Monday, January 4, 2016

[XAM completes Tranche 2; FRC chair resigns to run; MNT falls 5.7% in 2015; FDI down 73.4%; 4G coming by May; and Happy New Year!]

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Monday, January 4, 2015

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Overseas Market

TER last traded A$0.007 on Dec 30

TerraCom to tighten finances as Mongolian coal plans unfold

January 4 (Proactive Investors) TerraCom (ASX:TER) has advanced two debt restructuring options during a balance sheet recalibration process expected to secure funding as the company's Baruun Noyon Uul (BNU) project aims to become one of the largest and highest quality coking coal producers in Mongolia.

The company formerly known as Guildford Coal has recently confirmed the ongoing support of its major financial backers, including the execution of a term sheet with OCP and continued discussions with Noble Group regarding a US$115 million five year interest-only bond.

This is expected to give the TerraCom significantly greater flexibility to manage its cash flows going forward and enable implementation of the growth strategy.

Plans are also developing for a strategic placement of A$7 million in the company by SPG Holdings.

Meanwhile, TerraCom is considering the issue of shares to SPG associate Morning Crest Capital Management pursuant to the conversion of convertible notes first issued by the company in December 2013.

Morning Crest Capital has entered into an agreement to acquire 50% of the convertible notes and intends to convert those notes into equity in TerraCom.

These financing plans are expected to support the company's Mongolian subsidiary Terra Energy, which was granted a new exploration licence last month. 

Terra Energy now holds 15 mineral licences in Mongolia across three project areas in the South Gobi, Middle Gobi and Uvs provinces.

The new licence is located 81.5 kilometres east of BNU, providing access to the mine's infrastructure. 

Volume increases at BNU in recent weeks have placed stress on third party road transport capabilities and actions are being implemented to optimise to 'pit to end user' supply chain.

Last month, TerraCom also decided to modify its board composition to ensure clear separation and focus on the differing functions and requirements in the areas of effective corporate governance delineated from strategic development and associated implementation.

While Michael Avery remains on the TerraCom board as an executive director with a principal focus on strategy, corporate governance, marketing and stakeholder relations, David Stone will no longer be a director.

Stone will instead remain in a senior executive role reporting to the board and focused on the strategic development and implementation of TerraCom business strategy. 

Link to article

Link to TER release


XAM last traded A$0.11 Dec 31

Xanadu Completes Tranche 2 Placement of 10.3 Million Shares at 12.5 Cents

December 31 -- At Xanadu Mines Ltd's (Xanadu or the Company) Extraordinary General Meeting held on 23 December 2015 (EGM), shareholders approved the issue of placement shares to ACA, Noble Group and a range of sophisticated and professional investors (Tranche 2 Placement).

The Company advises that 10,269,189 fully paid ordinary shares under the Tranche 2 Placement were issued and allotted today at $0.125 per share, the same price that applied to the placement announced by Xanadu on 12 November 2015. The shares issued under the Tranche 2 Placement will rank equally with existing Xanadu shares. The total funds raised will be used to reduce the Kharmagtai deferred acquisition consideration and support a winter exploration program at the Kharmagtai project.

An Appendix 3B in respect of the quotation of these shares is attached. The issued share capital of Xanadu subsequent to the Tranche 2 Placement is 445,285,489 fully paid ordinary shares.

At the EGM, shareholders also approved the issue of share rights to Xanadu Director, Mr Marcus Engelbrecht. Details of these share rights granted under the Xanadu Employee Equity Plan are included in the Appendix 3B.

Link to release


YAK closed +1.49% Thursday to C$0.34, MNGGF -1.64% to US$0.24

Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. November 2015 Monthly Letter to Shareholders

Toronto, Ontario, December 30 (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK – TSXV and MNGGF – USA), ("MGG") or ("the Company") a commercial real estate investment and development company participating in the dynamic growth of the Mongolian economy announces the release of its November 2015 Shareholder Letter. 

November 2015 Shareholder Letter 

To the Shareholders of Mongolia Growth Group Ltd., 

In November 2015, MGG's core commercial property portfolio* experienced a same-store rental decline of 13.4% relative to November 2014 on properties owned 12 months or longer, as measured in Mongolian Togrog (MNT). Total billed revenue for November 2015 was 245.3 million MNT, as compared to 248.9 million MNT in November of 2014 or a 1.4% decrease.** The occupancy rate for the core portfolio in November of 2015 was 87.3% including an occupancy rate of 84.4% for core retail properties and an occupancy rate of 91.4% for core office properties***. 

Market Lease Rates & Year-End Review 

Market Lease Rates 

Over the past few months, what initially started as a gradual decline in rental rates in mid-2014 has accelerated rather dramatically. With declining economic activity, we had been expecting lower rental rates, but we have been quite surprised by the severity of recent declines—particularly as we see nothing to indicate that rates have stabilized, especially as commodity prices continue to decline. Winter is often a period of decreased economic activity in Mongolia and we anticipate that this winter will be particularly difficult. 

At MGG, we continue to remain proactive in ensuring high occupancy, particularly in this very difficult environment and the cornerstone of this effort is an increased expenditure on marketing and a willingness to be pragmatic about the current state of the economy when negotiating leases. 

Year-End Review 

I am proud of the progress that we have made throughout the year despite a struggling economy. As of now, our operations are substantially more efficient, we have embarked upon our new fee-based agency initiative and most importantly, after years of losses we are finally within sight of becoming cash flow positive. If not for the precipitous decline in lease-rates due to the economic situation in Mongolia, we would likely have ended the year with positive monthly cash flow—indicative of the dramatic turn-around that was achieved during 2015. 

I believe that the momentum we now have into year-end will continue into 2016. Despite a deteriorating economy, 2015 was the best year in the history of our company and we are in a position to survive regardless of how bad the economy becomes in 2016. The fact that we have maintained occupancy and revenues at such strong levels is testament to the effectiveness of our team, as we are significantly outperforming overall industry conditions. 

I want to thank everyone who has been so instrumental in turning our operations around and ensuring that this business did not fail when it seemed the darkest in early 2015. When the Mongolian economy eventually recovers, I know that we can do great things. 

Mongolian Economic Update 

Since the most recent letter: 

·         Oyu Tolgoi Signs $4.4 Billion Project Finance Marking Historic Milestone Toward recommencement of Underground Development (MarketWired) 

·         Mongolia's Nov. CPI increased 0.2% m/m and was up 2.9% y/y, the slowest rise since Oct 2009 when inflation was 0.9% (Bloomberg) 

·         Mongolia's mineral exports declined to $3.36b in the first 11 months of the year from $4.32b a year earlier (Bloomberg) 

·         Total external trade at end-Nov. fell 22.8% y/y to $7.74b, a drop of $2.3b (Bloomberg) 

We look forward to updating you again on our progress and new developments in the Mongolian economy next month.

Link to release


WOF last traded A$0.004

Wolf Petroleum:  Expiry of 27 Million Listed Options WOFO

December 31 -- As announced on 25 November 2015 Wolf Petroleum Limited ("the Company") has been granted a waiver by the Australian Securities Exchange from Listing Rule 6.24 in regards to listed options (ASX: WOFO) ("Listed Options").

The Company advises that 27,000,000 Listed Options have expired unexercised before the expiry of 5.00pm (AWST) on 31 December 2015.

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Local Market

Mogi: having mixed feelings about this rule. Having to resign from public posts 6 months prior to election, in order to run.

FRC Chairwoman Submits Resignation to Comply with Election Law

December 30 ( On 28th December, the Director of the Financial Coordinating Committee, Z.Narantuya, submitted a resignation request to Parliamentary Speaker Z.Enkhbold.

In the letter, Z.Narantuya wrote: "According to Provision 126.5 of the Electoral Law of Mongolia and Provision 23.2 of the "Civil Service Law", I hereby officially request to be relieved of my duties as Director of Financial Coordinating Committee. Kindly, accept and grant my request".

Z.Narantuya was appointed by Parliament on 25th December 2014 as the Director of the Financial Coordinating Committee. The term of office is 5 years.

The "Charter of the Financial Standing Committee" states that the Director of the Committee can be dismissed, because either; the term of office has expired or because of health reasons or for other reasons.

Link to article


MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 +3.96%, ALL +2.99%, ₮40.6 Million Stocks, ₮49.4 Million T-Bills

December 31 (MSE) --

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Historic low ₮1,997.56/USD set December 9, 2015

BoM MNT Rates: Thursday, December 31 Close
















































































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮1,990 Sell ₮1,999), Khan (Buy ₮1,990 Sell ₮1,999), Golomt (Buy ₮1,990 Sell ₮1,999), XacBank (Buy ₮1,991 Sell ₮1,999), State Bank (Buy ₮1,992 Sell ₮1,999)

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

Link to rates


Mongolia Sees $78.4 Million FDI in Jan-Nov, Down 73.4% from 2014

December 31 (BoM) Current account deficit stands at US$ 489.4 million, decrease of 65 percent or US$ 907.5from the same period of previous year. The reasons behind this were an increase in surplus of trade in goods by 40 percent or US$ 307.1 million while deficit on trade in services declined by 47 percent or US$ 658.2 million. 

Capital and financial accounts show surplus of US$ 486.2 million, decrease of 35 percent or US$ 257.3 million from the previous year due to decline in foreign direct investment. 

Detailed information

·         Annual Balance of Payment for first 11 months of 2015

·         External sector statistics

Link to release


BoM issues 330.3 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding -3.5% to ₮955.3 billion

December 30 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 330.3 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

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Politics & Legal

Cabinet Meeting Agenda for January 4

January 4 (GoGo Mongolia) Today the first plenary session of cabinet meeting in 2016 to start at 4pm at State House. Following issues to be discussed;

·         Approval of national program on "Urbanization and health" 

·         Approval of "World Mongolians" program 

·         Approval of "Mongolian promotion in abroad" program

·         Conclusion of Mongolia-European Union Joint Committee meeting 

·         Revised draft law on statistic

·         To grant permission on establishing concession agreement (To establish agricultural production and technology park in Erdenetsagaan soum, Suhbaatar aimag) 

·         Amendments to regulation on conducting auction of land possession 

·         To return the dinosaur artifacts to Mongolia which was unlawfully brought into abroad 

·         To cooperate in education sector with the Government of the Federal Republic of Brazil

·         Intergovernmental 

·         Financial cooperation of military sector and an agreement between the Government of the Republic of Turkey

·         Amendments to draft law on Human Development Fund

·         To determine the amount of fee due from each health insurer for 2016

Link to article


Labor Minister submits draft amendment to vocational training law

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Labor G.Bayarsaikhan MP Wednesday submitted to the Speaker Z.Enkhbold a draft amendment to the law on vocational training.

A decision of submitting the draft amendment was made at a cabinet meeting held on December 22. The law on vocational training was passed in 2002 by parliament, creating a legal environment for preparing professional workers who are vital in the country's social-economic development, and it was altered twice in 2009 and 2012.

This time, the amendment aims to bring the vocational training into international standards and to a new system based on skills, to promote effectiveness of the collaboration between employers and partners, and to create a proper legal environment for employment by empowering skills of these centers' graduates. Moreover, the amendment includes a clause on provides graduates of universities and institutes with an opportunity to gain vocational professions, the Minister said.

Link to article


Draft amendment to law on labor submitted

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Labor G.Bayarsaikhan MP Wednesday submitted to parliament a draft amendment to the law on employment.

The employment law is now should be amended in order to upgrade frame and effectives of this law. Small-sized enterprisers at the labor market will be fortified, said Bayarsaikhan. It also reflects some additional clauses on improving effectiveness of employment actions, he added.

Link to article


Mongolia: The Beginning of Democracy from the Eyes of a Child

By Burt-Ujin Bayarsaikhan, Program Manager, Mongolia, @Burtujin

December 10 (International Republican Institute) For most Mongolians like me, December 10 is not only international human rights day but also a historic, nostalgic day that makes us recall those bittersweet memories of late 80s and early 90s.

On December 10, 1989, 26 years ago, the citizens of Mongolia announced the beginning of the democratic revolution, and some 300 people attended the first Mongolian Democratic Union rally in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. This was the first unauthorized demonstration in our then-socialist country, and I can only imagine how courageous those demonstrators must have been, calling out loud for a multi-party system, free and fair elections and freedom of the press among other demands, holding up signs and singing the "Song of the Bell," which would later become a song much loved in the hearts of many, including me.

Back then, I was too young to understand the events that were taking place during the peaceful revolution and the effects they had on the society. Before the revolution, when I was a toddler, my grandparents used to take me to the State Department Store, located in the district that we still call "40,000," and buy me delicious, creamy Soviet ice-creams sandwiched between rectangular vanilla wafers. I also have memories of the early 90s of how my older siblings and I used to stand in line outside a grocery store trying to buy some bread; we would get zero-to-two bread loaves depending on that day's luck. There was a period when even toilet paper was scarce, not to mention my favorite vanilla ice-cream.

Children of Mongolia's democratic revolution may have been unaware of the reasons why their lives were changing at that time, but many of us now genuinely appreciate the values of democracy that we all enjoy today and we certainly understand the cost at which they were found. I feel privileged that on my living room corner table today, there is a photo journal chronicling the birth of Mongolian democracy.

Link to article


GoGo News: Mongolia Political Review 2015

December 30 ( GoGo News Agency names main political events of 2015.

Commercial banks freeze all mortgage loans

All commercial banks have frozen all the mortgage loans after the State Great Khural announced decision of the Constitutional Court to void some of the clauses of the Immovable Property Mortgage Law as an action of boycott on Thursday, December 10th.

Which in turn leads the APR of the mortgage loans of over 76 thousand citizens who have mortgage loans with APR 8% to jump as high as to 20%. The first claim was received from citizen A.Bazar who stated that: "It is a violation of a citizen's right to seek for an official approval from banks to be able to rent the property under mortgage loan."

Constitutional Court have discussed the matter on December 9thseating and ruled that it is a violation of the equality of the citizens to provide with advantage the pledger side and violates the basic rights of the owner.

Majority of the MPs have voted pro the changes whereas bank owners have been watching closely the development process and have come up with decision to freeze the loans for an indefinite period of time.

Bank workers have mentioned that citizens whose loan application has been approved are still unable to receive their mortgage loans due to this changes in laws.

Although Mongolian Bank Association has sent and official letter warning of the negative consequences to the State Great Khural it was of no help. Politicians are working on draft law to make changes and fix their "mistake".

Constitutional changes to be shifted to next year

Working Group led by MP N.Batbayar to propose the amendments into the Constitutional Law have come up with the draft, which is ready to be discussed.

Nevertheless, rulers have decided to conduct public voting before touching the Father Law. To do so amendments to the Draft Law on Public Polls have to be done and the discussion on the draft was held in mid-November and the initial discussion of the amendments to be held soon.

But the process has been postponed until now. The amendments propose the plenary powers of the government, ensure the stability of the state activities and avoid the change of the ministries every time the government is set a new.

Constitutional amendments propose the number of the ministries to be 9 and the number of the MPs to be increased to 99 in view of the population increase lately in order to ensure the proper representation of the public at the state level.

While public is not very keen to support those changes and are watching closely on the development of this issue. While the current Parliament does not have enough time to make the amendments and some of the MPs are accepting this.

1700 prisoners have been pardoned

In view of the 25th anniversary of the establishement of the State Great Khural and Democratic voting Parliament has approved the Law on Pardoning.

According to the law about 3000 prisoners have been included in the pardoning and 1700 have been released from prison and 1300 prisoners have remitted their punishments.

Approval of the pardoning law has been conducted after six years from the previous one and has divided the public into sides as some think that it is inappropriate to pardon the convicts.

This time the pardoning did not include those who were punished for corruption and misuse of their positions. That way the state has shown its soft side and provided the prisoners with a chance to fix their mistakes and lead proper life.

Budget of MNT 130 million to help the released prisoners to adapt to life after prison, travel home and socialize has been approved. 

25 year old democracy

July 29th was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Parliament, the day of the very first democratic elections held.

International Conference to commemorate the anniversary was organized by the Office of the President with the participation of the international guests from India, Japan, France, Germany, USA, Switzerland and many state heads have congratulated Mongolia on such an achievement.

Mongolia boasts with the peaceful democratic revolution held with no fatalities and is valued at international level for those achievements. President of Mongolia in his speech delivered at the conference said: "Democracy is not the one time choice, it is a process. And the process is difficult and requires a lot of effort. We view the democracy as human and similar to human life. This is human choice and the human is the main moving force of it. Therefore, it is crucial to work hard every day. We should cherish our democracy. It will cost a lot to restore the democracy once it is gone."

Gatsuurt deposit is being in the center again

Government has submitted the State Great Khural Resolution Draft on establishing the state ownership of the deposit for discussions for the third time.

The draft has been recalled twice back in February and June as it was viewed not necessary to be discussed. Previous draft submitted proposed the 20 percent state ownership, while the new submitted draft proposes 34 percent state ownership, which is the highest possible stake according to the Law on Mineral Resources and to be replaced with loyalty payment for the use of the mineral resources.

The license for the Gatsuurt deposit with the proven reserves of 50 tons of gold is owned by Centerra Cold and the license holder is to pay the loyalty payment for the use of the resources which is to be 3 percent. This number can be altered.

Sides have included flexible conditions to alter the percentage in view of the global market price for gold. The deposit is located in Mandal soum of Selenge aimag and is counted one of the best deposits with high gold contents and is currently hosting over 1800 ninja miners.

Although the security is working at the site ninja miners are refusing to leave the site and create commotions, which has been broadcasted through public media several times. Government has introduced that this project is to continue for 10 years and mining and processing of the gold is possible once the issue is legalized.

Although the Government is submitting the project for the third time viewed as one of the leverages for the declining economy is in hands of the Parliaments.

Politics of N.Enkhbayar

Former President of Mongolia and Leader of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) N.Enkhbayar came back to Mongolian in August after long period spent in South Korea for medical reasons.

If he was leading the party activities from distance, now he is doing it from within and in doing so has played main role in activating the upcoming election preparation. PM Ch.Saikhanbileg has received submission of N.Enkhbayar's candidacy to the Vice Minister by the MPRP on December 10th.

It is obvious that N.Enkhbayar has to overcome many criteria to be approved for the position and it is unknown whether he can do that.

Firstly, PM has to study the candidacy and support. Secondly, as the former President has been convicted of corruption, inquiry has to be delivered from the Independent Agency Against Corruption. Next, to discuss the candidacy with the President.

Finally the State Great Khural discussion has to be held and supported by the majority of the MPs. It is unknown if N.Enkhbayar, once been at the top position, could be approved for the Vice Minister.

Hence, this is one of the highlights of the political life of the year 2015.

Ministers appointed from Mongolian People's Party (MPP) being outcasts

Ruling Democratic Party has proposed MPP to cooperate in the establishment of the cabinet, but has turned its back after eight months.

Two parties with the most seats in the parliament have agreed to cooperate in order to overcome the economic decline, unfortunately the cooperation did not last long.

DP group has assigned the PM to dismiss the ministers appointed from MPP having concluded that those haven't done anything prominent to fight the economic decline other than just criticizing and politicize.

Although PM has expressed his wish to proceed with the current cabinet members in order to provide the stability, he has been pushed by the DP and agreed to the matters.

At the end, PM has submitted the request to dismiss six MPP ministers and seven vice ministers to the State Great Khural. Ruling DP has decided to continue without any coalition with other parties.

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Mongolia expects to introduce 4G LTE by May 2016

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) The Regulatory Committee of Communications (RCC) has said it is working to introduce the 4G system in Mongolia.

In last two years, preparation works have been completed, and it is expected the 4G system will be installed by April or May of 2016. Moreover, the RCC intends to approve a regulatory document on the 4G services, and special licenses will be issued to companies for providing the service. In the first turn, four mobile phone providers are projected to receive the 4G service.

4G is the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology, succeeding 3G. A 4G system must provide capabilities defined by ITU in IMT Advanced. Potential and current applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D television, and cloud computing.

It is considered the 4G system is 10 times higher than the 3G system, and it has capability of transmitting information of 100 MB a second in high-speed machines and train, and of 1 GB in a stable condition.

Link to article


Mongolia Signs MOU with China Contractor on Moncement Project

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) A Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation has been signed by Ministry of Energy of Mongolia and China National Complete Engineering Corporation. The company is the main executor of site work of the MonCement project.

The MoU binds long-term sustainable cooperation between Mongolia and the People's Republic of China in energy sector, mainly, in order to meet the increasing demand of power supply of Mongolia through utilizing Chinese practices of plant building and operations, noted the State Secretary of the Ministry D.Delgertsogt.

Present at the document signing ceremony were, the Energy Minister D.Zorigt and A.Tleikhan MPs.

Link to article


Mogi: think we don't get what "entrepreneur" means

Khan Bank Named One of Top Ten Entrepreneurs of 2015

December 30 (Khan Bank) The Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry held the "Entrepreneur-2015" Award Ceremony on 28 December 2015 to recognize those leading entities and businessmen that have made enormous contributions to the social and economic developments of the nation.

During the ceremony, Khan Bank was named one of the TOP Ten Entrepreneurs of the Year for its achievements in introducing new products and services based on advanced technology and its great contributions to the banking sector, as well as for the total amount of tax it paid into the state budget and for its implementation of social responsibility.

In 2015, Khan Bank implemented many new activities and initiatives. For example, the Bank has completely replaced its card system, tailoring it to meet international standards, in addition to paying constant attention to reducing branch workloads, improving customer service, and introducing new advanced technology into its operations. As a result, the Bank has opened Express Banking Centers in UB and rural areas, where customers may receive banking services without visiting bank branches. At present, customers are receiving banking services reliably and promptly through over 280 Recycle ATMs installed at more than 60 Express Banking Centers throughout the country.   

In the sphere of social responsibility in 2015, Khan Bank implemented more than 30 projects and programs aimed at social well-being and made concrete contributions to society through its Khan Bank Foundation. Among these are such large projects as the National Campaign against Cancer, the Khan Bank Scholarship program, the Khan Bank Forest, and the donation of training materials and medical equipment to kindergartens for children with autism. 

Khan Bank was named the "Best Bank in Mongolia" by THE BANKER magazine and welcomes New Year with the inspiration of doing more in 2016.

Khan Bank would like to wish success and express its gratitude to all its customers and partner organizations for their cooperation and dedication for receiving such a highly regarded award.

Link to article


Khan Bank Named Health Supporter, Humanitarian of the Year

The Public Health Institute of Ministry of Health and Sports named Khan Bank as a "Health Supporter" for 2015.   

December 30 (Khan Bank) As a result of its implementation throughout the country for the fifth year since 2011 of the National Campaign against Cancer, in cooperation with Mongolian National Broadcaster and the National Cancer Center, and its achievements in preventing many people from contracting cancer by screening over 90,000 individuals, Khan Bank received this award.

The Public Health Institute held the ceremony in order to promote the leading top organizations which substantially invested in the health sector within last three years. 

On the occasion of New Year, the Daily Newspaper named the top individuals and organizations that contributed to the social and economic development of the country and took the lead in the social responsibility and construction sectors, based on a public opinion poll. According to the opinion poll, Khan Bank was selected as a "Humanitarian" for such concrete public activities as its National Campaign against Cancer and its Donation of Training Materials and Medical Equipment to Kindergarten for Children with Autism.  

The Khan Bank Foundation, a unit implementing social responsibility for Khan Bank, has been making concrete contributions to society and implementing various projects and programs in six major priority areas, such as health, education, and the environment.

The Khan Bank Foundation won the afore-mentioned awards as a result of its implementation of several projects in 2015. Khan Bank will continue implementing its social responsibility and making contributions to the development of our country and people's lives.

Link to article


Soyombo: The Mongolian Symbol

December 31 (Macau Daily Times) Mongolia's most famous son Genghis Khan – and his descendants – may have created the largest contiguous empire in world history and reigned supreme along the Silk Road, but the worldly power, albeit once upon a time a superpower, was all but long gone. By way of culture and religion, the legacy of Zanabazar may well have surpassed those of Genghis Khan. What Genghis Khan forged by sabres and swords, Zanabazar achieved through scripts and symbols. In a distinctly northern Asian context, Jesus seems to have bettered Caesar.

Born Eshidorji, Öndör Gegeen Zanabazar (literally: High Saint Zanabazar) would go on to become the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu – the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism in Outer Mongolia. At the tender age of 5, he was recognised by the Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama, respectively the second highest and highest ranking lama in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. In broad strokes, what is known as Caesaropapism in Europe took the form of Buddhist theocratic autocracy in East Asia and High Asia, alternatively known as the Roof of the World.

During his lifetime, Zanabazar not only founded the Shankh Monastery, one of the oldest and prominent monasteries in Mongolia, but also championed development in arts and sciences as well as philosophy and theology, hence winning the sobriquet the "Michelangelo of Asia". One of his major contributions and lasting legacies has to be the Soyombo alphabet and the Soyombo symbol.

A nation in the Asian Steppe whose boundaries are not pre-determined by natural geography but by power, Mongolia's national borders have expanded and shrunk in a way that would be incomprehensible to island nations such as Japan and the UK. The constant changes are both the reason and the result of cultural exchanges. No language in the world has adopted – or was made to adopt – as many scripts and alphabets as Mongolian, ranging from Traditional, Galik, Oirat to Buryat alphabets, to Phags-pa, Soyombo, Horizontal, Latin (from 1931 to 1941) and now Cyrillic scripts (since 1941).

Created by Zanabazar in 1686, the Soyombo has since served as the national symbol of Mongolia, as well as other closely related nations such as the Republic of Buryatia and the Agin-Buryat Okrug, respectively a federal subject and an administrative division of Russia; it appears in Mongolia's flag, coast of arms and armed forces. For readers who are interested in Buddhism or East Asian history, Mongolia is no doubt the roundabout of East Asia; for drinkers, the good news is that Mongolia is now producing some world-beating vodka gems, waiting to be discovered and savoured. Remaining loyal to traditions, they still bear the names of Soyombo and Genghis Khan.


Made with Mongolian wheat from Selenge Province and water from the Bogd Khan Mountain, both from central-northern Mongolia. Distilled 6 times and filtered continuously for 5 days. Meticulously clean and entirely transparent, the nose is refreshingly pure, effusing hints of aniseed, crystal sugar, wet stone and wild flowers. The mouthfeel is particularly smooth, with excellent depth and length, remarkable purity and good consistency. Bottled at 40%, the fresh entry continues through a lively mid-palate, leading to a sweetish finish. Excellent on its own, it can also be used in mixed drinks. Winner of Monde Selection 2008 Grand Gold Medal and World Beverage Competition 2009 Gold Medal.

Chinggis Khan

Made with Mongolian wheat from Selenge Province and water from the Bogd Khan Mountain, both from central-northern Mongolia. Distilled 6 times and filtered continuously for 10 days. Immaculately clean and faultlessly transparent, the nose is alluringly pristine, emanating traces of orchard fruits, aniseed, springwater and lavender. The mouthfeel is distinctly creamy, with extraordinary depth and length, crystal-clear purity and refined balance. Bottled at 40%, the clean entry persists through a sweetish mid-palate, leading to a lingering finish. To fully appreciate this fine vodka, it is best served neat. Winner of Vodka Masters Awards 2011 Gold Medal. Jacky I.F. Cheong

To explore the finest Mongolian vodkas, contact Ms Bolormaa Ganbold of PREM1ER Hospitality Management and PREM1ER BAR & LOUNGE; W:; E:; T: +853 6233 5262; A: 86, Rua Direita Carlos Eugénio, Old Taipa Village.

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Mongolian, Chinese businessmen donate 10 million to children's care center

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) The "Friendly Partnership-2016" New Year's celebration has been run by Mongolian and Chinese businessmen.

Co-organized by the Mongolian Unified Confederation of Employers, the "Jung-hua" association of Mongolian and Chinese businessmen and the "Je zhyan" Mongolian business society, the event has attracted Ts.Oyunbaatar, the Deputy Premier of Mongolia; Xin Haiming, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China to Mongolia; leaders of entities and other officials. They have discussed issues of the collaboration between businessmen of the countries and market environment.

During the celebration, the businesspeople have donated money of 10 million Togrog to the "Badamlyankhua" children's care house, founded in 1993. This center aims to render essential aid to those children affected by violence, running training on independence and sense of living to secondary school pupils.

The two countries' businessmen said they will contribute to the bilateral socio-economic ties.

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Census counts 890 homeless people in Mongolia

December 30 ( Whilst conducting the census of the population and living accommodation, the Ulaanbaatar and Provincial Census Commission also studied the number of homeless people in Mongolia. A total of 890 homeless people across the country were involved in census. Representatives of the police and the National State Registration Office co-operated in checking the passports and other documents of homeless people.

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Helicopter crash update: Four discharged from hospital

December 30 ( Following last week's tragic helicopter crash, in which one person lost his life and ten were hospitalized, we can report that today four were discharged from the Central Military Hospital.

Four of the injured people underwent surgery, the first two on the 24th December and the second two the next day. The remaining six suffer from external injuries, not involving surgery; the four who have suffered the least trauma have been released from hospital.

The helicopter, which was from the 337th Armed Force, crashed at Nalaikh on 23rd December whilst on a night flight training exercise.

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Nature, Environment

Early warnings leads to more effective and timely responses in Mongolia

December 2015 (FAO/Mongolia) Coping with the harsh terrain and weather is part of a Mongolian herder's way of life. But there are early warnings that this winter the dzud – or a very snowy winter, which causes starvation when animals can't graze – will be very severe. Past severe dzuds which have stripped herders of their livelihoods, have coincided with strong El Niño.

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Behind the Rapid Loss of Lakes on the Mongolian Plateau

Dec 18, 2015 (NASA Landsat Science) Shengli Tao, from Peking University, has used the Landsat data archive to map, measure, and investigate the shrinking lakes of the Mongolian Plateau. We spoke to Tao about the work he presented at #AGU15.

Presentation title: Rapid Loss of Lakes on the Mongolian Plateau

What are the major findings of your research?

We found a rapid loss of lakes on the Mongolian plateau in the past decades: the number of lakes with a water surface area greater than one square kilometer decreased from 785 in the late 1980s to 577 in 2010, with a greater rate of decrease (34.0%) in Inner Mongolia of China than in Mongolia (17.6%).

This decrease has been particularly pronounced since the late 1990s in Inner Mongolia, and the number of lakes greater than ten square kilometers has declined by 30.0%. The statistical analyses suggested that in Mongolia precipitation was the dominant driver for the lake changes, and in Inner Mongolia coal mining was most important in the region's grassland area and irrigation was the leading factor in its cultivated area.

What insight did you gain from Landsat that would have been impossible to glean otherwise?

Landsat data is great, with both long-term temporal coverage and fine spatial resolution (30 m)—this is perfect for monitoring lake area changes. Other remotely sensed images fail to provide either fine spatial resolution or long-term temporal coverage.

How can your research help the people suffering most from the rapid loss of lakes on the Mongolian Plateau?

Our research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and many media outlets have reported it. The Chinese government is paying attention to the mining issues in Inner Mongolia.


Anyone can freely download Landsat data from the USGS EarthExplorer or LandsatLook.

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Triplet calves born from Hereford bull in Dornod, Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) In Tsagaan-Ovoo soum of Dornod aimag, family of herder I.Bat-Itgelt welcomed triplet calves on December 23. They are the offsprings of Mongolian cow and a Hereford bull.

Receiving twins, triplets and more is a common event in Tsagaan Ovoo soum. For instance, herder M.Myagmarjav welcomed last winter quintuplet goatlings for the second time.

This is a good omen in Mongolian livestock herding tradition that predicts an excellent growth of livestock population in the years to come.

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Wilderness Conservation Horseback Adventure in Mongolia - Stone Horse Expeditions

December 13 -- Stone Horse Expeditions are unique riding adventures in Mongolia. The Wilderness Conservation Adventure is dedicated to help protect the wild places we travel in - the Khentii Mountains of Mongolia. Working with the park authorities, the Stone Horse Expedition team and riding guests venture into the wilderness to help with environmental work and visitor management. This purpose adds to the great riding adventure, exploring Hagiin Har Nuur (Black Lichen Lake), crossing rivers and a high alpine pass, travelling on horseback down the Tuul River, while enjoying the great Mongolian horses, scenic campsites, great expedition food and the company of fellow conservation adventure riders.

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N.Dagvasuren receives 2015 Best Ippon Trophy from Mongolian Judo Federation

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) The Mongolia's Judo Federation (MJF) has selected N.Dagvasuren IMS as the owner of the Best Ippon Trophy-2015.

He collected the largest number of votes from judo fans and experts due to his brilliant ippon (full point at judo match) made against a 2014 World champion of Georgia Avtandil Tchrikishvili at the Tbilisi Grand Prix.

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State Hawk B.Purevsaikhan wins President's Cup for second time

December 30 ( Welcoming the 104th Anniversary of Restoring the National Freedom and Independence of Mongolia, the fifth "Presidential Trophy" traditional wrestling tournament among top 128 wrestlers was held in the Wrestling Palace, Ulaanbaatar on December 29, 2015.

The best 128 wrestlers have competed in 7 Rounds by direct elimination system, where a resident of Khovd Aimag, State "Hawk" B.Purevsaikhan won the Presidential Trophy for his second time.

The runner-up of the tournament was a wrestler from "Aldar" Sports Committee, resident of Arkhangai Aimag, State "Elephant" Ch.Sanjaadamba.

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State Hawk B.Purevsaikhan wins President Trophy twiceMontsame, December 30

State "Hawk" Purevsaikhan wins Champion, December 30

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Art, Entertainment

"Lucia di Lammermoor" and "Swan Lake" to open 2016 opera and ballet season in Mongolia

December 30 ( The National State Opera and Dance Theatre has announced the first performance schedule for 2016.

On 9th January, Donizetti's famous opera "Lucia di Lammermoor", based on the novel of Walter Scott will be performed. This will be followed on 10th January, with P.I.Tchaikovsky's most famous ballet, "Swan Lake".

Later in January, the State Opera and Dance Theatre plans to perform the ballet "Uran Khas" by J.Chuluun, Tchaikovsky's opera "Eugene Onegin" and Puccini's opera "Tosca".

The State Opera and Dance Theatre has been extremely busy over the festive season having performed Tchaikovsky's ballet the "Nutcracker" six times. This Christmas gift was produced in co-operation with the "Ballet Development" Foundation.

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The 25 Places You Must Explore In 2016: Mongolia #17

From Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2016 and AFAR Media's Where to Go in 2016.

December 30 (BuzzFeed) Ahh, January. A month to attempt to get your sh*t together, not guzzle wine every night, and, perhaps most importantly, plan out your entire year of travel.


Now about that last one. Of course you should go wherever you want, but there are some places that are in their prime this year, for various reasons — so this could be the best time to go.

Lonely Planet and AFAR Media selected the very best places to travel in 2016. (Lonely Planet released their book, Best In Travel 2016, and AFAR released their "Where To Go In 2016" issue, also available online.)

Some of these places are celebrating big anniversaries, some are in the midst of a resurgence, and some have landmarks that are nearing extinction — but all of them have something special going on right now. Here are the top 25 places you must travel in 2016. Choose one, or choose them all — whatever you do, happy adventuring!

17. Mongolia

WHY GO IN 2016: In the past, going to Mongolia meant really throwing yourself off the beaten path. Like, really. But these days, it's a destination on the rise. Expert trip companies like Nomadic Expeditions have trips there now, the wildnerness lodges have gotten an upgrade, and a Shangri-La even opened in the capital.

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Nomads of Mongolia

By Brandon Li

January 2 -- Life in Western Mongolia is an adventure. Training eagles to hunt, herding yaks, and racing camels are just a few of the daily activities of the nomadic Kazakh people. I spent a few weeks living with them and experiencing one of the most unique cultures in the world. Saddle up and enjoy the ride.

Select clips from this video are available for licensing. For inquiries:

Original score by Max LL (

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