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Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Shenzhen-Listed Zhongrun Signs Strategic Partnership on Eruu Gol Mine, to Invest $2 Billion
December 7 (UB Post) Representative Office of Bank of China in Ulaanbaatar, Zhongrun Resources Investment Corporation, and Bold Tumur Eruu Gol LLC signed a strategic cooperation agreement on intensifying development of the Eruu Gol iron ore project, on December 3.
Shenzhen Stock Exchange-listed Zhongrun Resources is a company mainly engaged in mining and construction activities. Zhongrun Resources and Lung Ming Mining reached a consensus on making additional investments in Bold Tumur Eruu Gol LLC.
Bold Tumur Eruu's Eruu Gol iron ore mine has large reserves, and one billion USD has been invested in the mine. Eruu Gol has the capacity to produce 10 million tons of iron ore, and a 100 km special railroad was constructed at the mine. Zhongrun has generated five billion USD in investment (Mogi: think it means Zhongrun raised that money. See related article below) and repaying the debts of Bold Tumur, two billion USD of which will be invested in future operations at the mine. The sides hope to develop a large mine and concentrator with the capacity to produce 30 million tons of iron ore.
Bank of China, together with domestic banks and financial organizations, will cooperate with Zhongrun at all levels of the project's implementation, including investment and development work. The sides underlined that successful implementation of the project will benefit Mongolia's economic growth, create more jobs, and could be vital to economic and foreign trade cooperation between Mongolia and China.
The agreement signing ceremony took place in the presence of over 30 guests and representatives from the Ministry of Mining, Chinese Embassy to Mongolia, entrepreneurs associations, and delegates from Mongolia's largest banks.
Zhongrun Resources to raise RMB28bln to buy overseas iron ore resources – Xinhua Finance, June 3
Khan Aims To Widen Enforcement Of $106M Mongolia Award
Law360, New York (December 3, 2015, 8:21 PM ET) -- Khan Resources Inc. on Wednesday said that it is investigating other jurisdictions to enforce a roughly $106 million award against Mongolia, signaling the latest move in a spat over cancelled licenses at what it calls one of the world's largest untapped uranium reserves.
Grant A. Edey, Khan's president and CEO, told Law360 that an effort aimed at Mongolia's non-immune sovereign assets is underway, but that it could take some time since the Central Asian nation is not rife with assets and the process involves a fair bit of investigation.
Khan's effort does not include so-called immune assets such as embassies and Mongolian gold reserves, nor assets based in Russia or China, Edey said. Khan's bid to confirm the award in D.C. federal court is continuing, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday.
"When confirmed, the award will be executable in the U.S. as a court judgment and the company can begin a process of seizure of non-immune Mongolian sovereign assets in the U.S.," Khan said in the filing with the Canadian National Stock Exchange.
Khan's request to confirm the award in the U.S. followed a three-member Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal's finding in March that Mongolia broke its own foreign investment law by expropriating the Canada-based group's mining and exploration licenses for the Dornod uranium project.
The award came after more than four years of consideration with a tribunal ultimately backing Khan's stance that Mongolia lacked a legal basis to nix the licenses and did so to run the project in partnership with Russia, according to Khan. The tribunal included Bernard Hanotiau, L. Yves Fortier and David A.R. Williams.
Still, Khan's moves to enforce the award have met resistance from Mongolia, which urged the French Court of Appeal in Paris to annul the award in July — a prospect that Khan said has "a limited chance of success and constitutes a frivolous attempt to delay the inevitable payment of the award."
"The government of Mongolia had until December 9, 2015 to file their arguments in support of an annulment and did so," Khan's filing said on Wednesday. "The company's counsel is currently reviewing those arguments and has until April 9, 2016 to file the defense."
Khan Resources is represented by George D. Ruttinger of Crowell & Moring LLP in the U.S. and Christophe Seraglini of Betto Seraglini in France.
Mongolia is represented by Oliver J. Armas, Thomas N. Pieper, Samuel L. Zimmerman and Adam K. Levin of Hogan Lovells in the U.S.
The U.S. case is Khan Resources Inc. et al. v. Government of Mongolia et al., case number1:15-cv-00911, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
KHOT Infrastructure Sells Interest in Anya-2 S.à r.l. and Issues Stock Options
ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 3, 2015) - KHOT INFRASTRUCTURE HOLDINGS, LTD. ("KHOT" or the "Company")(CSE:KOT) announced today that it has sold its 5.05% interest in Anya-2 S.à r.l. ("Anya-2") to Mogul Ventures Corp. ("Mogul"), a Canadian private company, seeking a listing on the TSX Venture Exchange. In exchange for the Company's interest in Anya-2, Khot has received a 5.05% of a 2.5% net smelter royalty for any production of metals from the Ochiryn Bulag project, as well as 80,800 common shares of Mogul.
The divestiture of Khot's interest in Anya-2 completes the Company's business transition from mineral exploration to development of infrastructure in Mongolia. The sale of the Anya-2 to the Mogul venture should allow Khot to monetize its investment, while focusing on obtaining road development concessions.
The Company is pleased to announce that the board of directors has approved the granting of options to purchase up to 995,000 common shares of the Company to officers, directors, and consultants. Of the 995,000 options granted, 875,000 options entitle the holder to purchase one common share of the Company at a price of $0.20 per share for a period of five years. The remaining 120,000 options entitle the holder to purchase one common share of the Company at a price of $0.20 per share for a period of one year, with 60,000 options vesting at the grant and 60,000 vesting in three months form the date of grant.
Turquoise Hill Sheds 100,000 More SouthGobi Shares On-Market, Stake Falls Below 20%
Entrée Gold Announces Inducement Grant of Shares to Interim CFO
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 4, 2015) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG) (NYSE MKT:EGI) (FRANKFURT:EKA) ("Entrée" or the "Company") announces that further to the Company's news release of November 16, 2015, in connection with the appointment of Stephen Scott as Interim CEO, the Company has agreed to grant to Mr. Scott, as an inducement for his service, up to 500,000 common shares of the Company. The common shares are issuable at the discretion of the Board, based on the achievement of certain performance criteria. Entrée's Chairman, Lord Howard, stated, "The compensation package granted to Stephen Scott, being a combination of salary and incentive equity securities, reflects the Company's ongoing efforts to manage its treasury while still recognizing that a high level of performance that achieves results and increases shareholder value warrants reward."
The grant was made outside the Company's existing shareholder approved equity incentive plans and was approved by the independent members of the Company's board of directors as a material inducement to Mr. Scott's employment in reliance upon Section 711(a) of the NYSE-MKT Company Guide, which requires this public announcement. In the event the Board determines that shares are issuable to Mr. Scott, the Company may, at its option, satisfy its obligation by making a cash payment to Mr. Scott equivalent to the then market price of the shares.
MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -2.98%, ALL -2.99%, ₮49.97 Million Stocks, ₮10.68 Billion T-Bills
December 4 (MSE) --
MSE Daily Report: Top 20 -0.55%, ALL -0.26%, Turnover ₮9.9 Million Stocks
December 7 (MSE) --
MSE E-Newsletter, November 2015
December 3 (MSE) --
Historic low ₮1,997.26/USD set September 11
BoM MNT Rates: Monday, December 7 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
Mongolian Tugrik Holds Under 2000/USD After $1.2b Forex Auctions
December 7 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's central bank has injected net of $786.5m and 2.77b yuan ($441.4m) for a total injection of $1.23b Ytd via twice-weekly foreign exchange auctions as of Dec. 4, Enkhdalai Batjargal, an economist at the Bank of Mongolia, wrote in an e-mail.
* Year-over-year injections include $1.23b and 3.53b yuan ($574m) for a total of $1.8b: Enkhdalai
* Auction proceeds are sourced from BoM international reserves
* Most recent auction held on Dec. 3 saw BoM sell $16.4m with a rate of 1996.89
* Foreign exchange auctions are used to "improve the transparency and efficiency of the foreign exchange market and to stabilize foreign exchange" of the tugrik, according to central bank website; eligible bidders are domestic commercial banks only
* Past net injections through FX auctions include $1b (2012), $1.9b (2013) and $1.8b (2014)
* Tugrik closed at 1994.50 on Dec 7; a 5.7% decline yr to date.
* NOTE: Core inflation at end October had slowed to 3.4%. Y/y compared to 12.1% at the same time a yr ago
* NOTE: BoM had international reserves of $1.4b as of the end of Oct., a 15% Yr to date decline
BoM FX auction: US$16.4m sold at ₮1,996.89, accepts $8.69m MNT, $19m USD, CNY20m swap offers
December 3 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on December 3rd, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 48.6 million in a rate between MNT 1994.00-1997.11, bid offers of CNY 20.5 million in a rate between MNT 310.25-311.30 from local commercial banks respectively. The BOM sold USD 16.4 million in a rate with MNT 1996.89.
On 3rd, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement buying bid offer equivalent to USD 8.69 million, USD Swap agreement selling bid offer of USD 19.0 million and Swap agreement extending bid offer of CNY 20.0 million from local commercial banks respectively and the BOM has accepted the offers.
BoM issues ₮246 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding -13.3% to ₮591.1 billion
December 7 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 246 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
₮163.6 Billion 1.5-Year Bonds Sold at Average Yield 15.41% from Available ₮200 Billion
December 4 (BoM) Auction for 1.5 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 200 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 163.6 billion /out of 176.6 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 15.41% and a coupon of 15.375%
BoM buys 1.5 tons of gold in November, 14.4 tons YTD
8% Mortgage Program Update: ₮581 Billion Refinanced, ₮2.2 Trillion Newly Issued
December 4 (Cover Mongolia) As of December 4, ₮581 billion (₮571.5 billion as of September 10) existing mortgages of 19,413 citizens (19,223 as of September 10) were refinanced at 8% out of ₮837.8 billion (₮835.2 billion as of September 10) worth requests.
Also, ₮2.2 trillion (₮2,099.3 billion as of September 10) new mortgages of 41,055 citizens (39,096 citizens as of September 10) were issued at new rates out of ₮2.2 trillion (₮2.03 trillion as of September 10) worth requests.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Default risk rises as Mongolia's commodities boom turns to bust
By Jacopo Dettoni
HONG KONG, December 3 (Nikkei Asian Review) When the sturdy body of S. Erdene was enveloped in flames, Mongolia was brought face to face with the perils faced by its commodity-dependent economy in the most graphic way possible.
Erdene, a union leader at a state-owned coal mine called Tavan Tolgoi, was protesting layoffs at a press conference in Ulaanbaatar on Nov. 13 when he abruptly set himself on fire in front of dozens of journalists. "The government no longer supports our company, families of the workers are forced to starve," he said just before the flames took hold. Erdene survived, but suffered burns to 40% of his body, according to a report by AKI Press, a Central Asian news agency.
Plagued by mismanagement and deteriorating market conditions, it took only three years for Tavan Tolgoi to go from boom to bust -- a trajectory the whole country is at risk of following.
A mining frenzy that unfolded in the first decade of the millennium turned Mongolia and its vast mineral reserves into one of the most remote and unexpected frontiers of the global commodities boom. For a while, all went well. Mongolia made international headlines in 2011 when its gross domestic product rocketed 17.5% in a single year.
Foreign direct investment leaped to more than $4.6 billion, equivalent to 44% of GDP, as the Anglo-Australian mining conglomerate Rio Tinto sank billions of dollars into a copper and gold mine called Oyu Tolgoi.
However, events quickly took a dangerous turn. The government used the proceeds of a $250 million coal supply deal between Tavan Tolgoi and China's state-owned aluminum company Chalco to hand out money directly to the people. In the international bond markets, Mongolia made a sparkling debut with a $1.5 billion issue of dollar-denominated bonds on favorable terms.
With the benefit of hindsight, both deals worked out badly. With its coffers drained by state giveaways, Tavan Tolgoi was hit hard when coal prices collapsed. Now it is on the verge of failure.
SOUNDING THE ALARM
On the national level, things are little better. The government faces debt repayments of $1.1 billion between 2017 and 2018 -- a sum that the country's foreign reserves would barely cover. With the mining supercycle headed south, and foreign investors put off by legal uncertainties created by capricious Mongolian policymaking in the good years, international observers are sounding the alarm.
Standard & Poor's and Fitch, two of the big three international credit ratings agencies, downgraded the country's sovereign debt rating in November, citing slower economic growth, now expected at about 1% in 2016, and growing fiscal and external imbalances.
Mongolia's central bank thinks the outsiders are overly gloomy about the country's prospects. "Ratings agencies don't see what we achieved in terms of reducing the current account deficit and inflation," said Naidansuren Zoljargal, governor of the Bank of Mongolia.
The current account deficit fell to 5.4% of GDP in 2015 from 27.4% in 2012 as trade surpluses grew, according to World Bank estimates. Weakening domestic demand has eased inflationary pressures, with annual consumer price inflation falling to 3.4% in October 2015 from 12.2% at the end of 2013, official figures show.
Zoljargal said the ongoing economic adjustment has created sufficient room for Mongolia to cope with its debt repayments. "Refinancing is one of the options," Zoljargal said. "But we are far away from a default."
Nevertheless, both the World Bank and Fitch said Mongolia faces "high" refinancing risks. Should they prove right, Mongolia may have only two options. One would be a bailout coordinated by the International Monetary Fund -- an IMF standby program was discussed earlier in 2015. The alternative would be additional financial support from China, which in 2014 expanded a currency swap line with the Bank of Mongolia to 15 billion yuan ($2.34 billion at current exchange rates) in 2014.
Both options would probably be better than a default, but either would drag Mongolia further from its dream of rapid economic growth fueled by a mining bonanza.
Mongolia and Angola are most exposed to China, says Moody's
Double whammy of dependence on commodities and falling demand puts both countries at risk
December 3 (FT) How do you gauge a commodity exporter's exposure to China? It sounds simple: the greater the share of commodities in a country's exports, and the more those exports go to China, the greater the threat posed by China's slowing economy and Beijing's efforts to divert it from industrial investment to private consumption.
But some commodity countries, even those dependent on Chinese demand, are faring better than others. In its sovereign credit outlook for 2016, Moody's Investors Service, one of the three big global credit rating agencies, set out to identify the emerging market governments whose creditworthiness is most in jeopardy.
According to Moody's, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will include the most countries at risk. Mongolia and Angola are at the top of its list.
Governments that are on track with structural reforms designed to diversify their economies and strengthen their fiscal positions will be better able to ride out China's falling demand and the associated plunge in commodity prices, says Moody's.
However, other analysts note that even governments that have cleaned up their own balance sheets may be at risk from a private sector exposed to the double whammy of commodities and China. Fitch Ratings this week joined those warning that private sector debt presents a threat to the creditworthiness of many EM sovereign issuers.
China's appetite for goods produced in other countries is falling fast. In November, its imports were down nearly 19 per cent from a year earlier, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Mongolia's exposure to this fall is stark. China takes 95 per cent of its exports, of which 83 per cent are commodities.
What is more, its defences are meagre. The government's budget deficit has doubled this year and external debt is ballooning. The private sector is highly leveraged — corporate debt was equal to 85 per cent of gross domestic product in 2012. With export earnings falling, those debts will come under increasing strain. The state will be in little condition to help.
Mongolia's plight is mirrored in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where export dependence on China is at its highest in some of the most troubled, least developed and least diversified economies in the region.
Over in Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are highly dependent on trade with China but they are not commodity exporters and their solid public accounts make them resilient to a downturn in demand, says Moody's.
Taiwan, for example, "as a country with a triple A rating ... can sustain these momentary shocks," says Marie Diron, senior vice-president for credit policy at Moody's.
Taiwan, like South Korea, is certainly exposed to China's remodelling of its supply chain, as it starts to produce rather than import lower value-added products. But Moody's says a legacy of sound institutional and economic policies will allow both to weather the downturn.
Indonesia, although a significant commodity supporter, has a relatively low level of foreign debt, Moody's notes. Similarly, Brazil, despite its largely self-inflicted economic and political crisis, has a relatively small external sector and a current account deficit funded by foreign direct investment. South Africa's troubles, too, are largely domestic in nature, says Moody's, and its reliance on foreign currency is low.
Among advanced Asia-Pacific economies, Australia remains an outlier. Exports to China make up a small part of GDP, but commodities constitute 76 per cent of total exports. The commodity sector is softening and Australia's GDP growth has slowed to 2 per cent. But as a diversified economy with low government debt, Australia has the means to generate new sources of growth that can offset China's slowing demand, says Moody's.
Mongolia's economic crisis: an end to corporate social responsibility?
By Bolor Legjeem
December 3 (Open Democracy) While analyzing our last four years of local resource mobilization, I was admittedly surprised at the results. From 2011 to 2014, the economic growth rate of Mongolia dropped by 10%, but the funding MONES received from corporate donors increased sevenfold. Despite the economy's rapid decline, our resource mobilization from the private sector has dramatically increased.
In early 2012, the World Bank called Mongolia the "fastest growing economy in Asia" due to its whopping growth rate of 17.3%. In fact, World Bank data on annual GDP growth in 2011 shows that Mongolia was the second fastest growing economy in the world, just after Macao. During these years, the country welcomed a huge foreign investment in its mining sector. Money flooded the country and Mongolian businesses, big and small, thrived with many opportunities.
Corporations opened their doors to solicitations from the disadvantaged, extending their giving through corporate social responsibility initiatives. While there is no data to show where these donations are going or for whom, since 2011 the tide has been slowly shifting. Many kindergartens and schools in urban slums and remote rural areas, hospitals and orphanages now receive assistance. In 2013, for example, Mongolian Consulting Services, a national company that operates in several sectors, donated a full set of emergency medical equipment to a children's hospital in the Bayanzurkh district of Ulaanbaatar. In another example, a construction company, Jiguur Grand, paid for expensive surgery for an impoverished 12-year old boy to recover his vision in a South Korean hospital. A handful of corporations donated to NGOs for rights-based initiatives, but these were exceptions.
Mongolia, like many former socialist countries, is learning that social causes are not only the responsibility of the state and international aid agencies. Children living on the streets, sex and labor trafficking, women and children murdered in domestic violence, and decaying libraries and museums are only few of the social issues that require immediate attention. For us, it has been easier to deliver that message to individuals, especially people who work for living and do not always have extra money to share. In our country, shaken by development problems, ordinary citizens face many injustices and losses and, perhaps, more easily connect to other's pain.
When the Mongolian Women's Fund was established in 2001, corporations declined our requests with polite and not-so-polite excuses for many years. Individuals had been our focus from the beginning, and due to the minimal engagement from corporations, individuals became our primary donors—in fact, over 70% of our local resources came from them. This trend continues to persist: in 2013, 77.3% of our locally raised resources came from 205 individuals, and in 2014, 63.7% of our locally raised funds came from 543 individuals.
While corporate social responsibility was becoming a buzz-word and corporations were competing with their good deeds, many of our solicitations on behalf of women and girls—whose rights were regularly violated and voices silenced—remained unanswered.
But in 2011, we began to see new opportunities with the corporate social responsibility buzz. At first we used the same communications strategies with corporations as we had with individual donors, with very little success. I still remember the blank eyes of a wealthy business owner during our passionate solicitation meeting—his expression didn't change once.
Luckily, we had a network of international Women's Funds to learn from. From Hong Kong to Brazil to South Korea—all countries with strong economies and powerful corporations—Women's Funds shared their lessons and tips on how to approach corporations, teaching us what works and what doesn't. We had invested in building our capacity of working with corporations and we mobilized all our internal and external resources to reach out to corporations and build conversations of interest to both sides. We built a new, corporate networking strategy, developed new approaches in introducing our work to individuals in the corporate world, and utilized our resources to offer equal partnership. We are still learning how to successfully build long-term relationships with corporations, but, so far, we have learnt how to speak their language and how to create work that is mutually beneficial.
In 2014, due to political instability and poor economic decisions, Mongolia plunged into its worst economic crisis in the past 25 years. Many companies shut their doors, and thousands of people were laid off. As one example, in 2012, seven national airlines operated domestic and international flights, but by 2014, five had declared bankruptcy. In 2013, one single mining company cut 2,000 jobs, a sample of the broader picture of the growing unemployment rate that jumped from 6.8% in 2012 to 9.4% in 2014.
With this economic devastation, most corporate social responsibility funding dissolved. Yet, despite this grim picture, MONES' resource mobilization from corporations in 2014 was seven times higher than during the year of economic boom in 2011. In 2011, MONES received donations from six companies, but in 2014, we received donations from 24 companies. And, the average amount of donations increased sixfold. Clearly, our investment in building the capacity to work with corporations has been paying off. Because of the relationships we worked so hard to build, MONES was able to recruit corporations and receive donations despite the overall decline in CSR.
Corporate donors are different from individual donors. They have a different mindset and their decisions are, mostly, based on the calculation of gains and losses. Thus, we changed our language without changing the meaning. We talked less about building a just society where women have equal rights and live free of violence. We talked more about how empowered women are able to make decisions, including financial, at household and community levels. We emphasized how investing in women is a smart investment decision, because violence-free communities are more productive.
We are learning that unless we understand the corporate mentality and learn their language, we will keep seeing their blank faces. The economic crisis will end, sooner or later, and the key for future success in our local resource mobilization is to keep building our capacity of working with corporations. Corporate social responsibility is becoming a part of our culture, and despite the crisis, corporations still respond to smart solicitations. Our fundraising results for 2014 demonstrate that. Because of our carefully laid groundwork, when the economy improves our ability to raise even more corporate funds for women and girls' rights will only continue to increase.
About the author
Bolor Legjeem is the program director for the Mongolian Women's Fund (MONES), the first and only national grant-making organization in Mongolia that is fully dedicated to mobilizing resources and providing financial support for the empowerment of women.
Parliament Agenda for December 7: Caucus, Working Group Meetings
December 7 (GoGo Mongolia) Party Groups and Coalitions seated at State Great Khural have sessions today.
ONE. PARTY GROUPS AND COALITIONS AT STATE GREAT KHURAL SESSIONS:
· DP Group Session at Hall A;
· MPP Group Session at Hall B;
· Justice Coalition Session at Hall C.
TWO. WORKING GROUP SESSIONS:
· Justice Standing Committee sub-working group meeting on draft law against domestic violance
· Economic Standing Committee sub-working group meeting on trade law
· State Structure working group meeting on revised public service law and amendments to public service law
· Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science Standing Committee meeting on revised family law and affiliated other drafts
· Budget Standing Committee working group meeting on legislation of General Department of Custom and Taxation
· State Structure sub-working group meeting on draft law on election, amendments to election law of State Great Hural
· Economic Standing Committee working group meeting on construction and affiliated other drafts
· Working group meeting on monitoring the implementation of State Military Policy and Development Program of Armed Forces until 2015
Parliament Agenda for December 8: Standing Committee Meetings
October 8 (GoGo Mongolia) Standing Committee meeting is scheduled for today.
· Economic Standing Committee on revised draft law on construction
· State Structure Standing Committee on draft resolution of State Great Hural to celebrate 100th birth anniversary of Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal
· Economic and Budget Standing Committees joint meeting on Capital expenditure raised by the sales of Government`s bond released in international market and its repay and implementation of funded project
Parliament Accepts Presidential Veto on Establishing Court in Every Soum, District
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The veto on proposed changes to the judicial system was discussed and accepted by the State Great Khural (parliament) at the afternoon plenary meeting December 2.
The President considered that these changes do not have sufficient financial background and are likely to create different standards in settling similar problems. The resolution outlines that the Supreme Court comprises the aimag and capital courts, the soum and inter-soum courts, as well as the district courts; and that courts can be formed for carrying out criminal, civil and administrative judicial proceedings. However, the failure to reflect the increased expenditure on these proceedings, including salaries of judges, in the State Budget for 2016 and the current economic difficulties are preventing a smooth implementation of this resolution. The difficulties might also cause problems in normal operations of exercising jurisdiction, considered Ts.Elbegdorj.
This veto was issued on November 26.
Prime Minister Saikhanbileg's Speech to the Nation on November 26, 2015 (Summarized Translation by BCM)
December 3 (Business Council of Mongolia)
Supreme Court Denies Registration of Two New Political Parties
December 3 (news.mn) On the 2nd December, the Mongolian Supreme Court discussed whether to register the "Law Preference Party", requested by its Chairman D.Dash, and the "United Mongol Party" requested by its Chairman Kh.Batsuuri. The Supreme Court studied the documents and materials which they had provided, including the regulations and party action plans; the conclusion was that they did not meet the requirements. Therefore, the Supreme Court has refused to add these new political parties to the State Party Register. The chairmen of these two parties can apply for State Registration, once they have completed the documents in the correct legal manner.
Joint Pension Law Approved to Support Spouses of Deceased Pensioners
December 4 (news.mn) The members of the Democratic Party presented the draft "Joint Pension Law" on 1st January 2014. During the afternoon session on 3rd December, Parliament had a final discussion on the draft law. It was approved by a vote. The purpose of this law is as follows: if either of an elderly couple, living together, dies, his or her pension will automatically go to the remaining spouse. The Government will decide the amount of the pension, relevant to this law. This legislation will come into force from 2017.
According to initial forecasts, the "Joint Pension Law" will require MNT 21 billion annually. Also, this law will not apply to married couples, who have an age gap exceeding 20 years (Mogi: anti-trophy wife clause). During the session, members of the Mongolian People's Party noted: "Year by year, the burden on the Social Insurance Fund is becoming ever heavier; therefore, it may not be possible to implement this law if there is not sufficient risk management in place".
Mogi: hope someone digs deep on this one.
Criminal Law Revision Approved
December 4 (news.mn) During yesterday's afternoon session of Parliament, the final discussions to the "Criminal Law" and other related law projects were approved. The law was passed with an 83.7% majority. The new version of the "Crime Law" will come in force from 1st September 2016; this is due to the preparation required for its implementation. The updated version of the "Crime Law" includes 39 provisions regarding criminal liability; companies will be liquidated due to only one provision, which is related to terrorism, also, denigration will be solved under the "Violation Law" and drunk drivers will be financially penalized and not arrested.
Livestock theft considered felony according to revised Criminal Law – Montsame, December 4
Mongolia: Historic vote abolishes death penalty
December 4 (Amnesty International) Mongolia's parliament became the latest to consign the death penalty to the history books, in a major victory for human rights in the country, said Amnesty International today.
On Thursday, lawmakers voted in favour of a new Criminal Code that abolishes the death penalty for all crimes. The new Criminal Code will take effect from September 2016, and would bring the total number of countries to have completely abandoned this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment to 102.
"Mongolia's historic decision to abolish the death penalty is a great victory for human rights. The death penalty is becoming a thing of the past across the world," said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.
"Mongolia has set an example which we hope will quickly ripple across Asia. The countries that continue to execute have been shown a clear path to follow to end this cruel and inhumane punishment."
Three countries - Fiji, Madagascar and Suriname - have already abolished the death penalty this year.
The last execution in Mongolia was in 2008 and the death penalty remained classified as a state secret. Since then, the country has taken a series of steps towards abolition culminating in yesterday's historic parliamentary vote.
In 2010, the country's President, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, commuted all death sentences and announced a moratorium on all executions. In 2012, Mongolia ratified an international treaty committing the country to the abolition of the death penalty.
President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj has repeatedly said Mongolia must turn its back on the death penalty in order to fully respect the right to life. He argued that the threat of executions does not have a deterrent effect and the risk of a miscarriage of justice is inherent in any system of justice.
"President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj exposed the fallacy of the death penalty. The political leadership shown in abolishing the death penalty in Mongolia needs to be repeated elsewhere in Asia. Countries that continue to execute are on the wrong side of history," said Roseann Rife.
A minority of countries continue to use the death penalty, in ways that are completely contrary to international law and standards. Earlier this year, Indonesia resumed executions amidst worldwide criticism, while Pakistan has executed at least 300 people since it lifted a moratorium on executions in December 2014. In East Asia, China, Japan, North Korea, and Taiwan have all carried out executions in 2015.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.
The long road to death penalty abolition in Mongolia
Mongolia's lawmakers have just voted in favour of a new Criminal Code that abolishes the death penalty for all crimes when it comes into effect in September next year. Amarzaya Galsanlkhagva, a long-time campaigner with Amnesty International Mongolia, looks back on the long road to victory.
By Amarzaya Galsanlkhagva, Mongolia
December 3 (Amnesty International) Amnesty Mongolia has been campaigning to abolish the death penalty in Mongolia since our office was established in 1994, so we are all thrilled to hear this good news. While this is a victory for our supporters around the world, it also shows once again how all of us can make a real impact on human rights by working together.
It has been a long and difficult road to finally convince the Mongolian authorities to abolish this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We faced many challenges along the way, but never lost hope.
A journey of peaks and troughs
Looking back on my own decade of campaigning, there were definitely times when I felt especially discouraged. Frequently, this was after some serious crime had taken place in Mongolia, and victims' families or members of the public took to social media or other avenues to express strong support for capital punishment.
The common arguments are that the death penalty is needed to deter serious crimes, or that murderers deserve the death penalty, particularly if the victims are children. At times like these, I had a real fear that abolition was an unreachable goal in my country. Despite such discouraging moments, we kept trying.
Over the years, we have explored a variety of ways to raise awareness among the public and engage the authorities in dialogue. Since 2006, every year on 10 December we've marked the World Day Against the Death Penalty. For the past three years we have celebrated Cities for Life Day on 30 November, to commemorate the first abolition of the death penalty by a European country in 1786.
We've organized art exhibitions, film discussions, given talks to law school students, gone on speaking tours with American families of murder victims who opposed the death penalty, met legislators….among many other activities, and all this must have cumulatively shifted public opinion over the years.
One event that really made a splash was our 2009 art exhibition, "On the Gallows", marking the World Day Against the Death Penalty. It featured art by Artur Judah Angel, a former death row inmate in Nigeria whose drawings depicted death row conditions there. His art must have really struck a chord. The exhibition attracted a diversity of visitors, including state and prison officials, diplomats, law students and lawyers, the media and the general public.
Our campaign for Erdene-Ochir also left an indelible impression. He is a Mongolian who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1995. His death sentence was upheld three times by three different courts, before he was found innocent and released in 2002. His case illustrated a core concern in any argument for abolition – the risk of executing an innocent person.
A turn of the tide
Over the seven years it took for the courts to overturn Erdene-Ochir's conviction, we witnessed the tide of public opinion turn, from support for his death sentence at the start, to the very opposite by the end. Support for the death penalty has waned further since. A survey conducted in 2011 by a research arm of the Mongolian government in collaboration with a non-profit, the Association to Protect the Right to Life, showed a majority of Mongolians thought the death penalty should be abolished as it is "irrevocable to execute innocent people".
Abolition of the death penalty in Mongolia is a historic decision and we couldn't have achieved it ourselves. It required significant political will on the part of the Mongolian authorities to push ahead. Mongolian President Elbegdorj's announcement in 2010 of a freeze on executions was the first positive step towards abolition in many years.
In the 1950s, Mongolia abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes like murder but reinstated it after just 10 months in response to public demand. To prevent this from recurring, we will continue our work in Mongolia, and support campaigning in Asia and across the world to end the death penalty once and for all.
Speaker Works in Uvs Aimag, Attends Road Opening
Ulaanbaatar, December 7 (MONTSAME) The Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold paid a working tour to Uvs aimag on December 5 to get familiarized with some works and actions.
He was welcomed by Ch.Chimed, the head of the aimag's Citizens Council, D.Tsendsuren, the governor of Uvs; B.Tsetsee, a deputy governor; O.Gankhuyag, the governor of Ulaangom soum, and the guard of honor. After this, the Speaker addressed a ceremony of accepting a construction performed within the "Street" national project, which aims to construct auto roads between the capital city and centers of all aimags and to repair roads and in frames of which this province got 10.5km paved roads, eight road circles of 2.1km, 14.5km pavements, 2.1km bicycle roads, an illumination along 8.2 km ways, traffic lights, engineering pipelines, bridges and green places.
The "Street" project was launched by the government in 2013 with a 1.5 million US dollars, raised from the "Chingis" bonds, in the UB city, in Arkhangai, Khentii and Uvs aimags, the Speaker said. After this he saw how the governmental resolution has been implemented on minimizing petroleum prices to draw them level with the central region's ones. "This action rises economic profits," he noted being told that the local inhabitants are thankful to this decision, "it has made concrete contribution to our life".
The Speaker also attended a measure of concluding the 1,000th day of the democratic governance in Uvs aimag. He urged the gathered to boost the development by uniting efforts and works.
The Speaker was accompanied by N.Altankhuyag MP, G.Olziiburen, a head of the Oil Authority, and others.
Why did Mongolia's S. Erdene set himself alight?
4 December 2015 (openDemocracy) The mining boom has caused a fierce sense of resource nationalism in many Mongolians due to environmental degradation, disruption to nomadic culture, and the boom and bust economics caused by mining.
On Friday, November 13, S. Erdene, the head of the Mongolian Labor Union 'Solidarity' (Ev Sanaany Negdel) called a press conference to discuss a recent change in contract for workers at Mongolia's Tavan Tolgoi mine, one of the largest coal mines in the world. After delivering his remarks, S. Erdene doused himself in flammable liquid and lit himself on fire. Nearly half of his body was burned before onlookers were able to extinguish the fire.
Before his act of self-immolation, S. Erdene argued that Mongolia is selling its people to a foreign nation, and proclaimed, "If they want us to burn, I'll burn." S. Erdene's statements refer to Tavan Tolgoi's decision to transfer the contracts of 200 workers to the Chinese company, TTJVCO, in order to reduce operation costs. Mining layoffs have been all too common in Mongolia in recent years, with copper mining megaproject Oyu Tolgoi laying off approximately 2,000 people in 2013. Despite assurances from Tavan Tolgoi, employees worried that they would be laid off shortly after the contract transfer or would endure far worse working conditions than those to which they are accustomed. Miners staged multiple protests before S. Erdene resorted to his dire actions.
S. Erdene's actions, while extreme, reflect a growing tension about mining that is palpable throughout Mongolia. Over 90% of Mongolia's exports come from extractive exports, primarily coal and copper. As a result, from 2009 to 2013, the country flourished as the mining sector opened up to foreign investors. In 2011, Mongolia was the fastest-growing economy in the world, its economy expanding at a rate of 17.5%, nearly twice as fast as China's.
However, as of this most recent financial quarter, Mongolia's growth slowed to a staggering 2.5%. Growth in Mongolia has slowed so drastically because of the country's dependency on both mining exports and the corollary domestic market that mining creates. A decrease in mining activity means that mining companies will immediately require fewer buildings to be constructed, fewer uniforms to be sewn, and fewer meals to be catered; but when a country is so thoroughly dependent on its mining economy, a decline in growth also means that the domestic market will suffer.
In good economic times, Mongolians wealthy from their work in mining have disposable income that fuels myriad industries from real estate to entertainment to demand for luxury items such as cashmere or leather. In a down economy like Mongolia's today, many businesses are forced to close their doors, and people who were once flourishing are now struggling to get by.
Mongolia's mining sector has declined for three major reasons. First, coal and copper prices are down the world over, having fallen 20-30% in the past year alone. Coal prices have hit a 12-year low, causing mining company budgets to shrink and forcing layoffs. In the United States, for example, the demand for coal has slowed as the country has relied increasingly on other forms of energy—such as renewables and natural gas—leaving coal miners in the country's Appalachian region out of work. Perhaps the largest lay-offs have come in China, where this fall Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group let 100,000 workers go in a single mass lay-off.
Mongolia's mining economy is also in decline because of China's slowed economic growth and Mongolia's reliance on this single export market. An estimated 86-90% of exports from land-locked Mongolia are sold to neighboring China. As China's growth has slowed, its demand for imports has fallen sharply—import values for October of this year were 19% less than the same period last year. Mongolia's near-singular reliance on Chinese demand has contributed to an already difficult economic situation.
Finally, the mining boom has caused a fierce sense of resource nationalism in many Mongolians because of the environmental degradation, disruption to nomadic culture, and the boom and bust economics oftentimes caused by mining.
Mongolian domestic politics have responded to this restlessness, fostering what investors describe as an unstable political climate. Some are leery to invest because they cannot be sure that the policies of today will be the policies of tomorrow. Mining company Rio Tinto's two-year contract dispute with the Mongolian government put many investors off from exploring this emerging market. However, after recently having come to an agreement to begin developing Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi underground project, Mongolian Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg has declared, "Mongolia is back to business," and there is optimism that protracted contract battles are a thing of the past.
As for S. Erdene, he is currently convalescing at a Korean hospital, his expenses being covered by the Tavan Tolgoi Company. According to an interview with T. Bilgee, Executive Director, the company has also responded to other labor union demands, promising the same workload and a 33-month contract guarantee for the 200 transferred workers. They have also agreed to distribute pension and salary bonuses to some workers and to provide a translation of the contract into Mongolian, as it was originally written in English.
Special thanks to Bolorsetseg Ankhaa for translating material for this article.
About the author
Aubrey Menard holds degrees in Politics from Smith College and the University of Oxford. She lives in Ulaanbaatar and works on extractive sector governance in Mongolia. Find her on twitter at @AubreyMenard
Germany to Issue $745 Million Loan Guarantee on Tsagaan Suvarga Project
December 4 (UB Post) News.mn reported that the Government of Germany will make 745 million USD in investments in the Tsagaan Suvarga copper-molybdenum deposit mega project in the form of loan guarantees.
During the Minister of Industry's visit to Germany in November, Mongolia and Germany signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperating in the minerals, industrial, and technology sectors. Under the agreement, the relevant ministries of Mongolia and Germany have pledged to work toward recovering debt and receivables related to joint projects being implemented.
The project to build a copper and molybdenum concentrator at the Tsagaan Suvarga deposit, located in Dornogovi Province's Mandakh soum, was launched in 2001. The project was being implemented by Mongolyn Alt (MAK), a company owned by MP N.Nomtoibayar (Mogi: his father Nyamtaishir), but it is now a subsidiary of Erdenes Tsagaan Suvarga.
The Government of Mongolia, MAK, and Erdenes Tsagaan Suvarga established an investment agreement for the Tsagaan Suvarga project on October 13, 2015. Minister of Mining R.Jigjid highlighted that the agreement was the first to be signed after the Law on Investment was amended at the end of 2013.
Estimates suggest that at its full capacity, the concentrator could process 14.6 million tons of ore and produce 310,000 tons of copper and 4,000 tons of molybdenum concentrate per year. Current approved reserves of the deposit will be utilized in the form of an open pit mine for 18 years in three stages.
Estimated expenditure for the project stands at just over 1 billion USD, 344.4 million USD of which has already been invested in the project. The Ministry of Mining and MAK report that the sides have planned to pursue additional financing from Germany, and other international banks and financial organizations.
Project implementers underlined that the project will generate 3.3 trillion MNT (approximately 185 billion MNT annually) in taxes and other payments during its implementation period, providing over one thousand Mongolians with jobs. Investors say they will also fund the construction of an administration office, hospital, school, dormitory, kindergarten, and culture center in Mandakh soum. The joint agreement states that sub-contractors and suppliers for the mega project's development will be chosen with a priority placed on domestic entities.
bd's Mongolian Grill Celebrates Grand Opening of New Location in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Stir-fry Concept Remains Tied to Culture of Origin for 10 years
BURNSVILLE, Minn., December 3--(BUSINESS WIRE)--bd's Mongolian Grill, the popular create-your-own stir-fry restaurant, recently celebrated the grand opening of its new location in downtown Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The new, larger location comes as a result of heightened demand the franchise group has been experiencing in recent years.
bd's Mongolian Grill was the first U.S.-based restaurant to open a franchise in Mongolia. The Ulaanbaatar location is owned by local group Modern Nomads, a seasoned restaurant group who also owns several other dining concepts across the country.
"The Mongolian culture is where the stir-fry concept originated," said M. Esunmunkh, President and CEO, Nomads Chain of Restaurants. "We look forward to welcoming the Ulaanbaatar community through our new downtown doors and hosting guests for many more years to come."
The Ulaanbaatar restaurant represents the strong company culture of bd's Mongolian Grill. By having a franchise partner in the origin country, the brand benefits from lessons in hospitality, friendliness and community-focus. These traits have been incorporated across the bd's Mongolian Grill system as a result of the partnership.
"Our partnership with Modern Nomads has proven itself invaluable to our company," said Joe Phraner, President and COO of bd's Mongolian Grill. "The bd's company culture has been shaped as a direct result of our relationship with the Mongolian location and culture."
bd's Mongolian Grill in Ulaanbaatar is located at T-31, Baga Toiruu, Sukhbaatar District. The brand is also targeting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for further expansion and is seeking qualified franchisees to help develop the restaurants.
Burger King Opens in Mongolia, Bringing Burgers to Their Birthplace
November 30 (Asia Matters for America) Burger King recently opened its first store in Mongolia, located at Chinggis Square in Ulannbaatar, the nation's capital. The company is the first American hamburger chain to open in Mongolia, but is the third purveyor of American fast food to enter that market in just the last few years, after KFC and Pizza Hut.
Some historians claim that the hamburger originated from the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, when the cavalry placed slices of meat under their saddles during rides to be pounded and softened, forming an early version of the meat patties of a modern hamburger. Americans were the first to serve them with buns and popularize them through fast food chains around the globe.
Since KFC opened its first store in South Korea in 1984, the entry of American fast food chains has been seen as an indicator of an Asian country's economic take-off. The first KFC restaurant opened in Beijing in 1987, nine years after China adopted the "reform and opening up" policy. Vietnam recently got its first McDonald's restaurant, while Wendy's also opened in India this year. In the past five years, Mongolia has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The economy grew more than 10% annually from 2010 to 2013, and though it slowed to 7.8% in 2014, that remains one of the fastest growth rates globally.
The entry of American fast food chains in Mongolia may also bring benefits to other US businesses. Chicken, KFC's signature ingredient, is not a major part of the Mongolian diet, which traditionally consists of red meats. Most of the chicken served by the restaurant is imported from abroad, with the US being one of the major sources. In 2013, poultry was among the top fiveexport categories from the US to Mongolia. The US Department of Commerce has also identified meat processing technologies as one of four major market opportunities in Mongolia for US businesses.
American fast food stores in Asia have achieved great success over the years. China, for instance, now surpasses the US as the country with most KFC stores, the number of which reached a stunning 4,828 in 2014. Some chains have also done well by localizing their menus to adapt to the unique tastes in each country, while also retaining classic elements of the American menu items that define the brand.
The Best Little Coffee Bar In Ulaanbaatar
By Daniel Scheffler
December 3 (Sprudge) If the warrior Genghis Khan had to drink coffee, he'd do it right here. Ulaanbaatar, the icy capital city of Mongolia, has finally fathomed coffee in the form of UBean Coffee House and Roasterie. Out of the yurt and into the city.
The cafe is rather nondescript; its location on the second floor of a building might be unusual for a coffee bar, but it offers a respite from the freezing temperatures and choking pollution that frequently
plague the city. UBean Coffee House and their on-site roaster initially opened in an NGO community center, with the rest of the building used for humanitarian aide and community development projects, and turned a profit much earlier than expected. So Wahlen turned the cafe into a fully fledged business with its own location, serving filter coffee with a concentration on Hario V60, Chemex, and AeroPress brewing methods, and training locals in this style of coffee service.
Training is how any new industry takes hold. In this multilingual city, hearing the cafe staff talking in Mongolian, Kazakh, Russian, and English interchangeably creates a totally unique energy. "We do try to integrate cultural elements into our cafe, some that work and some that don't," Wahlen tells me. "Hot sea buckthorn juice works, but fermented horse-milk lattes didn't go over so well—with the foreigners at least."
Coffee culture is catching on quick here. The country has its own organizations and guilds in place, including the Mongolian Barista Association and the Specialty Coffee Association of Mongolia. The barista guild has helped in initial espresso training for new staff at UBean, and aids in breaking down some of the cultural barriers. "We use a Victoria Arduino three-group lever espresso machine, the only one in the country," says Wahlen, "and it does require a whole other set of training that a barista won't have when working with automatics." He adds that "new hires aren't allowed to touch a lever for at least a month."
Although UBean originated from an NGO, they are now completely separate, with the cafe taking on a life of its own. It's a cozy space, with big windows looking out at the glass-and-steel newness of the city, filled up with youngsters, expats, students, young professionals, specialty-coffee lovers, television stars, the local version of hipsters, and just flat-out curious people from the neighborhood, all dropping by to meet, learn, and experience a taste of coffee culture. "Coffee education with a new awareness is a priority for us," Wahlen tells me. "We can see the growth and adaptation of global creativity in Mongolian culture—and we're right in the middle of all of that."
Mongolia sets 'Learning from Democratic Transitions' as IDEA's 2016 theme
December 3 (International IDEA) Mongolia, which this year celebrated the 25th anniversary of its transition to democracy, presented the priorities for its new role as 2016 Chair of International IDEA under the theme of "Learning from Democratic Transitions." This focus draws on the country's rich experiences of building democratic institutions and strengthening democratic values.
In the presence of Yves Leterme, Secretary-General of International IDEA, Switzerland, represented by Didier Burkhalter, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, handed over the Chairship of International IDEA to Mongolia, represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lundeg Purevsuren.
The Council acknowledged a busy year which included the 20th Anniversary of International IDEA, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September, the approval of the Nepal constitution, to which International IDEA contributed both in content and process, and the historic general elections in Myanmar in November.
Among the key decisions taken at the 24th Session of the Council meeting, the Council appointed Njeri Kabeberi and Sergio Bitar as new members of the International IDEA Board of Advisers – an independent expert committee which advises the organization on strategic and programmatic issues. The Council also approved the programme and budget for 2016, which sets the detailed objectives and directions of next year's work.
Mongolia concludes report on implementation of int'l convention against racial discrimination
Ulaanbaatar, December 7 (MONTSAME) On December 2-3, the 88th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), running in Geneva of Switzerland, discussed 19-22nd reports of Mongolia on realization of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Mongolia was represented by J.Bayartsetseg, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Justice, who delivered the reports about the international convention's implementation in Mongolia.
The CERD members expressed a gratitude to the Mongolian delegation for taking part in the session and giving details on the convention. They also appreciated ongoing measures and legal reforms in Mongolia for ensuring the convention's realization.
Erdemtrans starts bus service from UB to Erlian from Bayanzurkh hub
December 7 (gogo.mn) Erdemtrans LLC starts luxury bus service from Ulaanbaatar to Erlian starting today at "Bayanzurh" transport hub.
Below is the schedule of the buses.
- Depart from Ulaanbaatar at 6AM and arrive in Erlian at 5PM
- Depart from Erlian at 10AM and arrive in Ulaanbaatar at 9PM
Prices for the ticket from Ulaanbaatar to Erlian:
- Adult - MNT 55,000
- Children - MNT 27,500
Prices for the ticket from Erlian to Ulaanbaatar are at CNY 210.
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