Wednesday, August 12, 2015

[Aspire rail deal approved; Modun sells to Tian Poh; Canrim on license spree; rare-earth permits signed-off; and SGK passes mass pardon]

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original


Overseas Market

Cabinet approves signing concession agreement with Aspire Mining to build Erdenet-Ovoot railway

August 11 ( At the regular Cabinet meeting of the Government held on August 11, 2015, Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat and the Invest Mongolia Agency are authorized to establish the concession agreement on building railroad to connect Erdenet with Ovoot coal mine.

The Government permitted the Minister of Industry to sign the "build-operate-transfer" agreement on behalf of Mongolian Government with "Northern Railways" LLC, an Aspire Mining subsidiary.

The State Policy on Railways, ratified by State Great Khural (Parliament) decree No.32 in 2010, states immediate construction planning of Western region railway have to be implemented in compliance with the mineral deposits' future utilization and natural relief in connection with regional development strategy and population in the region. Also in accordance with the General Guidelines of Mongolia for Economic and Social Development in 2015, ratified by decree No.53 in 2014, construction of 500 km Mogoin Gol - Erdenet railroad have to be implemented using non-budget funds, or by concession agreement.

By the Program on Measures for Overcoming Economic Difficulties, construction of Erdenet - Ovoot railroad are supposed to start in the second half of this year.

The company entering into an concession agreement will provide the estimated cost of USD 1.3 billion, as reflected in the prefeasibility study, for completing the construction of the 547 km railroad within five years, according to the draft agreement. The project execution, railroad and base structure, will be transferred to the Government after 30 years.

Ovoot coking coal deposit, which is located in Tsetserleg Sum, Khuvsgul Aimag, is the second largest in Mongolia and has estimated reserves of 255 million tonnes, with growing potential. The new railroad will transport 13.5 million tons of coal from Ovoot to Murun Sum, the center of Khuvsgul Aimag, and 22.2 million tons of coal from Murun to Erdenet city per year.

Link to article


Mines to Be Connected by Railroad Built on Concession AgreementsMontsame, August 11

547 km railway from Erdenet City to Khuvsgul Ovoot deposit to be, August 11


Trading halted mid-session. AKM last traded A$0.016

Aspire Mining in Trading Halt Pending Announcement on Railway Concession

August 11, Aspire Mining Ltd. (ASX:AKM) -- Pursuant to Listing Rule 17.1, Aspire Mining Limited hereby requests that its securities be placed in an immediate trading halt.

The reason for the request is an announcement regarding the resolution by the Cabinet of the Mongolian Government to enter into a concession agreement with Northern Railways LLC, an Aspire subsidiary, in respect of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway.

The trading halt is requested until the earlier of the announcement to the market on the rail concession agreement or the opening of trading on Thursday 13 August 2015.

The Company is not aware of any reason why the trading halt should not be granted.

Link to release


TPO traded flat at 21c on the announcement yesterday, TPO down 1c to 20c today mid-session. MOU last traded 10c 27 July

Tian Poh: Acquisition of Nuurst Thermal Coal Project from Modun and Capital Raising

August 11 --

Key Points:

      Tian Poh Resources Limited (ASX: TPO) has signed an agreement to purchase Modun Resources LLC in Mongolia, the 100% owner of the Nuurst Thermal Coal Project (Project) from Modun Resources Limited (ASX: MOU).

      The Project has JORC (2004) Reportable Coal Resource of 478.3 million tonnes (326.1 million tonnes Measured, 103.8 million tonnes Indicated, 48.4 million tonnes Inferred), which was compiled in November 2012 by consultancy CSA Global Pty Ltd.

      The Project is a wholly owned exploration licence located 120 kms south east of Ulaanbaatar in an area with a number of operating coal mines and is 6 km from existing rail infrastructure allowing direct access onto the existing Trans-Mongolian Railway line.

      TPO intends to immediately commence planning development of the Project.

      US$100,000 will be paid to purchase the Project

      US$2,110,000 will be paid to acquire debt financing provided to the Project.

      A deposit of US$100,000 has been paid and US$2,110,000 will be paid upon closing in approximately 14 business days.

      TPO is in discussions with a number of prospective investors to participate in a private placement to assist with funding.

Link to full release

Link to MOU release


TRQ closed -2.21% Tuesday to US$3.32, -6.21% in a month

Oyu Tolgoi: one step in a long journey

By Russel Taylor

August 11 (World Coal) Much has been written about the Mongolian government and Rio Tinto's recent agreement over the Oyu Tolgoi copper deposit. But while the Oyu Tolgoi agreement is positive and welcoming news for the country and its 3 million people, I feel that its significance has been greatly exaggerated. In itself, it is not a silver bullet for the Mongolian economy, foreign direct investment or the mining industry. But it is a much needed first step: one step in a long journey.

Mongolia's economic rollercoaster ride

To grasp just how significant the fall of Mongolia's economy has been you only need to look back over the last 5 yr. In 2010, it burst onto the world economic stage as mining started to have a much needed positive impact. Then in 2011, Mongolia stunned the world of economics by having the world's fastest growing economy and the world's most improving currency. The mining boom was in full swing and everyone wanted to invest and be part of it. Foreign direct investment soared, unemployment was low and Mongolia looked to be the mining and investment capital of the world. But it was short lived. As fast as Mongolia burst onto the global economic stage, it faded away. A wave of anti-foreigner hysteria backed by political interference in the investment law, has seen Mongolia's dream run come crashing down.

Coal is a significant opportunity for Mongolia

Mongolia has some of the largest mineral deposits in the world of coal, copper, gold, molybdenum, fluorspar, uranium, tin and tungsten deposits, among others. If Mongolia is to reach its full mineral resource potential, it cannot rely on Oyu Tolgoi alone. It should be noted that Oyu Tolgoi will not be in full production for at least another 6 yr. Therefore Mongolia must also fully develop all of its resources – and most importantly its vast coal deposits. Oyu Tolgoi has overshadowed another major development in Mongolia's mining industry: the completion of the Tavan Tolgoi coal tender. The Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit is located south, in the Gobi Desert. It is 540 km from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and 240 km from the Chinese border. It contains in excess of 7 billion t of high-quality metallurgical and thermal coal reserves. It has been described as one of the largest untapped coal reserves in the world.

In December 2014, a Tri-Consortium of China's Shenhua Energy, Japan's Sumitomo and Mongolia's Energy Resources won the tender to develop the Tavan Tolgoi deposit in Mongolia. Several months on and this US$4 billion project is stalled in negotiations. The main sticking points are the outstanding loan to the Aluminium Corp. of China and the Build-Own-Operate-Transfer railway agreement. This could be a mirror image of the protracted Oyu Tolgoi agreement and stall the economy further. Tavan Tolgoi is a major mining project for Mongolia and it could provide approximately 30 – 50% of Mongolia's GDP. However it is much more important, as it is the litmus test for all of the other mining projects that are yet to commence. Failure to successfully develop Tavan Tolgoi in the short term will further erode the confidence that international investors have in Mongolia and may result in a continued restriction of foreign direct investment. Mongolia does not have the wealth to develop its mining industry; it needs foreign direct investment. It also needs the expertise and experience of foreign individuals and companies, to ensure that the industry develops efficiently and sustainably. International mining can and will assist strengthening Mongolia's economy, provide much needed jobs and the development of local businesses.


The announcement of the agreement with Rio Tinto with regards to the Oyu Tolgoi copper project is very positive news for Mongolia. However, it does not signal an immediate return to a very strong Mongolian economy or an immediate go ahead for the development of Mongolia's mining industry. It is one step in a long journey and the Mongolian Government has much work ahead to rebuild Mongolia's economy and international reputation.

The mass exit of foreign investors and their funds will not be solved overnight. It may take years for foreign investors to regain confidence in Mongolia and return. To ensure a return of foreign direct investment and a prosperous and sustainable economy, the Mongolian government has three main tasks:

Formalise the Oyu Tolgoi agreement so that it has no more debate and delays.

Formalise the Tavan Toligoi agreement and ensure that it commences in the near future.

Secure the return of foreign direct investment and Mongolia's reputation as a fair and stable business environment.

If these three objectives can be completed, Mongolia will have a great platform to build a robust economy and a bright future for its growing population.

Edited by Jonathan Rowland. This article first appeared in the August issue of World Coal. 

About the Author: Russel Taylor has over 20 yr of experience in the coal mining industry as a mining engineer, project director and mining executive. Most recently, he was Executive Vice President and Project Director at Reliance Coal Resources in India.

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Local Market

MSE News for August 10: Top 20 -0.27%, Turnover 2.8 Million Stocks, 954.2 Thousand T-Bills

Ulaanbaatar, August 10 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Monday, a total of 1,750 units of 11 JSCs were traded costing MNT three million 758 thousand and 565.00.

"Merex" /1,000 units/, "Remikon" /295 units/, "Gobi" /174 units/, "APU" /99 units/ and "Baganuur" /65 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Gobi" (MNT one million and 566 thousand), "Talkh Chikher" (MNT 391 thousand), "APU" (MNT 344 thousand and 530), "Sharyn Gol" (MNT 210 thousand and 600), and "Baganuur" (MNT 182 thousand).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 295 billion 972 million 162 thousand and 229. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,323.12, decreasing 0.27% and the all index of MSE was 955.19, decreasing 0.13% against the previous day.

Link to article

Link to MSE trading report


MSE News for August 11: Top 20 -0.26%, ₮3.84 Million Stocks, ₮9.69 Billion T-Bills

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Tuesday, a total of 100,858 units of 14 JSCs were traded costing MNT nine billion 691 million 210 thousand and 413.00.

"APU" /242 units/, "HBOil" /112 units/, "Aduun Chuluun" /100 units/, "Sor" /100 units/ and "Tavan Tolgoi" /75 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Darkhan Nekhii" (MNT 895 thousand), "APU" (MNT 836 thousand), "Gobi" (MNT 374 thousand and 900), "Tavan Tolgoi" (MNT 247 thousand and 500), and "Aduun Chuluun" (MNT 155 thousand).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 293 billion 121 million 989 thousand and 268. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,288.28, decreasing 0.26% and the all index of MSE was 953.54, decreasing 0.17% against the previous day.

Link to article


10 Billion 12-Week 14.118% T-Bills Sold via MSE with 24.5 Billion Bids

August 11 (MSE) On 11 August 2015, the bond orders of 12 weeks Government bonds with 14.118% annual interest, placed on order book, and Ministry of Finance supplied 100,000 or MNT10.0 billion out of total order 244,921 pieces or MNT24.5 billion.   

Bellow member brokerage companies participated in the bond trading as follows:  

Copmanies' Name






Tenger Capital



Golomt Securities









Altan khoromsog



Daewoo Secutities Mongolia






Standard Investment





Link to release


Erchim Engineering to Issue First Ever Insured Corporates Bonds on MSE

August 11 (MSE) On 18 June 2015, Mongolian Stock Exchange and Mongolian Insurers Association signed the Memorandum of Understanding resulted the first ever insured corporate bonds registered at Mongolian Stock Exchange. 

This insured corporate bonds called "Erchim Bond" issued by "Erchim Engineering" LLC, its underwriters are "Golomt Bank" and "Golomt Securities" Securities Company. "Soyombo Daatgal" LLC is 100% insurer. 

Buy order of "Erchim Bond" starting from 12 August 2015 to 21 August 2015.

Link to release

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BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, August 11 Close


































































































Bank rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮1,980 Sell ₮1,993), Khan (Buy ₮1,980 Sell ₮1,993), Golomt (Buy ₮1,978 Sell ₮1,993), XacBank (Buy ₮1,983 Sell ₮1,993), State Bank (Buy ₮1,980 Sell ₮1,993)

MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:

Link to rates


BoM FX auction: US$14.9m sold at 1,988, CNY85m at 320.11, accepts $59m MNT, $10m USD swap offers

August 11 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on August 11th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 30.55 million in a rate between MNT 1983.80-1989.52 and CNY130.0 million in a rate between MNT 319.55-320.51 from local commercial banks. The BOM sold USD 14.9 million in a rate with MNT 1988.00 and CNY 85.0 million in a rate with MNT 320.11.

On August 11th, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer equivalent to USD 59.0 million and USD Swap agreement bid offer equivalent to USD 10.0 million from local commercial banks and the BOM has accepted the offers.

Link to release


BoM issues 163 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding -0.45% to ₮488.95 billion

August 10 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 163.0 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release


Copper Has Been Getting Pummeled, and Hedge Funds Say More Pain Is Coming

August 10 (Bloomberg) Hedge funds are betting that the worst is yet to come for copper.

Prices for the metal used in everything from homes to cars to appliances are stuck in the worst slump in more than two years. Stockpiles jumped 11 percent in Shanghai last week. With China's economy showing little signs of recovery, money managers are increasing wagers that copper will fall further, pushing their net-short position to the most bearish since April 2013, U.S. government data show.

China accounts for about 40 percent of global demand, and consumption is slowing at the same time that supplies are becoming more plentiful. Morgan Stanley predicts that while mine production was stagnant in 2014, output will rise almost 5 percent this year and keep growing through 2018.

"Copper is very oversupplied," said Dan Heckman, national investment consultant at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, which oversees about $127 billion in Kansas City, Missouri. "Until you get more balanced supply and demand, I think copper continues to have a very challenging time."

Futures in New York dropped 1.3 percent last week, a sixth straight loss and the longest slide since June 2013. Prices touched $2.3075 a pound on Monday, the lowest since July 2009.

Speculators held a net-short position in copper of 33,547 futures and options contracts as of Aug. 4, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released three days later. That compares with 25,746 a week earlier.

Commodity Slump

The money managers' outlook for copper could be a bad omen for commodity bulls, because the metal has historically been used as an indicator for what's to come in raw materials and as a gauge of global expansion. The Bloomberg Commodity Index dropped 1.4 percent last week, a fifth straight loss and the longest slide since January. Eighteen of the 22 products tracked by the gauge are stuck in bear markets.

Disruptions at mines could help stem the plunge for copper.

In Chile, the world's largest source of the metal, protests by employees of companies hired by Codelco stretched into a third week. Workers who stormed the miner's Salvador operation on July 22 took over its Hales mine last week. The state-owned company estimated damages at $15 million.

Freeport-McMoRan Inc., the biggest publicly traded producer, said July 28 it will review its mine plans and may cut output of copper and molybdenum to preserve supplies for when market conditions improve.

Supply Disruptions

"The base-metals producers perhaps have done a lot more than the energy sector in terms of cutting capex to get ahead of the game," said Frances Hudson, Edinburgh-based global thematic strategist at Standard Life Investments, which oversees $383 billion. "In the copper market, we've seen some supply disruptions, which perhaps give an inkling that there's light at the end of the tunnel."

Ample inventories can help to cushion supplies even amid mine stoppages. Stockpiles tracked by the London Metal Exchange rose for a sixth week and are now at 354,125 metric tons, the highest since January 2014. In warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange, inventories climbed 11 percent to 114,000 tons last week, the biggest gain since Feb. 26.

More Production

Production is rising after prices more than quadrupled from 2000 through the end of 2012, as miners struggled to keep up with China's booming economy. Futures in New York are heading for a third straight annual loss, with increased output coming to market amid slowing consumption from Asia.

There are more signs of abundant supplies. The costs to treat and refine ore concentrate in China climbed about 5 percent in July from a month earlier, the first gain in 10 months, Bloomberg Intelligence estimates. The fees usually rise when production outstrips demand.

"The pattern of lower prices is likely to continue until we see some signs of stability in the Chinese economy and see some signs of a bottoming," said Alan Gayle, senior strategist for Atlanta-based Ridgeworth Investments, which has about $42.5 billion in assets. "The bears have a stranglehold on the market."

Link to article


Prof. Ken Schoolland: There is huge economic growth potential for Mongolia

By S. Odbayar

August 10 ( On Tuesday, 11 August 2015, the Economic Club of Ulaanbaatar will present Ken Schoolland, Associate Professor of Economics and Political Science from Hawaii, to speak on the topic of "Trade, Migration and Entrepreneurship: Path to Prosperity" from 12-2.00pm at the Tuushin Hotel.

Ken Schoolland is an Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu. Schoolland is President of the International Society for Individual Liberty, and a member of the Board of Scholars for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and of the Mont Pelerin Society.

He has authored The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey, now published in 77 editions in 50 languages. Based on the book, four plays have toured Africa, Europe, and Kazakhstan. The book release will be held on August 10th at the Internom Bookstore at 11 AM.

Let's start with how have you become familiar with the Silk Road Foundation?

Mr Tsenguun first has attended the conference that we organized in 2012 in Shanghai Austrian Economic Summit, which is being organized every year with my organization International Society for Individual Liberty where we have an international reach with our audience. We have a lot of camps around the world trying to educate young people about free market ideas. Because I met him and they have published my book previously, Free Market book, which makes the 80th edition of my book published in 50 languages. The second edition in Mongolian language will be released on Monday, August 10th.

Link to interview (includes interview video)


BoM to Host Lecture Series on Market Quality & Economic Development

August 11 ( The Bank of Mongolia is conducting a series of economics lectures, in accordance with which it has invited world-class experts and global international economic analysts to Mongolia. In the framework of this program, Professor of Law at Tokyo University, Ota Shozo, and Professor of Economics at Kyoto University Yano Makoto will visit the Bank of Mongolia on 28th August. Their lectures will be organized under the title of "Relation between the Market Quality and Economic Development".

Link to article


Minister Burmaa meets farmers to discuss pressing harvesting issues

August 11 (UB Post) On Monday, Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa received agronomists and farmers from Tuv, Selenge and Bulgan provinces, the major agricultural centers of Mongolia.

Two weeks ago representatives from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture visited the agricultural regions to meet with the heads of their food and agriculture organizations to exchange views on the general conditions of summer, harvesting, and crops.

The industry representatives told the ministry that approximately 280,000 tons of wheat will be harvested from 60 to 65 percent of all crop fields.

The sides shared views on crop conditions, preparedness for harvesting, and the choice of technology for harvesting in accordance with drought conditions. The Minister decided to work on a recommendation for harvest technology and present it to farmers.

In regards to the current conditions, the agronomists asked the Minister to postpone loan repayment for the Crop Promotion Fund for a year, focus on sales, and ensure preparedness of the necessary techniques and technology for the autumn harvest.

Minister Burmaa said, "The crop commission and authorities of the provinces' food and agriculture departments are working and receiving information and data from you. As for now, we estimate that 280,000 tons of wheat will be harvested. Also, the Cabinet resolved funding for the 80 billion MNT required for building wheat and grain reserves, and 10 billion MNT for preparing green feed.

"First of all, we will purchase domestic wheat that meets standard requirements. We will not always face bad weather conditions, so you need to buy agricultural equipment with watering systems with funding from good harvest years. The Ministry will support this issue, also, a law on crops includes tax exemptions when using surface water. However, the Parliament will decide on the issue of bonuses. Wheat prices are not determined by the minister, but are defined in accordance with market principles and futures trade amounts."

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Politics & Legal

Mongolia Parliament Passes Bill on Pardon in Closed Session

August 12 ( On August 11, 2015, the standing committee on Legal affairs of the State Great Hural (Parliament) discussed the final reading of the draft law on Pardon behind the closed doors.

The draft law on Pardon of Mongolia was submitted by the government on July 03, 2015 and at the afternoon irregular plenary session of the parliament held yesterday /2015.08.11/, the final reading of the draft law on Pardon was also discussed and ratified behind the closed doors.

Consequently, a parliament resolution to form a Commission was agreed to consider at the standing committee on Legal affairs scheduled today /2015.08.12/ at 09:30 am.

Moreover, if an issue to appoint some members of government is submitted, the Council under chairman of the parliament will renew the agenda for this week.

Link to release


Mongolia Adopts Amnesty for Hidden Assets to Curb Shadow Economy

By Michael Kohn

August 10 (Bloomberg) In a bid to curb Mongolia's shadow economy and increase tax revenue, the country's parliament adopted legislation that offers amnesty to individuals and companies that declare hidden assets.

The Law on Economic Transparency, which passed Friday, protects people and companies from administrative sanctions and criminal punishment when they declare previously undisclosed assets. The protection doesn't apply to political appointees or civil servants.

The law seeks fresh ways to stimulate an economy hurt by weak commodity prices and disputes with investors in the country's nascent mining sector. Gross domestic product expanded 7.8 percent last year down from record growth of 17.3 percent growth in 2011.

The measure was designed to curb Mongolia's underground economy and reduce extortion tactics by government officials, Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, a member of parliament, said by e-mail. About one-third of business activities are conducted off the books, she said. The amnesty is effective from August 7 until the end of the year.

An earlier law that pardoned tax cheats brought in 4.5 trillion tugriks when it was enacted in 2008, or about $3.8 billion at the exchange rate at the time, according to Oyungerel. The program could bring in even more, she said.

"The immediate impact will be a more legitimate economy," Oyungerel said. "Our transition period with a significant portion of shadow economy will end with this law and a new, open, transparent economic environment will start."

Luring companies out of the shadows into legitimate business activities will help to boost tax revenue, Bilguun Ankhbayar, chief executive officer of Mongolian Investment Banking Group, said by e-mail. "Because a lot of state procurement now requires companies to be lawful tax-paying entities, I believe many companies will take this opportunity to not be penalized and 'come clean' through this legislation," Bilguun said.

Link to article


Political parties without seats oppose economic amnesty law

August 11 (UB Post) Parliamentarians approved the Law on Economic Transparency last Friday with a majority vote and carried out a discussion of changes to the law yesterday. However, eight political parties without seats in Parliament held a joint press conference yesterday to express their opposition to the law.

"The term Economic Amnesty Law does not exist anywhere in the world. Actually, the official term is Law on Tax Amnesty. Foreign countries follow social ethics and justice when they make such laws effective. Forgiving people for avoiding taxes is an insult to millions of honest tax payers. Further, it spoils taxpayers, creating the expectation that they can avoid paying taxes, as there is an amnesty law," explained General Secretary of the Civil Movement Party D.Sukhjargalmaa at the press conference.

She also stated, "The Economic Amnesty Law is a cheeky method of the corrupt to remain unpunished and innocent, avoiding liability, and to protect themselves. In the end, innocent people bear all the responsibilities on their backs. A man who stole 20,000 MNT is sentenced for up to five years in prison. Meanwhile high-ranking authorities who have stolen billions are to remain unpunished, avoiding their responsibilities."

The representatives of political parties outside of Parliament informed that they are delivering a demand to the President of Mongolia to veto the economic amnesty law now under discussion. If the President does not agree to their demands they will hold a demonstration at Chinggis Square, calling for citizen support, and they will approach the Constitutional Court. If they do not find success, the demonstration will shift to a hunger strike, stressed the party members.

Link to article


Cabinet appoints working group on implementing Economic Transparency Law

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) Aside from allowing the launches of concession agreements and acquainting with the Mongolia-China working group works, the Cabinet also resolved some other matters on Monday's regular meeting. Among them was the adopting of the Plan and Budget for the celebration of the 800th birth anniversary of Khubilai Khaan, being marked this year.

- The Cabinet set up a working group in charge of preparing the draft regulation on implementing the newly adopted by parliament Law on Promoting Economic Transparency.

Link to article


Progress on Establishing Zamyn-Uud/Ereen FTZ Present to Cabinet

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) On Monday, the Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat presented to the cabinet the works of Mongolia-China working group in charge of studying the matter of establishing a Cross-Border Economic Cooperation Freezone, basing on Zamyn-Uud and Ereen border ports.

Establishing such a freezone has been agreed by the Memorandum of Understanding signed during the visit of the Chinese president Xi Jinping to Mongolia, held in August of 2014.

The working group has held three meetings and studies the practices of the "Khorgos" crossborder freezone of China and Kazakhstan. They have also taken part in the investors' forums, held in Zamyn-Uud of Mongolia and in Inner Mongolia of China.

In 2014, a total of trades worth one billion US dollars, 1.9 million passengers, 522 thousand vehicles and 400 thousand trains crossed Zamyn-Uud port. Taking the fact into account, the working group considered that a base condition for establishing crossborder freezone has been provided in the region.

Link to article


Mongolia to approve exploration permit applications for rare-earth, radioactive elements

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) Aside from allowing the launches of concession agreements and acquainting with the Mongolia-China working group works, the Cabinet also resolved some other matters on Monday's regular meeting. Among them was the adopting of the Plan and Budget for the celebration of the 800th birth anniversary of Khubilai Khaan, being marked this year.

- They also considered the issues regarding the company proposals for obtaining rare-earth and radioactive elements exploration licenses, and resolved to approach the related laws and regulations.  

Link to article


MPP demands PM annul acting labor minister's 'illegal' appointments

August 11 ( MPP Leader M.Enhbold and MPP Group Leader at State Great Khural S.Byambatsogt delivered claim to PM on illegal appointments and turnover made by the Minister of Labor S.Erdene and required to cancel the appointments before the break of State Great Khural`s plenary session.

Minister of Labor S.Erdene issued an order in accordance with 166th resolution of the Government to dismiss the numbers of head of Ministry of Labour Organization and the Labor Department as well as made illegal appointments. Specifically, he illegally released total of 18 people including two executives and 16 civil servants who were selected by the open selection conducted among public and re-appointed citizens who were not taken civil service exam and not registered in the reserve and violated the Constitution Law of Mongolia and the Civil Service Law.

Even Ministry of Labor S.Erdene has not provided a legal requirement to dismiss heads of Labor Department at aimag and soum after discussing with the Governor, noted at the claim.  

Link to article


Legal Standing Committee Deliberating Amnesty Bill in Closed Session

August 11 ( Today, the Legal Standing Committee is holding its first debate on the "Amnesty Law", following which Parliament will discuss the draft law in closed session. Yesterday, the Mongolian People's Party Group also discussed the "Amnesty Law". The members of the group, likewise, refused to give information about the meeting.

In addition, the Justice Union Group also held a meeting about the "Amnesty Law" yesterday. The chief of the Justice Union Group, Z.Bayanselenge, informed that their group is paying high attention to this important document.

Link to article


Denzen, on hunger strike, files human rights complaint

August 11 ( The ex-deputy chairman of the Governmental Secretariat Authority, G.Denzen has been held in prison for three months pending trial for alleged abuse position. As a mark of protest against his captivity, G.Denzen declared a hunger strike. Since the hunger strike began last Friday, Denzen's health has deteriorated with a loss of consciousness and various health complications. 

G.Denzen , currently being held in Prison number 461, sent a complaint message to the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) stating that: "I have been in prison for 82 days, during which time I have lost 14 kg and have had a re-occurrence of liver, spleen and lung diseases". Currently, G.Denzen has not disclosed the reply from the NHRC.

Link to article


Khentii-Dornod Road to Be Completed Within the Year

Bishkek, August 11 (AKIpress) - A project for construction of the road leading from Ondorkhaan (a town located 290 km east of Ulaanbaatar) to Choibalsan (fourth-largest city in Mongolia) has been scheduled to be completed this year, according to the session of the government.

The Cabinet of Ministers of Mongolia decided to allocate 19.3 billion togrog ($9.7 million) in additional funding for the project.

The relevant agencies were ordered to set control over the project's implementation and put the 143-kilometer road into operation as scheduled.

Link to article


Mogi: soooooo, what changed?

Mongolia Parliament Passes Firearms Bill

August 10 ( The Mongolian Parliament has approved the draft "Fire-Arms Law" during the non-regular Recall Meeting on 7th August 2015. M.P. Ts.Oyungerel presented the final conclusions of the draft legislation Parliament went on to vote for the approval of the law. The "Fire-Arms Law" and other related legislation was approved with 76% of the votes. The "Fire-Arms Law" has been updated three times since 2001.

Link to article


Mining Sector to Adopt Open Resource Reporting System

Ulaanbaatar, August 10 (MONTSAME) Ministry of Mining released last week the monthly report "Transparent Mining". The Ministry announced that it has adopted MRC-Code, Mongolian model reporting system, which has been developed by the sector's associations and NGOs.

The system will facilitate open reporting of exploration works' results, mineral reserves and deposit capacities, and it has been developed basing on the CRIRSCO-Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards.

The Ministry authorities said that they have been collaborating with the Mongolian Stock Exchange in order to price the mineral reserves, with reasonable face value using the international pricing tools.

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Mongolia's political growing pains continue ahead of 2016 poll

Terrence Edwards in Ulaanbaatar, August 11, 2015 (bne) Young democracies such as Mongolia's, which this year celebrates a quarter of a century since holding its first free election, face enormous challenges in maintaining government stability, improving the living standards of its population and battling institutional corruption. Growing the economy can help achieve these goals, but it's a difficult feat balancing the wants of a constituency with that of investors – something Mongolia is finding to its cost.

Mongolia appears unable to establish political stability long enough to agree the development of multi-billion-dollar projects with foreign investors that could open the door to another mining boom for this country rich in copper and coal. The latest setback came on August 5, when Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg's Democratic Party removed a party from the grand coalition government that some felt was the source of conflict, but political infighting within the Democratic Party's own ranks remains.

A bill passed by the parliament will see Saikhanbileg retain his post under the reformed government, but, for now, remaining members of his cabinet will take on the duties of the six ousted Mongolian People's Party (MPP) ministers. The reshuffle will inevitably result in some loss of voting power for the Saikhanbileg government. The grand coalition now includes 47 out of the 76 lawmakers in the parliament, including 35 members from his Democratic Party.

A split with the MPP from what was a five-party grand coalition had been expected in the lead-up to the parliamentary election scheduled for July 2016, but came sooner than expected. Parliament still has not decided on crucial mining projects that Saikhanbileg was counting on to give the economy a boost before the election. "Whatever little political and national consensus there was on major projects... we argue that there will be even less with MPP becoming the opposition," Dale Choi wrote in a note to subscribers for his research company Mongolian Metals & Mining.

Choi worries the government break-up could hurt Mongolia's investment position by signaling to investors a return to instability. Mongolia's president, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, has a similar opinion, writing in a letter to the government that the change up could result in a "negative impact on society, economy, and the country's reputation in the international arena."

Investors began to lose interest in Mongolia after numerous disputes over mining projects made the authorities appear too difficult to cooperate with. Consistent declines in foreign investment from 2012 to 2014 were followed by slowing growth from 12.3% to 7.8%, respectively.

Friend or foe?

The MPP, which will be the Democrats' main rival in the election next year, joined the government after Saikhanbileg took over from ousted prime minister Norov Altankhuyag late last year. However, the Democrats in recent months had begun calling for the removal of the MPP, arguing they were undermining the government and acting as a roadblock to passing legislation. 

Getting deals such as an investment agreement worth $4bn for the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine – the country's largest, which is owned by the government – will be harder in the lead-up to the July 2016 election. Mining deals with investors are often unpopular with voters, who see mineral deposits as a form of public wealth to be shared among citizens. In the last election in 2012, many politicians campaigned on resource nationalism platforms. Saikhanbileg hoped that the grand coalition government would hold every party equally accountable for mining deals and ease worries of attacks once the campaign season kicked off.

Toronto-listed Centerra Gold is also waiting on a decision from parliament after it twice rejected deals for the Gatsuurt gold mine. Labelled a strategically important mine to Mongolia, the government is entitled to at least 34% ownership, but it can choose a smaller stake in the project in return for higher royalty payments to the state. 

Own worst enemy

Although the Democrats may have rooted out some disobedient lawmakers from the MPP, there is growing disharmony amongst themselves. Although Saikhanbileg is head of the government, it is Parliamentary Speaker Zandaakhuu Enkhbold who leads the Democratic Party's executive committee. Since they agreed to the arrangement last year, the two politicians have often been at odds with one another. Enkhbold went over Saikhanbileg's head earlier this year by blocking at the last moment the investment deal for Tavan Tolgoi with a private consortium led by China's Shenhua Energy.

So when the Democrat's executive committee led by the speaker agreed that the MPP had to go, Saikhanbileg had no choice but to tear apart the government that he had so painstakingly put together. "[The] PM appears to have had no choice but to follow instruction of DP, led by Parliament Speaker Z. Enkhbold," wrote Choi.

This kind of inflighting has made the public even more cynical about government. Mongolia's transition to a democracy from a Soviet satellite state was followed by a decade of economic stagnation and the collapse of industry that had been maintained by the Soviet regime.

Many had hoped mining would bring about social change, but others feel it has only widened income disparity and made government officials more corrupt. "The challenge is how to make the politicians more accountable to the citizens and the politics transparent," says Erdene Bat-Uul, mayor of the capital Ulaanbaatar and one of the original leaders of the 1990 Democratic Revolution. "We need to follow the letter and the spirit of the constitution."

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Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold Receives Delegates from JBIC

August 11 ( On August 11, 2015, Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) Mr. Zandakhuu ENKHBOLD received in his office delegates from Japan Bank for International Cooperation headed by Mr. Tadashi Maeda, Senior Managing Director of the JBIC.

At the beginning of meeting, Senior Managing Director T.Maeda thanked the Chairman Z.Enkhbold for accepting and during the meeting, the parties exchanged views on issues to invest in infrastructure development in Asia.

At the meeting, head of Mongolia-Japan parliamentary group at the State Great Hural, MP D.Gankhuyag, legal policy adviser to the speaker of parliament A.Gansukh and other officials from both sides were present.

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Mongolian judges learn the legal side of Vegas

August 11 (Las Vegas Review-Journal) When a group of tourists visits Las Vegas, the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse doesn't usually make the list of must-see spots. That wasn't the case for four Mongolian judges who spent most of a one-week visit in government buildings.

The group touched down in the city July 25 and left for home August 1. Stops were made at traditional attractions such as the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. But the delegates were here to learn.

Through arrangements by six Southern Nevada Rotary clubs and the Open World Leadership Center, the delegates met Judge Lloyd George, visited the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and toured Family Courts in Clark County, to name a few.

The organizations have coordinated to bring leaders from post-Soviet countries to the United States since 1999. This gives them an opportunity to take their insight on the American legal system to their countries.

The four visiting judges deal with criminal courts in Mongolia. Munkhuu Dashdorj and Otgonjargal Tsedev serve as chief judges in two Mongolian provinces.

The delegates shared their experience through an interpreter.

"I'm very pleased because ... we are here to obtain a lot of intellectual knowledge," said Dashdorj, who has been a judge for 13 years. "I think of this opportunity as a very special one because it is our interest area."

Mongolia has had a democratic government for only 25 years. The country's first election in 1990 ended decades of political turbulence with China as well as conflict between its own inner and outer regions.

Open World requires a host judge from every destination. George has taught visitors about the American legal system since the program's creation.

"I think it's a very good idea," he said. "Typically we have large numbers of judges from foreign countries who come to Washington, D.C., to spend some time, and then they're sent out to different areas of the country to spend a week there."

Tsedev, a chief judge for two years, was interested in the differences between the countries' justice systems.

"There's just so much to learn that really pertains to our experiences in terms of Mongolian justice systems," she said. "If we wanted it to be changed in the future … a pretty good example to follow is the U.S. justice system."

George has hosted Baltic nations, Russia and other countries. Even though he has enjoyed it each year, he said this one will likely be his last.

"I'm really impressed with the Mongolians," he said. "They're really a remarkable people, and I'm impressed with this little group of men and women."

Before returning to Mongolia, Dashdorj expressed his gratitude for the experience.

"I can't express how invaluable the intellectual investment is for putting this amazing investment to us through the Open World program, the Rotary Club, Judge George," he said. "The people of Las Vegas have contributed not only to our knowledge, but also to the fellowship and friendship of our two countries."

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Chatham House: The Resource Curse Revisited

A new paper finds that while natural resources may provide low-income countries with a significant development opportunity, the prevailing extractives-led growth agenda is in urgent need of re-evaluation.

August 4 (Chatham House)


·         This paper challenges the view that the 'resource curse' – for which so many academics found evidence in previous decades – has now been laid to rest.

·         During the commodities boom of the past decade, a number of influential policy and corporate institutions have encouraged poor countries to capitalize on below-ground resources for economic growth and development. The key assumption is that improved management of the extractives sector will enable it to spearhead positive national development and avoid resource curse effects such as declining global competitiveness in the rest of the economy and a widening wealth gap. This assumption continues to influence governance advice and country investment choices.

·         The extractives-led growth agenda promoted by donors and international advisers in multilateral banks, consultancies and some development agencies has tended to reinforce domestic, government and investor pressures to pursue a 'fast-track' approach to extractives projects. This appears logical, given the obvious benefits of foreign-investment inflows and export revenues for countries suffering from poverty, lack of infrastructure and high levels of indebtedness.

·         However, there is an urgent need to re-evaluate whether the policy advice stemming from this agenda can serve as an antidote to the negative effects identified in the resource-curse literature. First, there is often a mismatch between governance advice given and the capacity of countries to follow it. Second, the global context has changed: exporters are suffering as a result of the current downturn in commodity prices, while reliance on the sale of high-carbon fuels is challenged by the global shift to lower-carbon technologies and energy efficiency.

·         Extractive revenues should not be viewed as income to be consumed, but as representing a reshuffling of the national portfolio of assets. Converting extractive resources below ground into cash above ground raises key questions about how this cash can be deployed to create productive assets for the future which do not rely on depletable resources.

·         Diversification of the economy away from the resource sector over an appropriate timeframe remains a key priority. In many cases, this will require slower development of projects to allow time for institutional capacity in government and the private sector to develop.

·         More economic and governance capacity needs to be in place before investment begins in a project, to enable investment and eventual revenues to generate real benefits to the rest of the economy, as well as appropriate, sustainable diversification.

Research Paper: The Resource Curse Revisited - PDF | 531.56 KB

The Resource Curse Revisited - Appendix: A Literature Review - PDF | 169.48 KB

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Canrim Development August Update

August 15 -- Canrim Development Pte Ltd. is a resource development company established by a team with a successful Mongolian business track record, operating in the Mongolian resources sector since 1997. Designed as a vehicle to re-enter the Mongolian resource industry in early 2014, Canrim is positioning for resurgence in minerals exploration activity in the country.

In mineral exploration the sharpest growth in the value of a grassroots property occurs when the first evidence of substantial mineralization (preferably metallic) with potential economic value is discovered on or near the property.  This is the focus of Canrim, developing a portfolio of highly prospective grassroots properties on which international third parties can partner with the company.

Since the fall of 2013 Mongolia has realized the need to liberalize its economy in order to re-encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) after protectionist policies in strategic sectors were implemented in 2012. This has seen a re-drafting of the investment  law, which now treats foreign and  domestic investors equally, amendments to the petroleum and minerals law, whereby a more than 5-year moratorium on the issuance of exploration licenses was lifted as the life of licenses was simultaneously extended from nine to twelve years.

On January 26, 2015 the Government of Mongolia officially re-opened the application process  for minerals exploration licenses. And to date Canrim has successfully applied for eleven licenses, receiving certificates for seven. The seven issued licenses, all in western Mongolia, are known as Altai, Burgast, Burkhant, Khonkhor, Khundii, Maanit and Seruun. Additionally, license applications for three additional areas (Khuren morit, Sharga morit and Khar morit) in southern Mongolia are being processed.

Canrim's strategy for license acquisition from the Government and third parties is predicated on leveraging management's geological archive from previous exploration activities, as well as geological databases from the Minerals Resource Authority of Mongolia (MRAM). This approach has led Canrim to focus on regions with known mineralization, but which have received little or no attention in the past.

On the company's 2015 field season, during May and June six Canrim geologists visited sixteen active mineral exploration licenses (seven held by subsidiaries of Canrim and nine by companies with whom Canrim has developed strong relationships) in western and northwestern Mongolia. The purpose of this field trip was to carry out first-pass reconnaissance level prospecting for evidence of potential economic mineralization. The targeted areas included those with types of rock alteration known to be favorable for metallic mineralization as well as those with particular geochemical and geophysical anomalies, while additional areas were prospected if particular rock exposures attracted the team's attention while on site.

Upon completion of field work, 221 rock and rock chip samples were submitted to the Ulaanbaatar facilities of ALS Laboratories for multi-element analysis. Of the 221 samples, 148 were collected from six of the Canrim properties and 73 were taken from six of the non-Canrim properties.

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Uranium Industry set to become major player in Mongolia

August 10 (Radio Prague) Czech company Uranium Industry is pushing to become a major player in uranium mining in Mongolia through its own research and mining projects and a pending US 200 million dollar buy-out of one of its Canadian rivals on the ground.

The Czech Republic's domestic uranium mining industry looks like it is coming to an end with world uranium prices unfavourable for state company Diamo's exploitation of new reserves when its existing deep mine is exhausted in around two or three years' time. But Czech uranium mining know-how appears to be finding much more promising fields abroad. Three years of painstaking negotiations appear to have paid off for private company Uranium Industry in Mongolia.

The Czech firm at the end of July signed an agreement on July 30 with Canadian company Denison Mines for around US 20 million dollars to buy out its 85 percent interest in its Gurvan Saihan joint venture. The joint venture was created in 1994 by the Canadian company, the Mongolian government and Russian company Geologarazvedka to explore and develop uranium deposits, particularly those that could be extracted by leaching, in the south Gobi. The Russian company was later bought out by Denison.

The venture holds four licences covering around 167,000 hectares. Most of the payment depends on mining licences for being granted for Hairhan, Haraat, Gurvan Saihan, and Ulziit with Denison optimistic that they are now pending. The deal should be tied up by September 8. The total uranium reserves at the four sites is estimated to be around 23,000 tonnes. If everything proceeds according to plan then basic uranium, or yellowcake, could be mined and produced already in 2017.

Uranium Industry has meanwhile being working in parallel with an agreement to found its own joint venture with the Mongolian government, Mon-Czech Uranium, signed in June. The joint venture is focused on reserves of around 25,000 tonnes. The business daily E15 say uranium produced in Mongolia could be offered to Czech electricity producer and nuclear power plant operator ČEZ. Failing that, a market could be sought in both India and China, both of whom are embarking on ambitious nuclear construction projects.

Uranium is one of the few global commodities which has appreciated significantly this year, though not to the levels which make continued long term exploitation in the Czech Republic likely. The prices for a pound of uranium has climbed over the last year by around 30 percent to now stand at around US 36 dollars with some analysts expecting the price to rise to US 50 dollars by the end of the year.

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Mongolia-S.Korea Economic Forum Board Members Meet

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) Board members for the Mongolia-Korea Economic Forum, being held at Ikh Tenger of Ulaanbaatar on August 11-12, met today with the S.Korean chairs of the forum on Tuesday.

Present were, the forum founder G.Batkhuu MP, the Board members L.Bold, Su.Batbold, N.Battsereg, S.Odontuya and N.Enkhbold MPs and S.Korean chairman and delegation of the forum. 

G.Batkhuu MP thanked the S.Korean side for their consistent support for the forum, and said he wishes to give more emphasis on the two countries' cooperation in tourism.

He also mentioned that, thanks to the Mongolia-Korea Economic Forum, 20 Mongolian students are studying in the S.Korean universities with scholarships supported by "Polaris" foundation, and that over 800 vegetable growers attended the trainings by S.Korean specialists, held in 40 soums.

Earlier today, the delegation also met with the Chairman of State Great Khural Z.Enkhbold. After the meetings, the S.Korean delegation got acquainted with the Chamber of the State Great Khural and other parts of the State House.

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Speaker Z.Enkhbold meets representatives of Korea-Mongolia Joint Economic, August 11


Tender Notice: Mongolia - Supply of furniture for Tax department

August 5 (UKTI) The Tax Department now invites sealed bids from eligible Bidders for supply of furniture for Tax department of Ulaanbaatar.

The Bidder has to fulfil following requirements of finance and experience.

Revenue: average revenue of last 2 years /2013, 2014/ must be equivalent or offered bid price

Liquidity of assets of potential loan amount to be acquired shall be equivalent: not less than 30% of the offered bid price

Submission of audited financial statement of: last 2 years /2013, 2014/

For more information please contact UKTI Mongolia.

Opportunity Type: General Procurement

Response deadline: 31/08/2015

Deadline: 04/09/2015

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Ligiin Ukhaa: Artisan Cheese in Mongolia

by Jean Joh

Help a cheese farmer buy more cows so he can carry out his dream of crafting artisan style cheese in Mongolia & beyond.

Ulan Bator, Mongolia (Kickstarter) --

The Ligiin Ukhaa Story  

Ligiin Ukhaa is a small farm located about 60 kilometers southwest of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Urtnasan Tumurkhuyag was born on this land, and has lived here with his family ever since. Tumurkhuyag learned to make cheese from a Dutch cheesemaker about 20 years ago, and he has persevered through many hardships to continue in this craft. 

In August 2014, Tumurkhuyag was facing foreclosure and as a result, lost the majority of his herd of over 100 cows. At that time, he met Mike Morrow, the owner of a small business in Mongolia called Steppe Learning, which is involved in English language training. Mike helped to rescue the business and has been partnering with Tumurkhuyag to help this little cheese farm become viable again.

The Need

At full capacity, this small farm should be able to produce 10 metric tons of cheese each year. This would require 100-150 cows, but unfortunately, Tumurkhuyag has only seven cows at present. He has no choice but to purchase milk from his neighbors, which is not only twice as expensive but also means paying cash upfront for a product that will require six months or more before it can be sold for a return.

The Goal  

Our goal for this fundraising project is to raise enough funds to purchase just one dairy cow (approx. $1200-1300 each).  If we are able to reach our goal of $1500 for this project, then every additional $1500 will allow us to buy one more cow.  It would be great if we could purchase up to 10 cows which, along with the current 7 cows and the 5 calves born this spring, should be able to produce about 25% of the necessary milk needed to produce at full capacity.  But for now, we'll focus on getting ONE COW AT A TIME!

The Mongolian Distinctive  

Although Mongolia is not traditionally known for European-style cheeses, it is actually an ideal place due to the high quality of milk. Not only is the environment still relatively natural and untouched, but the range-fed cows produce extremely nutritious milk as would be needed by calves in a harsh environment. This results in a cheese that is rich and delicious, and it's not so far-fetched to imagine that Mongolia may eventually become well-known as a place where high-quality Western cheeses are made. We are hoping that Ligiin Ukhaa will not only thrive as a business but quite possibly become a model that can be replicated in other rural areas in Mongolia.

Thank You Gifts for our Backers!  

More than anything, we would love to offer a sample of our delicious cheese as a reward for all our backers, but unfortunately, we are not able to do so because we don't have a process established for importing cheese into various countries, including the U.S.

Our supporters at $5 and above will receive our deepest gratitude in a personal email and the knowledge that you are taking part in a venture all the way in Mongolia, PLUS updates on the farm's progress. In addition, we hope these little "rewards" will provide incentive to back us at higher levels:

All backers at the $25 level and above will be acknowledged on a thank you board, which will be posted on the wall of our cheese plant. (No sample yet, as we will need to figure this out depending on the number of backers.)

All backers at the $250 level and above will have an open invitation to visit the Ligiin Ukhaa farm for a day. Transportation to Ulan Bator will not be provided, of course, but we will happily drive you to and from the city so you can see the cows and taste our delicious cheese for yourself. Depending on timing, you might even be able to see the cheese making process as well.

Risks and challenges

Our biggest challenge will be to get the word out to potential sponsors and provide attractive incentives. Unlike other projects in the U.S., we can't offer cheese as a reward, nor can most of our backers easily visit the farm. We hope that the knowledge that you are helping a worthy cause and even contributing to the future economy of Mongolia will be sufficient incentive for now, and we'd love for you to visit the farm if you ever visit Mongolia. Please help us to spread the word to others who might be interested!

Another big challenge for us will be the distance itself. While we will do our best to make sure to update our backers, we'd also appreciate your patience and understanding if we can't be as consistent as we'd like to be. Also, doing business in a foreign land is going to mean different challenges and unpredictable setbacks. Fortunately, Mike has done business in Asia for decades, so we are confident that he has the resources and network to work through issues that may arise.

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In Mongolia, Ensure Local Knowledge Informs Project Design

By Sukhgerel Dugersuren

Sukhgerel Dugersuren is a development specialist based in Mongolia. She founded OT Watch to monitor the Oyu Tolgoi mine. She is a member of the Global Advocacy Team, an 8-person group convened by the International Accountability Project, to conduct local research on development and make recommendations to improve World Bank policy on development finance. The Global Advocacy Team's final report from 8 countries will be released in 2015.

February 6 (International Accountability Project) In the past decade, Mongolia's South Gobi Desert has experienced an enormous mining boom. In 2000 we had only a couple of large active mines but today there are dozens of large-scale mines with many more being planned. The World Bank reports that mining has contributed to the fastest ever economic growth rate in Mongolia, but the reality for people living near the mines is very different.

Pollution and other impacts of the mining boom have affected a majority of Mongolians and the people who have suffered the most are nomadic herder communities. Their life-sustaining pastures, water springs, and seasonal camps are being lost to open-pit mines and the road-building, waste-dumping, and water- extraction that comes with this industry. Many communities are taking action to propose changes and find better ways forward.

Consider two recent mining projects, the Oyu Tolgoi mine and the Tayan Nuur iron mine. The Oyu Tolgoi mine is funded by a number of international investors, including the World Bank Group and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The Tayan Nuur iron ore mine has also received financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

In February and March 2014, as a member of IAP's Global Advocacy Team, I formed a research team with members of the local herder communities affected by these two mines. We interviewed 100 people, women and men of all ages and education levels. Most of the people we spoke to have spent their entire lives as nomadic herders until recently.

Resettlement programs have already begun at both mining sites, although many people have been excluded. Companies consider affected only those herding households whose winter camps fall in their licensed territories of not more than 0.7 hectares. In the Gobi Desert, herders need access to pastures ranging from 5 to 25 km at least to sustain their herds. A large number of families were displaced when their pastures were taken and their water sources became polluted. A person relocated by the Tayan Nuur mine told us:

We used to live with our children herding animals and benefitting from sales of wool cashmere, milk, and dairies. But now we are forced by life to operate a small shop to survive.

Pollution drove a number of families from their homes. One family who is being displaced by the Tayan Nuur project said, "There is a lot of noise and dust. Grass stopped growing in our pasture. It is not possible to herd animals here anymore." Several people have also reported that their families are suffering from health problems, such as lung diseases.

Even when consultations took place, developers made promises to the community to convince them to agree to the project. These promises—especially of future livelihood support—remain unfulfilled. According to one woman, the Tayan Nuur developers "said they would open the mine to employ local people. They promised an airport, a school and a kindergarten and a beautiful road—it was all lies."

The communities affected by the Oyu Tolgoi and Tayan Nuur projects tried to raise their voices and share their ideas with the mining company and the government but they were largely dismissed. Neither the government nor the mines' investors consider nomadic herders to be eligible for protection under the indigenous peoples safeguards of the international financial institutions. This lack of recognition meant that project developers did not study and respect customary land use practices in affected areas. Much of the area impacted by the mines is being treated as "state land" rather than areas where indigenous people live and have complex land management systems.

Tensions have risen between developers and affected communities. People spoke strongly about their frustration that the companies were able to make promises and then break them without consequences. To help resolve their concerns, the communities resorted to filing complaints with the World Bank Group and the EBRD.

The failure to seek out local expertise as part of project design has created higher costs for the company and debilitating loss for thousands of local people. Much harm could have been prevented if local expertise and ideas were included in the design of these two projects. For instance, only herder communities themselves understand how land is used, where seasonal camps are located, and when springs freeze. The government does not track this type of information or protect customary use rights and patterns. Quite literally, the only source of this information comes from sitting down and talking with local people. For this reason, it is important for communities to be involved in mapping the ways that their livelihoods will be affected by the mines.

Similarly, communities want to be able to use their own measurement systems to gauge the impact of the mine on their water sources. For example, traditionally they measure a spring by how many animals it can water. They are tracking and noticing that many springs that could previously water up to 600 animals can now only support 200 or less. They want the mining companies to recognize this system of indicators, while complementing this with technical data on environmental impacts, such as testing the water for chemical pollutants.

While mediation is currently underway between the communities and the Oyu Tolgoi company through the World Bank/IFC's complaints mechanism, it is based on the principle of "mediation without establishing fault." The mediation process began in April 2013 but has not resulted in any discussion of possible remedies for the impacts suffered by the nomadic herder communities.

Local people in Mongolia are proposing very concrete ways to bring their expertise to bear on improving the mines and reducing impacts on local people. The government and mining companies have violated people's human rights by excluding them from the planning process. Now, to have any hope of mitigating impacts and bringing their operations to comply with their own lender policies, they will need every bit of expertise that local people are willing to share.

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3rd Annual UB Food Festival Announced on August 15-16 at Viva City

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) The Third annual UB Food Festival is expected on August 15 and 16 in Viva City microdistrict. The event, running in frames of the Friendly Ulaanbaatar program, is special for it allows Ulaanbaatar citizens and guests to taste international cuisine with prices of only 1,000-3,000 Togrog.

Some 50 excellent restaurants, cafes, food companies and caterers of Ulaanbaatar will take part in the action. Intriguing events will run such as the duel between distinguished cooks and competition among families of "who eats burger the quickest". As always, the talented housewives of the "Sweet Kitchen" Facebook family will treat you to cakes and pies with unique designs.

The event is being organized by MCS Property LLC, MCS Estates LLC, Mongolia and Gourmet and Catering LLC, Green Gold, Art and Culture Department and Tourism Department of the UB City and the Mongolian Chefs Association.

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Odd/even license plate restrictions announced for last two weekends of August

August 11 ( During the preparations for the new academic year, jams have become the usual thing as the traffic from and to countryside increases. This movement especially hits hard UB streets with already jammed roads increasing the load by 2-3 times.

Therefore, license plate limitation by even and odd numbers will be in effect during the last two weekends of August (Aug 22-13 and Aug 29-30), reported by the Head of Traffic Police Department Ch.Jargalsaihan.

In other words, vehicle which has license plate ended with even number is restricted to participate in traffic on Aug 22 and Aug 29 and vehicle which has license plate ended with odd number is restricted to participate in traffic on Aug 23 and Aug 30.

Whether to cancel the vehicle restriction to be decided by the poll among citizens.

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Articulated buses to start service from Aug 15

August 11 ( Articulated buses with the aim to increase the availability of the public transportation are to start serving routes along the central roads from August 15, reported by the Head of City Transportation Department Ch.Enhbat.

These 20 buses were produced by "MAZ" company in Belarus which has capacity of 163 passengers, 38 seats and 18.7 meters long.

Prices for the transportation is MNT 500 and passengers are able to use smart cards. Moreover, the buses have wifi inside.

Articulated buses to be served routes from Tavan Shar to Officer`s Palace and MNT 1.5 billion repair works for articulated buses such as adjustments of several bus stops were completed, emphasized by the Head of UB City Road Department D.Nanzaddorj.

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Danshig Naadam Pays Tribute to Mongolian Buddhism

Ulaanbaatar, August 10 (MONTSAME) "Danshig Naadam-Khuree Tsam 2015", a religious festival was celebrated at Khui Doloon Khudag' Naadam Complex on August 8 and 9. The old religious festival, which existed over hundred years ago, has been revived this year devoted to the 380thbirth anniversary of the Ondor Gegeen (High Saint) Zanabazar, the first Buddhist leader of Mongolia.

"Khuree Tsam", meaning Capital city's religious mask dance, was first introduced to Mongolia in the early 18th century. The dancers with masks perform the movements of gods and deities, as though the gods has physically arrived on Jambutiva ("earth" in tibetan).

Ulaanbaatar's Danshig Naadam covered many events, the most interesting among which were the Khuree Tsam, the competitions among monks, the race of amble horses and the tourism exhibition.

On the first day of the festival, over 500 monks from all Buddhist monasteries of Mongolia dedicated blessings and religious readings in Chingis square.

Three manly games – wrestling, archery and horse races – concluded on August 9. The final round of the wrestling competition of Danshig ended with victory of the Young State Nachin ("falcon" in Mongolian, title for wrestler) R.Purevdagva. He was awarded the title – Danshig Arslan ("lion").

The event is the final action to take place this summer in scope of the "Friendly Ulaanbaatar" program.

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Religious and Cultural Naadam, August 10


PHOTO: Tsam Dance at Danshig Naadam

August 10 ( Tsam dance is an ancient ritual of Buddhism, recorded evidences show that Tsam was first performed in 775-881 in Tibet. The word 'Tsam' means a dance of the Buddha (deva) and elements of this dance show as if protectors and deities have physically descended on the Jambudtiva. In Mongolia, the tsam was introduced at the beginning of the 18th century and the first tsam performance in Mongolia was in Erdenezuu Monastery in 1786.

We are delivering you the photo report from Danshig Naadam & Tsam Dance Festival dedicated to the 380th anniversary of Holy Zanabazar – Mongolia's first Buddhist leader which was held on 8-9 August at Khui Doloon Khudag.

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S. Korea, Mongolia hold working-level defense talks

SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Mongolia held working-level defense talks in Ulaanbaatar Monday to discuss regional security issues, including North Korea's nuclear weapons program, the Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said that Yoon Soon-ku, the ministry's director general on international policy, met with his Mongolian counterpart, Zagdsuren Boldbaatar, in Mongolia's capital to discuss a follow-up to a meeting between their defense chiefs held in May last year and how to enhance defense cooperation.

Yoon also plans to fly to Uzbekistan to hold similar working-level talks with his counterpart Wednesday, it added.

"This series of defense talks will serve as an occasion to deepen cooperation with Mongolia and Uzbekistan," a ministry official said.

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OSCE Parliamentary Assembly 2015 Autumn Meeting, Ulaanbaatar, 15-18 September

The 2015 Autumn Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will be held on 15-18 September in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The theme for this year's Meeting is "Addressing security challenges for the OSCE region and beyond: the role of parliamentarians in fostering regional co-operation."

Parliamentarians from across the OSCE's 57 participating States are expected to attend, discussing security issues within the politico-military, environment-economic and democracy-human rights spheres.

Keynote speakers scheduled to address the Assembly include the Head of Mongolia's Delegation to the OSCE PA, Migeddorj Batchimeg, other leading Mongolian parliamentarians and representatives of international organizations at work in the region.

Mongolia, the most recent country to become an OSCE participating State, will be hosting an OSCE PA meeting for the first time.

The 2015 Autumn Meeting is open to accredited members of the media. To register please send your full name, media affiliation and contact details to OSCE Director of Communications Richard Solash at

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Mongolia Opens Consulate in Kuala Lumpur

August 10 ( On the 6th August, Mongolia opened a Consulate in Malaysian Capital City Kuala- Lumpur. Foreign Minister, L.Purevsuren participated in the opening ceremony. The opening of the new consulate coincided with the 22nd Ministers' Meeting of the "ASEAN Forum", which he was attending. Minister Purevsuren also met representatives of the Mongolian community living in Malaysia. The relations between Mongolia and Malaysia have not been simple in recent years; the main issues involving the rights and security of Mongolian's living in the country; several Mongolian citizens, most of them women, have lost their lives in Malaysia. Therefore, it is to be hoped that the opening of the consulate in Kuala-Lumpur will help protect the Mongolians living in Malaysia.

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Vice FM Meets Vietnam Foreign Ministry Delegates

Ulaanbaatar, August 10 (MONTSAME) On August 10, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia N.Oyundari received the delegation led by Pham Sao Mai, director of the Northeast Asia Department of the Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Vice FM noted that Mongolia has been making commitments for activating political talks with Vietnam on all levels, and to expand bilateral cooperation in various sectors including economy, trade, investment, agriculture, culture, workforce, defense and law enforcement.

She also wished the delegates to attach more focus on supporting Mongolia's export to Vietnam of agricultural products, for example, frozen and conserved meat and other meat products.

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Dornogovi hosts 30 kids from sister province Shizuoka

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) Mongolia's Ministry of Food and Agriculture inked last week a Cooperation Agreement with Japan's Shizuoka prefecture. The event coincided with the fourth anniversary of cooperation between the prefecture and Dornogovi (Eastern Gobi) province of Mongolia.

It has been a while since the launch of pupil-exchange program between the two administrative units. The program aims to help high-school children in choosing their professions.

Out of the planned 1,000 students to be included in this program, 178 Mongolian children visited Shizuoka, and in turn, 30 Japanese children with their five teachers have come to Mongolia to take an interesting tour around our province.

They have watched the annual Naadam Celebration and the 54th anniversary of Sainshand soum, visited a herdsman's family to ride horses and camels, acquainting with Mongolian lifestyle and traditions. The children legged the Khamariin Khiid and Museum of the Saint Danzanravjaa.

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Social, Environmental & Other

Mongolia participating at WorldSkills for its first time

August 11 ( Mongolia became the 69th member of the World Skills International in 2014.

By becoming the official member of the World Skills International, Mongolia will have the opportunity to participate in the global competition to determine the level of professional workers, develop the vocational training to the world level according to the international standards, learn and introduce the latest progressive techniques and technology, train teachers and prepare professional workers to contribute to the economic development of the country.

The President of World Skills International with the 75 member countries Mr. Simon Bartley visited in Mongolia on July, 2014 and met with the Mongolian Prime Minister, Minister of Labor and the 1st and 2nd place winners, teachers and students of the Mongolian Skill Competition in nine different trades.

The 43th edition of World Skills will gather approximately 1200 competitors from over 50 countries and regions take on real challenges related to 49 skills.

For the first time in history, Mongolia will participate in the World Skill Competition this summer. The Ministry of Labor sent nine young and talented students with each experts to Brazil to compete against their international peers in the following skills:

  • Construction: Bricklaying, Tiling, Joinery
  • Services: Cooking, Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy
  • Technic: Electrical installation, welding, CNC Turning

The KOICA and GIZ provided each USD 100.000 support for the preparation of Mongolian team and supply with necessary equipment and facility and train the participants in South Korea.

Opening ceremony of the World Skills to be started at 05 AM on Aug 12 and the skill competition to be started from Aug 13 at 08AM (By Mongolian timezone).

Let`s wish good luck and succeed for the team of Mongolia.

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Mongolia's college graduates struggle to even land low-skilled positions

August 11 (UB Post) Mongolia has 101 state and private universities in total, and an average of 30,000 students graduate annually. Yet, there aren't enough jobs for these new graduates.

There isn't any statistic on how many students graduated last academic year and how many of them got employed. However, the most recent statistic on this says that 37,243 students earned higher education diplomas and less than half of them, specifically 15,559 graduates, found jobs in 2014.

The government used to pay attention to graduates, estimate how many students need to be trained for specific fields, and provide jobs. Now, students that've finished general education schools are required to take the General Studies Admissions Exam and universities can enroll students depending on their scores.

The highest score General Studies Admission Exam takers can get is 800, and anyone who can earn 800 has the upper hand of enrolling to their desired university or college. But an interesting information was shared last year. According to various media outlets, a director of a prestigious state university noted that some of the students who achieved the highest score in the examination didn't meet requirements when tested again. This shows that students seeking higher education can't meet requirements, indicating poor education system of high schools.

On top of this, the majority of students choose their major according to advices from parents or choose a "cool" profession such as an economist and lawyer on a whim, because they still haven't figured out what they want to do in the future or recognized their own talents. In reality, these "cool" jobs have plenty of human resources and graduates are still unable to find jobs.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Education sets specific limits for university courses based on school capacities, sufficiency of professors and labor market demands. Even so, there's no guarantee that everyone will get a job. Quite a number of youth believe that earning a diploma is reputation and not a source for furthering one's livelihood.

It's not a secret that the public believes that you must have higher education if one wants to be considered as a human. The general approach to study a profession, without researching if there are available jobs in the field or how much salary one can earn, contributes to the number of unemployed who have diplomas.

Over 900,000 people registered at the Youth Labor Exchange actively seeking jobs in 2014. Some 20 percent of them, particularly around 18,000 people, had completed higher education courses. There is an international standard to evaluate the quality of universities and colleges according to employment of graduates. Yet, there are numerous examples of people still looking for jobs or doing part-time jobs after graduating respected national universities and colleges.

Schools are required to report to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science on how many graduates of the school were able to get employed. However, these documents aren't verified, according to Unuudur Newspaper.

The tuition for finishing university in four years will equal a minimum of five million MNT, which is a large sum for most households and especially for herder families. Students can't pay this with their pocket money or with part-time jobs, which they find with much effort. Most places refuse to employ students because they prefer hiring someone who can work full-time without having to come at different times every day due to their principle duty to study. Some students take an annual leave from school to acquire enough money for tuition only to find that the tuition fee has risen again.

Students are also humans. Besides tuition, they'll need money for food, clothing and transportation. Young people who've come to the capital to study will also need a place to stay, which is a substantial financial burden. Despite paying the price, students graduate with inadequate skills and knowledge, and become unemployed.

Anyone can spot a low skilled job vacancies that require higher education in any random advertisement nowadays. It will not be long until we get used to seeing "hiring janitors who've graduated university".

These types of advertisements show how poor Mongolia's university quality and skills of graduates are. If not, this indicates that people who finished general education schools are inadequate to do a low-skilled job. Either way, the Mongolian education system is failing and not providing proper life skills to students so that they can get hired without difficulty on their own. It should be pointed out that the capabilities of graduates depend on themselves too.

As a student myself, there's no denying that students chase after grades rather than actual knowledge because they are urged to value points and favor with their teachers from a young age. The reason for this is partially due to the fact that parents, schools and jobs evaluate their children, students and employees merely by grade point average.

Students are either rejected by the few workplaces available in Mongolia or they are discontent with the salary. Government schools focus more on quantity rather than quality, as 90 to 95 percent of their financing comes from tuition fee. To recover costs, universities are competing with the number of students instead of the skills of its students and are "producing" a large number of unemployed people with diplomas.

Higher education institutes in Mongolia are aspiring towards becoming part of surveys and being included in Asia's top schools by 2024. This makes people wonder what the use of expanding unemployment of people with higher education really is.

Source: Unuudur

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Universities hike tuition fees by 10-40%

August 11 ( University tuition fees were increased by 10-40% during the 2015-2016 academic year. For instance, National University of Mongolia increased its tuition fee by 12% while tuition fee for the new students by 30-40%.

Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences increased its credit hour fee from MNT 58.500 to MNT 70.000. If we estimate that the first course students to study an average of 34 credits per year and the annual fee would be MNT 2.3 million, reported by the authorities of the university.

Tuition fee for Mongolian National University of Education was raised by 15-25% which worth MNT 1.8-2.2 million.

Due to operation of the university is funded by only its tuition fees, they increase the fees in every year, explained by the authorities of the universities.

According to the announcement made by the authorities of Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, the Government stopped granting finance to universities and tuition fee became the only funding of universities. 70 percent of the total funding is spent for salary of teachers and staffs.

However, Mongolian Student Association contested the decision to increase the tuition fee and submitted official claim on that cause.

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Agenda Announced for 2015 Pride Week Mongolia, August 29 – September 6

August 11 ( Equality & Pride Days initiated by the The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Centre in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is to be celebrated starting from the end of August for weeks.

During the second Pride events in Mongolia in 2014, we had amazing allies and friends come to the launch of the Equality & Pride Days to support and contribute their voices for the equality of everyone in Mongolia regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, among them notably Ms. Sezin Sinanoglu, the UN Resident Coordinator, Mohanik, and Mr. Lkhagvasuren of Kharanga. This year we are expecting many more dignitaries and celebrities, including parliamentarians, ambassadors, and representatives from national human rights institutions from the Asia Pacific Region.

Below events has planned to be organised starting from August 29 until September 06.

What: Fundraiser party for the Equality & Pride Days
When: from 9 pm, 21 August
Where: Unique Vista Lounge, 18th floor, Peace Tower

What: Press conference on Equality & Pride Days - 2015
When: August 27
For: media organisations

What: The kickoff of the Equality & Pride Days - 2015
When: August 28
For: Everyone, free entry

What: Equality March
When: 11:30am, 2015/8/29
For: All human rights supporters

What: "Beyond the Blue Sky", the third LGBTIQ film festival in Mongolia
When: August 29, 30
For: Everyone, free entry, donation box

What: Equality & Pride Party
When: from 9pm on August 29
For: Everyone above the age of 21 and able to pay the entry fee
Entry fee: 20K
Dress code: Colourful

What: Launch of the "Arts-4-Rights" multimedia arts exhibition
When: 2015/8/31
For: Invitation only

What: "Arts-4-Rights" multimedia arts exhibition
When: September 1-6
For: Everyone, free entry

What: Thematic discussions and talks around LGBT lives in Mongolia and beyond
When: August 31, September 2 and 4
For: Everyone, free entry

What: "Dear Diary" vol. 1 (LGBT Theatre Project), special opening volume for the Equality & Pride Days-2015
When: 7pm, September 5
For: Everyone, free entry

What: Pride Picnic
When: September 6
For: All volunteers and others who made the third Equality & Pride Days a reality

What: Shop Pride! Support LGBT rights by buying handcrafts and clothes made by allies and friends
When: August 28 – September 6

Location details to be announced in further.

Following events are to be sponsored by the LGBT Centre (Mongolia), Open Society Foundations, ILGA World, InterPride, private individuals and everyone who can help out in terms of both finances as well as their time in the organisation of the third Pride events in Mongolia.

Contact the Pride Committee at (+976) 70110323

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Citizens can claim 2% VAT rebate before new law comes in effect

August 11 ( In July 2015, the Mongolian Parliament approved the revised "Value Added Tax Law". The new law will come into force from 1st January 2016 and will enable people will be possible to re-coup 2% of how much they have paid for any shopping items. It will also be easier to use VISA cards. In order reclaim the 2% people must collect their shop receipts for 2015 (by the end of the year) and present them to their local tax office. This is expected to help family budgets. The Mongolian Taxing Authorities are also clamping down on fake tax reports; all tax returns will be studied with greater scrutiny. In order create greater transparency and force entities out of the "hidden economy' various incentives will be provided for providing accurate information.

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2015 Student-Soldiers to take oath of allegiance

August 11 ( Tomorrow (12th August), the Mongolian Student Troops, who began their training three months ago will take their official oath of allegiance on Ulaanbaatar's central square. The Student Troops started their training on 15th June at the 119th Armed Force Division. Three days prior to the end of this year's program on 15th August, the Student Troops will take an oath on Chinggis Square before the Commander-In Chief of the Mongolian Armed Forces, President Ts.Elbegdorj, Minister of the Defense Ts.Tsolmon, Minister of the Education and Culture Science L.Gantumur, City Mayor E.Bat-Uul and other officials. This year about 1000 students from 66 universities registered in the Student Troops program; twice as many as in 2014.

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74 drowning deaths in 2015, 22 children

August 11 ( Since the 2015, 74 people, including 22 children, have tragically lost their lives through drowning. In many cases rescuers from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) have the grim task of recovering the bodies. These cases are then transferred to the Police. Emergency calls from the banks of rivers and lakes have not decreased this summer. It is clear that many people find themselves in difficulty when they have had too much alcohol to drink.

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63 veterans given apartments in UB, 40 in Bayan-Ulgii

August 11 ( The Ministry of the Defense is taking several steps to improve the social problems faced by veterans. One of the main projects is to provide apartments. The initial work of this project is now finished. The 63 new apartments are to be handed over to their new occupants in the 8th khoroo Bayanzurkh District. The apartments are financed with the state budget funding and have been built in space of two years. Last week the Ministry of Defense already handed over the keys to 40 apartments in Bayan-Ulgii Province.

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Mongolia, South Korea Extend Green Wall Project to 2020

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) The implementation term of the Green Wall project, also known as the Mongolia's Great Green Wall, was extended until 2020 on Monday by the authorities of Mongolia and the Republic of Korea. This happened at the Northeast Asia Forest Network meeting, held at the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism, in Ulaanbaatar.

Present were, the Minister of Forestry of S.Korea Shin Won Sop, head of the Mongolian Ministry's Forestry Policy Management Department Ts.Banzragch, head of the Foreign Cooperation Department B.Eroolt and the supervisor of the Green Wall project Choi Su Chon.

The sides reviewed the outcomes of the project, co-implemented since 2007. Thanks to the project implementation, forest lines occupying 1346 hectares in Tov (Central) and Omnogovi (South Gobi) aimags and 640 hectares of saksaul forest were planted, as well as many other anti-desertification measures had been taken. The authorities concluded that the project made great contribution to the relations of Mongolia and S.Korea and improving of the Northeast Asia's forest partnership.

The "Green Wall" project evokes memories of the Great Wall built by the Chinese to keep the Mongols out. This wall, however, is intended to stop the growing desertification affecting Mongolia. With the "Green Wall", Ulaanbaatar aims to "protect itself and the whole world from an extremely serious problem: the sand of Gobi desert, gathered by storms of central Asia and transported towards the east", with consequences alerted in China and Korea. Traces of the desert sand have been found in Kansas of the USA too.

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Wildfires reported in Uvs, Selenge Aimags

August 10 ( We are delivering you the information of forest fire reported by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Nuuriin Ovgor located in Undurkhangai soum of Uvs aimag caught on forest fire on August 08. NEMA and 28 locals are fighting with the fire.

Moreover, following fire calls were received to NEMA:

  • Fire at Turgen soum on August 07
  • Seerin denj located in Sagil soum on August 08
  • Zurhen located n Turgen soum on August 08

In addition, Bayandavaanii Undur located in Saihan soum of Selenge aimag (30km away from center of Darhan-Uul aimag) is on steppe fire. Total of 49 people including 17 staffs from Darhan-Uul  aimag`s NEMA, 18 people from 435th prison camp, 14 locals were fought the fire at the spot and built backfire at 05:45AM today.

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'Dzud' years for Mongolian herders linked to climate

August 10 (environmentalresearchweb) In Mongolia, pastoral nomadic herding is still a cornerstone of the culture. But it is a tough life and in recent years herders have been hit with more "dzud" – disastrous years where huge numbers of livestock die. In some cases, herders have been left without a single animal, forcing them to migrate to urban areas. Many of the dzud events are thought to be linked to climate, but until now the details of this connection were not clear. A new study has revealed that exceptionally cold winters and dry summers are key causes of dzud years.

Mukund Palat Rao from Columbia University, US, and his colleagues studied mortality data from 21 Mongolian provinces, known as "aimags", between 1955 and 2013. They compared this information to climate data gathered over the same period. Livestock mortality was most strongly linked to exceptionally cold winters (November to February), the team found. But winter was not the only factor. The researchers also found that a dry summer (July to September) prior to a cold winter further increased the chances of a dzud. Such climate effects could explain nearly half of the livestock deaths.

"The exact mechanism for how climate causes mortality is complicated, but can include things like a lack of access to forage because of snow, or a weakened immune system after a summer drought," said Palat Rao.

Worse still, it appears that these harsh climate events often occur several years running. "Looking at the mortality time series more closely, we see that high mortality years often cluster together, for example 1966, 1967, 1968, [and] 2000, 2001, 2002, and there could be long stretches of time where there is very low mortality, [e.g.] 1984–1999," said Palat Rao.

The two most recent dzud events (2000 to 2002 and 2009 to 2010) were truly disastrous, wiping out 20 million head of livestock between them. Currently the Mongolian Index Based Livestock Insurance Program (IBLIP) uses a threshold of 6% mortality to trigger payouts. "This threshold is based on the natural background mortality rate (due to disease, predation and birth complications, for example)," said Nicole Davi from William Paterson University, US. Right now, this threshold is passed on average every four years.

But from the herders' perspective, preventing the livestock deaths in the first place would be better. "During the Soviet era, when herding was collectivized, there used to be co-ordinated haymaking and other facilities like veterinary care, which have largely been done away with," said Palat Rao. "These helped tide over, or at least reduce, mortality."

However, the logistics of such programmes were extremely complicated, given that herders move over a vast region and are often one or two weeks away from the nearest urban centre. "An alternative strategy could be to provide herders with good weather forecasts, enabling them to make strategic decisions such as remaining at a sheltered camp until a storm had passed, or choosing to slaughter animals earlier based on summer weather conditions and forecasts," said Davi.

Looking ahead it isn't certain what lies in store for the nomadic herders. Future climate projections for this region are unclear, although it's expected that summers will become hotter, possibly exacerbating future drought. Archaeological records show that herding has been a way of life for 4000 years or more, surviving both warm epochs – the Mediaeval Climate Anomaly between 950 and 1250AD – and cool times like the Little Ice Age between 1550 and 1850AD, as well as extended periods of drought.

"Perhaps more of a threat is competition for resources from industries such as mining, and the perception that nomadic herding is a 'backwards' way of life," said Davi.

But for now life rolls on. And with a greater understanding of the link between climate and dzud events, herders may be able to take some positive action. Meanwhile, insurance companies will be able to anticipate high mortality years based on climate alone, potentially speeding up the insurance payout process.

The researchers published their findings in Environmental Research Letters (ERL).

Related links

·         Dzuds, droughts, and livestock mortality in Mongolia Mukund Palat Rao et al 2015 Environ. Res. Lett. 10074012

·         ERL

·         Mukund Palat Rao

·         Nicole Davi, William Paterson University

Related stories

·         Overgrazing turning parts of Mongolian Steppe into desert

·         'Counting sheep' approach may overestimate greenhouse-gas emissions

·         Herders in drought-stricken northern Kenya get first livestock insurance payments

About the author

Kate Ravilious is a contributing editor to environmentalresearchweb.

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Ulaanbaatar confiscates 370 units of illegally hunted marmot

August 10 ( Mongolian government has prohibited marmot hunt in 2005 in order to stop outbreak of bubonic plague in Mongolia but it is still active in Mongolia. Mongolian people hunt marmot (tarbagan, mon: tarvaga) for meat and skin, cooked marmot meat is one of favorite foods of Mongolians. On July, 2015, a 14 years old boy died because of bubonic plague after a marmot hunt in Bulgan sum of Khovd aimag.

Usually bubonic plague is very active on August and September in Mongolia. In order to prevent the outbreak, emergency management department and divisions of Capital City have organized control check at certain checkpoints of Ulaanbaatar City jointly with the UB Specialized Inspection Agency and UB Police Department between August 01 and October 15, 2015. As of today, 370 units of marmot meat, raw and cooked, have been confiscated.

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Mongolia, S. Korea MPs Discuss Child Protection with UNICEF Rep

Ulaanbaatar, August 10 (MONTSAME) On Monday, head of the lobby for supporting the children's protection and family development S.Odontuya MP and head of the Standing committee on social policy, education, culture and sciences D.Battsogt MP received the visiting delegates from the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea and the permanent representative of the UNICEF to Mongolia Mr Roberto Benes.

The sides discussed about the protection of children's rights and agreed to expand cooperation in safeguarding children's health, access to education and child protection.

Among the S.Korean delegates were the head of the National Assembly's lobby group for children and family. He congratulated on founding of such a lobby group in Mongolian parliament and shared his experiences. The lobby group in the National Assembly of S.Korea consists of 66 members of parliament, and had gained abundance of experiences in the field since its establishment in 1989, he said.

The UNICEF representative Roberto Benes underlined that the lobby group can make great contributions to the parliament in prioritizing children's rights and increasing the investment in the child protection, and said he will by all means support the inter-parliamentary relations between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea.

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Horomhon FC arrived in Bhutan for AFC Cup Qualifier

August 10 ( Horomhon FC represents Mongolia at AFC Cup Playoff Qualifiers for Group-A arrived in Bhutan today.

Druk United FC from Bhutan will play against Horomhon FC from Mongolia and K-Electric from Pakistan when Bhutan hosts its first AFC Cup Playoff Qualifiers for Group-A from August 11 to 15 at the Changlimithang stadium in Thimphu.

Mongolia's Horomhon FC will play K-Electric FC on August 13 and the final match will see Druk United FC take on Khoromkhon FC on August 15.

A total of six countries are taking part in the playoff. Only two countries will go into the next round to qualify for the 2016 ACF Cup.

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US Sumo Open Legend Byamba Falls to Ramy Elgazar

August 8 (Gazettes) A great championship streak came to an end in the Walter Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State on Saturday evening at the 15th annual US Sumo Open. Eight-time defending heavyweight gold medalist Byambajar "Byamba" Ulambayar was shocked in the championship match by Egyptian challenger Ramy Elgazar, who forced Byamba outside the ring to claim his first US Sumo Open gold.

"An incredible streak has come to an end," said US Open founder Andrew Freund.

Byamba won 14 total gold medals over the last eight years, including every heavyweight crown and six openweight championships—he's also a four-time World Sumo champion who wrestled professionally in Japan for five years. But Elgazar was too much for the Mongolian legend on Saturday, getting under him quick and driving him back, nudging his feet outside the circle.

Byamba, the fan favorite in Long Beach because of his success, had a bid for the openweight championship, but was defeated in the semifinals by American wrestler Roy Sims, who defeated Elgazar in the all-comers division, becoming the first American to grab an openweight title since the event moved to the Pyramid.

Another Egyptian, Ramy Belal, won the middleweight gold medal, his second US Open championship in that division. The men's lightweight championship featured a real battle between Mongolian wrestlers Zanabazar Bayarsaikhan and Nyambayar Lkhanaa, with both wrestlers grappling for position and trying to get underneath the other, before Lkhanaa completed an undefeated run by forcing his opponent outside the ring.

This year's US Sumo Open also featured an expanded roster of women wrestlers, with enough to fill both a lightweight and a middleweight division. Jenelle Hamilton was undefeated on the day, defending her 2014 championship, winning both the lightweight and the openweight gold medals. The middleweight championship was between an American, Sonya del Gallego, and the Brazilian Natasha Ikejiri, who was the 2010 silver medalist. In the end, it was Ikejiri who prevailed and claimed the gold.

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GoGo News to broadcast live from 2015 Asian Youth Fencing Championship in Ulaanbaatar

August 11 ( Today, GoGo News Agency signed Memorandum of Cooperation with Mongolian Fencing Federation.

Therefore, our agency is to promote fencing in Mongolia and to support the activities of Mongolian Fencing Federation. Previously, GoGo News Agency broadcasted live from Chinggis Khaan Judo Grand Prix.

In scope of cooperation, our agency is to broadcast live from "Ulaanbaatar 2015" Asian Youth Fencing Championship which will be held during September 7-12 in Ulaanbaatar city.

Over 250 athletes from 35 countries of Asia and Pacific to participate in the championship while 19 judges and technical delegates from 16 countries to conduct the championship. Moreover, General Assembly meeting of the Asian Fencing Confederation to be held during that time. Presidents of Fencing Federation of 35 Asian countries and honor guests to attended in the meeting. 

As of today, over 220 athletes have registered for the championship and registration of the "Ulaanbaatar 2015" Asian Youth Fencing Championship is available until August 17.

In addition, we are glad to inform that Mongol Content LLC which is celebrating its 10th year anniversary is working as general sponsor for the "Ulaanbaatar 2015" Asian Youth Fencing Championship.

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For Mongolia, the Future Rides In On Dinosaurs

August 11 (The Future Naturalist) Light fades across the desert landscape as I wait outside the visitors center at Dinosaur National Monument, where I'm volunteering for the summer. I busy myself with a map of the geologic column, hoping the mosquitoes remain uninterested for the next half hour. I got here early, but it's not long before a small family approaches: woman, husband, daughter about four.

I met them the day before, in front of the Wall of Bones that Dinosaur National Monument was designated for, officially known as Carnegie Quarry. It's a magnificent display of dinosaur fossils, strewn across a near-vertical rock face that was a horizontal river bed 150 million years ago. It's a carefully preserved slice of the Jurassic, the golden age of dinosaurs.

Dan Chure, our park paleontologist, introduced me to their group–two families from Mongolia on a road trip together. I'd heard one of the travelers' names before: paleontologist Bolor Minjin. I was thrilled to meet her, and she generously agreed to an interview later, even though she was on vacation. And here we are, waving away bugs as the sky dims.

I start off by asking about her work in Mongolia.

"Back 2007," she begins, "I established a nonprofit, nongovernment organization which is called Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs."

ISMD, for short. The organization's goal is to educate the Mongolian people about their country's most famous scientific resource–dinosaur fossils–and to conserve those fossils for the future. Its vision for the next ten years is to build a new paleontology museum in Mongolia.

She tells me the long history of paleontological exploitation in her country. I recall a book I read last year by Polish paleontologist Zofia Kielan-JaworowskaHunting for Dinosaurs. I loved reading her descriptions of field work in Mongolia, her encounters with the people there, her account of the windswept desert landscapes and encounters with wildlife modern and ancient. I had never thought of what happened to the fossils her expeditions brought back, or what their loss might have meant for Mongolia. Until today.

Kielan-Jaworowska's fossil hunts weren't the only ones to take important specimens from Mongolia, nor were they the first. In the 1920s, the American Museum of Natural History sent a series of scientific expeditions to Mongolia, taking a slew of awe-inspiring dinosaur specimens back to New York with them, never to see Mongolia again. They were followed by paleontologists, and countless poachers, from around the world.

"Once a fossil left the country," Bolor told me, "knowledge left with it."

Bring Mongolia's dinosaurs back, she believes, and a new generation will have the chance to learn about them. As they have in so many natural history museums, the towering, mysterious skeletons would spark curiosity about everything needed to understand them, from geology and anatomy, to physics, evolution, chemistry and engineering. Raise the ceiling of intellectual enthusiasm high enough for dinosaurs, and it could keep rising forever.

She's already found success. In 2012, a rare Mongolian specimen of Tarbosaurus baatar, which had been illegally collected and smuggled out of the country, went up for auction in the United States, catching international attention and teaching many Mongolians about a native dinosaur species for the first time. Before Tarbosaurus made the news in Mongolia, she tells me, very few people there could name a Mongolian dinosaur. Now almost everyone can.

Thanks to her efforts and collaboration with the Mongolian government, the Tarbosaurus is back home, along with two dozen other stolen dinosaurs she's repatriated since.

The idea of bringing Mongolia's cultural resources home has bled off into other fields. Countless religious artifacts have been taken from the country over the last century, and now efforts are being made to find them and bring them back, inspired by Bolor's success with dinosaurs.

And Mongolians are hungry for knowledge, she tells me.

We're interrupted when her daughter runs up, excited about a big beetle she just saw. She asks me what kind it was–I wish I knew. I'm really more of a vertebrate person.

I was only a little older than Bolor's daughter the first time I came to Dinosaur National Monument. My memories of it were part of why I applied to be here this summer, along with an interest in the Digital Quarry Project, an effort to bring the fossils and history of Carnegie Quarry online for those who can't make it to the physical Wall of Bones. A three hour drive from Salt Lake City and even farther from the next closest city, Denver, Dinosaur National Monument isn't exactly accessible without concerted effort and full tank of gas.

It's across the street compared to the Gobi, however. Most Americans know Asia's largest desert only from documentaries romanticizing it as barren dinosaur country populated by rugged horselords who hunt with golden eagles. If roads are seen at all in the footage, they are long and dusty, stretching out into rock-strewn plains dotted with shrubs and, on a busy day, a black-tailed gazelle or bactrian camel. How true that vision is, I don't yet know, but Bolor tells me there are few museums in the Gobi, and none focus on paleontology. So how would the inhabitants of the Gobi ever have a chance to learn about the fossils that have been taken from their land?

To answer this question, Bolor began to envision a traveling museum, a ger–a Mongolian yurt–with Mesozoic scenery painted on canvas around the outside, and dinosaur bones and activities inside. A modified version of the portable homes used by the nomads, it could be taken down and put back up in different towns all across Mongolia, attracting the young and curious with its bold scenic paintings of ancient fauna.

Just when the plan for the yurt museum was gaining steam, a unique opportunity came up. Bolor heard from a friend back in New York that the American Museum of Natural History was ready to donate its moveable dinosaur museum, which already held many Mongolian specimens and came equipped with modern, high-end mini-exhibits and activities. She raised the thirty-thousand dollars it would cost to ship it across the world with the help of Gerry Ohrstrom and Epicurus Fund, and it arrived last summer.

"With that amount of money we could have done a lot of educational things in Mongolia. But we just said it's worth it, to bring that museum to Mongolia."

She's now running an IndieGoGo campaign to get the roving museum into the heart of the Gobi. She feels strongly that the people whose land holds Mongolia's most famous export deserve to learn about it themselves. The campaign raised almost thirty percent of its goal in the first ten days, with roughly five thousand dollars to go by mid August.

If a museum can make it to the far reaches of the Gobi, I wondered, what else can? Do the nomads all have smartphones?

"Yes! The world is changing," she says, smiling. A roving dinosaur museum isn't the only mobile platform that's been on her mind as a tool for spreading science. She mentions the American Museum of Natural History's science-for-kids website, Ology, as inspiration for what the Internet could provide Mongolia's youth.

Bolor believes change can come fast to her country. "We're only three million, our population, and it's very homogeneous," unlike the United States, where diverse cultures absorb new ideas in different ways at different times. "If anything, that's the kind of thing I'm looking for. [If] we want to make a change we can make it happen quick." That's why she wants to focus on young people, even though she believes people of all ages can learn and contribute. "We should focus on the young ones because they're the people that are the future."

The desert twilight is fading, and her young daughter is restless–I've taken away enough of their vacation time. We wrap things up with a look even farther forward. Cenozoic, even.

"Next I'm thinking a project on birds, because birds are dinosaurs." Birding is becoming popular in Mongolia, and like their ancient ancestors, birds are another avenue to science for the curious.

Science, at its best, opens up possibilities. And that's what Bolor has done, and will keep doing, for Mongolia, whichever direction her projects take her.

When I first met her in front of the Wall of Bones, she expressed her desire to see something like it in Mongolia. As I walk back to my car, stars drawing my gaze up to the quarry, I'm certain the children of Bolor's homeland will soon have the same privilege her daughter did here in Utah–on their own road trips, through their own great desert, the Gobi.

If you would like to support Bolor's campaign to bring the moveable dinosaur museum to the Gobi desert, you can fund it on IndieGoGo until August 21, 2015.

All photos in this article are copyright Bolor Minjin and were used with her permission, since our interview was short and Mongolia was far away.

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29 young mongolists from around the world arrive for summer field course

Bishkek, August 11 (AKIpress) - Annual summer course for young mongolists – those specializing in Mongolian literature and history and the Mongolian language – finished today in Ulaanbaatar.

The 26th summer course attracted 29 young researchers and students from 18 universities of Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, Kazakhstan, China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea.

This year, young researchers gained experience in Mongolian living and have learned Mongolian script and language at a herder family too.

During the first nine days, the students lived with the local family in Saikhan district of Bulgan province to acknowledge nomadic living. They attended training and research centers of Mongolian studies in Ulaanbaatar for last five days.

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Mongolia to Celebrate 800th Anniversary of Khubilai Khaan's Birth in September

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) Aside from allowing the launches of concession agreements and acquainting with the Mongolia-China working group works, the Cabinet also resolved some other matters on Monday's regular meeting. Among them was the adopting of the Plan and Budget for the celebration of the 800th birth anniversary of Khubilai Khaan, being marked this year.

- The grand anniversary will be celebrated on September 15-23 with 20 events.

- The Cabinet set up a working group in charge of preparing the draft regulation on implementing the newly adopted by parliament Law on Promoting Economic Transparency.

- The Ministers made some changes to the Temporary Regulation on Exports and Imports of Strategic Foods, adopted in accordance with the Government Resolution No.77 of 2013.

- They also considered the issues regarding the company proposals for obtaining rare-earth and radioactive elements exploration licenses, and resolved to approach the related laws and regulations.  

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Exhibition: "Nomads: A Mongolian Vision of Kyrgyzstan", Caravan Art Gallery

August 10 ( The Al-Hayat gallery based in Republic of Kyrgyzstan hosted international artists at their art residency in Kadji Sai near the beautiful Issuk Khul Lake from 20 June until 05 July. The participants included Kyrgyz and Yakut national artists along with other artists from Russia, Tajikistan, Buryat, and Mongolia. The residency allowed artists to interact and communicate with each other and also to get engaged in Kyrgyz nature, culture and reflect their feelings through their work of arts.

Six Mongolian artists including Kh.Sodnomtseren, B.Baasansuren, D.Bulgantuya, M.Gan-Ochir, B.Munkhbaatar and B.Myagmarlkham successfully attended this event with support from the Karavan art gallery, recently opened in Ulaanbaatar, north of the Zanabazar fine art museum.

Damir Akmanov, owner of Al-Hayat gallery and art residency mentioned in his interview, "since we organized the art residency, we dreamed to have Mongolian artists and to learn more about their works and worlds. I am happy to have Mongolian artists, especially young painters who have their own particular strong style." He also mentioned that Mongolian artists and their view of the world is also very interesting with a unique sense of interaction in their works. It was particularly interesting as an exchange with the Kyrgyzstan, where a similar culture and nomadic heritage is shared widely. Artists also grasped opportunities to meet with nonprofit organizations such as B'Art in Bishkek that promotes contemporary artists. The head of NGO, A. Shaarbek introduced their current works and future project ideas.

This event was also unique since it was one of the largest collaborative art exchange programmes between Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia in recent years. Mongolian artists mentioned that there are lots of similarities among our cultures especially in the nomadic heritage and language similarities. For instance, a similar vocabulary is found in terms of describing the nature such as lakes and mountains. They also mentioned that the during this social and economic transition time, Kyrgyz people are keen to keep their identity and cultural heritage.

Three out of six Mongolian artists are currently working at Mongolian art and architecture universities and they took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about art education and relevant programmes. They had a chance to visit Kyrgyz state university of construction, transportation and architecture and met with professors to see more about their strong craftsmen skills with various materials including ceramic and work of mosaics. The artists also met with Akmataliyev Abdyldajan Amanturovich, vice president of the National academy of Sciences. They discussed their interest in exchanging information and scientific information about best known figure in Kyrgyzstan's literature Chinghiz Aitmatov that published in Mongolian.

Painting Exhibition of the Mongolian six artists named "Nomads: A Mongolian version of Kyrgyzstan" to be opened at 06PM (August 10) at Karavan Arts and Green Zone cafe, just 30 meters north of Zanabazar museum.

In addition, the exhibition is to be followed by a screening of "Dessert of Forbidden Art" documentary film at the Green Zone Cafe.

The exhibition will open to the public from August 10 to August 15.

Working Hours of Green Zone Cafe: 10AM to 06PM
Address: 30 meters north of Zanabazar museum.
Phone: +976-99145063

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Russia, Mongolia set to study and restore population of argali

Bishkek, August 11 (AKIpress) - Russia and Mongolia are planning to establish a joint working group to study and restore population of argali (mountain sheep) in the two countries, said Acting Head of the Russian Federal Service for Supervising Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor) Amirkhan Amirkhanov.

He noted that Russia is already implementing a number of successful programs to restore populations of wild bisons, Near Eastern and Far Eastern leopards, tigers and other endangered species.

Currently, the Government of Trans-Baikal Territory together with the management of the Daursky Nature Reserve are developing a program for restoration of argali population in the region. The program will be implemented in several stages, including an increase in the number of animals via delivery of species from Mongolia.

Establishment of the joint group with Mongolia will allow "the Russian side to have greater access to information about population [of argali] in Mongolia. We will be able to closely track their migration routes, organize joint researches and strengthen safety control of animals migrating across the state borders," added Amirkhanov.

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Mongolia-Monaco Expedition in Search of New Anthropological Findings

Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) The governor of Arkhangai aimag signed August 11 a Cooperation Agreement with the History and Archaeology Department of the Academy of Sciences on the Mongolia-Monaco joint "Northern Tamir and Hun Empire" expedition.

Head of the archaeology expedition Jerome Magat gave presentation to the governor on the planned works to study the stone-age settlements, mounds from bronze and early iron ages and Hunnu tombs, located in northern Tamir river, valley of Bayantsagaan, and rocks of Avdarkhad.

The 60-day expedition aims at discovering new research instruments to make deeper studies on the Hun empire periods, as well as the bronze and early iron ages. The action is co-hosted by the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology in Monaco.

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Mongolia: Life Before Genghis Khan and his Empire

By Eleanor Mawer

(The Culture Trip) Chinggis Khaan (the local pronunciation and spelling of Genghis Khan) is synonymous with the Mongols and Mongolian history, and for many there was no other story, culture or history. However, long before the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 12th century the country was home to ancient kingdoms, the remains of which are still visible today. 20 kilometres West of Mörön, in the North of Mongolia, lays the fascinating proof of this early history.

Kherekshure graves can be found all over Mongolia from the Southern Gobi to the Northern valleys. These graves, not dissimilar to burial cairns found in Europe, were built over 2000 years ago, in the 2nd to 5th centuries BC. The site of Uushigiin Uver contains over 300 of these monuments, some larger than five meters wide and surrounded by circular walls at a diameter of 10 – 15 metres.

A millennium before Chinggis Khaan rode his hordes through the steppe, this early community was commemorating its dead with enormous energy and dedication. The deceased were laid on the ground, or later within a dug grave, and were then surrounded by their possessions: pottery, jewellery and clothing, tools, the heads of their livestock and, even in one case, their servants. The body and their possessions were then covered in stones, forming a huge mound.

Of the 300 of these graves at Uushigiin Uver some contain more than one person, some only a single burial, but they mark the traces of a society that honoured their deceased with respect, time and huge effort, and the history of which is now long forgotten. Alongside these burials are 14 deer stones, which some scientists believe to be some of the best-preserved in the world. They are even older than the kherekshure, erected between 500 and 2000 BC; these stones also stand as monuments to the dead.

The deer stones at Uushigiin Uver are covered in engravings of deer, sun and moon symbols, plus sheep and horses, tools and weapons. The tops of the stones represent the heavens and the head, with the sun topping the image. Below these are herds of deer, leaping towards the sun. The lower halves have a belt below, which weapons and tools are represented. One of the stones, the site guardian's favourite, has the head of a woman facing South, above a flying deer and a striped belt. The stones would originally have been painted red with ochre, the traces of which are still visible on some of them, and several of the stones also have depictions of shamanistic tools, mirrors and symbols.

Watch a introduction to the Uushigiin Uver Deer stones in Mongolia below:

Archaeologists think that the ancient peoples who created these amazing scenes believed deer to be spiritual beings in physical guise, their delicate forms carrying the spirits of the dead on their backs towards the afterlife. The layout of the designs shows the belief system of their complex society – the lower part depicting the physical worlds of the here and now, the belt the barrier separating the physical from the world of spirits,and the deer to bear the souls away upward to the sun and the heavens.

Surrounded by the open grasslands of Northern Mongolia these amazing creations, formed thousands of years ago by an unknown and forgotten culture, are a reminder to visitors of the long history and deep-running culture of the steppes, glorified by Chinggis Khaan but of which he was just a single raindrop in the storm of time. The local inhabitants know this and unlike Europe these graves were not looted for stones, nor damaged by later human hands. The people of Mongolia have a sense of their long and intricate story, and travellers to the country must try to understand that there is much more to the country than Chinggis and his empire.

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Moody Radio listeners Reach Beyond to make a difference in Mongolia

Mongolia, August 11 (RBD/MNN) — 25 years ago, there were only four known believers in Mongolia, a nation of three million.

However, the church has seen spectacular growth since 1990 when the country moved from communism to a democratic form of government. By 2000, the number of believers had increased to nearly 10,000, and a decade later it reached 40,000. The new believers gathered in some 600 churches–300 in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and 300 in the provinces.

Today, Mongolia has the eighth-fastest growing church in the world, although Operation World indicates that evangelicals still represent only about 1.2% of the population. People there are coming to Christ because people like you have prayed, worked, and given to make Him known in a place where communism once forbade the practice of religion.

More than that, there are followers of Christ who are putting their faith into action. Last month, Moody Radio listeners came alongside Reach Beyond's "Mission: Mongolia" campaign. They helped raise $300,000 that will plant three FM stations and cover a year's worth of operating expenses in key cities in Mongolia through WIND-FM. The potential reach is 450,000 people, or 90% of the country with the Gospel through FEBC stations. That's 450,000 people who currently have never heard of Jesus Christ.

With every outreach expansion, there is pushback. Please pray for their minority programming team and volunteers. Lately, they have faced a tremendous resistance from the community. Pray for peace within the minority community, that God may open their ears toward the Message. And, pray for the staff of FEBC-Mongolia's 7 rural stations, that they may thrive in spiritual growth to reach their respective communities.

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