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Monday, July 27, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
SouthGobi Shares in Trading Halt on HKEx Pending Announcement on Funding Plan, CIC Payment, TSX Delisting Review
July 27 -- At the request of SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX: SGQ, HK: 1878) (the "Company"), trading in the shares of the Company on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited will be halted with effect from 9:00 a.m. on Monday, July 27, 2015 pending the release of an announcement in relation to an update on its funding plan, the CIC Convertible Debenture interest payment due date and the TSX delisting review.
Chinese Government Takes Control of SouthGobi Resources
July 26 (Cover Mongolia) On July 20, SouthGobi Resources' largest shareholder, Novel Sunrise Investments Limited (Novel) who owns 29.04%, announced that its full ownership has been acquired by British Virgin Islands-based China Cinda Asset Management Corporation Limited.
It has been revealed soon after that the Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China is the largest shareholder in China Cinda with 67.84%, according to a Disclosure of Interests notice published on July 23.
1878 closed -5.04% Friday to HK$3.96, SGQ -3.08% to HK$0.63
Citic Group pulls investment in SouthGobi Resources given coal industry downturn
By Eric Ng
July 24 (South China Morning Post) China's largest conglomerate Citic Group's merchant banking arm has pulled out of a US$28.7 million investment in debt-troubled Mongolia coking coal miner SouthGobi Resources amid a protracted slump of the coal industry.
"The conditions precedent to the agreement have not been fulfilled and Citic Merchant has informed the company that it will not be subscribing for shares in the company pursuant to the signed private placement agreement," SouthGobi said in a filing to Hong Kong's stock exchange late on Thursday.
Citic Merchants late last month agreed to buy new shares equivalent to 17 per cent of SouthGobi for US$28.7 million, while Swiss Life, the asset management firm of private bank SwissLife Banque Privee, has agreed to buy new SouthGobi shares equalling a 2 per cent stake for US$2.9 million.
The purchase price was a 20 per cent discount to the five-day average prior to the shares purchase agreements.
SouthGobi said it is "actively seek additional sources of financing to continue operating and meet its objectives, [including possible] coal offtake agreements, an interim loan and a revolving loan."
A multi-year slump in the coal market, including coking coal used in steel smelting, has seen SouthGobi struggle to pay US$7.9 million of interests on a convertible debenture due to sovereign fund China Investment Corp in May this year.
An extension on payment until July 27 has been granted. A non-payment would result in default, and CIC has the right to demand full repayment of the full principal of US$250 million and accrued interest.
SouthGobi had US$0.9 million of cash at the end of June. It had a net loss of US$103 million last year. Hard coking coal prices have fallen from US$400 a tonne late 2010 to around US$83 mid this month, according to RBC Capital Markets which forecasts modest price recovery in the next few years as more mines are closed.
By purchasing existing shares from mining giant Rio Tinto's Mongolia unit Turquoise Hill and subscribing to new shares, Novel Sunrise Investments in April became SouthGobi's largest shareholder with a 29.3 per cent stake.
Novel Sunrise, a mainland Chinese private enterprise in the real estate, logistics and supply chain management businesses, said Monday it has been wholly acquired by a Hong Kong unit of China Cinda Asset Management.
SouthGobi has been put on review for a possible delisting from the Toronto stock exchange. Its Hong Kong shares closed Thursday at HK$4.17, a far cry from the high of HK$130 in early 2010.
SouthGobi Share Sale to CITIC Merchant Fails, CIC Payment Looms
By Michael Kohn
July 24 (Bloomberg) -- SouthGobi Resources Ltd. says private share sale of $28.7m to CITIC Merchant Co. won't proceed due to unfulfilled conditions, according to SouthGobi statement Thursday.
* SouthGobi remains in discussions with CITIC Merchant in regard to private placement: statement
* Co. is also seeking additional sources of funding, including coal off-take agreements, an interim loan and a revolving loan: statement
* SouthGobi interest payment of $7.9 million owed to China Investment Corp. due July 27; co. in "active discussions" with CIC for continued support: statement
* Failure to make payment to CIC could result in "voluntary or involuntary proceedings", including bankruptcy: statement
* Toronto Stock Exchange Listings Committee scheduled to meet on July 27 for SouthGobi delisting review; decision no later than July 29: statement
Note: SouthGobi to Raise $32 Million in Private Share Sale to Pay Debt
Kincora Copper settles Origo loan with share issue
Kincora Copper plans to issue Origo with over 14mln shares in settlement of a convertible loan.
July 24 (Proactive Investors) Kincora Copper's (CVE:KCC) major shareholder Origo Partners will hold an increased stake in the company as the Toronto-listed firm plans to issue it with over 14mln shares in settlement of a convertible loan.
AKM last traded A$0.016 Thursday
Aspire Mining MD David Paull in Q&A with Proactive Investors
July 16 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining (ASX:AKM), currently a junior explorer with assets in Mongolia, is on the cusp of being the beneficiary of game-changing planned infrastructure investment between Asia and Europe.
Aspire's assets are truly world-class, and with increasing developments in Mongolia's infrastructure space, could soon become a production reality through the construction of rail servicing its planned mine sites.
Aspire has partnered with major commodity trader, Noble Group, with the view to see near term production at the smaller Nuurstei Project.
Aspire also wholly-owns the Ovoot Project, which boasts the country's second largest coking coal Reserve with long mine life, and on top of that, displays excellent blend carrying characteristics and coking coal properties including a high rank, mid-volatiles and low ash.
This is the company's differentiating factor.
Ovoot coal is capable of upgrading thermal, oxidised and low quality coking coals to saleable coking coal, and therefore Ovoot product will be in high demand, once the infrastructure solution is achieved.
David Paull, managing director of Aspire Mining, speaks exclusively with Proactive Investors Australia.
PROACTIVE INVESTORS: Welcome David.
What would a Sino-Russo-Mongolian Trade Co-operation mean for a shared vision for a new "Silk Road" economic corridor, and how would Aspire Mining be poised to benefit?
David Paull: It's not widely reported in Australia and other Western Countries but the New Silk Road and Eurasian Land Bridge concept is fast gaining a lot of attention and traction, particularly in Europe and China as a means to facilitate increased levels of land-based trade from China to Europe and vice versa.
One of the most direct routes is transiting Mongolia.
The project is being heavily promoted by China which was first introduced in 2013. Following that, Mongolia-Russia-China entered into tripartite agreements covering infrastructure upgrades and considerably larger trade targets, as well as the ability for Mongolian companies to access rail and seaport facilities in China.
These tripartite agreements were further enhanced only last week in Russia during the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summits. During these meetings Mongolia-Russia-China signed a further Memorandum which compiled a guideline for building the trilateral Economic Corridor.
In addition, framework agreements were also signed covering the facilitation of international trade along this Economic Corridor and on cooperation for ports of entry between the three nations. What we have now is a shared vision for the New Silk Road, which integrates Chinese and Russian rail plans with Mongolian Rail Policy.
Our Ovoot project is located directly alongside a rail line that forms part of the Mongolian Rail Policy, which creates a connection extending from Erdenet to Ovoot and further up to the town of Kyzyl in Russia.
Financing of major rail and seaborne route upgrades are already underway. On 29 June 2015 Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was formally opened with initial subscribed capital of ~US$50bn and total authorised capital of US$100 bn.
Fifty countries are founding members of AIIB and include China, Russia, Mongolia, Singapore, UK, Germany, France, Australia and others.
China have also already implemented a Silk Road Fund to total US$40 bn. Already US$10bn capital has been injected by China's own FX reserves and institutions and on 25 June, Bank of China raised the first $3.5 bn through a bond issue which will be used towards Silk Road Projects.
In addition, a US$16bn Silk Road Gold Fund has been established to finance mining projects and metal stockpiles that are located along the Silk Road.
Aspire will look to access these specific funding sources.
What this means for companies such as Aspire is a significant influx of money and infrastructure development into emerging economies, such as Mongolia that form part of the macro plan to facilitate increased international trade and regional growth.
With Aspire Mining's world-class coking coal assets sitting on potentially what could become an international rail corridor, how can the company contribute to a decision to build this infrastructure?
David Paull: The Erdenet – Ovoot railway is just one section of the entire Mongolian national rail policy. It is part of a longer link from Erdenet to the Russian border which when extended on the Russian side, would eventually connect up to the Trans-Siberian railway in Russia.
As mentioned earlier, these international rail connections are being supported by the Silk Road tripartite agreements.
To attract the investment however required to finance the construction of rail infrastructure requires the railway to work financially from an operational viewpoint.
For the Erdenet – Ovoot railway, the size and scale of our Ovoot Project would provide the necessary initial freight to make the railway economic and get the project started.
Once built, there are multiple other Mongolian resource projects in the area that would also be provided with a path to market, not to mention use of the railway by local agricultural and manufacturing industries and passenger freight, and in time potentially Russian and/or Chinese transit freight.
Aspire has spent US$10m on studies defining the alignment and cost of the Erdenet – Ovoot section of this new potential international rail corridor.
Aspire is currently in negotiations with the Mongolian Government looking to agree a Rail Concession Agreement that will assist in securing funding to construct this railway.
What's more, in cooperation with UBTZ the company has commenced a Scoping Study for the rail connection from Ovoot – Arts Suuri and from Arts Suuri – Kyzyl. This will better define that alignment and the potential cost to connect the Erdenet to Ovoot railway to the Russian Rail system.
Once the new rail connection is made between Mongolia and Russia it will provide an efficient new rail capacity for rail freight between Asia and Europe.
Can you outline the next key information pieces investors should look out for in regards to the advancement of a decision to build this infrastructure?
David Paull: With respect to the Erdenet – Ovoot railway, our Mongolian rail infrastructure subsidiary (Northern Railways LLC) is currently in negotiations with the Mongolian Government for the ability to build, own and operate the Erdenet – Ovoot railway via the grant of a concession.
Northern Railways has received non-binding interest to finance the entire US$1.2bn capital required, and not surprisingly a large amount of this has come from a number of large Chinese financial institutions.
These institutions have completed preliminary due diligence, and we are waiting for the receipt of the concession before definitive discussions can be held.
Northern Railways have agreed an EPC framework agreement with a subsidiary of China Railways Corporation who are keen to construct the Erdenet – Ovoot railway.
We have also included China Railways 20 Bureau Group (CR20G) and its sister company, the China Railways First Design Survey and Design Group (FSDI) along with ourselves in a consortium to support Northern Railways to be granted the rail concession.
Although we are a junior company, we really are on the cusp of major regional infrastructure development which is why there is so much interest in the Erdenet – Ovoot railway.
Specific announcements to look out for will include the execution of a Concession Agreement with the Mongolian Government, commencement and progress of subsequent definitive financing discussions, the completion of the rail bankable feasibility study, receipt of permits & other licences, and the EPC contract finalisation.
Looking forward, if the infrastructure plans go ahead in Mongolia, which end user markets would Aspire Mining be looking to tap in to?
David Paull: Given its proximity to the world's largest user of coking coal, a majority of Aspire's future production will be sold into China.
For Ovoot coking coal, we have already signed Chinese interest for offtake under non-binding MOU's for up to 6.1mtpa.
We have also had some interest from Russian users as well, and offtake interest has been signed under non-binding MOU's for up to 1.3mtpa. We've also received interest from Eastern Europe's foundry industry.
Australia currently ranks as the top source for China's imports of hard coking coal, with Mongolia its second main source.
With the planned rail infrastructure development however, Mongolian coal deliveries into China will become significantly more competitive as the delivery costs will be significantly cheaper than its seaborne competitors.
Aspire is heavily supported by Noble Group and China Railways, can you explain how they are helping you to develop the Erdenet – Ovoot Rail Project?
David Paull: Noble have assisted financially in supporting the pre-development activities of the Erdenet – Ovoot railway and will own a 10% interest in Northern Railways on the grant of a concession.
They also have an incentivised option to fund 10% of the Erdenet – Ovoot railway capital requirement of US$1.2bn. Aspire have provided Noble approximately 40% marketing rights of Ovoot coking coal and 100% of marketing rights for Nuurstei coking coal.
Noble Group is listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange and manages the global supply chain of agricultural and energy products, metals and minerals.
Noble has significant experience operating from over 140 locations, employing more than 70 nationalities and managing a diversified portfolio of essential raw materials, and integrating the sourcing, marketing, processing, financing and transportation of those materials.
Aspire has been working with China Railways 20 Bureau Group (CR20G) and its sister company, the China Railways First Design Survey and Design Group (FSDI) since mid-2013.
CR20G is a wholly owned subsidiary of China Railways Corporation, a Fortune-500 company and one of the world's largest international rail engineering construction firms which has worked on major projects both domestically in China and internationally.
CR20G employs over 20,000 personnel and has significant international experience completing recent rail projects in Angola, Mongolia and Mozambique.
That long association and partnership with CR20G and FSDI culminated in May this year with the signing of a consortium agreement between the parties which provided Northern Railways with the exclusive support of China's largest rail construction company.
As part of this support CR20G has provided Northern Railways an exclusive licence to use proprietary construction technology applicable for building rail in the harsh climates of northern Mongolia.
What's more, CR20G has been acting as Northern Railways sponsor in sourcing funding from Chinese financial institutions.
As a junior company, we really appreciate having some heavyweight support from these two partners.
What is the key information that Investors should look out for in the near term?
David Paull: Other than the rail progress we are looking to achieve, we also plan to commence Nuurstei's 2015 exploration program this month.
This work is particularly exciting because it builds on the success of the 2014 program which identified an Exploration Target of between 15Mt – 25Mt.
Further coal quality testwork will also be completed to confirm the quality across the entire deposit.
Positive results from this program will assist us and Noble to make a development decision for Nuurstei next year.
Aspire have also recently been granted new exploration ground in Western Mongolia at a project called Myngan, as well as new licences in south Mongolia granted to the ECJV.
We will complete some preliminary work on these licences as well over the next 12 months to assess their prospectivity for coking coal.
In June we successfully completed a $4.4m capital raising to ensure that we have sufficient funds to complete the rail negotiations and planned exploration activities.
Ovoot has a forecast production date of 2019, where would this potential timeline fit in regards to forecasts for the coking coal price?
David Paull: Although the coking coal market today looks bleak with a benchmark pricing of around US$93/t (September 2015), consensus forward pricing estimates indicate that we should see slight improvements in coking coal prices starting in 2016.
By 2019, forecasts are that the consensus seaborne coking coal price will be higher, around US$150/t, which fits in well with bringing Ovoot production online, providing that the Erdenet – Ovoot railway is built and commissioned by this time.
Finally, why should investors consider adding Aspire Mining to their portfolio?
David Paull: We're an emerging market, metallurgical coal explorer/developer focussed on world class coking coal assets in Mongolia.
This is a country that is uniquely positioned to benefit from the Chinese driven policy initiatives to improve economic cooperation between China and Europe.
Aspire's assets are strategically located directly along the path of these planned infrastructure initiatives and is therefore a very unique story within the context of the junior ASX market which provides shareholders with leveraged exposure to these globally significant trade developments.
PROACTIVE INVESTORS: Thank-you David.
Aspire Mining gives back to Mongolia with medical equipment shipment
July 24 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining (ASX:AKM) is giving back to the local community with its funding the cost of shipping of medical equipment and supplies to a number of Mongolian hospitals and clinics.
This is being carried out in association with The Rotary Club of Osborne Park (Rotary) and the Mongolian Red Cross Society.
The medical equipment are in excellent condition but were no longer required as the donating Western Australian hospitals have undergone upgrades.
These include x-ray machines, dialysis machines, ultra sound machines, infant incubators, defibrillators, hospital beds, wheelchairs and more.
With the assistance of the Red Cross, the equipment will be donated to an Ulaanbaatar based gynaecological clinic, the Tsetserleg Hospital and Mogoin Gol Health Clinic, both hospitals being located nearby Aspire's coal and rail projects in the Khuvsgul province.
Aspire had previously worked with Rotary to raise funds to support a team of burn surgeons from Interplast to travel to Mongolia and provide training to local Mongolian medical practitioners in April 2015.
David Paull, managing director, said:
"This recent collaboration with Rotary and the Mongolian Red Cross fits neatly into Aspire's community initiatives to improve health and wellbeing in our local communities and follows previous investments including assisting in the completion of construction of the Tsetserleg Hospital in 2012.
"We are again pleased to be involved and being able to facilitate the donation of this medical equipment to Tsetserleg Hospital and other Mongolian healthcare providers where we know it will be put to good use."
Aspire's world class coal assets could become a production reality with increasing developments in Mongolia's infrastructure space including construction of rail to service its planned mine sites.
It has partnered with major commodity trader, Noble Group, with the view to see near term production at the smaller Nuurstei Project.
The company also wholly-owns the Ovoot Project, which boasts the country's second largest coking coal Reserve with long mine life, and on top of that, displays excellent blend carrying characteristics and coking coal properties including a high rank, mid-volatiles and low ash.
Paull recently spoke exclusively to Proactive Investors. Click here for the Q&A session.
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. June 2015 Monthly Letter to Shareholders
Toronto, Ontario, July 23 (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK – TSXV and MNGGF – USA), ("MGG") or ("the Company") a commercial real estate investment and development company participating in the dynamic growth of the Mongolian economy announces the release of its June 2015 Shareholder Letter.
June 2015 Shareholder Letter
To the Shareholders of Mongolia Growth Group Ltd.,
In June 2015, MGG's core commercial property portfolio* experienced a same-store rental decline of 9.6% relative to June 2014 on properties owned 12 months or longer, as measured in Mongolian Togrog (MNT). Total billed revenue for June 2015 was 247.9 million MNT, as compared to 242.2 million MNT in June of 2014 or a 2.4% increase.** The occupancy rate for the core portfolio in June of 2015 was 90.5% including an occupancy rate of 87.4% for core retail properties and an occupancy rate of 94.6% for core office properties***.
Revenue Review, Near Term Revenue & Longer Term Revenue Initiatives
Now that our expense structure has stabilized at a far more sustainable level, our focus is shifting to the many previously identified opportunities to increase our revenues and ultimately become cash flow positive.
From a big picture view, over the past few months, our revenues have slowly declined for a variety of reasons. The largest of these reasons relates to the deteriorating Mongolian economy and leasing environment in Ulaanbaatar. Over the past year, lease rates have fallen quite dramatically, though the rate of decline seems to be slowing. Using rough numbers, the office market has seen rental rates drop by half, while retail rental rates are off by a third compared to the prior year, in US Dollar terms (USD). Adding to this weakness in the market is an increased level of vacancy due to financial distress amongst tenants. While our team has done an outstanding job of navigating these issues and ensuring that we retain occupancy levels that are substantially above market rates, we are not immune to the overall economy. In particular, June saw us experience a number of sudden vacancies caused by tenants who were unable to continue their businesses. We expect to rapidly re-lease these units, but likely at rates that were lower than prior rental rates. Finally, we have seen a dip in Tuguldur revenues as we focus on re-structuring the tenant mix.
Despite the deteriorating leasing environment, we have many reasons to be optimistic about our future rental revenues—however before the company could focus on increasing revenues, we needed to first restore our operations and stabilize our cost structure. With this nearing completion, we intend to focus the second half of the year on growing our revenues.
Near Term Revenue Initiatives
We believe that there are numerous ways to increase our revenues in the short term and in August, we will begin to actively target these revenue opportunities. This mainly entails the better utilization of our existing property assets including revenue opportunities like signage and parking to taking back subleases and managing the properties ourselves.
Despite sounding somewhat prosaic, we expect that these initiatives will actually drive quite a bit of added revenue without substantial additional expense or capital investment.
Longer Term Revenue Initiatives
Over the longer term, our revenue drivers break down into two categories; new developments and fee based services.
When we look at new developments, Tuguldur Stage 2 is the highest profile of these developments as it is intended to more than double MGG's retail space when completed. While we continue to put our efforts into advancing this project, it won't add to our revenues for quite some time as we are still focused on the planning and permitting stages of development.
In addition to Tuguldur Stage 2 and at a more manageable cost, we are looking at two smaller projects that can be completed much sooner and can almost immediately be accretive to our revenues upon completion. In both cases, we are looking to advance these projects during the second half of 2015.
I personally believe that fee based services may be the most attractive of all the opportunities that I have mentioned thus far. These services run the gamut from simple brokerage operations, to the management of properties and even the management of property funds. As the only institutional property management company in Mongolia, I think we are uniquely positioned to capture this market.
In summary, for the last six months, we have focused our attention almost exclusively on reducing costs and restoring our operations to their prior levels of efficiency. Now that the business is finally stabilizing, we can focus on more exciting pursuits, like growth initiatives. Despite a weak economy, we believe that we are well positioned for our revenues to increase. Additionally, certain new businesses like fee based leasing will actually benefit from the weak economy as higher vacancy rates in Ulaanbaatar lead property owners to seek out experienced companies like ours to help alleviate their vacancy.
Mongolian Economic Update
Since the most recent letter:
· World Bank Upgrades Mongolia to Upper Middle-Income Status, 2nd Highest Mover in New Ranking. The new GNI per capita rankings show that Maldives and Mongolia were the highest movers in the rankings – up 13 and 8 places, respectively. (World Bank)
· Mongolia's June CPI fell 0.1% m/m, increased 7.3% y/y, the slowest rise since June 2011 when inflation was 6.2%, the National Statistical Office says Friday in statement. (Bloomberg)
· Mongolian companies now have the chance to export horse meat products to China, including meat dumplings and bone meal. Last week, Chairman of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection (GASI) Sh.Radnaased and Vice Minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine Wu Qinghai signed export inspection and quarantine protocols that will be used during horse meat product export from Mongolia to China. (UB Post)
We look forward to updating you again on our progress and new developments in the Mongolian economy next month.
EUM last traded A$0.03 Wednesday
Eumeralla: Michael Hynes Resigns as Director & CEO, Withdraws Notice to Dismiss Directors
July 24 -- Eumeralla Resources Limited (ASX: EUM, 'Eumeralla' or 'the Company') refers to the notice pursuant to Section249D of the Corporations Act ('249D Notice') received from Mr Michael Hynes on 26 May 2015 seeking the removal of Messrs James Hyndes, David Wheeler and Jack James as directors of the Company and the appointment of Messrs Jeffrey Bennett and Campbell Sallabank as directors of the Company.
Following ongoing discussions between the Board, Mr Hynes has stepped down from the Board and as CEO to pursue other opportunities in the resources sector. The Board wish Mr Hynes well in future endeavours.
Mr Hynes has also withdrawn his 249D Notice effective immediately. Accordingly, the resolutions set out in the Notice of General Meeting convening a meeting for Friday, 24 July 2015 will now no longer be put before shareholders.
The rest of the Board membership remains unchanged.
Cash at end of quarter A$409K
Haranga: Quarterly Activities Report, June 2015
July 27 -- Haranga Resources Limited ("the Company") is pleased to report on its activities for the June 2015 Quarter.
GRANT OF MINING LICENSE
The Company's 80% owned subsidiary Haranga Khuder LLC, which holds the Mineral Exploration Licenses and Pre‐Mining Operations Agreement for its Selenge Iron Ore Project in Mongolia ("the Project"), was granted Mining License #18934A by the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia. The license area covers 3,480.70 hectares.
The Mining License is valid for 30 years until 19 June 2045. Pursuant to the Minerals Law of Mongolia, the Company can apply to have the license extended up to 2 additional terms of 20 years each.
As a result of granting of the Mining License, the area covered by Exploration License #11334X has been split and new Exploration License #18935X granted. As such, the Company now holds a total of 5,459.85 hectares that remain valid under the status of the Pre‐Mining Operations Agreement as shown in the Figure 1 and Appendix 1.
The remaining 5 tenements as listed at Appendix 1 remain unchanged.
During the Quarter, the Company's main focus was the progression of the Project, with a focus on the Development Stage in order to enable the Project construction to commence.
At the Annual General Meeting of 2015 was held on 29th of May 2015, Mr. Amarbaatar Chultem was not re‐elected as a Director of Board.
DRG last traded A$0.025 Thursday
Draig Resources: Quarterly Activities Report, June 2015
July 23, Draig Resources Ltd. (ASX:DRG) --
· Exploration licences 13581X and 13879X continued to be maintained; and
· Cash balance of $1.9 million at the end of the quarter.
2 EXPLORATION LICENCES
Exploration licenses 13581X and 13879X were maintained during the reporting period.
The possible sale of these licenses to prospective purchasers continued to be pursued during the quarter.
3 SUMMARY OF EXPLORATION LICENCES
Name of Licence
Interest at Quarter End
Change in Interest during Quarter
Administration expenditure for the quarter was $0.141 million.
The cash balance at 30 June 2015 was $1.878 million and there was no debt.
Other potential opportunities for the company continued to be considered and evaluated during the quarter.
Tian Poh: Release of Shares from Escrow – Appendix 3B
July 27 -- Attached is an Appendix 3B for the application for quotation of the securities that were released from escrow on 18 July 2015.
On 6 July Tian Poh Resources Limited (the Company) made an announcement in accordance with Listing Rule 3.10A concerning the release from escrow of 6,697,248 fully paid ordinary shares classified by ASX as restricted securities. As required by Listing Rule 2.8.2, the Company now applies for quotation of these 6,697,248 shares. This will maintain the total number of ordinary shares on issue at 152,888,418.
Secondary Trading Exemption
Oyu Tolgoi Releases Q2'15 Scorecard
Strong safety performance continues; Record production; New community projects underway
Oyu Tolgoi President and CEO Andrew Woodley said "The latest edition of the Oyu Tolgoi Scorecard comes on the back of a very strong quarter in terms of safety, production performance, and other key indicators – all of which underscores our position as a rapidly maturing, world-class Mongolian business."
The latest edition of the Oyu Tolgoi Scorecard can be seen here:
Oyu Tolgoi announces Q2 2015 production update
Oyu Tolgoi today announced an update on its production for the second quarter of 2015.
· Strong safety performance: All Injury Frequency Rate of 0.22 year-to-date, per 200,000 hours worked
· Improved concentrate production in Q2 vs Q1 2015; highest ever since operations began
· Underground Mine Development and Financing Plan signed between shareholders
· Oyu Tolgoi marked its second anniversary of export commencement on 9 July
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 17 July 2015 (Oyu Tolgoi) -- Concentrate production for Q2'15 increased 64.6 per cent over Q1'15 due to a 20.1 per cent increase in throughput and higher head grades. Throughput for Q2'15 was the best Oyu Tolgoi has achieved since operations began. Copper and gold in concentrates increased 64.5 per cent and 178.1 per cent respectively over Q1'15.
Andrew Woodley, President and CEO – Oyu Tolgoi, said, "We have continued our strong safety performance in Q2'15, among the best in our peer group. We matched this with a strong production performance over the quarter, achieving the highest concentrate production since operations began, on the back of increased throughput and high ore grades as the mine accessed the high-grade zone.
"Q2'15 also saw the signing of the Underground Mine Development and Financing Plan – a landmark agreement that sets out a clear road map to develop underground, where approximately 80 per cent of Oyu Tolgoi's potential lies.
"More recently, Oyu Tolgoi on 9 July marked its two year anniversary of commencement of shipment – a major milestone, and one that marks our progress towards becoming a globally competitive copper business."
Oyu Tolgoi began accessing higher-grade material in Q2'15. Production of higher-grade ore is expected to continue in the second half of 2015. Turquoise Hill continues to expect Oyu Tolgoi to produce 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes of copper and 600,000 to 700,000 ounces of gold in concentrates in 2015.
A planned two-week concentrator maintenance shutdown is currently underway at Oyu Tolgoi.
Following the signing of the Underground Mine Development and Financing Plan in May, Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto are advancing project financing and updating the underground feasibility study. Turquoise Hill expects signing of project financing by the end of 2015.
Oyu Tolgoi Production Data
All data represents full production and sales on a 100 per cent basis
Turquoise Hill Receives US$7.30 Consensus Target Price, Hold Rating from Analysts
July 25 (MarketBeat) Shares of Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) have earned a consensus rating of "Hold" from the seven brokerages that are presently covering the company, MarketBeat.Com reports. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company. The average twelve-month price target among brokerages that have updated their coverage on the stock in the last year is $7.30.
Several analysts have recently commented on the stock. Analysts at Zacks downgraded shares of Turquoise Hill Resources from a "hold" rating to a "sell" rating in a research note on Tuesday. Analysts at BMO Capital Markets reiterated an "outperform" rating and set a $6.50 price target on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research note on Thursday, July 2nd. Analysts at TD Securities reiterated a "hold" rating and set a $5.50 price target (up previously from $5.00) on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research note on Saturday, May 23rd. Analysts at Bank of America upgraded shares of Turquoise Hill Resources from an "underperform" rating to a "neutral" rating in a research note on Thursday, May 21st. Finally, analysts at TheStreet upgraded shares of Turquoise Hill Resources from an "e+" rating to a "hold" rating in a research note on Wednesday, May 13th.
Zacks Lowers Turquoise Hill Resources to Sell (TRQ)
July 24 (MarketBeat) Zacks downgraded shares of Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note released on Tuesday morning, Analyst Ratings Network.com reports.
Why I Still Like Turquoise Hill Resources Even In The Commodity Bear Market
By Gary Bourgeault: Long only, research analyst, portfolio strategy, media
• Turquoise Hill will reward the patient in a big way.
• Gold and silver are likely to rebound before copper, and will lead the way for the miner.
• The timing of the commodity turnaround is the key, especially if it strengthens as the second phase of Oyu Tolgoi is completed.
July 24 (Seeking Alpha) -- At a time when it appears there is nothing to stop the disintegration of the commodity bear market, my outlook for Turquoise Hill (NYSE:TRQ) remains strong.
My reasoning is I believe commodities are closing in on their lows in general, and are likely to begin a rebound in the not-too-distant future. But even if there is more downside to come for an extended period of time (meaning about a year or so), I don't see it having a negative impact on those holding a position in Turquoise Hill for the long term. That's because of the timing of the completion of the second phase construction at its flagship property Oyu Tolgoi.
Another reason is gold is going to get a hefty rebound once it bottoms out, and that is the second-most important metal at Oyu Tolgoi, behind Copper. Rounding out the top three is silver.
While silver occasionally doesn't move in unison with gold, the vast majority of times it has, and with it also taking a pummeling, it will without a doubt have a big upswing once gold once more takes off. And since it's more volatile than gold, it could move up even higher in the short term.
Turquoise Hill has had just about everything negative thrown at it in regard to Oyu Tolgoi, and I believe it's going to get a huge boost in the next commodity upswing because of its resiliency under difficult circumstances.
Even so, investors will have to be patient. I think even with a nice catalyst ahead, it is still a stock that has to be held for at least a period of five years to get the full benefit of it. For those getting in now or sometime soon, it will still be a winner for them at this entry point. It'll get a push from commodities, but the biggest push will come when it starts production in the second phase of the project. If commodity prices are at least stable or increasing at that time, it will give it a catalyst that could drive it close to $10 per share.
I'm thinking in terms of having two or three quarters of earnings reports in after production is launched there. That is probably going to take about three years or a little longer to materialize.
As most investors know, commodities have been taking a beating over the last five years, with gold falling over 40 percent, silver plunging about 70 percent, and copper down approximately 45 percent. There are many other commodities down, but those are the major three that are relevant to Turquoise Hill.
The Bloomberg Commodity Index shows the overall decline of commodities over the last five years, having recently dropped to levels not seen since June 2002.
Some of the recent decline is being attributed to the expectant boost in interest rates in the latter part of 2015 by the Federal Reserve, and there is some truth in that. But I believe it's more related to the commodity cycle, and primarily from lower demand.
My outlook is that this is going to change in the near future, and that will benefit copper, gold and silver.
Commodities and the business cycle
According to Vanguard, the time when commodities do especially well are when the business cycle enters its latter phase. Now that we're about 6 years into the recovery, I believe investors need to start looking at the strong probability we're entering into that part of the business cycle.
As you see above, in the latter part of the expansion phase, since 1956, commodities were up 22.67 percent against very negative stock returns and low-performing bonds. Combined with being beaten down so much, we're getting close to a major upswing in commodities.
In other words, commodities usually are a lagging indicator of the business cycle, while equities normally are the leading indicators.
Bear in mind we're talking about commodity futures here, and not to current spot commodity prices.
Concerning the U.S. business cycle, we see that obviously getting weaker. Taking into account about two-thirds the GDP in the U.S. is dependent on consumers, and the retail numbers coming out are, for the most part very weak, and it seems we are in fact entering into the latter phase of the cycle.
Commodities and currencies
To confirm the level of the bearishness concerning commodities, the countries with the strongest dependence on natural resources have had their currencies decline the most against the U.S. dollar.
For example, Canada has had its dollar drop to six-year lows against the U.S. dollar, as has the Australian dollar. Australia has significant metal and iron ore exposure, and Canada of course has major exposure to energy and agricultural exports, e.g., potash.
The Brazilian real has plunged to a ten-year low against the U.S. dollar. In the case of Brazil, its deeper low is partly because it doesn't have a strong domestic market to sell to.
My purpose in saying so much about this is to reinforce the fact commodities are about as bearish as they can get, and even if they fall further, which is a distinct possibility, we're almost certainly entering the latter phase of the business cycle, and along with eventual growing demand, should bring about a nice rebound in the not-too-distant future.
We'll see more outflows from commodity-based funds before this reverses, but there can be no doubt it will reverse.
Another catalyst that could surprise in the short term would be if Yellen decides not to increase interest rates in the next quarter. Most are expecting her to, and if she decides against it, which is a possibility in light of her recent comments on concerns about the sustainable economic strength of the U.S., that would bring an immediate reversal in the outlook of commodities.
I don't find a lot of value in that concerning Turquoise Hill, but it would give it a temporary boost. I'm looking for when the longer term cycle returns.
Turquoise Hill could be positioned perfectly to take advantage of the eventual upward move in commodity prices. There will have to be a little luck involved (if it is luck, and not planned) to have the next phase of its Oyu Tolgoi property in production at the time this moves into full swing.
Even if it does happen sooner, my thoughts are TRQ will get a nice upward move from that as well.
Gold is getting hammered, but once it does reverse course and comes back into favor, that will be another key catalyst, which will include silver in its resurgence.
These things, combined with a commodity bull cycle returning, would be an extraordinary group of events that could result in the share price of Turquoise Hill soaring. This is why I consider the entry point it's at now as a good one, even if continues to drop more toward the $3.00 per share mark. I'm not suggesting this is the time to pull the trigger. I'm saying if you do, over time it won't hurt at all. This stock will go up over time.
In fact, it could take another downward ride before these various events turn it around. Since I don't believe in attempting to time the market, I'm not concerned about that too much. If it goes lower, I'll just buy more of the stock.
Finally, it has to be understood that even though these events are going to happen, the length of time it takes to reach them means an investor has to be thinking in terms of holding TRQ for the long term. There is no doubt there will be some volatility in the stock, and that will continue on until there is more visibility concerning the business cycle and where commodities stand in relationship to it.
MEC: Annual Report 2015
July 22, Mongolia Energy Corp. Ltd. (HKEx:276) --
This Financial Year was a mixed year for the Company. The coking coal market in China had shown signs of stability but only for a short period of time. After years of preparation of our coal processing facilities both in Khushuut and Xinjiang, the constructions were finally completed and put into operation by the end of 2014. These also marked our commercial export after a long halt. However, the overall coal market remained weak due to oversupply and slashed demand.
Export of coking coal was started relatively late in this Financial Year, and after completing a series of quality and specification tests, we sold approximately 16,000 tonnes of clean coking coal to our customer in China. Although our coal specifications and quality met our customer's needs and expectations, the weak selling prices made it unprofitable to continue shipping out coking coal incrementally. In the first quarter of 2015, over 50% of the listed companies in China under the coal industry were making loss. We anticipate that the gloomy trend will continue and the coking coal prices in China will remain weak throughout the remainder of 2015. In short term, the likelihood of a rebound in price and demand of coal is not optimistic.
Seeing the unfavourable market conditions, our priority tasks for the coming year will be shifted to preserve the working capital and reduce the costs and expenses of our operation. We adopted tight austerity measures during this Financial Year including relocation of our Hong Kong office and termination of the overburden removal services. The measures taken are to respond to the oversupply of coal in China and reduce the need to push production in light of the sluggish market conditions.
With the termination of the contractual overburden removal services, production will inevitably be affected. Our coming scale of production will be relatively low and adjustments to our mine planning are anticipated from time to time in response to the ever-changing market conditions. We will closely monitor the market developments to adjust our operation strategy in response during this period.
During the Financial Year, we had successfully closed the issue of the convertible notes with our convertible notes holders in the total principal amount of HK$3.46 billion. The notes will be repaid in five years from the date of issue. We are much obliged for the unwavering support and faith on us from our noteholders.
Notwithstanding the severe short term prospects generally, the nations' economic and diplomatic policies shed light on the long term developments when the Chinese government announced the adoption of "One Belt, One Road" in the first quarter of 2015. The policy will promote the economic co-operation between China and the countries along the region, and will bring about the increase of infrastructure projects which ultimately increase the demand of steel. We anticipate the coking coal demand will gradually pick up again. On the other hand, the Mongolian government is also doing its best to stabilize its weak economy by adopting favourable policies to attract foreign and domestic investments. We anticipate more positive policies on the road to stimulate the economy and its mining industry.
Despite the present difficulties, our working teams have overcome all the challenges during this period. The persistent and tireless efforts of our colleagues and your invaluable support are the most precious drivers leading us forward.
We sincerely appreciate and look forward to your continuous support.
Lo Lin Shing, Simon
22 June 2015
Management Discussion and Analysis
MSE News for July 22: Top 20 -0.5% to 14,188.89, Turnover ₮14.4 Million
Ulaanbaatar, July 22 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Wednesday, a total of 17 thousand and 290 units of 16 JSCs were traded costing MNT 14 million 441 thousand and 884.00.
"State Department Store" /10 thousand and 586 units/, "Remikon" /5,762 units/, "Talkh chikher" /190 units/, "Gutal" /184 units/ and "APU" /105 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "State Department Store" (MNT five million 568 thousand and 236), "Talkh chikher" (MNT three million and 800 thousand), "Gutal" (MNT two million and 576 thousand), "Gobi" (MNT 414 thousand), and "Remikon" (MNT 380 thousand and 684).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 353 billion 464 million 729 thousand and 553. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 14,188.89, decreasing 0.50% and the all index of MSE was 990.00, decreasing 0.20% against the previous day.
MSE News for July 23: Top 20 -1.11%, MSE ALL -0.46%, Turnover ₮16.5 Million
Ulaanbaatar, July 23 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Thursday, a total of 19 thousand and 025 units of 14 JSCs were traded costing MNT 16 million 496 thousand and 025.07.
"State Department Store" /16 thousand and 981 units/, "Remikon" /1,001 units/, "Gutal" /322 units/, "Mogoin gol" /261 units/ and "Olloo" /200 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "State Department Store" (MNT eight million 504 thousand and 870), "Gutal" (MNT four million and 830 thousand), "Mogoin gol" (MNT one million 690 thousand and 500), "Gobi" (MNT 363 thousand), and "APU" (MNT 360 thousand).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 349 billion 156 million 637 thousand and 641. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 14,031.55, decreasing 1.11% and the all index of MSE was 985.47, decreasing 0.46% against the previous day.
MSE News for July 24: Top 20 -1.59%, MSE ALL -1%, Turnover ₮8.3 Million
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Friday, a total of 17 thousand and 338 units of 16 JSCs were traded costing MNT eight million 264 thousand and 868.00.
"Remikon" /8,795 units/, "State Department Store" /4,391 units/, "Moninjbar" /2,500 units/, "Merex" /400 units/ and "Baganuur" /310 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "State Department Store" (MNT two million 151 thousand and 590), "APU" (MNT one million 033 thousand and 810), "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT 946 thousand), "Baganuur" (MNT 882 thousand and 950), and "Tavantolgoi" (MNT 840 thousand and 989).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 328 billion 804 million 648 thousand and 369. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,807.94, decreasing 1.59% and the all index of MSE was 975.63, decreasing 1.00% against the previous day.
MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -4.62% to 13,807.94, Turnover ₮100.7 Million, ₮9.68 Billion T-Bills
July 24 (MSE) --
MSE: ₮10 Billion 28-Week T-Bills on Offer at 7.1% Discount, 14.271% Interest
July 22 (MSE) --
1. The issuer's name: Mongolian Ministry of Finance
2. The purpose of the issuance of bond: State treasury cash management
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 92,882.00
7. Total amounts issued: 100,000 Units
8. Short-term 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.
FRC Approves Delisting of Bishrelt Industrial, Mongol Makh Expo from MSE
July 23 (MSE) According to the resolution No.: 310, 309 of Financial Regulatory Commission, dated on 3 July 2015, the decision to remove a total 700,523 shares of "Bishrelt Industrial" JSC and a total 328,609 shares of "Mongol Makh Expo" JSC from MSE listing has been approved.
At same day, accordance with the resolution No.: 309 of FRC, delisted 61,147 shares out of a total 10,231,389 shares of "Sharyn Gol" JSC, 10,170,242 shares remain of "Sharyn Gol" JSC and will be amended at MSE's listing under related regulations.
Due to the listing amendment made to JSC the following rights will be occurred:
• Shareholders meeting of "Bishrelt Industrial" JSC held on 30 April 2015 and majority of shareholders voted to change the status of the company to Limited Liabilities Company (LLC). The company is obligated to redeem its shares from shareholders who did not vote or voted against it. The company must redeem its shares from shareholders at the price of MNT992.00 prior to the deadline of August 28, 2015. When the deadline period expires "Bishrelt Industrial" JSC will be de-listed from MSE listing.
• Shareholders meeting of "Mongol Makh Expo" JSC held on 30 April 2015 and majority of shareholders voted to change the status of the company to Limited Liabilities Company (LLC). The company is obligated to redeem its shares from shareholders who did not vote or voted against it. The company must redeem its shares from shareholders at the price of MNT1955.00 prior to the deadline of August 28, 2015. When the deadline period expires "Mongol Makh Expo" JSC will be de-listed from MSE listing.
Shareholders of "Bishrelt Industrial" JSC please contact to following address:
"Capital Market Corporation" LLC
Address: Ulaanbaatar, Chingeltei district, Sambuu street
Phone: 330896, 8807272
Contact person: Nansalmaa.D
Shareholders of "Mongol Makh Expo" JSC please contact to following address:
"Capital Market Corporation" LLC
Address: Ulaanbaatar, Chingeltei district, Sambuu street
Phone: 330896, 8807272
Contact person: Gantuya.L
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, July 24 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
BoM FX auction: US$48.4m sold at ₮1,979, CNY118.9m at ₮318.83, accepts $81.6m MNT swap offers
July 23 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on July 23th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 48.4 million and CNY 118.9. The BOM has accepted the offers and sold USD 48.4 million in a rate with MNT 1979.00, CNY 118.9 million in a rate with MNT 318.83.
On July 23th, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer equivalent to USD 81.6 million from local commercial banks and the BOM has accepted the offers.
BoM issues ₮75.7 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding -12.3% to ₮870.8 billion
July 22 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 75.7 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
₮15 Billion 28-Week Bills Sold at Discount, Average Yield 14.271%, with ₮46.5 Billion Bids
July 22 (BoM) Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 15.0 billion MNT. Face value of 15.0 billion /out of 46.5 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 14.271%.
Consolidated Balance Sheet of Commercial Banks, June 2015
July 22 (Bank of Mongolia) --
/in million of togrogs/
Central bank bills
In domestic currency
In foreign currency
In domestic currency
In foreign currency
In domestic currency
In foreign currency
Profit/loss of current year
The Sales Managers' Index: Mongolia
Business conditions in Mongolia deteriorate further as economic situation remains weak
· Outlook towards future activity worsens
· Sales and market growth decline at a slower rate
· Deflationary pressures continue to intensify
The Headline Sales Managers' Index for Mongolia remained well below the no-change mark of 50.0 in July, posting 42.6, down from 42.9 in June. This signalled a further deterioration in business conditions across the country. The index has now been in negative territory for the past seventeen months. An index above 50 indicates growth, while an index below 50 indicates contraction. Weighing on the headline index were sharper falls in business confidence and prices charged while stronger gains in market growth, product sales and employment acted to cushion the SMI in the latest survey period.
Survey data pointed to a worsening outlook towards future business activity in July, with the Business Confidence Index registering 48.2, down from 49.5 in June. Although recording below the crucial 50.0 threshold for the twenty-second consecutive month, the current reading was the second-highest since April 2014. A reading above 50 indicates a general positive business outlook. Where optimism was reported, panellists referred to anticipated higher sales and improved market conditions.
The Market Growth Index rose to 40.8 in July, from 40.3 in June, indicating the fifth successive month of improvements and that market growth continued to fall albeit at a substantial but slower rate. That said, the latest reading is the highest since July 2014. Similarly, the Product Sales Indexrose to 44.1 in July, from 43.4 in June. This signalled the fourth straight month of gain and the strongest pace since January 2014. However, July's value of 44.1 was consistent with robust and slower rate of contraction in product sales.
Meanwhile, the Prices Charged Index fell again in July to reach 40.2, down from 41.4 in June, with sales managers reducing selling prices in an effort to boost domestic demand. The deceleration in prices, have been linked by panellists to declines in global commodity prices, such as those of gold, copper and coal.
Finally, the Staffing Index inched up fractionally to 40.2 in July, from 40.1 in June, showing a continuing weakness in labour market conditions across the country. Surveyed managers mentioned low demand behind the job losses seen over the past seventeen months.
World Economics Chief Executive Ed Jones commented:
"Despite a slight improvement in market growth, product sales and employment levels, latest SMI data for Mongolia signalled that operating conditions across the country continued to deteriorate during July. Business confidence still declining while deflationary pressures continued to intensify."
16,000 Surplus Apartments Expected in Next Five Years
July 23 (news.mn) The Mongolian Ministry of Building and Urban Construction and other market experts believe that the number of surplus apartments will reach 16,000 over the next five years. The researchers studied the supply and demand and home-buyers' ability to purchase new accommodation.
There is a real demand for apartments; in Ulaanbaatar, 189,240 families currently require accommodation, and outside the capital, 16,000 families do not have an apartment. Only 31.2% of them, however, currently have the guaranteed financial wherewithal to purchase an apartment. The researchers consider that will be a parity between the supply and demand of apartments supply within the next three years.
NSO: Economic Sector Indicators as of First Half of 2015
July 23 (infomongolia.com) The National Statistical Office (NSO) of Mongolia has released its Social and Economic report for the first half of 2015.
Macroeconomic Indicators as of the first half of 2015
According to report of the Bank of Mongolia, money supply (M2) reached to 10.0 trill.tug at the end of June 2015, increased by 201.8 bln.tug or 2.1 percent from the previous month, decreased by 65.7 bln.tug or 0.7 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
Loans outstanding amounted to 11.9 trill.tug, at the end of June 2015, decreased by 222.2 bln.tug or 1.8 percent from previous month, by 354.4 bln.tug or 2.9 percent compared to same period of the previous year. At the end of June 2015, the non-performing loans over the bank system reached 773.9 bln.tug, it has increased by 35.3 bln.tug or 4.8 percent from the previous month, by 206.9 bln.tug or 36.5 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
In the first half of 2015, 19.6 mln.shares were traded and valued at 587.4 bln.tug in the stock market. The securities trading was increased by 453.6 bln.tug or 4.4 times and shares decreased by 10.5 mln.pieces or 34.9 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
Total equilibrated revenue and grants of the General Government Budget amounted to 2,640.2 bln.tug and total expenditure and net lending amounted to 3,175.0 bln.tug, representing a deficit of 534.9 bln.tug in the equilibrated balance. Tax revenue has inceased by 19.9 bln.tug or 0.9 percent compared to same period of the previous year. This increase was mainly due to increases of 72.3 bln.tug or 15.9 percent in social contributions, 44.2 bln.tug or 20.1 percent in excise taxes, 42.5 bln.tug or 14.1 percent in other taxes. Total expenditure and net lending of the General Government Budget reached 3,175.0 bln.tug increased by 205.0 bln.tug or 6.9 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
Data: State Budget of Mongolia
In the first half of 2015, Mongolia traded with 122 countries and total external trade turnover reached 4,208.9 mln.USD, of which 2,370.2 mln.USD was made by exports and 1,838.7 mln.USD by imports. Total external trade turnover decreased 871.9 mln.USD dollars or 17.2 percent, exports decreased by 109.8 mln.USD or 4.4 percent, imports by 762.0 mln.USD or 29.3 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
External trade balance showed a deficit of 120.7 mln.USD in the first half of 2014, while it was in surplus of 531.4 mln.USD in the first half of 2015.
In the first half of 2015, natural losses of adult animals reached 431.8 thous.heads at national level and increased by 131.0 thous.heads or 43.5 percent compared to same period of the previous year. Out of the losses of adult animals, 22.5 thousand were horses, 27.1 thousand were cows, 1.0 thousand were camels, 173.3 thousand were sheeps and 207.9 thousand goats.
Data: Animal husbandry
The industrial production index (seasonally adjusted) in June 2015 was 136.4 (2010=100) increased by 13.8 percent from the previous month, increased by 1.6 percent from begining of the year and by 21.3 percent over the same period of the previous year.
Construction and capital repairs work in the first half of 2015 rose 15.9 bln.tug or 2.6 percent compared with same period of the previous year. This increase was mainly due to an increase of 20.7 bln.tug or 3.6 percent in the work done by domestic construction entities.
In the first half of 2015, 17.2 mln.tons freight and 169.4 mln.passengers (double counting) were carried by all types of transport and carried freight decreased by 6.4 mln.tons or 27.1 percent, carried passengers by 3.0 mln.persons or 1.7 percent compared to same period of the previous year. 8,954.7 thous.tons freight and 1,420.4 thous.passengers (double counting) were carried by railway transport. 1,315.3 tons freight and 276.7 thous.passengers (double counting) were carried by air transport.
NSO: Social Indicators as of the first half of 2015
July 23 (infomongolia.com) The National Statistical Office (NSO) of Mongolia has released its Social and Economic report for the first half of 2015.
Social Indicators as of the first half of 2015
The number of unemployed reached 32.7 thousand at the end of June 2015, has shown a increase of 0.7 thous.persons or 2.3 percent from previous month, decreased by 4.2 thous.persons or 11.5 percent from beginning of the year and decreased by 1.1 thous.persons or 3.4 percent over the same period of the previous year.
In the first half of 2015, the revenue of Social Insurance Fund amounted to 686.1 bln.tug, reflecting increase of 13.6 bln.tug or 2.0 percent and the expenditure of the fund reached 778.2 bln.tug, it has shown of increase 150.7 bln.tug or 24.0 percent compared to same period of the previous year. Totally 73.9 bln.tug granted to 192.3 thous.persons for pensions, and welfare benefits from the Social Welfare Fund, a number of persons received pensions and welfare benefits increased by 1.3 thous.persons or 0.7 percent, and amount of pensions and allowances increased by 4.6 bln.tug or 6.6 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
In the first half of 2015, 40,022 mothers delivered 40,252 children (live births) it has decreased by 142 mothers or 0.4 percent and by 165 children or 0.4 percent compared to same period of the previous year. Infant mortality reached 630 it has decreased by 2 children or 0.3 percent, mortality under-five reached 738. It has shown decrease of 22 children or 2.9 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
Data: Population and Health
The number of infectious disease cases were 35,749, increased by 18,687 or 2.1 times compared to same period of the previous year. This increase was mainly due to increases of measles as 16,808 although viral hepatitis cases decreased by 162 or 26.7 percent and mumps cases by 266 or 77.3 percent.
In June 2015, according to the report of the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, a maximum precipitation was registered at (207.0 mm) in Bugat sum of Govi-Altai aimag. Orkhon sum of Selenge aimag and Darkhan sum Darkhan-Uul aimag had the highest air temperature (37.0°C), while Tsetsen-Uul sum of Zavkhan aimag and Jargalant sum of Bayankhongor aimag had the lowest air temperature (-5.0°C). Maximum wind speed reached 25 m/sec in Uliastai sum of Zavkhan aimag and Sukhbaatar sum of Selenge aimag.
Info: Provinces of Mongolia
Info: Ulaanbaatar city
In June 2015, as measured by over 10 air quality monitoring stations, the average daily concentration of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide exceeded by 2-22 times and dust content with less than 2.5 micron in the atmosphere of Ulaanbaatar exceeded the maximum acceptable level by 2-5 times.
In the first half of 2015, 3,028 disasters and accidents occurred. As a result, 67 people died, 133.6 thous.head livestock and animals were lost. There were reported 2,577 construction fires and 133 animal madness diseases. Estimated damage caused by the fires of forest amounted to 19.3 bln.tug, construction fires amounted to 5.9 bln.tug, by heavy fall of snow and severe storms amounted to 5.2 bln.tug, by animal madness diseases 45.9 mln.tug and total expenditure for disasters and accidents reached 580.4 mln.tug.
Data: Animal husbandry
At the national level, 14,855 crimes were registered in the first half of 2015, shows an increase of 1,290 crime or 9.5 percent compared to same period of the previous year. This increase was mainly due to number of crime against the right of ownership (1,105), economic crimes (219), crimes against the rules of safety of traffic and use of motor vehicles (124) compared to same period of the previous year.
Data: Crime and Offenses
Analyst Sh.Gantulga: We're on the same road as Greece
July 24 (UB Post) The following is an interview with analyst Sh.Gantulga about Mongolia's economy and independence.
What do you think about Mongolia's status in the international world?
The decision to invest in Mongolia depends solely on the conditions for investment in other countries. Our authorities have always maintained that foreign investments will just pour in to a democratic country. In real life, foreign investors only care about profitability. They are cautious of the possibility of their money disappearing due to political conditions. The stability of our economic and political conditions are worrying foreign investors.
How would you define Mongolia's economic conditions?
Our economy is unstable. Legislation is always changing. This is because we have a parliamentary system. Parliament consists of political party members. Political parties being funded by wealthy persons are one of the causes of instability because investors want an increased income. That's the market law. So they make and change laws that fit their interests. Although we never had a civil war, there's always a war in the court front. We change our laws more than African countries do. You can see from previous incidents where foreign investors get scared and don't come back for a while. For example, we know that foreign investors left us due to a lot of changes in laws concerning natural resources. It's important to follow the law regardless of its quality once we adopt it. Foreign investors don't care if the laws are good or bad. Their main concern is to increase their wealth without losing anything. In other words, fear and greed follow them around. They invest because of greed and pull back due to fear. We Mongolians don't understand the biological aspect of humans. We only give emphasis to economic laws when in fact, you can't go further without understanding the core.
The president signed to make Mongolia an economic corridor at the meeting in Ufa. How do you view this?
The Ufa meeting showed us that China was in the lead with a dominant position. In other words, only one issue was discussed at BRICS and Shanghai meetings. President of China Xi Jinping accentuated the construction of the Silk Road Project and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Although it seems like two things, it's one by nature. In other words, China wants to head Eurasia. They want to build a trade zone that spans from Far East Asia to Western Europe. Our country is undoubtedly in this region. Two-thousand years ago, our country played a significant role in building the Silk Road. This time, it's no different. The president of China says there will be an economic line going through Mongolian borders. This brings us a possibility of economic growth and a threat to our sovereignty.
The meeting was between Russian, Chinese and Mongolian leaders. How do you view the results?
This meeting was not beneficial to us. When Mongolia, China and Russia meet up, the issues are solved in favor of China as it's the most powerful of the three. This was like the Treaty of Kyakhta of 1915 on repeat. The reason Mongolia exists today is because Mongolian diplomats from the Bogd Khan era united Mongolia with Russia against China. Now when these three unite to talk, we can't do anything on our land without the permission of the president of China. So due to this meeting, our country is integrating into China's economic conditions. Our economy and independence is in danger. Our economy is fully dependent on our southern neighbor. We moved apart from our northern neighbor and got closer to our southern neighbor as we adopted democracy. One percent of Mongolia's total exports rely on Russia, while 80 percent relies on China. So our economy fully relies on the Chinese economy. If China's economy grows, the price of our mineral resources increases. Originally we were supposed to develop industries. Instead, we developed an economy fully reliant on another country. The main danger is that they won't let us build our own independent factory.
Do you suppose that this will give Mongolia a negative outlook?
Of course. We can't make big investments or implement projects without the permission of the president of China.
In the beginning of this month, a big Chinese firm was to invest in the petroleum industry. How should we deal with this?
To gain profits from Chinese investments, our government should be strong. If we're weak, we'll be the feast of foreign investors. Our government, by being strong and fair, can exhort foreign investments as well as gain from it. But of course, if we lose our sovereignty, we will not get any investments.
Does this mean we're in danger? We were seeing this as an economic opportunity.
It could be economically profitable but we won't gain anything without keeping our independence. In other words, if we lose our freedom the money originally intended for the people will go to the owners. Therefore, we must protect our independence. We should have been active in the meeting, but not in the three-countries' leaders' meeting. The reason we exists is because of the united power of Russia and us. To simplify, if the leaders of the three countries met together, Mongolia and Russia can no longer do anything independently.
What are your opinions about our foreign debt?
The reason our foreign debt is increasing is correlated with the modern democratic system. It's like Greece. Political parties give lots of social care promises to survive. The promises get bigger between elections. That's the result of competition before election. The figures exceed the country's incomes. We're getting loans trying to patch up budget deficits that are bigger than GDP. Greece was exactly on this road. Once you know it, the loans exceed GDP, leading to economic default, and failure of government. As for our country, we're at the end of this road. A few years ago, we were happy we paid all our foreign debts. But now, we're viewed as a country that might potentially default on its debts. They say our government might borrow one million USD in 2015. That's why I see it as the same path as Greece's. Greece was in economic recession for six years. One-fourth of their economy or GDP disappeared. One-fourth of the population became unemployed, 51 percent of 17-35 year olds lost their jobs. Their banks didn't work last week. Generally, Greece is in a very tough situation. We have to understand that this is close to us. Every country has economic recessions every 25 years.
What should we do?
After this kind of recession, the economy grows. It's like spring after winter. To amplify the currency rate, the country decreases its product and service prices, making it more competitive in the global market. This is how an industrial field grows. In our country's case, only the natural resources field developed, not industries. This means that we won't have economic development. Increases in natural resources prices that are reliant on China is not going to be much. This is why I'm saying we have lots of possibility to be in Greece's shoes soon. Although foreign investments are important, it's inappropriate if it is given to a China-dependent natural resources field. We need foreign investments in industries. But to do that, we have to fight corruption and revive the education system. We have to stabilize and improve the legislative environment.
Copper Extends Slide to Lowest Since 2009 on Weak China Demand
July 24 (Bloomberg) Copper declined to the lowest since 2009 as manufacturing data added to evidence that demand is slowing in China, the world's biggest metals consumer.
World Bank: Commodity Prices Expected to Remain Weak in 2015 Despite Slight Rebound in Oil Price
Special feature assesses how China and India play significant roles in world commodity markets
80% of crops reported dead, ₮150 billion lost
By B. Khash-Erdene
July 24 (UB Post) Approximately 80 percent of Mongolia's crops have died this summer due to extreme drought across the country, according to board member of the Mongolian Plantation Union B.Erdenebat.
Though the situation has reached a critical level, the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture has yet to take action, let alone announce to the public what is happening.
According to B.Erdenebat, who is more commonly known as a member of the famous Mongolian pop group Camerton, crop fields remain productive in only in the regions of the Khalkh River in Bulgan and Selenge provinces.
Not counting equipment purchase costs, B.Erdenebat said the damages amount to 150 billion MNT so far. Some soums have started preparing soil for next year, as it is evident that no yield can be expected this year.
According to B.Erdenebat, crop farmers and provinces have been urging the ministry to prepare for cloud seeding to force rain, without much success, since winter.
"Crop farmers and union members have been telling the ministry [about drought conditions] all winter. We asked them to allocate a budget and prepare cloud seeding equipment and cartridges. We reminded them that plantation yield is cyclical and that since the last few years gave a good harvest, this year will be difficult. But the ministry did not take any measures. They have been very irresponsible in this regard. They kept reciting bad financial standings and didn't heed our words," B.Erdenebat told Udriin Sonin.
"Almost 80 percent of the cloud seeding cartridges were used to put out the wildfire in Dornod Province this spring… China and Russia have lost 20 to 25 percent of their crops, but we lost 80 percent," he added.
Although cloud seeding has been effective in bringing about rain in the past, the union said that the state's cloud seeding personnel had been changed entirely and the new staff haven't been able to produce rain effectively.
The prices of flour and rice will increase this fall due to the losses in crops, according to analysts.
Las year, Mongolia harvested more than it had in over 17 years, but the state only reserved 30,000 tons of grain, a one-month reserve. According to B.Erdenebat, the Plantation Union advised the ministry to buy reserves from private companies, and received no response.
"Mongolia should at least have a year's worth of reserve since it can't manage four to five years like bigger countries. But the ministry didn't listen. The people will feel what it's like to live in a country with no reserve this fall," he said.
B.Erdenebat said that when given the official report on the dying crops, the ministry told him "not to be so downtrodden and think about good things."
The Ministry of Agriculture refused to comment via phone on the issue.
B.Erdenebat said that next year will also be a difficult one for crop farmers and plantations, as cyclical droughts usually continue for two to three years.
The consequences of going thirsty
It is astounding how little attention is being given to the agricultural industry issue when it is in such a dire state. The domestic production of Mongolia's most basic food commodity of flour and grain has just been cut.
Any smart food supplier should be ramping up their reserves of wheat and rice right now, because it doesn't take an economist to know that prices are about to jump. Inflation is bound to increase this fall, illustrating once again just how fragile and vulnerable Mongolia is to external and environmental shocks.
For years, the agricultural sector has provided the most jobs in Mongolia, particularly in rural areas, and received substantial state support and subsidies. Other sectors enviously point out how crop farmers get all sorts of soft loans for equipment, seed, and supplies, as well as subsidies for their production, but other industries can't.
The state has invested hundreds of billions of MNT over the years to bring the agricultural sector to where it is now, but when the public investment started to look shaky, the ministry did nothing. It hasn't even told the nation that 80 percent of its crops have died this summer.
According to the Plantation Union, the government had been warned about the approaching drought months before it hit peak levels. The lack of action and indolence illustrates a big failure on the part of the government to manage a crisis and the country's economy.
Time and time again the people of Mongolia have watched governments and state heads make mistake after mistake, and hide and scramble instead of acknowledging and working to rectify their faults.
State officials and ministers need to realize that public funds are not their personal property to be squandered at their whim, and that their decisions impact the lives of all the people in Mongolia.
The Ministry of Industry and Agriculture has no time to lose. They need to start minimizing the damage immediately and manage the supply of wheat and flour to prevent violent economic repercussions. They need to do their jobs if they want to keep them.
Droughts raising serious concern for harvest, winter preparations - official
By E. Enkhmaa
July 24 (gogo.mn) P.Gankhuyag, Analyst at the Animal Husbandry Policy Implementation department of Ministry of Food and Agriculture gives insight on summer conditions and winter preparations.
-How is the summer condition nationwide?
-This year is very different from previous years as there were droughts in some areas and after Naadam extensive rain showers passed through the country. In overall, the summer condition is at 40 percent normal.
15 percent is average and over 40 percent has droughts. Droughts have affected north of Sukhbaatar aimag, Khentii aimag as a whole, some soums of Tuv, Selenge and Dornogobi aimags. Most of the hay-fields are affected by drought, which raises serious concern for the animal husbandry for the winter and coming spring seasons.
-Recent rain showers should have improved the situation?
-Although extensive rain showers passed nationwide, it won't affect the hay-fields that much. It is almost impossible to reserve the hay this year. Government of Mongolia approved resolution No42 on July 7th of 2015 on Winter Preparations in the Agricultural Sector.
According to which, Ministry is working on escalating the meat export process in preparation for the winter. Mongolia has negotiations made with China and Russia on meat exports and horse exports to China.
Financial support is planned to support domestic meat processing manufactures to adhere to international standards.
-How about the management on pastureland issues as the drought hits?
-Directions on hay reserves has been given on every level including soums, aimags and nationwide. Due to droughts it may require additional funds as well.
There is high possibility that the grain amount to be less than expected, therefore additional funds needed for reserve. In 2015 Mongolia has planted grain on 387 thousand hectares.
313 thousand hectares or 80 percent of its is affected by the drought. Heat affected the grain growing process and the late rain showers won't help them grow now. There is high possibility of losing the majority of the crops, leading to the need to make reserves.
-How many aimags were affected by drought?
-Khuvsgul, Bulgan, Tuv and Khentii aimags have the most droughts and those aimags are leading with their number of cattle. There is high risk of zud during winter months if the droughts are to continue. It is highly recommended to conduct meat processing in those regions.
The process needs funding an we are working on submitting the issue for cabinet discussions. Moreover, it is important to conduct hay preparations on the fields at other aimags where precipitations were at high level, as major hay-fields were affected by drought.
Currently hay reserves can be prepared at Dornod and Sukhbaatar aimags. Regulations are being made for the hay reserves to be prepared from these regions for Khentii, Tuv, Bulgan and Selenge aimag herders and entities.
The reserves to be allocated for the aimags affected by drought, which totals the territory of 600 thousand hectares. In western region the situation is much better and they are to prepare their reserves through their own resources.
-How many cattle is there currently in Mongolia?
-This spring Mongolia received the highest number of off-springs which is 18 million. According to the National Statistics Office there are 66.2 million cattle currently as of 1H of 2015. Mongolia uses 9-10 million cattle for the domestic consumption.
With this in mind there will be 56 million cattle. There is possibility to reduce the number by 5-10 million for the meat processing and exports. The main obstacle is the health and food safety standards. We aim to make the western region the meat processing region.
Due to mouth and foot disease spread in Bayan-Ulgii aimag in 2013 the negotiations with Chinese side have been terminated. There are many aimags that were disease free for 5-10 years and there are many aimags with many cattle among them as well. We aim to prepare meat from those aimags.
We also conduct negotiations and preparations with Chinese side on exporting meat. Before Naadam festival officials from Chinese side visited Mongolia and have agreed on some conditions. Therefore, in near future we are to export meat from disease free regions. There is plenty of opportunities to export meat to Russia.
-There are obstacles with meat exporting mainly dependent on adhering to international health and safety standards. How much development has been done in this regard?
-It is true that Mongolian meat processors are far from international standards. Attestations should be conducted in near future. We are working towards increasing the number of authorised meat processors. 5-6 companies have received their licenses.
-How many meat processors are currently holding their licenses?
-There are enough compared to nationwide level. It is important to advance their operations to adhere to international standards.
-Pastureland available in Mongolia is not enough for the total cattle?
-According to the research evaluation the total pastureland available has capacity of 70 million cattle transferred into sheep count, while there are 87 million cattle transferred into sheep count.
The capacity load is exceeding by 10 million. In Khentii, Tuv and Bulgan aimags the capacity overload has increased by 3-5 times due to drought.
-Herders do winter migration for better pastureland. Are there possibilities to do that in the coming winter?
-Winter migration is one of the pressing issues in the coming winter. The usual location for winter migration is crossing of Tuv, Bulgan and Uvurkhangai aimags and Dornogobi aimag.
Current harsh summer condition is not allowing the planning of the winter migration in those areas. Therefore, areas in Dornod, Gobi-Altai and Bayankhongor are planned for possible winter migration, otherwise it is advised for herders to do winter migration within their habitat.
Naadam unfazed by economic difficulties
July 21 (UB Post) Despite all the talk about the looming economic recession this year, Mongolians have been travelling and celebrating more lavishly than ever this year.
This year's Naadam has been more exuberant, exciting, and much better organized than any we have seen before, with a budget of 2.7 billion MNT compared to last year's 2.2 billion MNT. Capital city festival goers were delighted to find that most major venues in the city had something to offer. Chinggis Square hosted three nights of colorful concerts and performances, ranging from traditional and classical to pop, hip hop, rock and roll, and even jazz, as promised by Mayor E.Bat-Uul.
During the first-ever officially five-day holiday for Naadam, it is safe to say that those who were looking for entertainment found it not in short supply. I think, therefore, it is fitting that The UB Post thank the Naadam backstage workers – the police, hospital, emergency workers and other public service organizations – that worked tirelessly to ensure a safe and entertaining festival.
Even the pre-Naadam wrestling competitions gave wrestling fans much to talk about, where young wrestlers from provinces and the military overthrew great state title holders, one after another.
Though it could not be said that the weather was perfectly balanced during Naadam, the fact that much needed precipitation is affecting most regions in the country right after Naadam is good news for many herders.
But not all was well duringthis year's Naadam. Preliminary reports say that 56 people lost their lives in traffic accidents during Naadam. Emergency hotlines confirmed reports that heat related emergency calls occurred daily, as well as accidents near rivers.
Mongolians have a saying, "Naadmyn daraa namar", which means "fall comes right after Naadam". This is an alarm clock for herders to begin preparing for winter. But this year's Naadam has yet to end as provinces and soums continue their celebration.
Travel greatly increased this year due to better roads and longer holidays. Many have still yet to come back from their travels. Roads from Ulaanbaatar to Erdenet and Darkhan are still busy.
Unofficial sources say that around 40,000 domestic travelers visited Khuvsgul Province during the holiday. The rapid inflow presented major problems for the province. Social media posts said that the province was in short supply of food, lodging, fuel and cash at ATMs. Though official sources have denied this, most who traveled and returned have confirmed the supply issues and have stated that better management is needed in the region, as travelers have started polluting the famously clean and pristine Khuvsgul Lake.
Uvurkhangai, Arkhangai, Selenge and Khentii provinces, other popular vacation destinations, also had a deluge of visitors.
Though all this travel is good for one aspect of the economy, as it revitalizes the tourism industry, it makes you question what happened to all the talk of economic recession, cutting budgets, and taking out loans.
In the last year or so, politicians and economists have been warning of the impending doom that the economy is heading towards. But from this Naadam it would seem that Mongolians are not as starved of cash and desperate as politicians would have it.
The fact that people, by the thousands, can travel around the country to enjoy five days of festivities says something about the true status of how the public perceives the economy. One would hope that Mongolians are wise enough to know not to blow their hard earned savings on one occasion.
According to economists, housing demand is falling, the state budget needs major cuts, and the country's economy is heading towards a dire place in upcoming years. In the coming years of 2016 and 2017, money will be in evermore short supply and people will scramble to profit from their businesses, so was it wise to blow so much away this year? And at what cost? A sacred environmental heritage has been polluted and the growing number of travelers were the cause of their own frustration when they ran out of money, food, and fuel at Khuvsgul.
Of course, there are times one should embrace their national heritage and celebrate, but a little wisdom and frugality is advised.
Parliament Recall Still Possible in August
July 23 (news.mn) At the closing meeting of the spring parliamentary session Speaker Z.Enkhbold announced that the Mongolian Parliament would be recalled for one day. The date mentioned was 3rd August. We have obtained the following brief information from Parliamentary Public Relations Chief, O.Batkhand.
-When will the Speaker issue an order for the recall?
-The Speaker has officially announced that there will be a one-day recall meeting on 3rd August. During this meeting, Parliament will discuss the Criminal Law, Economic Transparency Law and other related legislation. Regarding the Order, this has not yet been officially issued; nevertheless, we are preparing for the meeting.
-Is there any rule which provisions how many days in advance the Recall Order needs to be issued?
-Under Parliamentary Law, there are several provisions about the recall of Parliament, but none about the issuing dates.
-Will the necessary quorum of members be sufficient?
- If the recall order is issued the MP's have the duty to attend meeting. Therefore, we assume that there will be the necessary quorum.
-There are rumors that most of the MP's have requested to postpone the meeting until after the summer recess ends September. Is it true?
- This is not official information. The only official information is that the Speaker announced the discussion of the laws at the closing meeting of the last session.
DP: Mafias Disguised as Factions
By Ts. Erdenetsetseg
July 24 (gogo.mn) Mongolian Political life hosts number of factions, being a ground for the numerous views, conflict of interests, private ambitions and settlements for positions.
Factions have become the frequent in the same political party having differing views and creating discord among themselves.
Recent example will be the announcement made by MPP leader M.Enkhbold during his speech, the fact that factions within DP are having differing views on Tavantolgoi leading to the stalling of the project.
In the political circle many have suspicion that Speaker Z.Enkhbold himself is interested in stalling the project in order to strengthen his seat as the Leader of DP.
People close to sources even confirm that although the current Speaker's negotiation with Mongolian Democratic Union Faction was successful, he could not secure the positive feedback with Polar Star Faction, therefore he is stalling the project in turn for the Leader seat. The reason behind in the number of members of Polar Star faction is outnumbering the other factions within the Democratic Party and therefore Speaker would not have chance to remain in Leader seat. Moreover, Z.Enkhbold is being pointed at as the mastermind behind the drama of dismissing the previous cabinet.
L.Erdenechimeg, member of Mongolian Democratic Union Faction, appointed as the head of the working group to investigate on the Tavantolgoi agreement who is holding back on the project citing to such reasons as translations of the agreement are not matching, might be the move of the Speaker. On the other hand A.Gansukh, close person to Kh.Battulga, is the advisor to the Speaker. He is pointing fingers at the Tavantolgoi agreement is likely well proves the previous stance.
Mongolian Democratic Union Faction gathers in Kh.Battulga's room after each discussion of Tavantolgoi agreement just like Falcon Faction gathers around Z.Enkhbold clearly depicts the existence of the settlements.
This is the example how the mafia like activities disguised as factions are stalling the Tavantolgoi agreements just for mere position in the party.
It has become evident that factions are behind the settlements within the parties who gets which seat, which in turn makes it clear that State Great Khural and City Council are representing interests of Ts.Elbegdorj, N.Enkhbayar, M.Enkhbold, Kh.Battulga, Z.Enkhbold and so on, rather than of the citizens.
What are factions for? It will be safe enough to say that, being in a faction secures the winning in the bids and securing the financing for the projects. The current cabinet members dismissal is also the result of the faction fights within the DP. Many politicians saying that the fight for the rest of the bond money has sharpened and leads to the current situation we are witnessing currently.
It is imperative for the parties and their factions to sober up and think about the country wealth, otherwise the politics will remain dirty as it is.
Probably the leader of the Falcon faction once called for faction free DP due to those dirty tricks happening currently.
DP Factions and its members
Mongolian Democratic Union Faction
Mongolian National Democracy
The DP is soon to have another faction as well. MPs G.Batkhuu, M.Batchimeg, L.Bold, Ts.Oyungerel are uniting to establish Mongolian Democratic Party initiative or faction, in order to protect the democratic values, but this initiative hasn't led to any success yet.
Mongolia: Media Council poised in the starting blocks
July 14 (DW Akademie) Journalists in Mongolia are calling it a historical event - the establishment of the country's first ever independent media council. Expectations for the council, which is just about to assume its actitivies, are high.
The chair of Mongolia's new media ethics committee for print and online media, Shirchin Sukhbaatar, calls the meeting to order and checks the agenda in front of him. Seated around the table, the 15 newly elected members start discussing the press complaints submitted for them to review. They go through each case, assessing its validity and which clause of the Mongolian Media Code it possibly violates. The council then votes on a course of action to take about the complaint.
The complaints are fictitious though. With DW Akademie's support and moderation by Manfred Protze from the German Press Council, the committee meeting is an important trial run. With the practice session behind them, the ethics committees of the Media Council of Mongolia can begin. The 30 media council members are divided into two ethics committees; one for print and online media, the other for television and radio. The complaint process allows readers and viewers to air their grievances about reports in the media that, for example, might violate their rights to privacy or are discriminatory. The Media Council makes its decisions according to the recently adopted journalism code of ethics. "We are creating a new culture in the Mongolian media sector," says Sukhbaatar. "I am really glad to be a part of it but I also have serious respect for the work ahead of us."
Setting a common goal
Gunjidmaa Gongor, a media council board member, is one of the project's initiators. She says it was an effort to establish the council. "Many people didn't believe that we would ever reach an agreement with the most important journalist associations in the country," says Gunjidmaa Gongor, who is also the Executive Director of the Press Institute of Mongolia. "We made it work in the end though." It took the support of leading journalists as well as managers and owners of media companies to create a media regulatory body "free of political or financial interests," she says. This is a first in Mongolia's media landscape.
DW Akademie has been involved in the project since January 2014 after being approached by the project initiators for advice. In turn, DW Akademie sought to include other organizations active in promoting press freedom in Mongolia. "We felt it was essential to work with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Ulan Bator, the Press Institute of Mongolia and Globe International, which are both Mongolian NGOs, as well as the Mongolian Journalists Association," DW Akademie country coordinator Eva Mehl says.
DW Akademie contributed practical exercises and best practices from different countries. "In addition to Manfred Protze from the German Press Council, Ljiljana Zurovac from the Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina was another real asset as a trainer," Mehl says. "Zurovac was able to draw from the transformation process that had occurred in her own country, and offer Mongolian journalists profound insight into the media self-regulation process."
Limitations to press freedom
In Mongolia, the shift to democracy and a market economy has set off a media explosion. Currently around 500 media outlets serve a population of just under three million people. Corruption and political sway continue to curtail press freedom, however. The number of libel suits filed against journalists is on the rise, as is self-censorship. According to information gathered by Mongolian NGO Globe International, 172 websites have been blocked since 2012.
More recently, the government has begun requiring websites with more than 3,000 visitors a day over a one month period to register and install a government specified filter that censors more than a hundred words deemed inappropriate by the government. In addition, an emphasis on sensationalist reporting combined with a disregard of journalism ethics and lack of attention to detail make it difficult for the general populate to access accurate information.
The dream of an independent council
Many Mongolian journalists have high hopes that the newly founded Media Council of Mongolia will help protect press freedom in future. "The Media Council will allow us to create a healthy environment for the Mongolian media landscape," Gunjidmaa Gongor says. "It will have a positive impact on the quality of journalism. We have a lot of hurdles to overcome before we get there though. First and foremost, we have to win the trust of the media and the public."
The next step for the newly elected members of the media council is to raise public awareness of the workings of the council. This will be done with the support of DW Akademie and other partners. "People in rural areas in particular are often uninformed. Many have heard about the media council but they don't know what it does. We need to get that information out there," says online editor Bolortulga Erdenebileg, who works for the public service broadcaster MNB (Mongolian National Broadcaster) and was elected by the Website Association to serve on the council. The Media Council of Mongolia's ultimate goal is to become an independent and credible organization respected by journalists, media, civil society and government alike.
DW Akademie will continue its support of the Media Council of Mongolia until 2017. The long-term project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).
Ohio University plays host to 17 journalists from around the world
July 22 (The Athens News) International journalism scholars participating in the Study of the U.S. Institutes' (SUSI) Journalism and Media program are discovering new perspectives on U.S. culture and media during their six weeks at Ohio University.
Hosted by OU's Institute of International Journalism (IIJ) for six consecutive years, the program has brought together 17 journalism scholars and practitioners from around the world to study at the university from July 2 to Aug. 14. The program is operated by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs to deepen foreign scholars understand of U.S. curricula and culture. OU hosts the journalism and media SUSI program, one of nine different programs offered nationwide. It operates on a $275,000 renewable annual grant.
"The U.S. Department of State knows that the best representative of America is America," associate professor for journalism Mary Rogus, coordinator of the SUSI program at OU, said about how this program helps with international diplomacy.
"The media play an important part in developing democracy, and we are reaching out to those (the 17 scholars) who work with training and supporting future generations that will work in the media," she said.
Countries represented are Botswana, Burma/Myanmar, Chile, China, Ecuador, Greece, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Malawi, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.
Unruu Lkhanaa, from Mongolia, is one the 2015 SUSI scholars chosen. She works at the School of Journalism Press Institute of Mongolia teaching mass communication theory and cultural studies. She chose to participate in SUSI after seeing an advertisement on Facebook.
"I didn't know much about the program or Ohio University, so I Googled the college and found out that it was a top 10 school," she said.
After submitting her essay, she attended an interview at the Mongolian Embassy. She remembers seeing two Americans on the panel, who seemed friendly.
In Zambia, George Kalimbwe recalled being asked how he could contribute to the program, through an online interview. He was introduced to the idea of SUSI in 2013 by a representative from the American Embassy who was visiting the institution where Kalimbwe heads the media studies department, Evelynhone College of Applied Arts and Commerce.
Both Lkhanaa and Kalimbwe said they had little knowledge of how many others applied, but according to Rogus, the selection process was rigorous.
"Each country's embassy can select only two representatives. Then the U.S. Department of State will determine which ones are going to be in the program," she said.
During their stay in Athens, the scholars participate in academic discussions led by OU faculty on current media industry issues and trends, as well as how OU has structured its journalism curricula. In addition, every scholar has an OU faculty research partner to work on developing a project or paper proposal during his or her course of study.
Lkhanaa said she wants to learn more about what she terms as "free media" and how U.S. media portray gender, since most of Mongolia's press is connected to government or politicians. In particular, she wants to study how media contribute to building an equal society through election coverage and social media to promote gender equality. "Gender is an issue even in the U.S., but getting new ideas on how to improve the gap is important," she said.
Kalimbwe said he will work on how he can better structure his curricula and program, because his program has not been reviewed in 10 years. "I want to look at new media. That area is not a part of the syllabus, as well as comparing and contrasting learning objectives of my institution with OU's to better improve our educational system," he said.
These partnerships often last well beyond the duration of the program, according to OU associate professor Yusef Kalyango, director of both the university's Institute for International Journalism and the SUSI program at OU. It's not only the scholars who take away from the program; OU faculty also learn about how media in other countries operate, he said.
"The program provides OU and E.W. Scripps School of Journalism a growing network of human resources for future collaborations, academic exchanges and networking," he said.
Concession Agreement Signed to Build Ethnic Museum, First for Cultural Project
By B. Erdenechimeg
July 23 (gogo.mn) Yesterday, concession agreement to Develop Drawing-Construct-Own-Operate the Mongol Ethnic National Museum Complex project has been signed. This is the first concession agreement signed in cultural sector.
Signing ceremony was attended by S.Javkhlanbaatar, Head of Invest Mongolia Agency and representatives of Secret Mongols company.
Mongol Ethnic National Museum complex is to include:
- Ethnic museum
- National ger museum
- Panorama museum
- Eco and cultural heritage tourism
Total budget of the project is USD 125 million, which will be provided by the contractor with no commitment from the state. The duration of the project implementation is 5 years.
The complex purpose is to promote tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Mongolian nomads built up throughout the centuries and research those in the current setting.
Moreover, the complex provisions the establishment of the training and study center.
First cultural concession contract – news.mn, July 23
Speaker Enkhbold, Canadian Ambassador among speakers at NAMBC Annual Investors Conference, UB, September 29-30
July 24 (news.mn) Parliament Chairman Z. Enkhbold and Canadian Ambassador Ed Jager are among the speakers at the 18th Annual Investors Conference of the North America - Mongolia Business Council (NAMBC) in UB, September 29-30.
This annual event is the oldest continuously-held international investment forum on Mongolia anywhere in the world and registration is open to business executives from any country. The first NAMBC Investors Conference in 1998 was hosted by then-Prime Minister Ts.Elbegdorj.
See www.nambc.org for registration forms, early-bird discounts and room reservation instructions. Sessions on the first day will be at the Shangri-La Hotel; on the second day, the conference reconvenes inside Government House as the guests of the State Great Khural. September 8 is the deadline for group rate room reservations at the Shangri-La; September 15 is the deadline for conference registration. Attendance is limited to 100; the Chatham House Rule applies to all sessions. Sponsors include Rio Tinto, Centerra, Oyu Tolgoi LLC, Fluor, Turquoise Hill Resources, Boeing and others. The Mongolian Business Database is supporting this conference and is planning to organize a Mongolian trade mission to NAMBC's 26th Annual General Meeting in Ottawa, Canada, in May 2016. If you have any questions about the Investors Conference, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Investors' Forum Approaches – Montsame, July 24
MIAT to Commence Direct Flights to Haneda, Tokyo from August 5
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) The national flag carrier of Mongolia--Mongolian Airlines (MIAT) will start direct flights to the Haneda, one of the largest international airports of Tokyo, from this August 5.
In conjunction with this, the MIAT has decided to sell the tickets with a discount of 25%. In the busiest time of a year, the MIAT performs six flights to Tokyo a week, the flights to Haneda will be made on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Located in Ōta, Tokyo, 14 km south of Tokyo Station, the Haneda international airport is one of the two primary airports that serve the Greater Tokyo Area, and is the primary base of Japan's two major domestic airlines--Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.
Apart from the flights to Haneda, the MIAT is currently performing flights to Beijing, Erlian, Sanya, Hong Kong (China), to Osaka and Tokyo (Japan), Pyongyang (North Korea, charter), Seoul, Jeju (South Korea), Singapore, Bangkok (Thailand), to Hanoi (Vietnam, charter), Jakarta (Indonesia, charter), Dubai (UAE, charter), Moscow (Russia), Berlin and Frankfurt (Germany).
Minter Ellison continues to grow its pioneering Mongolian practice
One new partner; two additional locally qualified lawyers
Ulaanbaatar, MONGOLIA, July 21 (Minter Ellison): Leading Asia Pacific law firm MinterEllison has appointed a second partner on the ground in Mongolia to support client demand, including from foreign investors and lenders in the mining, infrastructure and services sectors.
Sebastian Rosholt, a cross border M&A and energy & resources sector specialist, has been promoted to the partnership and joins resident partner Elisabeth (Lis) Ellis in Ulaanbaartar. Mr Rosholt joined Minter Ellison in Sydney in 2008 (from South African law firm Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys) and transferred to the firm's office in Mongolia in February 2014.
Additionally, Ms Mandy Bayarbat and Ms Amarjargal Batchuluun have recently qualified as lawyers licensed to advise on Mongolian law, having successfully passed their admission exams, and are now Associates.
Ulaanbaatar Managing Partner Lis Ellis said the promotions reflect the depth of talent in the local office and firm's confidence in market opportunities going forward.
"With 2 Australian-qualified partners and 10 lawyers and legal graduates, MinterEllison is now one of the largest international firms with a permanent presence on the ground in Mongolia. We're working with many of the significant foreign investors and lenders in mining, infrastructure and services here, and while confidence is still guarded, there is absolutely no doubt that there will be a wave of new investment into Mongolia.
"The resources are here. The development of Phase II of Oyu Tolgoi is going ahead. The Government is committed to progress major projects. And its privatisation plan present real opportunities for foreign businesses.
Ms Ellis said the appointment of a second local partner demonstrates MinterEllison's confidence in this market and the firm's absolute commitment to having senior experienced lawyers on the ground to add value to clients.
"Sebastian has advised on a number of significant M&A transactions and has assisted a large number of foreign investors with the structuring and restructuring of their businesses. His international and crossborder transactional expertise is an invaluable commodity – our clients benefit from his ability to draw on that expertise to help them find solutions in the Mongolian legal context ."
Director General of World Intellectual Property Organization Visits Mongolia
July 22 (gogo.mn) Francis Gurry current Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization is paying an official visit to Mongolia during July 22-23 by the invitation of Deputy Minister of Mongolia.
Francis Gurry has led WIPO as Director General since October 1, 2008. He was reappointed in May 2014 for a second six-year term, which runs through September 2020.
WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. It is a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 188 member states. Mongolia joined the organization as a member state in 1979 and is part of agreements and negotiations with 14 countries.
WIPO provides policy forum to shape balanced international IP rules for a changing world; global services to protect IP across borders and to resolve disputes; technical infrastructure to connect IP systems and share knowledge; cooperation and capacity-building programs to enable all countries to use IP for economic, social and cultural development; a world reference source for IP information.
Current visit of the Director of WIPO is directed at discussing the improvement of the intellectual property system of Mongolia, support activities in Mongolia and cooperation development of between Government of Mongolia and WIPO and opportunities on improving the technology access and increasing the research benefits of the university and research centers. Moreover, the agreement of cooperation on establishing thenetwork of technology and innovation support centers is to be signed.
Deputy PM Receives WIPO Director-General – Montsame, July 23
Mongolia to import 95 tons of milk in H2 to fill winter shortage
July 22 (gogo.mn) Ministry of Food and Agriculture has announced the bids for imports of dry and liquid milk in the second half of 2015. Ministry is responsible for the implementation of the bids in regards with the exports and imports of food in accordance with the Paragraph 6.8 of Clause 6 of Law on Food and Government Resolution No 77 dated 2013 on Regultations of authorizations for exports and imports of strategic food items.
In the second half of 2015 authorizations to be issued for imports of 95 tons of processed liquid milk and 1951.0 tons of dry milk.
For country with 60 million cattle imports of milk might seem not reasonable. Ministry specialist explained that Law on Food has a clause enabling the imports of the strategic five food items if necessary.
-Does it mean that Mongolia doesn't have enough resources to supply the domestic market?
-During summer time the demand can be met, while there are not enough resources for the reserves and processing. Milk factories produce their dairy products with 40-50 percent liquid milk and the rest is substituted with dry milk.
Imported dry milk is to be used by the dairy product manufacturers. While 95 tons of liquid milk will be directed at catering services. While the domestic produce is not meeting with the international catering standards for the use in entities such as MIAT, there is need to import liquid milk with improved processing.
-How much milk is imported annually?
-Size of the milk imports is set on an annual basis. In 2015 the number is set at 4000 tons of dry milk. Estimates for the next year haven't finalized yet.
-How much milk is consumed annually in Mongolia?
-It is estimated at 125 liters per person in a year.
Mongolia, Russia Standardization Agencies Sign MOU to Support Trade
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) Mongolia's Agency for Standardization, Management and the Russian Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology and the Accreditation office have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in order to support smooth operations of trades between the two neighbors.
As of the end of 2014, the trade volume between Mongolia and Russia reached USD 1.6 billion, of which 1.5 billion is Mongolia's import and 61.6 million – export. As such, Russia still remains as the second largest trade partner for Mongolia.
Aside from showing standardization assistance for the bilateral trades, the document also reflects upgrading of the collaboration in developing the standardization, measurement and rating systems in line with the global standards.
Pharmaceuticals Prevail in Trades between Mongolia and Cuba
Ulaanbaatar, July 23 (MONTSAME) On the sideline of his official visit to the Republic of Cuba, the Foreign Minister of Mongolia L.Purevsuren has met with the Cuban Deputy Minister of Trade and Foreign Investment Ileana Barbara Nunez.
L.Purevsuren noted that education, health and sports are the main fields of cooperation in Mongolia-Cuba relations, and that the predominant in the trade are pharmaceutical products. He proposed upgrading the economic collaboration in line with the latest trends, enhancing a list of articles, increasing an amount of the goods traded.
Ms Nunez gave him information on the measures taken by the Cuban government for promoting foreign investments and improving their environment, and on large projects planned by the government on tourism, industry and infrastructure.
Mr Puresuren underlined a significance of enriching the bilateral economic relations with new contents, especially in tourism, construction and agriculture. He said Mongolia is open to share with Cuba the lessons and practices gained in transition to market economy.
The sides agreed to encourage the cooperation in increasing investments and to co-implement joint projects.
Foreign Minister of Mongolia Meets Vice President of Cuba in Havana
July 23 (MFA) During the meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren expressed his gratitude to Vice President of the Council of Ministers Ulises Rosales del Toro for meeting him. The Foreign Minister asked to convey the greetings and letter from the President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj addressed to the President of the Council of State of Cuba Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz.
Minister L.Purevsuren underscored that the traditionally friendly relations between the two countries are rooted from the understanding as well as friendship of our people and further noted that the people to people relationship plays an important role in the bilateral relations. He also mentioned the opportunities to develop the relations through economic means and in areas of mutual interest such as tourism. In addition, the Foreign Minister expressed his interest to share experiences from different sectors.
Cuban Vice President Ulises Rosales del Toro noted that this year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries and underlined the importance of expanding this traditionally friendly relations and cooperation.
The meeting was concluded with Mr. Purevsuren confirming the invitation from the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj extended to the President of the Council of State of Cuba Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz to visit Mongolia at a time of his convience.
Mongolia and Cuba Celebrate 55th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties – Montsame, July 23
EITI: Making it count
How Mongolia is using online tools to streamline reporting and make the EITI relevant to domestic priorities.
June 25 (EITI) Mongolia is a country in rapid transition. While traditional Gers are still very much part of the landscape in this vast country, a higher percentage of the population uses mobile phones than in Germany. Earlier this year Mongolia made the news for using SMS to hold a referendum on whether the state should move ahead with mining investments. Mining is also discussed on twitter – check for #Оюутолгой (Mongolian for Oyu Tolgoi, one of the main mines under development) to get an impression of the lively discussion around the extractives.
Also in terms of development of eReporting – filing figures and documents online and not in paper – Mongolia is an exciting place to watch. In fact, just as EITI Chair Clare Short visited the capital on 4 to 6 June 2015, Mongolia stood at a watershed in its implementation of EITI.
A new eReporting system launched in October 2014 is streamlining disclosures by companies and government agencies. The platform is rendering the information available in a timelier manner, but also allows interactive online tools to facilitate access to the information in a more user-friendly way.
Before: Extensive but inaccessible
In the past eight years, EITI reporting has produced extensive disclosures, covering more companies year by year. Whereas the 2006 report included revenue figures from 35 companies, there were 1600 in its latest (2013) one.
Despite such extensive coverage, these reports did little to inform the often passionate national debate over the governance of the extractive industries. While parliamentarians debated new mining and petroleum legislation in June 2014, little mention was made of the concrete evidence found in EITI Reports, such as the level of payments actually received under the former royalty structure.
"The EITI Reports are full of information but were seldom used, locked up as they were in PDFs," says Ganbat Ganbaatar, IT officer at EITI-Mongolia (EITIM). As long as data is stuck in PDFs, it is more challenging to use, and tends to be only read at best.
Now: Unlocking the potential
The EITIM Secretariat recognised the opportunity to demonstrate the potential value of the information contained in the EITI reports. With funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and technical assistance from Adam Smith International, the Secretariat launched an eReporting portal in October 2014.
This portal improves two aspects: it makes submission of revenue figures much easier for companies and government ministries and makes those figures available online for people to access and use.
With regards to the data submission side, the site allows companies to file their EITI reporting templates – mostly excel files containing the requested revenue figures - and their digital certification of these figures directly online. Government agencies also report the 55 revenue streams the state collects from the extractive industries, with the figures immediately available to public once filed. By 31 March 2015, some 987 companies had reported their 2014 payments using this system, equivalent to 57% of companies to be covered by the 2014 EITI Report.
On the use of data, the platform also integrates software tools that allow for visual presentations of the figures, ranging from interactive infographics that map the ownership of mining licenses and petroleum production-sharing agreements (PSAs) to cadastral maps that allow users to track government payments by companies by geographical location. In time, users will be able to overlay EITI data with other datasets including employment, social infrastructure and water resources.
The most visually arresting tool may be the interactive infographic that allows users to map owners of mining and petroleum licenses according to their country of incorporation, type of shareholder, shareholder name and company name.
"Local people are very strong in Mongolia, they just need access to information!" says Mrs Dashdorj Erdenechimeg, Coordinator of the Publish What You Pay coalition in Mongolia. The country has 21 provinces (aimag) and 329 districts (soum) and these local governments are being given a greater say over how extractive revenues are spent as they receive 30% of royalties and half of license fees.
The EITIM launched subnational summaries of its extensive EITI Reports in 2013 (covering 2012 data), but the online tools will simplify the process of extracting province (aimag) and district (soum) specific figures.
New government regulations were enacted in 2013 to provide for greater oversight of extractive industries governance to local governments. They established tripartite provincial-level councils in ten of Mongolia's 21 aimags, covering the one-third of 329 districts (soums) that host extractive exploration and production. The councils are run by provincial governments and composed of representatives of local government, companies active locally and representatives of civil society including artisanal and small-scale miners. They meet regularly to discuss key issues of concern ranging from the allocation of subnational transfers to the uses of companies' social expenditures in each soum. As of June 2015, six of these 100 soums have established EITI representation and distributed soum-level EITI summary reports.
The visit of Clare Short, Chair of the EITI, to Mongolia coincided with the first EITI Open Day in Bayangol soum, in Selenge aimag (see pictures of the event). The meeting was a town hall - type roundtable organised by the provincial council and the EITIM Secretariat. It was the occasion to disseminate an EITI summary report for Bayangol soum covering 2013 and produced with assistance from Germany's technical assistance agency (GIZ) and another summary report for Selenge aimag produced by the EITIM Secretariat. The Governor of Bayangol soum, D. Enkhbat, provided an overview of how company contributions were put to use locally, while questions focused on the activities of the 24 companies holding a total of 34 licenses in the district.
The presence of many artisanal miners focused the discussion on how artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) could be integrated into EITI reporting, with an aim to piloting the approach in Selenge aimag, the only province with a specific policy on ASM. With data available through Mongolia's eReporting platform easy to query, local communities' ability to source the most relevant data for their needs will only grow. Indeed discussions at the Open Day focused on the ownership of mining exploration licenses, the use of companies' social payments and the share of national revenues flowing to aimag and soum administrations.
The eReporting system also gathers additional data in line with the EITI Standard. Figures for environmental payments such as mine rehabilitation funds are available for public scrutiny for the first time. The next phase of the eReporting project involves connections to government departments including the Mineral Resources Authority (MRAM) and the General Taxation Department to allow the platform to pull data such as cadastral information and tax figures automatically, while these agencies will be able to draw upon EITI information in their daily work. The EITIM Secretariat will also complete the picture by uploading the previous eight years of EITI disclosures and add a function to generate machine-readable data files (in XML format).
Finally – and the addition with potentially the greatest impact – the EITIM Secretariat will work on developing the last mile: functions and products, like mobile applications, that support greater accessibility by end-users as diverse as parliamentarians and local mine-affected communities.
There is clearly an audience for such data. "Of Mongolia's close to 3 million citizens, the entire 1.5 million adult population analyses any developments in the mining sector with a fine comb," HE Chimed Saikhanbileg, Prime Minister of Mongolia, told Clare Short when they met.
Beyond interest from the general public, more accessible EITI information should lead to a more evidence-based debate. The newly established National Minerals Policy Council is eager to draw on Mongolia's extensive experience of EITI implementation. Parliamentarians in the Great Khural, whose legislative agenda is dominated by questions of extractive industries governance, are also a natural audience for information like ownership of mining licenses.
Innovative reporting system - but will it pass muster?
The new eReporting system is contributing to more timely data, a more fact-based debate and simplifying the collection and analysis of data for companies, government ministries and citizens alike. But will it pass the muster of the EITI Standard?
As with all EITI countries, Mongolia is measured against the Standard every three years (in a process called Validation). With its next check coming up in October 2015, the innovative approach to data collection and dissemination will come under scrutiny.
The EITI Standard allows for a range of ways to collect data. However, there is a sequence of events that needs to respected to ensure that the information from companies and government agencies collected correspond to what the national EITI wants to cover in their report, and that the data collected is robust enough (ensuring the quality of data collected for instance).
The due process requires that the Independent Administrator (who collects and reconciles the numbers) and the MSG decide what all to include in the reports. Then the Independent Administrator checks how the systems are set up to collect the data. If it is deemed robust, data collection can begin.
And this could be the crux of the new eReporting system. It has already been in service and received over 50% of companies' information for 2014 before the Independent Administrator and MSG discuss the desired scope for the report covering that year. And the robustness of the system has not been checked by the Independent Administrator yet, even though it is already fully in use.
The EITI encourages countries to be innovative with their EITI. It will be interesting to see how the validators will assess this issue in the fall. One thing is sure: the launch of this online platform is already bearing fruit in stimulating public debate. Just ask Ganbat who tracks usage of the platform daily on Google Analytics!
We posted pictures about our Mongolia trip on our flickr page.
Women in Mining Mongolia Survey
Women in Mining Mongolia is an independent Mongolian NGO and is based in Ulaanbaatar which is a part of the growing global Women in Mining network. We are carrying out a survey on the role of women in the country's mining sector which makes up to 60 percent of industrial products and 75 percent of Mongolian export.
We would greatly appreciate if you could complete the brief questionnaire accessible through this link: http://goo.gl/forms/CX4SOKvvEv.
The questionnaire does not include a company's name. We are looking forward to your cooperation.
Women in Mining Mongolia
ISU professor shows the importance of veterinary toxicology in Mongolia
This is the latest entry in a series of articles telling the personal stories of Iowa State University faculty and scientists whose work is changing the world for the better.
AMES, Iowa, July 15 (ISU News Service) – Wilson Rumbeiha calls veterinary toxicology a poorly understood profession in the United States, and it's easy to see his point.
The equipment required to run a veterinary toxicology lab is costly, and some veterinary schools don't keep a board-certified toxicologist on staff at all, Rumbeiha said.
Unless there's a sudden crisis, such as the 2007 pet food recalls during which cats and dogs across the country were sickened by food tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, most Americans simply don't think about veterinary toxicology too much.
But in the developing world – where infrastructure, health care and food safety concerns abound – it's not so much that people don't often think of veterinary toxicology. It's that they have no conception of it at all.
"Even in this country, toxicology is a niche discipline," Rumbeiha said. "But in Mongolia, for instance, it's practically nonexistent."
Rumbeiha, a professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine and a staff toxicologist at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, has devoted much of his career to nurturing a better understanding of the importance of toxicology in developing nations such as Mongolia and his native Uganda.
His international vision has led him to locales across the globe, working to instill a newfound awareness of the importance of veterinary toxicology. Since 2009, Rumbeiha has served as the president of Toxicologists Without Borders, a nonprofit organization that seeks to alleviate human disease contracted through exposure to toxins in developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Rumbeiha traveled to Africa this month to lay the groundwork for a new program called One Health Uganda, which he hopes will allow ISU veterinary students to study abroad in Uganda to gain experience with communicable diseases that affect livestock, wild animals and humans.
"I want to lay foundations for new joint programs and opportunities to collaborate," he said. "The world is becoming a global village, and our students need to adjust to that reality."
Rumbeiha has worked with Katie Davidson, a program assistant in the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine, and faculty at the veterinary school at Markere University in Kampala, Uganda, to establish the study abroad opportunity. Progress on the program slowed last year due to concerns with the Ebola virus, but Rumbeiha said he plans to work on establishing some curriculum guidelines during his current visit to Uganda.
He'll also spend part of his time while in Uganda working with the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, which fosters collaboration among African-born faculty living in the U.S. or Canada and faculty at institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
Rumbeiha also traveled to Mongolia in 2014 under the auspices of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency to help locals establish toxicology programs. He said mining operations in Mongolia have polluted resources essential to herding cattle, creating a need for veterinarians with experience in toxicology to monitor and treat animals exposed to pollutants.
So Rumbeiha led workshops and practical lab demonstrations to improve the capacity of Mongolians to diagnose any toxicological challenges that threaten their food supply. Following his return to Ames, a Mongolian student visited Iowa State to receive additional toxicological training.
Mongolia illustrates some of the classic challenges developing nations face, he said. For instance, it's difficult to set up a new toxicology lab in Mongolia not only because of the expense, but also the lack of qualified technicians to maintain and repair the gear.
"In Mongolia, as in many other places in the developing world, you see broken equipment because no one is trained to maintain it," Rumbeiha said. "It's just collecting dust because no one can fix it."
An outlook born in Uganda
Rumbeiha was born in Uganda, the oldest of nine children in his family. His parents and siblings still live there, and, though he's now a U.S. citizen, Rumbeiha visits his family at least once a year.
He earned his doctorate of veterinary medicine degree from Markere University in 1982. He was awarded a scholarship to Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, where he completed a Ph. D. After stints in industry and at Kansas State and Michigan State, he came to Iowa State in 2011, where he is one of two faculty toxicologists.
But it was at Guelph in Canada where he discovered his interest in toxicology.
"My eyes were opened at Guelph when I realized how important toxicology is and how many other disciplines it interacts with," Rumbeiha said.
Wherever his travels have taken him, however, he said he carries the perspective and priorities he learned early in life.
"My background and my outlook come from Uganda," Rumbeiha said. "I'm always attuned to international issues important in the developing world."
Empowering Women and Girls Through Entrepreneurship Kicks Off
July 24 (US Embassy) Tomorrow, Saturday July 25th at 8:45 am, the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund project "Empowering Women and Girls Through Entrepreneurship" will kick off its first of four weekend-long entrepreneurship trainings. The hands-on business bootcamps will take place over the next 2 months in Songinokhairkan and Chingeltei districts and be followed by 6 monthly mentoring meetings with MASA members and other qualified professionals. Ambitious female residents will learn from expert entrepreneurs and motivational speakers while developing real-life business skills and forging valuable professional networks.
The State Department created the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) in 2011 to support alumni initiatives that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges. The competition provides small grants to teams of past and current participants of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs to carry out public service projects that utilize skills and knowledge they have gained through their exchange experiences.
Mongolian Association of State Alumni (MASA), also known as Ambassadors for Development, is a non-profit NGO devoted for democratic social development and promoting equal opportunities in all spectrums of society. Established in September 2007, MASA is a community of more than 1000 Mongolian alumni of U.S. government-funded scholarship and exchange programs.
For more information on the project, please email email@example.com or call 88082272.
Ulaanbaatar $76m Coal-Fired Amgalan Heat Plant 95% Complete
By Michael Kohn
July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolian Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed toured facility, "expressed satisfaction" with construction progress, govt. says in statement on Wednesday.
* Construction of 348-MW plant by China Machinery Engineering
* Will provide heat for 40k families who don't have access to central heating, another 20k families will benefit with improved heating access
* NOTE: Project shared by city of Ulaanbaatar, central govt
Amgalan Thermal Plant to soon provide heat to eastern UB
By Ch. Khaliun
July 24 (UB Post) The Cabinet resolved financing of 3.9 billion MNT necessary for test heating through the plant's network. The PM instructed Chairman of Development Bank N.Munkhbat to immediately transfer the funds, and Chairman of Mongolian Customs B.Tsengel to expand the temporary customs procedures period and eliminate taxes for two trucks that will transport ash from the facility. Authorities of the Ministry of Roads and Transportation, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Energy were tasked with immediately obtaining substitute locomotives for coal transportation.
UB Mayor E.Bat-Uul was made responsible for taking measures to relocate more than ten households that are adjacent to the plant's fence and directly interfere with the activities of the plant.
The Office of Media and Public Relations of the Cabinet reported that the PM emphasized the necessity for intensifying winter preparedness and allowing UB residents to comfortably overcome winter.
News.mn spoke with Minister of Energy D.Zorigt regarding the new thermal power plant.
How many complaints are delivered to the Energy Ministry regarding poor power and heat supply?
Due to increased population and settlement in UB, heat distribution is becoming inefficient. Many citizens and entities address the Ministry regarding this issue. We don't have such options to provide heat everywhere, but commissioning the Amgalan plant will improve the situation, providing heat to households living in the eastern side of the city. The workload of the central heating system will decrease as well through the commissioning of the eastern heating network. Problems for households near Zaisan with heat supply deficiencies will be resolved.
How about the winter preparedness of the energy sector?
Winter preparedness and extensive maintenance work is in progress. Over 1,400 projects will be complete according to the data. Currently, winter preparedness is ongoing at 50 percent completion. Recently, changes were made to the energy tariffs, and the law on energy has been amended. Now it provides the opportunity for the central and eastern region power systems to work without any financial losses for the first time. I see that revenue can cover expenses now. While the western and southern regions will still work at a loss, it is because of imported energy from foreign countries.
In the future we will liberalize the tariffs and policies of the energy sector. On the other hand, we do believe that following a flexible policy for households with low income and low power consumption will mitigate the sector's losses in the next few years. We are regulating price tariffs in order to lower inefficiency. We will save over 15 billion MNT in expenses, tightening our belt, and mitigating the sector's losses by the end of this year.
The price of energy from Russia is increasing. Will the increase continue in the future?
Because we import energy from foreign countries, we negotiate on their proposed prices. Unfortunately the price is increasing every six months. However, we need to import energy in the next few years. We need to commission our own energy resources as soon as possible.
Rumors were going around about privatizing energy companies?
They won't be fully privatized, but made public. They will be able to raise additional shares at the stock exchange and investors and individuals can buy shares. In other words, they will work as open joint stock companies.
Can citizens overcome winter without worry after the commissioning of the Amgalan plant?
We are ensuring necessary preparedness to provide consumers with reliable energy this winter.
Ulaanbaatar Hires Korea Firm to Monitor Ger District Redevelopment Program
Ulaanbaatar, July 22 (MONTSAME) The Agreement on Consulting Services for detailed design, tender and construction monitoring was signed by the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul and a president of S.Korean "Do-hwa Engineering" Co.Ltd Kim Ju-Hyeon on July 21.
The sides will cooperate in implementation of the Program on Development of Ulaanbaatar's Ger Areas and Promoting Investment. The program is being realized with a support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The bid for selecting the consultant company that is obliged to prepare detailed design of the program's Phase One and the tender documents, to monitor over the tender and construction works and to develop the feasibility study for Phase Two, has been announced by the UB city and ADB. Out of 20 companies, which had submitted their proposals, the authorities selected the partnership led by the Do-Hwa Engineering. This partnership includes Thermal Lines Corporation, MonConsult Co.Ltd. and NewCon Design Company.
The Program on Development of UB's Ger Areas and Promoting Investment will conduct repair and construction of basic infrastructure of the areas, such as water distribution and sanitary facilities, heating and auto roads.
Ulaanbaatar buses switch to electronic payment
July 24 (infomongolia.com) In the framework of "Smart Ulaanbaatar" Program, UB Governing Administration announced a "Smart Bus" project, where the tender was won by Mongolia-South Korea's "Data Card Consortium" joint company in 2014.
Beginning from July 24, 2015, the passengers able to use e-cards to commute by buses. The card costs 3,600 MNT (Tugrug) and can be reloaded from 500 MNT to 90,000 MNT. As for those who have not bought the cards, they can put cash in the cash-box.
The opening of the new system was celebrated today at the Chinggis Khaan Square, attended by the Governor of Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul, the Ambassador of South Korea to Mongolia Oh Song, CEO of the Korea Smart Card Corporation Choi Daesung and A.Gankhuyag, Director of "Tenuun Ogoo" LLC.
The authorities estimate that it will require year and half for the system adaptation.
Bus Services Transfer to Electronic System – Montsame, July 24
Capital City Tax goes into effect on October 1 in Ulaanbaatar
July 24 (UB Post) Ulaanbaatarians are going to start paying city taxes starting October 1. One of the most controversial laws passed at the spring session was the Capital City Tax (CCT) law. Some parliament members viewed this as an unnecessary strain on people's lives. Especially during a recession, many say it's not a good idea to impose taxes. The law's initiators, on the other hand, said, "Foreign capitals all have certain taxes. It's not going to be a strain on the public, since it's a small amount." Another group of people were frustrated that Prime Minister Ch. Saikhanbileg didn't stick to his promise of not adding or reducing taxes, but this law was being discussed way before Ch.Saikhanbileg's government was put into place.
Issues related to imposing a capital city tax, centralizing it into the budget and rendering it, were all included in the law. It states that a person paying for services or products within UB's city limits will have to pay the CCT. "Products" include alcoholic beverage and cigarettes.
Anyone buying products or services from a retailer will be levied with a CCT. Hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and bars will be covered under the CCT. The CCT will be evaluated on the price of services and products sold. If products and services sold or exchanged cost less than the market value, they will also have the CCT applied. The evaluation will be based on up-to-date market values from the associated tax offices.
The amount and percent of the CCT, depending on the density of an area, will be approved on a scale of zero to one percent by the City Council. During the discussion of the law, members who opposed it talked about the tax being zero percent, but they couldn't get a majority vote. Services other than hospitality, food, and beverages are free of CCT.
Based on the information given by the State Registration Office and information centers, regional tax offices will register businesses responsible for collecting the tax. The tax office is responsible for registering businesses, removing businesses from registration, and receiving tax data. The City Council has to confirm the rules of the tax office.
Businesses should levy the CCT on every product sold and service provided, and state the percentage and amount of money gathered for the CCT on a remittance form. The business should submit the levied taxes to the state before the 10th of the following month, and a report – using the approved form – should be given to the tax office before the 20th of the first month of the next financial quarter.
The business shall not apply other taxes or subsidies when imposing the CCT on a product or service. The chairman at the state authority concerning tax issues will approve the report forms for imposing the CCT, payments, and rendering methods.
Some members say the CCT will not be a strain on Ulaanbaatarians. We will all see whether it is a strain or not once the law is in effect. So now, we city people have the Capital City Tax accompanying our costs for preparations from fall to winter, and higher electricity and heating bills.
UB to Host Northeast Asian Mayors' Forum, August 17-19
Ulaanbaatar, July 22 (MONTSAME) This action will run this August 17-19 themed "Green City Development" and co-organized by the Asia Foundation and the World Bank.
The UB city is chairing this year's forum in frames of the ongoing development of the city's "green strategy". The working group, preparing the strategy, has been led by the deputy mayor in charge of ecology and green development T.Bat-Erdene.
The gathered--mayors of major cities in Northeast Asia and prominent speakers from international organizations such as UN Habitat, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank--are supposed to consider the green development of the Northeast Asian cities, strategies and policies, green infrastructure and lifestyle, green technologies, investments and workplaces.
The agenda of the meeting is to cover historic cities' experiences in sustainable development, redevelopment of old areas, efficient municipal governance, E-governance, in management of increasing traffic congestion, reducing carbon emissions, developing a green city, in new hi tech suitable for cold climate cities.
The officials expect that the forum will be an initial step for Ulaanbaatar towards achieving its goal to become the model green city in the region.
PHOTO: Fountain Opening at Arslantai Bridge
By Kh. Kugershin
July 23 (gogo.mn) Opening ceremony of the fountain at the Arslantai Bridge /Lion Bridge/ has been held today July 23rd.
Ulaanbaatar city Mayor's Office has implemented several projects on refurbishing the city streets of Ulaanbaatar city in view of the Naadam Festival celebrations this summer.
One of those projects has had an opening ceremony today at the Arslantai Bridge /Lion Bridge/ of the water curtain to reduce the dust pollution of city streets. Second such project will be done at the Zaisan bridge.
Water curtain at the bridge has illumination at night time.
Water curtain opening – news.mn, July 23
Old Buddhist Festival Restored to Mark 380th Anniversary of High Saint Zanabazar
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) Mongolian Buddhist monasteries and the UB City are organizing a religious festival "Danshig Naadam" at Khui Doloon Khudag's Naadam Complex on August 8 and 9.
The festival is dedicated to the 380th birthday of the High Saint Zanabazar, the first Bogd Khaan of Mongolia and the founder of Ulaanbaatar, said the organizers at a press conference July 24," it will be celebrated in a way of many hundred-year tradition". The organizers also consider that the Danshig will be an opportunity to advertize national culture and traditions and to restore the Buddhist rituals for the faithful.
Mongolian Tourism Market (MTM) for the foreign guests will be operating at the festival site. The religious dance "Tsam" and Danshig rituals will be performed, as these traditions are nominated to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritages of the UNESCO.
During the festival, monks from all Buddhist monasteries will gather at the Chingis Square to dedicate blessings. The Danshig's wrestling competition will be participated by 256 wrestlers, and horse races will be held in three age categories.
Where to Go in Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar Golf Courses
By G. Odgarav
July 24 (gogo.mn) Golf is one of the pass times that is sought by many especially during warm season.
There are few golf clubs available in Ulaanbaatar city and we are delivering infromation and prices.
"CHINGGIS KHAAN GOLF CC"
Price – MNT 115,000. This amount includes:
-Male - MNT 90,000
-Female - MNT 80,000
-Caddie MNT 20,000-35,000
-Bag trolley rental - MNT 5,000
Golf club rental -MNT 30,000
Address: Baga Yol, 6th Khoroo, Nalaikh
Inquiry: 94001235,99097197, 89593322
"MT BOGD GOLF CLUB"
Price – MNT 150,000 төгрөг. The price includes
-18 hole golf course
-Motorized golf cart
Golf club rental - MNT 25,000
1 hour individual coaching:
Instructor /Mongolian language/ – MNT 40,000
Instructor /English languag/ – MNT 80,000
1 basket of balls – MNT 7,000
Address: Khurkhree pass, 11th khoroo, Bayanzurkh district.
"UB GOLF CLUB"
Price – MNT 40,000-60,000 төгрөг. /depends on golf course/
Golf Association Member – MNT 30,000-50,000
Golf club rental – MNT 15,000
Address: UB – 2 Hotel, Terelj
UB welcomes new green area in Khan-Uul
July 21 (gogo.mn) 1st khoroo of Khan-Uul district is to welcome a new green park.
Just a few years ago this area behind the bus stop at 120K are was fenced to start construction. But with the efforts of the residents the area was saved from going under construction.
The area has been under furnishing from funds of the Capital City and is adding green space for recreation of the city residents.
Although the furnishing and landscaping due date was July 1st the final works of the park are to be finished by August 15th, according to the city official.
Over 100 trees and bushes were planted along with furnishing of the playground and fountain installations. The total budget of MNT 1.3 billion was funded by the Capital city budget. The works has been done by BUUKH LLC and Mongol Tohi LLC.
Nearly ₮550 billion required to build flood protection dams in UB
July 21 (UB Post) Officials underline that 548 billion MNT is necessary for building drainage and flood protection systems to prevent UB residents from suffering damages caused by flooding.
According to the flood hazard study, households living near the basin of the Selbe River are in danger of being impacted by flooding first. General Manager of Ulaanbaatar B.Badral emphasized that a defensive strategy needs to be implemented in order to prevent flood risk. He added that approximately 550 billion MNT will need to be invested for building flood protection dams.
From London to Ulaanbaatar
By Julian Green
July 21 (UB Post) Buddhist scripture tells how Siddhartha Gautama saw an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a holy man as he ventured outside his palace walls for the first time before going on to seek a life of spirituality. I instead saw a bird lie dead on the street, a stray dog narrowly evade oncoming traffic, police officials align the sidewalk as far as the eye could see, and gers sitting at the foot of huge industrial factories as I left the confines of the airport. These were my first images of Ulaanbaatar; my first impression.
Needless to say, the differences between UB and where I am from are evident, however, it's the small things that I find profoundly interesting. Being half Japanese and English, I have the had experience of being in two of the world's great metropolises: Tokyo and London. Ascend to the top of any skyscraper and you'll see both these cities extend to the horizon as a sprawl of buildings. However, in Ulaanbaatar I find it very peculiar that I can quite easily locate the edge of the city as development abruptly ends before the mountains that surround it. These tame aspects of the city curiously capture my imagination. I'm amazed by the absence of drainage systems on the streets, which culminates in oceans of water forming on the roads every time it rains, and pedestrians improvising creative routes to avoid them.
Naadam provided something of a culture shock as the city lay eerily quiet and mundane. In London, the Notting Hill Carnival lasts a similar amount of time as Naadam and sees the city host a party atmosphere throughout its duration. Perhaps naively, I anticipated a similar carnival spirit across Ulaanbaatar during the Naadam festival. However, my expectations were largely unmatched: the streets were devoid of life during the day, the majority of shops were closed, and apart from watching Nadaam itself, there was little to do. Perhaps the most interesting thing was watching the opening ceremony and the contrasting crowd it attracted. Outside the stadium, men in tank tops browsed their smartphones whilst others attended in lavish traditional deel – a generational muddle that made time feel distorted.
I was provided a valuable insight to Ulaanbaatar's contrasting subcultures as I explored the city's nightlife. "Mongolian men can become very nationalistic when they're drunk," was the explanation I heard after a confrontation during my first clubbing experience. Whether it's the disparity between the man that confronted me and the many friendly locals I had already met, or seeing Buddhist monks stand next to teenagers wearing skinny jeans outside the State Department Store, the city's identity and values appear conflicted and in transition. Though Ulaanbaatar may not win any beauty contest, the people give the city such character.
Whether it's on the macro or micro scale, Ulaanbaatar fascinates me, and given the number of backpack-wielding foreigners I've seen along Peace Avenue, the world is steadily becoming more aware of Mongolia and the beauty it possesses. Who knows, maybe in a few years your average Londoner will be able to correctly pronounce "Ulaanbaatar" on their first try.
Statues of UB #5: The Silk Road
July 22 (gogo.mn) Ulaanbaatar - Monuments competitions was held in view of the Friendly Ulaanbaatar program last May. Total of 88 works from 45 artists have competed and the final 15 were selected and those works are to be installed in the streets of Ulaanbaatar city.
We are drawing your attention to the Silk Road Complex monument, which is being installed at the road junction in Khan-Uul district previously known as location of the Tank Monument relocated to the Zaisan monument. Currently there is only one camel statue to be joined by other four depicting the caravan.
Each camel is 350 cm in height, 520 cm in length and 260 cm in width. The Caravan complex is the work of Yo.Dalkh-Ochir, founder of Blue Sun Contemporary art center in 2002.
The monument complex is to be finished by the end of this year and will feature sand dune, flower beds, lighting and furnished with benches and sunshades.
Initially the camel monument complex was named Migration and the idea of camels facing towards the city center has a meaning of inflow of wealth. Use of camel has deep meaning as well. Camels are vigorous, tolerant for long distance loading and that's why they were picked out of five animals to depict the development and historical heritage of the country.
Mongolia Signs Customs Agreements with China, Russia
July 21 (UB Post) A Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting between presidents of its member countries was held on June 9-10, in Ufa, a city 1,000 kilometers from Moscow, where heads of state made agreements on cooperation in developing infrastructure.
The President of Mongolia attended the meeting under Mongolia's observer status.
Prior to the meeting, President Ts.Elbegdorj said that during the SCO enlarged session he would pay extra attention to adopting and maintaining more creative and mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of infrastructure with neighboring countries, Russia and China.
During the meeting, Mongolia, Russia and China reached an agreement to start research on building an economic corridor between the three countries. Within two months, teams are expected to start researching building an oil pipe line through Mongolia, and to determine whether or not it is equally beneficial if new railroads are built.
During the 15th annual SCO meeting, two agreements between Customs of Mongolia, China Customs, and the Federal Customs Service of Russia were signed. The first agreement was signed to encourage trade development between the three countries, and the second to cooperate in developing border checkpoints.
The agreement with Russian customs will mean that 52 products will no longer have to be checked twice at the border with Mongolia, and the number of products entering Russia from Mongolia will increase.
The exempt products include a variety of equipment and appliances that will not be rechecked by Russian customs officials, and clothing and Mongolian gers will not be rechecked by the Mongolian side.
Mongolia agreed on cooperation with China on digitizing product clearance procedures. The neighbor countries will actively cooperate and China will provide technical support to develop Mongolian border checkpoints and infrastructure.
Russia and China have pressured Mongolia to become a member of the SCO over the last two years. Analysts suggest weighing both the advantages and disadvantages of membership. They say that keeping observer status can win time and strengthen relations with third neighbors, and further decrease the influence of China and Russia on the Mongolian economy.
In its 14-year history, SCO membership has been limited to Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan have started to advance their status to obtain membership by next year. Analysts say that Russia benefits from more countries becoming members and many believe that strategic membership might mollify China's influence.
Mongolia was the first to obtain observer status from SCO, which was first established to settle disputes at the border, in 2004.
The 16th annual SCO meeting will be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Russia has given the right to lead the meeting to Uzbekistan according to SCO rules.
Mongolian women peacekeepers make positive impact in S.Sudan
July 24 (UNMISS) As peacekeeping evolves to encompass broader humanitarian approach and mandates for protection of civilians, women are increasingly deployed in all peacekeeping domains.
In South Sudan the Mongolian women peacekeepers are making a positive impact on peacekeeping environments by supporting the role of women in building peace and by protecting women's rights.
Here in Bentiu, South Sudan, the female peacekeepers from Mongolia are preparing to patrol the Protection of Civilians site and going on short duration patrol.
SOUNDBITE: (English) Miska Batshuluun Colonel – Mongolian Battalion
"We have been performing the task in POC specially our female troops with female IDP's because it is very appropriate way to create a favorable condition and environment and to understand the culture between the UNMISS forces and the local authorities and local population."
Unity State is one of the challenging places in the country for UN Peacekeepers. Against the backdrop of an ongoing conflict, civilian displacements and insecurity, these foot patrols are part of continuing efforts by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) hoped at strengthening the implementation of its protection of civilians mandate, which is expected to in the turn help establish an improved secure environment.
SOUNDBITE: (Mongolian) Lieutenant Batsuuri Khongorzul
"We are patrolling every day, our presence here is very important. We do this job because of UNMISS mandate to protecting civilians."
UN Peacekeepers in South Sudan are delivering security, protection of civilians and health care to displaced persons inside the protection site.
SOUNDBITE: (Mongolian) Ongoibayar Gantuya– Nurse
"There is no difference between male and female personnel, for execution of tasks and military exercise. We are prepared to achieve the mandate of UNMISS for protection of civilians. We also have harsh climate in Mongolia. Sometimes we face more challenges of environmental issues as well as a mental in the mission area. Therefore, it requires more psychological preparation and support for troops who are working far away from their family."
Lieutenant Erdene-Ochir Ichinkhorloo one of the medical officers said that her team gives medical services to displaced persons especially children and women once per week.
SOUNDBITE: (English) Lieutenant Erdene-Ochir Ichinkhorloo – Medical Officer
"I am a woman and I am a mother and I am a peacekeeper and I am really proud of my peacekeeping job."
There are over one hundred thousand internally displaces persons living at the UN protection of civilians site in Bentiu, Unity State, most of whom are women and children.
Armed Forces Chief Meets Russian Ambassador on Defense Ties
Ulaanbaatar, July 23 (MONTSAME) Head of the General Headquarters of Mongolian Armed Forces (GHMAF) Major-General D.Davaa Thursday received Mr I.K.Azizov, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Mongolia.
While sharing views on the Mongolia-Russia relations in the defense sector and further cooperation, the two acknowledged that these ties are the one of important sectors of the Mongolia-Russia relationship. Davaa noted that the two countries celebrated last year the 75th anniversary of the Victory on Khalkh River Battle, and talked about the 70th anniversaries of the Great Patriotic War and of the Liberation War of Far East.
The sides talked about a meeting of the two countries' Defense Ministers during the 4th annual Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) last April, at which views were shared on present situation, problems and further directions of the bilateral defense collaboration, and an agreement was reached to step up the cooperation in improving military techniques for air defense of Mongolia within the 2014-2019 second middle-term program of the military-technical cooperation, and to continue training Mongolian servicemen in military academies and universities of under soft terms and financial aid.
The sides also noted that the Mongolia-Russia joint "Selenge" military exercises will take place in August in Russia.
Singapore-based Senat Shipping blacklisted over alleged North Korea shipment
July 24 (IHS Maritime 360) Singapore-based Senat Shipping and Trading and its owner Leonard Lai has been blacklisted by the United States for reportedly assisting in illicit arms shipments to North Korea.
The US Treasury said that Senat was co-operating with Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMMC), a North Korean firm already under UN sanctions.
The sanctions meant that any assets OMMC hold in the United States are frozen and US citizens are prohibited from doing business with the company.
IHS Maritime's attempts to contact Senat for comments were unsuccessful as Lai is not in Singapore.
IHS Maritime's Sea-web.com shows that Senat manages a 14,379 dwt Mongolia-flagged bulker, Dawnlight, which is operated by China Shipping Group.
In July 2013, Chong Chon Gang, a ship operated by OMMC was seized near the Panama Canal for hiding undeclared Soviet-era weapons and fighter jets under sugar sacks.
The US government claims Senat arranged the purchase, repair, certification, and crewing of vessels for OMMC.
The UN sanctions against North Korea and certain companies based there, came after the country executed nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Former president Lee Myung-bak due in Ulan Bator on democracy seminar
SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- Former President Lee Myung-bak will fly to Ulan Bator this week to attend an international conference on Mongolia's democracy, an aide to Lee said Sunday.
Lee will make a keynote speech to the conference marking the 25th anniversary of Mongolia's transition to democracy, the aide said.
Lee will also attend a dinner hosted by Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj.
Lee made a state visit to Mongolia in August in 2011 to forge a strategic partnership between South Korea and Mongolia while having a summit meeting with the Mongolian president.
Seoul and Ulan Bator established diplomatic ties in 1990.
Speaker Z.Enkhbold Congratulates New UK Ambassador
Ulaanbaatar, July 23 (MONTSAME) The Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) Z.Enkhbold Thursday received Ms Catherine Elizabeth Jane Arnold, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom to Mongolia, in the State House.
The Speaker congratulated Ms Arnold on being appointed as the new Ambassador of the UK to Mongolia, and underlined that Mongolia highly spoke its relations with the UK. The UK is the first country among western nations to establish the diplomatic relations with Mongolia in 1963, he highlighted.
Mentioning that the inter-parliamentary ties has been actively developing, the Speaker emphasized that the Mongolia-Britain parliamentary group at the State Great Khural is dynamically working to have Mongolian parliamentary delegates visit the UK in 2015.
Thanking the Speaker for an audience, the UK Ambassador Ms Arnold said she is glad for becoming the Ambassador to Mongolia in times of the 25th anniversary of the permanent parliament of Mongolia. Ms Arnold said she will be enthusiastic to forward the bilateral relations and cooperation in all sectors.
The Ambassador talked about a successful implementation of the program on introducing Cambridge system in the secondary education of Mongolia together with the Mongolia's Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Ms Arnold said the Great Britain aspires to continue the fruitful bilateral cooperation in the education, business and economic spheres and to boost collaboration in saving wild nature.
At the meeting, the sides also touched upon issues of the bilateral relations and cooperation in the mining, education and stock spheres.
Present at the meeting were R.Amarjargal MP, head of the Mongolia-Britain parliamentary-group; D.Gankhuyag, the State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry; and other officials.
Speaker Receives New Hungarian Ambassador on Embassy Reopening
Ulaanbaatar, July 23 (MONTSAME) The Chairman of State Great Khural Z.Enkhbold received Thursday the newly accredited Ambassador of Hungary to Mongolia Mr Akos Madarit.
The Speaker congratulated Mr Madarit for being appointed an Ambassador. He expressed his gratitude for the re-opening of the Hungarian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. In the recent years, the high-level visits have been becoming more frequent, and the Mongolian Parliament has been promoting the implementation of the frameworks agreed during those visits, he said.
The Ambassador thanked the Speaker for his time, and gave information on the planned arts and culture events dedicated to celebrating the diplomatic relations anniversary. He promised to put all efforts on enhancing the relations of the two countries. He is interested in intensifying the traditional cooperation in industry and technology.
Mr Enkhbold said he was glad that the vice-chairman of the Hungarian parliament Janos Latorcai and a member of Hungary-Mongolia Friendship group in the legislature are going to be attending the celebration of 25th anniversary of Mongolia's first democratic election. He informed that Mongolian parliament also has a Mongolia-Hungary Friendship group and introduced to the guests the group head J.Batzandan MP.
The Speaker expressed his belief that Hungary will send its delegates to the upcoming Autumn Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, to be held in Ulaanbaatar in September.
Present were also, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D.Gankhuyag and other officials.
"It's good to be back!": Hungary reopens embassy in Mongolia after 9 years
By John David
July 24 (news.mn) Hungary's Ambassador to Mongolia, Akos Madari, tells NEWS.MN about the new embassy and the new phase in 65 years of cooperation.
News.mn: Your Excellency, Hungary and Mongolia have a long history of cooperation. This was put on hold nine years ago when Hungary decided to close your old embassy. Your Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Peter Szijjarto has said that this was a "big mistake". Can you please explain, what were the main factors in Hungary deciding to re-establish full diplomatic relations with Mongolia?
Yes, this is correct. The closure of the previous embassy partly hindered co-operation. Nevertheless diplomatic relations continued; it should be noted that the Mongolian Embassy in Budapest continued to work during this period. But I completely agree with the view of Hungary's Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Peter Szijjarto that we made a big mistake – as a result many projects stopped.
We have had diplomatic relations with Mongolia for over 65 years. These relations are something we value very highly. Hungary has a programme called "Eastern Openings", which aims at developing relations with Post-Soviet countries. We attach great importance to developing strong support to countries such as Mongolia. We offer cooperation in trade and also in the supply of top Hungarian goods, technology, innovation and services.
News.mn: The new Hungarian Embassy was formally opened in May. Construction work is underway. When will the official opening take place?
Yes, the new Hungarian Embassy was re-opened on the 26th May. Our Foreign Minister attended the ceremony. This was in the context of a round trip which also took in Singapore and Malaysia, was we also established a new embassy. In Ulaanbaatar we will have a completely new and modern embassy, the operational opening of which scheduled for the second half of September. This will be attended by a number of Ministers and other officials from Hungary.
News.mn: Since the 1950's Hungary has been supporting the Songino "Bio-Combinat", which your country originally established. Under the new co-operation agreement Hungary will continue to work with this plant. Can you describe the plans for Songino 2?
Yes, Hungary has indeed been co-operating with Mongolia in the field of animal husbandry and producing vaccination products. This is something we wish to continue to do at Songino. We have visited the plant which Hungary helped establish in the 1950's. It has continued to function for all of this period. We were really surprised to see old Hungarian machinery from the 1950's – still working! The Bio-Combinat does not have highly advanced technology. Mongolia has huge live-stock – over 60 million animals. Animal husbandry therefore is very important. Hungary considers the best solution being the modernization of the plant. Hungary's EXIM Bank has provided Mongolia with USD 25 million at favourable rates, part of which will be used for financing the Bio-Combinat.
News.mn: Your President has mentioned support for other agricultural projects in Mongolia. Can you please talk about what is planned?
Hungary has outstanding experience in a number of fields. There are already a number of ideas. These will be the main topic for discussion at the 5th Session of the Mongolia-Hungary Joint Economic Forum which will be held in Budapest in September. Besides animal husbandry we are looking at irrigation and other areas for cooperation.
News.mn: The Mongolian Economy is traditionally driven by mining; what specific plans does Hungary have in this sector?
Most of our Hungary's mines closed in the early 1990's, so we do not consider ourselves to be able to offer advanced mining services. What we can offer, however, is support with mitigation and restoring the landscape after mining operations close. As you know, mining really damages the environment and can be really dangerous. Hungary has definite things to offer in terms of water management at mine sites. We are giving this a lot of attention and can offer the necessary technology to help Mongolia.
News.mn: Hungary and Mongolia have a long history of student and cultural exchanges. Can you please describe the main features of the new student exchange programme?
Yes, we have had a long exchange programme since the late 1950's. This has continued uninterrupted over the years. Many former students now have leading positions in Mongolian society – these include some politicians.
We are currently offering 100 scholarships. There are many different forms of scholarship for Mongolian students to study in different areas - BSc's and other degrees. These include 15 full scholarships. Hungary is planning more scholarships in the future. The scholarships come under our "Stipendium Hungaricum" programme
News.mn: What other cultural events are planned for the near future?
At present we are preparing a Photo-Exhibition of 65 photos – one for each years of diplomatic relations between Hungary and Mongolia. This will probably open at the end of September.
News.mn: The Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and the Ulaanbaatar City Mayor's Office have signed a cooperation agreement. What is under consideration?
Actually this form of co-operation is a completely new phenomenon. Our so-called Hungarian Trade House is very active in enlarging trade relations. This is different from the Chamber of Commerce. The co-operation agreement is with the City Mayor's Office and the Trade House. I can assure you that we are looking at many different areas for possible cooperation. These include water management and housing issues. We have Hungarian Trade Houses in other countries. In Mongolia it operates via a locally selected Hungarian company, in this case "Majav Ltd". This company has the task of providing general co-ordination, giving assistance and identifying suitable companies and project partners. Currently, "Majav Ltd" is looking at a number of projects.
News.mn: You served as a diplomat in the old Embassy. A lot has changed in nine years. What is it like being back in Mongolia?
Yes, I was a junior diplomat in the old Hungarian Embassy and served in Mongolia from 1992 to 1997. In fact this was my first posting and the beginning of my diplomatic career. It was a wonderful time and I have many happy memories. Mongolia still remains an undisputed gem – the pure untouched nature, nomadic herders and the attraction of the countryside; horses and rivers full of fish ..
News.mn: You are a fisherman?
Yes, I love fishing and also horse riding.
In 20 years many things have changed; Mongolia has been deeply touched by urbanization, mining and also by climate change. I don't want to talk a lot about things. A lot of positive things have also happened – there have been major steps in modernisation and building services.
In short it is great to be back and I am very happy that I am my country's Ambassador
News.mn: Finally, how did you celebrate Naadam?
Naadam was great fun. The opening was incomparably better than in the past. My wife and I both like horses. So we saw the horse racing. This is her first time in Mongolia. We had a great time and are very happy to be here!
News.mn: Thank you.
Graduates of Archery 100 in Mongolia
By Mendee Jargalsaikhan
July 15 (Mongolia Focus) Presenting graduates of the Archery 100 course in Mongolia
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009 (source link)
Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014 (source link)
Finnish President Tarja Halonen in 2011 (source link)
The US Vice President Joe Biden in 2011 (source link)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (source link)
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in 2014 (source link)
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in 2014 (source link)
Mongolian Facebookers lead mass 'three bag' clean-up
July 23 (BBC) Mongolian Facebook users are marking a traditional sports holiday with a campaign to clean up the rivers and open spaces of their country, which have been plagued by fly-tippers and litter-bugs.
The Naadam holiday celebrates the three Mongolian sports of wrestling, archery, and riding, and activists are echoing the number by challenging three people to collect three sacks of rubbish each within three days, post a video online, them nominate three friends to do likewise, the MMinfo website reports. In a reference to last year's international Ice Bucket Challenge, they have dubbed it the Waste Bucket Challenge. Anyone who fails the challenge is asked to give council binmen a gift made in Mongolia worth at least $10 (£6.50) as a forfeit.
Large numbers of young people have risen to the occasion, posting the results on Facebook using the #HogBucketChallenge hashtag - 'hog' being 'rubbish' in Mongolian. The MMinfo post alone has received 50,000 Facebook 'likes'. Some of the nominations have been quite striking - a six-year-old boy called Tengis challenged a presidential aide, a governing party press spokesman and a leading events organizer to do their bit, the Ulaan Baatar Post reports. The grandees complied, posting Facebook photos of their best efforts, thereby setting off a trend for media bosses and MPs and fashion models to goad their rivals into taking to the roadsides and riverbanks, bags in hand.
Interview: Climate Change in Central Asia
Columbia University's Benjamin Orlove on the repercussions of climate change in Central Asia.
July 23 (The Diplomat) In Central Asia, the topic of climate change is rarely discussed in local political circles. Yet scientists have warned about the future for the Eurasian continent.The Diplomat recently sat down with Columbia University's Benjamin Orlove to discuss the impact of climate change in Central Asia.
Little scientific work has been done on climate change and the social impact in Central Asia, despite global media coverage in the last five to ten years. What are your thoughts on climate change in this region?
Countries in the region are moving forward in the post-Soviet era to seek their own path, combined with emerging regional integration that ultimately connects Central Asia with neighboring regions. So as climate change comes into perspective, these changes come together with water issues, which continue to be a concern here.
The Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan plan to fully use their hydropower potential and these states anticipate a future of water supplies – glaciers are part of that. But another issue here is the snow melt. One of the things is that the Chuy and Naryn rivers are relatively full in July due to rainfall and snow melt. The question is [what happens] in August and September because of the variabilities regarding annual snowfalls and water runoff. The decisions on the release of these waters from hydro dams are going to … be important for the downstream countries. Obviously these challenges have been in place for decades. It's hard to imagine that they are not going to become more intense.
There are some countries in Asia that are highly conscious of the climate change. Mongolia is one which is deeply aware of effects because it had particular bitter winters. This phenomenon is called "dzud" in Mongolia. The dzuds are very destructive winters that wipe out a large number of livestock. That in turn is tied with management of pastures and herd management. And there's a question of a link between dzuds and climate change. It is unclear why rising temperatures with global warming would create bitter winters in Mongolia. [But] climate change can weaken the jet stream. This weakening allows Arctic weather systems to go further south and remain there for a period of time. It also means that mid-latitude air travels up north and brings mild winters that could be a problem for permafrost in Siberia, as it has been for Alaska. Greenland, too, has had periods of unusually warm weather – all part of the see-sawing of hot and cold weather that has brought disastrously cold winters to Mongolia.
The main question is why this is becoming a serious issue in Mongolia. And that to me is a question. I don't know the answers and hope that someone studies these dzuds. It could be that there needs to be tighter links between pastoralists and the Mongolian government that would enable open communication.
Similarly, tighter links are being promoted in Bhutan due to hydropower policies. Bhutan is in dire need of economic development and hydropower is one of the strategies. There are some elements of progress with ecotourism there, but Bhutan doesn't have a diversified economy. Hydropower planners are conscious of the glacier retreat, which is also tied to the growing problem of outburst floods. Bhutan is very sensitive to floods, because there was a major catastrophe in 1994 that impacted Bhutan's most important historic sites. And just last month Bhutan had another smaller scale flood. So there's a reason why Bhutan has a greater awareness of the climate change effect from the hazards perspective and resource management concern.
And this brings us to Kyrgyz Republic and whether global attention will turn to Central Asia over water issues or heatwaves. Pakistan had a devastating heatwave that killed nearly 1000 people. This in turn begs the question if there's a history of heatwaves in Central Asia. The answer is we don't know. But weather events in Pakistan could be a wake-up call for the rest of the region. What we do know is that in the regions where climate change is progressing rapidly, global warming is a slower force, meaning it progresses steadily. The concentrations of greenhouse gases are increasing which lead to changes in average temperatures, precipitation, and the frequency of extreme weather events. And the question is what becomes a wake-up call. The wake-up call in Bhutan for instance could be the urgency of advancing hydro power projects and managing hazards. In Mongolia, the wake-up call is bitter winters. And what's the wake-up call in Central Asia? It hasn't been observed yet. It could well be tied to the water flows linked to the extreme occurrences. There is certainly sufficient data available for water systems in the world, linking changes in temperatures and precipitation to the water flow and that can be an indicator for identifiable variability in each given case. But I don't know if that has been done for the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers in Central Asia. So far we do know that the climate change impact is observable in the tributaries of the Amu Darya river in the Wakhan corridor.
The IPCC has noted that the decrease in the volume of glaciers could produce regular failures in the flow of the Amu Darya and some tributaries of the Syr Darya in the next 20 years. What are your thoughts on this projection?
Ryskeldi Satke is a contributing writer-analyst with research institutions and news organizations in Central Asia, Turkey and the U.S. He can be contacted at rsatke at gmail.com
State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2015 - Mongolia
2 July 2015
Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2015 - Mongolia, 2 July 2015, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/55a4fa4b15.html [accessed 23 July 2015]
This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Though in recent years Mongolia has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world, 2014 saw a dramatic reduction in foreign direct investment and a fall in its GDP growth rate. The slowdown in the Mongolian economy, which remains heavily dependent on the country's natural resources, has been partly attributed to concerns among foreign companies over stalled negotiations between the Mongolian government and Turquoise Hill Resources, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, over the development of the controversial Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine. The multi-billion-dollar mining project, located in the south of the country, has been opposed by local herders and civil society organizations due to the destructive impact the development will have on the surrounding environment. In February 2015, however, following a national text message referendum, Mongolia agreed to further development of the mine, despite opposition from environmental groups. Pastoralist livelihoods are threatened not only by the mine itself, but also by the infrastructure connecting it to China, which runs through traditional grazing and pasture lands. Herders have consistently complained about inadequate compensation for their land.
Rising nationalism, linked in part to resentment of the role of international companies in mining and natural resource extraction, has intensified anti-foreigner sentiment in Mongolia, particularly towards Chinese nationals. This is reflected in regular incidents of abuse and even violence towards migrants, foreign minorities and visitors. In April 2014, for instance, three foreigners were attacked at a rock concert in Ulaanbaatar, while in early 2015 reports emerged of the ill-treatment of Chinese tourists by Mongolian nationalists. In May the Mongolian parliament announced that it would begin discussing anti-discrimination legislation to supplement the relevant provisions in the Constitution. However, critics have argued that the proposal does not go far enough to include a specific category for hate crimes.
Mongolia's Tuvan minority's language and culture remain under threat, despite government support and a modest subsidy. Already, growing numbers of Tuvan children are travelling to attend schools in the capital where they cannot study in their native language. These challenges are especially acute for the Dukha (also known as Tsaatan) community, a Tuvan sub-group and Mongolia's smallest ethnic minority, with fewer than 50 families remaining in the far west of the country. Nevertheless, there have been efforts to support the preservation of Dukha language and culture. In December 2014, the Mongolian National Museum premiered a documentary about Oyunbadam, a Dukha educator who established a grassroots language and culture school for Dukha children.
Mongolia's recent transition to a market economy, as well as limited livelihood opportunities in the countryside, has also driven rapid urban growth in the country's capital, Ulaanbaatar – a process that has unfortunately outpaced the development of public services and infrastructure. In certain districts more than half of the population live in ger, traditional nomadic yurts of wool and felt, in lots for which they do not hold land titles. Forced evictions continue to occur against a backdrop of rising property prices and increasing competition for space, with families evicted without consultation and communities harassed by real estate companies, which have even cut off water and electricity supplies to pressure them to leave. Ger residents also have limited access to essential services such as sanitation, education and health.
Many are families of former herders who have been pushed to the city by desertification and the harsh winters of the steppe. Following a period of extreme cold in 2010 – known as a dzud, meaning 'white death' – that resulted in the deaths of millions of livestock, thousands of herders moved into gers on the edge of the city. They continue to make up a significant proportion of those migrating to the city each year. The increasing settlement of rural and formerly nomadic Mongolians around Ulaanbaatar has contributed to the erosion of their traditional lifestyles. In addition to migration in order to find work, herders are also moving closer to markets in towns, particularly near Ulaanbaatar, because they are switching from subsistence husbandry to raising animals for sale. Many residents of poorer areas of Ulaanbaatar rely on herders for their food supply, which results in more seasonal migration to the city; a number of such in-migrants return to the countryside for the summer months.
Uncovering Mongolia's transgender community
Written by Laurence Butet-Roch
July 24 (British Journal of Photography) "I can't think of anything more terrifying than the idea that a large part of our identity relies on facts and things we can't control or even know exist."
In Pictures: Mongolians wrestle through annual Nadaam festival
July 20 (Straits Times) For Mongolians throughout the vast steppe nation known as the land of the "Eternal Blue Sky", wrestling is sport, entertainment, and a key topic of conversation and aspiration. The pinnacle comes during the annual summer festival of Naadam, which Mongolians have celebrated for eight centuries.
Google Street View comes to Mongolia: A journey of 5,000 km begins with a single steppe
July 23 (Google Asia Pacific Blog) With over 250 sunny days a year, Mongolia is known by many as the "Land of the Eternal Blue Sky." Under that sky, though, Mongolia is anything but constant – it is vast and diverse, with stunningly beautiful landscapes from steppes and deserts to icy lakes and gushing rivers.
Last fall we bolted a Street View camera onto a four wheel drive pickup truck to begin capturing 360-imagery. So far, it's made its way across more than 5,000 km of Mongolia's rugged roads...well, not always "roads."
Sometimes, nowhere near a road.
And there were times when we ditched the truck entirely. Deep in Mongolia's wild expanses, Ariuntuul, or "Ari", our Mongolian Trekker operator, strapped the 18kg Street View Trekker onto her back.
Let's peer over Ari's shoulder — and the hood of our 4x4 — to take a quick glimpse around Mongolia, shall we?
Winter is coming
First stop: Khuvsgul Lake, the second largest freshwater lake in Asia. We captured this in the middle of winter, when the entire lake freezes over so hard that sleds and trucks can trundle across it.
As you can see if you head back towards the shore, this frozen lake is a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike, with ornate ice sculptures and local artisans setting up shop on the ice.
Trials and tributaries
Next up: one of the many (many) rivers our 4x4 had to cross on its 5,000 km journey - this time, a small tributary of the Yeruu River in Selenge province.
Sometimes there weren't even makeshift bridges.
Sand as far as the eye can see
Southern Mongolia is home to Asia's largest desert, the Gobi, which overlaps with northern China. These vast, sandy plains gave birth to the mighty Mongol empire under Genghis Khan in the 13th century.
And as you can see, wild horses are still being tamed on these endless expanses.
The cold never bothered me anyway
On the opposite side of the country, closer to Mongolia's border with Russia, the "roads" look a little different in the winter. Here's our truck venturing through the farmlands just outside of Mongolia's third largest city, Darkhan.
Luckily, we had four wheel drive.
The round rooftops of Ulaanbaatar
The ger (pronounced "gear") is an iconic Mongolian structure, home to the nomadic herders who have packed up and moved around the Mongolian plains for thousands of years. Now, many families have started to move to the outskirts of the rapidly growing capital city, Ulaanbaatar, and are setting up their gers there.
Have a nice journey!
Although adventurers usually spend weeks exploring the hidden treasures of Mongolia, we can now take you on a whirlwind tour in just a few clicks—which we fully expect will start you planning a real-world adventure of your own. Until then...
Posted by Cynthia Wei, Program Manager, Google Street View
Bring the Dinosaur Museum to the Gobi
Let's bring a dinosaur museum to kids in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.
By Bolortsetseg (Bolor) Minjin
The (Potentially Illegal) Fantastic Four-Legged Snake And Ethics Of Fossil Collection
July 24 (Forbes) The early evolutionary history of snakes has been a question that has stumped paleontologists for almost as long as the discipline has existed. There have been theories the limbless group of reptiles came from the water, theories they came from the land, but overall there has been no "smoking gun" fossil discovery that has solidly answered this burning evolutionary question….until perhaps now.
Published yesterday in Science by David Martill, Helmut Tischlinger, and Nicholas Longrich, Tetrapodophis amplectus is a bizarre and beautiful fossil that hints at the early lifestyles of snakes. It retains a body shape that is serpentiform, with a short tail and a long trunk indicating it could have moved like a modern snake, but still with tiny limbs. The proportions of its body indicate it was burrowing, lending support to the hypothesis the original ancestors of snakes were land-dwelling as opposed to marine creatures. It also provides evidence for the evolutionary origin of snakes in Gondwana. This could be the fossil paleontologists have waited so long to find.
A long journey home: Returning endangered wild horses to Mongolia
July 23 (Mashable) Przewalski's horses, a species that traces its origins to the Mongolian steppe, has seen its wild population plummet so low it is considered to be endangered. However, many have lived in captivity and thanks to an project run in conjunction with the Czech Army and the Prague Zoo, several horses have been transported back to the region their ancestors called home to run wild and free.
The mission, dubbed the Return of Wild Horses project, made its fourth transport this July, aiming to return four mares from France, Hungary, Germany and Czech Republic to the land of their ancestors in the Gobi Desert.
Yosemite Establishes Sister Relations with Khuvsgul, Ulaan Taiga National Parks
Ulaanbaatar, July 23 (MONTSAME) The US. Embassy in Mongolia has congratulated America's Yosemite National Park and the Mongolian Ministry of Environment, Green Development, and Tourism on the signing of a sister parks agreement.
The US Ambassador to Mongolia Ms Piper Campbell and the deputy governor of Khovsgol Ch. Ochirkhuyag spoke at the July 18 signing ceremony, held at a picturesque venue in the foothills of Mongolia's Koridol-Saridag mountains. They described the creation of the sister park relationship as an opportunity for U.S.-Mongolia collaboration in natural resource management, healthy habitat creation, biodiversity, and environmental education.
At the ceremony, Chief of Interpretation and Education at Yosemite National Park Tom Medema signed the agreement on behalf of the United States. Representing Mongolia, the document was inked by J. Tomorsukh, director of the Ulaan Taiga Administration, and L.Davaabayar, director of the Lake Khovsgol National Park.
Yosemite also maintains sister parks relations with the governments of Chile, China, and Germany. This newest of Yosemite's agreements involves four Mongolian wilderness areas: Lake Hovsgol National Park and Ulaan Taiga National park as well as the adjoining Tengis Shishged and Khoridol Saridag protected areas.
MEGDT's Department of Protected Areas Management was founded in 2012. Its mission includes the preservation of Mongolian national and cultural heritage through conservation of its parks and protected lands. The Mongol Ecology Center, a Mongolia-based NGO, has worked with this department since 2011 and played a key role in facilitating the relationship between American and Mongolian officials.
Yosemite National Park, the oldest of the U.S. national parks, was established in 1890 and celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. The Mongolian government established Lake Khovsgol National Park in 1992.
Lake Khovsgol contains 70% of Mongolia's surface freshwater (about 1% of global total freshwater). In 2014, there were approximately 80,000 visitors. During this year's summertime Naadam festival, there were more than 40,000 visitors over five days.
Paper: Theory of decisions by intra-dimensional comparisons
Gerelt Tserenjigmid, California Institute of Technology, United States
Received 13 December 2014, Revised 21 May 2015, Accepted 1 July 2015, Available online 8 July 2015
Making a choice between multidimensional alternatives is a difficult task. Therefore, a decision maker may adopt some procedure (heuristic) to simplify this task. We provide an axiomatic model of one such heuristic called the Intra-Dimensional Comparison (IDC) heuristic. The IDC heuristic is well-documented in the experimental literature on choice under risk. The IDC heuristic is a procedure in which a decision maker compares multidimensional alternatives dimension-by-dimension and makes a decision based on those comparisons. The model of the IDC heuristic provides a general framework applicable to many different contexts, including risky choice and social choice.
Keywords: Intra-dimensional comparison heuristic; Intransitivity; Risky choice; Social choice
☆I am indebted to Federico Echenique and Pietro Ortoleva for their continuous guidance, support, and encouragement. I am also grateful to Kota Saito, Hiroki Nishimura, Michihiro Kandori, Akihiko Matsui, Matthew Kovach, Ariel Rubinstein and the participants of the North American Summer Meeting of the Econometric Society (2013) and 2nd Economics Conference in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Genghis the great? Philadelphia's Franklin Institute presents Mongol leader as an innovator
July 24 (The Morning Call) Most people think of Genghis Khan just as a bloodthirsty barbarian.
He may have been ruthless in battle, but Genghis Khan also endorsed religious freedom, created the concept of passports and instituted the first postal system, says the creator of a new exhibit on the leader of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century.
Improving the reputation of one of the world's greatest but most misunderstood leaders is the goal of Don Lessem, who has mounted "Genghis Khan: Bring The Legend to Life," currently at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
"He's the reason we have violins, paper money and lemons," Lessem says. "I wanted to right a wrong. He was really an enlightened guy."
The comprehensive exhibition features more than 200 artifacts, including jewels, silk robes, ceramics, religious relics and weaponry, including one of the world's earliest guns, and a sword carried by one of Marco Polo's guards.
Lessem, who lives in Media, Delaware County, is better known for his exhibits of dinosaur skeletons, which also have been at the Franklin Institute. He became fascinated with Khan on a trip to Mongolia in Central Asia searching for dinosaur fossils, when he saw the ruler's name was on the main airport and his image on the currency.
"In Mongolia, I found everything named after Genghis Khan and I started to wonder why that was if he was such a terrible barbarian," Lessem says.
As he started to do research, he discovered that Genghis Khan modernized Mongolian culture, encouraged education and helped open trade routes between the East and West. Other things introduced to the west as a result of Genghis Khan include tollbooths, national parks, diplomatic immunity, pants, forks, charcoal and chopped meat.
Lessem also discovered that Genghis Khan not only created the nation of Mongolia and its written language, but in 25 years, Khan's army also conquered more land and people than the Romans during their entire 400-year rule. At one point, Khan's Mongol empire spanned more than 11 million square miles across Eastern Europe and Asia.
Through the artifacts, murals, video projections that re-create the sight and sound of warriors on galloping horses in battlefields, and computerized role-playing, Lessem hopes to change perceptions about Genghis Khan.
"It is all based on the real character," says Lessem. "The exhibit starts when he was just a boy and ends up at height of empire under his grandson Kublai Khan. I want to tell the story of Mongolia, a country where a third of the people still live as nomads."
Lessem says it took 10 years for him to put together the exhibit. It includes many never seen before items from private collectors in Mongolia, Azerbaijan and the United States.
At the entrance of the exhibit is a statue of Genghis Khan, modeled after the more than four-story-high bronze original in the capital of Mongolia. A short video poses the question of whether Genghis Khan was a merciless tyrant or a brilliant ruler with a vision for his empire.
The first section showcases the nomadic lifestyle that the young Temujin, as the Khan was then known, grew up in, complete with an example of a life-size traditional ger or traditional round tent. Visitors can explore the typical furnishings and clothing inside.
"It folded up like an accordion and took three hours to put up," Lessem says.
The second section focuses on one of the most essential assets of the Mongols — the Mongolian horse. The small horse was only 4 feet tall and was well-adapted to the harsh conditions of the region, where the temperature dips to minus 22 degrees in the winter.
Lessem says the Mongols used the horses for many things, including meat to eat, dung for fuel and a brew of fermented mare's milk called "airag" to drink.
Lessem says he tried airag when he was in Mongolia and found it "very acidy."
Genghis Khan also used horses for his "Yam," a message system similar to the Pony Express.
"Mongolian horses were very small and sturdy and could forage in snow," Lessem says.
Most importantly, the Mongols used the horses for warfare, which helped the smaller Mongol armies to be highly effective. The Mongols were highly skilled horsemen, most learning to ride as young children.
On display are the different styles of bows used by the cavalry and several types of arrows, including flaming arrows that were used to spread fire on the battlefield, sharp pointed arrows to pierce armor and whistling arrows to instill terror among Khan's enemies.
Also on display are swords, leather armor, chain mail and other battle gear, including a full-scale replica of a traction trebuchet and a giant siege crossbow.
"The Mongols were the first to use cannons and guns," Lessem says.
The exhibit also explores Genghis Khan's military strategies.
Lessem says Kahn drew on Chinese engineers to help him divert rivers to cut off resources to walled cities.
"He also used the tactic of pretending to retreat, and when the enemy chased the armies, they would trap them," Lessem says. "He also had an incredible network of spies."
Lessem adds that Genghis Khan also was unusual in that he incorporated defeated enemies into his army rather than killing them, which helped increase his military's numbers and inspired loyalty among the conquered people.
There also are artifacts from the walled city of Karakorum, built by Genghis Khan's son, Ogodei. The city was rich in culture with music, art, fine ceramics and metal crafts. It also was open to all religions.
"They are an incredibly cultural people," Lessem says. "There were seven different temples and religious freedom was encouraged."
The exhibit also includes a section on Kublai Khan, who founded the Yuan Dynasty, uniting China after four centuries of separation.
An animated floor map illustrates the reach of the empire, which stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the gates of Vienna at its height.
"The legacy of Genghis Khan is that Mongolia is an independent state and the most literate country in world," says Lessem. "About 1 in 8 Asian people are descended from Genghis Khan."
'Genghis Khan: Bring the Legend to Life'
• What: Exhibit of more than 200 artifacts from the time of the ruler of the Mongolian Empire, such as jewels, silk robes, ceramics, religious relics and weaponry, including one of the world's earliest guns.
• When: 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. daily through Jan. 3
• Where: Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St., Philadelphia
• How much: $29.95; $24.95, ages 3-11. After 5 p.m.: $19.95; $14.95, children.
• Info: 215-448-1200, www.fi.edu.
Discovery Channel: The Emperor of the Steppes
Hordes of men on horseback dominated the steppes of central Asia 2,000 years ago. They were the Hsiung-nu and their vast empire reigned from 300 BC to 200 AD. From conquests to defeats, their history is written in blood and fire. Fearsome archers on horseback, the Hsiung-nu crossed the steppes of Mongolia. Opposing the Hsiung-nu warriors was an equally fearsome army, comprised of Chinese warriors who considered the Hsiung-nu to be barbarians.
The first emperor of China had life-sized reproductions of his men placed in his tomb, each with unique facial features. Comprised of foot soldiers, archers, crossbowmen and cavalry riders, this phantom army mounted an eternal guard over its emperor Qin Shi-huang, the Hsiung-nu's worst enemy. Writing was not known by the Hsiung-nu - archaeological remains are the only trace of their history.
Now, "Emperor Of The Steppes" takes viewers on an a breathtaking Archaeological expedition to recover traces of Hsiung-nu history at the Gol Mod site in Mongolia. Believed to be the world's largest archaeological undertaking, this expedition may reveal previously unknown insights into Mongolian history dating back to the 2nd century BC. Viewers will gain a close-up view as daylight reaches the tombs for the first time in 2000 years and the Necropolis reveals its ancient riches.
The Frozen Tombs of Mongolia
In the frozen steppes of the Altai, a Franco-Mongolian archeological expedition prepares to excavate the tombs of Eastern Scythian warriors, some 2,300 years old. The Scythians' ritual practices of deep burial of the dead, in combination with extreme climatic conditions, mean the scientists may discover the last frozen tombs on the planet, and thus elucidate the mysteries surrounding nomadic horsemen. Who were they? How did they live? How did they die? What were the beliefs and funeral rites of the Eastern Scythians? An investigative thriller which throws new light on a forgotten civilization.
Travel writer, Trans-Mongolia Railway: "I've never felt so distant from the demands of daily life."
Mark Buckley on realizing that the journey is truly more important than the destination
July 24 (The Irish Times) Six and a half days on a train from Moscow to Beijing, albeit with stops in Siberia and Mongolia, did sound somewhat daunting – a departure from the more physically active holidays my wife Jane and I had tended to take in the past.
After a few days in a grey and unfriendly Moscow, our first stint on the Trans-Mongolian was three-and-a-half-days to Irkutsk, in Siberia. We stocked up on pot noodles, tea bags (Lyons if you are interested), and powdered soup, in addition to taking a few bottles of wine and a lot of chocolate. Our home for three days and four nights was to be a small cabin, which was clean and modern, in a carriage was presided over by a flame-haired boot-wearing provodnitsa who kept the water boiling in the samovar at the end of the carriage (vital for the aforementioned hot drinks and pot noodles), and who barked when we needed to get back on the train after our infrequent 10-minute stops to stretch legs, and stock up on provisions from the locals selling their wares on the platforms.
As we passed from European Russia and across the Urals into Asia, the scenery changed from agricultural to vast dark forests. We read, played games, listened to podcasts and played music, with the din of the train ensuring our neighbours weren't disturbed. But more than anything else we drank tea, with an occasional hot chocolate or soup thrown in for variety. One life-long learning from this trip was the benefit of powdered milk in a world with no refrigeration.
Many people I know who have travelled similar routes tell tales of enjoying cheap Russian vodka with Australian backpackers, stories of missing trains - and losing rucksacks. But for me this was about peaceful escape. Jane and I both have very busy rarely switched off work lives, and our little cabin was like a cocoon, hidden away from the outside world, with no wifi or other internet connection, no television or radio, and no timetable (other than keeping an eye on when we would next get the chance to stretch our legs at an understocked stall on a remote Russian platform). Eat, snooze, make tea, watch Russia passing outside with faces pressed against the windows and tranquil satisfied smiles, and then snooze some more. I'm not sure I have ever felt so relaxed and so distant from the never-ending demands of daily life.
We eventually pulled into Irkutsk, a medium-sized city in Siberia. Our concerns that all Russians, and all Russian towns, would be like unsmiling Moscow were quickly abated, as we explored what we found to be a very pleasant and friendly town. Having wandered the tree-lined streets of Irkutsk and seen the sun reflect off the immense expanse of nearby Lake Baikal (a stretch of water larger than Belgium in area), I realised that never again will I picture Siberia as the freezing snow covered and miserable land of gulags that we tend to hear about.
From there our next stop was another 36 hours away on the train – a place that is up there with Timbuktu as regards somewhere whose name suggests remoteness and roads less travelled - Ulan Bator in (Outer) Mongolia, and beyond that lay China and its cultural and natural riches. But it was those initial 3 days and four nights through the Russian taiga that for me is where the true joy of the Trans-Mongolian lies.
From Monklands to Mongolia: Big-hearted Airdrieonians fans to build houses for the homeless on charity trip
DIAMONDS supporters jet out to the country in September and will live with local people while constructing the new homes.
July 22 (Daily Record) A GROUP of Airdrieonians fans will travel more than 4000 miles — to build homes for people in Mongolia.
Diamond geezers from the club's Supporters' Trust will jet to central Asia in September on the back of their successful appeals through charity KitAid.
The dedicated diehards will spend 10 days in Mongolia and live alongside villagers in one of the poorest and most remote parts of the country.
A reception will be held for them at the British Embassy in the capital Ulaanbaatar.
And a match against AK Bayangol — who benefited thanks to a strips donation from Airdrie supporters' team Internazioswally FC — has been organised.
However, most of the group's time will be spent building huts so that homeless people have somewhere to live.
Diamonds Trust member Jamie Leishman said: "It all really started from the launch of the trust's appeal with KitAid last year. We got speaking to a company who deal with adventure holidays and trekking.
"We thought about going to Mongolia, as we sent a football team over there a set of strips. Now we plan to do a bit more.
"We're raising money to build a couple of homes and take them some medical equipment.
"At least 11 of us are going. We'll play three games on our travels; two in the capital and one which will just be a kickabout against locals where we will be going.
"We've enough money to build two homes. People stay in 'gers', which are like huts, and that's what we'll be building.
"We will be staying with the villagers while we're there."
The 33-year-old from Rochsoles added: "It's going to be a great experience.
"We have been invited along to a do at the British Embassy."
A sportsman's dinner was held at Airdrie's working men's club earlier this month to raise more money.
Former Celtic star Frank McAvennie and Rangers legend Willie Henderson were guest speakers.
"Things have taken off with some of the stuff we are doing," said Jamie of the increase in charitable projects adopted by the supporters' trust.
"We will be handing out some of the kits we collect this year during our trip."
UAE woman competitor in world's toughest horse race Mongol Derby
Mongol Derby is in the 'Guinness Book of Records' for being the world's longest horse race
July 24 (Emirates 247): A 26-year Dubai resident will participate in the world's longest horse race. Travelling across 620 miles of Mongolian steppe with rivers and hills, the Mongol Derby is in the 'Guinness Book of Records' for being the world's longest horse race.
Drawing in 40 competitors each year from around the globe, this year's race includes riders from 13 countries, including a New Zealander who has competed in the World Equestrian Games, an Everest climber from America and Uma Mencia Uranga, an endurance rider based in Dubai.
certainly lives up to its reputation and in a normal year only half of the competitors actually finish the race, with last year seeing two helicopter evacuations. Thunderstorms, vicious dogs, dehydration, sunburn and falls from semi-wild horses are some of the features of the race.
But while the race might be tough on its human participants, it's a lot easier on the traditional Mongol horses which the riders use. They are famous for their endurance and sturdiness and get changed every 25 miles so they never get too tired, with vets on hand throughout the race.
Uma is only 26, but is hoping she can bring the title of 'Mongol Derby Winner' back to Dubai, where she has studied and worked for the last seven years.
She has been an endurance horse rider at the Fazza Stables in Dubai and a Rustic Pathways (www.rusticpathways.com) group leader, for the past two summers, leading groups of students in Morocco and Mongolia.
Mongolia Do's and Don'ts
July 24 (gogo.mn) Mongolia is a country of strict Do's and Don'ts when it comes to tradition and lifestyle, especially in the countryside. Some of them are of religious background, others derived from the practical necessities of the nomadic culture, and of course, there are also examples of superstition. Though in the city, these practices are less strict and one might see a few of the city people not following the rules. However, it does not mean that you should not follow the rules.
Everything starts from entering the Ger/house (Ger also means home in Mongolian, therefore, whether it's a Ger or a house it's a home) and whether you are a Mongol or not... Here are some of Mongolia's basic Dos and Don'ts. It sure will come in handy when you're visiting this ancient land of nomads. Enjoy your travel in Mongolia!
- Stand on the threshold when entering the Ger/house
- Refuse offered drink or food in the Ger/house (it's customary for Mongols to offer tea and food as a welcoming omen)
- Whistle inside a Ger
- Lean against the pillars in the Ger
- Throw water or rubbish into the fire (fire is sacred!)
- Touch other people's hat or especially, man's head
- Walk over the Uurga (horse catching pole)
- Point at someone with a single finger
- Pee in any waters in nature such as lakes, rivers, streams ever! (Water is sacred!)
- Spill milk/dairy in river, well, lakes
- Talk or joke about bad things that may happen
- Estimate travel hours as drivers believe it brings evil on the trip
- Ask names of big mountains while the mountain is still in sight
- Say thank you too much or for small gestures
· Greet the people when entering the Ger
· Give/receive presents with both hands
· Try to speak Mongolian even it's just Hello (sain bainuu?), Thank you (Bayarla!) or Bye (bayartai!)
· Enter or leave Ger through the left
· Accept food or drink with your right hand or both hands
· Receive the snuff bottle and gently loosen the top without removing it
· Bring some small gifts such as stationary for children
· Always get on horseback from the left
· Watch over your wallet/purse. Pick pocketing is common in crowded places
· Shake the hands of someone who you have accidentally bumped feet with
Prepared by Zola, General Manager of Mongolian Tourism Association for GoGo Travel. © All rights reserved 2015.
Hakuho triumphs to claim 35th career title
NAGOYA, July 26 (Kyodo) – Hakuho outlasted fellow Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu in the final bout of regulation to extend his all-time record of career titles to 35 on Sunday at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho (14-1) had spurned the chance to win a seventh consecutive title when he fell in a final-day defeat to another yokozuna, Harumafuji, at the last tournament in May, but there was to be no repeat of that slip-up at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
Needing a win to force a playoff, Kakuryu had Hakuho up against the bales but Hakuho came back to counter and lifted his opponent over the ridge to secure the championship.
"I was relaxed because I knew if I had lost, I still had a chance in the playoff," said Hakuho, who got in a dig after an analyst hinted the Mongolian's power might be on the decline.
"In the early stages, someone — I'm not saying who — said I might be slipping," he said. "But perhaps now that I'm champion, I can expect some warmer support."
Asked if the victory was a statement that he was still the No. 1, Hakuho said, "I think I've showed enough to prove that."
In other bouts of note, Kotoshogiku left it late but secured his ozeki status with an eighth win against summer meet champion Terunofuji, who posted a respectable 11-4 record on his ozeki debut.
Kotoshogiku, who came into the tournament with his rank on the line for the fifth time after a "makekoshi" 6-9 record in May, moved left at the charge, and as Terunofuji surged forward, he slapped him down to the sandy surface.
In another all-ozeki matchup, Goeido (9-6) set the stage for the final bout of the tournament between the yokozuna pair by thrusting out Kisenosato (10-4).
No. 8 maegashira Yoshikaze outsmarted sekiwake Tochiozan for a 12th win and also won the Fighting Spirit Prize, one of three prizes given to makuuchi wrestlers by the Japan Sumo Association on the last day of a grand tournament.
Tochiozan, who beat both Hakuho and Kakuryu here and finished with a 10-5 mark, was awarded the Outstanding Performance Prize.
In a match between two wrestlers who have badly underperformed at this tournament, Mongolian sekiwake Ichinojo muscled out third-ranked maegashira Ikioi for just his fourth win. Ikioi closed with a 2-12 record.
No. 5 maegashira Okinoumi scored an 11th win in barging out 14th-ranked Kagamio, who had been tied for the lead for much of the tournament before fading and finishing at 9-6.
Eighth-ranked Egyptian Osunaarashi also finished with a flourish, railroading Bulgarian No. 2 maegashira Aoiyama (8-4) for an 11-4 mark.
In the day's opening makuuchi bout, Endo (10-5) closed with double-digit wins, the popular No. 12 maegashira getting the better of 10th-ranked Russian Amuru (8-7).
Veteran Mongolian grappler Kyokutenho left the dohyo in tears after losing what looks to be the last bout of his career.
The 40-year-old got lifted over the ring by top-ranked Tochinoshin (8-7) and finished with a 3-12 mark.
If he does go out, it will be in style — if countryman Hakuho has anything to say about it.
"My esteemed colleague who is going to call it quits after this tournament is going to ride with me at my victory parade," Hakuho said.
Mongolia was worst basketball experience ever, says former Laker
In Las Vegas, Korean Basketball League's Draft Promises Money and Culture Shock
July 24 (New York Times) LAS VEGAS — Tommy Smith, in his quest to remain employed as a professional basketball player, joined dozens of other free agents in a single-file line this month at Desert Oasis High School, a boxy structure set amid rocks, cactus and molten heat about 10 miles south of this city's shimmering strip of casinos.
Smith, 34, had made the four-hour drive from his home in Phoenix for the start of a four-day spectacle run by the Korean Basketball League, and he soon spotted a familiar face: that of Smush Parker, the former Los Angeles Lakers guard whose own odyssey had landed him here, also at age 34, in hopes of landing another job.
"Yeah, I know Smush," said Smith, a 6-foot-10 power forward. "We shot a cellphone commercial together in Mongolia."
At the same time, Smith has managed to sustain his basketball career, most recently with Alliance-Tech Khartsaga in Mongolia. In Las Vegas, Smith reconnected with Parker, his co-star in the cellphone commercial. Parker said he did not plan to return to Mongolia any time soon.
"You can quote this as Smush Parker saying, 'Yo, Mongolia was the worst basketball experience ever,' " Parker said. "I would advise nobody to ever go there."
Mongolia to Host Asian U-23 Fencing Championship, September 7-12
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) Ulaanbaatar city will host the Asian U-23 Fencing Championships this September 7-12.
The competitions are expected to attract 250 fencers from 35 countries, 19 referees and technical experts from 16 countries.
Moreover, the 2015 General Assembly of the Fencing Confederation of Asia will be held in Ulaanbaatar with a participation of presidents of fencing federations of 35 countries and guests of honor. Present will be also a president of the International Fencing Federation Mr Alisher Usmanov.
Mongolia Launches First Women's Football League
July 23 (news.mn) The Mongolian Football Federation (MFF) is creating a female squad team which will compete in Asian and world competitions. For this reason, the MFF is paying special attention to support and increase the participation of Mongolian female players. In this connection, the MFF has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to co-operate with the Japanese women's football team. According to the MoU, the Mongolian female team is to have a Japanese coach.
The MFF has already begun in earnest; the first female league is being established between the dates of 21st-27th July. Eight teams including, "Khad", "Tumen Khujirt", "Erchim", "Tuuliin Tom Tuluud", "Khan-Uul", "Darkhan", and "Mongoliin Temuulel" are currently participating. "NTV" television is broadcasting the matches live. The official sponsor of the league is "World Vision". The matches will take place according to circle rules. The selection matches are taking places on the MFF field every day between the hours of 09.00-14.00.
Urantsetseg Keeps Her Sole Mongolian Leadership at IJF Ranking
Ulaanbaatar, July 23 (MONTSAME) State Honored Sportswoman and World champion M.Urantsetseg is still topping the ranking of world judokas in women's -48 kg as the latest ranking list shows of the International Judo Federation (IJF) released this July 20.
With 3,080 points, she has been followed by Paula Pareto of Argentine (2,285 points) and Ami Kondo of Japan (1,772 points).
In men's lightest weight category, the State Honored Sportsman and World champion G.Boldbaatar has gone to the second place with 2,170 points, while an Azerbaijan judoka ha become the first with 2,208 points. In this category, a Mongolian D.Amartuvshin is the 7th with 1,663 points.
A gold medalist of the 2014 Asian Games and Asian champion D.Tomorkhuleg IMS has kept his third place in men's under 66kg division, having 1,882 points. The Ukrainian and Russian have been listed above him.
Olympic bronze medalist Mongolian S.Nyam-Ochir stepped down to the 13th place in men -73kg category, with 1,070 points.
Once topped the ranking of women's -57 kg division, international master of sports Mongolian D.Sumya has been ranked 3rd with 2,024 points, following Romanian and Portuguese.
Having captured a gold medal in the Tyumen Grand Prix, international master of sports Ts.Monkhzaya went up to 8th place in women's -63kg category, whereas Ts.Naranjargal IMS has stepped down to 13th place in women's -70kg division.
Mongolia PM awards Gwangju Universiade medalists
July 23 (GoGo Mongolia) Government of Mongolia has paid honors to the athletes and coaches of Team Mongolia, which participated in the Gwangju Universiade organized in South Korea.
Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg emphasized that Government of Mongolia supports the successful athletes financially starting 1998 and noted that the initiative is to continue and wished success in their future endeavours.
Government of Mongolia is awarding D.Sumiya, Judo wrestler and Gwangju 2015 Gold Medalist with MNT 30 million, E.Davaaakhuu, Shooting athlete and Gwangju 2015 Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winner with MNT 36 million, M.Urantsetseg, Judo wrestler and Gwangju 2015 Bronze medal winner with MNT 10 million, E.Badamgarav, Shooting athlete and Gwangju 2015 Bronze medal winner with MNT 6 million.
Inspired by Zaya: Chinguun Balkhjav, Filmmaker
July 24 (gogo.mn) "Future of Mongolia is not just mining. Instead I believe our future is dependent on educated, intelligent and multifaceted youth". I want to proudly introduce those talented and educated young professionals to others.
B.Chinguun has proved to Mongolian audience that short film is the independent field in the cinematography. Many would have never heard him talking in English. We have had pleasure to discuss the Mongolian film industry, capacity of Mongolian actors and how the characters are cast. Chinguun said that next door for Mongolians is the Hollywood, he is the son of L.Balkhjav, State Honored Art Personality and composer.
For full interview please click here.
Brothers start epic rally to Mongolia – Hastings Observer, July 25
6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
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