceptable for a public servant. This is what our fathers and forefathers taught us. Here lies the true meaning of the historic choice we made . Mother Teresa, the embodiment of the beauty of mind and uprightness of deeds, once said: "God doesn't require us to succeed, he only requires that you try".
Three. Ethics is something that begins with each person himself or herself . An ethical person is ethical even in the darkness, remaining ethical when nobody is watching him or her. An ethical person is ethical before a thick purse, too. An amoral act brings evil to the doer. If we want Mongolia to succeed and prosper, we must not denounce and degrade each other, and must stop enmity and discord.
This does not mean, however, that we must not talk about our mistakes and failures. On the contrary, me must bring them out and discuss very scrupulously. This is, in fact, where the power, the resilience of our chosen system rests. Any official can be criticized. But none must be worshipped. Democracy can be blamed, but it cannot be defamed. An open society, factionalism, slandering, rivalry, good or bad habits are all, to repeat, distinct notions. A wise man would easily distinguish between them.
A Lunar New Year celebration is approaching. An auspicious time for auspicious blessings is near. I have penned these words for my children's children, for my younger generation to remember forever: "Be positive. Be creative. Be constructive. See, think and serve well".
I end this article with a straightforward question a voter asked me: "Did I elect you to eventually bring this savvy people, this rich country, to the point where we are today?"
Mongol Tsakhiagiin ELBEGDORJ
P.S. Mongol is the name of my grandfather.
Mongolia's Mining Troubles: Opportunity or Calamity?
March 9 (Silk Road Reporters) Several years ago, Mongolia was touted as a hot investment locale for mining companies, given its rich mineral resources – particularly gold, copper, uranium, and coal – and the previously low level of exploration and development.
In 2015, that outlook looks slightly more gloomy.
Throughout 2014, the Mongolian government has been battling with Rio Tinto over the massive Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine, with Mongolian officials demanding Rio Tinto pay $30 million in taxes. Rio suspended construction work at the mine in July 2014.
As a result, foreign direct investment in the country declined in 2014 by 81% compared to 2013, according to the Central Bank of Mongolia.
The very public dispute between Ulaan Bataar and a major mining corporation is not the only entanglement Mongolia has had with foreign mining firms.
Khan Resources, a Canadian firm looking to mine uranium in the country, took the Mongolian government to international arbitration in 2011 after the government canceled its licenses to mine the Durnod uranium project in 2009.
Earlier this week, the international arbitration body decided in favour of the Canadian firm, and ordered the Mongolian government to pay $100 million for compensation. The company had initially submitted a claim to recover $354 million in compensation.
The indemnity will be an additional stress for the Mongolian economy, already reeling from the precipitous drop in FDI and crashing commodity prices. Mining accounts for nearly 20% of the country's gross domestic product.
But the CEO of Mongolia-based market intelligence firm Cover Mongolia sees reason for optimism on the mining front.
"I think that the verdict that came out is good for Mongolia's reputation," Badral Munkhdul told Silk Road Reporters on March 5.
"This shows that investors can have a dispute with the government and it can be settled, and that the government of Mongolia can be held accountable."
Munkhdul said that the new government of Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg is eager to reverse the missteps made by his predecessor in regards to unpopular changes to the overall mining regime and the cancellation of mining licenses.
Repairing the relationship with Rio Tinto appears to be a top priority of the new government, in power since November 2014. PM Saikhan told a question-and-answer session at the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia on March 4 that he would like to have the Rio Tinto/Oyu Tolgoi issue resolved by the end of this month.
The downtick in mining-related investment might also push the diversification of the Mongolian economy ahead at a quicker pace, Munkhdul said.
"What this crisis has taught us is that we need to diversify, or else we'll be in the same economic cycle that we are in right now," he said. More focus should be placed on small and medium enterprises, domestic manufacturing, and import-substituting manufacturers.
There is also real potential in Mongolia's meat exporting industry, he said.
"In Soviet times, Mongolia was a big exporter of meat to Russia, but in the 1990s, Russia stopped buying and we never recovered as a meat exporter," he said. "No one doubts that there's a huge potential here. Mongolia has a huge advantage for the whole organic movement to produce non-farmed meat, which I'm sure there will be a huge market for. We could even export to Korea and Japan, but of course I think the biggest customers will be Russia and China."
Jax Jacobsen is a Montreal-based freelance journalist who reports on Central Asia, mining, and foreign affairs. She has been published in the Montreal Gazette, The Guardian, The New Statesman, and elsewhere. She can be found on Twitter @jaxjacobsen.
Mongolia: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
March 12 (International Policy Digest) Since the establishment of a democracy in Mongolia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, foreign interests have attempted to reassert control over the landlocked piece of steppe between China and Russia.
Mongolia's position, located between two ambitious powers, means that it is the target of Chinese and Russian influence, often to the detriment of the fledgling democracy and its people. Historically Mongolia's geographical position and nomadic inhabitants (of which there are still many) has made it vulnerable to the influence of its neighbors. Mongolia was subjugated to both Beijing and Moscow at different times and still struggles with the political influence of both powers.
Economics further complicates Mongolia's diplomatic issues; vast amounts of mineral wealth have been discovered in Mongolia since the early 90's including large reserves of copper, gold, and coal. Previously Mongolia's weak economy, based on pastoral products such as beef and cashmere production, meant that it provided very little potential wealth for powers seeking to control it. These discoveries have led to serious interest from a resource-hungry China, which accounts for 89% of Mongolia's exports, as well as Russia, which faces more competition for resources in an ever more hostile Europe.
Despite the renewed interest from its neighbors, most foreign companies involved in the Mongolian mining sector have been Canadian or Australian, of the 11 foreign companies invested in copper production, 9 of them were Australian or Canadian. In most sectors the primary owners of the mining companies have been Canadian or Australian, with a few from Hong Kong or the UK. These firms often own and operate mines in conjunction with the Mongolian Government, which creates friction when the negotiations go sour, such as with the massive Oyu Tolgoi mine that has seen constant delays from shareholder disputes and concerns over the operating cost.
The access to fossil fuels and raw minerals have given some measure of control over Mongolian politics and makes government corruption all the more dangerous to the Mongolian people. On February 26th the president of Mongolia pardoned 3 foreign nationals involved in the mining industry who had been convicted of tax evasion. The foreign nationals were accused of evading 6.8 Billion USD, a sum so ridiculous that the arrests shook foreign confidence and caused complaints in the UN over human rights violations. The simultaneous state of unprecedented economic growth and unrelenting economic exploitation have left the Mongolian authorities and people with as much resentment for foreigners as gratitude. A former member of Mongolian parliament and minister of foreign affairs stated "It is no secret that small Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese investors are commonly robbed, threatened, and slandered in cases brought on false charges." An ineffectual and divided Mongolian Government coupled with widespread corruption enables foreign interests to undermine the welfare of the state over the acquisition of its resources.
Submitting to foreign nations for political reasons over economic ones often holds serious financial consequences for Mongolian taxpayers. In 2009 the Mongolian government passed a nuclear energy law, and, under Russian pressure, revoked the uranium licenses of Khan Resources, a Canadian company that owned the Dornod Uranium property. The government then seized Khan Resources' assets with no compensation, resulting in a lengthy legal battle between the company and the government. On March 2nd an international arbitration tribunal determined an award of 100 million USD to be paid by the Mongolian government to Khan Resources. It is speculated that Russian companies were interested in entering the uranium sector in Mongolia and pressured the government to pass the nuclear energy law and attack the competition, especially since the law came right on the heels of an announced joint venture to mine uranium between the Russians and Mongolians.
The Chinese are also muscling in on foreign companies, especially ones that produce the construction materials that China needs to power its real estate boom. The Canadian mining company, Turquoise Hill Resources, recently sold its entire stake in SouthGobi Resources to Novel Sunrise Investments. Novel Sunrise and its affiliated groups intend to use their logistics and marketing experience to leverage their way into procuring raw materials for construction, iron ore and coal, that companies such as SouthGobi produces. Many of the mining firms in Mongolia are based in Hong Kong and seek a larger share of the untapped mineral wealth.
While most mining companies in Mongolia are not owned by either the Chinese or the Russians, the local geography means that nearly all imports and exports come from those two countries. The next 3 biggest importers, South Korea, Japan, and The United States, account for about 19% of imports combined, nearly 10% less than Russia alone and less than half of China's imports. These are all major regional players whose imports have been impeded by Mongolia's dependence on the rail systems through China or Russia to transport goods to and from the pacific. This level of dependency has upset Mongolia, which claims that China takes advantage of its isolation by buying Mongolian coal for less than it's worth. There is very little competition for Mongolian exports, even Russia only makes up 1.5% of Mongolian export value, preferring to export to, rather than from, Mongolia. Mongolian officials have tried to reach out to other nations, most recently Japan and the DPRK, but the government can only do so much to escape the limitations of its physical location.
Foreign investment in the mining sector has spurred serious economic growth; for a period of time Mongolia had the world's fastest growing economy, the mines provided better jobs for Mongolians and fostered urbanization to replace the pastoral nomadic lifestyle that remained pervasive throughout the country. However, this massive influx of investment now represents the vast majority of the economy; so in recent times where commodity prices have slumped for Mongolians and international confidence in the Mongolian government is low, growth has been significantly stunted. In response the Mongolian government formed a super-coalition last December consisting of members from all major parties attempting to deal with the economic problems. The main policy goals of the coalition were to alleviate the economic downturn by reducing the government restrictions on mining to get foreign investment back on track while continuing to pursue economic ties with nations outside China and Russia.
This series of policies gets to the root of the Mongolian problem: Mongolia cannot prosper without foreign investment and by opening itself up to political and economic influence from interests that have very little concern for the welfare of Mongolia or its inhabitants. Mongolia's vulnerability to the economic interests of its neighbors means that its needs from Russia and China translate into political capital that undermines Mongolia's economic and political independence.
Remembering Mongolia's First Political Hunger Strike on 25th Anniversary
March 13 (UB Post) Mothers who protested at Chinggis Square on International Women's Day, March 8, blamed revolutionaries who founded democracy in Mongolia in 1990.
Twenty-five years ago, in the windy days of March, a first hunger strike took place in Ulaanbaatar. The "golden swallows of democracy" revolutionized the country in its first step towards democracy.
Even though the society, which was under the dictatorship of one party, was full of fear and anxiety at that time, the brave young people started the democratic revolution and sacrificed their lives.
The strike that stood against the party that ruled the country for 70 years was a total anomaly and a new thing for many Mongolians.
Members of the former General Council of the Mongolian Democratic Union, B.Batbileg, E.Bat-Uul, Z.Erdenebat, N.Javkhlant, D.Dorligjav, B.Galsandash, D.Enkhbaatar, G.Boshigt, D.Ninj, B.Khishigtbat and the only woman, Sh.Nina headed the hunger strike that led to the democratic revolution, which was organized a day before the Women's Day on March 7 of 1990.
We reached the pioneers of Mongolian democracy, B.Khishigbat and Sh.Nina, to recall back to the first hunger strike that happened 25 years ago and clarified some details on current issues.
B.Khishigbat: The number of partisans is decreasing
During the democratic revolution, B.Khishigbat worked as the Head of the Committee of Mongolian Revolutionary Youth Union of School No.84. He currently works as the Customs Director of Zamiin-Uud.
You were one of the top professionals of the Mongolian People's Party. Why did you decided to participate in the hunger strike to stand against your party?
Yes, I was. I was a good assistant of the Mongolian People's Party. There were people among youth who saw the inhumane aspects of the society and dreamed of democracy. I was one of those and that's why I joined the Mongolian Democratic Union in December 8, 1989. The hunger strike took place four months after the Mongolian Democratic Union was founded.
Our main purpose was to stop one party dictatorship, to introduce the system of many parties, to bring about free expression and to displace socialist society. The Mongolian People's Party was our barrier and that's why our first claim was to displace the political office.
Your fight didn't fall through. Mongolia became a democratic country. However, there are many partisans who started to complain that it is not the democracy that they wanted. Do you have any thoughts like that?
No, I don't. I love everything that we worked for and we created. There isn't a perfect democracy anywhere. At the beginning, when any change occurs, it doesn't go through a smooth road. Obstacles happen a lot. We didn't fall back due to obstacles. At the present time, Mongolian citizens are free, politics and the economy are open and the press is free to work. This is the achievement of democracy. There is a saying, "Before history was history, it was someone's dream." Since our dream became reality, we can't say, "It is not the democracy we wanted."
Do the "partisans" enjoy the benefits of the democracy?
Over 50 percent of my friends with whom I built the democratic revolution passed away. The rest obtained their positions in the society and are living a good life, while 30 percent are inactive and live in the lower class of the society.
What influenced them to live in the lower class of society?
Most of them got lost into alcoholism and excess. However, their honor will remain forever.
Do you work at Zamyn-Uud?
Yes I do. I work as Customs Director of Zamyn-Uud.
Sh.Nina: I won a bet against my husband and participated in the hunger strike
The only woman who participated in the first political hunger strike of Mongolia was Sh.Nina. She says that she never regrets her decision to fight for democracy with her spouse, N.Altangerel, when they were both were young.
We wanted to meet you but we couldn't. Does the press ask for interviews a lot?
Yes, and it is worrisome sometimes. At the moment, I am in Bayanchandmani soum of Tuv Province to greet my relatives.
Why did you decided to participate in the hunger strike of 1990? What was your occupation at the time of the revolution?
Fortunately, my husband was a person with democratic ideals. N.Altangerel was one of the first people who worked towards democracy. That's why I didn't have any pressure at home. Maybe my parents were fearful. I won a bet against my husband and participated in the hunger strike. My husband had some problems with health so I decided to go for the hunger strike. I worked as a doctor at the Central Clinical Hospital No.3. I didn't leave any patients for the hunger strike. I was a statistician doctor, and I was able to recap on the statistical information and data collection later.
Nowadays, people participate in strikes for personal benefits. Can you comment on this?
Seeing the hunger strike for Noyon Mountain, it seemed that there are certain interests playing. But for us, we didn't have anything like that. My husband and I went for the democracy clearly based on our aim and ambition, and we never looked for personal benefits. Unethical issues like that wasn't common at the time. People know this. Instead, we participated in the strike and risked our lives.
How do the members of the Mongolian Democratic Union recognize those days of March when the hunger strike took place? Do all of you meet to celebrate those days?
The Mongolian Democratic Union sends us greetings every year. The union gave us a two bedroom apartment. We always have a great appreciation for the union.
That's how the participants of the first political hunger strike talk about the history of the last 25 years. They had young blood and brave hearts. They didn't lose anything at that time. Due to their brave actions, the political leadership of the Mongolian People's Party surrendered its position, and the Mongolian democracy won the biggest victory in the history without any blood.
Source: Ugluunii Sonin
Erdenet, OT, APU, ER, MAK Lead Top 100 Taxpayers of 2010-2014:
March 12 (infomongolia.com) On March 11, 2015, the General Department of Taxation, the Implementing Agency of the Government of Mongolia, announced the Top Tax Paid 100 Companies in Mongolia.
These 100 enterprises have assessed majority of the total tax revenue to the state and local budgets in 2010-2014, where the Erdenet Mining Corporation consequently led the lists with 2 trillion, 93 billion and 481 million MNT (Tugrug), as same as previous release in 2011, and the new release is followed by Oyu Tolgoi LLC and APU JSC respectively.
2010-2014: Name of the Taxpayer Company
Erdenet Factory LLC
Oyu Tolgoi LLC
Energy Resources LLC
Mongolyn Alt (MAK) LLC
Tavan Tolgoi JSC
Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC
Jiansu Jiandu Mongolia LLC
SouthGobi Sands LLC
Tsairt Mineral LLC
Spirt Bal Buram (SBB) LLC
Mongol Tamkhi So LLC
Boldtumur Eruu Gol LLC
Boroo Gold LLC
FPMM LLC (Fluor Mongolia)
Energy Resources Mining LLC
Development Bank of Mongolia LLC
Qinhua MAK-Naryn Sukhait LLC
Wagner Asia Equipment LLC
GEM International LLC
Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia LLC
Redpath Mongolia LLC
Golomt Bank LLC
Skytel Group LLC
Altain Khuder LLC
Major Drilling Mongolia LLC
MCS Asia Pacific Brewery LLC
MCS International LLC
Darkhan Metallurgy Factory
Power Plant IV
Oriflame Mongolia LLC
Shin Shin LLC
Khas Bank LLC (XasBank)
China Metallurgical LLC
MCS Coca Cola LLC
Mondulaan Trade LLC
Power Plant III
MCS Holding LLC
Infinity Space LLC
Shangri-La Ulaanbaatar LLC
Ulaanbaatar Power Transmission Grid JSC
Magnai Trade LLC
Altan Dornod Mongol LLC
Nomin Holding LLC
MCPL LLC, Mongolia-China Project Logistics
CIS Mongolia LLC
Olon Ovoot Gold LLC
Petrovis Trading LLC
MCS Property LLC
Transwest Mongolia LLC
Central Asian Mining Logistics (CAML) LLC
APU Trading LLC
Information and Communication Networking Co. SOE
Erdenes MGL LLC
Suruga Mongol LLC
Ulaanbaatar Railway JSC, Mongolian-Russian JV
Nomintav Trade LLC
Eznis Airways LLC
Mongolian Star Melchers LLC
Altan Taria Co.,Ltd
Sod Mongol Group LLC
Erdenet Carpet LLC
Shivee Ovoo JSC
Ulaanbaatar Energy Transmission Grid JSC
Monnis International LLC
Gem Trade LLC
SGS Mongolia LLC
MIAT Mongolian Airlines JSC
Atlas Copco Mongolia LLC
QFS LLC, Quality Food Service
National Electricity Transmission Grid, SOE
M Oil Group LLC
Tavan Tolgoi Trans LLC
Uniservice Solution LLC
Mongolian Banks Agree to Adopt Environmentally & Socially Responsible Lending Policy
March 13 (Mongolian Economy) Mongolia's commercial banks will begin setting criteria for project loans based on their social impact and green development. Banks will demand certain requirements from industries related to the environment, society, mining, construction, agriculture and manufacturing, to help cultivate a better society.
According the new standards, the construction sector, for example, must ensure that at least 20 percent of a project's overall plans incorporates green infrastructure, in order to qualify for a bank loan. Because it's difficult to control implementation, banks will set additional requirements when lending to the customer. By implementing the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Principles, banks will integrate environmental and social considerations into business decisions, promote green initiatives, services and products, as well as consider the environmental and safety (E&S) issues of their own operations.
The policy retooling will begin after the first quarter of the year in accordance with the Sustainable Finance Principles developed by the Mongolian Bankers Association (MBA), which has shifted its focus toward investing in the country's future and fostering green development. The Association is redefining commercial banks as a social role model, rolling out several new initiatives. Banks are to create wheelchair ramps, ATM's for visually impaired people at headquarters and new branches, and priority service for people with disabilities regardless of a queue's length.
Banks will demand additional social requirements from project employers. For example, project employers must fully pay their employees social security fee in accordance with the law, provide wages not less than the minimum wage, and follow occupational safety and health regulation guidelines.
In addition, banks will not provide loans for imported used cars more than 10 years old.
The Mongolian Bankers Association in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Green Development, the Bank of Mongolia, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) are organizing the "Mongolian Sustainable Finance Forum 2014" under the theme "Sustainable Finance: Creating Sustainable Development through Collaboration".
Environmental and Social Responsibility Initiatives to be Supported – Khan Bank, March 6
Banks sign agreement to implement principles of sustainable financing – news.mn, March 10
Signing Approved for 410.2 Km of Cross-Country Road Concessions
Ulaanbaatar, March 11 (MONTSAME) At its meeting on Monday, the cabinet obliged D.Erdenebat, the Minister of Industry, to establish concession contracts with companies on constructing auto roads.
According to the contracts, which will be signed on a "construction-and-transmission" term, a 98km road between Altai and Darvi, 129.4km road between Bayankhongor-Altai, 167km cross-road in Tosontsengel (Zavkhan aimag), and a 15.8km road between Mandal soum-Zuunkharaa (Selenge aimag) will be run.
An order was given to J.Erdenebat, the Minister Finance, to place money in the state budget for investing the works reflected in the concession contracts.
In frames of the 2012-2014 governmental goal to connect centers of all aimags to the UB city, the auto roads have been already put into use going from the city to Bayankhongor, Omnogobi, Khovsgol, Dundgobi, Khentii, Dornogobi, Zamyn-Uud soum (Dornogobi) and Sukhbaatar aimags. Same roads from other provinces are being run.
₮619 Billion Concession Agreement Signed to Connect Ulaanbaatar with Aimag Centers
March 13 (gogo.mn) Today, ceremony to sign concession agreement to connect Ulaanbaatar with aimag centers was held at the Ministry of Industry.
State secretary at Ministry of Industry, D.Nyamkhuu, Head of the Investment Agency, S.Javkhlanbaatar and other representatives from private entities have participated in the ceremony.
By establishing concession agreement, foreign investors to grant MNT 619 billion to Mongolia and the Government of Mongolia will pay back the investment within 4 to 6 years, after one year from commissioning of the road project.
Total of 533,2 km road will be constructed under the concession agreement.
· Altai soum to Darvi soum of Gobi-Altai aimag - 165 km
· to connect end of road from Dashinchilen soum in Bulgan aimag to Orkhon bridge and end of road from Murun soum of Khuvsgul aimag to Tarialan of Khuvsgul aimag - 232.7 km
· Songino soum - Khyargas Lake in Uvs aimag - 135,5 km
At least one third of total construction work will be implemented by national entities thus, employment will be increased and national road constructors and building material suppliers will be supported.
Owner of the concession are to commission the roads in 2016.
Oyu Tolgoi Celebrates Mongolia's Best Suppliers at 'Gobi Gem' Awards
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, March 12 (Oyu Tolgoi) Oyu Tolgoi held its sixth annual Supplier Recognition 'Gobi Gem' Awards at the National Opera and Ballet House on Thursday, with government officials, local dignitaries, trade associations, and the supplier community taking part in the celebration of the finest of Mongolia's industry.
The awards looked back over achievements in eight main categories in 2014: Safety, Business improvement; Social responsibility; Supply Chain development; South Gobi, Khanbogd, and Emerging suppliers, and a 'Grand Prix' category for the overall best-performer.
The awards, in addition to recognizing the eight winners, celebrate the achievements of Mongolia's business and industrial community across sectors – from mining to logistics, and food services to aviation. Oyu Tolgoi worked with over 800 Mongolian companies, behind whose success stand nearly 35,000 workers and their families. In 2014, the company spent 77 per cent of its total operational spend of approximately US$ 457 mn in 2014 in Mongolia, and 51 per cent of which – totalling over US$ 301 mn – was with national companies. The company also raised spend in the South Gobi region by 28 times since 2010, reaching US$42.0 million in 2014.
The winners at Gobi Gem for 2014 are:
· Best Supplier for Safety performance – Bats Urgoo LLC
· Best Supplier for Business improvement – Central Geological Laboratory of Mongolia
· Best Supplier for Social responsibility – Aero Mongolia LLC
· Best Supplier for Supply Chain development – Weir Minerals LLC
· Best South Gobi Supplier – GoviGurvanSaikhan LLC
· Best Khanbogd Supplier – Khanbogd Khurd LLC
· Best Emerging Supplier – MIAT JSC
· Grand Prix – Support Services Mongolia LLC
Speaking at the event, Andrew Woodley, President and CEO – Oyu Tolgoi said: "At Oyu Tolgoi we recognise that we are on a journey together with our suppliers, and they are partners in our success. The Gobi Gem awards are a reflection of this commitment to develop together, which we have enshrined in our vision – to go from natural wealth to enduring value, knowledge and skill.
"In the sixth year of these awards, we celebrate Mongolian businesses that are reaching global standards of excellence – and partnering with us to deliver skill and experience that will be the foundation of a truly world class industry and workforce in Mongolia.
"It is both inspiring and satisfying to see so many strong Mongolian businesses emerging and developing quality products and services that support not just our business, but – more importantly – broader national and regional development."
MIAT defers orders for two B737s, considers converting to one B737 MAX
by : Gan Yung Chyan
March 7 (KUCINTA SETIA) In an inhouse interview with MIAT Mongolian Airlines Inflight Magazine which Sayacinta - Airpost managed to receive a hardcopy from Ulaanbaatar during the week of ITB Berlin 2015, N. Ganbold, the Vice President of MIAT Mongolian Airlines revealed that the airline plans to launch summer flights to new cities and add new aircraft types.
By June 2015, MIAT Mongolian Airlines will conduct summer flights from Ulaanbaatar to Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg in Siberia, besides operating all-year round regular flights to Moscow, Berlin, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo-Haneda and Hong Kong. Now Mongolia is embracing for higher influxes of passengers from Russia and countries affliated to the European Union since they do not require any entry visa to visit the country.
MIAT Mongolian Airlines is mulling temporary flights from Ulaanbaatar to Hovd.
Direct flights to Frankfurt will resume in summer while flights to Singapore which will suspend from the first week of April 2015 may be operated on a seasonal intermittent basis subject to operation requirements and commercial market demand.
Commenting on its scheduled flights to Singapore via Beijing, Ganbold said the airline aims to capture a travel market of travellers from the US and Asia that transit in Singapore. However the current Chinggis Khaan International Airport of Ulaanbaatar has small capacity and cannot handle continuous influxes of passengers from Southeast Asia without controlling fuel prices. He said Ulaanbaatar can only be a hub airport once the new bigger international airport in Khishigtlin Khundii has completed construction which will likely attract new competitors and lower fuel prices for aircraft landings in Ulaanbaatar.
MIAT Mongolian Airlines' competitor Hunnu Air recently ceased international flights to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Suvarnabhumi, Tokyo and Paris. These cancellations have spiked fuel prices for aircraft landings in Ulaanbaatar despite the fall in international fuel prices.
Ganbold admits that the national flag carrier is operating flights to Singapore at a loss but he admits some new destinations like Singapore and Frankfurt take years to develop new travel markets and to have more passengers.
Ganbold said MIAT Mongolian Airlines is conducting feasibility studies to operate scheduled flights to Busan, Suvarnabhumi, London and New York in the medium term and long run.
Meanwhile, MIAT Mongolian Airlines which received its leased Boeing B737-800 aircraft from Air Lease Corporation in May 2014 has deferred purchases of two B737-800NG aircraft from 2016 to 2019-2020. These two aircraft may be substituted with the B737MAX aircraft.
On operating long distance flights to destinations such as Frankfurt, Singapore, London and New York, MIAT Mongolian Airlines is discussing with Boeing on inducting a Dreamliner aircraft to its fleet within three to four years.
MIAT Mongolian Airlines is officially conferred National Flag Carrier status in 2013 according to Mongolia's State policy for civil air transportation. It distributes new aircraft postcards of its current fleet which comprises of B767-300ER and B737-800 jets and its company profile at ITB Berlin 2015. It aims to upgrade its customer satisfaction level to Skytrax 4 star Airline ranking this year.
MIAT Announces Halt to Singapore Flights Due to Mongolia's Ailing Economy
March 5 (infomongolia.com) The National Flag Carrier, MIAT Mongolian Airlines announced to cancel a direct flight from Ulaanbaatar to Singapore under the reason of running a deficit and the decision was issued by Chairman of the State Property Committee Ts.Nanzaddorj in February 2015.
MIAT had been conducting a UB-Singapore direct flight since September 2014 and in order to not stop the service, Mongolian Airlines used to pick up passengers in Beijing, China from/to Singapore, but consequently had to cancel the flight.
In his statement, Chairman Ts.Nanzaddorj said, "In five months of the flights to Singapore, MIAT lost three billion and seven hundred million Tugrugs. The company unable to bear such financial losses and therefore, we forced to cancel the flights. Within this action, we understand to breaching the Fifth Act of International Carriage Rules, but due to economic crisis facing today, we had to stop the service.
Currently, MIAT is also running a deficit in a UB-Berlin flight, although, surplus in tourism peak season of summer and contrary in winter. Nevertheless, Germany is the only gate to Europe and a bridge to attract European tourists to Mongolia, thus, it is impossible to cancel the many-years last direct flight to Germany. The decision to halt flights to Singapore was effective from March 01, 2015".
UB Int'l Airport Highway Construction to Be Financed with China Loan
March 11 (infomongolia.com) On March 09, 2015, the regular Cabinet meeting took place, where it was agreed to construct the highway road from Ulaanbaatar to new International Airport in Khushigt Valley, Tuv Aimag under finance loan to receive from the Government of the People's Republic of China.
The construction of new road should be accomplished within the second quarter of 2016 prior the XI Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit of Heads of State and Government to be hosted by Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar in 2016, and the Minister of Roads and Transportation N.Tumurkhuu was obliged to take necessary measures.
The first phase of the Airport will be accomplished in the middle of 2016 and thus, the road construction works are anticipated to finish timely if to execute the Ulaanbaatar-Khushigt Valley International Airport, a dual carriageway road with three lanes in each direction under soft loan from the Government of China.
Highway to Khushigtin Khundi airport to open in 2016 – news.mn, March 11
2015 Mongolia-Russia-China Trade Fair to Take Place in Bayan-Ulgii, March 16-18
March 12 (infomongolia.com) On March 16-18, 2015, the Mongolia-Russia-China Trade Fair of three neighboring countries was announced to be organized in center of Bayan-Ulgii Aimag, Ulgii Sum.
In the frameworks to develop the trilateral economic partnership and to boost the inter-border collaboration, entrepreneurs from Russia's Altai Republic and Altay Prefecture of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, PR of China will be gathering at the Jana-Olke indoor trading center organized by Governing Administration of Bayan-Ulgii Aimag.
Such trilateral business event has been organized annually in each territory and the last Mongolia-Russia-China Fair Trade was held at the International Convention and Exhibition Center in Manzhouli city of Inner Mongolia, China in August 2014.
Mongolia's success at ITB Berlin close
By B. Enkhtsetseg
March 11 (Mongolian Economy) At two separate press conferences about Mongolia, Secretary of the UN World Tourism Organisation Taleb Rifei said: "Mongolia is a country you must visit before you die." Over the past few days, 300 representatives of the Mongolian tourism industry worked to show to everyone in attendance at the ITB-2105 expo in Berlin that indeed Mongolia is a bucket-list country. The 49th annual ITB international tourism exhibition ended 8 March 2015. Five thousand-eighty accredited journalists from 75 countries and 350 bloggers from 29 countries reported the ITB expo. Reports show that127 major international political figures, three royal dignitaries, 95 ambassadors, 47 ministers and 11 deputy ministers visited the expo.
Public and private representatives of the Mongolian tourism industry said that this year was a dream come true for their tourism industry. Director of Tsolmon Travel LLC M.Navchaa said: "I've participated in this exhibition for 25 years. In the past, I was envious of the official partner countries, wondering when we would participate like they do. But today, our dream has come true. The entire international spotlight was on us. I am very happy."
This year, more than 200 events, conferences and meeting were held during the ITB expo. As the expo's official partner, Mongolia held several important meetings about Silk Road adventure tours and Mongolian tourism industry opportunities, in addition to three press conferences for nearly 300 media and press journalists. During the discussions, director of the ITB exhibition Christian Goke said: "Tradition, environment and sustainable development issues have become very important. This year's partner country Mongolia provides a good example. "The media asked many questions during the three press conferences, but most of the questions were about the stability of nomadic life. As Mongolia defined nomadic culture as a brand, the media wanted to know what measures the Mongolian government is taking. The Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol said that work is ongoing.
Each year, ITB's selected official partner organises the opening ceremony. Mongolia became the first country to have its ITB opening ceremony at the 3,600-seat CityCube. The President of Mongolia, the Secretary of the World Tourism Organisation, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs and the director of the ITB exhibition each gave a speech to open the convention. The audience assessed the speech of Mongolian President Elbegdorj as the most concise and interesting.
More than 60 artists entertained the crowd, with performances that depicted the ancient and modern culture of Mongolia. The guests acclaimed the performance, responding that it was much more unique and energetic than those of previous Asian countries. Project manager Holger Wilke, who co-organised the opening ceremony, said: "I was part of the ITB organising team for nearly 20 years. Many countries have participated as official partners, and I worked with most of them. But I've never seen such a unique and wonderful opening ceremony like this before. Mongolia's opening ceremony was so unique. For me it was the best." During the exhibition, taxis and posters with the country's' Mongolia, Nomadic by Nature' logo ornamented the streets of Berlin. The logos and city-wide banners will stay up until 1 June.
World Tourism Organisation offered four proposals to Mongolia
The expo's research department reports that 175,000 people visited the 26 ITB exhibition halls in a span of five days from March 4-8. Two-thirds of guests came from a different country to visit the expo. These numbers shatter the records of previous years. And once again, the ITB expo is the world's biggest international tourism fair, surpassing even the 140,000 visitors tallied last year. Industry experts view this as a positive sign that despite even today's global issues, the tourism industry has shown growth. Here, exhibition visitors walked 17 kilometres per day. Messe Berlin statistics show that the total sales have increased from last year and reached EUR 6.7 billion. Exhibition hall orders were filled to capacity; some countries even requested to enlarge their showcase space, but the requests had to be denied. ITB presents an opportunity to visit all the countries of the world simultaneously, because 10,096 organizations from 186 countries come here to promote themselves and to meet with old partners and new.
Mongolia's promotional space was located in two different halls: a booth in Hall 26, amongst other Asian countries, and a site in the adventure tourism hall. This year, Mongolia's promotional area takes up 160,000 square metres, twice as large as the country's presence at last year's expo. We heard from the Messe Berlin officials that neighbor China enlarged their promotional area, upon hearing that Mongolia would participate as an official partner. China's Inner Mongolia region sells nomadic culture as a tourism product as well. Four indoor ger occupied four different locations in the main hall; a giant ger, three-times the standard size, was set outside the main entrance. Producer D.Ariunsaikhan designed the general themes of the cultural performance and promotional area. His work indeed demonstrated Mongolia's uniqueness, as Mongolia's promotional area placed sixth best out of Asia, Australia and Oceania countries—South Korea won first place. There were total of 11,000 promotional areas throughout the ITB exhibition halls. Rwanda was selected as the country with the best overall promotional area.
During the ITB exhibition, the number of foreign clients and partners coming to meet Mongolian companies increased, with at least 30 clients and partners coming to meet each Mongolian enterprise. Sixteen Mongolian companies were so busy that they were unable to hold some scheduled meetings. The meeting of the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol and Secretary of the World Tourism Organisation Taleb Rifai caught the most attention during the exhibition's high level meetings. At the meeting, Taleb Rifai said that he has four possible proposals of cooperation and aid to offer Mongolia. The proposals included: organising an international adventure tourism forum in Mongolia to introduce Mongolia's image to the world; helping to specialize the tourism sector's legal framework; simplifying the ways to attract investment; and aiding in training and human resource development. The minister expressed full support of his proposals.
On the last day of the exhibition, Minister D.Oyunkhorol met with private sector representatives. She said that she will continue cooperating with them in the future, in the same way that they cooperated passionately on this exhibition. The tourism industry has never worked together like this before, finding common cause and uniting under the banner of Mongolia. The representatives of the public and private sector agreed that this exhibition has not only benefited to promote them, but in bringing together Mongolia's tourism industry. However, foreign tourism sector experts advised them to continue committing to their hard work, or else the achievements from ITB might disappear. TalebRifai said: "Mongolia's participation in the ITB expo was of high quality, and you obtained a high value and reputation. But now you're going to face a challenge to maintain it."
Mongolia demonstrated the advantages and features of its tourism industry and showed it was able to raise its reputation on an international level. But the tourism sector yet lacks good management to hold onto this newly-earned reputation. Despite Mongolia's achievements, the tourism industry remains fragile; if the country doesn't turn its fragility into firmness, the energy and time spent in preparing for the ITB exhibition will have been for nothing.
ITB Berlin: World's Tourism Market Welcomes Mongolia
March 11 (gogo.mn) Mongolia took the spotlight in the world's leading travel trade show in Berlin (IBT 2015) as an "Official Partner Country", previously in 2011 Mongolia had participated as a "Cultural Partner Country".
Mongolia's participation in this event was to counter the effects of declining tourist numbers (by 5-10%), while there has been an overall increase in the number of tourists worldwide (by 5%). Previous participants such as Poland and turkey has shown a significant increase in tourist numbers (by 10- 30%). Mongolia has aimed to reach to 1mln tourists by 2017. This event has opened doors for Mongolia to see real growth in tourist numbers, however Mongolia needs to be organized, implement the correct management policies to make this a reality.
If we assume a single tourist spends USD1500-2000, Mongolia has the potential to obtain USD 2 bln in revenues or 20 percent of the country's GDP from the tourism market. Especially in this period of economic crisis and lack of currency reserves, the tourism sector can become a "Life injection" for the economy by increasing exchange and give real benefits. Moreover, living standards and income of local people can be increased as a result of increased competitiveness of various business sectors of tourism such as; transportation, hotels, tourist camps, food and beverage, entertainment, handmade, consumer, banks and financial institutions.
On behalf of the Mongolian tour operator companies, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to state organizations and team of "Tourism Future" NGO for successfully participating in IBT 2015 as "Official partner country". I personally consider this a good omen that "World travel market opens its door to Mongolia".
We at Discover Mongolia appeals to all state and private organizations to set a goal that implement sustainable proper marketing, increase service quality, and satisfy the needs of every single tourist said Mr Barsbold Baatarsuren, President/CEO.
Erdenet Carpet Launching 3D Technology Products Financed by Chinggis Bonds
March 13 (news.mn) Management of Erdenet Carpet Company announce that Chinggis Bond funding distributed to enterprises and companies in Mongolia to help maintain the production and manufacturing sectors have played a role in bringing new changes to Erdenet Carpet.
The company received a soft loan of 17.4 billion MNT and upgraded its technology. The company has introduced the latest modern technology from Japan and Germany and replaced old equipment.
The company has begun to produce carpets using 3D technology and will introduce the new carpets to the market very soon.
Erdenet Carpet makes up 91 percent of the total carpet production in Mongolia, and it buys wool from local herders. All stages of the carpet manufacturing process is carried out at the factory.
In addition to manufacturing carpets, the company produces felt and insulation materials for construction and building.
The building insulation has been purchased by Nomin Construction. Presently, the company is exporting carpets to Japan, Kazakhstan, Australia, and more 20 countries.
EBRD know-how helps export Mongolian 'Artichoke'
March 11 (The FINANCIAL) -- Tugsuu Tseepil, Vice Director of Mongolian canning company Gazar Shim (official name GBT Trading), is a woman with an unusual passion: artichokes. The coordinator of the Mongolian Artichoke Association and the Artichoke in Mongolia Project, her company has recently become the first in Mongolia to sell an artichoke-based health drink, called, appropriately, "Artichoke".
"My background is in food analysis. We wanted to produce a healthy drink and artichokes are very good for the kidneys," said Ms Tseepil. "At first, it was a hobby and my focus was on improving the taste. But now, it's certified, patented and released onto the market."
Having opened a new automated production line only last year, Gazar Shim sold more than 1 million bottles of Artichoke in 2014 – both the original and the new sugar-free version. The artichokes themselves are grown in Mongolia, in greenhouses. The main drink is high-end, best served hot and produced in glass bottles. It's often taken for medicinal reasons.
Gazar Shim's main business is canned fruits and vegetables, of which they produce over 30 varieties, from peppers to pickles, tomatoes or compotes and jams, according to EBRD.
"When we started in 1999, it was the transition period in Mongolia and there was a real lack of commodities – everything had to be imported," she explained. "My brother and I saw an opportunity and started the business. Then, we produced 20,000 jars a year. Now, we can do that in a day."
In 2013, the business first worked with the EBRD's Small Business Support team in Mongolia who connected them with a local consultant to help them introduce professional accounting software. Then, with an ambitious expansion plan in the works, they worked with a local consultant on developing a business plan for a new factory in a project with a strong market research component.
"We learned that we are competing well in the salads segment, but that we need to develop our compotes segment more," she said. "We need to refine our production methods to improve productivity."
Thanks to donor funding from the Early Transition Countries Fund, Gazar Shim is now working with an international adviser from the Netherlands under the Advice for Agribusiness programme, which links EBRD potential and existing banking clients in the Agribusiness sector with business advice through international industry experts.
"This is a perfect example of how the EBRD can take an integrated approach to supporting small and medium-sized enterprises", said Matthieu Le Blan, EBRD Head of Office in Ulaanbaatar. "The advice and the financing are complementary, providing the tools businesses like Gazar Shim need to grow."
"Kees Koeleman, our international adviser, is very professional and very helpful," said Ms Tseepil. "He is the fourth generation in his family to run a vegetable canning business."
"He has been very involved in everything, helping us select the right equipment to improve our production line, advising on how to improve the quality and taste of our products and how to design better storage for our new facility. He's also linked us to a European ingredient supplier, which has changed our mixed pickle product for the better."
The company has just begun exporting to Russia for the first time in January 2015, exporting 20 tons of products from Artichoke to different kinds of salads to over 50 shops through a Russian chain. They are now looking at raising the investment needed for the new factory.
Why Mongolia is a fantastic place to invest in property as a foreigner
By Andrew McGregor, Chief Financial Officer at Asia Pacific Investment Partners, a Mongolia-focused operating group primarily engaged in property development, cement production and financial services industries. He is responsible for the day-to-day financial strategy and operations of the APIP group.
February 5 (The Real Estate Conversation) Mongolia is a fantastic place to invest in property as a foreigner. The regulatory framework on title and property rights, combined with a great tax policy and no exchange controls, make Mongolia one of the best destinations in Asia for property ownership.
Why Mongolia? In addition to being the fastest growing economy in the region and one of the fastest growing in the world, there are a number of compelling reasons why Mongolia is the ideal destination for investors to consider. These include an extremely benign regulatory environment for property ownership, with the rights exercised by international investors regarding property ownership being identical to those enjoyed by Mongolian citizens. The 'floating freehold' system provides investors with inalienable freehold rights to real estate in Mongolia.
There are no currency controls. The currency is fully convertible and freely floating and there are no issues repatriating profits out of Mongolia. Indeed, recent exchange rate weakness presents a strong buying opportunity for investors deploying foreign currency into the property markets.
It has fantastic tax laws. The tax laws in Mongolia are clear-cut with the 10% income tax representing one of the lowest income tax rates in Asia. In addition there is no concept of capital gains tax in the market and only a 2% stamp duty tax paid upon eventual sale of the property.
There are high overall returns from both cash rental income and capital growth. Mongolia's property market boasts one of the highest cash rental yields in Asia as well as strong capital appreciation prospects. From 2005 to 2013, the average annual rental yield from residential space was over 11% per year across all of Ulaanbaatar. Rapid growth in GDP per capita, disposable income, and real wages are driving demand for high quality residential and retail space across the city, and the property market has been posting annual growth rates of over 15% per year on average for the past 10 years.
It's below the radar. Mongolia is a fast growing frontier market that remains relatively unknown to the rest of world. As such, competition for good assets in good locations from other foreign investors remains limited.
According to the Bank of Mongolia, the mortgage penetration rate in 2011 was under 4%. Credit-driven property price speculation and real estate bubble risk are therefore non-existent in the market at the moment. In 2013 the government created a subsidized mortgage product for low-income families to help them take their first steps onto the property ladder. This mortgage is an 8% product for very small, low-end apartments – the remainder of the market remains entirely underserved by credit. However, there has been such demand for subsidized mortgages that banks may consider entering the space with a more commercial product in the coming years. Should leverage be introduced to the system, we would expect prices of property to rise very quickly.
While the herd is chasing Thai, Philippine or even Myanmar real estate, Mongolia offers one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Buyers can enjoy access to a market where prices remain unaffected by competition, where low taxes and strong property rights protect your investment, and where exchange rate movements can increase profits over and above the already high rental yields that are available today.
A mining boom helps to modernize Mongolia - Andrew McGregor, APIP CFO for The Real Estate Conversation, January 29
Mongolia is undergoing an economic boom thanks to mining, and there's an urgent need for housing development in the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
International Wind Energy and Environment Conference to Be Held in Mongolia, June 4-5
March 11 (gogo.mn) International Wind Energy and Environment Conference to be held in Ulaanbaatar during June 4-5 by World Wind Energy Association and Mongolian Wind Energy Association.
The main purpose of this international conference is to inform on the benefits of utilizing wind energy to the legislators and state leaders, disseminate proper information on the renewable energy market, technological solutions, improvement of the investment environment and increase foreign interest in Mongolian wind energy market from the investors and donor organizations.
What Wall Street Can Learn From The Mongol Empire
By Kabir Sehgal
March 10 (New York Observer) I was a long way from Wall Street. In order to learn about the history of money, I went to the middle of nowhere. Walking through a grassy plain, next to rolling hills, under a majestic blue sky. There was a yurt in the distance with goats scattered nearby. I was in Karakorum, Mongolia, the ancient capital city of the early Mongol empire. And it was here that some of the great Mongol emperors ruled not just with bows and arrows but paper.
In 2008, I began working on Wall Street just months before the great financial crisis. I was shocked with the damage that it caused, and I began a global quest to better understand the history of money. I traveled to over twenty-five countries while researching my book Coined: The Rich Life of Money And How Its History Has Shaped Us. But it was my trip to Mongolia that brought to life the perils of paper money. A monetary system that is based on fiat currency, money not moored to metal, presents a Faustian bargain. It may create the mirage of short term riches, but it often results in the long term demise of a society, like what happened to the Mongol Empire in China. And without learning the lessons of money history, we here in the US risk being destined to repeat it.
In the thirteenth century, the Mongols ruled the world. Their empire stretched from Asia to Europe, one of the most expansive in world history. The Mongols fostered commercial and cultural exchange between the east and west. After exposure to the east, Europeans started to wear pants instead of tunics, bowed their string instruments rather than plucking them, and began experimenting with paper money.
Ogodei, the son of Ghenghis Khan, built Karakorum in the 1230s and adopted paper money because it was easier to use than heavy coins. At first these notes were backed by silver and silk. Over time, merchants traveled to Karakorum to win the graces of the powerful Khan, who rewarded them with lucrative payments for their goods.
But today Karakorum is a collection of trodden ruins. It's a glimmer of what it once represented: the seat of the powerful Mongol Empire, which is long gone. The empire vanished likely because the plague killed a large amount of the population. But economic historians also point to fiat money, runaway spending, and raging inflation as key reasons for its decline.
The trouble began after Kublai Khan conquered the Song Dynasty in China and established the Yuan Dynasty in 1279. He gained millions more subjects, but there wasn't enough money to go around. So he issued money that was, in the words of Marco Polo, "made…out of the barks of trees." Initially his currency was backed by silver, but there was so much demand for the notes that their convertibility to metal was suspended. Eventually, the currency lost all credibility, which resulted in depreciation and long bouts of inflation. The Mongol's inability to stabilize their economy called into question their power, and gave rise to opposition forces that toppled the dynasty in 1368.
Of course, I didn't have to travel to Mongolia in particular to learn the perils of fiat money. I could have toured the ruins of ancient Rome — or for that matter, what remains from many of the great empires that relied on a system of fiat currency. But my Mongolian adventure highlights how a historically nomadic people used paper money extensively throughout their lands, across several urban centers with great success, until it eventually led to economic peril.
In the US, we have had a monetary system based on fiat currency since the early 1970s. And since that time, there has been a steady decline in the value of the dollar measured by purchasing power. A fiat currency permits the issuer to print more money with little compunction. But thousands of years of monetary history show that there's almost always a day of reckoning.
While I'm glad the Fed has ceased its asset purchases, there remains tremendous monetary accommodation. The Fed seems reluctant to take the foot off the gas. That high inflation hasn't materialized isn't reassuring as it can take years for the consequences to appear. For example, some economic historians contend that spending for the Vietnam War in the 1960s led to the Great Inflation during the 1970s.
The lessons of history should remind us that fiat money can come with a terrible price. And that even the greatest of civilizations are subject to its risks.
Kabir Sehgal is the New York Times bestselling author of Coined: The Rich Life of Money And How Its History Has Shaped Us.
Mongolia - Company looking for nutrition products
March 4 (UKTI) The company is based in Mongolia and an official distributor of TRM Ireland. They want to expand their business in nutrition sector for all age groups.
For more information register your interest below with our team in Mongolia.
Opportunity Type: General Procurement
Response deadline: 15/04/2015
The long road ahead for Mongolia's nascent startup scene
by Paul Bischoff
March 10 (Tech in Asia) Ganzorig Jigjidsuren founded one of the most promising startups to come out of Ulan Bator. His company, Kaizen Mongolia, makes point-of-sales devices and software targeted at restaurants and other small businesses called Egulen. It stands out among other startups from his home country for its polished product and presentation, a multilingual interface, and having actual paying customers. But Jigjidsuren, who is now based in Hong Kong, had to pay a high price to expand beyond Mongolia's borders.
In Mongolia's capital, terms are bad and deals are sparse. Ider-Od Bat-Erdene, who founded a Salesforce-type startup called CallPro and is deeply involved in promoting Mongolia's startup ecosystem, says he hears of "a quarter-million-dollar funding about once every four months." Beyond early stage investment, the outlook seems even more bleak. Bat-Erdene says he's never heard of a startup in Mongolia securing a series C or higher round.
"Hiring is tough"
One of the challenges companies face is hiring and retaining talent. Bat-Erdene says Mongolians are entrepreneurial by nature, but true to their nomadic reputation, keeping them at the same job for a long period of time proves difficult. "It's hard to hold people within a company because they want to try new things all the time," he explains.
Diversifying the economy
Government support for IT startups in Mongolia is marginal at best. A small number of funds exist for medium-sized companies and manufacturers, but these aren't startup-specific. The government relies heavily on mining and agriculture – the pillars of the Mongolian economy – and tends to snub tech startups.
In need of a champion
The domestic market is small but tech savvy. Mongolia has already rolled out nationwide 3G in every county seat with about half the population on a mobile 3G connection, so mobile and web applications for the consumer market are common among startups. Twitter is popular among celebrities and politicians. Even rural people are fairly open to new technologies. Many nomadic homes, which are off the infrastructure grid, have a solar panel.
The future pioneers of Mongolia's tech startup scene will likely be in the hands of those who travel abroad to study at foreign universities and work at foreign companies.
"As a country, we have a lot to learn from the outside world," Jigjidsuren says. "Many people go to study and practice. Most of them say they will return."
Those expatriates will bring back new ideas, expertise, and enthusiasm to the ecosystem. Ulan Bator now plays host to Startup Weekend hackathons, Startup Grind keynotes, and a local state-run incubator.
"There's a steady flow of Mongolians going abroad and coming back," Dierkes says, but most of these emigrants are laborers looking to make a living in South Korea. A growing number of students, however, are attending universities in Japan, China, Australia, and South Korea.
Jigjidsuren left Ulan Bator to expand his startup into new markets and raise money on more agreeable terms, but he hasn't forgotten his homeland. He dreams of being a champion among entrepreneurs in Mongolia. He says, "My main goal is that if I can be successful in this market, I will invest back into Mongolia."
UB City Council to Discuss Budget Amendments, Privatization List
March 12 (gogo.mn) 24th plenary session of the City Council will take place on Monday, March 16th and the following issues are on the agenda for discussions:
· Amendments to the Capital city budget 2015
· Approval of the list of the Capital city property and entities to be privatized
· Amendments to the Capital city Land Planning 2015
· Approval of the rules and regulations on Support for the deposits for Mortgages for Civil Service employees from the Ulaanbaatar Housing Fund
· Changes into the City Council session agenda.
Mongolia Looks to Revamp Ulaanbaatar Streets to Global Standards
March 12 (gogo.mn) Ulaanbaatar Global City Project is to be implemented by the initiative of the UB city Mayor's Office, Capital City Planning Department, Capital City Billboard Council with the participation of the related state agencies, private sector, public organizations and national corporations.
The projects aims to develop the street planning, improve street appearance to adhere to world standards, accommodate to needs and demands of the city residents, introduce new standards into billboards and information boards, develop new concepts for urban planning and support the SMEs.
According to the project Tourist Street is to be equipped with smart information boards and constant rotating exhibitions to be displayed, whereas Ankara and Tokyo streets to be furnished in accordance with those cities vibe.
Cities of the world are being classified into Global City, World City and Alpha City by its economic, business and political impact. New York and London top the list of the Global City with Alpha++ ranking, while Ho Shi Mihn, Helsinki, Vancouver and Rio de Jainero have Beta ranking. Ulaanbaatar city is not included in any those lists yet. Global City Project aims to improve Ulaanbaatar city streets and adhere to world standards.
Financing of the project is planned to be raised partly from the Capital city budget, donations of international organizations, investments and private sector.
These renovations and developments are expected to be done before the upcoming ASEM meeting to be held in 2016 in Ulaanbaatar.
UB to amend car towing regulations following public complaints
March 11 (gogo.mn) Relevant working group is discussing amendments to car towing services regulations, directed at decreasing the traffic load.
According to the amendments being discussed, we made brief information session with Traffic Police Department, Traffic Coordination Division, Colonel B.Batbold.
"Residents have been complainig about car towing services constatnly. Particularly, car was towed when there was a baby inside, during the loading operation car was damaged, car was loaded when it was parked in legal parking and car was loaded due to lack of parking etc. Thus, we are discussing on amendments to car towing regulations.
How to solve parking issue and what vehicles should be loaded are to be specified in renewed car towing regulation", he said.
Moreover, residents complained on fee, which is MNT 55.000, If we look at it closely it includes costs such as payment of workers, fuel of towing car and other taxes.
In the scope of new regulation on car towing, a certain amount of fee will be paid to state due to fees previously are being paid to only private enterprises and not the state.
Traffic Police Department has been cooperating on car towing service with private enterprises since 1990 due to lack of loading and transporting trucks. Previously, such services were mostly used for vehicles that had accident or to tow vehicles with drunk drivers. Since 2012, towing services are being used for vehicles, which are parked illegally and blocking others, flow of traffic, in order to reduce the road load and consequently the traffic jam. Thus, Loading and Regulating Department was established at Traffic Management Center.
Currently, 83 car towing trucks of 13 enterprises are operating.
UB Prosecutor's Office calls on police to improve district jails
March 11 (news.mn) The Prosecutor's Office of Ulaanbaatar has conducted inspections and reviewed the custody facilities and procedures of police departments in Chingeltei, Bayanzurkh, Sukhbaatar, Bayangol, Khan Uul, and Songinokhairkhan districts, and whether or not the activity of the jails meet the standards set by related laws and regulations.
According to the inspection and examination, most of the jails do not meet standards as they lack natural lighting and air conditioning systems, and they did not meet health condition criteria. It is not possible for those in custody to shower or be attended to for medical care, and arrestees are all placed in a single room.
The Prosecutor's Office has called on the police departments of the districts under review to make changes to their facilities to resolve the violations uncovered.
UBiers Interview Series: Steve E. Morel
March 11 (gogo.mn) We are delivering the next "Short Interview" featuring Expats in Mongolia, who are working and enjoying live in Mongolia and UB city. We aim to share their experiences of living in Mongolia. Our next guest is Steve E.Morel, 28, and his Mongolian name is Dondog, he was working as a Photographer / Motion Designer / Director for 12 years. He resides in Ulaanbaatar and he is studying Morin Khuur (also known as horsehead fiddle, is a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument) and Khoomei (throat singing). Certainly, it starts with "Why Mongolia?"
Because I have a great passion for the music, Khoomei, and Morin khuur. The Mongolian culture appeared in my life, when I was very sad, and very down, and this culture helped me to get into more happiness life, and joy! Now I live much more easily, and smiley.
How do you cope with the cold?
Well the cold is actually okay, it's actually better than in France for me, as it's dryer, in France weather is humid , so even if the temperature doesn't go as low as in Mongolia, the feeling is very cold, and hard. Here it's pretty cool. The hardest thing is the smoke. I have few lung issues, and sometimes it's really hard to breath for me. Even with a mask.
Most favorite thing to see in UB?
Well most favourite thing, I think it's the culture, of course, listening mongolian music kind of everywhere, seeing people in Deel some time, and I feel comfortable, and secure here! Also, it's always sunny. I've been here like 6 months, and it didn't rain once! It's awesome!
What would you suggest changing in UB?
Cleaning the air, and having more organic products. Also there is a lot of plastic use, so I think this city is not fair for the environment. If Mongolia, and the UB city Mayor or some political people could do something to improve the global awareness, and mentality, it would be awesome, because I really don't understand why there is so much plastic around every product. In France we use a lot of paper bags, that we can use and reuse again. Lot of free self-product, so you take anything you want for example for nuts, and stuff. I saw a little bit in Good Price, but it's too expensive for me.
What were the greatest myths about Mongolia?
Well from France, I was thinking everything in Mongolia was green land, and mountain, with everyone wears traditional clothes, very respectful of tradition and riding horse everywhere. When I came to UB, I was kind of in shock to see that it's not like that at all. I actually don't see much deel around, even on Tsagaan Sar and it seems that people ignore the culture, don't care that much, and get more and more globalized. It's very K-pop culture kind of... of course not everyone, but that's kind of the feeling I have. Sometimes I feel I know more about Mongolian tradition and culture, than some Mongolian, and I think it's a shame. In France, in my opinion we lost our root culture, and it's very sad, it's interesting, because it got mixed with many other cultures, but the "true" French doesn't really exist anymore. Even if it would be someone from elsewhere, but the knowledge kind of disappeared (of course I'm not into French tradition as much as in Mongolian, so my vision might be actually far from the reality, I'm just talking about my perception, and my feeling).
What would be your advise for the newcomer?
Well, I don't know really, for me it's like Paris kind of, so my advise would just be to prepare for a new life, in another city. Of course if the person comes during the winter, better prepare lot of warm clothes, but I would suggest to actually buy in Mongolia, as it's a perfect fit for the weather here. Also concerning the food, globally I think vegetable and fruit are not as good as in France, and more expensive... so it's something that needs to be taken into account also. But I'm an optimist, and I think it's going to improve soon.
Last question is for you…
Well, I would just say thanks to Mongolian culture for saving me! It really changed my life very deeply, on many different aspects. Mostly spiritual, but also my way of doing things in everyday life. Also the Morin Khuur is for me a real gift and it's becoming everyday more and more of a passion, and love.
So I would like just to address to Mongolian people, and readers of this, that please, get interested into your culture, it's a very strong and rich culture, which survived many issues, war, and please, help that culture stay very alive, and not disappear into Korean Pop Culture, or globalised western stuff. Of course it's interesting to be curious and look around what other people do, but I think it's important to keep Mongolian Culture Strong and very alive, because it's really worth it!
Mongolia and North Korea Agree to Commence Commodities Export Partnership
March 13 (infomongolia.com) On March 12, 2015, Minister for Roads and Transportation of Mongolia N.Tumurkhuu received in his office a delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea headed by Minister of Land and Marine Transportation, Kang Jong-gwan.
During the meeting, parties expressed their readiness to start partnership in transportation of Mongolia's mineral products via railway, auto road and maritime transport to the third party.
Mongolia's Minister N.Tumurkhuu noted, "This is Mongolia's priority goal to have an access to the sea as a landlocked country and in this regard, Mongolia will be adhering the principle of equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with trilateral parties of the Russian Federation, People's Republic of China and the North Korea. Moreover, Mongolia anticipates authorizing its own seaport and thus we are willing to co-utilize a seaport at the first phase".
In the scope of implementation of above tasks, Minister N.Tumurkhuu and Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation M.Yu.Sokolov signed a Memorandum of Cooperation during his working visit to Russia conducted on February 25-28, 2015.
Also, Minister N.Tumurkhuu will be paying a working visit to the PR of China from next Monday upon an invitation of his counterpart and consequently, the Mongolia-Russia-China's transportation sectors will be organizing a tripartite meeting in July 2015.
Afterwards, the three parties will be continuing the Trilateral Dialogue on export of Mongolia's mineral products through formerly known Rajin, now Rason Special Economic Zone to the third party.
Concluding the bilateral meeting, Minister for Roads and Transportation of Mongolia, Namkhai TUMURKHUU and Minister for Land and Marine Transportation of the DPRK, Kang Jong-gwan have inked an intergovernmental agreement of cooperation in the transport sector.
Mongolia Seeks to Expand Agricultural Ties with Cuba
Ulaanbaatar, March 8 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa MP Thursday received Mr Omar L. Marrero Betancourt, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to Mongolia.
The Minister noted that Mongolia has been cooperating with Cuba in the agricultural sector, for example, in a way of receiving deep-frozen semen of milk-breeding goats, in trade and industrial experiments of pesticides for pasture plants.
In response, Mr Betancourt expressed a willingness of Cuba to forward this cooperation and emphasized that it is possible to supply Mongolia's market with Cuban products and with achievements of sciences and researches.
The sides also exchanged views on a chance of establishing a joint factory at the Scientific Institute of Plant Protection in order to fight rodents.
Agriculture Minister Talks Meat Export with Kazakh Ambassador
Ulaanbaatar, March 9 (MONTSAME) The Mongolia's Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa Monday received Mr K.I.Koblandin, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to Mongolia.
At the meeting, the sides discussed issues of cooperating in supplying goat meat and mutton to Kazakhstan and introducing a livestock slaughtering standard in Mongolia, improving the quality of soil and starting collaboration in acclimatizing new sort of seeds to be harmonized in Mongolian weather condition.
They also exchanged views on involving Mongolian agricultural experts and farmers in a short-term training in Kazakhstan to study experiences.
Speaker Enkhbold to Pay Official Visits to Germany and Poland on Mach 14-21
March 13 (infomongolia.com) Mongolian delegates led by Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD will be conducting official visits to the Federal Republic of Germany on March 14-18 upon an invitation of the President of the Bundestag, Professor Norbert Lammert and continuing to the Republic of Poland upon an invitation of the Marshal of the Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz on March 18-21, 2015.
During his visit to Germany, Parliament Speaker Z.Enkhbold will be having bilateral talks with Bundestag President Mr. N.Lammert and Vice President Mrs. Edelgard Bulmahn.
Also, it is planned to meet the Secretary of State to the German Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs Mr. Markus Ederer, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Mr. Hans-Joachim Fuchtel and the President of State Parliament (Landtag) of Berlin Mr. Ralf Wieland.
During his visit to Poland, Parliament Speaker Z.Enkhbold will be also meeting the Marshal of the Senate (Upper House) B.Borusewicz and Marshal of the Sejm (Lower House) Radoslaw Sikorski.
Also, it is planned to have talks with Deputy Prime Minister of Poland and Minister of Economy, Mr. Janusz Piechocinski as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Grzegorz Schetyna and other officials from Warsaw University.
Speaker to visit Germany and Poland – Montsame, March 13
Speaker of Parliament to visit Germany and Poland – news.mn, March 13
FM Purevsuren Attends CoD Governing Council Meeting
Ulaanbaatar, March 9 (MONTSAME) A delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren participated on March 4 and 5 in the 16th Meeting of the Governing Council of the Community of Democracies in Geneva, Switzerland.
The delegation included the Ambassador of Mongolia to the Swiss Confederation and the UN Headquarters in Geneva Mr V.Purevdorj and the head of the Department for Multilateral Cooperation Mr G.Ganbold.
Mongolia, who chaired the Community of Democracies in 2012-2013, is an elected member of the Governing Council. Minister Purevsuren addressed the 16th meeting that discussed the draft of "San Salvador Declaration on the New Issues of Development of the Community of Democracies (CD)", which is to be adopted during the Ministerial meeting of the CD to be held in El Salvador on July 24.
In these times of degrading of the space and involvement of civil societies and the rise of oppression, said the Minister, it is right to principally support such a document in light of protecting the civil societies and providing them with opportunities. However, the contents and structure of the Declaration have to be refined, he added and noted that Mongolia has initiated draft resolutions concerning the democracy education and had the 68th UN General Assembly and the 58th General Conference of the UNESCO adopt the resolutions. The FM said that Mongolia conducts various frameworks to shape the democratic values in the community.
Mongolia, backed its decision to transfer to democratic order and market economy by its Constitution in 1991, is aiming to engrain the democratic election along with the comprehensive concept of good governance, the human rights, press liberty, rule of law and transparency, he went on. "Our country is chairing the Online Freedom Coalition in purposes to affirm and share the achievements gained in last 25 years with others, and is to hold the Fifth Conference of the Coalition in May 4-5 in Ulaanbaatar. The fundamental rights of humans to speech and expression must be protected in the online world, as well" said the Minister.
At the meeting, the Secretary General of the CD, the Ambassador M.Leissner, and the UN Special Lector for the Right to Speech and Expression D.Kay announced their intentions to participate in the Fifth Conference of the Online Freedom Coalition.
Made in Turkey Center Opens at Altanbulag Free Trade Zone
March 11 (gogo.mn) Mr Murat Karagoz Republic of Turkey Ambassador to Mongolia visited Altanbulag Free Trade Zone on March 6-7 in Selenge aimag in order to conduct meetings on developing and strengthening economic and cultural cooperation.
Ambassador Murat Karagoz met with Mr C.Burenbat, Governor of the Selenge aimag and exchanged views on the opportunities to cooperate in agricultural, transportation and logistics, education and food sectors.
Later during the visit Ambassador addressed the opening ceremony of the Made in Turkey center, which took place at the Altanbulag Free trade zone. During the event Ambassador noted that in Turkey there are 19 free trade zones and one of the most active ones are at Ege and that annual sales at those free zones reached USD 3.5 billion, as Turkey improved business environment for investors and other businesses and emphasized that Turkey is ready to cooperate with Mongolia in this direction and share its experiences.
Made in Turkey center opens in the Altanbulag free trade zone – news.mn, March 11
Turkey to Broaden Agriculture, Transport, Education, Food Cooperation with Mongolia
March 10 (infomongolia.com) On March 06-07, 2015, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey to Mongolia, Murat Karagoz and his accompanying delegates have paid a working visit to Selenge Aimag, Mongolia.
The visit was aimed to conduct bilateral meetings in broadening economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries as well as to get acquainted with activities of Altanbulag Free Trade Zone and to stimulate open diplomatic activities to public carried out by the Turkish Embassy to Mongolia. =
Ambassador M.Karagoz was accompanied with Mr. Oguz Kuyumcu, Economic and Commercial Counselor at Turkish Embassy; Mr. Mustafa Fahri Ugur, Social Services Coordinator at Turkish Embassy; Associate Professor Ekrem Kalan, Project Coordinator for Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA); Mr. Turan Can, Assistant to Prof. E.Kalan; Ms. Baatar ALTAI, President of Turkish-Mongolian Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TMIBA) and Mr. Nusret Kaya, TMIBA Vice-President in charge of Turkish side.
In the frameworks of the visit, Ambassador Murat Karagoz held a bilateral meeting with Governor of Selenge Aimag S.Burenbat to discuss potential cooperation in the fields of agriculture, transportation, education and food industries. Also, the delegates were familiarized with "Altan Taria" mill house activity and held a meeting with students and business community. As part of cultural programs, "Istanbul Unveiled" a travel documentary film was shown to public and the delegates went sightseeing the Selenge Aimag's pride of Khulan Khatan Monument (Khulan Queen) and Saikhany Khutul, a natural landscape.
On March 07, 2015, the Turkish delegates and Selenge Aimag Governor have visited the Altanbulag Free Trade Zone and attended the opening ceremony of "Made in Turkey" center.
During the meeting with Governor of Altanbulag Sum and other officials of the Free Trade Zone, Ambassador M.Karagoz noted, "There are 19 active Free Zones in Turkey, where Ege Free Zone in Ismir is the largest one. Last year, commercials equivalent to 3.5 billion USD were made at these Free Zones. Our Government adheres three policies on free trade - open & competitive, friendly & trustworthy to foreign investors and less bureaucracy or less management levels. In this regard, we are able to partner and exchange experiences with Mongolian counterparts in this sphere".
Afterwards, the Turkish Ambassador and accompanying delegates crossed the Altanbulag border port and continued their working visit in Kyakhta (Khiagt), an administrative center of Kyakhtinsky District in the Republic of Buryatia, Russia. During the visit, Ambassador M.Karagoz held a meeting with Kyakhta Governor A.Buyantuev.
Concluding his working visit to Selenge Aimag, Mr. Murat Karagoz told to press that the Republic of Turkey is ready to partner with Selenge Aimag in any sectors as considered as a strategic region of Mongolia and the Embassy further to work supporting businesses in Selenge Aimag as well as to establish a sister-city relation between Selenge Aimag and a Turkish city.
On their way back to Ulaanbaatar, the delegation was welcomed by Governor of Darkhan-Uul Aimag S.Nasanbat.
Darkhan city of Darkhan-Uul Aimag has recently established a sister-city relation with Eskisehir city, the capital of the Eskisehir Province, Turkey.
The Murat Karagoz's visit to Selenge Aimag and Altanbulag Free Trade Zone is recorded as the first official visit by Turkish Ambassador.
Turkey to cooperate with Selenge – Montsame, March 10
Ambassador of Belarus Stanislav Chepurnoy meets Vice Minister for Construction and Urban Development of Mongolia
March 11 (mfa.gov.by) On March 11, 2015 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to Mongolia Stanislav Chepurnoy met with the Vice Minister for Construction and Urban Development of Mongolia, Chairperson of the Mongolian part of the Joint Belarusian-Mongolian Commission on trade and economic cooperation Gochoosuren Baigalmaa.
The sides discussed a wide range of issues of bilateral cooperation, including the agenda of the next session of the Joint Belarusian-Mongolian Commission on trade and economic cooperation.
Belarus to Supply Ulaanbaatar with Public Transportation Vehicles
March 12 (infomongolia.com) On March 11, 2015, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to Mongolia, Mr. Stanislav Vladimirovich Chepurnoy met with the Vice Minister for Construction and Urban Development of Mongolia, Chairperson of the Mongolian part in charge of the Mongolia-Belarus Committee on trade and economic cooperation, Mrs. Gochoosuren BAIGALMAA.
During the meeting, the sides discussed wide range of cooperation issues to boost mutual trade turnover and partnership as well as touched upon issues to stimulate in the road, transportation, building, construction materials, real estate, education, science and agriculture sectors.
Also, parties were satisfied that as a result of developing cooperation, it was decided to supply Ulaanbaatar with public transportation from Belarus.
Moreover, concluding the meeting, Vice Minister G.Baigalmaa briefed about the implementation of the Protocol agreed during the Second Mongolia-Belarus Committee Meeting on trade and economic cooperation and accepted proposals from Belarusian Government on upcoming the Third Mongolia-Belarus Committee Meeting to take place in Ulaanbaatar in June 2015.
In conjunction, the Ambassador S.Chepurnoy held a meeting with Defense Minister Ts.Tsolmon on Monday, March 09, where sides discussed ways of expanding military and technical cooperation, including correspondent priority areas and participation of the Belarusian military observers in the Khan Quest 2015 Military Training Exercise in Mongolia.
Earlier, the Ambassador of Belarus to Mongolia met Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa on Thursday, March 05 to exchange views on current issues of bilateral cooperation in the field of agriculture, including supplies of Belarusian machinery, interaction in the sphere of agrarian science and veterinary medicine as well as studying of Mongolian specialists in the educational establishments of Belarus.
Defense Minister Receives Belarus Ambassador
Ulaanbaatar, March 12 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Defense Ts.Tsolmon received Tuesday the Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to Mongolia Mr S.V.Chepurnoi.
They touched upon matters on developing the relations between Mongolia and Belarus, especially in the defense sphere, and ways of upgrading them.
They also noted that the visit of the Prime Minister of Belarus to Mongolia in 2013 launched the defense relations "that can be expanded in frames of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Military-Technology Cooperation and the Military Cooperation Agreement between the Defense Ministries".
Mongolia's First Resident Ambassador to Indonesia on Ties Between Two Coal Export Competitors
March 13 (UB Post) The first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Indonesia, Sh.Battsetseg, who was appointed in 2014, gave an interview about Mongolia and Indonesia relations and other related matters.
The Mongolian Embassy was established recently in Indonesia. You became the first ambassador of Mongolia to Indonesia. Can you share about the structure and working conditions of the embassy?
We're working with heavy workload with few staff members since the embassy has been newly established. We have two diplomats, two technicians, and an accountant. We've been here for exactly seven months now. Seven months may seem insufficient for getting to know a country's political, social, industrial and economic systems and situations, not to mention introducing our own country, but now that we reviewed these seven months, I can conclude that many things can be completed if everything is planned, managed, and executed well.
As soon as I arrived in Indonesia, I began checking on the location of the embassy and technical supplies, furnishing, and setting up the Mongolian flag. I worked extremely hard to complete sorting of regulations and all required paper work within a month so that I could meet with various ministers and representatives and introduce myself as the Mongolian Ambassador, and inform as many people as possible about the opening of a Mongolian Embassy. I presented my letter of credence to the President of Indonesia, H.E. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on October 13, 2014 and got accredited on the same day.
Just recently, the Mongolian Cultural Day events were organized in Surabaya and Jakarta cities. Can you elaborate on this?
In late February, the Mongolian Embassy in Indonesia and Honorary Consulate of Mongolia in Surabaya co-organized the Mongolian Cultural Day in Surabaya and Jakarta cities and held the official opening of the Mongolian Embassy. At the event held in Surayaba, local residents, business owners, and representatives of government and non-governmental organizations, as well as representatives from Honorary Consulates of several countries participated in the event and got the opportunity to personally experience and find out about Mongolia's history and culture.
Minister for Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Yohana S.Yambise, Minister of the National Development Planning Andrinof A.Chaniago, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia A.M.Fahir attended the cultural event held in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. Representatives of the Indonesian government, agencies, businesses, and foreign diplomatic representative in Indonesia actively joined the event. During the Mongolian Cultural Day, models from Mongol Costumes Center showcased several collections portraying how Mongolian traditional clothes changed from Khunnu Empire until today. Indonesian and other foreign guests were introduced and Mongolian long-song singing, throat singing, and morin khuur performances were given. They seemed very interested in mimes, Mongolian folk dances, contortion, and shaman dances performed during the event. We showed them that a nation with an incredible history has incredible cultures. The Mongolian Cultural Day events organized for the official opening of the Mongolian Embassy was able to make significant contributions in introducing and increasing awareness of Mongolia's history and culture in Indonesia.
How many Mongolians live in Indonesia?
Not many Mongolians live in Indonesia. Some 40 Mongolians have been officially registered at the embassy.
Can you briefly share about the relationship between Mongolia and Indonesia? How are you contributing to this relation?
Mongolia and Indonesia established diplomatic relations on December 22, 1956. The President of Mongolia visited Indonesia in 1997, the Prime Minister in 2002, and the President of Indonesia made state visits in 2003 and 2012. Mongolian civil servants have been attending short-term training courses for information technology and meteorological information technology as part of Indonesia's technical cooperation program. Since 2006, Indonesian soldiers and military officials have been partaking in King's Quest, an international military field training organized in Mongolia. Mongolia hosted the Fifth ARF Peacekeeping Experts Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum with Indonesia in Ulaanbaatar in 2012. Like so, Mongolia and Indonesia have done many things together.
The state visit of President of Indonesia in 2012 Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Mongolia made at the invitation from President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj from September 5 to 7, 2012 contributed significantly in taking the bilateral relations to a new and higher level. During the visit, the two presidents held productive and in-depth discussions in a cordial and friendly atmosphere. Besides covering broad range of topics in all sectors, the Indonesian President had responded positively to Mongolia's invitation to join the Asian Partnership Initiative for Democracy, initiated by the Presidents of Mongolia and South Korea in 2011.
From your perspective, in which sector can Mongolia and Indonesia further their relations?
Besides concentrating on expanding relations of countries, an embassy especially works hard for improving relations in aspects for the economy, trade and investment. Mongolia is very interested in furthering mutually beneficial cooperation with Indonesia in mining, agriculture, small and medium-sized enterprises, and tourism sectors. Mongolia sees that Indonesia's accumulated experience and practice will help Mongolia to resolve many issues such as determining the correct route for developing mining and natural resource sector, increasing benefits of economic and social development of Mongolia, reduce bad effects and pollution to the environment, and provide equitable distribution of profits generated by natural resources.
The main export products of Indonesia are coal and palm oil, which alone take up over 50 percent of Indonesia's exportation. Despite being ranked 13 in the world for its coal reserve, Indonesia is ranked fourth in the world for coal production and outranked Australia for its coal export amount, becoming the leading country in the world for coal export amount. Seeing from this aspect, Indonesia is definitely Mongolia's competitor and strong rival for coal exportation. However, it would probably be more beneficial for both countries if we cooperate rather than compete, exchange experiences in this sector, and make technical innovations. Just like Mongolia, Indonesia has large gold and copper deposits that ranks within the top five in the world.
You've also been the Permanent Representative of Mongolia to ASEAN. What have you done as the permanent representative?
The Mongolian Embassy in Jakarta is also a Representative's Office of Mongolia to ASEAN. Mongolia joined the ARF Regional Forum of ASEAN, which is a multilateral mechanism for discussing the region's political and security issues, in 1998, and joined the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in July 2005. Presently, ASEAN covers 4.5 million square kilometers of territory and 590 million people, and is a region which produces GDP worth 1,282 billion USD and does sales of 1,400 billion USD. ASEAN operates free trade zones for its member countries. By 2020, ASEAN aims to create an integrated market with six countries. Free trade zones were established with China and South Korea in 2010, with Japan in 2012, and with Australia, New Zealand and India in 2011. Now, negotiations to open free trade zones with the European Union and the USA are being discussed. ASEAN countries agreed to ease Visa Regulations by introducing ASEAN Schengen Visa.
It's important for Mongolia to be a part of these discussions held by large countries with large markets. If we want to take big steps forward and join the big market together with ASEAN countries, operations and activities for this sector should be intensified. Our representative office is working towards having the Secretary General of ASEAN visit Mongolia within the scope to expand cooperation with ASEAN.
Is it true that an International Women's Forum will be organized in Jakarta in March at your initiative? Can you comment on this?
From my many years of experience, I believe that women and children's rights and welfare issues should be raised during this forum. I developed my initiative to organize this forum and introduced it to female diplomats as I believe that this sort of forum should be held at every chance we can get. This forum has become a high-level meeting of international women. Women in the Indonesian House of People's Representatives supported my initiative and the very first International Women's Forum will be held on March 24 under topics of "The Role of Women in the Democratic Process and the Legislative Institution", "The Role of Women in Democratic and Smart Governments", and "The Role of Women in Democracy and International Understanding".
This high level meeting organized at the initiative of the Mongolian Embassy was announced to be organized annually. Currently, over a hundred women in total have been confirmed to participate in the International Women's Forum, including five female MPs of the Mongolian Parliament, 20 female members of the Indonesian House of People's Representatives, nine female foreign diplomatic representatives situated in Indonesia, and eight female ministers in the Indonesian government.
Mongolia, Iraq and Colombia representatives speak at UN disarmament conference
March 9 (BioPrepWatch) Dignitaries from Iraq, Mongolia and Columbia spoke at the continuing conference on disarmament at the United Nations on Thursday.
Minister of Foreign Affairs for Iraq, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari spoke of the increasing challenges that are posed by terror organizations and regional crises that the international community faces. He said that the conference and resulting disarmament efforts are at a critical point. The minister reiterated Iraq's intention of continuing non-proliferation and disarmament efforts and its obligations to the international community. He noted that Iraq supports the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, like within the energy sector. He said that this can be incredibly beneficial to a growing economy.
Al-Jaafari concluded with a wish that the conference would be able to develop a program for this year to aid in global disarmament.
Mongolia was represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lundeg Purevsuren. He said that it was a privilege to address the international community, and highlighted the need to move forward with discussions and avoiding an apparent stalemate. He noted that Mongolia has been a member of international frameworks as a part of their efforts on non-proliferation.
The minister called for states to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which was introduced nearly 20 years ago.
Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Columbia Francisco Echeverri Lara discussed the looming Doomsday Clock, a figurative representation of potential global catastrophe. He noted that the clock's panel of experts moved it forward by two minutes, which puts the clock at three minutes until the final hour, the highest it has ever been. The clock is determined by events relating to arms acquisition and climate change threats.
The vice-minister lamented that illicit conventional arms acquisition was an issue that was not given a priority within the conference's scope.
Japan Grants ¥41.8 Million in Cultural Aid to Mongolia for Museum Equipment
March 12 (infomongolia.com) On March 11, 2015, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Lundeg PUREVSUEN and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia, Takenori Shimizu have signed a Note on "Storage Equipment Supply Project to the National Museum of Mongolia" under the Cultural Grand Aid of 41.8 million JPY or approximately 690 million MNT to provide by the Government of Japan.
The signing ceremony took place at the Foreign Ministry of Mongolia and in the scope of the project, Japan to supply 16 equipments to storage exhibits at the Museum, which is located on the west side of the Government House.
In his remarks, Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren noted, "Today, the Government of Japan is allocating the 25th Cultural Grand Aid to Mongolia. In the past years, Japan provided grand aid of 1 billion and 560 million JPY or 25.7 billion MNT. We are grateful to the Government of Japan for assisting to preserve, protect and study historical exhibits, which are a core of Mongolian cultural immune".
In response, Ambassador Sh.Takenori stated, "Four years ago, Japan suffered the strongest earthquake in its history that caused catastrophic damage. We will never forget when the Government and People of Mongolia extended its sincere support at that time. Our country has been actively involved in the conservation of Mongolian cultural heritages. For instances since 2012, the "Intangible Cultural Heritage" project was implement through Japanese Funds-in-Trust for the Preservation of the World Cultural Heritage, as well as "Project to Assist on Preparation Museum Staff" has being successfully implemented. Also, "Kharkhorin" museum was established in Uvurkhangai Aimag under General Cultural Grand Aid by the Government of Japan. As part of "Mid-term Strategic Partnership Program" signed by the heads of state of Mongolia and Japan, today's inked document would play a significant role to promote the country's cultural heritage and highly conducive to the development of tourism sector in Mongolia".
The Government of Japan is to grant donations worth of MNT 690 million – gogo.mn, March 12
Japanese Government to provide grant aid of 690 million MNT to Mongolia – news.mn, March 12
Permanent system to preserve museum artifacts – UB Post, March 13
PM Abe Visits "Sky and Sun Partnership" Calligraphy Exhibition in Tokyo
March 10 (infomongolia.com) Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of cultural ties between Mongolia and Japan, a joint calligraphy exhibition themed "Sky and Sun Partnership" has been displayed at the Itochu Aoyama Art Square gallery in Tokyo on March 05-24, 2015.
The calligraphy exhibition was first performed in Ulaanbaatar last year and this time moved to Tokyo featuring over 90 artificial pieces created by outstanding figures of the two countries in politics and society.
On March 07, 2015, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe visited the gallery and highlighted some calligraphy scripts written by President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj depicting "Moriton", MP L.Bold's "Altan Gerege", calligrapher D.Battumur's "Dalavchilna", and Second Vice-President of World Academy of Arts and Culture, poet G.Mend-Ooyo's "Fuji Yama" created in Mongolian traditional vertical script.
The Sky and Sun Partnership exhibition will be also touring to Tochigi, Niigata and Fukui cities of Japan.
Cabinet discusses PM's visit to Japan
Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) At its meeting on Monday, the cabinet of Ministers considered results of the working visit to Japan paid by the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg February 9-11.
The results were introduced as follows: the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Mongolia and Japan, exchange of opinions during the PM's meeting with the leaders of Japan-Mongolia Friendship Group in the Japan National Diet, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), deputy president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the president of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), on a broad range of matters on the bilateral cooperation. These have also been followed by the courtesy calls paid to the PM by the leaders of "Nomura Shooken", "Sumitomo" and Mitsui Sumitomo Bank.
The Prime Minister had expressed his interest to intensify the implementation of the Strategic Partnership relations in the spheres of establishing power plants, railroads, copper and iron smelting plants, and in constructing highways and subways. During the visit, the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe announced the decision of his government to provide easy-term loans of JPY 36.85 billion for the construction of an airport in Khoshig Valley. Mr Saikhanbileg resolved to work towards the alleviation of the visa requirements, and had the members of the house of Representatives of Japan to cooperate in this issue.
Mongolia's 'third neighbor'
BY NOBURO IWATA AND MICHAEL SUTTON
March 15 (The Japan Times) On Feb. 10, Japan and Mongolia signed an Economic Partnership Agreement that will come into effect this spring. Trade between the two countries is small — accounting for less than 1 percent of Japanese trade. The agreement is, however, of strategic importance as Japan seeks to negotiate closer economic ties with countries in the region. Mongolian mineral resources such as its coal deposits are increasingly important for Japan as it contemplates the appropriate energy mix at a time when it is considering how to reduce its dependence on nuclear power.
Japan, Mongolia, China and Russia exist alongside the United States within the World Trade Organization (WTO) system as equal members. This system has at its core, a set of mutually agreed principles on the operation of international trade in goods, services, agriculture and other areas.
The casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that this system had fallen into disuse since the late 1990s. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The turning point was the failed 1999 WTO Ministerial held in Seattle that prompted a few small Asia-Pacific countries to begin a pattern of negotiating bilateral trade agreements according to the model originally found in Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). These countries such as Singapore and New Zealand, because they were smaller countries, felt more keenly the cold wind of anxiety as the U.S. and Europe were bogged down in multilateral trade negotiations.
In hindsight, the trade system was deadlocked and little has changed in 15 years. Up to this point, Japan had placed faith and confidence exclusively in a nondiscriminatory trade policy that didn't entertain even the notion of a free trade agreement. After careful evaluation, credible evidence emerged that failure to negotiate bilaterally would undermine Japan's competitive advantage. This remains Japan's view.
At the time, existing free trade agreements were conferring preferential treatment to other countries, discriminating against Japanese companies operating abroad. Some in the government also believed that such agreements would have a positive flow-on effect on the Japanese economy.
What Japan adopted was the pattern of negotiating bilateral agreements that while originally intended to focus on "free trade" became wider in scope, leading to the framing of "strategic economic partnership agreements" or EPAs. Currently Japan has 13 agreements in force and one regional agreement, and is negotiating with a further three nations and five regions.
Receiving media attention these days has been the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), partly because of the involvement with the U.S. All agreements both in force and under negotiation are of importance to Japan.
In the 1990s there was some discussion of so-called strategic trade policy. This was tied to the idea of using protectionism to promote certain domestic industries. The use of the term in the context of an EPA is quite different.
An EPA usually focuses on the liberalization of trade, clarification and stabilization of rules of commerce and paves the way for an expansion of trade and investment only among some trading partners. Since the turn of the century, most countries in the region have been negotiating various types of similar trade agreements with many of their trading partners.
It is true that the Japan-Mongolia EPA is not the TPP. But the Mongolia-Japan EPA is of strategic importance for both countries. At the Japan-Mongolian Summit in Tokyo on Feb. 10, Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg affirmed Japan as Mongolia's "third neighbor," alongside Russia and China. This idea encompasses a growing cultural, educational, social as well as economic integration between the two countries.
In economic terms, Mongolia's rich mineral deposits are increasingly important for Japan. Mongolia is rich in iron ore, gold, coal and crude oil. Japan is a resource-poor country and needs to import such materials to sustain economic well-being.
At the current time, China is the principal importers of Mongolian mineral resources, but Chinese dominance is expected to be challenged under this agreement.
In recent years there has been growing concern in Mongolia and elsewhere over China's economic growth and implications for the future political integrity of this landlocked nation.
Critics allege that coal prices are suppressed by China's dominant influence. Others critics argue that this has led to national anxiety over China's intentions for Mongolia. Not surprisingly, as China grows exponentially, its appetite for raw materials and minerals such as coal is a consequence of that growth.
China remains Mongolia's largest destination of coal.
The EPA with Mongolia however is expected to facilitate greater Japanese investment in the Mongolian resources market, to compete with other foreign companies already operating in the country. Provisions in the treaty guarantee national treatment as well as giving both parties the right to take measures against anti-competitive behavior. These rules will contribute to greater stability and clarity.
The WTO celebrates competition and free markets within a system of mutually agreed rules. Japan, China and Mongolia rely upon these rules to safeguard the massive economic growth in the region in recent years. Any trade with Mongolia relies upon the transportation of trade resources across Chinese territory.
Japan also needs to adapt to the energy realities after the tragic March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. Before this catastrophe, Japan's electrical power was driven largely by nuclear energy but in the current climate, other sources of power are desirable.
It is in this context that Mongolian mineral resources are of growing importance for Japan as the nation seeks the right path for "An agreeable energy mix" as suggested in the Feb. 27 editorial of The Japan Times.
Mongolia is part of a vital regional economy that relies upon continual economic expansion and stability. Japan's future is also dependent upon the WTO system, a system that has informed and underpinned the growth and development of China and East Asia.
Noburo Iwata is the director of the WTO Research Center at Aoyama Gakuin University. Michael Sutton is a visiting research fellow.
President Elbegdorj Accredits New Canadian Ambassador Mr. Eelco Jager
March 12 (infomongolia.com) On March 11, 2015, newly appointed the resident Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Mongolia Mr. Eelco Jager has presented a Letter of Credence to the President of Mongolia Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ.
Following the credential handing ceremony, President Ts.Elbegdorj received the newly accredited envoy and congratulating on his appointment President noted with satisfaction the successful development of the bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries growing in recent years.
President of Mongolia highlighted the successful visits of the Canada's Governor General David Johnston in 2013 and Foreign Minister of Canada John Baird to Mongolia paid in 2014 respectively.
President Ts.Elbegdorj emphasized, "The traditional Roundtable Meeting between the two countries is an important mechanism, which has been co-hosted since 2003, and we evaluate the current level of bilateral relations and discuss the future cooperation possibilities. The Head of the Mongolian side in charge of the Roundtable Meeting, Minister R.Jigjid's recent visit to Canada was a success, where he attended the 2015 Convention of Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) held on March 01-04, 2015. I am pleased that Mongolia is listed as one of Canada's Countries of focus for international development assistance program. There are numerous potential in further developing the cooperation in fields of education, legislature, agriculture, construction, infrastructure, and health basing on that existing cooperation".
Ambassador Eelco Jager noted that he was glad to be appointed to Mongolia, the country with a unique history and tradition and said that he was giving great importance to the visit of Mongolian Minister of Mining R.Jigjid to Canada and the bilateral meeting of the Mining Ministers of the two countries. Also, he touched upon the opportunities of developing the bilateral partnership in the education sphere.
Newly appointed the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Mongolia, Mr. Eelco Jager succeeds Mr. Gregory Goldhawk, who used to be Dean of Diplomatic Corps in Mongolia.
Canada recognized Mongolia in 1964, but the diplomatic relations were established on November 30, 1973, where the General Consulate of Mongolia was opened in Toronto in 1998 and by expanding its status, the Office was enlarged as the Embassy of Mongolia to Canada in 2001, and the Embassy of Canada to Mongolia has been officially operating its activities in Ulaanbaatar since September 2008.
Boston Ballet's Altankhuyag Appointed Cultural Ambassador of Mongolia, Third After Hakuho, Tuvshinbayar
March 9 (GoGo Mongolia) State Honored Artist and Principle Dancer at the Boston Ballet Dugaraa Altankhuyag has been appointed as the Culture Ambassador for Mongolia.
Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Puravsuren handed the certificate to D.Altankhuyag during the IBT Berlin 2015 event last week.
During the ceremony Minister L.Purevsuren emphasized the contribution of D.Altankhuyag into world and Mongolian ballet development and expressed his graditute that one of the young talents is to represent Mongolia at the global level. He also noted that Ministry of Foreign Affairs will support D.Altankhuyag in his endeavors as Culture Ambassador in the world to promote Mongolia and partnerships in culture, science and sports.
State Honored Artist D.Altankhuyag is the third person to act as the Culture Ambassador for Mongolia.
Marco Polo Seeks Mongolian Actors for Season 2
By K. Tugchin
March 13 (UB Post) "Marco Polo" premiered on Netflix on December 12, 2014, and in preparation for its second season, its international casting call is reaching out to Mongolian talent.
The series tells the story of Khubilai Khaan through the eyes of Italian adventurer Marco Polo. It was conceived and written by John Fusco, who is famous for his screenplays for "Young Guns", "Hidalgo", and "The Forbidden Kingdom". "Marco Polo" is produced by The Weinstein Company.
"Marco Polo" is the first Hollywood production to feature a Mongolian actor in a key role. Popular Mongolian star B.Amarsaikhan played the role of Arig Bukh in the series.
Auditions for the next round of the web series are taking place from March 12 to 15 at Mongolian National Broadcaster. The series coordinator in Mongolia, M.Orgil, project consultant O.Burenjargal, costume designer A.Saruul, and other people involved in the production spoke more about the casting in Ulaanbaatar.
Second season shooting is scheduled to start this June in Malaysia, Hungary, and New Zealand. The casting directors are auditioning artists for the role of Queen Sorkhagtani, her father Jakha Khambu, young Khubilai Khaan, baby Khaidu, as well as 50 to 70 extras.
As of press time, around 50 people had registered for the audition. The series' project coordinators in Mongolia see the casting call as a great opportunity to promote the culture and history of Mongolia.
Queen Sortukhagtani is Khubilai's mother, and is considered a major influence on Khubilai's success as khaan. A woman around the age of 40 will play her role.
The casting directors are looking for a man who appears to be in his 60s for the role of Jakha Khambug. The character's casting description reads: Jakha Khambug is like an experienced old wolf and he is the most influential elder in his land. His massive and callused hands are suitable for only war, but his only desire is to love and be with his grandchildren. His greatest weapon is his wisdom and mind, not his physical strength and giant stature.
Young Khublai will be played by a boy around the age of 12, "with red cheeks and bright demeanor."
The casting crew have said, "Extras will not have any particular description. If they possess any particular strength or talent, it will be considered a bonus. They must be able to work on set for two to six months."
Mongolian consultant for "Marco Polo" O.Burenjargal spoke to Mongol News Group about the series.
What kind of advice are you giving the project?
I've met with a few people on the American side. I'm mainly advising the Mongolian side. The advice seems to be reaching the creators of "Marco Polo". Seeing as they are listening to people, I think they really respect Mongolian history.
My words go through people such as producer M.Orgil. The series has some non-Mongolian and inaccurate aspects. I gave my ideas on how to make them more Mongolian. Historically, Khubilai doesn't kill his brother Arig Bukh, but he was killed off in the series.
Have you seen the series? As someone who translated "The Adventures of Marco Polo", have you observed any inconsistencies.
There are some. Of course, you can't make a series based on just a book. Books about Marco Polo have been translated in all European languages from documented experiences 740 years ago. I wanted to make this accessible to Mongolians and I translated it. Marco Polo recorded what he observed during his stay of around 17 years in the Great Mongol Empire. Historians view this in many ways. I think his notes can be trusted because his notes match the events of Mongolia during that period.
A Mongolian actor was cast in the first season and the second season might feature even more Mongolian actors. What do you hope to see from the series in terms of Mongolian culture?
It would be great if they show the lives of Mongolian in the 13th and 14th century, and show more about Khubilai Khaan's state policies. Mongolians first came up with the idea to use paper for money. Station communications were invented during Ugudei Khaan's era and were developed further in Khubilai Khaan's time. Around 2,000 people and 20,000 horses operated the stations. They sent and received messages between Asia and Europe in just two weeks. Khubilai used to support Chinese farmers and Mongolian herders during droughts and blizzards. He set up the modern welfare system. It was clear from studying him that he was a man of great appreciation for the arts and culture. He had an orchestra of 500 and a great big library. Khubilai Khaan's astronomy observatory has been preserved in Beijing.
Mongolia to bring back daylight saving time on March 28
March 10 (infomongolia.com) Today, the Prime Minister's Spokesman Ts.Munkhtur briefed about the Cabinet meeting decisions resolved on March 09, 2015.
According to Cabinet meeting resolutions, Mongolia will be enacting the Daylight Savings Time or to turn forward One Hour at 01:00 am on March 28, 2015.
The Daylight Saving Time (DST) or summer time is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour so that light extends into the evening hours - sacrificing normal sunrise times.
Mongolia first implemented nationwide the DST in 1983 upon the Ministerial Council Resolution No.51 and later, following a Government Resolution issued in 1999, the DST was stopped, but restored in 2001 and after six years, the Daylight Saving Time in Mongolia has been stopped to observe since 2007.
The 2015 Government Resolution on Daylight Saving Time in Mongolia will be effective annually from 02:00 am on the last week (night between Friday and Saturday) of March until 00:00 am on the last week of September throughout the country.
New Zealander George Vernon Hudson proposed the modern idea of daylight saving in 1895. Germany and Austria-Hungary organized the first implementation, starting on April 30, 1916. Many countries have used it at various times since then, particularly since the energy crisis of the 1970s.
The practice has received both advocacy and criticism. Putting clocks forward benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, but can cause problems for evening entertainment and for other activities tied to the sun (such as farming). Although some early proponents of DST aimed to reduce evening use of incandescent lighting (formerly a primary use of electricity), modern heating and cooling usage patterns differ greatly, and research about how DST currently affects energy use is limited or contradictory.
Cabinet discusses a shift to Daylight Saving Time at the end of March – news.mn, March 10
Daylight saving will start on March 28th – gogo.mn, March 10
Mongolia to shift to Summer Time – Montsame, March 10
$20 Million ADB Project to Reform Mongolia's Universities
Ulaanbaatar, March 8 (MONTSAME) Head of the Presidential Office P.Tsagaan Friday received a delegation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headed by Mr Robert Schoellhammer, the ADB country-director for Mongolia, and John C. Weidman, a professor of the University of Pittsburgh.
The sides shared views on implementing a USD 20 million worth project on reforming universities and institutes of Mongolia. Mr Tsagaan said the money is to be needed for restoring not only state-run universities but also 1-2 private universities to make them model universities.
Delegates from Mongolia visit NMSU to learn about education and democracy
March 6 (New Mexico State University) Five delegates from Mongolia National University of Education will visit New Mexico State University for a continuing collaboration, discussing different scholarly activities from March 16-21.
NMSU is the only U.S. university MNUE has connected with at this level for four years with an agreement signed by both universities. Candace Kaye, from NMSU's College of Education, has been the ongoing liaison between the two universities. She was a Fulbright Teaching and Research Scholar from 2010-2011 in Mongolia.
"I am always excited for these meetings," Kaye said. "It is interesting that as a post-Soviet Bloc nation, Mongolia was the only nation to choose a democratic form of government. It is exciting to help support their development of democracy in their young country through educational reform."
MNUE is the only higher education institution in Mongolia that offers programs and supports pre-service and professional development of teachers.
The NMSU College of Education has had several delegation visits to MNUE since 2011 and the March 2015 meeting will be based on planning from NMSU's most recent visit to MNUE in October 2014.
The focus of the meeting concerns graduate programs and curriculum. The goals and objectives of future actions will focus on online development, English language support and action research.
During the week the MNUE Vice President of Academic Affairs will lead the delegation to the Las Cruces campus. They will then travel to Santa Fe. New Mexico State Sen. Mary Kay Papen will recognize the Mongolian Delegates at the state legislature. They will then visit the new Santa Fe Community College Higher Education Center. In Santa Fe they will learn distance education programming, and discuss further opportunities and possibilities for Mongolia, a nation with only one city and a high rural population.
Mongolia to Implement WHO Hepatitis B Guidelines
March 13 (gogo.mn) Mongolia is to implement the Guidelines for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Persons with Chronic Hepatitis B Infection by the World Health Organization.
Ministry of Health and Sports, Mongolian Association of Hepatologists and Onom Foundation have announced to implement the guidelines in the scope of the Healthy Liver Program.
WHO is releasing for the first time guideline on hepatitis B virus. The guideline is easy to adopt for the physicians, affordable and contains valuable information on the diagnosis and treatment of the virus.
The guidelines were introduced at the Asia Pacific Hepatology Society meeting being held in Turkey.
Mongolia Secures Gilead Sciences' Hep C Treatment Harvoni
March 9 (gogo.mn) "Healthy Liver" program is being implemented by the Ministry of Health and Sports in cooperation with "Onom" foundation.
In scope of this program, the Minister of Health and Sports, G.Shiilegdamba paid working visit to San Francisco and Washington D.C. on March 2-8, 2015 to expand international cooperation with ofiicials.
They held meeting with representatives of Abbott Laboratories (Mogi: wait, weren't we talking to Gilead Sciences about this?), which is the world's leading American pharmaceuticals and health care products company, to discuss on decreasing the expensive cost of diagnosis to affordable cost on March 04. In Mongolia, diagnosis of hepatitis B, C is ranging at MNT130-150 thousand. However, the patient has to have tests for several times after and before treatment.
In result of the meeting, "Harvoni" (Mogi: Google says Harvoni is Gilead's), which is indicated for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, is to be used for treatment and is to be registered in Mongolian drug registration.
Moreover, they met with representatives of Stanford University and they made negotiations on exchanging Mongolian doctors and scientists for experience sharing sessions.
'When I was herding I had a plentiful life. Now I am working for another and have lost my independence'
A new report reveals the often devastating impact of big development projects on local communities. Sukhgerel Dugersuren interviewed the nomads in Mongolia being displaced by mines
By Sukhgerel Dugersuren in Mongolia. Sukhgerel Dugersuren is founder of OT Watch, and a member of IAP's global advocacy team
March 9 (The Guardian) In 2014 the International Accountability Project asked their global advocacy team to look at eight projects funded by the World Bank and other development banks around the world. This month they publish findings from the Philippines, Burma, Panama, Mongolia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Cambodia in 'Back to development: A call for what development could be'. Here we publish an extract from the Mongolia report by Sukhgerel Dugersuren, who worked for many years with the US Agency for International Development.
In the past decade, Mongolia's South Gobi Desert has experienced an enormous mining boom. In 2000, we had only a couple of large active mines. Today, there are dozens of large-scale mines with many more being planned.
I formed a research team with members of the communities being affected by two particular developments: Oyu Tolgoi mine, a US$12bn project owned and operated by Rio Tinto and funded by the World Bank among other organisations (Mogi: yet to be financed by IFC), Mongolia's largest ever foreign direct investment, and Tayan Nuur iron mine, in south-western Mongolia, which is being financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Together we interviewed 100 people, most of whom have spent their entire lives as nomadic herders until recently, while others were residents of the local towns or staff at the local government office.
According to the World Bank, mining has led to rapid economic growth in Mongolia. But the reality for people living near the mines is different. Pollution has had an impact on everyone, but the people who have suffered the greatest impoverishment are the nomadic herder communities. Their life-sustaining pastures, water springs and seasonal camps are being lost to open-pit mines and the road building, waste dumping and water extraction that come along with this industry.
Resettlement programmes have already begun at both mining sites, although some of the people we interviewed were excluded from the programmes. Instead, families were displaced when their pastures were taken and their water sources became polluted. Many families have left their lands and are "going around begging pasture access from others," in the words of one person we interviewed.
Other families moved to nearby towns but have struggled to earn a living away from their traditional nomadic lifestyle. A person relocated by the Tayan Nuur mine told us: "We used to live with our children, herding animals and benefiting from sales of wool cashmere, milk and dairies. But now we are forced to operate a small shop to survive. We had 600 to 700 animals before and a successful life, but a company with empty promises came to dig our land and cause damages that bring big emotional stress on us."
At both mines some of the displaced families were excluded from compensation and resettlement programs. Of the people surveyed who are being displaced by the Oyu Tolgoi project, 34% said that they did not receive any compensation. With the Tayan Nuur project, 74% said they received no compensation.
The loss of pastures and water made it impossible for many nomadic herder families to earn a livelihood. One person displaced by the Oyu Tolgoi mine explained: "Without pasture we are forced to move and look for other pastures. There are no other options left." Another said: "I was not resettled by [Oyu Tolgoi], but I am one of many who had to move without compensation, because of no water."
Pollution also drove a number of families from their homes. One family who are being displaced by the Tayan Nuur project said: "There is a lot of noise and dust. Grass stopped growing in our pasture. It is not possible to herd animals here any more." Another person described the costly impacts of pollution, saying: "We moved after five of our goats died of suffocation from swallowing dust from the quarries."
Nomadic people are not considered indigenous
Of the 100 people who we surveyed, 88% identified themselves as belonging to an indigenous community. However, neither the government nor the mines' investors consider nomadic herders to be eligible for protection under the indigenous people's safeguards of the development finance institutions. This lack of recognition means that project developers have not been required to carefully study and respect customary land uses in the affected areas. Much of the area impacted by the mines is being treated simply as "state land" rather than as areas where indigenous people live and have complex land management systems.
This meant that the developers of the Oyu Tolgoi mine did not recognise areas considered sacred by the affected communities. The subsequent destruction of sacred sites has caused grave cultural and psychological impacts. As one displaced person explained: "This mine has taken away our land and water, destroyed our sacred Bor-Ovoo Mountain, which has always been a mountain we worship. It has brought us many damages." Similar complaints were made about sacred rivers and springs.
The psychological toll of the displacement has been severe. A man who was displaced by Tayan Nuur said: "When I was herding, I had a plentiful life. Now I am working for another and lost my independence, and I have no support promised by the company, not even gloves or toilet paper."
Several of the families that we interviewed did receive some form of compensation. Both mining companies paid cash to some families and provided temporary, manual labor jobs at the project sites. People affected by the Tayan Nuur mine also reported that a few students received scholarships.
However, the vast majority of displaced people who participated in the survey (71% at Oyu Tolgoi and 82% at Tayan Nuur) reported that they received no livelihood assistance. A family that was displaced by the Tayan Nuur mine told us: "We had a 60-year land use certificate for the winter/spring camp land. The fence, animal shelter, building for canteen and storage have been valued at 20m MNT (£7,000) but the community relations officer came and voided it, claiming that the valuation was done by a non-expert, that 5 million MNT (£1,600) should be adequate."
Among those displaced by the Oyu Tolgoi project, 50% reported that they were never consulted. For the Tayan Nuur project, 63% said they were never consulted. When asked whether they had the information necessary to make informed decisions about the project, only 2% responded positively.
On several occasions, community members approached the developers of Oyu Tolgoi and Tayan Nuur to address their grievances. In both cases, the developers were unresponsive. A woman displaced by the Tayan Nuur mine described her experience: "We lived in the mine impact zone, asking for compensation for four years. They will not let us in when we come with petitions for assistance."
Force and coercion were also experienced during the relocation process. Some 13% reported that the project developers "used coercion and intimidation, such as saying we would not get compensation, would lose our job or experience another such consequence". Similarly, 12% reported that "they used bulldozers, intentional flooding or explosions, or other means to scare us into moving". Another 10% reported that "they threatened us with force and violence to scare us to move".
Overall, the people we interviewed believe that the mines have brought more harm than benefits to their communities: 68% said that their lives have become worse or much worse. Only 17% believe their quality of life has remained the same. A few people were more optimistic: 10% believe their quality of life will improve when they are resettled, but only 2% reported that their quality of life has improved so far.
Much harm could have been prevented if local expertise and ideas were included in the design of these two projects. In Mongolia, only the herder communities themselves understand how the land is used, where seasonal camps are located, and when springs freeze. The government does not track this type of information or protect the customary use rights and patterns. Quite literally, the only source of this information comes from sitting down and talking with local people. For this reason, it is important for communities to have the opportunity to map the ways that the mines will affect their livelihoods.
You can access the rest of IAP's report here. Sukhgerel Dugersuren is founder of OT Watch, an NGO that monitors the Oyu Tolgoi mine, and she is also part of IAP's global advocacy team. Follow @4accountability on Twitter.
Open Mongolian History Lessons to Be Conducted Nationwide
By E. Oyundari
March 13 (UB Post) President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj received Institute of Archeology researcher Dr. D.Ulziibaatar and Director of Mongolian National University Dr. R.Bat-Erdene on Wednesday, and spoke to them regarding about broadcasting a Mongolian history lesson nationwide.
D.Ulziibaatar told the President that he produced a 40-hour audio book about the history of Mongolia, based on archive materials, in order to improve young people's knowledge about their motherland. Mentioning that Mongolian youth are enthusiastic to know more about the country's history and origin, he emphasized that his audio book had been well received.
Advisor to the President and the Head of Office of the President P.Tsagaan also attended the meeting. He introduced an initiative worked on by the President's Office, the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and National University of Mongolia to conduct the first online open public lesson on the history of Mongolia. They are planning to broadcast a six-series lesson, and if it is well received, they will produce more lessons.
In recent years, online public lessons and training sessions have had a great influence on determining trends in the development of higher education. The world's most prestigious universities have started conducting some lessons that are open to the public, which has allowed the public access to university level education, and created opportunities to set education quality standards worldwide. The rankings of the best universities in the world are now also being measured by whether or not a university is conducting free and open public lessons and training.
In 2002 UNESCO adopted the term "Open Educational Resources" (OER) to define freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing, as well as for research purposes. Later, in 2012, UNESCO hosted a global conference on education and started to carry out the promotion of open training courses and making more OER accessible to public. Following this global trend, the project to conduct the first online public lesson on Mongolian history was conceived.
The first series of the online lesson will cover six subjects, including the history of Mongolia from 1900 to 1915, themes on the Fall of the State of Manchu, the Mongolian rebellion for independence, the VIII Bogd Jabzan Damba and patriotic aristocrats, the influence of the Russian monarchy on Mongolia, as well as a lesson about the trilateral Khiagt agreement. The online lesson will be hosted by Dr. D.Ulziibayar, who headed the General Archival Authority for many years.
Stating that the online Mongolian dictionary and open history lessons have vital significance in promoting Mongolia's mother tongue and the nation's history, the President said that he supports the initiative.
Project on Mongolia's history lessons presented to president – Montsame, March 12
Mongol and Mongoloid: A strange history of words
(Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) The last film in the Ruben Östund film retrospective (In Case of No Emergency: The Films of Ruben Östlund, ending February 26 at YBCA) has a title that has raised some eyebrows about the choice of words in its English translation.
Mongolian Children Doing Well After Heart Surgery at Mayo
March 8 (ABC 6 News) -- A group of children are happy and healthy after heart surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
The four kids and their mothers traveled more than 6,000 miles from Mongolia for their operations as part of the Samaritan's Purse Children's Heart Project.
The families are staying with a host family in Mantorville.
"So we have a really full house. It's my four kids plus the five Mongolians and myself and (wife) Nancy," host Dave Verberg said.
With the help of a translator, the families been feeling more and more at home and having spent the month in Med City, the ladies say they are grateful for all the support they've received.
When they return to Mongolia next week, they say they'll be happy to show off their healthy babies.
Oyu Tolgoi – UN Population Fund sign agreement on youth development in Khanbogd
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, March 11 – Oyu Tolgoi LLC COO, Mr. Ivan Vella, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative, Ms. Naomi Kitahara, today signed a joint agreement to support youth development in Khanbogd soum, South Gobi.
The two organisations have agreed to the establishment of a Youth Development Centre, commonly known as a YDC, in Khanbogd. This YDC will provide training and coaching on life-skills, support young people in developing practical, relevant job skills, provide counseling in reproductive health, education, communication and psychology, while providing a fun, safe atmosphere for local young people.
This partnership between Oyu Tolgoi and UNFPA Mongolia brings together two organisations working in the private and development sector. This innovative collaboration is the first of its kind for the UN agency.
During the signing ceremony, UNFPA Representative, Naomi Kitahara said, "The objective of the project is to help young people acquire life skills, and grow as responsible, positive and self-reliant people. One of the main vehicles for achieving this is the Youth Development Centre.".
Ivan Vella, COO – Oyu Tolgoi LLC said, "Over the many years that I have worked here, I have learned that the youth of Mongolia has truly world class potential. Over the years, Oyu Tolgoi has invested in significant programmes to deliver skills and knowledge, and we believe the YDC can be an important instrument in supporting Mongolia's development. We are proud to be part of such an important project, and to partner with the UNFPA."
To date, UNFPA and the Government of Mongolia, with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Government of Luxembourg, have established 12 YDCs throughout Mongolia. These YDCs are working to build a responsible, positive and self-reliant youth population.
Highlighting the strength of the partnership, Ms. Kitahara added, "Oyu Tolgoi has delivered significant interventions, particularly in the regional Technical and Vocational training sector. Coupled with UNFPA's technical expertise in the areas of youth, gender and adolescent health, we believe there is great potential to make a significant difference in the lives of Khanbogd youth.".
Asian Youth Forum to Convene in Ulaanbaatar, May 18-21
March 11 (news.mn) The Government of Mongolia, together with the Mongolian Youth Federation, is going to organize the Asian Youth Forum in Ulaanbaatar this spring.
The XIII General Forum will be organized under the topic "One Asia 2015: Youth participation in stable development". It will be held from May 18 to 21. More than 600 guests and representatives will be invited to participate in the forum.
The forum will discuss issues concerning education, employment, health, gender, the participation of youth in stable development, policy regarding youth development, and programs for the development of youth. Meetings on the following topics will also be held: "Young Entrepreneurial Leaders" and "Meeting of the Youth of North West Asia".
Flash Mob Staged in Japan to Mobilize Mongolian Students Around the World
March 13 (gogo.mn) Mongolian students in Japan organized flash mob to mobilize Mongolian students around the world.
"We are strongly believing that we can motivate many Mongolian students passion to their homeland through this flash mob under slogan "Join together with warm heart", "Open wing to homeland". We hope that Mongolian students around the world would continue the flash mob. Enjoy our video dedicated to every heart with passion to their homeland."
Dancing master and organizer:
VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHY:
A.Dolgion (Horsehead fiddle player)
Forbes Mongolia Names Asia Foundation Fellow Badruun Gardi to 30 Under 30 List
Vice Foreign Minister N.Oyundari receives Wolf Totem actress R.Ankhnyam
By A. Narantsatsral
March 5 (gogo.mn) Today, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs N.Oyundari received actress R.Ankhnyam.
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs N.Oyundari expressed her gratitude on contributing efforts to promote Mongolian history, custom and lifestyle and congratulated on upcoming International Women`s Day.
"Ministry of Foreign Affairs aims to develop film industry by expanding international cooperation of film sector" she highlighted.
Actress R.Ankhnyam noted that after the filming of "Wolf Totem", tourism of Ultai in Inner Mongolia has developed rapidly. If our country provides opportunity to foreign directors to film in Mongolia or if we direct film about Mongolian culture and nomadic culture, it could affect our economy as well.
In addition, Mongolian artists face visa period issue when they work abroad, she highlighted.
In response, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs N.Oyundari
said that we will legally solve this issue.
Sepp Blatter Congratulates Newly Elected President of Mongolian Football Federation
Ulaanbaatar, March 11 (MONTSAME) The president of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) Mr Sepp Blatter has sent a congratulatory letter to Mr A.Ganbaatar on being elected the new president of Mongolia's Football Federation (MFF).
Mr Baltter hopes that the new president of the MFF will significantly contribute to a sustainable development of football, and expresses his and the FIFA's readiness to support football in Mongolia. He also writes the FIFA is always "open to discuss any issues of football, its collaboration and administration".
Mr Ganbaatar has received such letters from the presidents of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the Football Associations of Japan and of Kuwait.
Mogi: thanks a lot Sepp!!!
Mongolia Loses to Timor-Leste 1:4 in First Leg of 2018 Qualifying
March 13 (infomongolia.com) After eight months of concluding the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, the bid for the next global extravaganza at 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia takes centre stage with Asia's qualifying first round kicking off on Thursday, March 12, 2015.
Six pairs (Pot A: India, Yemen, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka; Pot B: Nepal, Pakistan, Mongolia, Macau, Brunei and Bhutan) of the Asia's lower ranked national teams are battling over two legs on March 12 & 17, where winners will be join the remaining 34 teams in the next stage. This phase also serves as the first round qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
The first leg between Mongolia and Timor-Leste was hosted at the National Stadium in Dili, Timor-Leste under Referee Sivakorn Pu-Udom from Thailand on March 12, where in the 4' and 7' minutes of the first half, Chiquito Felipe Do Carmo scored first two goals that was a big stress to Mongolian National Team.
The match ended with 4:1 in favor of host nation, although, only one goal was scored in the entire match by B.Erkhembayar in the 87'.
The revenge game will be organized at the Stadium of Mongolian Football Federation in Ulaanbaatar and if Mongolian National Team to win by three-goal difference, so could advance in the next round.
However Mongolian players and fans were upset with a lost first leg, but Mongolia's first legionnaire to Serbia (Macva FC) A.Murun could not play in this such responsible game due to insufficient joint training with his playmates and he pledges to join in the second leg in UB.
Organizers say a ticket costs 5,000 MNT and the game will be start at 04:00 pm on March 17, 2015.
Timor-Leste 4 - 1 Mongolia (Half-time 2-0)
March 12, 2015 15:00 Stadion Nasional Timor Leste (Dili)
Chiquito 4' 1 - 0
Chiquito 7' 2 - 0
Rodrigo 84' 3 - 0
Jairo Neto 85' 4 - 0
B.Erkhembayar 87' 4 - 1
Sas Carey's New Documentary Explores Mongolian Rites
March 11 (Seven Days) Among the many unusual features of Sas Carey's résumé is the small section about the languages she speaks: English, French, Swedish and "beginning Mongolian." Sure enough, on a bookshelf in Carey's Middlebury home sits a binder for a Mongolian-language audio course.
That binder is in good company. Carey's home is packed with artwork from and about Mongolia, and crafts, photographs and souvenirs from her many trips to the country. But the most recent manifestation of Carey's longtime fascination is one that she produced herself. Her documentary Ceremony, which evolved over more than 10 years of travel to Mongolia, finally premieres this week at Middlebury's Town Hall Theater.
Carey, 70, has a nursing degree as well as a passion for nonclinical treatments; she says her abiding goal is to "harmonize" the two. On her website, she calls herself a "private healer and spiritual guide," offering services such as "energy healing" and "spiritual readings."
She's equally invested in sharing her interest in Mongolia, which she's been visiting regularly since 1994. That passion has produced one book, Reindeer Herders in My Heart, and more than half a dozen films. Carey founded and directs a charitable organization called Nomadicare, which is devoted to preserving and sustaining the unique culture of nomadic Mongolians.
A former potter and masseuse, among other occupations, Carey gives credit for her polymathic tendencies to her Quaker upbringing. "As a Quaker, you listen for your calling for what you're supposed to do," she says, "and it's a changing kind of thing. You do a thing 'til you're done with it; then you do the next thing 'til you're done with it."
Carey gathered hundreds of hours of footage for Ceremony, her documentary about traditional Mongolian shamanic practices. One of her greatest difficulties, she says, was turning that raw material into a story that would convey her ideas about her subject. She initially wanted to include neither footage of herself nor a voiceover track in the film. But Carey eventually realized that including herself in the movie was the key to its structure, with the help of a story consultant who told her, "You really need some glue to put this together, and you're the glue," she says.
Carey's decision to incorporate her own guiding presence is a boon to the film's audience, since the shamanic practices it depicts would otherwise be inscrutable to most viewers. Mongolian shamans, for instance, consider epilepsy an indication of the sufferer's putative healing powers. As Carey learns about this culture, she brings viewers along into a world of surpassing unfamiliarity.
Shooting video in remotest Mongolia would be a challenge even for seasoned directors, but filmmaking autodidact Carey prevailed over the harsh conditions on the steppes. With no electrical grid to rely on, she had to power her gear with batteries and solar panels and to trek to shooting locations riding a horse — or a reindeer.
Ceremony's 45 minutes condense a great deal of Carey's own experience. Not only were its 125 hours of footage shot over the span of a decade, but the director's access to Mongolian healing ceremonies was anything but immediate. She had to earn her subjects' trust — not an easy task, despite having worked on the project since 2003. "It took some years until [the shamans] let me see a ceremony, and then a little bit more until they let me shoot the ceremony," Carey says.
Certain of these rituals are traditionally held only in darkened yurts, a setting where it is difficult to obtain a readable image. And visibility was only half the problem, Carey says. On the voiceover track of Ceremony, she comments on a ceremony that she witnessed and filmed while in the dark: "It's not until the next year, when I show the footage to the ... shamans for them to explain, that I understand what I'm seeing."
When Carey speaks of the ceremonies she witnessed, it's clear that she was strongly impressed by their visceral force. "Their system is thousands and thousands of years old," she says. "It's very powerful. They just allow their souls to leave their bodies. They're just like shells that are accepting their ancestors' spirits, and they start acting like something else. In the movie, [a shaman named] Nergui starts howling like a wolf. It's like the energy of the wolf is in his body."
Medical doctors might not be impressed by such techniques, but Carey is sincere in her awe for the millennia-old healing traditions — a sincerity that comes through clearly in her latest film.
Pope Commends Efforts of Catholic Community in Mongolia
Vatican City, Mar 12, 2015 / 09:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- His trip last August to South Korea was on Pope Francis' mind Thursday when he met with the nation's bishops, who are visiting Rome for their ad limina meeting.
"Your presence today brings to mind fond memories of my recent visit to Korea, where I experienced first-hand the goodness of the Korean people, who so generously received me and shared with me the joys and sorrows of their lives," Pope Francis wrote in his March 12 address to the bishops of South Korea, delivered in the Vatican's Consistory Hall.
The Korean bishops were joined by Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, who serves the Church in Mongolia.
He then turned particularly to Bishop Padilla, who shepherds the roughly 1,000 Catholics in Mongolia, who live amid a population of 2.9 million.
"Though a small community in a vast territory, it is like the mustard seed which is the pledge of the fullness of God's Kingdom," Pope Francis said. "May these reflections encourage the continuing growth of that seed, and nourish the rich soil of the Mongolian people's faith."
He concluded, saying, "I would like to express my appreciation in a particular way to the Catholic community in Mongolia for their efforts in building up the Kingdom of God. May they remain fervent in their faith, always trusting that the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit is at work within them as missionary disciples."
Colwyn Bay adventurer to recall Mongolian adventure at Galeri Caernarfon
Ash Dykes became the first man to complete the journey from the Altai Mountains, through the Gobi Desert, to the Mongolian Steppe, alone and on foot
March 12 ((Daily Post) An adventurer from Old Colwyn is taking a break from planning two more world records to give a talk about his epic walk across Mongolia last year.
Ash Dykes became the first man to complete the journey from the Altai Mountains, through the Gobi Desert, to the Mongolian Steppe, alone and on foot.
The 24-year-old trekked solo over 1,500miles in 78 days, pulling a 120kg cart of provisions
It was one of the toughest world expeditions of recent times when temperatures exceeded 40C, with no shelter.
He is now set to tell the tale and will be at Galeri, Caernarfon, on March 20 with his brand new lecture show, Breaking Mongolia; The Lonely Snow Leopard,
His Mongolia adventure has earned him a nomination for the Adventurer of the Year Award as well as the nickname 'The Lonely Snow Leopard', bestowed upon him by the Mongolians on account of the respectful distance the hungry wolves maintained, with the Snow Leopard ordinarily being the only solitary creature afforded this reverence.
Ash said: "I am delighted. It was a difficult feat and I am just grateful it was recognised. I'm one of eight nominees and the only Welsh nominee, so I'm proud."
Voting for the National Adventure Awards closes on March 1. The winners will be announced in Glasgow next week.
To vote for Ash in the National Adventure Awards, go to scottishadventureawards.com/national-adventure-awards-2015-public-vote/.
He has just finished a book about his solitary journey, and a documentary of his exploits is in post-production.
"The next expedition will be bigger and better.
"There will be two major world records on the line, testing the boundaries of what's humanly possible.
"I can't wait to get going and it will take training and planning - it will most likely be next year.
"I'm currently on the lookout for big sponsors and partners wanting to team up in order to make it happen. I just want to get back out there," he said.
While remaining tight-lipped about the details, Ash conceded his next big adventure would take place in the northern hemisphere.
More details about the lecture on the Galeri Caernarfon website.
Mongolian Mummy May Become World Famous Discovery
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, March 9 (MONTSAME) A mummified corpse was found in a backyard of a family that lives in Songinokhairkhan district of Ulaanbaatar on January 27. Police opened a case for investigation accusing the keeper of this mummy of moving this potential historical heritage to the city for smuggling.
The Institute of Archaeology has not issued a detailed analysis. An official scientific explanation was not made due to the police investigation. The investigating authorities have warned the press not to publish any rumors and unofficial speculations. Foreign media have already begun offering their own explanations to this interesting case.
A working group for investigation examined a few days ago the "Grave of the Monk Geser" located in Tsakhir soum of Arkhangai aimag. The group consisting of Buddhist monks and religious scholars has found that this was the corpse of "King of the Law" (Buddhist title) Sanjjav, the apprentice of the "Old Geser Lama", according to the monk G.Purevbat, a god painter.
It has been rumored that the locals of Tsakhir soum have been worried that the mummified body of Sanjjavmonk has been declared missing since last year.
Monk G.Purevbat said the corpse should be placed back in the Sodnomdarjaa mountain, for the sake of Mongolian people for the "meditators" (Geser Lama and his apprentice Sanjjav) are the saviors of the Buddhists in the country.
Choijin Lama Museum is interested in studying the mummy.
The Museum of Choijin Lama, located in the center of Ulaanbaatar, is one hundred and seven years old. Also a century-old mummified meditator is kept in this museum, whose identity is said to be of Yonzon Khamba (a Buddhist title for abbot), the teacher of the Eighth Bogd. The mummy is recuperated to look like a statue of a monk. This is one of the Buddhist traditions to prevent the Lamas' bodies from decomposing and degenerating over the years. Mongolian Buddhists too had their own method of embalming the high-rank Lamas and of worshiping them. The method often included salting and bitumening. Mummies that have been embalmed through this type of methods were kept in many monasteries before the political repression too place in 1937. Repressors have demolished most of the mummies, and even laughed at them saying "they were jerkies packed in khadaks and yellow cloths", according to the elderly people. Rumor has it that the corpse of the last Bogdkhaan was hidden and moved many place by his apprentices. Therefore, the corpse of Bogdkhaan is also assumed to be kept in a secret place. A search campaign conducted in 1950-1960 for discovering the corpse of Bogdkhaan became exhausted after it reached Nalaikh district and found nothing "suspicious". Thus, the mummy in the Monastery Museum of Choijin Lama must be studied further. The study will be of as same importance as the mummified body of the Itigilov Lama, kept in the Russian Buryatia.
If confirmed, the Mummy of Sanjjav may become a world-famous discovery
The mummy is only assumed to be the body of Tsorj (Buddhist title that means "King of the Law") Sanjjav, the right-hand apprentice of the famous "Old Geser Lama". The police are trying to prove the rumors. The interviews given by S.Batchuluun, who is a descendant of Geser Lama, are not sufficient source of proof. According to the local elders, Geser Lama lived about 200 years ago. "He lived on a middle beach of Khokh nuur (Blue Lake) of Tsakhir and Tariat soums of Arkhangai aimag, and have instructed his disciples to locate his body in Sodnomdarjaa mountain. It is said that he has died in a meditative position and his apprentices moved him to the mountain on a camel" said the locals. It is also said that a temple was built around his mummified body and no one since then has touched or has seen the actual mummy. In the early 2000's, the locals found that the temple was broken and the tomb was opened.
These historical remains are located in 75kms north-west of Tsakhir soum's center, in the northern beach of Chuluut river and behind the Hill of Baits.
In Ochir Khairkhan mountain, which is located in two-kilometers from Sodnomdarjaa mountain, the late Sengee Rinpoche of the Indian Serra Monasteryhas been born, while the Yalgasan Gegeen (Saint) has been born in the south and the Geser Lama--in the east of this mountain, as written in historical documents. The discovery of the recently found mummy will probably draw global attention regarding its importance as it preserve within more mystery.
International media expects official proofs
"Senior Buddhists say the monk, found sitting in the lotus position, is in a deep meditative trance and not dead", reported the BBC on February 4. Dr Barry Kerzin, a physician to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, told the Siberian Times that the monk was in a rare state of meditation called "tukdam", whereas non-religious scholars say "the corpse has been well preserved due to the cold weather of Mongolia". Dr Barry Kerzin also told "If the person is able to remain in this state for more than three weeks - which rarely happens - his body gradually shrinks, and in the end all that remains from the person is his hair, nails, and clothes.", reported Telegraph on February 3.
The identity of the monk is unclear, though there is speculation that he is the teacher of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, who was also found mummified. In 1927, Itigilov--from neighbouring Buryatia in the then Soviet Union—supposedly told his students he was going to die and that they should exhume his body in 30 years. The lama sat in the lotus position, began meditating and died. When he was dug up, legend has it that his body was still preserved. Fearing interference by the Soviet authorities, his followers reburied him and he remained at rest until 2002 when he was again dug up to great fanfare and found still well preserved. The lama was then placed in a Buddhist temple to be worshiped for eternity.
The search for Genghis Khan's hidden tomb
By: Jamie Seidel
March 6 (The Daily Telegraph) Genghis Khan really, really didn't want his tomb to be found. But now the 800-year-old murderous wall of deception he built up around his final resting place is starting to crumble.
IT is one of history's greatest unsolved mysteries: Where is its most brutal, most successful warrior buried?
He had achieved the impossible: Uniting the fractious nomadic tribes of northeast Asia's steppes into the great Mongol Empire.
At the head of an enormous horseback army, Genghis Khan then slaughtered his way out of Mongolia, across the Middle East and into Europe.
He pillaged his way to enormous power and wealth along the way.
In 1227, he suddenly died.
… He went against a certain castle that was called CAAJU, and there he was shot with an arrow in the knee, so that he died of his wound. A great pity it was, for he was a valiant man and a wise one.
—Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo, Book 1, Chapter 50
In death he achieved another victory not even the pharaoh's could achieve: Resting in peace.
And that's something that has been driving archaeologists batty for more than a century.
But the antalizing clues are beginning to add up. Now more substantial evidence is gradually falling into place.
Soon, his legendary tomb may be found.
MYTH OF MYTHS
As the Khan's funeral procession made its long journey to his secret burial site, escorting soldiers would surge forward and kill any onlookers. "Go and serve your lord in the next world," explorer Marco Polo would later record them as having cried.
Even when the funerary rites were complete and the conquering general interred, the killing continued.
The slaves, labourers and mourners who witnessed the event were murdered. Even the soldiers responsible for keeping the entourage secret were massacred to ensure the eternal secrecy Genghis' final resting place.
Only a few of his most loyal family members remained alive. They are said to have set loose a herd of 10,000 horses to trample evidence of the burial — and massacre — into the ground. Nothing was to be left to guide looters to his grave.
Some say his subjects even went so far as to divert a river to eliminate any chance that it could be found or entered.
Then there were the guardians: Legend has it some 50 families were appointed to live in the mountains and plains around his tomb as eternal wardens, or Darkhats. Nobody was allowed to enter the valley and live.
It's a prohibition that has been successfully enforced for more than 800 years.
Whatever the truth of the story, it seems to have worked.
For centuries, few had a clue as to where Genghis Khan lay.
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