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Monday, August 17, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
AKM rose 18.75% on the announcement to A$0.019.
Aspire Mining: Northern Railways wins nod for Erdenet to Ovoot Rail
August 13 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining's (ASX:AKM) Northern Railways has been given a momentous green light to build and operate the 547 kilometre railway to extend Mongolia's national rail network from Erdenet to its Ovoot Coking Coal Project.
This first stage of a new rail connection linking Mongolia to Russia could be operational in 2017/18, providing Ovoot with a defined path to market by rail.
Northern Railways worked with Fortune 500 company China Railway Construction Corporation (HKG:1186, SHG:601186) – a 236.15 billion yuan (A$50 billion) market cap - and its subsidiaries to land the concession.
Northern Railways will have the exclusive right to build and operate for 30 years the 547 kilometre Erdenet-Ovoot railway.
The Concession will allow up to 5 years to construct the railway followed by 30 years of operation after which 100% of the base railway infrastructure will be transferred to the Government of Mongolia.
Northern Railways' Erdenet-Ovoot railway represents the first stage of a new rail connection linking Mongolia to Russia.
A Pre-Feasibility Study has been completed on the Rail Project with an estimated capital cost to construct of US$1.2 billion.
The company is currently working exclusively with China Railway subsidiaries, China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation (CR20G) and China Railway First Survey & Design Institute (FSDI) to complete the Bankable Feasibility Study and negotiate the terms of the Engineering Procurement contract to be awarded to CR20G.
This will fulfil two of conditions that Northern Railways will need to satisfy over the next 18 months upon execution of the Concession Agreement. It will also be required to arrange financing.
This has been a journey for Aspire Mining and today's granted concession provides a path to potential "black" gold for the company.
Partnering with China Railway, a Fortune 500 listed company, and China's largest rail construction organisation provides a balance sheet with the financial clout to make it happen.
The BFS is expected to take about 9 months to complete while the concession enables Northern Railways to progress financing negotiations with Chinese financial institutions with assistance from CR20G.
It is worth noting that are numerous funds, some recently established such as the AIIB and Silk Road Fund, established specifically to support infrastructure build out in Asia in support of China's new silk road strategy.
Following the execution of the Concession Agreement, Northern Railways will work with the CR20G and FSDI to raise funding for construction of the base rail structure.
They will also negotiate other key agreements and permits that are conditions precedent to commencing construction under the Concession Agreement.
Granting of this concession is also further evidence that the Government of Mongolia is working vigorously to address falling Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
It follows the agreement with Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX:TRQ) to progress the second stage of the Oyu Tolgoi Copper Gold Mine in May 2015, and the recent granting of a Concession to build CHPP5, a new US$1.3 billion heating and power Plant.
Erdenet-Ovoot rail line
The 547 kilometre Erdenet-Ovoot rail line represents the first stage of a new rail connection linking Mongolia to Russia that is key to establishment of an Economic Corridor through Mongolia.
This Economic Corridor, which is the subject of a trilateral agreement between China, Russia and Mongolia, seeks to improve trade by reducing regulation, improving capacity at borders and improve road and rail infrastructure to meet increased demand for transport services.
Erdenet-Ovoot Rail is also central to unlocking the value of the Ovoot Project and future earnings from mining and production from the project for Aspire.
Ovoot has a JORC Resource of 255 million tonnes and is the country's second largest coking coal reserve behind the government-owned Tavan Tolgoi project.
Initial production is estimated to commence in 2018, producing 5 million tonnes per annum of saleable coking coal and increasing in subsequent years to achieve full scale production of up to 10Mtpa from both the open pit and underground operations.
Once built, there are multiple other Mongolian resource projects in the area that would also be provided with a path to market.
The open access railway could also be used by local agricultural and manufacturing industries and passenger freight, and in time potentially Russian and/or Chinese transit freight.
Notably, China Railways is involved through its various subsidiary companies in the development of a number of rail projects along the planned Economic Corridor spanning between Russia, Mongolia and China.
This includes construction of the Kuragino to Kyzyl railway which will eventually connect with the Erdenet to Ovoot railway.
Northern Railways is on track to complete in the September 2015 Quarter, a Scoping Study over the planned railway extending from Ovoot to the Russian border approximately 180 kilometres north of Ovoot and further to the Russian town of Kyzyl to complete this connection.
MATD closed -3.12% Friday to 3.88p
Petro Matad awards 2D seismic contract for Blocks IV and V to Khet
August 13 (OilVoice) The Company is pleased to announce, following the Company's operational update of 22 June 2015, the award of a contract to Khet Co., for the acquisition of circa 2000 kilometres of 2D seismic in Blocks IV and V. The programme will commence in mid-September 2015 after mobilisation of equipment and personnel to site has been completed.
The 2D seismic program has been designed to achieve three main objectives. First, to infill the existing reconnaissance level and basin definition seismic grids to improve the correlation and understanding of the structural and stratigraphic architecture of the petroleum basin systems. Second, to tighten line spacing across previously identified lead and prospect trends such that drillable prospects may be adequately mapped. Third, to expand reconnaissance level and basin definition coverage into un-imaged parts of the basin to identify new lead areas, play concepts and improve resource estimations across a greater basin area.
The results of the programme will be integrated with existing data to generate prospects for future exploration drilling.
ERD last traded at C$0.14 Thursday
Erdene Provides Update on Metals Projects; Drilling Commences at Altan Nar Gold-Polymetallic Project
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - Aug. 13, 2015) - Erdene Resource Development Corp. (TSX:ERD) ("Erdene" or "Company") is pleased to provide an update on the Company's principal metals projects in Mongolia, including the Company's flagship Altan Nar gold-polymetallic project where a definition and expansion drill program has commenced.
Altan Nar (Gold-Silver-Lead-Zinc) - 100% Erdene
· Drilling commenced August 7, 2015
· Drill results anticipated in Q3/Q4
· Metallurgical test program on-going with results anticipated in Q3
Regional Exploration (Copper-Gold) - Alliance with Teck Resources
· Initial reconnaissance of new licences completed in Q3
· Regional exploration program completed in Q3
Khuvyn Khar (Copper-Silver) - Option Agreement with Tian Poh Resources
· 1,000 metre drill program expected to commence in Q3
· Program funded by Tian Poh pursuant to option agreement with Erdene
· Drill results anticipated in Q4
Altan Arrow (Gold-Silver) - 100% Erdene
· Recent exploration by Erdene confirmed the presence of high-grade gold veins and potential for broader mineralized zones
· Detailed mapping and soil/rock chip sampling program commenced in Q3
· Erdene successfully completed two private placements in Q2 and ended the quarter with over $1 million in working capital
· General and administrative costs for the six months ended June 30, 2015 have decreased 19% compared to the same period in 2014
Altan Nar Gold (+Silver-Lead-Zinc) Project (100% Erdene)
SouthGobi faces bankruptcy if unsuccessful to solve Mongolian tax dispute
TORONTO, August 14 (miningweekly.com) – Coal producer SouthGobi Resources continued to seek an amicable resolution of its tax dispute with the Mongolian government, failing which, a court sanctioned financial penalty could trigger events of default with a Chinese funding partner and eventual bankruptcy.
SouthGobi, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto-owned Turquoise Hill Resources, had in a January been found financially liable as a 'civil defendant' for a penalty of about $18-million, following a criminal tax investigation case.
A panel of appointed judges from the Second District Criminal Court of Justice found three of the company's former employees guilty of tax evasion and gave sentences ranging from five and a half years, to five years and ten months of imprisonment in the correctional facilities of strict regimen, in Mongolia.
Despite the company's subsidiary, SouthGobi Sands (SGS), not being a party to the criminal proceedings, the court declared it to be financially liable.
Following an unsuccessful appeal to the Second District Criminal Court of Justice, on April 22, SGS filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against the decision of the 10th Appeal Court of Mongolia, upholding the tax verdict against SGS. SGS said that the Supreme Court had refused to hear the tax case on appeal and as such, the tax verdict had entered into force.
However, SouthGobi alleged that the tax verdict was not immediately payabl, nor enforceable against SGS, as the subsidiary had not yet received a copy of the bailiff's resolution on execution of the verdict, as required under Mongolian law.
SouthGobi said that it continued to believe that there was a lack of evidence to support the tax verdict and that the verdict and the subsequent decisions of the higher courts on appeal were substantively and procedurally in error under the laws of Mongolia.
The company believed that it could seek to resolve the dispute amicably with the Mongolian authorities, and was engaging authorities.
Should the verdict be enforced, it could result in an event of default under the China Investment Corporation (CIC) convertible debenture and CIC would have the right to declare the full principal and accrued interest owing thereunder immediately due and payable.
CIC had in July agreed to defer an interest payment of $7.9-million for a second time to November 19, to allow the company to execute a funding plan.
SouthGobi, together with its new strategic partner and significant shareholder, Novel Sunrise, had developed a funding plan in order to pay the interest due under the CIC convertible debenture, meet the company's obligations as they fell due and achieve its business objectives in 2015 and beyond. However, there was no guarantee that the company would be able to implement the proposed funding plan or secure other sources of financing.
"Such an event of default under the CIC convertible debenture or the company's inability to pay the penalty could result in voluntary or involuntary proceedings involving the company (including bankruptcy)," SouthGobi said.
A deal that would have allowed Canada's Turquoise Hill Resources to sell its remaining stake in Mongolian coal miner SouthGobi Resources, a company that was once worth billions of dollars, had fallen through in May.
The slower Chinese economy, falling coal prices, accounting problems and funding troubles had hit SouthGobi hard over the past several quarters.
For the three months ended June, the company sold 190 000 t of its coal products after the resuming mining operations on March 30, and had since then produced 620 000 t of coal from its flagship Ovoot Tolgoi mine. The company had hoped that the stockpile would help it capture new offtake contracts, as well as catering for existing obligations.
SouthGobi was once worth more than C$3-billion, and its TSX-listed shares peaked at C$21.99 in 2008. The stock fell as low as C$0.34 in February, and was trading at C$0.50 a share on Friday.
SouthGobi Resources Announces Second Quarter 2015 Financial and Operating Results – SouthGobi, August 13
975 closed -5.36% Friday to HK$0.27
MMC Announces Board Meeting on 28 August to Approve Interim Results
August 14 -- The board of directors (the "Board") of Mongolian Mining Corporation (the "Company", and its subsidiaries, the "Group") hereby announces that a meeting of the Board of the Company will be held on Friday, 28 August 2015 for the purpose of considering and approving the interim results of the Group for the six months ended 30 June 2015 and its publication, the payment of an interim dividend, if any, and transacting any other business.
276 closed flat Friday at HK$0.30
MEC Chairman's Stake Diluted to 57.02% from 58.01%
August 13, Mongolia Energy Corp. Ltd. (HKEx:276) --
VKA closed flat Friday at A$0.012
Viking Mines: Purchaser of Akoase Gold Project Misses Second Instalment Due to China Capital Restrictions
August 13 -- The Board of Viking Mines Limited (Viking: VKA.AU) has been notified by the purchaser of the Akoase Gold Project in Ghana, West Africa that it has not yet received central Chinese government approval to export funds out of China to enable it to pay due second instalment payment in accordance with the sale contract.
The controllers of the Ghanaian purchaser of the Akoase gold project are utilising Chinese domiciled funds to settle their purchase payment obligations. However, as has been widely reported in the press, the central Chinese government have imposed restrictions on the flow of capital from the country. As a result of these restrictions the purchaser has missed the deadline for the second payment of US$1.71 million due under the sale contract. In accordance with the sale contract Viking will charge penalties for the late payment of this contractual obligation. A late payment interest fee of 10% pa accrues on the unpaid amount from the due date until it is paid.
Notwithstanding the missed payment the purchaser continues to perform significant due diligence exploration activities in relation to the Akoase gold project.
Akoase Sale Transaction Details
In June 2015 Viking announced the sale of the Akoase gold project for total sales consideration of US$10 million to be received as follows:
· US$290,000 - received by Viking
· US$1,710,000 now due and payable
· US$6,000,000 to be paid in cash within 5 days after all conditions precedent have been satisfied. The principal conditions relate to Viking obtaining the requisite Ghanaian Minerals Commission and government approvals; and the purchaser's final due diligence which must be completed by 21 November 2015
· US$2,000,000 to be paid in cash as a gold production royalty
MSE Weekly Trading Report: Market Cap -0.01%, MSE ALL +0.34%, Stocks ₮177.3 Million, T-Bills ₮10 Billion
August 17 (MSE) Mongolian Stock Exchange organized 5 securities trading sessions and made transaction of MNT10,015,478,438.00 with daily average transaction of MNT2,003,095,687.00 between 10 August 2015 and 14 August 2015.
221,844.00 shares of 37 joint stock companies worth of MNT177,314,188.00 were traded.
Most actively traded securities
Most active brokerage companies
Ard Capital Group
Government retail bonds trading:
100,000 Government retail bonds worth of MNT10,000,000,000.00 /10 billion/ traded through one trading session.
Most active brokerage companies in government securities trading
As of July 2015, market capitalization was MNT1,298,684,706,906.00 which indicated decreased of 0.01%, and MSE ALL index reached 959.77 units which indicated increased of 0.34% from the previous week.
₮10 Billion 28-Week 14.054% Discounted T-Bills on Offer
August 12 (MSE) --
1. The issuer's name: Mongolian Ministry of Finance
2. The purpose of the issuance of bond: State treasury cash management
3. Offering scope of securities: Offering to the public
4. Type of securities: Government securities
5. Face value: MNT 100,000
6. Discounted price: MNT 92,983.00
7. Total amounts issued: 100,000 Units
8. Short-term securities performance:
Government Securities name
Value /billion MNT/
Form of Interest payment
Interest rate (percent)
Starting date of the order
Closing date of the trading
100% Insured 18.5% Erchim Bonds to Be Issued on 21 August
August 12 (MSE) Regarding to the commencing buy order of "Erchim Bond" issued by "Erchim Engineering" LLC, Angar.D, CEO of Mongolian Stock Exchange, Batbold.M, General Director of "Erchim Engineering" LLC and Khishigjargal.J, Head of Investment Banking Division in Golomt Bank were rang the 5,037th trading opening bell of Mongolian Stock Exchange.
During the commencement event, Gantulga.E, General Manager of "Soyombo Daatgal" LLC, Amarbaysgalan.E, CEO of "Golomt Securities" LLC, Dugerjav.D, partner of "MDS and Khaanlex"LLP were participated.
Face value of "Erchim Bond" is MNT10,000.00, with 6 month maturity at annual interest rate of 18.5%. Buy order of this bond starting from 2015.08.12 to 2015.08.20, and the primary market trading will start on 2015.08.21.
"Erchim Bond" has following benefits:
• 100% Insured, risk free
• Its annual interest rate is 18.5%. (Average annual interest of commercial bank is 13.2%)
Ulaanbaatar BUK Sets Deadline to Sell Back Shares
August 14 (MSE) According to the relevant regulations of FRC, Company law of Mongolia, Mongolian Securities Law, "Ulaanbaatar BUK" JSC has issued 187.000 more shares for debt for share exchange.
Therefore, shareholders who did not attend the shareholders meeting which held on 29 April 2014 or voted against the shareholders meeting resolution, need to sell shares back to company accordance with the "Regulation of Redemption of shares by a company", the Resolution No.: 04 of "Ulaanbaatar Buk" JSC's board of Meeting.
Shareholders of "Ulaanbaatar Buk" JSC please implement your rights and contact with your share issuer company.
Demand Price of the right to implement: 38.700 MNT
Registration of shareholders, who have rights to demand the repurchase of shares: 2014.03.30
FRC's permission to register shares: 2015.06.24
Right to demand the repurchase of Shares- End Date: 2015.09.25
Phone: 99008777, 99103042
Asia Pacific Properties Delists from MSE
August 13 (MSE) According to the Resolution No.: 329 of Financial Regulatory Commission dated on 10 July 2015, the Clause No.: 83.1 of Company Law, the Clause No.:23.6, 23.9 of "Listing Regulations" of MSE, and the Order No.: 233 of CEO of MSE dated on 12 August 2015, total 3,527,700 shares of "Asia Pacific Properties" JSC has been delisted from MSE.
Sharyn Gol Share Capital Adjusted to 10.17 Million from 10.23 Million
August 13 (MSE) According to the resolution No.: 308 of Financial Regulatory Commission dated on 03 July 2015, the clause No.: 8.10.11 of Charter of Mongolian Stock Exchange, the Clause No.: 20.1, 20.2, 20.3 of Listing Regulation of MSE, and the Order No.:234 of CEO of MSE, total 10,231,389 shares with MNT100.00 per share of "Sharyn Gol" JSC changed to 10,170,242 shares due to deduction of untraded 61,147 shares.
MSE Hosts Capital Market Training for SOEs Slated for Privatization
August 13 (MSE) According to the resolution No.: 70 of Parliament of Mongolia of 2015, "The Guidelines on the Privatization and Restructuring of State properties in 2015-2016" has been approved.
In regarding to preparation of this state resolution, Financial Regulatory Commission /FRC/, State Property Commission /SPC/, Mongolian Stock Exchange /MSE/ and official experts of investment were organized the "Privatization-Capital Market" training to representatives of State Owned companies on 12 August 2015.
During the training, topics including operation principle of public company, corporate governance, how to register at listing of MSE and FRC, provide service to securities issuers from professional intermediaries, operation of underwriters covered successfully.
Following State owned companies will be traded through Mongolian Stock Exchange including:
1. Thermal Power Plant-4 /MSE:DGD/
2. Thermal Power Plant-3 /MSE:DGS/
3. Thermal Power Plant-2 /MSE:DKS/
4. Thermal Power Plant of Darkhan /MSE:DAS/
5. Thermal Power Plant of Erdenet /MSE:EDS/
6. Shivee Ovoo JSC /MSE:SHV/
7. Baganuur JSC /MSE:BAN/
8. Mongol Post Company
9. Telecom Mongolia /MSE:MCH/
In addition, to prepare the Erdenes Tavantolgoi's shares that owned by citizens and business entities, to offer to the public through MSE accordance with the relevant laws and decisions of the Mongolian Government, and it assigned to the PM Saikhanbileg.Ch and Mongolian Government.
Mongolia's Economy Slows in First Half to Weakest Since 2009
By Michael Kohn
August 13 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's economy slowed in the first half of the year to the weakest pace since it contracted in 2009, as foreign investment fell amid disputes with overseas firms.
Gross domestic product expanded 3 percent in January-June from a year earlier, according to data posted Thursday on the National Statistical Office's website. In the same period last year, the economy grew 8.2 percent.
Weakening foreign direct investment was the largest reason for the slowdown, said Neil Saker, the International Monetary Fund's representative in Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia posted first-half growth of as much as 20 percent four years earlier during construction of the initial phase of the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, a $6.6 billion investment.
"Mongolia is very much a commodity and FDI driven country," said Saker. "So there are a lot of headwinds in the international environment and that is unlikely to improve in the short term especially given developments in the region."
Foreign investment has been hindered by a slew of spats with investors, including Rio Tinto Group, which manages the Oyu Tolgoi mine. In May, Rio and the Mongolian government ended a two-year dispute by agreeing on terms to fund the underground phase of the mine.
The strength of the economy in the second half of the year will hinge on the speed of investment in the second phase of Oyu Tolgoi, said Saker. Rio is currently speaking to more than a dozen global banks on securing a $4 billion project financing package.
"Chances are that there will be an up-tick depending on how fast the OT money comes in. I don't think that has been confirmed yet," he said.
The Asian Development Bank in March forecast 3 percent growth for Mongolia for 2015.
"In the long run, Mongolia needs to diversify its economy and better insulate itself from the vagaries of volatile price swings and large-scale foreign direct investment," Mark Bezemer, senior country economist for ADB, said by e-mail.
Mongolia's growth slows to 3 pct in H1 2015 as copper, coal drag – Reuters, August 14
Inflation Falls to 6.9% as July CPI Remains Flat
Monthly Statistical Bulletin, July 2015: M2 -1.8%, NPL +6.6%, Export -4.3%, Import -29.3%, Trade Surplus $604m
August 13 (NSO) --
II. Macroeconomic indicators
According to report of the Bank of Mongolia, money supply (M2) reached to 9.9 trill.tog at the end of July 2015, decreased by 177.9 bln.tog or 1.8 percent from the previous month, by 214.8 bln.tog or 2.1 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
Money indicators, at end of June of selected years, bln.tog
Time deposit total
Time deposit in DC
Time deposit in FC
Total loans outstanding
Principal in arrears
Rate of principal in arrears in total loans outstanding
Rate of non-performing loans in total loans outstanding
Loans outstanding amounted to 12.0 trill.tog, at the end of July 2015, increased by 45.2 bln.tog or 0.4 percent from previous month, decreased by 232.6 bln.tog or 1.9 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
At the end of July 2015, the non-performing loans over the bank system reached 824.6 bln. tog, it has increased by 50.7 bln.tog or 6.6 percent from the previous month, by 224.9 bln.tog or 37.5 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
In the first 7 months of 2015, 21.6 тln. shares were traded and valued at 635.0 bln. tog in the stock market. The securities trading was increased by 500.3 bln.tog or 4.7 times and shares decreased by 11.3 mln.pieces or 34.3 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
In the first 7 months of 2015, total equilibrated revenue and grants of the General Government Budget amounted to 3142.9 bln.tog and total expenditure and net lending amounted to 3780.7 bln.tog, representing a deficit of 637.8 bln.tog in the equilibrated balance.
Total external trade turnover decreased 1042.7 mln.US dollars or 17.2 percent, exports decreased by 127.1 mln.US dollars or 4.3 percent, imports by 915.7 mln.US dollars or 29.3 percent compared to same period of the previous year.
In July 2015, exports were 442.7 mln.US dollars, it is decreased by 58.3 mln.US dollars or 11.6 percent, imports reached 370.1 mln.US dollars it is decreased by 21.6 mln.US dollars or 5.5 percent from previous month.
External trade balance showed a deficit of 184.6 mln.US dollars in the first 7 months of 2014, while it was in surplus of 604.0 mln.US dollars in the first 7 months of 2015.
Exports by some commodities, in the first 7 months of selected years, thous.t
Crude petroleum oil (thous.barrel)
Zinc ores and concentrate
Gold, unwrought or in semi-manufactured forms
UB Housing Price Index: -1.49% in July, -10.23% from 2014
August 12 (BoM) --
Link to release (in Mongolian)
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, August 14 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
BoM FX auction: US$20.3m sold at ₮1990.59, CNY32.2m sold, accepts $74.5m MNT, $5m USD swap offers
August 13 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on August 13th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 25.35 million in a rate between MNT 1987.21-1992.80 and CNY 32.2 million in a rate between MNT 308.71-312.50 from local commercial banks. The BOM received CNY bid offer and sold CNY 32.2 million, also sold USD 20.3 million in a rate with MNT 1990.59.
On August 13th, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer equivalent to USD 74.5 million and USD Swap agreement selling bid offer equivalent to USD 5.0 million from local commercial banks and the BOM has accepted the offers.
BoM issues ₮55 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding -14.4% to ₮416.85 billion
August 14 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 55.0 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
₮10 Billion 5-Year Bond Auction Fails as Bids Falls Short
August 12 (BoM) Auction for 5 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 10 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Although 1 billion MNT in competitive bid was received, the Government bond was not sold due to the decision made by the MoF.
₮15 Billion 28-Week Discounted T-Bills Sold, Average Yield 14.054%, Bids ₮37.5 Billion
August 12 (BoM) Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 15.0 billion MNT. Face value of 15.0 billion /out of 37.5 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 14.054%.
Troubled dry bulk market faces turmoil as Chinese coal imports remain weak
The demand for coal in China continues to diminish. So much in fact that India is expected to succeed China as the world's largest importer of coal this year. China's consumption of coal accounts for just over 50 per cent of global consumption, however only around 5 per cent of it stems from imports, making the bulk shipping market very vulnerable to changes in demand. In the first six months of 2015 China has imported just under 100 million tons of coal totally (incl. lignite and anthracite) a reduction of more than 38 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Chief Shipping Analyst at BIMCO, Peter Sand says: "Coal used to be the all-important dry bulk commodity for the better. That was before iron ore entered the stage big time, with China rising to become the world's largest steel producer. Now, coal is back for the worse.
Currently, overall dry bulk demand is the weakest since 2009 and freight rates gives shipowners few options but to endure. Diminishing volumes as well as dwindling sailing distances for total Chinese coal imports is a drag on the market".
China's production of crude steel dropped to 410 million tons in the first half of 2015, 1.3 per cent lower than last year. The effect on coking coal imports, a vital ingredient in steel production, is clear. China imported 21.6 million tons of coking coal in the first six months of 2015, 30 per cent lower compared to the previous year. Australian producers supply the lion's share of Chinese imports (50 per cent) but has faced fierce competition from Mongolian exporters since the beginning of 2015.
Coking coal exports from Australia into China is down 28 per cent the first six months of 2015 compared to 2014, meanwhile Mongolian exports are only down 17 per cent. In 2014 Mongolia exported a total of 14.7 million tons of coking coal to China, equal to 24 per cent of the total. So far this year Mongolia has exported 6.3 million tons of coking coal bringing the share up to 30 per cent. The rising Mongolian share is especially troublesome as it produces yet another challenge for the seaborne trades. Since Mongolia is landlocked and the coal is therefore transported by land.
Around 70 per cent of China's energy is generated by coal, but in recent years China has worked intensely towards implementing more renewable energy sources i.e. hydropower. This has brought a decline in the demand for coal used in power generation. If the trend continues 2015 it could end up being the second consecutive year with a decline in the total world seaborne coal trade.
Longer-haul coal trade from South Africa has disappeared
Just as with the coking coal, Australia is one of the big suppliers of steam coal. Together with Indonesia they account for 87 per cent of the steam coal going into China. With diminishing demand from China the share from these countries has gone up, pushing out the smaller nations.
South Africa for one is a great example. Despite the longer route compared to Australia and Indonesia, South Africa supplied more than 8 per cent of the China's steam coal in 2013. By the end of 2014 that share had been more than halved and by 2015 the shipments had stopped all together. As of right now it has been over a year since a shipment of steam coal heading for China, left South Africa. China's coal trade with South Africa is beneficial to seaborne trade as the sailing distance is twice as long as from the main suppliers Australia and Indonesia.
"The eventual implementation of the free trade agreement between China and Australia will eliminate the tariffs currently imposed on Chinese coal imports. An increased coal trade between China and Australia will benefit seaborne trade as current alternative sources are closer to China and thus involves less transportation by sea.
On the other hand as it becomes more favorable for China to import coal from Australia the chances of seeing beneficial longer-haul trades from for instance South Africa, unfortunately become less likely.", adds Peter Sand
Inequality in Mongolia: Not Getting Worse, But Not Getting Better
by Thomas Eriksson, the Deputy Resident Representative of United Nations Development Programme in Mongolia.
August 13 (UNDP Mongolia) Mongolia has recorded very high economic growth rates in the last 15 or so years. The economy has grown at an average annual rate of 8 percent since 2000 and in double-digits for three consecutive years in 2011-13. Although the growth rate has now slowed down and estimates are much lower, the result is that Mongolia is now classified as an upper middle-income country and a country with medium human development. In the same time, poverty in Mongolia continues to decline, falling from 27.4% in 2012 to 21.6% in 2014. This improvement is very positive and the pace of poverty reduction remains high compared to most other countries, however, poverty is still persistent in Mongolia and a huge development challenge.
What about inequality? The feeling, and the "word on the street", is that the rich is getting richer and the poor poorer. What does the evidence say in this regard? This short blog post reviews some of the existing data and statistics on inequality. Why worry about inequality? Increased inequality means people are left behind in the development of a country. Inequality can be a threat to social and political stability as well as to sustained growth. Inequality is a root cause of economic stagnation.
More than 75% of the people living in developing countries are living in societies where income is more unequally distributed than it was 25 years ago. This is despite the huge gains in GDP and economic growth and despite the reductions in poverty rates.
The fact is that income inequality looking at the share of national consumption by income quintiles has not really changed much in Mongolia and is not very extreme compared to other countries.
The graph above shows that the richest 20% of Mongolia consumes 40% of the total national consumption and the poorest 20% of Mongolia consumes about 7%. In a fully equal society, the share of consumption for each quintile would be 20%. This shows that inequality measured as share of national consumption has not really changed much over time. Two conclusions can be made. It is not getting worse, but it is not getting better. The economic growth of Mongolia has not translated into changes in terms of relative shares of consumption.
Another measure of inequality is the Palma ratio which compares the richest 10% share of income to the poorest 40%. It compares the "top" versus the "base". In Mongolia, the Palma ratio is 1.6 meaning the top 10% earns 1.6 times the bottom 40%. This is slightly higher compared to Central Asian and Eastern European countries where the ratio is around 1-1.3 but much better than Latin America which typically have rations above 3 and better than for instance Turkey and Russia which both score 1.9-2 for example.
A third measure of income inequality is the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient can range from 0 (complete equality) to 1 (complete inequality). For Mongolia, the latest available Gini coefficient data shows that it is 0.3652 (similar level as UK, Spain, Italy and Estonia). Also, as can be seen below, the Gini coefficient increases in Mongolia over time showing that there is an increased income inequality. A caveat here is that there is need to estimate the Gini coefficient in Mongolia using more recent data.
Gini coefficient Mongolia
The fourth measure of inequality I would like to highlight is the inequality adjusted human development index (HDI). This is measured as the HDI, which is a composite index consisting of health measured as longevity, education and income, adjusted for inequalities. When this is done, Mongolia's ranking improves 16 places, in other words, Mongolia is more equal than its HDI peers.
The findings of this brief analysis is that Mongolian inequality measured as share of consumption or as share of income is not at extreme levels and that Mongolia compares well to its "development peers". However, income inequality is most likely increasing. Overall, there is a need for more research and debate on inequality in Mongolia to provide more understanding and to drive national policy making. Interesting in Mongolia would be to look beyond income and consumption and analyse social inequalities such as access to quality health services and education for instance. Inequality, as well as poverty, is not a matter of fate, they can be addressed through policies and reforms.
Economic growth does not automatically reduce poverty and inequality, reducing poverty does not automatically reduce inequality. What is needed is deliberate strategies and programmes to tackle poverty and inequality. Addressing inequality is not a zero-sum game. The rich does not have to get poorer for the poor to live better lives. In other words, it is not only a matter of redistribution, the key is to ensure that the growth and wealth created benefits all of society and that it reduces inequality. Addressing inequality also means ensuring that everyone has a voice, hence it is also a matter of democracy. Finally, important to note is that the Sustainable Development Goals proposes the world to adopt a goal on reducing inequality within and among countries. More on this in coming posts.
Justice Coalition, DP chairmen meet as coalition partners seek to fill vacant cabinet seats
August 14 (gogo.mn) Yesterday, MPRP Leader N.Enkhbayar attended the Justice Coalition meeting. Today, he meets with Speaker of the Parliament and DP Leader Z.Enkhbold at State House.
Meeting lasted for 30 minutes and MPs N.Battsereg and Z.Bayanselenge have attended the meeting.
N.Enkhbayar stated on the day of his arrival that MPRP and National Democratic Party should join in Justice Coalition and they need to implement personnel policy in the Government`s vacancy.
At the beginning of the meeting, N.Enhbayar said: "Appointment of new ministers are being discussed. We cannot deliver detailed information on that issue as the talks have just started. We have not finalized our suggestion yet. It will be announced soon."
Vice president of Bank of Mongolia E.Batshugar (son of N.Enkhbayar) is likely to be selected as minister. Although E.Batshugar was present at State House with his father, he did not participate in the meeting with Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold.
Irregular Session of Parliament Closes with President Announcing Intention to Veto Law on Pardon
August 14 (Parliament.mn) The irregular plenary session of the State Great Hural (Parliament) commenced on August 03, 2015 is ended as scheduled today on August 14, 2015.
In his closing speech, Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD noted, "During this period, the Laws on Fire arms, Supporting economic transparency and Pardon were ratified. In addition, a parliament draft resolution on Dismissal of some members of the government was also resolved.
The planned Laws on Criminal /revised version/ and on Violation are postponed and will be reviewed at the Autumn plenary session of the Parliament.
Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the first democratic election held in Mongolia and the establishment of Parliament with permanent functioning, it is notable that the Law on Pardon was adopted.
Nevertheless, the President of Mongolia Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ claimed to issue a veto on the Law on Pardon and thus, it is inevitable to re-call an irregular plenary session to consider this issue. In the meantime, six Ministers of Cabinet to be submitted by Prime Minister will be also discussed".
Legal Standing Committee Chair D.Ganbat Makes Statement About Law on Pardon
August 14 (Parliament.mn) On August 14, 2015, Chairman of the standing committee on Legal affairs, MP D.Ganbat gave a comprehensive information to reporters regarding recently approved the Law on Pardon.
In his statement, MP D.Ganbat said, the Law of Mongolia on Pardon was adopted by the State Great Hural (Parliament) on August 11, 2015. Persons committed crimes will be exempted from criminal liabilities, defendants from sentences, ones involved in administrative responsibilities from administrative penalties, and the pardons cover those crimes if were acted before 00:00 am of July 2, 2015.
Moreover, 29 crimes committed by persons are not subjects to the law such as treason, espionage, assassination, armed riot, sabotage, homicide, kidnappings, human trafficking, illegal obtaining of human blood, tissue and other organs, hostage, rape, terrorism, terrorist financing, illegal manufacture, acquisition, storage, transportation, delivery and trade of narcotic and psychotropic medicines.
MPP boycotting commission on implementing new law on pardon
August 14 (news.mn) The chief of the "Mongolian People's Party Group" in Parliament, S.Byambatsogt, has sent a note to the chief of the Legal Standing Committee D.Ganbat and the "Amnesty Law" implementation commission.
The note stated that:
- The "Amnesty Law" which was approved for the third time on 11th August, provides amnesty to juveniles, women and old people who have committed crimes as well as for non-serious first-time offenders. They will receive amnesty and their cases will be closed. The MPP Group, therefore supporting the draft law. But, when the Democracy Party Group and the Justice Union approved additional changes in the "Amnesty Law" for example offering amnesty criminals guilty of corruption and abuse of official office, our group refused to participate in the final discussion. Therefore, the MPP Group will not be available to participate in the commission for the implementation of the "Amnesty Law", out of respect to the laws, justice and the interests of the Mongolian."
President should veto new law granting amnesty for corruption says TI and TI Mongolia
August 13 (Transparency International) The President of Mongolia should veto a new law granting amnesty for those under investigation for corruption, said Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement and Transparency International Mongolia, its chapter in Mongolia.
The law was passed in a closed door session of the parliament on 11 August without the presence of the opposition parties. Unless president blocks law within 5 working days and 26 MPs accept this, law will come into force.
Currently 45 out of the 55 cases that the Independent Agency against Corruption in Mongolia (IAAC) is investigating would be terminated and amnesty granted to the accused. The alleged crimes involve more than 32 billion Mongolian Tugrik (US$16.2 million).
The former President N. Enkhbayar, former Prime Minister N. Altankhuyag and others who were under investigation by IAAC, pushed for this new law which also clears criminal records allowing them to continue their political careers.
Parliament speaker Z. Enkhbold supported this controversial law. The former Prime minister is also proposing a law to dismantle the IAAC.
Transparency International-Secretariat and Transparency International Mongolia strongly condemn such actions. "There should be no impunity for the abuse of power; the corrupt must be held to account," said Srirak Plipat, Regional Director for Asia Pacific for Transparency International.
"Politicians should not abuse their power to escape justice. Corruption must not pay and it is time we no longer tolerate impunity for the corrupt. We will politically and socially sanction the corrupt," said L. Tur-OD, chair of TI Mongolia.
This new law if approved will undermine the authority of the IAAC.
In May 2015, Transparency International Mongolia signed a memorandum with the IAAC to work constructively with the IAAC to push for improvements, monitor its performance and advocate for a more enabling environment.
Mongolian Youth Federation's Labor Exchange to Find Jobs for Pardoned Prisoners
August 13 (news.mn) The "Youths' Labor Central Exchange" at the "Mongolian Youths' Federation" claimed to mediate the citizens who will be released from the prison due to the "Amnesty Law" with the Labor Market. Approximately, 3000 prisoners will be released due to the law, and most of them are youths.
In recent years, there are many studying centers opened, which prepare the necessary professions: electrician, welder, plasterer, brick layer, and building decorator for the people who are released from the prison. But the people face the problem in job positions after the graduation. Therefore, "Youths' Labor Central Exchange" decided to organize the studying program "Preparation for the Labor Market" in order to aim and help to their employment which is suggested by entrepreneurs. Their studying program will start from today.
Chairman of Parliament Gives Interview to Russia-24
August 13 (Parliament.mn) On August 12, 2015, Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia Mr. Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD gave an interview to Russia-24, state-owned news channel from the Russian Federation.
Russia-24 correspondent interviewed about current bilateral cooperation, joint investment opportunities and on other topics, where the Chairman Z.Enkhbold expressed his satisfaction on maintained good and friendly relations between our two nations that been lasting for over many centuries and answered on other interested questions.
National Organizing Committee Prepares for OSCE Parliamentary Assembly 2015 Autumn Meeting
August 14 (Parliament.mn) The State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia is hosting the 2015 Autumn Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Ulaanbaatar on September 15-19, 2015.
In this regard, National committee members responsible for organizational issues and providing preparation measures have met today on August 14, 2015.
The Committee is chaired by Vice Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) R.Gonchigdorj, where MP M.Batchimeg is administered as the Vice Chairperson of the National committee and Head of Foreign relations department of the Secretariat of Parliament Ts.Narantungalag as the committee's Secretary.
Moreover, members of the National committee MP L.Bold, Secretary-general of the Secretariat of the Parliament B.Boldbaatar and other authorities from relevant Ministries and organs were present at today's meeting.
Mongolia has been a long-standing Asian Partner for Co-operation of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and joined the OSCE as the 57th participating State on November 21, 2012. 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.
Officials Hold Scheduled Online Meeting with Sukhbaatar Aimag Authorities
August 13 (Parliament.mn) The regular online meeting with local administrative officials organized by Secretariat of the State Great Hural (Parliament) was held in the Open hearing room of the State palace on August 13, 2015.
The scheduled meeting is usually hosted by a parliamentarian(s) to have an interactive dialogue with authorities of an elected district or provincial region. Today's online meeting with administrative staff of Sukhbaatar aimag was chaired by adviser N.Shinebayar representing MP M.Zorigt, where officials from Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Food and Agriculture were present.
The meeting was focused on implementation of works financed by state budget and preparations for wintering, where authorities headed by Governor of Sukhbaatar aimag J.Batsuuri introduced and answered on interested questions regarding current aimag budget, its expenditure, local development fund financing and wintering preparations.
Mongolian customs seizes gold being smuggled by train drivers at China border
August 12 (news.mn) The Mongolian Central Intelligence Agency and State Custom Service intercepted an attempt by criminals to smuggle 15.5kg of contraband gold out of the country. The gold was seized at Zamiin Uud which is the main crossing on the border with China. The criminals were the train drivers, now being held for investigation by the relevant authorities. Previously, another driver had hidden gold inside the locomotive. The Mongolian Customs Service in co-operation with "Ulaanbaatar Railway," organizes an annual study program entitled "How to Check Trains?" The study program is clearly working!
Mongolia is awash in media choices, with even a remote yurt hooked up to 60 channels
By JULIE MAKINEN
August 13 (LA Times) Deep in a desolate, rocky canyon, about 10 miles from the nearest paved road and even farther from any power line, Altai Davaa and her brother, Tsagaana, eke out a simple life. They sleep in a traditional Mongolian yurt, cook over a wood-fire stove, burn animal dung for fuel and use an outhouse. Every morning, she milks her cows.
But when the sun starts to set behind the ruins of a small Buddhist monastery uphill from their encampment, Tsagaana grabs the power cord from his mini solar panel, plugs in his satellite dish and TV, and starts channel surfing. He gets more than 60 stations, offering everything from "Breaking Bad" to Hollywood blockbusters.
"But mostly, I like Mongolian programs," he says. "They're easier to understand."
On that front, he's hardly starved for choice either. Despite having just 3 million inhabitants scattered over an expanse about four times the size of California, Mongolia has 138 homegrown television stations — 80% of them founded in the last 10 years.
They air everything from wrestling tournaments to news and political talk shows, real estate showcases, home shopping programs, the Miss World Mongolia pageant and even the Mongolian Academy Awards.
"It's just crazy," says Bayarmagnai Puntsag, co-founder of Mongolia's National Press Club.
Since embracing democracy and capitalism in 1990, formerly communist Mongolia has become a dynamic outpost of media choice sandwiched between autocratic Russia and China, where authorities keep a tight rein on the press. Mongolia's smorgasbord of options — the nation also has 111 newspapers, 90 magazines and 72 radio stations — is stunning given that 25 years ago, viewers could see only the state-run Mongolian National Broadcaster and a Russian station.
The country has shot up the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, rising from No. 100 in 2012 to No. 54 this year — just five spots behind the United States.
But journalists, station managers and civil society groups say those impressive statistics mask deep problems, particularly in television, the dominant medium. Politicians and businesspeople bankroll and control many of the stations, using them to tout their interests and tar their rivals, but it's hard to know exactly who owns which platform.
The proliferation of channels and the small population mean there's hardly enough advertising money to go around, so many stations have for years pirated content from Hollywood and elsewhere, quickly dubbing the hottest films and TV shows into Mongolian and sending them out in prime time.
Journalists' training is poor and pay is low; many stations accept payments to broadcast stories, or take protection money to keep critical reports off-air.
"If you look at our laws, and our number of outlets, you'd think, oh, we have great media freedom," says Naranjargal Khaskhuu, a former journalist and head of the civil society group Globe International. "But if you look into it, we have lots of problems hiding."
After decades of strict limits on expression, Bayarmagnai says, the scramble to the airwaves was only natural. "Suddenly, we had freedom of speech. That's very appealing to Mongolians; we like to express our thoughts and opinions."
Politicians quickly became involved in the press, and vice versa. The current president, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, was founder of the country's first independent newspaper, Democracy, and was its first editor in chief. He also was involved in establishing Eagle TV, the first private TV station, in 1994. Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg, meanwhile, is a former television host whose catchphrase, "Don't change the channel!" still rings in the ears of many Mongolians.
Oyundari Tsagaan, who earned her master's degree in journalism at UC Berkeley and is general director of Mongolian National Public Radio and TV, or MNB, says politicians want direct megaphones to reach the masses and are reluctant to give them up even if they don't know how to make the platforms professional or profitable.
"I know one of my political friends who owns a TV station.... He said, 'I don't know how many people watch my TV; I have no idea. But all of my PR advisors told me I have to have some media network. That's why I'm having these stations.'"
Oyundari is no outsider to politics. She began her career as a field reporter for MNB, but in recent years served as secretary-general of the Democratic Party. "Some people say, 'The Democratic Party appointed you to this position.' I say, 'No, I used the Democratic Party to get appointed,'" she said. "It's difficult for professionals to go up in the field without getting involved in politics."
The public broadcaster is headquartered in a hulking socialist-era concrete building on a dusty hill on the western side of Ulan Bator, the capital; it's easily identified by the giant antenna looming over it. Inside, paint peels in the dimly lighted hallways and the shabby stairwells.
Since taking the helm, Oyundari says, she's put her foot down on airing pirated programs and tried to get journalists to stop self-censoring and accepting payoffs. But change is hard: Mongolia's mining-fueled economy has slowed in recent years, and the government has cut funding; the broadcaster has laid off 100 people this year.
Bribery is "a habit for some people," she says. "We can't really control everybody."
At least one channel has taken a more activist approach to the problems. News reporters at Mongol TV, a private station that launched in 2009 and has been outspoken about issues of bribery and piracy, conducted what Chief Executive Nomin Chinbat calls a "social experiment," exposing rivals' less-than-scrupulous journalism with a prank that would have made Ashton Kutcher and his "Punk'd" crew proud.
Posing as businessmen, journalists at the station contacted nine rival media outlets and told them that McDonald's was planning to open its first restaurant in the country near the capital's central Genghis Khan square, serving up "McMutton" burgers and goat's milk shakes.
They offered to pay the outlets a few hundred dollars to run the story. Despite some hints — the fake news release identified a key McDonald's official as Mr. P. Rank, for instance — the rival outlets, including MNB, ran with the "news" without checking facts. On its late evening newscast, Mongol TV aired an expose on the setup.
The incident caused a tempest in media circles.
"People have attacked our other businesses, and … a lot of journalists said we were unethical to expose this. They said: We're in the same industry and we should protect each other," says the British-educated Chinbat, sipping coffee in her penthouse office in Mongol TV's modern headquarters near the square.
But the incident prompted more dialogue about journalistic ethics; in January, Chinbat was selected as chairwoman of the newly established Media Council of Mongolia, a nonprofit professional group that aims to raise the standards of news outlets and vet complaints.
There are other signs of maturation too: Bloomberg has opened an affiliate financial TV network in Ulan Bator sponsored by a local bank, and more stations are paying for the rights to foreign programs or shifting to producing their own local content.
The quality of Mongolian dramas has improved greatly in the last few years, says Ben Moyle, the former CEO of Mongolia's Channel One. But dramas are relatively expensive, so stations including Channel One have looked to reality, news and variety shows to keep costs down.
Channel One now has a popular "bus" program, with local notables being interviewed on city buses; a kids' show featuring a talking pony and celebrities; a Friday night music show sponsored by a local beer company; and a program called "Desert Island" on which guests discuss what songs they would want with them if stranded alone.
Mongol TV has bought popular U.S. shows, including "Prison Break" and "The Good Wife," and for the last two years has even aired the Oscar telecast live. The awards broadcast, says Chinbat, commanded top advertising rates — $10 per second — and netted the channel its highest morning viewership.
But without significant consolidation in the sector — forced by either the market or regulators — graft, piracy and other problems are likely to persist.
"I think the government is content to keep the number of outlets high," says Moyle, who's now a consultant to Channel One. "Politicians are the winners when journalism is poor."
Tale of Three Monkeys: Political Parties Conspiring to Pardon Corrupt Criminals
By Jargal "DeFacto" Dambadarjaa
August 16 (UB Post) The parliament has started granting pardons. Last week they passed a law on economic transparency, which gives amnesty to legal entities that hide their revenue to avoid taxation. It was fortunate that the corruption-related revenue, which causes the most frustration among the general public, was not included in the pardons because of feedback from some parliamentarians during the final review of the law.
This week the parliament is going to quietly pass the law on amnesty, which includes a vague clause that would allow being pardoned from corruption crimes. It is odd that the discussion of the amnesty law of a democratic country has been kept from the public.
WHY ARE PARDONS GRANTED?
Pardons release people from punishments that have been legally imposed. International practice shows that pardons are historically given by a head of state to rectify decisions that resulted in unfair punishment.
In Mongolia, pardons were given in 1991, 1996, 2000, 2006, and 2009, in accordance with the law on amnesty, and in 2008 under the law on tax amnesty. The two laws are the reason why pardons are being granted in 2015. A total of 6,600 people are in jail today in Mongolia. Approximately 330 are women and 30 are juveniles under the age of 18. About half of all prisoners are first-time offenders who have been sentenced to serve time in jail.
If the law on amnesty now under discussion is passed, about 50 percent of all prisoners, including most women and juvenile offenders, will be given a pardon. This is a humanitarian step showing that society believes that these offenders will not commit a crime again. On the other hand, questions are being asked in Mongolia's society today: Why have these people been sentenced if they are to be pardoned, and what degree of fairness do our criminal law and court decisions follow?
In particular, our society is losing faith in Mongolia's legal system and the authorities, because the pardons currently under discussion would excuse people from crimes of corruption, where they've misused their position or power and are about to go to trial. Ruling power is obtained by political parties. In other words, it goes to a few individuals. Mongolians already know that the corruption-related cases of no fewer than 50 individuals who are representatives of those political parties have caused far more negative consequences than the offenses of the other 3,000 people who are about to be pardoned.
PURPOSE OF THE 2015 AMNESTY LAW
If the current draft of the law on amnesty is approved, it would affect the discovery process, investigation, and decision making related to many alleged crimes that are being examined by the anti-corruption agency today. Also, the law would basically stop the fight against corruption that has been started loudly in recent years. This information is floating around in the public. On Monday it was reported by medee.mn that there are currently 55 investigations being carried out by the Independent Authority against Corruption (IAAC), and 45 of them would be dropped under the law being discussed by the parliament.
Clause 9 of the draft law states that pardons do not apply to those who have committed crimes of receiving or brokering corruption, in accordance with clauses 268 and 270.2 of the criminal law of Mongolia. However, the draft law grants pardons to those who work for a state-owned legal entity and have misused their power. The 45 cases that are currently under investigation have caused damage of 12.2 billion MNT to the government. If the law is passed, there would be no legal grounds to impose punishment on those who committed crimes before the time specified in the law, even if the investigations find them culpable.
Clause 4.3 of the draft law on amnesty says that pardons will release individuals from initial and additional sentences that were imposed on those who committed major crimes and are to be jailed for the first time. This fully applies to the corruption cases being investigated by the IAAC. It is the basic, ethical responsibility of lawmakers to not include crimes of abuse of power in the pardon law.
Clause 5.1.1 of the draft law says that pardons will remove three years from the remaining jail time for serious offenders. It would free several politicians who were found to be involved in sensational cases and pardon them from their corruption charges.
Also, Clause 6.1.1 of the draft law states that those who finished serving their sentences before the law was enacted will be freed from the remaining time required to clear the charges against them, in accordance with Clause 78.2 of the criminal law. The amnesty law would clear approximately 200 people who were imposed with sentences other than jail time, those on probation, or those with delayed sentences.
Clause 7.1 of the draft law says that those who are first-time serious offenders and whose cases are in the registration, investigation, or trial stage will be cleared of their charges.
The objective of a draft law that says "free those who have committed a crime from responsibilities" deserves attention. The pardons free the convicted from their responsibility to serve a sentence only. There are no legal grounds to convict or clear someone during the investigation stage. This is being overlooked in the current discussions. Also, they are not talking about whether the damages or consequences are being compensated or not when discussing pardons.
Clause 9.1.7 of the draft law says that those who have committed the crimes of receiving and brokering corruption will not be pardoned. Besides these two offenses, the crime of abuse of power should be added to the list. In particular, those who have committed crimes stated in clauses 263, 264, 265, and 266 of the criminal law must not be granted a pardon.
Having signed the international convention to fight corruption, Mongolia has been talking about how we are combating corruption and taking more substantive measures. Granting a pardon from a sentence must not free the person from the responsibility to provide compensation for the damages of their crime. Therefore, Clause 9 of the law on amnesty should include paying compensation in the requirements of receiving a pardon.
The amnesty law would pardon many people who received unfair sentences. It should not be done in bulk, but in groups. It is fair for Mongolia's society to demand compensation if pardons are granted. However, Mongolia's society clearly sees that it is not fair that the ruling political parties are operating under the principle of "exchanging spies" to free corrupt criminals from sentences and look faultless in the next election.
There is now a strong resemblance between Mongolian politicians and the three monkeys: one blocking his ears, one covering his eyes, and one covering his mouth.
Trans. by B.AMAR
MP Temuujin: Amnesty Law should be devoted to the public, not the corrupt
August 16 (UB Post) The Amnesty Law was amended on August 11. This specific law has been amended six times in the last 25 years and the most recent being adopted in 2009.
"On average, the Amnesty Law has been revised once every four years," said Member of Parliament Kh.Temuujin.
The following is an interview with MP Kh.Temuujin about the new Amnesty Law.
How is the new Amnesty Law different from previous versions approved in 2006 and 2009?
The previous law used to pardon first-time convicts of light, less serious and accidental crimes, but didn't show amnesty to serious and exceptionally serious crimes or reduce prison sentences.
The history of the new Amnesty Law began in 2013. Parliament initiated a policy to make the circulation of currency in the shadow economy transparent, legalize it, and bring it into formal investment, in effort to overcome the economic crisis during autumn 2013. Parliament instructed the government to urgently submit laws on transparency and amnesty, consistently, I submitted the Amnesty Law myself in spring 2014, during the government led by N.Altankhuyag when I served as the Minister of Justice. The main focus of the law was entrepreneurs and wealth creators.
People are forced to hide their income, evade taxes, and conceal money that could potentially conflict with the law because of unclear and complicated legislation, as well as bureaucracy. This leads to charges of money laundering. The Amnesty Law was submitted to expose hidden funds during times when investors were chased away and facing investment shortage.
Later, the new government submitted a narrower version, retracted it, and recently submitted a more broad scoped version. It legislated to reduce a year from prison sentences from serious and exceptionally special crimes, but the draft law was changed around 75 percent during parliamentary discussions.
You tweeted that your position to not pardon the corrupt was denied at all levels. Which members added this provision to give amnesty to the corrupt?
A closed discussion was held for the Amnesty Law. It becomes open when the law is finalized, approved and implemented. Once it becomes open, positions of MPs and party groups will become transparent. I can't say anything right now because it hasn't been finalized.
Standards of the previous law, to give amnesty to youth, light and less serious crimes and women with infants, was issued. I criticized that some official cases were missing. Yet the Justice Coalition suggested pardoning corruption and bribery cases. Obviously, members disagreed. Unfortunately, it was decided to give this type of amnesty due to majority votes.
Personally, I believe that both the Economic Transparency Law and Amnesty Law should be passed. It will reduce consequences of the Criminal Code, the reason for too many prison punishments. Besides, it'll free the hands of wealth creators and create jobs. The law should have been designated for ordinary people striving to rebuild the economy rather than for lawmakers and officials who are passing a law for themselves. But the law was reversed and became a tool for lawmakers, in the last two days of discussion. Therefore, I opposed the Amnesty Law.
People say that the government, to be established by the Democratic Party (DP), was used as collateral and the law was dedicated for one specific person. Can you comment on this?
That's the public opinion on social media. I can't be polarized. The Amnesty Law should be approved. There are many mothers, fathers and children who've been wrongfully sentenced to prison and are waiting for their release. For the sake of these people, the Amnesty Law must be passed. There are also wealth creators whose little income is robbed off due to pressure from law enforcement agencies. Still, we shouldn't give openings to the corrupt or higher officials, or the public trust will be lost.
If the public confidence for the legislation is lost, instead of simple amnesties to few people, it'll become a precondition for national disorder. We can't redeem the bigger interests and future of the nation under the guise of a misunderstanding within Parliament and instability of the government. The basic values of legislation and justice shouldn't be ignored. Situations look dire in Parliament as the DP is really trying to establish its government. They're about to fall into the hole they dug up. Personally, I don't think the DP's true nature would allow it to cripple the nation while trying to save itself.
The DP shouldn't say it'll fight corruption and still encourage people using the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) for political purposes. These are controversial. We'll fight corruption through big policies while even stopping operations of small groups having legal bodies work for their small interests. The legal environment should be improved, instead of giving pardons to everyone regardless of their crimes,.
Did the change in the Amnesty Law become a step back from Mongolia's obligations to international treaties?
Mongolia has to follow certain obligations under international treaties. It's obliged to consider certain acts as crimes and take liability, but also obliged to spare and give amnesty to certain crimes. Pardoning people is controversial to Mongolia's duties to international treaties. The Mongolian state is making the state valueless and taking state decisions to black market level. Corruption should be strictly fought. The fact that state decisions are bought internally means that it can be easily acquired by foreigners with more funds. This also impacts national security. The Mongolia's State National Security Policy is to stop corruption undermining the national security from the base and build up an iron fence for it. Fighting corruption is much more valuable than deciding where six ministers will be assigned or how the government should be set up in the future.
There was an article in the law that criminals will not be relieved from compensations for damages after receiving amnesty and that the individual, business or organization can address the court in accordance to judicial review procedures if they find the amount of damage unreasonable. Has this article been included in the new law?
Yes. It's been repeated in the protocol. It can be checked once the Amnesty Law has become open to public. Executive bodies have also promised to comply. If prisoners are pardoned from their prison sentence with their damage amounts, executive bodies will have to repay damages under compulsion.
Doesn't the state become the victim of corruption, officio case and embezzlement of state budget? Has there been an instance when the state claimed damages and collected compensation?
Corruption itself is a difficult phenomenon. We use this word for preventive purposes and not during the crime. At the act of the crime, we say that someone has abused or exceeded their power, improperly used public funds or accepted bribery. The public interest becomes the victim but no direct damage is given. Since the crime they commit is connected to bribery, their revenue is confiscated. The same amount of revenue to confiscate as the amount of bribery accepted. Whether this is specified in the Amnesty Law or not doesn't matter because it's written in the Criminal Code. The actual damage can be discussed for crimes related to abuse of power and improper use of public funds, and the victim is the state. In this case, the respective ministry, agency or agency representing the state will determine how much will be compensated from the guilty party with valid proof and reason. However, Mongolia hasn't developed this type of culture, tradition or experience yet.
The IAAC reported that over 200 officio cases were inspected and resolved. They said that their work would go to waste if all these people are pardoned. The Amnesty Law, submitted by MP N.Altankhuyag, made it so that seven out of some 10 types of crimes the IAAC inspects is transferred to another organization. Have you seen this?
Yes, I've seen it. There are pros and cons in the draft law submitted by MP N.Altankhuyag. I will not say it's 100 percent correct or wrong. It's impossible for the IAAC to inspect crimes related to inspection or those committed by agencies fighting against crimes. In other words, the IAAC shouldn't be inspecting its own operations. But we shouldn't be taking one side and should look at the law rationally. It's appropriate for the IAAC to complain about the Amnesty Law because all the decisions and punishments it determines for organizations have been cancelled out. This agency will basically become jobless if all the works they've completed in the past or have planned in the future have been annulled. Corruption and officio cases aren't as easily detected as theft and robbery on streets. It's always hidden and concealed and often revealed five to 10 years later. If all the crimes they inspect are pardoned, every case that will take at least five years to discover will not be considered as crimes.
In the end, the Amnesty Law shouldn't be denied completely. Around 90 percent of it is correct. Just a few things had problems. All we need to do is correct these problems.
Mongolia PM attends launch of first dry cement plant
Bishkek, August 14 (AKIpress) - Mongolia's first dry process technology cement plant has been commissioned in Dornogovi province on August 14, the Montsame National News Agency reports.
The plant's capacity is 1 million ton of cement a year. It has been built in the framework of the Moncement Project implemented for $250 million funding by the Monpolymet Group, the Development Bank of Mongolia and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg and local authorities.
Commissioning of the plant has also created more than 500 jobs, and aims to develop additional small and medium enterprises in the area and to increase income of the local population.
Darkhan Thermal Power Plant Turns 50
Ulaanbaatar, August 14 (MONTSAME) "Darkhan Thermal Power Plant" State-owned company has been entitled to be awarded "Labor Merit's Red Banner Order" in accordance with a Presidential decree. The award was handed August 13 by the Chief of Staff of President's Office P.Tsagaan at 50th anniversary celebration of the power plant.
The decision to establish the Darkhan power plant was made on March 31, 1961. The plant was commissioned in October of 1965 with capacity of 48 MWT. Today, the entity is supplying every year some 200 million KWT electricity to Mongolia's energy system, and 500 thousand gcal of heat to Darkhan city.
The Presidential decree says: Darkhan Thermal Power Plant is to be awarded State Red Banner Order in the high recognition of the hard work of generations of workers of the plant , on the occasion of the 2224th anniversary of the first state – Hun Empire, the 809th anniversary of the Great Mongol Empire, and the 104th anniversary of Restoration of Independence and National Freedom and the 94th anniversary of the People's Revolution.
August 6 (Tengri) Knowing our founder's enthusiasm for anything that involves climbing a mountain, or riding a bike – in the urban jungle or off the beaten track in Scotland – it's no surprise that Tengri fashion shows don't usually involve comfy seats, a glass of champagne and air conditioning.
That's why the new capsule collection of knitwear, created with 100% Mongolian Khangai noble yarns, was unveiled in Mongolia during the Yak Festival, to coincide with the world-famous Nadaam festivals held every July.
We are honoured that Tengri was invited to be part of the Mongolia Yak Festival, a celebration of community collaboration. This event was organised by the Arkhangai local government and Arkhangai Federation of Pasture User Groups, with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Jambaldorj Sorsor, Director of Arkhangai Federation of Pasture User Groups, commented: "The Yak Festival honours a creature integral to our livelihoods and this year we celebrate the growth and support of herder families involved in our co-operatives, enabled by an international partnership established with Tengri."
This new collection, following the 'Warrior' Collection of 2014, highlights the profound importance of the relationships between nomadic herders, animals and the land in Mongolia.
Joining an international cast of riders from Britain and America, the catwalk show featured Mongolian models scouted from local herder families in the run-up to the festival. Challenging weather conditions did not stop anyone from putting on a fantastic show and the local community enjoying it.
The show previewed pieces from Tengri's new Autumn/Winter 'Rider' Collection, which will launch later this year. The capsule collection demonstrates simple classic cuts, which are utilitarian in style, unisex and easy to wear.
Inspired by the spirit of the 'Rider' – evoking a sense of adventure and journeys to distant and unfamiliar terrain – it's no surprise an expedition of fellow riders from Tumbleweedbikes rolled up on fatbikes and converged at this remote spot. American riders, Daniel, Jay and Aaron, were joined by British rider, Cass Gilbert, an avid cyclist, adventure-travel journalist and regular contributor to Sidetracked, Cranked, Mountain Flyer and Boneshaker magazines. Like us, these guys love the idea of an adventurous trek, new destinations, freedom of movement and the challenges offered by the trail. We even persuaded Aaron to model our collection.
Designed by Nancy Johnston, Tengri's founder, together with in-house designer Carlo Volpi, as well as textile and fashion students from Heriot-Watt university, the garments will be made in Scotland and London, where quality craftsmanship and technological innovation add new value to Mongolian Khangai noble yarns.
Meet Tengri at the London Design Festival this Summer
If you would like to discover more about Tengri yak fibre and textiles, come and meet us during the London Design Festival from 19 to 27 September. We will be showcasing the works of designers and artisanal makers who work with yak fibre, in collaboration with 19 Greek Street.
APNIC provides IPv6 deployment support to Mongolia
Building IPv6 capacity in our region
August 7 (APNIC) Over the last few years, APNIC and the ITU have been collaborating on IPv6 capacity building in developing economies.
APNIC also provided some support to the ITU in delivering Country Direct Assistance in Mongolia from 29 June to 3 July 2015. This event was coordinated at the request of Mongolia's Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) to the ITU to provide a similar IPv6 infrastructure security workshop as the CoE one.
We also took the opportunity to visit Mobicom, Univision and Information and the Communication Networking Company based on their request to the ITU and CRC to discuss some of the issues they were facing in deploying IPv6.
Direct face-to-face meetings can provide tangible input on IPv6 for organizations that are currently planning to adopt IPv6. Mongolia's CRC support and encouragement to deploy IPv6 in Mongolia is greatly appreciated by the ITU and APNIC.
APNIC is pleased to be supporting these initiatives and looks forward participating in future events.
Online poll being held on whether to continue license plate restrictions
August 12 (gogo.mn) Polls whether Ulaanbaatar City residents are for or against the license plate restrictions are being conducted.
The poll started on August 10th and to be lasted for ten days. involving over 12 thousand residents. 85 percent of which have voted for dropping the restrictions, while 14 percent voted against. Detailed information is shown in the graph below.
City officials considered that license plate restrictions can be canceled due to many reforms have made over the past years in public transport.
Articulated buses begin service on Peace Avenue
August 16 (UB Post) Nine 18.7-meter-long articulated buses started serving the public for transportation from Tavan Shar to Peace Avenue and the Officer's Palace on August 15.
A renewed public transportation plan began on August 15, aiming to decrease traffic and decrease the overlapping of public transportation routes.
In locations identified as needing the most attention, 170 large buses and trolleybuses, 20 of which are articulated, will be transporting passengers along seven routes. Fifty-two short cycle buses will travel on six routes, including Tavan Shar to Sapporo and from the Officer's Palace to Dunjingarav.
Thirty-eight large and 30 mid-sized buses will be in service along 13 routes to Shargamorit, Gorodok, Terelj, Nalaikh, Ulziit, Tuul Village, Sanzai, Nairamdal Camp, Biocombinat, Emeelt, Khonkhor, Malbordokh, and Baruun Turuu. Five hundred large buses will serve the routes remaining unchanged.
Payment methods were also revised under the public transportation reforms. Passengers paying fares with the new bus smart cards are eligible for free transfers within 30 minutes of swiping their card.
Smart cards for college students, available for 3,200 MNT, are now out of print and will be available again when school starts.
Denver Mayor Feeling Right At Home While Visiting Sister City In Mongolia
DENVER, August 13 (CBS4) – Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is currently in Mongolia on a cultural exchange and business development mission.
Hancock is visiting Denver's sister city of Ulaanbaatar with the Office of Human Rights and Community Partnerships and a Denver Sister Cities and Trade delegation.
"The Denver-Ulaanbaatar relationship is the city's 10th and most recently established sister city, and the visit by Mayor Hancock will mark the first time a sitting mayor of Denver will travel to the Mongolian capital city," Amber Miller with the mayor's office said in a statement.
Denver is home to one of the largest Mongolian populations in the United States. The mayor's mission is to strengthen ties between the two cities.
"Global connectivity is imperative for cities to compete and succeed in the 21st century economy," Hancock said. "Planting our flag in south China and elevating the importance of our sister city connections gives us ample opportunity to expand Denver's global reach."
The mayor's Facebook page shows a photo of Hancock with Mongolian Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg with a Denver Broncos shirt and hat.
"Denver and Mongolia have had several cultural and educational exchanges over the years, but one of our most fun exports is the number of Denver Broncos fans we've created over there, including Mongolian Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg, who I presented with some team gear during our meeting. #BroncosWorld in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia," the Facebook post states.
Hancock also appeared on a national talk show called "Jargal DeFacto" while in Ulaanbaatar with Derek Okubo, who got his MBA at the Daniels School of Business at the University of Denver.
Hancock will also participate in a trade roundtable discussion. It will "focus on Denver's past efforts to redevelop the former Stapleton Airport site as Ulaanbaatar seeks to do the same with their current airport."
The mayor, along with Colorado university representatives, will also meet with government officials on strengthening and growing education exchanges.
Travel and accommodations are being paid for by Denver International Airport and the Denver Sister Cities International fund.
PM sneaks up on Chinggis Khaan Airport, gives directions to prepare for 2016 ASEM
August 14 (gogo.mn) PM Ch.Saihanbileg visits Chinggis Khaan International Airport and construction process of new transit hall and expansion of passenger hall. This was the visit without prior notice and the international flight from Seoul to Ulaanbaatar was landing during that time. City Mayor E.Bat-Uul who is implementing "Friendly Ulaanbaatar" program accompanied PM at Chinggis Khaan International Airport.
Last year, Chinggis Khaan International Airport served to 1.1 million passengers and international and domestic 50 flights are being done during the summer time.
Airport officials emphasized that as tourism and investment increases, number of passengers will increase further.
"However, it is inappropriate that passengers are welcomed by many civil servants of border, customs and professional inspection agencies after the plane landed at the airport. There is no need to create bureaucracy and uncomfortable environment for both domestic and international passengers. Those checks should be conducted by one employee," said PM.
Moreover, re-examining of passenger luggage at the border is not meeting with any international standards, stated City Mayor E.Bat-Uul. As this process creates the doubling of the security check, which has been already done at the point of boarding, PM Ch.Saikhanbileg ordered to stop the re-examination after the landing and let the passengers to access our country border without barrier.
Next year, Ulaanbaatar city will host the ASEM meeting. In view of the upcoming ASEM meeting and other major events to be held in Ulaanbaatar city, Chinggis Khaan International Airport is building transit hall and is expanding its airstrip and passenger hall. PM acquainted with the process of those construction. Total of MNT 20.7 billion repair and renovation work is being completed and it will be commissioned within September 30, reported by the Press and Public Relation Department of Parliament.
Ulaanbaatar Appoints Working Group on Upgrading Protection of Water Sources
August 13 (news.mn) On 12th August 2015, Ulaanbaatar City Mayor E.Bat-Uul issued a protocol according to which the working team of the "Modernization of the Water Source Protection Zone in Ulaanbaatar" is approved. Under the protocol (A/656), the deputy chief at the Ecology and Green Development of the City Administration, T.Bat-Erdene will work as head of the working team.
UB shops, businesses spend ₮9.6 billion on landscaping this summer
August 14 (news.mn) Since 25th May, the Ulaanbaatar City Administration Authority has been evaluating how environmentally "friendly" or "unfriendly" various shops and companies in the city are. The entities in the first group receive "smiley" stickers and those in the second receive "pig" stickers. Since the evaluation started, the 57 working teams examined 73033 entities, and provided 2186 entities with smiley stickers and 1368 with pig stickers. As a the result of the competition, shops and companies have spent MNT 9.6 billion on landscaping and cleaning 144.8 hectares and a green area of 23.4 hectares. Currently, the City Administration Authority has terminated the operations of 1 entity entirely and 16 entities temporarily.
National Gender Commission Cleared to Open UB Branch
August 13 (news.mn) The Ulaanbaatar City Mayor has authorized the establishment of a new "Branch Commission in Ulaanbaatar at the National Gender Commission" and preparing its constitution. Under the protocol (A/654) Mayor Bat-Uul also appointed Ts.Enkhtsengel as head of the branch commission, whose tasks will be to fulfill the decisions of "Gender Equality Law" and the "National Gender Commission", as well as preparing scheduled work plans and annual budgets.
"The Color Event" to be held in UB for the first time on September 12
August 12 (gogo.mn) "The Color event UB" which allows you to run with your family and friends while being colored to be held in Ulaanbaatar city for the first time.
The event will be organized on Sep 12 at 03PM at National Park. Participants will run along 3km road from start line to finish while fighting with paint. White shirt, black sunglass, a bag of paint and drink is included in the ticket.
3 km road may sound like long but participants are allowed to walk. However, particpants will be colored with a different paints at each 600 meters.
Let's not miss this opportunity to run and have fun with your friends, family and colleagues while being colored.
For more information on the event, please click here.
Mogi: doesn't "The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts" sound so much better?
Hidden Gems of UB: The Fine Art Museum of Zanabazar
August 13 (gogo.mn) The city of Ulaanbaatar offers numerous brilliant museums to visitors and residents. And the Fine Arts Museum of Zanabazar is a real treat for museum lovers and Buddhist art fans though it's less famous compared to the Bogd Khan's Winter Palace and the Choijin Lama Temple Museum. The Fine Arts museum was founded in 1966, and is renowned for displaying the precious works of G. Zanabazar – Mongolia's first Buddhist leader, including the statues of Sita Tara, the Five Dhayani Buddhas and the Bodhi Stupa.
Initially opened with over 300 exhibits the museum now has 12 exhibition galleries covering Mongolian arts from ancient civilizations up to the beginning of the 20th century, comprising artistic works of Mongolian masters of the 18-20th centuries, Buddhist coral masks of Tsam dance rituals and exquisite Thangkas, as well as the famous paintings of B. Sharav entitled "A Day in Mongolia" and "Airag feast". Modern arts are displayed separately in the Arts Gallery section of the museum, where the works of Mongolian contemporary artists are exhibited regularly.
Zanabazar, also known as Undur Gegeen Zanabazar or the Bogd Jebzundamba (1635-1723), was the grandson of Abtai Sain Khan and a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. It's said that at an early age little Zanabazar showed incredible talent at learning and arts, and miraculous occurrences took place in his surroundings. He was crowned as the Buddhist leader of Mongolia at a tender age of 5 and was later sent to Tibet to advance his studies of Buddhism. Upon returning home Zanabazar started creating a distinctive Mongolian style in Buddhist arts and architecture, and earned his place in the world art history by producing a series of sculptures classified today as the style of the "Zanabazar school", characterized as hollow, yet seamless brass castings expressing the ideals of philosophy, human beauty and mercy. Examples of such works exhibited in the museum are the "Dhyani Buddhas", "White Tara", and "Bodhi Stupa".
Audio guides in 2 languages (English, Mongolian) well as English speaking museum guides are available (pre-booking needed for English speaking guide: call +976-11-326060 or +976-11-326061). For more info about the Fine Art Museum of Zanabazar please visit their website www.zanabazarfam.mn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The museum location: Juulchin Street – 38, Barilgachdiin Talbai (5min walk from the Sukhbaatar/Genghis Square), Chingeltei District, Ulaanbaatar.
The museum timetable: everyday 08:00-17:00 (summer), and 10:00-17:00 (winter).
Current ticket price: 5000 MNT adult, 2000 MNT (students), 1600 MNT (children). Photo permit: 20000 MNT and video permit costs 25000 MNT.
Photos are provided by Zanabazar Fine Art Museum.
Prepared by Zola, General Manager of Mongolian Tourism Association for GoGo Travel. © All rights reserved 2015. www.TravelMongolia.org; Tel/Fax: +976-7000-7820
Statues of UB #8: Commander J.Lhagvasuren
August 14 (gogo.mn) On March 16th of 1912 twin boys were born in Saihan soum of Bulgan aimag. The youngest boys have one brother and five younger sisters and no one could imagine that one of the twin would become commander of Mongolia.
Bronze monument dedicated to Mongolian hero, Corps Commissar of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Army and colonel general J.Lhagvasuren was erected in 2000 by the initiative of J.Lhagvasuren Heritage Foundation and it was crafted by the original design of L.Ganhuyag.
The monument located in front of Orchlon school, Beijing street, 8th khoroo of Suhbaatar District.
J.Lhagvasuren was Minister of Army in 1939, co-commander of Mongolian Armed Force in 1945 with H.Choibalsan, vice Minister of Defense on 1953 and Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Buryat in 1978.
He became soldier at his age 20 willingly and learned military skill well. Three years after, he went to Russia to study as politician for two years. During his study, he met with Marshal H.Choibalsan who was paying visit to Russia.
During the Khalkh River battle, he was working as deputy commander of Zhukov.
In 1941, he married with younger sister of Bogd Khaan and dancer of National Musical Drama Theatre Ts.Dashtseden and raised one son and two daughters.
He wrote and published three books during 1971-1979. His last book was finished and published by the editor Da.Damdindorj and B.Janchiv in 1984.
Mogi: owned by former PM N.Altankhuyag
Khaan Jims Camp - Taste Seabuckthorn Straight from the Field
August 14 (gogo.mn) Are you looking for the most comfortable camp nearby Ulaanbaatar city? During our visit to Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex, we found that cozy, attractive and four seasons camp named Khaan Jims.
It is located 3 km away from the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex and just an easy 70km drive from Ulaanbaatar city to the east. Khaan Jims camp offers beautiful view of Tuul river valley. There's a possibility of biking, playing football and basketball, archery, wifi and karaoke rooms for your leisure.
- Prices for the per night at ger is MNT 180.000 or USD 90 (Standard), MNT 220.000 USD 110 (Lux)
- Prices for the per night at apartment is MNT 220.000 or USD 110
One specific of the Khaan Jims camp is its sea buckthorn field. The field covers 4 hectares of land and enables you to taste the fresh seabuckthorn and seabuckthorn products including jam and juice. Interestingly, they celebrate Seabuckthorn Holiday annually in September.
Moreover, there you can able to organize training, seminar and meeting at its conference room with capacity of 50 people or the big Ger with capacity of 70 people. Also, the camp provides playground with sandpit for your children.
Restaurant of the camp has capacity of 50 people and serves European and Asian cuisine at MNT 8000 - 20.000 (USD 4 - 10).
For more information about Khaan Jims camp or reservation please contact at +976-11353700. If you decided to visit there, you should book the camp before four to five days of your arrival.
Previously, we delivered you the article about activities around Chinggis Khan Statue Complex. You can try the activities in following article while visiting at Khaan Jims camp.
Enjoy the summer!
Japan, U.S., Mongolia mull first trilateral foreign minister talks
August 13 (Kyodo) Japan, the United States and Mongolia are considering holding their first trilateral foreign ministerial talks in a bid to tap into Mongolia's close ties with North Korea to settle a host of issues involving Pyongyang, diplomatic sources said Thursday.
By drawing Mongolia into a multilateral framework, Japan and the United States hope that Mongolia can play a role in helping resume the stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program and making progress on the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, the sources said.
The six-party dialogue, aimed at ending the reclusive country's nuclear ambitions, has been deadlocked since late 2008. The talks involve the two Koreas, Japan, China, the United States and Russia.
The three countries intend to hold a meeting of senior diplomats next month to discuss the timing of talks at the foreign ministerial level, the sources said.
The step to hold a foreign ministerial meeting among Japan, the United States and Mongolia is in line with an agreement made by the leaders of Japan and Mongolia in 2013 to hold a regular trilateral dialogue with the United States, the sources said.
They will work out plans to convene the trilateral foreign ministerial meeting on the fringes of international conferences through 2016.
The sources said a high-ranking Mongolian government official met with an aide of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in late July in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator. They agreed to first hold a senior-level meeting with the United States at an early date.
The senior-level meeting is likely to take place in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September, the sources said.
The topic came up when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Mongolian Foreign Minister Lundeg Purevsuren in mid-July in the United States, the sources said.
Japan is likely to be represented by Junichi Ihara, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, and the United States by Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, the sources said.
Tokyo has been keen to continue its cooperation with Ulan Bator in negotiating with North Korea over the abduction issue given that Japan has no diplomatic ties with the North.
The Mongolian capital was the place where the parents of Megumi Yokota, an abductee seen as a symbol of the long-unresolved issue, were allowed by North Korea to secretly meet with her daughter Kim Eun Gyong in March 2014.
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj has said he sent a letter through his aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in early July, with the letter containing a proposal to move forward the abduction issue.
India cabinet approves MOU with Mongolia on establishing basis for cooperation on new and renewable energy
To encourage and promote technical bilateral cooperation on new and renewable energy
August 13 (Business Standard) The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, gave its ex-post-facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Mongolia for five years. This MoU was signed at Ulaanbaatar during the visit of the Prime Minister to Mongolia on 17th May, 2015.
The signing of the MoU will help establish the basis for a cooperative institutional relationship, to encourage and promote technical bilateral cooperation on the new and renewable energy, on the basis of mutual benefit, equality and reciprocity.
Azerbaijani Premier meets chief of Mongolian General Authority for Border Protection
August 14 (AzerNews) Azerbaijani Prime Minister Artur Rasizade has met chief of the General Authority for Border Protection of Mongolia Sharkhuu Lkhachinjav.
The two hailed the relations between the two countries. They highlighted the importance of developing ties between the State Border Service of Azerbaijan and Mongolian Ministry of Justice.
They also discussed prospects for cooperation on border surveillance and security, checkpoints, operation conditions at state borders, and collaboration in international organizations.
Chief of Azerbaijan's State Border Service Elchin Guliyev was present at the meeting.
AzerTac state news agency reported
Mongolian Ambassador finds second home in VN
August 13 (VNS) Mongolian Ambassador Dorj Enkhbat is one of the few foreign envoys who has lived for a long time in Viet Nam.
In fact, he has spent 20 years in an official capacity in the country and another 10 years in a private capacity. He is now considered an expert on the country.
The Ambassador said that he could never forget the first time he visited Viet Nam.
"It was in November 1978 and I was only 18 years old. It was also the first time I went abroad, so I kept mementos," he said.
In 1978, he was among two Mongolian students chosen to study at the Ha Noi University. He was excited to discover a country that he had only known through photos in magazines.
"I was curious to see how people lived. Previously I saw photos of women holding guns and taking part in the war. I saw the burned houses. I admired the courage of Vietnamese people."
From Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital, he arrived in Ha Noi by train. It was at midnight when he arrived. There was no electricity. The whole city was sunk in darkness.
The hardship he witnessed in Ha Noi just three years after the war first discouraged the young man who had become used to a comfortable life in Ulan Bator.
"The power supply was interrupted three times a day, there was no electricity in the evenings after 9pm," he said.
"In the evening, when I was riding a bike, I only knew there was someone who was riding besides me when I heard them. There were no lights or horns."
Enkhbat also faced big difficulties in communicating with Vietnamese people, as he could not speak Vietnamese when he first arrived. During the first year at the university, he learned Vietnamese.
"They spoke Vietnamese, I spoke Russian, we couldn't understand each other, and had to communicate by hands, but it was still so hard."
"During the two first days, I cried a lot. I wanted to come back to Ulan Bator. But I didn't even know how to get to the train station in Ha Noi, because I couldn't communicate with Vietnamese people."
To overcome the loneliness, he wrote to his parents once a week, so that he could receive the letter of his parents every two months. At that time, it took one month for a letter sent from Ha Noi to get to Ulan Bator.
However, the loneliness soon went by when he could make friends with local residents.
'I was touched by the kindness of the people. In the evening, when the power was off, I got downstairs to talk with security guards and other students, so I could quickly improve my Vietnamese and make good friends."
Enkhbat still keeps memories of the State-subsidised economy. Besides a modest monthly allocation from Vietnamese government, every month, the Mongolian student was provided with an extra of 10kg of rice, one piece of soap and 1.5kg of meat that he gave to canteen staff at the university who cooked for students.
"If I was still hungry, I bought bread at the train station. I went to Sword Lake with friends, bought beer to drink so as I was not hungry any more," he said.
During the subsidy period, food, goods, and services were purchased with coupons or food stamps issued by the government.
"One time, I was invited to a Vietnamese friend's house. We were all hungry. My friend took three food ration stamps to Nguyen Du Street to exchange for two bowls of rice and one bowl of vegetable soup."
"I was touched to see that my Vietnamese friends shared with me many things, even though they had a difficult life. During those difficult days, I found many good Vietnamese friends".
"Those were difficult years, but the most beautiful years in my life," he said with emotion.
After four years of study in Ha Noi, Enkhbat went back to Ulan Bator to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But he kept coming back to work in Viet Nam, always interested in its culture, its streets and its people.
In 1986, he returned to Ha Noi and worked as an interpreter at the Mongolian Embassy. In 1990, he went back to Mongolia, but one year later he returned and worked as Third Secretary at the embassy until 1996.
After studies in Britain, he was again in Viet Nam and worked from 2003 to 2006 as Counsellor at the embassy. And in 2012, he returned in the capital as his country's Ambassador until now.
"Every time I have to chose a country to work, the President of Mongolia suggests several different countries, but I only want to come back to Viet Nam," he said. "For me, Viet Nam is my second country and I have a very strong attachment to it."
The 55-year-old diplomat said he was proud to have spent half of his life living in Viet Nam and witness relations between the two countries develop.
He said that his wife and two sons also loved Viet Nam.
"My eldest son was born in Bach Mai Hospital in Ha Noi. He is studying now in the United States. He often tells me that he wants to come back to Viet Nam to enjoy Vietnamese food.
"I ask him why he wants to return to Viet Nam and not to Mongolia and he replies that it's because he was born in Viet Nam and feel he has become a Vietnamese," he said.
The Ambassador regrets that young people in Viet Nam and Mongolia know little about each other's culture. He said he would try hard to help the two peoples to know each other better.
In November, an exhibition of Mongolian culture and film screenings will be held in Ha Noi.
Students to protest tuition hikes
August 16 (UB Post) Students from Mongolia's universities and colleges have united to protest tuition fee increases for the 2015-2016 academic school year.
Universities have increased tuition by 10 to 40 percent this year. Students believe that these are unreasonable increases, especially when Mongolia is facing economic difficulties. They have announced that a peaceful demonstration will be held tomorrow, at 12:00 p.m. at the Student Square, located behind Urgoo Cinema 2, across the street from Building No.2 of the National University of Mongolia.
The union will also be submitting official documents to school authorities, demanding an explanation for the university tuition increases and a report on the spending of tuition fees, dormitory fees, and other student expenses. Student representatives expressed that students will not give up and they will fight until they see results. The movement opposing tuition increases is being supported by the Mongolian Student Union.
Students initiated this movement at the beginning of August, as soon as universities and media outlets announced the sudden increase of tuition fees. They began a Facebook group calling for everyone's assistance with the protest. So far, nearly 9,000 students from various universities and colleges in Mongolia have joined the group.
Potato prices up 21% in last three weeks on difficult harvest
August 13 (gogo.mn) By the end of July and in early August of each year, prices for potato and vegetables are increase in accordance with the sales of new crop vegetables.
As a result of the continuous precipitation and cold weather in May and June, spring planting started lately. Moreover, the overheating in June and July affected to the maturity of vegetables especially potatoes. In other words, price growth of open field vegetables and greenhouse vegetables are varied.
For instance, an average prices for the potato were increased by 21 percent in past three weeks. Prices for new crop potato were risen by 60 percent compared with the previous month and is ranging between MNT 1800-2000. However, prices for new crop were at MNT 1300 in last year.
Due to overheating have not affected the maturity of tomato and cucumber, the prices were dropped compared with the previous month.
Preliminary, 60-65 percent of the total area of agriculture is expected to be harvested.
The time has come to volunteer
by Stepanka Pechackova
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, August 12 (UN Volunteers) When I was a teenager, I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would one day stand on a TEDx stage and talk to hundreds of young Mongolians about my volunteering journey. I couldn't have imagined being a volunteer either for that matter.
There was no education or awareness about volunteerism in the small Czech town where I grew up. Or maybe I was too busy living the life of a teenager. It wasn't that I didn't care about other people or what is going on in the world though. I just never knew how I could help. Moreover, I didn't know that I was able to help.
Volunteerism in the Czech Republic doesn't have the same connotation as in the West. There is the heritage of socialism when "volunteering" wasn't optional. You had to help. Such an implicit perception of what it means to be a volunteer is what the Czech Republic and Mongolia have in common. Currently, there is a lack of incentives and initiatives that would promote volunteerism and motivate people to volunteer.
However, there are lots of people trying to change the sometimes negative perception of volunteerism in both countries. When I entered university, I saw people my age who had already helped to repair an orphanage in Russia or were tutoring Czech Roma children. I started to be engaged myself in different causes and after five years of volunteering both at home and abroad, I find myself in Mongolia, serving at the UNV Field Unit and UNDP Country Office as a UN Youth Volunteer in Communications, Outreach and Youth.
My job title may be longer and more mysterious than my name but what I do is actually quite straightforward. I support everything that enables both UNV and UNDP Mongolia to communicate effectively. I manage social media, revise the website, draft press releases and write articles or help organize and tweet from conferences. And one of the main goals of it all is to promote volunteerism in Mongolia for the people's benefit and development of the country. Thus when the chance came to become one of the speakers at TEDxBagaToiruu, an independently organized TED event, I was excited.
TEDxBagaToiruu took place on June 7 in Ulaanbaatar, aiming particularly at young Mongolians under the theme "The time has come…"
I could not imagine a better opportunity than that to talk about volunteerism to as many people as possible. It had been a long process before three of us - me, a former national UN Volunteer, Enkhee Sainbuyan, and a young local volunteer Unkhaanzaya Dondov – stood on the stage together and shared our volunteer stories in a fully packed Student Theatre.
However, all the TEDTalk writing, revising, rehearsing and revising again was definitely worth it. Because when I stood on the stage and looked into the audience, it made me proud. I saw so many young people who came to listen to what we and other speakers had to say, who were willing to be inspired and to open their minds. If these young people stay this way and transform the inspiration into action, they will determine a bright future for Mongolia.
Bio: Born and raised in a small Czech town, Stepanka's world opened up when she entered university, studying International Development Studies, and Humanitarian and Social Work. When her mother took her to India for the first time, Stepanka realized she really wanted to devote her time and skills to other people. Since then she has worked in diverse areas, from communications, especially social media management, youth development, and non-formal education, to implementing awareness-raising and capacity-building activities. Her volunteering experience got her from the Czech Republic to India, Bangladesh and finally to Mongolia. Besides volunteerism, she is passionate about cats and dogs, backpacking, yoga and books.
Cinéma du Désert Travels 13,000 Kms to Reach Mongolia
August 14 (gogo.mn) Cinéma du Désert is a group of international volunteers travelled 13.000 km. to reach Mongolia by land. They work for Italian NGO Bambini Nel Deserto and screen non-verbal documentaries and animations for children for FREE all over the world.
They use a solar powered cinema which aims to use the moving image as a form of communication between cultures and as a present for isolated villages that have never seen a film in a big screen in their lives. They started this project in West Africa in 2009 and now they have arrived in Ulaanbaatar.
Come and enjoy two evening of free films at Chinggis square during this weekends.
- On Saturday (Aug 15) at 08:30PM - Music and Entertainment
At 10:00PM - "Home" documentary film (With Mongolian Voice Over)
- On Sunday (Aug 16) at 08:30PM - Music and Entertainment
At 10:00PM - "Babies" documentary film
For more information, please click here.
President Issues Decree on Promoting Team Sports
Ulaanbaatar, August 14 (MONTSAME) On August 13, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj issued Decree No. 144 on giving directions to the Government for promoting Mongolia's team sports in frames of gradual implementation of the objective to develop the public physical culture.
The decree is giving directions to the Government to intensify the development of team sports, including basketball, volleyball, football and hockey, establish basis for preparing world-class teams and athletes, to establish infrastructure in line with global standards for organizing regional and international sport competitions, and to found an academy specialized for training team sport athletes.
The document also appeals government and non-government organizations, trainers and coaches, business institutions, foreign and domestic investors and donors to support development of and promote team sports.
Prior to this decree, many frameworks have been organized in accordance with the Decree No.53, issues on March 26 of 2010, on promoting public physical culture and sports. The decree aimed to increase the young generation's interest in sports, to shape healthy lifestyles and fitness, as well as to establish the basis for preparing successful athletes to compete in Olympics, continental and global competitions.
South African Wins World's Longest Horse Race The Mongol Derbby
CAPE TOWN, August 12 (Eyewitness News) – A Capetonian has won the world's longest horse race.
Byeronie Epstein cantered away victorious from the gruelling 1,000km Mongol Derby horse race recently held in Mongolia.
Epstein's mother Lorraine said her daughter completed the race in seven days, finishing in the best time ever.
"The riders have to actually paddle up and ride 1,000km through Mongolia and they only get so many days to rest. And in this instance, Byeronie finished first with best time ever it has been established, which is amazing."
CQ grazier finishes 1000km arduous horse race in Mongolia – 612 ABC Brisbane, August 17
AFC Cup 2016 Play-Off Qualifier: Khoromkohn FC 0-1 K-Electric FC
Thimphu, August 13 (AFC): Pakistan's K-Electric FC put themselves in the driving seat for a place in the 2016 AFC Cup Play-offs after edging Khoromkhon FC 1-0 on Thursday, putting the pressure on hosts Druk United who must now beat the Mongolians in the final Group A match on Saturday.
The introduction of substitute Abayomi Oludeyi proved to be the game changer with the Nigerian forward scoring the only goal of a tense and occasional scrappy encounter with 16 minutes at the Changlimithang Stadium remaining.
K-Electric coach Majid Shafiq made two changes to the side that drew 3-3 with Druk United in Tuesday's opening fixture with defender Habib-Ur Rehman, scorer of the Pakistan champions' 86th minute equaliser against the Group A hosts, and Shahnoor Qayum starting in place of Aurangzeb and Abayomi Oludeyi
A poor first-half punctuated by sloppily surrendered possession and a failure to find the final ball that would create a goal-scoring opportunity sparked to life in the 24th minute when Khoromkhon keeper Uros Poljanec reacted sharply to block at the feet of Muhammad Riaz, who was gifted a run at goal following a mistake by Oyunbaatar Otgonbayar.
Neither side came close to scoring for the remainder of the half although Slovenian stopper Poljanec had to be alert to ensure Riaz's 43rd minute corner didn't curl directly into the goal.
The second period was a much livelier affair with both keepers finally being called into serious action with Poljanec making a superb one-handed save from Oludeyi's 70th minute diving header before the Nigerian, who came on two minutes before the interval in place of Qayum, scored the match-winner with a low angled drive across the face of goal that beat the Khoromkhon keeper at his far post.
With four points from a possible six following Thursday's win and their opening 3-3 draw with Druk United, K-Electric will be hoping that Khoromkhon will avoid defeat to the Bhutanese champions when the curtain comes down on Group A of the AFC Cup 2016 Play-off Qualifiers on Saturday.
Ts.Munkhzul qualifies for Rio 2016 in Shooting, 3rd for Mongolia
August 12 (gogo.mn) Olympic Qualifier ISSF World Cup for Rio 2016 is being organized in Gabala city, Azerbaijani and International Master Ts.Munhzul placed in 6th at 25m Pistol Women category with 13 hits, and secured a Rio 2016 Olympic quota.
Labor Hero and Mongolian State Honored Athlete O.Gundegmaa, G.Nandinzaya and Ts.Munhzul have received the right to participate in Rio 2016 Olympics while Sport Master Z.Ganbaatar qualified for the Paralympics 2016.
Moreover, International Master E.Davaahuu ranked at 37th place out of 56 athletes at 50m Pistol Men category with 549 points, Mongolian Labor Hero O.Gundegmaa placed in 20th out of 85 athletes at 25m Pistol Women category with 578 points and International Master U.Ulziinyam placed in 73th with 559 points at 25m Pistol Women category.
Ts.Minkhzul got right to play in Olympic – news.mn, August 12
Mongolian Shooter Wins Her Pass to Rio 2016 – Montsame, August 12
Windsor teen off to chess championships in Mongolia
August 15 (Windsor Star) Don't let Rachel Tao's smile fool you.
On the chess board, she's a stone-cold killer — mercilessly sacrificing rooks, capturing knights and putting hapless kings into checkmate with ease.
After a successful performance at the Canadian Youth Chess Championships in Windsor last month, the Massey high school student is preparing to compete in at the World Youth Chess U16 Chess Olympiad from Aug. 19-29.
Tao was hand picked to compete at the tournament by representatives from the Canadian Chess Federation and will be competing against players from 25 other countries in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
How two young Americans ended up breeding a Mongolian dog to save snow leopards and wolves
August 14 (ABC) As the freezing winter descended, Doug Lally was almost too busy building a dog shelter to contemplate the imminent arrival of his main reason for being in Mongolia.
"There was a lot of rushing around. We had the [pregnant dog] and had to get the posts in the ground before it froze," Doug said.
The dog's puppies — Doug's motivation for moving from New Jersey to Ulaanbaatar — were born just a few days before Christmas and looked like tiny rats with stumpy tails.
"They were not so cute," he said.
Just a few weeks later, the puppies' eyes opened and they were placed in a pen with sheep, as part of a conservation project to protect native predators through the roundabout method of breeding a rare Mongolian herder dog: the Bankhar.
The Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project was founded by Bruce Elfstrom, an American biologist by training and expedition company operator by trade, many years after he began travelling to Mongolia in 2006.
Bruce's Mongolian expeditions often saw him stay in circular ger homes with nomad families on the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe — an undulating eco region that sprawls across one of the world's most sparsely populated and climactically harsh countries.
One night, while staying with a nomad family in a valley, Bruce and his companions abruptly awoke to the sound of howling wolves encircling their ger camp.
Mongolia is home to many native predators, including wolves, snow leopards and eagles, that prey on nomad families' main livelihood of yaks, sheep, horses and cattle.
By the time that night's pack of wolves moved on, 17 horses and 30 other livestock were dead.
This loss of livestock left the nomad family devastated, and Bruce wondered about the historical solutions of people so dependent and connected to animals and the land.
"There must have been a way they dealt with [native predators] currently or in the past because that kind of loss was not sustainable," Bruce said.
Training herder dogs to protect livestock
Like many herder cultures globally, Mongolian nomads have a long history of using livestock guardian dogs to protect their animals and to keep them company on the isolated steppe.
But this tradition decreased in prevalence in the last century, as industrialisation took hold in Mongolia and collective farming became more common under the Soviet regime between the 1950s and 1989.
The Bankhar — a huge shaggy dog evolved for the region's minus 40 degrees Celsius winters — simultaneously dropped in numbers due to a range of factors, from their declining relevance on the steppe to rising demand in overseas markets linked to the lucrative Tibetan Mastiff trade.
"There was also a trend in the 40s and 50s to use the dogs as fur coats. It's kind of grim," Doug said.
Now, when Mongolia's herders face native predators, they sometimes have little option but to shoot these animals, meaning populations of wolves, snow leopards and eagles across Mongolia are under threat.
The Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project hopes to help address this ecological issue by re-introducing herder dogs to families that have lost the tradition in recent generations.
The conservation project could have feasibly utilised any type of livestock guardian dog, however Bruce believed nomad families would be most likely to adopt the Bankhar — a source of national pride in Mongolia.
But first Bruce needed somebody on the ground in the country's capital, Ulaanbaatar, to source and breed purebred Bankhar dogs in tandem with a Cornell University geneticist interested in the breed's primitive links to the human race's first domesticated dogs.
This is how Doug found himself in Mongolia for the first time in 2014.
The 28-year-old aspiring conservationist first learned about Bruce's plan to breed a rare Mongolian dog while working for his expedition company in his youth, but had never actually seen a Bankhar until he landed in Ulaanbaatar.
"I'd done a bunch of reading, which is great, but it doesn't really prepare you for life," Doug said.
Doug eventually made contact with a local dog breeder, who was already sending dogs off ad hoc to the countryside, and wanted to help The Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project with their more formal conservation program.
The first two Bankhar dogs birth a litter
The first two dogs sourced off the breeder were an amber-orange male called Arsalan — the Mongolian word for lion — and a black female dog called Red Scarf.
"When we got her she had a red scarf around her neck. The name kind of stuck," Doug said.
Like many primitive dog breeds, the female Bankhar only goes into heat once a year, falling pregnant in the autumn and giving birth in the very coldest depths of winter.
Arsalan and Red Scarf's puppies, born just before Christmas and fortunately after Doug and his locally-based team erected their enclosure, were followed by several other litters born to other dogs and the arrival of another young American, Devin Byrne.
"I really love dogs. I've never worked with sheep before though. I don't know if I love them as much as dogs," Devin said.
"You place the puppy, as soon as its eyes are open, with sheep. They'll interact with them and be totally fine with [the livestock on the steppe]."
Together, Devin and Doug have spent this year placing the puppies with herder families and simultaneously working through unexpected barriers, such as local's concerns about Bankhars being spayed or dog fighting groups eyeing off the valuable breed.
"A lot of herders don't want [lighter coloured puppies] because they say sheep will see a lighter coloured dog and won't be scared of wolves anymore. It's a tradition we didn't know about until this project," Doug said.
"And apparently, dogs like to eat trash," which can cause health problems.
But the duo said taking bloated and gassy puppies to the vet for emergency treatment was worth it for the experience of living in a unique country and working to protect native animals.
"[The Bankhar] has a cool demeanour. They're surprisingly laid back and tolerant of everything, and they're just tough. They live outside in Mongolia in wintertime on the steppe. They're indestructible," Doug said.
The project has successfully placed 15 puppies with herder families in tandem with park rangers, influential Mongolian elders and a native predators conservation group, The Snow Leopard Trust.
Mongolia: A trip of a lifetime for The Rifle couple
August 11 (Citizen Telegram) Lydia LaBelle de Rios and her husband Gregorio Rios are no strangers when it comes to helping others in an adventurous fashion. The Rifle residents met in Paraguay, Gregorio's birthplace, more than 11 years ago while Lydia was serving in the Peace Corps. They married in 2004.
The Landscapes of Mongolia: From Grasslands to Mountains
Join Wanderer-in-Residence Nellie Huang as she learns that in terms of landscape, this country really has it all.
by Nellie Huang
12 August 2015 (G Adventures) Mongolia sprawls across an area almost three times the size of France and twice the size of Texas, and at the same time, it has the world's lowest population density. Doubled with the nomadic nature of its people (which therefore means there are few cities or infrastructure) and their Shamanic beliefs that prohibit interference with the environment, Mongolia's nature and wildlife remain well preserved and relatively undisturbed.
For travellers seeking raw wilderness and nature, Mongolia is a dream come true. As I discovered on my Nomadic Mongolia trip with G Adventures, there is no shortage of vast, wild grasslands and virgin landscapes in this pocket of unspoiled territory in Asia.
If you're looking to deeply immerse yourself in the natural environment of Mongolia take a peek at the various landscapes you can expect to see in this beautiful land of wilderness:
The majority of Mongolia is covered by vast grasslands, which are also known as steppes. Stretching over 55 percent of the country, these steppes are home to large populations of gazelle and other livestock. Nomadic families inhabit these expanses, moving from one area to another come winter in search of new grass to support their sheep, cows and goats. It's hard to find paved roads in Mongolia, and most of the time we were driving across large stretches of steppes.
Mongolia is one of the highest countries in the world, with an average elevation of around 1,500m (4,921 ft) . The highest mountains in the country are the Altai Nuruu, which are located in the far west of the country and soar up to 4,300m (14,107 ft). Near the centre of the country is the Khangai Nuruu mountain range, which we got to visit on our trip.
The southern part of Mongolia is dominated by the Gobi Desert, which spreads into the Chinese territory. On our trip, we headed to the Western Gobi ("Bayan Gobi" in Mongolian) where we hiked up to the Khongoriin Els, the biggest sand dunes in the area. Khongoriin Els translates to mean singing sands, referring to the sounds that the sand makes when it moves with the wind.
The northern areas of the country are mainly covered with larch and pine forests, known as "taiga" in Russian. These Siberian larches sometimes reach up to 45m (147 ft) in height and provide timbre for construction throughout the country. At Tsenkher hot springs, we got to camp close to a thick pine forest and it was a beautiful spot for hiking.
There are numerous saltwater and freshwater lakes across Mongolia and we often welcomed a break from the long travel days for a picnic lunch alongside one. The most famous being the Khosvgol Nuur, which contains 65 percent of the country's fresh water.
G Adventures runs a number of departures in Mongolia encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We're thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.
All aboard the Tsar's Gold luxury train from Mongolia to Moscow
Take in the stark scenery the Trans-Siberian Railway has to offer in luxury that would impress the most pampered VIP, writes Tim Pile
August 16 (Post Magazine) It's the middle of the night and I'm prodded awake by a rowdy Russian on the bunk below, who insists we share his bottle of vodka. After refusing half a dozen times, I sleepily toast Mother Russia, his health, my health and the beauty of Lake Baikal. Soon he passes out, snoring like a steam train, leaving me wide awake until morning.
That was in 1999. Few people go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip twice but I'm back on the Trans-Siberian Railway. This time, though, things are rather different. My single compartment is fit for Russian royalty or, as the passenger logbook puts it, "You are travelling in an ambience in which Soviet VIPs would have felt at home – but with the comforts of the 21st century."
"Trans-Siberian" refers not to the name of a train but to a railway line that snakes across Russia from Vladivostok to Moscow, a distance of 9,258km. My route, starting in Mongolia, cuts a hefty slice off the journey to Moscow and offers a snapshot of the world's least densely populated country into the bargain.
Ulan Bator isn't Hong Kong, but it wants to be. The capital of Mongolia is enjoying a resources boom that has translated into gleaming towers and a roll call of stylish stores, fancy restaurants and fashionable nightclubs. Giant screens beam Bloomberg at bow-legged nomads whose ungainly waddle is at odds with the dignified poise they show on horseback.
Sukhbaatar Square is a large, traffic-free oasis surrounded by an increasingly congested city. Performance cars rev at stop lights and advertising hoardings hog commercial frontages. "Winter Time is Pepsi Time," wins the prize for shrewdest marketing ploy – Ulan Bator is the world's coldest capital.
In the centre of the plaza, a bronze likeness of Mongolian independence hero Damdin Sukhbaatar extends his arm expansively at all the glass and concrete as if to say, "I remember when all this used to be fields." Nearby is a statue of that ruthless conqueror Chinggis (Genghis) Khan – a man and now a brand whose name adorns more places and products than a modern-day multinational. I landed at Khan Airport and have a room at the Khan Hotel, from where it's a short walk to the Khan Irish Pub, which serves Khan Beer and Khan Vodka. I change dollars into tugriks at a branch of the Khan Bank but skip the eponymous restaurant, nightclub and chocolate bars.
Naadam, the raucous Mongolian summer games festival, is still two weeks away but a mini version is taking place in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, a two-hour drive from the city. The event is also a chance to meet some of my travelling companions.
I've been assigned to an English-speaking group of 12 journalists, including Australians, New Zealanders, Brits and Singaporeans, who all joined the train two days earlier, in Beijing. After a meaty lunch, we get to see a wrestling match, an archery demonstration and a horse race. I keep a low profile – events like this tend to finish with a member of the audience being invited to wrestle the local champion.
We're dropped off at Ulan Bator railway station and I set about locating my home for the next eight days. The privately operated Tsar's Gold train travels along the same rails as the public service, but that's where the similarity ends. There are 174 passengers in all; grouped together by language for the excursions but dispersed throughout the train according to accommodation preference. Categories range from the luxurious ensuite Bolshoi Platinum cabins to Nostalgic Comfort and Superior rooms with shared facilities.
By train, 2 continents, from Beijing to St. Petersburg
By Jeremy Hainsworth
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, August 11 (AP) — It was the realization of a dream from a childhood obsessed with trains: taking one of the world's longest train rides, on the Trans Mongolian Express and Trans Siberian Railway.
The trip went from Beijing, China, via Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and across Russia to Moscow and St. Petersburg with whistle stops in between. It spanned two continents, seven time zones, many cultures and more than 7,900 kilometers (4,900 miles).
The logistics are hard to organize on your own, so I traveled with G Adventures. Arriving several days early in Beijing to sample the city, I munched on deep-fried scorpion in a market, climbed ancient drum and bell towers, explored the sprawling Forbidden City and saw the preserved body of Mao Zedong in a mausoleum more resembling the shrine of a deity. Then our tour group — six in all —met for our three-week adventure, led by guide Aleksandr Paramanov.
A week was spent in close quarters aboard trains. Each car had a hot water boiler, but you had to bring your own food, water and tea and get into the right mindset: Relax, chat with new friends or just gaze at the ever-changing landscape. Or befriend the carriage attendant, buy a few things from her and get on her good side.
The Trans Siberian is not a special train with specific runs. It's a regularly scheduled train; you book sections and get on and off as you wish.
Our first run, departing the madness of Beijing's main station for Ulaanbaatar, was filled with Chinese and Mongolian travelers heading home. After Chinese officials searched the train and stamped passports in the late evening, the train was taken apart. Carriages were moved into sheds, giant jacks raised them six feet and wheel bogeys were replaced to handle Mongolia's gauge rail system.
We awoke to see the sandy-brown, scrub-dotted wastes Gobi Desert. Ulaanbaatar, the world's most remote capital city, comes into view as the train rounds a bend. Yurt tents dot the hills around the city of 1.1 million where more than 100,000 nomads still live under canvas.
We explored the Black Market, a massive jumble of stalls containing everything from horse blankets to antique Nazi bayonets. Beware of pickpockets not only in the market but throughout the city. I lost my credit cards in a brief bump with someone.
We stood amid Buddhist ceremonies with monks chanting and sampled horse cooked on flat metal grills. Later, we slept in a yurt on the steppes (Mongolian plains). A stove for heating needed stoking in the middle of the night. Cows meandered through the camp, the twilight on the distant hills making it seem like a scene from Middle Earth.
Boarding the train again, we readied ourselves for Russian border officials. Passports were taken, bags searched and sniffer dogs led through the train.
After 51 hours, we arrived at Irkutsk, touring with a guide whose grandparents had been given 15 minutes to pack and leave for a collective farm in Stalin's era.
Then on to a guest house in the village of Listvyanka on the edge of Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake.
Our host took us into a traditional Russian banya. Bathers sweat it out in a sauna, then jump in a cold pool. Back inside, we were thrashed with birch leaves before jumping in the pool again. Then another scrub with coarse sponges, a warm rinse and surprise cold dousing — brutally refreshing.
On to Yekaterinburg, a city on the dividing line between two continents, a two-day ride through forests and rolling hills on rails that once carried Soviet exiles heading the other way to the gulag.
In another compartment, strangers fed my travel-mate caviar, crabmeat, eggs and vodka.
Yekaterinburg's highlight is the Church of the Spilled Blood, the golden-domed sanctuary built on the site where the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were massacred by the Bolsheviks. A chapel marks the execution spot.
On May 9, we chanced to see the parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Tanks and missiles rolled through the streets as fighter jets roared overhead.
Back aboard bound for Moscow, we were split between compartments, attempting communication with friendly but frustrated Russians.
In the Russian capital we explored Red Square, the Kremlin as well as Soviet monuments and art galleries.
Then, more than two weeks after departing Beijing, we boarded a night train for St. Petersburg.
Leaving that final train was hard. We'd all lived a dream.
If You Go...
TRANS SIBERIAN RAILWAY: Can be taken east to west or vice versa: http://bit.ly/1JnmjmV
VISAS: Requirements vary by country. Consult the Chinese, Mongolian and Russian consular sites. Letters of invitation may be needed for visas. Tour companies can assist.
TIPS: Beware of pickpockets. Money belts are a must. Don't carry all your credit and debit cards together. Pack efficiently — you carry everything you bring. Bring an e-reader for long stretches on the train.
FOOD: Some trains have dining cars but don't count on it. Pack tea or instant coffee to share with fellow travelers. Buy fruit, instant noodles, vegetables, dried meats and bread for days you'll be on the train.
G ADVENTURES: http://bit.ly/1qfr7CF
6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.