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Monday, January 25, 2016

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Overseas Market

Mongolian Dollar Bonds Fall to Records, Pushing Yields Above 10%

January 21 (Bloomberg) -- Yld on dollar bonds due Dec. 2022 climbs 15bps to 10.19% and price drops to 75.436 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

* Yld exceeded 10% on Wednesday for first time since notes issued in 2012

* Yld on dollar debt due 2018 rises 32bps to 10.21% and price drops to 89.512 cents; securites fall for 9th day in a row

* Tugrik steady after weakening to record of 2,005.5/USD on Wednesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg



TRQ closed -1.11% Friday to US$1.78, -29.92% YTD

Turquoise Hill Announces Fourth Quarter 2015 Production

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - January 18, 2016) - Turquoise Hill Resources today announced fourth quarter 2015 production for Oyu Tolgoi.

Jeff Tygesen, Turquoise Hill Chief Executive Officer, said, "Oyu Tolgoi continued to operate at record levels for the fourth quarter. Productivity improvements in the concentrator implemented throughout the year led to throughput for the quarter exceeding nameplate capacity. Thanks to the focus and dedication of Oyu Tolgoi's workforce, we beat our 2015 copper production guidance and met our gold target."

For Q4'15, throughput increased 8.5% over Q3'15 reaching an all-time high. Copper production for the quarter increased 2.3% over Q3'15 due to higher volumes. As a result of mining higher grades from Phase 2 and higher volumes, Q4'15 gold production increased 68.3% over Q3'15.

Copper production for 2015 of 202,200 tonnes exceeded the Company's guidance of 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes and annual gold production of 653,000 ounces met 2015 guidance of 600,000 to 700,000 ounces. For 2015, Oyu Tolgoi's second full year of production, the mine operated at record levels. Compared to 2014 results, 2015 mined production increased 19.3%, concentrator throughput increased 23.9%, concentrate production increased 39.9%, copper production increased 36.3% and gold production increased 10.9%.

Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes of copper and 210,000 to 260,000 ounces of gold in concentrates for 2016. The majority of 2016 gold production is expected in the first half of the year.

Underground development

In December 2015, Oyu Tolgoi signed a $4.4 billion project finance facility, which was an unprecedented milestone for Turquoise Hill. Work continues toward completing the 2015 feasibility study, including the updated capital estimate and securing all necessary permits for the development of the underground mine. Once these steps have been completed, which is expected in Q1'16, the Company expects a formal 'notice to proceed' decision by the boards of Turquoise Hill, Rio Tinto and Oyu Tolgoi in early Q2'16.

Oyu Tolgoi Production Data

All data represents full production and sales on a 100% basis

Link to release


Oyu Tolgoi announces Q4 2015 production updateOyu Tolgoi LLC, January 19

Oyu Tolgoi deploys SmartCap technology to stop accidents before they happenOyu Tolgoi LLC, January 15


Turquoise Hill Appoints Brendan Lane as Vice President, Operations and Development

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - January 20, 2016) - Turquoise Hill Resources today announced the appointment of Brendan Lane as Vice President, Operations and Development effective February 1, 2016. Mr. Lane brings 25-years of industry experience including metallurgical, mine engineering and commercial roles at Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP Billiton.

Jeff Tygesen, Turquoise Hill Chief Executive Officer, said, "Brendan's extensive engineering and commercial background will be extremely valuable to Turquoise Hill and we are delighted to have him join our team. Working with the project team, he will play a critical role in the further development of Oyu Tolgoi."

Since 2013, Mr. Lane has served as Minera Escondida Limitada and Grasberg Finance Director at Rio Tinto Copper. In this capacity, he provided strategic guidance and decision support to operational management teams with joint venture partners BHP Billiton and Freeport-McMoRan. Previously, Mr. Lane held a variety of commercial roles in the Rio Tinto copper and coal business units as well as engineering positions at Anglo American and BHP Billiton.

Mr. Lane holds a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Queensland and a Master of Applied Finance degree from the University of Southern Queensland.

Link to release


Centerra Gold Removed from S&P/TSX Canadian Dividend Aristocrats Index

ORONTO, Jan. 22, 2016 /CNW/ - S&P Dow Jones Indices Canadian Index Operations announces the following index changes as a result of the annual S&P/TSX Canadian Dividend Aristocrats Index Review.  These changes will be effective at the open on Monday, February 1, 2016.

S&P/TSX Canadian Dividend Aristocrats Index




Issue Name



Agrium Inc.

008916 10 8


Aimia Inc.

00900Q 10 3


Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.

015857 10 5


AutoCanada Inc.

05277B 20 9


Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

136069 10 1


Dollarama Inc.

25675T 10 7


EnerCare Inc.

29269C 20 7


Enerflex Ltd.

29269R 10 5


Gibson Energy Inc.

374825 20 6


Gildan Activewear Inc.

375916 10 3


Granite REIT

387437 11 4


Nevsun Resources Ltd.

64156L 10 1


Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan

73755L 10 7


Royal Bank of Canada

780087 10 2


Russel Metals Inc.

781903 60 4


TransForce Inc.

89366H 10 3


Uni-Select Inc.

90457D 10 0




Issue Name



Canadian Pacific Railway Limited

13645T 10 0


Centerra Gold Inc.

152006 10 2


Dorel Industries Inc.

25822C 20 5



404428 20 3


Mullen Group Ltd.

625284 10 4


Newalta Corporation

65020P 10 3


Restaurant Brands International Inc.

76131D 10 3


Wi-LAN Inc.

928972 10 8

Link to release

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 +0.34%, ALL +0.41%, ₮118.6 Million Stocks, T-Bills ₮881.8 Million

January 22 (MSE) --

Link to report

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Historic low ₮2,007.31/USD set January 20, 2016

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, January 22 Close
















































































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮2,000 Sell ₮2,008), Khan (Buy ₮2,000 Sell ₮2,008), Golomt (Buy ₮2,001 Sell ₮2,008), XacBank (Buy ₮2,000.5 Sell ₮2,008.5), State Bank (Buy ₮2,002 Sell ₮2,008)

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

Link to rates


Mongolia Current Account Deficit Expected to Widen, Moody's Says

January 20 (Bloomberg) -- Shortfall expected to rise to 6.9% of GDP in 2016 from 4.1% last yr due to increased imports needed to build the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine, Anushka Shah, Moody's lead
Mongolia analyst, writes in e-mail.

* Widening CAD to result in increased need for foreign- currency financing: Shah

* NOTE: Mongolia's central bank injected $1.2b via twice-weekly foreign-exchange auctions in 2015 vs $1.8b in 2014 and $1.9b in 2013

* Lower liquidity injection in 2015 due to several factors, including drop in foreign-currency bank loans, decline in project-related imports and an easing of central bank's price stabilization program: Shah

* NOTE: About $6b is expected to be invested in developing the underground copper mine at Oyu Tolgoi over next 5-7 yrs after resolution to dispute between Australia's Rio Tinto Group and local government that stalled project for two yrs



BoM FX auction: US$32.6m sold at 2,007.01, CNY19m at 304.20, accepts $4.34m MNT swap offers

January 21 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on January 21th, 2016 the BOM has received buying bid offers of USD 37.2 million in a rate between MNT 1998.62-2010.61 and bid offers of CNY 19.0 million in a rate between MNT 304.20-305.55 respectively. The BOM sold USD 32.6 million in a rate of MNT 2007.01 and CNY 19.0 million in a rate of MNT 304.20.

On January 21th, 2016, the BOM has received MNT Swap agreement buying bid offers equivalent to USD 4.34 million and USD swap agreement selling bid offers of USD 40.0 million from local commercial banks and the BOM accepted the MNT swap agreement buying bid offers of USD 4.34 million.

Link to release


Mongolia FX Auctions Decline 33% Yoy to $1.2b in 2015

January 20 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's central bank injected net of $795.9m and 2.82b yuan ($446.3m) for a total injection of $1.2b ytd via twice-weekly foreign exchange auctions in 2015, Gerelmaa Baatarchuluun, an economist at the Bank of Mongolia, wrote in an e-mail.

* Past net injections through FX auctions include $1b (2012), $1.9b (2013) and $1.8b (2014)

* Auction proceeds are sourced from BoM international reserves

* 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

* Tugrik closed at 2006.79 on Jan 19; a decline of 0.6% ytd, according to Bank of Mongolia website

* NOTE: BoM had international reserves of $1.46b as of the end of Nov., an 11.59% Yr to date decline



No BoM 1-week bill auction held on Friday, total outstanding -16.3% to 396.5 billion

Link to BoM page


BoM Monthly Statistical Bulletin, December 2015

January 18 (BoM) --

Link to report


15 Billion 3-Year GoM Bond Auction Receives No Bids

January 20 (BoM) Auction for 3 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 15 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. The Government bond was not sold the due to absence of both competitive and noncompetitive bids.

Link to release


15 Billion 12-Week T-Bills Sold at 13.56% Discount from 24.3 Billion Bids

January 20 (BoM) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 15.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 15.0 billion /out of 24.3 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 13.560%.

Link to release


8% Mortgage Program Update: ₮583.4 Billion Refinanced, ₮2.25 Trillion Newly Issued

January 19 (Cover Mongolia) As of December 2015, 583.4 billion (₮581 billion as of December 4) existing mortgages of 19,463 citizens (19,413 as of December 4) were refinanced at 8% out of 839.6 billion (₮837.8 billion as of December 4) worth requests.

Also, ₮2.25 trillion (₮2.2 trillion as of December 4) new mortgages of 41,660 citizens (41,055 citizens as of December 4) were issued at new rates out of ₮2.28 trillion (₮2.2 trillion as of December 4) worth requests.

Link to release (in Mongolian)


Loans Outstanding -6.5% in 2015, NPLs +31.8% to 822.4 Billion, 7.1% of Total Loans

January 18 (BoM) --







Bank reservers






Central bank bills






Foreign assets






Government securities






Other securities












In domestic currency






In foreign currency






Non-performing loans






Total Assets


















Current Accounts






In domestic currency






In foreign currency












In domestic currency






In foreign currency






Foreign liabilities






Government deposits






Total Liabilities


















Profit/loss of current year






Link to report


Mongolia attracting increased interest from Aussie exporters

January 12 (Austrade) Australian businesses are taking an increased interest in Mongolia as market opportunities expand from mining which accounts for approximately 20 per cent of GDP to the economy, to include water management solutions.

Brendan Coyne, Austrade's Trade Commissioner and Consul-General in Mongolia, said the relationship between Australia and Mongolia was strong as demonstrated by the large presence of Australian companies and the opening of the Australian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar in December 2015.

'There are many Australian mining business operating in Mongolia, especially Australia's world-class and highly regarded mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies,' said Coyne.

There are an estimated 200 Australian businesses that have already provided services valued at more than $US83 million to the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) copper-gold mine in the South-Gobi region.

The OT mine, which provides the majority of the copper-gold ore in Mongolia, is planning to commence an underground expansion and recently a multinational finance deal valued at $US4.4 billion was secured to support this expansion.

Institutions involved in this deal included export credit agencies from Canada, the US and Australia through Efic.

While numerous initiatives have been held for Australian METS companies to explain the opportunities in Ulaanbaatar, a recent 'Doing Business in Mongolia' business breakfast involving AustCham Mongolia attracted over 90 participants – which was AustCham's largest attended event.

'The business breakfast featured a panel discussion involving five experts covering different aspects of commencing and undertaking business within the mining sector in Mongolia.

'It also leveraged off a major forum Oyu Tolgoi held promoting its Underground Development to suppliers that attracted over 600 organisations and approximately 50 Australian organisations attended which included nearly 30 companies who travelled from outside Mongolia,' said Coyne.

The opportunities for Australian companies to work with Mongolia were further highlighted at the recent opening of a groundwater monitoring network in the city of Choir, approximately 200 km south of Ulaanbaatar.

'While mining is important to the economy of Mongolia, there is recognition that water management is central to allow sustainable economic development to occur, particularly in rural areas where agriculture is a part of life.

'This recognition presents growing opportunities for Australian businesses that can offer new technology and solutions to address water management and conservation concerns,' said Coyne.

Austrade has also just developed the Mongolian Mining Projects Report 2015 which provides a comprehensive guide for Australian METS exporters considering doing business in Mongolia.

Australian companies can access a copy of the Mongolian Mining Projects report 2015 here or visit Austrade's website for more information about the business opportunities and exporting to Mongolia.

Link to article


Mongolia's Foreign Trade Review, December 2015

January 21 (BoM) --

Total trade turnover: $8,466.6 millions  

As of Dec 2015 the total cumulative trade turnover decreased by 23.1% (USD 2,544.6 millions) from that of the previous year and reached USD 8,466.6 million. The decrease in the trade turnover was mainly due to the decrease in imports by USD 1,439.5 million.

The structure of the trade flows with the neighboring trade partners is as following: (i) trade with PRC: 62.1% or USD 5,257.9 million and (ii) trade with Russia: 13.0% or USD 1,098.0 million. The trade volume between Mongolia and China decreased by 22.7% and the trade volume between Mongolia while Russia decreased by 31.8%.

Trade balance: $872.3 million

As of Dec 2015, the cumulative trade balance improved by USD 334.4 million from that of the previous year and reached USD 872.3 million. During the reporting period even though the total exports decreased by 19.1% from that of the previous year, imports decreased by 27.5% from that of the previous year, thus the trade balance improved by USD 334.4 million.

The three-month moving average value of the difference between annual growth rates of exports and imports started to decline since the beginning of 2015. The high export growth rate during 2014 was due to the exports of copper concentrate and it started to stabilize.

Trade balance of paid trade flows: $1,185.0 million  

The state of the trade balance of paid trade flows is one of the main variables that determines the pressure on the domestic foreign exchange market.

As of Dec 2015, the trade balance of paid trade flows reached USD 1,185.0 millions. During the reporting period, paid imports de-creased by 30.3%, and paid exports decreased by 20.0% from that of previous year.

Terms of trade: 1.169 (test estimation)

As of Dec 2015, terms of trade index (2012 base year) decreased by 26.4% from that of the previous year and reached 1.169.

This decrease in the terms of trade is mainly attributed to the decrease in export price of copper concentrate, iron ore and crude oil.



Link to report


Mongolia Coal Exports Slump 25% in 2015 to 14.7m tons

January 18 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's coal exports decreased to 14.5m tons in 2015 from 19.5m a year earlier, a 24.6% decline, the National Statistical Office says in statement on website.

* Value of coal exports declines to $555.9m from $849m

* Copper concentrate exports increase 7.2% to 1.48m tons from 1.38m tons; value decreases to $2.28b from $2.57b

* Gold exports rose 13% y/y to 11.3 tons from 10t; value rose to $420.6m from $405.2m

* Crude oil exports rose 18.2% to 8.1m barrels from 6.9m barrels yr earlier; value falls to $387.2m from $634.6m

* Total exports were $4.67b in 2015 compared with $5.77b yr earlier, a decline of 19.1%

* Mongolia exported $3.68b worth of mineral products in 2015 compared with $4.79b yr earlier; other products include $421.4m worth of precious metal & jewelry and $302.7m worth of textiles & textile articles

* China bought $3.9b of Mongolia's exports, compared with $5.1b yr earlier, a decline of 23%

* The U.K. bought $337.7m worth of Mongolian exports, the second highest after China



Mongolia 2015 Exports Fall 19% Y/y, Imports Plunge 28% Y/y

January 18 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolian exports fell 19% y/y to $4.67b and imports declined 27.5% to $3.8b in 2015, the National Statistical Office said Friday in a statement on its website.

* Total external trade turnover fell 23% to $8.47b in 2015, a drop of $2.54b

* Trade surplus in 2015 was $872.3m compared with $537.7m surplus a year earlier

* December industrial production index increased 0.3% m/m and decreased 5.1% y/y

* December CPI up 1.9% y/y compared with CPI of 11% at same period yr earlier

* Livestock at the end of 2015 totaled 56m, a 7.7% increase compared to the previous year

* M2 money supply was 10.1t tugrik at end-Dec, a 2.5% increase m/m and 5.5% fall y/y

* Currency in circulation was 706.7b tugrik at end-Dec, a 0.5% decrease m/m and a 12.7% fall y/y

* Loans outstanding were 11.7t tugrik at end-Dec, down 6.5% y/y

* Principal in arrears totaled 861.2b tugrik at end-Dec, a 4.3% decrease m/m and a 219.6% increase y/y

* Non-performing loans totaled 824.9b tugrik at end-Dec., a 2.9% decrease m/m and 31.8% increase y/y

* NOTE: Data is preliminary



The Sales Managers Index: Mongolia SMI hits new survey-low in January

·         Sales and market growth fall at sharper rates

·         Further strong decline in prices charged

·         Employment levels drop for 21st consecutive month

January 22 -- The World Economics Headline Sales Managers' Index (SMI) for Mongolia provides the most up-to-date monthly assessment of economic activity in the country. It is derived from an average of the business confidence, market growth, product sales, prices charged and staffing indicators. An index above 50 indicates growth, while an index below 50 indicates contraction. The SMI registered 32.0 in January, down from 32.4 in December, the lowest level in the survey history. Moreover, the latest reading reflected faster declines in four of its five individual components. 

The Business Confidence Index posted 31.4 in January, up from 27.9 in December, signalling a weaker but nonetheless strong decline in the level of business sentiment. Weakening economic demand, high interest rates, declining oil & other commodity prices, and harsh weather conditions were cited again by panellists as the main reasons behind the negative business outlook. 

The Market Growth Index, which reflects growth of the general marketplace in panellists' own industry sectors, fell to the lowest level since February 2015, as the poor economic environment continued to impact on growth. Similarly, the Product Sales Index, which represents sales made by panellists' own companies, fell further and at a pace that was the fastest in ten months. Deteriorating client demand and difficult demand conditions were blamed for the general decline in product sales. 

Latest survey data also showed a further strong reduction in prices set by sales managers. The Prices Charged Index fell to 34.7 from 36.1 in December. According to panellists, the overall decline in prices charged reflected efforts to stimulate client demand, as reports of lower material costs, particularly for oil-related products and metals continued to weigh on companies' pricing power. 

In line with lower sales and market growth, survey data pointed to another contraction in employment levels in January thereby taking the current sequence of job shedding to twenty-one months. TheStaffing Index dropped to the lowest level on record, with layoffs being linked to cost-cutting efforts. 


World Economics Chief Executive Ed Jones commented:

"January's SMI data indicated that Mongolian business conditions deteriorated further as the economic situation remains challenging. The latest survey figures signalled a faster contraction in market growth, as sales suffered from poor demand conditions across the country. Employment levels have now fallen in each of the past twenty-one months while deflationary pressures continued to intensify. Overall, the data suggests that companies are still pessimistic about the short-term business outlook." 

Link to release

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Politics & Legal

Mongolia MP Submits No Confidence Motion in Bid to Oust PM

January 20 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia Member of Parliament Uyanga Gantumur submits no confidence motion to remove Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed, according to the Parliament website.

* Bill submitted to Parliament Speaker Enkhbold Zandaakhuu; bill has 19 signatures

* No confidence motion says Saikhanbileg's authorization of Oyu Tolgoi underground agreement with Rio Tinto Group signed in May was an abuse of power, offers little benefit to Mongolian citizens, delays dividends and increases state's debt burden

* Petition "very unlikely" to make it to floor of Parliament, Nick Cousyn, chief operating officer for BDSec, Mongolia's largest brokerage, says in e-mail from Ulaanbaatar. "With elections coming in June, local political rhetoric is on the rise," Cousyn says

* NOTE: Mongolia is marketing U.S. dollar notes this week in an investor roadshow, its first such offering since 2012, when the sovereign issued its $1.5b Chinggis Bonds.



Mining Governance: Tavan Tolgoi

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan, PhD candidate of the Political Science Department of the University of British Columbia

January 22 (Mongolia Focus) Tavan Tolgoi was a costly test for the Mongolia's mining governance. It tested the resilience of the revised mining governance under the 2006 Minerals Law, checked the unity of political elites, especially of two major parties, and examined the resolve of the state bureaucracy to implement new mining policies.  Apparently, all didn't pass the test an even failed to capitalize the favorable momentum of the global commodity market.  But, most importantly, did we learn from our mistakes?  Did we take measures to enhance the institutional resilience of the mining governance, to unite political forces on a major (mega) project, and to insulate bureaucrats from political, economic, and social pressures? In this blog post, I will lay out the government intentions during the favorable period for mining  governance (esp., 2008-2012) and then discuss some factors that complicated the decision-making process over the Tavan Tolgoi coking coal deposit.

Intentions were clear during the coalition government of 2008 – 2012.  Under the revised 2006 mining law, licenses of the Tavan Tolgoi deposit were taken back to the state from private license holders because the deposit was discovered with state funds in the 1960s. Then the government also delegated its authority to the state-owned enterprise (SOE),Erdenes Mongol, to manage the tender process for permitting foreign mining operators while also allowing it to establish its sister SOE, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, to mine and export the coal.  Furthermore, the government decided to issue stock shares to its citizens (1072 shares per person) and to allow Mongolian companies to operate some parts of the deposit.  Moreover, the government hinted its 'mining diplomacy' by rewarding the operating licenses of Tavan Tolgoi to US Peabody Energy, China's Shenhua and a Russian-Mongolian consortium.

In retrospect, politicians and bureaucrats in power complied to the mining governance rules. First, Tavan Tolgoi was included in the list of mineral deposits with strategic importance. Second, the SOE was established to govern the process of operating on the largest coking coal deposit.  Third, it created ways to allocate the mining benefits to the public.  Finally, it attempted to balance interests of Russia, China as well as newly found third neighbors. These decisions were approved and endorsed by the parliament, the coalition cabinet, bureaucracies, political parties, and the public.  But, these decisions were not implemented. If these intentions were formulated as a result of the formal politics, the implementation process became blurry for all actors – maybe except those in power.  The role of the informal politics has dominated the formal rules, procedures, and mechanisms; thus makes everything suspicious and non-transparent.

Seemingly, three factors, (1) competitive interests of transnational corporations, (2) dynamics of the competitive elections, and (3) interests of domestic business entrepreneurs and groups, have overwhelmed the Mongolia's weak mining governance.

First, Mongolia now interacts with influential, experienced, and wealthy transnational corporations, including Western multinationals, Chinese state-owned enterprises, and Russian state-affiliated magnates. All are experienced negotiators and lobbyists at their respective capitals and financial centers.  The result of the first Tavan Tolgoi tendering process left Japanese and South Korean corporations unhappy while the latest made Americans and Russians disappointed.  These players have different interests and leverages over Mongolia.  Russia, a traditional ally, wants to keep its influence in mining and infrastructure, especially, the railroad. It is the only source of Mongolia's fuel.  China, a new strategic partner, desires to secure the closest resource deposit and to link Mongolia into its regional rail network.  China is Mongolia's only market and its infrastructure offers the closest link to the East Asian market.  Japan, the most proximate third neighbor, longs to get access into Mongolia's mineral resources.  The US companies also make attempts to operate in new economic frontiers.  Both Japan and the US are vital partners for Mongolia's sovereignty and international visibility. As all these Great Powers began to back up their corporations, Mongolia fails to impose its rules for foreign investors.

Second, the election logic presented another major challenge for politicians and bureaucrats because political parties in power need to win hearts and minds of their supporters and the population.  Prior to the parliamentary election of 2012, Prime Minister Batbold's cabinet loaned 350M USD from the Chinese SOE Chalco and distributed it as cash-transfers to the public fulfilling the party's campaign promise of mining revenue benefits.  A new cabinet of Prime Minister Altankhuyag cancelled the loan contract with the Chalco, but his action resulted in a debt because of the falling coal price.  The 2012 government revoked all major decisions in regards with Tavan Tolgoi mostly in order to discredit previous politicians who were in power, its opponent party (i.e., Mongolian People's Party), and the coalition cabinet of 2008-2012.  Also, the newly-established SOEs, Erdenes Mongol and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, now follow the examples of former SOEs such as the Erdenet copper and molybdenum factory in generating funds for politicians and political parties in power as well as serving as an administration to post party officials and affiliated supporters. In 2013-2014, executives of these SOEs were investigated and fired mostly because of their political party affiliations. As a result, bureaucrats, especially at the senior level, have a little courage and autonomy to implement new policies, to uphold business principles, and even to take initiatives.  Therefore, structurally, all politicians come under pressure of safeguarding the party's interests in winning elections and feeding its clientelistic network.

The domestic business groups and entrepreneurs appeared to be a major challenge for  effective mining governance. The railroad is a good example.  With the mining boom in Mongolia, the railroad became the most attractive business as it generates funds to do feasibility studies, especially in Mongolia's case, to construct the railroads, and later to own the infrastructure as well as to operate the trains.  To win these funds, domestic business entrepreneurs, corporations, and political-business factions successfully geo-politicized the railroad projects because Mongolia falls into the Russian broad gauge 1520mm infrastructure while Chinese narrow gauge sits next to its major mineral deposits.  Despite costly feasibility studies and alleged corruption investigations against these interest groups, factions, and individuals, the Tavan Tolgoi deposit remains unlinked to any rail networks. While the railroad decisions were politicized, there are a number of Mongolian companies still making fortunes from their small mining operations at some parts of Tavan Tolgoi.  These companies also have strong political representations at key political institutions, for example, the parliament.  Also, Tavan Tolgoi presents the case of the labor union's interests.  For instance, a self-immolation of the union leader of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi truckers at the press conference in November, 2015 caused quick action from the SOE Erdenes Mongol to revisit its contracts with foreign operators. Mongolian truckers opposed the Chinese company's take-over of the coal trucking business because it will leave them unemployed. Clearly, the transportation of coal by either by Mongolian or Chinese trucks have been causing substantial negative impacts on the environment, health and livelihood of locals, but the government is still unable to enforce its decisions of efficient, environmentally sound mining governance.

Tavan Tolgoi is going to remain a failed case of Mongolian mining governance unless the parliamentary election of 2016 or the next commodity boom changes conditions.  It may continue to fail unless politicians unite to provide autonomy for bureaucrats and professionals and to increase the institutional resilience of Mongolian mining governance.  Because none of the political parties could solve this deep-seated institutional problem alone and enforce the decisions, political parties must insulate major projects like Tavan Tolgoi from the election timeline and business interests.  The populist type of pleasing all – external actors, domestic business groups, and the population – politics could not be a solution, but 'making sacrifices for a long-term benefits' seems to be the right solution for a small state in complicated geopolitical and economic scenario. Therefore, all players, especially politicians, must make a sound, timely decision and then provide an environment for the decision to live at all cost.

Link to article

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CMCC@PDAC 2016 "Mongolia Business Forum", March 8

The Ministry of Mining of Mongolia, Embassy of Mongolia to Canada, Canada Mongolia Chamber of Commerce and North America-Mongolia Business Council are pleased to invite you to attend the Mongolian Business Forum taking place during PDAC 2016 in Toronto.

Save the date and join us as we discuss Mongolian mining investment opportunities for investors and help to create fruitful dialogue between the Government and private sector participants on boosting competitiveness of mining companies operating in Mongolia.

When: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 at 09:00 a.m. - 14:00 p.m

Where: The Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front Street West, Toronto, ON M5J 1E3

Participation in this event is free but advance registration is required by February 26, 2016. 

To RSVP or for more information, please contact:

Bolor Sambuu, Executive Director of Canada Mongolia Chamber of Commerce


C: +1 (647) 447-0214


Ulziibayar Gonchig, Trade Counsellor, Embassy of Mongolia to Canada


C: +1 (613) 400-3045

Link to event


European Investment Bank Approves Support for Gobi Wind Farm

By Michael Kohn

January 25 (Bloomberg) -- European Investment Bank approves financing support for the $115m Sainshand wind farm project to be built by Ferrostaal Industrial Projects GmbH in Mongolia's Gobi Desert, according to press statement released by Ferrostaal.

* Approval of project by EIB Board of Directors considered a "key step" before financial negotiations are completed: statement

* EIB is a "key member" of the international consortium financing the Sainshand Wind Farm Project: statement

* Commissioning of the plant scheduled for September 2017, Oliver Schnorr, director of Sainshand Windpark LLC, said in an e-mail.

* Ferrostaal in final negotiations with a turbine supplier, name of supplier currently not disclosed: Schnorr

* Financing is 70% debt and 30% equity. EIB is main lender and Ferrostaal to provide most of the equity: Schnorr



MAK raring to go, waits for money

January 5 (Mongolian Mining Journal) Several agreements relating to the Mongolyn Alt LLC (or MAK, as it is popularly known)  were signed in October, bringing hope and cheer to the mining sector. 

Among these was the investment agreement – the first under the investment law that came into effect in late 2013 -- between the Mongolian Government, MAK and Erdenes Tsagaansuvarga LLC, signed on 13 October by Mining Minister R.Jigjid, MAK President B.Nyamtaishir, and Erdenes Tsagaansuvarga CEO G.Tsogt. The same day saw another investment agreement, this one on the KhukhTsav cement-lime project, signed by Industry Minister D.Erdenebat, MAK Cement LLC director B.Battulga, and MAK's B.Nyamtaishir. 

Two days later came an agreement on copper sales and purchase between ErdenesTsagaansuvarga, which will operate the Tsagaansuvarga copper-molybdenym project, and Aurubis, as also a strategic partnership agreement (SPA)  between MAK and Germany's Ferrostaal and EuroKhan. The signatories to the first were G.Tsogt for ErdenesTsagaansuvarga, and Tim Kurt, CEO of Aurubis, while the SPA bore the signatures of B.Nyamtaishir for MAK, Klaus Lesker, member of the executive board of Ferrostaal, and Oliver Schnorr, EuroKhan President. 

We give below some questions MMJ asked G.Tsogt, CEO of ErdenesTsagaansuvarga, about these agreements and about how the Tsagaansuvarga project will be financed, and his answers.

What are the main features of the investment agreements with the government, particularly in relation to taxes?

The investment agreements on the Tsagaansuvarga copper-molybdenum project and the KhukhTav cement-lime project are the first such to be signed since the investment law was passed in 2013. Earlier, only foreign investors were entitled to certain privileges and incentives but the new law gives domestic investors the same advantages. The only requirement for the state to offer these advantages to an entity is that it should invest a stipulated minimum sum on the project. 

As regards tax stability, the rates of income tax payable by the company, VAT, customs and royalties would be unchanged for 27 years. "Unchanged" is possibly not the right word, as the agreement makes it clear that if these rates are generally lowered, that benefit will be passed on to the investor. On no account, however, will these rates go up until 27 years have passed. 

MAK must fully invest the amount set out in the agreement and complete construction of the Tsagaansuvarga factory by 2018. It must also fulfil certain social and economic obligations to the soum and the region, such as constructing a new soum centre in Mandakh soum, Dornogobi aimag, and setting up a source of drinking water. It will also resolve all environmental and social issues in consultation and cooperation with local citizens and organizations. The terms of the agreement also make it mandatory for the company to choose domestic companies as sub-contractors and suppliers during the development/consruction stage. 

This kind of an investment agreement, stabilizing the tax environment and assuring government support, is very important for attracting foreign investment. In our case, work on the agreement began as soon as the law was passed, with Ch. Saikhanbileg's Government setting up a working group only for the purpose and asking it to make quick progress.

You have said the $680 million necessary to implement the Tsagaansuvarga project will come from German Government support. Just how will this be arranged?

Initially, we established an agreement with EBRD for financing the project but unfortunately this fell through. You all know why this happened and how domestic issues, including politicians' mistrust of one another, delayed progress in finding finance for the Tsagaansuvarga project. EBRD twice extended the deadline to settle domestic misunderstandings, but we failed. 

EBRD had already disbursed $200 million of the $450 million agreed upon and, with no progress in sight,  decided to rescind the deal, and we were left to find new funding sources for the remaining $250 million. This meant we had to start from almost scratch again. 

We set our sights on Germany. During German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Mongolia in 2011, the two countries signed an MoU on Germany-Mongolia cooperation in the mineral sector, which provided for German financial support to Mongolian suppliers of certain mineral commodities to Germany. We thought we qualified under these terms, and chose the international consultancy PwC to prepare our case to be submitted to the German authorities. 

PwC ran a thorough check on our project and was confident we would be able to source finance, under certain terms, one of them being that we have first to have a contract with a reputable and large German processor company. Accordingly, we negotiated an agreement on supplying copper concentrate to Aurubis, which has its own pyrometallurgical processing plant, that is the second largest in the world, and the largest in Europe. We shall supply to Aurubis, per year for 15 years, 150,000 tons or half of the copper concentrate produced at Tsagaansuvarga. 

The next step now is to finalise an agreement with a bank. Once a tripartite agreement – between ErdenesTsagaansuvarga, Aurubis, and the lending bank-- is ready, this will be submitted to PwC. If PwC finds it to be in order, it will place it before the German Government to stand guarantee for the bank loan. We are optimistic everything will go without a hitch, allowing development of the Tsagaansuvarga facility. 

Does EBRD still have interest in financing the project?

I think they have. You must remember our agreement with EBRD was not cancelled but was only put on hold. Since any bank wants to reduce its risks as much as possible, I think EBRD will be interested once the German Government guarantees the loan. 

Since you are committed to completing the plant by 2018, when do you expect the financing issue to be resolved?

Link to article


Is yak fibre the new 'golden fleece'?

January 19 (BRIC Plus News) Nomadic tribes have survived on the exposed expanses of the Mongolian steppe for thousands of years, partly dependent for their survival against blisteringly cold winters on their sturdy herds of yaks. Now this unique lifestyle has been the inspiration for one specialist clothes company to offer the rest of us the chance to keep warm, Mongolian style.

One such tribe, the herdsmen of the Khangai Mountains, north of the Gobi desert and south of Russian Siberia, still use their yaks' fibre to create clothing and it was this Mongolian tradition which caught the imagination of a London-based clothes company called Tengri – especially inspired by the resilience of yak noble fibre and its Mongolian wearers.

"I launched Tengri having lived with Mongolian herder families, experiencing the challenges that put pressure on their lives and livelihoods. I saw an opportunity where a collective movement of design, fashion, ethics, business, environmental activism and individual consumer choice could come together to do good and we can make a difference," said Nancy Johnson, founder of Tengri.

Clearly, creating luxury yarn akin to cashmere has been a smart business decision. Already French fashion house Louis Vuitton has co-opted yak fibre into their fashion and homeware collections in 2012. Management consultants, Bain & Company, say cashmere alone corners $4bn of the total luxury fabrics market. Given the current cashmere crisis caused by environmental concerns for the goats which provide their sumptuous fleeces , yak fibre, with its similar attributes, is well-positioned to function as an attractive alternative. Tengri, however, has a dual purpose. Rather than simply creating warm fashion items, Tengri sees itself as inextricable from the social situation and environmental concerns for animals and the viability of ancient traditions like the Mongolian tribes.  

"The fashion industry is experiencing, first-hand, the detrimental impact that economic and environmental challenges are having on the root source of much of its premium yarns. This can be seen in the supply and quality of the world's cashmere produce. The current landscape is unsustainable and we must make a change," added Nancy Johnson.

The rearing of yaks for their fibre yield could promote the reversal of harmful environmental activities. According to the United Nations, 90% of Mongolia is fragile dry-land, and teeters on the brink of desertification. The culprits? The cashmere industry. The rearing of cashmere goats and other 'environmentally damaging livestock', has all but wiped out Mongolian grazing land, leaving just 5% for yaks and other species.

Working closely with Mongolia's Khanghi herders, Tengri products have the unmistakable spirit of the Mongolian steppes, with a finish tailored to luxury and the global market. Creating a network of 1,500 nomadic herder families, Tengri is able to select authentic hand-combed fibres, and create a sustainable income model for their local workers. Bringing together ancient material, and the expertise of British heritage mills, Tengri has created innovative and functional products resulting from a unique cultural meeting-of-minds. In yak fibre, it seems that luxury and sustainability have finally found common ground.

All images courtesy of Tengri. To see the collection, visit their website here. Read more in BRIC+ Magazine Issue 6. Subscribe here.

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Classical Swine Fever Reported in Mongolia

MONGOLIA, January 21 (The Pig Site) - Three outbreaks of classical swine fever have been reported on pig farms in Mongolia.

In total, 272 cases were reported and 419 pigs died as a result of the outbreak.

The two regions affected in the outbreak - Dornod and Tuv have now begun vaccinating pigs. In total, 710 swine have now been vaccinated in Dornod and 4,900 in Tuv.

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Mongolia pumps money into meat export development

January 21 (Global Meat News) Mongolia intends to increase the volume of meat exports to Russia, Vietnam, South Korea and China in the next few years, according to a recent statement from the country's Agricultural Minister Radnaa Burmaa. 

According to Burmaa, the country will invest up to US$90 million in the development of meat exports this year.

"In 2014, Mongolia exported meat to only one region of Russia. Now, we have established a contractual relationship with eight regions in the Russian Federation. We also intend to increase supplies of meat products to China and South Korea," she said.

"We are working on this issue. The Ministry has allocated MNT80bn (US$40m) for the creation of additional reserves of meat and MNT100bn (US$50m) for a further increase in deliveries of meat abroad," she added.

Strong potential

Burmaa said that, currently, the country had strong potential to develop export supplies as, last year, the number of livestock in the country saw unprecedented growth of 34% year-to-year to reach 56 million head.

At the end of 2015, after a two-year ban, China resumed imports of Mongolian meat. Experts suggested that, since 2013, the country had achieved real progress in terms of improving livestock biosecurity. As such, the prospects for Mongolian in the Russian market were considered by local participants to be much better.

"Up to 80% of Russia's beef imports come from Latin America. However, Mongolia is located much closer to Russia, so cooperation with the country would be much more profitable, while for companies located in the Urals [Federal District], supplies from Mongolia would be more convenient in terms of logistics," said Mushegh Mamikonyan, chairman of the Russian Meat Union.

Previously, Mongolia's Meat Union estimated that the country had the potential to establish export supplies to Asia and Russia worth a total of MNT600bn (US$300m) per year. Deliveries to Russia, it added, could reach 100,000 tonnes (t) per year, while forecasts for Asian markets had not yet been estimated.

Biosecurity issues

"Supplies of such volumes of meat [to Russia] would be a good step in diversifying import flows. In addition, pastoral breeding provides meat with less fat content, so in terms of food hygiene this is a plus in favour of the Mongolian product," added Mamikonyan.

However, several industry observers have suggested that Mongolia has not yet solved all it biosecurity issues.

"Mongolia is sufficiently large and there are many wild animals and related infections. The risk of livestock contracting these infections is high, simply due to the pastoral method of livestock breeding," said Eugene Lapinsky, head of the animal husbandry and veterinary department at Russia's National Meat Association.

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President Elbegdorj: Mongolia as a neutral state

Author: Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia. He is participating in the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos.

January 18 (WEF) Mongolia as a neutral state. I have long pondered this issue, exchanging views, carrying out studies and drawing conclusions. Now the time has come to discuss it publicly.

Every Mongolian cares about the further consolidation of our country's freedom, independence and sovereignty. And every Mongolian endeavors to make his own contribution to this cause. Many view that being a neutral state perfectly serves that very interest. The issue of neutrality was hotly debated during the years that Mongolians fought for the restoration of our freedom and independence, and during the tense days of our democratic revolution in 1990.

International law views the neutrality status quo in two main categories, which depend on the decisions and proclamations a neutral state undertakes. There is a neutrality status quo in wartime. There is also a permanent neutrality status quo. There can also be active and inactive neutrality.

As far as Mongolia is concerned, it is true that Mongolia has not declared a "permanently neutral state". Yet in substance, form and action our foreign policy is fully coherent with the principles of neutral foreign policy. And it's commendable that our national laws and the international treaties and agreements that Mongolia is signatory to are consistent with neutrality principles. More specifically, Mongolia's neutrality is delicately reflected in the very letter and spirit of the agreements and treaties we concluded with our neighboring states.

When considering Mongolia's neutrality, we must first of all take into account the following factors.

One: Since Mongolia adopted its new democratic constitution, Mongolia has actively pursued policies that are neutral in substance. However, we are yet to declare it, in form. The process of shaping and validating this policy is now only a matter of time.

Two: The history of Mongolia, our geographic location and the uniqueness of our chosen path of development are congruent with the spirit and principles of neutralism. Neutrality enables a country to maintain equal and balanced international relations. Other states and international organizations respect such a status quo of a neutral state.

Three: The state of international affairs and the international order changes over time. Yet neutral policies and actions can be sustained. The state which upholds neutrality preserves the full power to amend, renew or abandon its neutralist policy.

What does "permanent neutrality" mean? A permanent neutrality means that a sovereign state declares itself to be neutral both during times of war and peace. In the event that a neutral state is attacked by external aggression, it has a full right for defense. At the same time, it voluntarily assumes a duty not to wage and join wars. A permanently neutral state reserves a power to have its own army and troops. And this very right serves as the assurance of the immunity of its neutrality.

A classical representative of a permanently neutral state, Switzerland, is considered to have Europe's most capable army. And the founding concepts of Mongolia's defense concepts are consonant with neutralism.

The territorial immunity of a neutral state is re-assured by international law. This includes both air and water borders too. It is prohibited for belligerent troops to conduct war on the territories of a neutral state. Also, a neutral state has the power not to let the transportation of belligerent armies' personnel, arms and war materials across its territory. Permanent neutrality also has certain implications for nuclear weapons issue and the country's membership in any military alliance.

It is not necessary for a state to seek support from any particular country or international organization to validate its neutrality status quo. Yet obviously any such state would aspire to achieve understanding, recognition and support from its neighboring states, other countries and international organizations. Our forefathers and fathers have always valued dignity and temperance. Inheriting this ancestral quality, we shall hold equally high and honor the UN and our own Charter in our aspirations in this new era.

Unity, continuity and clarity in Mongolia's foreign policy are at the heart of Mongolia's interests and benefits. Neutrality is a universally recognized tool useful for us, the Mongolians, to harness and build upon our existing potential on one hand, and to pursue active, flexible relations with other countries, on the other hand.

This may also be seen as a universal value, a collective human experience. And an opportunity for Mongolia. Opportunities are rare. Values evolve slowly. Persistence and consistency will serve us well. Inarguably, that status of ours will help to invigorate many policies, initiatives and actions to benefit the future of Mongolia.

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Hungarian premier to visit Mongolia on January 24-26

ULAANBAATAR, Jan. 20 (MNA) – Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán will pay an official visit to Mongolia this January 24-26.

The visit is the very first visit of the Hungarian side to Mongolia at a Prime Ministerial level.

In frames of the visit, the two PMs will hold tete-a-tete meeting and expanded talks.

Mr Orban will also be received by the President Ts.Elbegdorj and the Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold.

Moreover, a Mongolia-Hungary business forum will run.

The Premier of Hungary Orban is expected to be accompanied by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Defense; Economy; National Development; Agriculture; and some 60 representatives of 40 companies.

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Georgian Foreign Minister Meets Mongolian Counterpart at Davos

January 22 (The FINANCIAL) -- On 21 January 2016, in Davos, Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze met his Mongolian counterpart, Foreign Minister Lundeg Purevsuren, according to MFA of Georgia.

Discussions focused on prospects for bilateral co-operation, Silk Road projects, as well as new opportunities, which the Association Agreement and free trade agreements open up in terms of deepening relations between Georgia and Mongolia. The sides agreed to hold political consultations between their respective ministries. Mikheil Janelidze invited his Mongolian colleague to Georgia.

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China builds Mongolian language database

HOHHOT, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- A Mongolian language database containing 80 million words has been launched, after ten years of collection and research, the Inner Mongolia Academy of Social Sciences said.

The Mongolian corpus is a part of the 200-million word corpora used by ethnic minorities in northern and northeastern China including the Duar, Ewenk and Oroqen languages. The project is slated for completion in 20 years.

The compilers identified 97 locations across eight Chinese provincial regions that have a Mongolian population as well as five provinces and cities in Mongolia, the Buryat Republic and the Republic of Kalmykia in Russia. They collected 4,192 hours of oral data from 6,725 mongolian speakers as well as over 4,000 hours of written data.

The corpora projects aims to help protect disappearing ethnic languages,and will be a precious linguistic resource, according to the academy.

The project has two stages. The first stage, the Mongolian corpus, is finished and the second stage, the database for the other three languages, is under way.

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Interview: Sukhbaatar Tsedenjav, Ambassador of Mongolia to China

January 17 --

Link to video


The Many Habits of Successful Mongolian Digital Diplomats

By Julian Dierkes

January 20 (Mongolia Focus) I wrote "The Way Forward for Canadian Digital Diplomacy" for Canada's The Embassy on November 18, 2015. I followed this up with a list of more specific about steps that Global Affairs Canada might take in developing Twiplomacy if this direction were to be embraced. Another version of this came as "Five Rules to Guide the Future of Canadian Digital Diplomacy", and then I mused about criteria by which the Canadian government might decide which digital diplomacy strategies to go ahead with. Below is a revision of my list of "Many Habits of Successful Digital Diplomats" for Mongolia.

What is Digital Diplomacy?

Much has been written about Digital Diplomacy (or Twiplomacy, or Diplomacy 2.0), but at its most basic level such a strategy aims to harness the power of new electronic and information technology tools to further the interests of a country. Most prominent in the Twiplomacy toolbox are networked social media, but various big data-driven initiatives are also included in this overall category. While notions of Digital Diplomacy originated in North America, it has spread much beyond, including to Northeast Asia.

Why Mongolian Digital Diplomacy?

It's worth mentioning why Digital Diplomacy might be of particular interest to the Mongolian government.

1.    Mongolians have become active and natural digital communicators;

2.    the 3rd neighbour policy (I'm trying to establish #3NP) targets virtual neighbours already;

3.    Mongolia's strongest case for its relevance is its status as Asia's post-state socialist democracy, a claim that can be reinforced through a concerted Digital Diplomacy strategy and leverages the democratic instincts of online communication;

4.    digital diplomacy can be relatively cost-effective at a time of state budgets under pressure;

5.    Mongolians in general and Mongolian diplomats in particular are polyglot, so they are able to address audiences in many different languages.

In his analysis of the network of Twitter links between ministries of foreign affairs, Oxford University's Ilan Manor has found the Twitter account of Mongolia's MFA to be somewhat isolated.

Note that Mongolia appears in the bottom left corner here. As you can see all the links at the time of Manor's analysis were in-bound, i.e. other MFAs linked to Mongolia's, but the Mongolian MFA didn't link to other MFAs.

As Mongolia's missions have recently made a big push to create Twitter accounts, this lack of strategic linking by the HQ account is certainly a missed opportunity.

So, here is my revisions of the "The Many Habits of Successful Canadian Digital Diplomats" for Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Many Habits of Successful Mongolian Digital Diplomats

Process and Management

·         firmly distinguish broadcast use from engagement, identify channels by use;

·         select areas of engagement strategically, building on overall foreign policy;

·         think, write, engage, review, repeat;

·         learn qualitatively and quantitatively from communicating;

·         remain platform agnostic, but include different formats. Current standard formats would include micro-blogging and blogging.


·         embrace facility with vernacular languages as engagement is more likely (though not exclusive to) vernacular languages;

·         digital diplomacy should be run by diplomats not social media specialists;

·         emphasize work-life balance, engagement cannot lead to expectation of 24/7 communications;

·         recognize distinctions between individuals' and institutional presence (e.g, ambassadors vs. embassies), as they can mutually reinforce visibility, but also detract from strategic objectives;

·         engagement requires passion;

·         diplomacy has always been social and always involved networks! Actively engage foreign diplomats, most active stakeholders;

·         integrate Digital Diplomacy into job descriptions, hiring decisions, evaluations, and promotions, but not in a punitive way. Not all positions require Digital Diplomacy skills and lots of contributions will continue to be made by analog diplomats;

·         empower, support and coordinate the efforts of experimenters and pioneers.


·         all digital diplomacy activities are rooted in substance, no communication/engagement for communication's sake;

·         obvious choices for engagement: overarching thematic priorities for foreign policy; aspects of foreign policies aimed squarely at digital matters, e.g. membership in Freedom Online Coalition, Community of Democracies, Land-Locked Developing Countries, etc.;

·         embrace the reflective nature of communication and the opportunities this offers;

·         not all countries are equally well-suited for engagement, nor is it needed or likely to be beneficial everywhere;

·         lots of subject matter is neither suited for engagement, nor should it be. The weighing of foreign policy options is sometimes conducted in private and that is how it should be;

·         stakeholders' expectations have to be managed through forthright statements on their impact. Some engagement will not change policy, some policy decisions will contradict a consensus among stakeholders.


·         build on Mongolian foreign policy by developing a strategy built around democratization;

·         seek, use, nurture Mongolian format innovations, perhaps through the International Cooperation Fund of the Min of Foreign Affairs;

·         seek, use, nurture Mongolian technology/business innovations through an office/division that focuses on tech adoption. Given the vibrancy of the social media scene in Mongolia, there's no reason why one of the next innovations might not come from here;

·         embrace polyglot talents of Mongolian(s) diplomats;

·         Digital Diplomacy is appropriate to a small power, particularly when resources at Mongolian ministries are tight.

Suggestions for Possible Themes to Build Digital Diplomacy Around

·         democratization;

·         impact of climate change;

·         resources and experiences with global investment from vantage point of developing country/resource economy;

·         Northeast Asia, including Ulaanbaatar Forum

·         Mongolian leadership

o    ASEM 2016 (Twitter account exists, but very much in broadcast mode, not engagement)

o    UN Security Council candidacy for 2022: making a case for presentation of land-locked developing countries, democratized countries, small countries, etc.

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Health, Education

New York professor awarded second Fulbright to Mongolia

Fulbright award aids Nathan's work

January 21 (Queens Chronicle) It was not Jay Nathan's first Fulbright Scholarship, but he was still "humbled" by his latest award.

The St. John's University professor, who lives in Flushing and has taught management at the college's Peter J. Tobin Business School since 1993, was recently awarded the Fulbright Senior Specialist Scholarship to Mongolia from the J. William Foreign Scholarship Board & Council for International Exchange of Scholars. Nathan was previously awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Mongolia in 2008.

The scholarship provides academics and professionals with an opportunity to exchange ideas on entrepreneurship, economic development and business culture by sending faculty members and professionals abroad to serve as expert consultants on curriculum and faculty development for periods of between two to six weeks.

As a result of this award Dr. Nathan spent 15 days at the end of November at the National University of Mongolia and the National Statistical Office of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, where he gave lectures and led discussions on strategic management and business culture and management. He also provided analysis on available regional statistics and even compiled data for a book project: "Mongolian Economy and Business."

"I am very, very grateful," Nathan, who was born in India and moved to the United States in 1968, said. "I've been honored and humbled by these experiences. The Fulbright Scholarship has transformed me."

During his stay in Mongolia, Nathan was introduced to active members of the Mongolian Association of State Alumni, a body of current and past Mongolian participants of U.S Government-funded exchange programs, and held meetings with the dean of business and the president of the University of Mongolia. He was able to learn a great deal about the history and democracy of the country.

"I found that Modun Chanyu unified Mongolian tribes and practiced the art of international diplomacy in 198 BC by forging a treaty with Han Dynasty — diplomacy and protocols are very much part of Mongolian tradition and no wonder, people are cosmopolitan," Nathan said.

He even managed to fit in a guided tour of the monument to Chinggis Khaan, more commmonly known as Ghengis Khan, which stands about 15 miles east of the capital.

He is, he said, very "passionate about business education and development," particularly about how history, geography and cultural structures within a country influence business strategy and development, which is what makes Mongolia such a fascinating study for the professor.

Mongolia is one of the largest countries in the world. It is also one of the most literate with over 98 percent of the population able to read and write. In 2011 a Citibank report listed it as one of 12 countries with the most promising growth prospects between 2010 and 2050. But it is also landlocked with no access to an ocean and has frigid temperatures for almost eight months out of the year.

"I look at them being landlocked from a historical perspective and also the constraints because of the geography, because they're too far away from Europe and the US," He says. "Unless the cultures interact there is a lack of opportunity for Mongolia."

Before Nathan began teaching, first at the University of Wisconsin, then 10 years at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania before coming to St. John's as an associate professor, he worked for a number of multinationals in the private sector. He has spent his career traveling the world, particularly, Central Asia, and recently wrote a book on Kazakhstan. He has a Ph.D. and MBA in business from the University of Cincinnati.

His extensive experience in both the private and educational sectors has led him to take a global and practical approach in how he teaches business management and strategy. "I bring in both practical business experience and my academics. I'm more practical in how I teach, in how I look at things," he said. "My research always looks at the practical implications."

"My comfort zone is global. I look at the world as my campus," he joked. "I see countries as my patients. I look at the vital statistics of a country."

Which is why living and working in Queens is such a source of professional and personal inspiration for him.

"New York City has a special appeal in the sense of diversity." He says. "Queens is the most diverse place, I believe, in the entire world." And he sees this global diversity reflected in the students at St. John's University. "You have people from close to 200 countries. You see them in the classroom. There's always 15 to 20 countries or immigrants, or their parents are from different countries and you see them in New York City classrooms and St. John University's campus."

Nathan hopes to return to Mongolia at some point if his full-time teaching duties at St. John's allow. But for now he plans to continue his research from his base in New York.

"And there is always e-mail."

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Former herders resort to dangerous illegal mining to earn a living

January 22 (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) In the illegal mining pits of Nalaikh, district miners without safety equipment use primitive methods to mine low-grade coal, often more than a hundred meters underground. The Mongolian Red Cross Society has made efforts to improve the safety of the workers, but the lack of resources makes significant progress very difficult.

"Every year 10 to 15 people die, and many more are seriously injured from accidents in the mines," said Mr. N Altangerel, a miner in his forties who has been working in one of the 2000 mostly illegal mining pits in the district for the last five years. Dozens of children from destitute families also work in the area, either collecting low-grade coal on the ground or helping family members who are labouring in the pits.

The Nalaikh mines are located only 35 kilometres away from Ulaan Baatar, the country's capital. They serve the seasonal need for heating fuel in the rapidly growing slum districts that are home to two thirds of the city's population. The inhabitants of these districts mostly still live in traditional herder dwellings (gers), and the illegal mines provide them with access to affordable heating fuel which is essential for their survival in Mongolia's severe winter conditions.

A large part of the people living in the slums of Ulaan Baatar are former herders who were forced to migrate from the grasslands after losing their livestock to severe winter conditions. Most of them have no professional skills other than animal husbandry and struggle to earn a living in a new and unfamiliar environment.

Because of the high risk of accidents in the pits, the Red Cross has organized first aid and safety awareness training courses for the miners. "These mines are among the most dangerous work places in Mongolia," said Mrs Tsogzolmaa Batdelger, instructor at the Nalaikh Red Cross branch. "We are doing what we can to make the workers more aware of the risks, help them to prevent accidents and teach first aid. They are very interested in learning, but the branch does not have the resources to provide all the training that is needed."

Meanwhile there is an urgent need for increased intervention. Miners continue to suffer unacceptably high rates of injuries such as broken bones, cuts and serious head injuries, many of these resulting from improper use of mining equipment.

The end of 2015 marked the beginning of another severe winter on the Mongolian grasslands, threatening the livelihood of thousands of vulnerable herder households. The Red Cross is expecting severe winter conditions (dzud) similar to the one in 2010 when millions of animals perished due to the freezing temperatures and the lack of grazing land.

The current dzud in Mongolia is expected to affect more than 965,000 people, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has already released 158,459 Swiss Francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to assist 1,500 of the most vulnerable herder families to cope with the severe winter conditions. The targeted families will mainly be assisted with essential food items and cash grants. 

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Alaska Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault to Host Mongolian Delegation

January 20 (Juneau Empire) A delegation from Mongolia is coming to Juneau this week to share how their country responds to domestic violence and sexual assault and to learn about Alaska's response.

The state of Alaska Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault is hosting the delegation — Mongolian government, university and NGO officials — as part of an official visit by the Mongolian National Center Against Violence.

Lauree Morton, the executive director of the Alaskan council, said the group will be welcomed by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and legislative officials and will be given a historical overview of Alaska's work to combat domestic and sexual violence. The council also plans to visit Juneau's AWARE shelter and hear various presentations during the three-day stay in the capital city Thursday through Saturday.

The community is invited to welcome the delegates and learn more about Mongolia during a potluck from 6-8 p.m. on Friday at Northern Light United Church, 400 W. 11th Street. Community members with interest in Mongolia are encouraged to attend. After visiting Juneau, the Mongolian delegates will go on to visit Anchorage and Nome.

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Baatar Enkh prepares to return to Mongolia as its first Catholic priest

After August ordination Enkh will be the leader of Mongolia's Catholics, all 1,000 of them

January 19 (The Hankyoreh) "I'd like this to be a just world of humane love, one where we transcend things like religion, nationality, ideology, and philosophy so that everyone can be happy."

These were the remarks by Mongolia's first Catholic priest, Baatar Enkh, as he prepared to return to Ulaanbaatar on Jan. 18 after graduating from Daejeon Catholic University.

After becoming a socialist state in 1924, Mongolia did not have freedom of religion until its liberation in the 1990s. Catholicism was only introduced there in 1992. By this August, though, Mongolian Catholicism will have the first priest in its short history.

"My eight years in Korea have been a precious time for me, where I've felt and experienced many things in general," said Enkh, 29.

"Just meeting new people and experiencing new culture in another country has been good for me," he added.

Enkh's first experience with Catholicism came at eight years old via a missionary at the French language school his older sister attended. He majored in bioengineering in Mongolia before arriving in South Korea in Aug. 2008 with the aim of becoming a priest.

"In 2004, I left home and went to live at the church, and my mother cried for three months when I told her I was going to seminary," he recalled. "I ended up graduating from an ordinary university first because of her objections."

Enkh's family members, including his mother and sister, later converted to the faith and were baptized in 2007, he added.

Enkh studied Korean for three years in Mongolia and attended a language school in South Korea for another six months, but still experienced difficulties communicating when he first enrolled, he said.

"When reading the Bible in Korean, I would have to look up everything in the dictionary to see the meaning, and I think that actually allowed me to study it more deeply," he added.

Enkh's mother and sisters also visited South Korea in Dec. 2014 to attend his ordination ceremony as a deacon at Daeheung-dong Cathedral in Daejeon. It was on this occasion, he said, that he resolved to become a priest.

"My father died in a traffic accident when I was eight, and seeing my mother's struggles really made me sense my own lack of strength," he recalled. "I was very young, but it made me realize life isn't just happiness. There's a lot of things in life, like grief and these big and small goodbyes."

Only around 1,000 Catholics live in Mongolia today, with just 10 cathedrals in the country. The lack of any Mongolian translation of the Catholic Bible means the churches are currently forced to use a Protestant version.

Enkh, whose ordination is scheduled for Aug. 28 at the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Ulaanbaatar, said he plans to return to South Korea in the future to visit friends.

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Spectacular Mongolian Teen Tsendochir Tsogtbaatar Hits Havana

January 22 ( One of the most appealing judoka of this moment in the category U60kg is Mongolian's young talent Tsendochir Tsogtbaatar. The teen from won two silver medals at the last two editions of the World Junior Championships in Miami and Abu Dhabi and showed his skills with some great judo.

Tsendochir is the most exciting young talent in Mongolia but given his country's lightweight skills he is one of four contenders for the U60kg slot at Rio 2016. Abu Dhabi where he won world silver was good for Tsendochir who also claimed silver at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in October and he started 2016 by winning the Mongolian Championships. The Mongolian lightweight hope is part of an eight-person team in Cuba and is the only U60kg fighter in their ranks which shows the faith the Mongolia Judo Association has in their new prodigy. 

Tsendochir, who competes on Friday in Havana, has a first round bye and will start his competition against Pan American Games winner Lenin Preciado (ECU).

Seeded judoka U60kg in Havana

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NUSF Secretary General awarded 'Merited Coach of Mongolia' Title

Source: MSSF Press Attaché B. Bayanbulag

ULAANBAATAR, January 20 (FISU) – National University Sports Federation of Mongolia Secretary General Dr. Jargalsaikhan D. received the Order of Sports Service Merit, also known as 'Merited Coach of Mongolia', the country's highest honour and recognition for a person in sports administration, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the participation of Mongolian athletes at the Summer Universiade (1965-2015).

Dr. Jargalsaikhan was awarded the 'Merited Coach of Mongolia', on 28 December, 2015 by the Presidential Office of Mongolia as an appreciation for his contribution to the country's development of University Sports. For 26 years of service in the NUSF of Mongolia, Dr. Jargalsaikhan has been successfully working in the national, continental and international university sports movements. He also led a number of World University Championships (Chess 2002, Wrestling 2006, Boxing 2010 & Archery 2016) and Asian University Championships (Table Tennis 2008, Women's Volleyball 2012 & Men's Basketball 2016) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Dr. Jargalsaikhan also serves as member of CIC of FISU since 2007, Assessor of AUSF since 2004 and devoted much of his efforts in the research of 'Universiade Education' around the globe and Mongolia and published a book on 'University Sports and Universiade' in 2014.

Also, on the same day, including MSSF Executive Director Ms. Erdentuya Ch, 2015 Universiade champions Sumya D and Davaakhuu E, in total 9 athletes and officials were awarded the State's highest awards by Presidential Decree. 

Mongolia has been a member of FISU since 1977 and through the years has become a very active FISU member association. Mongolian athletes have been participating in all Winter and Summer Universiades since the Summer Universiade in 1965.

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Big Screen Sports: Film Review of 'Rinks of Hope: Project Mongolia'

January 20 (Jock and Jill Blog, Vancouver Courier) If there's a name in hockey you should know but don't — and believe me, you don't know it — it's Pujee.

Purevdavaa "Pujee" Choijiljav is his country's grandfather of hockey and, as the general secretary of the Mongolian Hockey Federation, is the sentimental star of a new Canadian documentary called Rinks of Hope: Project Mongolia.

The doc hasn't been widely released yet — they are looking for a distributor and to join the festival circuit — but I saw a screening Monday at Vancity Theatre. The 42-minute doc is written and directed by Karin Larsen, a CBC sportscaster (who now covers technology since the heart-breaking, IMO, demise of the broadcaster's sports desk) and who is also a hockey mom whose two children both played for a Vancouver coach by the name of Nate Leslie.

A former professional player in Europe, Nate and his brother Boe run an international hockey skills and leadership training service called Leslie Global Sports. The brother is based in New York City, and I wrote a full making-of-the-movie story for the Courier.

The documentary is told chronologically, beginning on Day One of a five-day road trip through northern and rural Mongolia to seven of the country's 10 ice rinks. All rinks are outdoors because hockey is an outdoor sport, we learn. The sights and sounds of a frozen game are beautiful. Wherever there is a rink, hockey is a cultural anchor.

It's also a man's game. The film doesn't ask why girls or women don't play sport, but traditional gender roles are maintained, especially as one gap-toothed, hipster-haired prospect tells the camera he celebrates hockey for the same reasons Mongolian men prize horseracing, archery and wrestling. Grinning, he more or less says, "I like hockey. It's a man's game."

The filmmakers aren't in Mongolia to challenge the patriarchy. And the hockey players are challenged enough as it is.

Back to Pujee. In a country that once counted 17 rinks and twice today's 600-or-so registered adult male hockey players, resources are scant, ice maintenance is rudimentary, glacial temperatures crack blades and keep players closed up indoors, and equipment can only be bought over the Siberian border some 10 hours from the capital Ulaanbaatar, a sharp irony, as one of the Leslies points out, because most of it is made across a different border, the one with China. Pujee grew up watching Soviets play in their after-work leagues, and the filmmakers identify him as one of Mongolia's first "rink rats," a child who idolizes the bigger, faster skaters who set an example and set his heart on hockey.

Rinks of Hope: Project Mongolia documents Pujee's new endeavour to grow youth hockey in his country. A third of the one million inhabitants of Mongolia are under the age of 18, and as Nate Leslie told me, the kids are so fierce that they're playing style is borderline reckless. And none of the tykes left practice, even in minus-20 degree weather, except when the coaches called it a day.

Going back about a decade, Pujee was playing for the Mongolian men's national hockey team. It officially formed in May 1999 and was not immediately ranked last by the IIHF as it is now. They played their first international tournament at the 1999 Asian Winter Games hosted by South Korea. Competing inside for the first time in their lives, the players later complained about slogging wetly along in sweaty pads and sweaters.

Mongolia wasn't the worst team there. While they gave up a combined 54 goals in their Group A round robin against Kazakhstan and the host Koreans, the Kuwaitis allowed 79 goals against opponents Japan and China. In at least one stats column, the two worst teams were deadlocked in goals-for with one each. When Kuwait and Mongolia met in a consolation game at Gangneung on Feb. 5, 1999, our Mongol heroes prevailed 5-4 in overtime. Pujee scored the tying goal to force an extra frame.

This story comes up in the Canadian documentary. Pujee is still determined to develop youth hockey in Mongolia, starting where he lives in Ulaanbaatar. He built a rink with his own money and hands, eventually making it the home for Otgon Od, a hockey club whose name translates to little star and has the emblem of a speeding horse on orange jerseys. They won a lot. But following a dispute with a former friend — emphasis on former, and by dispute I mean theft — the outdoor ice rink is now an uncovered dirt parking lot, its entry barred by the boards Pujee installed plus the addition of a chain and a rental fee.

It's a crushing turn in the story of his life, and I hope the filmmakers follow that narrative as well as the legal proceedings in a follow-up documentary about the man who first invited them to Mongolia.

To learn more about the documentary, including future screenings, and to donate equipment or money to support youth hockey in Mongolia, visit the project's page on Kickstarter.

Link to article


Hockey Night in Mongolia: New sports documentary film captures Canada and Mongolia's shared passion for hockeyVancouer Courier, January 18

Hockey doc on Canadian brothers' trip to teach sport in Mongolia premieres Monday nightCBC News, January 18


Pitching cricket to Mongolia

January 24 (Swindon Advertiser) AN accountant on distant shores is hoping to bowl over cricket fans in his native North Wiltshire as he tries to establish Mongolia's first ever cricket pitch.

Chris Hurd, who was born in Swindon 38 years ago and fondly remembers playing cricket himself at East Kennet Primary School, has been in Mongolia since 2011 after setting up an accountancy firm.

He has now ended up doing the accounts for a rather unusual initiative, and is calling on people to help the project get off the ground by getting some money in the accounts to get the local children engaged with the game.

Speaking from Mongolia, Chris said: "It is a wonderful project led by this chap Battulga Gombo who was a professional judo player and then found out about cricket while in Australia where his wife was studying.

"He realised that it was a respectful game, similar to judo, learnt it, set up an non government organisation in 2007 and since 2011 has been teaching nomad kids from the countryside and from orphanages, schools and the police academy in Ulaanbaatar.

"They love it and he managed in 2014 to secure rights to a plot of land to develop into a cricket ground with four nets and a big water tank – as it doesn't rain much here.

"There are no natural grass pitches here at all, although admittedly there is millions of acres of steppe land!

"So it would be a first for that as well as for cricket in a frontier country, and we're having to research grass types that will survive here given the average temperature is zero and can get down to minus 40."

At the time of going to press, Chris was enduring a chilly minus 28C.

The authorities of Ulaanbaatar's National Park have granted rights to a perfect plot of land, safe from development and 4km from Chinggis Square, the centre of Ulaanbaatar.

He said: "The idea behind the scheme for the new pitch is that the organisation would look after the facilities and rent them out to those that can afford it, such as companies, expats and international schools and provided for free to the kids he's teaching as well as subsidising outreach programmes. They are generally from the difficult background of the ger district — a ger is the Mongolian yurt — in which well over half the city's population live with no public water, heating or sewage systems.

"It's a really grass roots, shoe string, positive operation with both girls and boys participating.

"He'd like to expand it through building a pitch so that he can train up the next generation of coaches from the ger district and build a cricket community based around friendship and fun memories for the future."

They are looking to raise in the region of £80,000 which would allow us them to get good quality all weather surfaces and a reliable water storage and pavilion as well as covering the excavating, levelling and seeding.

Chris said: "We could get by with £45,000 forsaking the pavilion, making up the hard surfaces ourselves and cutting a couple of corners with the irrigation systems."

To make a donation visit

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Marathon man Dr Andrew Murray takes on Outer Mongolia test

January 24 (Herald Scotland) THERE is, it seems, no expedition too challenging for Dr Andrew Murray. Having already taken part in the North Pole marathon, which he won, seven ultra marathons in seven continents in under a week, and run from the north of Scotland to the Sahara desert, the 35-year-old Aberdonian is now taking on what could potentially be his toughest challenge yet. This week, Murray will race in the inaugural Genghis Khan ice marathon in Outer Mongolia, and then set off on a 100-mile run from Genghis Khan's birthplace to the country's capital, Ulan Bator.

So first, the marathon. This is no ordinary 26.2-mile race; it will be run along the frozen Tuul Gol river in temperatures of -40C, While the freezing temperatures will be a significant test, there are other factors that Murray and the other dozen or so runners competing will have to worry about.

"There's a population of wolves and bears who apparently can get over-friendly at times," he says. "So we have an army of 60 husky dogs supporting us. It's very unlikely that the wolves will be interested in us because they tend to go for smaller prey than humans, but having the huskies on patrol should keep any unwanted encounters from happening."

The marathon alone is not enough to sate Murray's appetite for adventure, though, and so there is the small matter of that solo 100-mile run in order to test himself further. This is his first winter-time race in Outer Mongolia but, perhaps surprisingly, it is not the physical challenge that is the primary attraction for Murray, rather, it is the cultural experience.

"As with many of the trips I've done, I'm just going out there and exploring," he says. "Outer Mongolia is an absolutely ludicrous but amazing place. Once you get out into the sticks, it's like a completely different world but it's picture perfect."

Running is just one string to Murray's bow. He is a sports and exercise medicine doctor, a GP, he works with the European and Challenge Tour Golf, the sportscotland Institute of Sport, Scottish Rugby and is the Scottish Government's "physical activity champion", as well as doing research with the University of Edinburgh. So, with so many things going on in his life, why does Murray do these extraordinary expeditions?

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Bonhill running fanatic braves freezing temperatures in Mongolia charity marathonDaily Record, January 22


What to Pack for a Sumo Tournament

Wrestling champ Byamba, who lives in Los Angeles, is constantly on the move to international competitions

January 19 (WSJ) Some sports have elaborate uniforms. Sumo wrestling isn't one of them. Athletes compete wearing a sumo belt, called a mawashi, and little else. It makes packing easy, says sumo champion Byambajav Ulambayar, known as Byamba (rhymes with mamba).

The 31-year-old is constantly traveling from his Los Angeles home for international tournaments, sumo exhibitions and other professional appearances.

He always packs two mawashis, white for practice and black for competition. Unfolded, the cotton belt is more than 20 feet long. "When people first see it, they think it's a fire hose," jokes Mr. Ulambayar (pronounced "oo-LAHM-buy-yar"). The other official piece of sumo attire is a loosefitting robe, called a yukata. Wrestlers typically wear cotton robes for practice and have colorful silk yukatas for formal occasions.

Mr. Ulambayar has more than a dozen robes but usually travels with just three.

It takes a lot of fabric to cover his 6-foot-1, 370-pound frame, so between the belts and the robes, his bag is almost full. He brings athletic tape for the occasional injury to his fingers.

He usually flies business class, but if he has to fly economy, he'll book two adjacent seats to be comfortable.

Originally from Mongolia, Mr. Ulambayar says he learned to pack light at a young age. Though he a grew up in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, where his mother was a high-school teacher and his father a truck driver, young Byamba and his sisters would spend their summers in the countryside with their grandparents, living in a ger (a Mongolian yurt) with relatives for weeks at a time.

They would go to cultural festivals that involved days of competition in the traditional sports of Mongolian wrestling, horseback riding and archery. His grandfather was a regional wrestling champion.

"I was always a big kid, and my father made me do Mongolian wrestling," he recalls. By age 15, he was a national junior champion in wrestling and judo, he says.

In the early 1990s, Mongolians entered the ranks of professional sumo in Japan. The rules of Mongolian wrestling and sumo differ slightly, and Mongolian wrestlers have been able to adapt and excel in the sport.

In 2000, a retired Japanese grand sumo champion named Onokuni Yasushi came to Mongolia on a scouting trip looking to recruit one young wrestler for his team. He chose 16-year-old Byamba.

"I didn't have any inclination to go overseas or join sumo, but this famous guy came to Mongolia and he picked me," Mr. Ulambayar recalls.

He moved to Japan with Onokuni to join the sumo stable. It was his first time outside of Mongolia. He didn't speak a word of Japanese. On the plane to Tokyo, he tried sushi for the first time.

Mr. Ulambayar recalls that he brought the clothes on his back, some extra underwear and socks, his Mongolian wrestling outfit and the equivalent of $100 in cash.

He spent about five years in the regimented world of year-round professional sumo, quickly rising up the ranks to achieve the third-highest division out of six.

As part of their training, sumo athletes live and eat together, with the junior wrestlers cooking and cleaning for the more senior members of the team. Mr. Ulambayar says he became an expert at preparing sushi and in cooking chanko-nabe, a hearty stew that is the foundation of the sumo diet. He still cooks it several times a week. He estimates that he eats about 6,000 calories a day, but says he only has fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins and rice. "No junk food," he says.

Mr. Ulambayar left the professional Japanese sumo circuit in 2005, spurred by a knee injury and the desire to have more freedom than the strict sumo life allowed. "I love sumo, but I don't like rules," he says.

He was invited to L.A. to perform in a sumo wrestling scene in the 2007 movie "Oceans 13," and stayed to join USA Sumo and compete in the International Sumo Federation, an amateur league. Pro sumo exists only in Japan.

He has won gold at the US Sumo Open for eight years in a row, most recently in 2014, and is a four-time world sumo champion. He has been featured in several international advertising campaigns, including for Subaru, Visa, CoronaTenba bags, and for sneaker company 361°'s Kevin Love shoes. Mr. Ulambayar is taking classes to improve his English.

His income from endorsements and live appearances exceeds that from competitions, he says. A few years ago, he purchased a bigger house for his parents in Mongolia.

Mr. Ulambayar's next big trip will be a homecoming in July, when the Sumo World Championships will be held in Ulaanbaatar for the first time. "I'm feeling a little bit shy about wrestling there," he admits. "It's a lot of pressure."

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Art, Entertainment

"CEREMONY" Film Screening with expert commentary featuring: Sas Carey, RN & Filmmaker

Co-sponsored by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Smithsonian Institution

Monday, November 9, 2015
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
The Elliott School of International Affairs 
1957 E Street, NW, Lindner Commons -Room 602
Washington, DC 20052

Light refreshments will be provided.


"CEREMONY" is a documentary film about the mysterious ways of the shamans in northern Mongolia. It revolves around a specific ceremony in the steppes. Outside we see mists with reindeer emerging, smoke coming from stovepipes through the poles of a Siberian tipi or urts, as it is called, animals grazing on the steppe, and the moon in a clear sky. Inside, we experience a mysterious ritual as a master shaman slips into a trance around midnight when the stars come out. He beats the drum, chants, dances, and takes on the spirit. Many shamans interviewed before and after the event give commentaries as the ceremony progresses.

The shamans give access to this authentic ceremony only after director Sas Carey spends a portion of each of twenty years living among Mongolian nomads learning about Mongolian culture, medicine, and shamanism. Elder shamans, who comment on the ceremony, share their lineage and experience with the shaman disease and their resistance to becoming a shaman. This documentary delves into a tradition that has been passed down from the ancestors and is being passed on to the younger generation. The young apprentice Oyun Erdene has the shaman lineage and disease, but needs teaching from his powerful teacher to become a shaman. His teacher Nergui says, "People respect me because I represent the original religion of Mongolia." And, indeed, CEREMONY connects us with one of the world's first belief systems.

"CEREMONY" took Sas Carey, Director, eleven years to make. The non-profit organization Nomadicare presents this film. Nomadicare's mission is to document indigenous Mongolian culture and support nomads' health.

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Sundance 2016: 'The Eagle Huntress' an enchanting tale of girl power

January 23 (Los Angeles Times) "The Eagle Huntress," a documentary that's as unlikely as it is enchanting, has landed in Sundance, and falling under its sway is inevitable.

The story introduces Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl from Mongolia who bucked 2,000 years of tradition to become the first female to hunt with formidable golden eagles in a locale director Otto Bell describes as "the most remote part of the least-populated country in the world. It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there."

A demure, shy girl with bright eyes and a shining smile, Aisholpan and her parents made the trip to Park City to promote the film and to appear in a media event with eagles provided by the Comanche nation. Her own eagle, Akkatnat or White Wings, is back home in Mongolia, where the rest of her nomadic family is, and when asked whether she missed the enormous beast, Aisholpan's face lit up like a star.

Some scholars believe that the whole idea of hunting with birds like eagles may have originated in Mongolia. The great conqueror Genghis Khan was said to have kept a thousand eagles, and to have so admired the mettle of eagle hunters that he used them as personal bodyguards.

Nomadic herders like Aisholpan's father, Nurgaiv, himself the seventh generation of male-only hunters, use the birds to go after foxes and other small animals, both for food and for fur to keep warm in the savage winters. Despite scoffing from traditionalists, when Aisholpan expressed an interest in becoming a hunter, her father readily agreed.

"She's been transfixed by eagles since she was a kid," Bell said. "It's masterful to see how she works with them."

Before he became involved with Aisholpan and her quest, the energetic 34-year-old Bell had worked for nearly 10 years as a director of shorter, branded content pieces for major corporate clients.

"I'd worked all over — Uganda, Egypt, Japan, Vietnam. I was used to foreign languages, to working with a translator, so when this opportunity came up, I didn't hesitate," the British director says, adding with a laugh, "perhaps I should have."

The story of how "The Eagle Huntress" came to be made is a tale so filled with obstacles, derring-do and coincidence, it almost feels like this film was simply fated to be made.

It all began with a photo essay on eagle hunters by still photographer Asher Svidensky that appeared on the BBC's website and included shots of Aisholpan working with her father's eagle.

"I saw it the day it came out, and I jumped on it," said Bell, which was a good thing because the photos soon became an Internet sensation. "I contacted the photographer and was quickly on a plane to Mongolia."

Bell met and had tea with Aisholpan, her father, Nurgaiv, and her mother, Alma, on July 4, 2014, a date he remembers because of what happened next.

"We were talking about the possibility of making a film, and Nurgaiv said, 'Today, we're going to steal an eagle chick for Aisholpan to train. Is this the kind of thing you'd be interested in filming?' I said, 'God, yes.'

"It turns out, you have only a two- or three-day window when the eagle chick can live outside the nest but hasn't flown away. It's very rare to be able to come in at the beginning of a story, but that is what we did."

Bell's small crew, led by veteran cinematographer Simon Niblett and ranging from two to five people, spent three months in Mongolia off and on and brought in more than 1,500 pounds of gear, including an S1000 drone and a 30-foot crane that packs into a case suitable for a snowboard.

"Though we didn't know it as we were shooting it, the film fell into a sequence of events," the director said. "Every time we went back, Aisholpan was facing a fresh obstacle."

First came the snatching of the eaglet, then an annual eagle hunters tournament in the town of Ulgii that drew some 70 veteran hunters to compete. Then came the ultimate challenge, actual hunting in Mongolia's devastating winter.

"It was minus-50 degrees, brutally cold conditions. All our batteries died; hands would freeze to the tripod. What was supposed to take five days, took to the end of the month," Bell recalled with a shudder. And then there was the little matter of his arm.

"I had broken my arm slipping on ice in New York, and the doctor absolutely forbid me to travel. I said I was going, so they wrapped it in a cast so large I couldn't close my jacket, even though it was bloody freezing. And there were no roads, so there was jarring all the time we traveled. It was hellish."

Also problematic was actually getting the film paid for and finished. "I dragged the film on myself for as long as I could, using credit cards and my paltry savings. I called in favors from all those years of shooting branded content," but it was not enough, he said.

So Bell sent a 10-minute trailer to documentarian Morgan Spurlock, who said he'd never seen anything like it and came on as executive producer.

Now finished and showing at Sundance, "The Eagle Huntress" is in the hunt for a distributor. Like Aisholpan's eagle, it's hard to imagine it going home empty-handed.

Link to article


The Eagle Huntress takes flight: Subject of Sundance doc honored in Comanche ceremonyPark Record, January 22


Genghis Khan rides again!

Siberian photographer Svetlana Kazina pictures this colossal statue of founder of the Mongol Empire.

January 18 (Siberian Times) It is the bigger equestrian statue in the world, a $4.1 million Mongolian tribute to the 13th century founder of the largest contiguous land empire in history, including modern-day southern Siberia. The Alti-based photographer was journeying through Mongolia when she saw this sight from afar, and went to investigate.

'I didn't know that there is such a sight in Mongolia,' she said. 'We were on the way from the capital city Ulaanbaatar to the swan lakes on the border with China, when I saw it from a distance. The statue was shining so brightly at sunset that at first I thought it was sun reflecting in a huge mirror. 

'Not surprisingly, because it stands 40 metres tall and that's apart from a 10-metre pedestal. 

'It is covered with 250 tons of shining stainless steel. The facade of the complex incorporates 36 columns which symbolise 36 Khans, from Genkhis Khan to Ligden Khan.'

It is on the bank of the Tuul River at Tsonjin Boldog, 54 km Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital.

'The statue points to the east where the commander was born. 

'The monument is located in a place where, according to legend, Genghis Khan, who became the greatest Khan and conquered almost all the known world, overcame difficulties after death of his father and found a golden whip. 

'Mongols believe that finding a whip is a good sign, that's why they decided to set up this memorial here. 

'But it's not simply a statue, there is a museum with arms and possessions of Mongol warriors, an art gallery with the paintings of Asian painters, a gift store, conference hall and a restaurant.'

A replica of the famous whip is one of the must-see exhibits. 

'On top of that, you can get to the viewing platform with a lift and walk to the horse's head via a tunnel. It's breathtaking. 

'On the way back from the Ganga and Duut lakes, we went to the statue again, especially to take pictures.'

For travellers here, she recommends finding a pilot who can give you an aerial view of this huge edifice. 

'There is an air club nearby run by a professional pilot and a great guy, a Russian Mongolian, called Alexander Amia,' she said. 'If you want to see the entire complex and nearby mountains go straight to him. This flight will become one of the best memories of your life.

The Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, which is part of the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, is 40-metres tall - or 131 ft 3 in. Svetlana Kazina is a photographer based in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. 

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