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Monday, February 15, 2016

[GoM halts talks with KRI; TER completes restructure; MNT hits new low; SGK extraordinary session starts; and Happy Year of the Fire Monkey!]

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- HAPPY YEAR OF THE FIRE MONKEY -

Monday, February 15, 2016

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Int'l Market

Mongolia Halts Talks With Uranium Miner Over $106M Award

Law360, New York (February 12, 2016, 7:04 PM ET) -- The Mongolian government has suspended talks with Canada's Khan Resources Inc. in negotiations over the confirmation of a $106 million award ordered against the country for canceling Khan's licenses to develop one of the world's largest untapped uranium reserves, the company told its investors Friday.

Khan said the parties held meetings in December and January to discuss Mongolia's outstanding obligations to the uranium developer, but the talks were cut off last month at the request of the government, according to Khan's Feb. 12 earnings release. The company said in the release that no further meetings have been scheduled.

Grant A. Edey, Khan's president and CEO, told Law360 on Friday that the talks stopped for "unexplained reasons" and that representatives for Mongolia refused to provide the company with information as to why they pulled back from negotiations.

Khan said in December that it was investigating jurisdictions in its push to enforce the award, which was ordered by a three-member Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal in March. The tribunal ruled that Mongolia broke its own foreign investment law by expropriating the Canada-based group's mining and exploration licenses for the Dornod uranium project.

The award came after more than four years of consideration, with a tribunal ultimately backing Khan's stance that Mongolia lacked a legal basis to nix the licenses and did so in order to run the project in partnership with Russia, according to Khan. The tribunal included Bernard Hanotiau, L. Yves Fortier and David A.R. Williams.

According to the company, the dispute between Khan and Mongolia dates back to 1995, when Khan and its predecessor companies first began work on the Dornod property. Khan claims Mongolia announced its intention to form a Mongolian-Russian joint venture to replace Khan in mining the property in January 2009 and passed a law that July, which stripped investors of a 51 percent stake in the project without compensation.

Khan contends that Mongolia then refused to reissue licenses giving the company permission to continue its work, which the company claims effectively resulted in the total expropriation of its assets. Khan took the dispute to international arbitration in January 2011.

Khan's moves to enforce the award since it was issued in 2014 have met with resistance from Mongolia, which urged the French Court of Appeal in Paris to annul the award in December. The company said Friday that its counsel is currently preparing arguments for that court in favor of confirming the award, which are due by April 9.

The company's president and CEO said in December that an effort to collect Mongolia's non-immune sovereign assets was underway, but that it could take some time since the Central Asian nation is not rife with assets and the process involves a fair bit of investigation.

Edey said Khan's plan did not include so-called immune assets such as embassies and Mongolian gold reserves, nor assets based in Russia or China.

Link to article (needs subscription)

Link to KRI quarterly report

 

TerraCom: Debt Restructuring Completed

February 10 -- TerraCom Limited (TerraCom or the Company) (ASX: TER) is pleased to announce finalisation of the restructuring of its balance sheet and the continued implementation of its previously communicated Strategic Plan.

Following extensive negotiations with its lenders over the past few weeks, TerraCom has successfully finalised the following:

·         Principal of US$ 55 million refinanced by a 5-year interest-only bond with the first interest payment deferred until 23 December 2016 and no principal repayments until 2021 (the Bond).

·         The working capital facility of US$ 41 million has been extended to 23 December 2016 in line with ongoing coal sales and supply chain program; this includes interest and principal payments deferred to this repayment date. For the remainder of 2016 the Company will work on re-financing options and/ or a new working capital facility to match the broader plans of the Company.

·         Short term facility of US$ 5 million initially provided to replace the SPG Investment Holdings Ltd (SPG) equity placement which did not proceed will be ultimately rolled into the Bond. This has a significant benefit to shareholders as requisite funds have been raised without significant dilution (583.3 million shares were to be issued to SPG representing circa 25% of the shares currently on issue).

·         Convertible Notes Principal of US$ 5 million conversion date has been extended to 28 February 2016, before which time the Company expects this will be rolled into the Bond.

The above has a significant impact on the Company's free cash flow and will give it much greater operational headroom and flexibility compared to the replaced financing facilities which were principal and interest.

Implementation of Growth and Development Strategy

Potential Listing on Asian Stock Exchange (Dual or Sole)

Business Development

Link to release

 

Centerra Gold 2015 Year-End Reserve and Resource Update

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - February 09, 2016) - Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX: CG) today issued its 2015 year-end estimates for reserves and resources. The Company has used a gold price of $1,200 per ounce as the basis for its reserve estimates.

Highlights:

·         Centerra's proven and probable reserves increased 9% to 8.4 million ounces of contained gold (112.5 Mt at 2.3 g/t gold) from 7.7 million contained ounces a year ago.

·         At Centerra's 100% owned Öksüt Project in Turkey, the Company announced a positive feasibility study in 2015. As a result of this study, the measured and indicated resources on both the Keltepe and Güneytepe deposits were upgraded to an estimated probable reserve of 26.1 million tonnes at 1.4 g/t gold containing 1.2 million ounces of gold at a cut-off grade of 0.3 g/t gold.

·         At the Gatsuurt Project in Mongolia, the Mongolian Parliament, after having designated Gatsuurt as a mineral deposit of strategic importance in 2015, approved a 34% state ownership interest in the project on February 4, 2016. Under the Minerals Law, the Government is able to substitute the state ownership with a special royalty. In this regard, the Government can now implement the previously agreed upon 3% special royalty in place of a 34% state ownership interest in Gatsuurt. See the Company's news releases of February 4, 2016, October 27, 2015 and January 23, 2015. The gold mineral reserves and resources at Gatsuurt remain unchanged from the 2014 year-end statement.

Scott Perry, CEO of Centerra Gold said: "In 2015, our total reserves increased by 9% to 8.4 million ounces of gold. At the Öksüt Project, we successfully converted resources to reserves with the positive feasibility study released in July, which contributed to the increase in our overall reserve base. Now that Mongolian Parliament passed the Gatsuurt ownership resolution, we expect to proceed with negotiating definitive agreements and carry out additional exploration drilling to expand the Gatsuurt resource base as well as geo-technical and hydrogeological drilling in support of eventual project development. The addition to reserves at Öksüt and Gatsuurt advancing to the next step continues to diversify our operations portfolio and solidify our growth pipeline."

As previously disclosed, Greenstone Gold Mines expects to complete a feasibility study for the Greenstone Gold Mine's Hardrock Deposit by the middle of 2016. Greenstone mineral resources have not been included in the Company's 2015 year-end reserve and resource summary since the feasibility study is expected mid-year, at which time the mineral reserve and resource inventory will be disclosed for Greenstone. When completed the Company expects to file a NI 43-101 technical report including a statement of reserves and resources, on SEDAR.

Year-end Gold Reserves and Resources

Link to release

 

Haranga Resources: Pro-Rata Non-Renounceable Entitlement Issue – Despatch of Offer Documents

February 10 -- As announced to ASX on 29 January 2016, Haranga Resources Limited ('Haranga') is undertaking a pro-rata non-renounceable entitlement issue of approximately 341,845,828 Shares to its shareholders who are registered as shareholders at 5pm (WST) on 5 February 2016 ('Record Date') to raise up to $1,367,383 ('Entitlement Issue').

Haranga will issue approximately 341,845,838 fully paid ordinary shares on the basis of one (1) new Share for every one (1) Share held as at the Record Date under the Entitlement Issue ('Offer'). The shares offered under the Entitlement Issue will rank equally with the shares on issue at the date of the prospectus.

The Company advises that the Prospectus and Entitlement and Acceptance forms which relate to the Entitlement Issue have today been posted to all eligible shareholders.

Should you have any queries in relation to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact the Company on (+61 8) 9200 4415.

Link to release

 

Haranga Resources: Expiry of Unlisted Options

February 12 -- Haranga Resources Limited wishes to advise that 4,000,000 unlisted options exercisable at $1.00 expire on 16 February 2016.

Link to release

 

Oyu Tolgoi project financing agreement named Asia Pacific Mining Deal of the Year

(Rio Tinto) Oyu Tolgoi's US$4.4 billion underground mine development financing agreement has been named Asia Pacific Mining Deal of the Year at the 2015 Project Finance International (PFI) Awards.

In awarding Oyu Tolgoi, PFI highlighted the project's important contribution to not only Rio Tinto's business, but also Mongolia and its people.

"As well as containing reserves and resources that make it one of the world's largest copper-gold deposits, Oyu Tolgoi will have a transformative effect on the nation and the people of Mongolia, and is an important long-term partnership with the Government of Mongolia," PFI reported.

Taking a partnership approach is a hallmark of the project. Oyu Tolgoi is owned by the Government of Mongolia (34 per cent) and Turquoise Hill Resources (66 per cent). Rio Tinto, in turn, owns 51 per cent of Turquoise Hill Resources and has been the manager of Oyu Tolgoi since 2010.

"This kind of mining development partnership model sets the industry benchmark for future schemes and underscores Rio Tinto's commitment to responsible and prudent growth," Jean-Sébastien Jacques, Rio Tinto's chief executive Copper & Coal said.

"This large-scale development, which includes massive infrastructure and social investment in Mongolia, would not be possible without partnership between government, financiers, businesses, suppliers and social enterprises."

Jean-Sébastien says the Oyu Tolgoi project represents the future of mining development, where there will be more joint venture partnerships sharing risks and benefits.

"If the governance and contractual settings are right at the start, and the partners share the same strong values, there's no reason why JVs can't succeed. It is a way of sharing risk and capabilities," Jean-Sébastien said.

The signing of the project financing agreement in December 2015 was an unprecedented milestone for the Oyu Tolgoi project, which has been operating as an open-pit only mine since 2013, and a vote of confidence in both the project and Mongolia.

The agreement represented one of the largest mining lending deals in 2015. It includes funding by international financial institutions and export credit agencies representing the governments of the US, Canada and Australia, along with 15 commercial banks.

More information about the awards is available to subscribers on the Project Finance International Awards website, or read more about the Oyu Tolgoi project.

Link to release

 

Rio Tinto delivers underlying earnings of $4.5 billion and maintains 2015 full year dividend at 215 US cents per share

February 11 -- Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said "Against a highly challenging environment, Rio Tinto delivered a strong performance in 2015 with underlying earnings of $4.5 billion. We continued to take decisive action to preserve cash through further cost reductions, lower capital expenditure and the release of working capital. This focus on cash resulted in operating cash flows of $9.4 billion. 

"At the same time, we have significantly strengthened our balance sheet and finished 2015 with net debt of $13.8 billion, which is $700 million better than the $14.5 billion pro-forma position at the end of 2014. 

"The continued deterioration in the macro environment has generated widespread market uncertainty. We are embarking on a new round of proactive measures to cut our operating costs by a further $1 billion in 2016 followed by an additional goal of $1 billion in 2017. We are also reducing our capital expenditure to $4 billion in 2016 and $5 billion in 2017, an overall reduction of $3 billion compared with our previous guidance. 

"These significant actions provide us with the confidence that we remain robustly positioned to maintain both balance sheet strength and deliver shareholder returns through the cycle." 

Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis said "The board has announced today a final dividend of 107.5 US cents per share, bringing the 2015 full year dividend to 215 US cents per share, in line with 2014. 

"Over the past five years we have returned more than $25 billion to our shareholders, underlining our commitment to shareholder returns. However, with the continuing uncertain market outlook, the board believes that maintaining the current progressive dividend policy would constrain the business and act against shareholders' long-term interests. We are therefore replacing the progressive dividend policy with a more flexible approach that will allow the distribution of returns to reflect better the company's position and outlook. For 2016, we intend that the full year dividend will not be less than 110 US cents per share."

Link to report

Related:

2015 full year results presentationRio Tinto, February 11

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Local Market

Mogi: no updates on MSE website since January 28

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Economy

Historic low ₮2,018.53/USD set February 5, 2016. Previous reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, February 12 Close

2/12

2/8

2/5

2/4

2/3

2/2

2/1

1/29

1/28

1/27

1/26

1/25

1/22

1/21

1/20

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/611b76b6-2b0b-4a23-a444-02f9cb3dd75f.png

USD

2,019.42

2,018.82

2,018.53

2,017.42

2,014.43

2,013.38

2,010.73

2,011.38

2,008.59

2,007.81

2,007.68

2,006.44

2,007.09

2,007.10

2,007.31

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/d90344bf-7731-47f3-bffe-93a4596232a2.png

EUR

2,279.93

2,248.56

2,260.45

2,235.50

2,197.24

2,195.29

2,180.84

2,192.10

2,184.34

2,182.09

2,181.34

2,170.07

2,173.58

2,188.44

2,196.20

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/db4fa868-a5a2-4a14-9cd9-ef3b0081caa7.png

JPY

17.98

17.20

17.29

17.11

16.79

16.69

16.59

16.67

16.91

16.98

17.05

16.93

17.00

17.19

17.19

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/663d9297-6b7b-421b-a2c7-022882ec5691.png

GBP

2,932.00

2,930.92

2,931.41

2,939.08

2,901.79

2,899.07

2,868.51

2,890.96

2,864.35

2,879.70

2,855.02

2,864.09

2,856.39

2,843.26

2,843.66

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/a772b2ab-9007-499a-9c78-69d8ac652d26.png

RUB

25.41

26.25

26.11

26.36

25.49

25.89

26.36

26.70

26.07

25.40

24.57

25.73

24.74

23.91

25.25

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ceaa3227-2aea-4575-9f0f-9374539b6e52.png

CNY

307.19

307.10

307.26

306.69

306.19

306.01

305.65

305.88

305.46

305.17

305.13

304.97

305.05

305.06

305.09

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/9366ea6f-cdc8-4c79-87a2-c6de37f4f2db.png

KRW

1.67

1.67

1.69

1.68

1.65

1.67

1.67

1.68

1.67

1.67

1.67

1.68

1.67

1.65

1.65

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/020a3b13-d459-4bf3-b596-f93ff6442059.png

SGD

1,447.56

1,435.96

1,444.13

1,427.10

1,408.40

1,413.84

1,411.98

1,415.82

1,407.76

1,406.67

1,402.60

1,404.04

1,404.30

1,394.59

1,395.27

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/e78a2df0-8efa-4dfa-adb2-9cf7540dfc08.png

CAD

1,450.52

1,454.38

1,469.36

1,464.45

1,434.88

1,437.20

1,433.57

1,438.55

1,427.52

1,421.71

1,403.43

1,414.63

1,407.89

1,383.06

1,371.16

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ec21d929-99bc-4825-8f98-d8f66d0a4814.png

AUD

1,432.07

1,432.45

1,449.30

1,445.38

1,420.98

1,425.37

1,421.39

1,432.40

1,419.77

1,411.69

1,392.63

1,404.01

1,407.97

1,382.99

1,377.92

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ce22f7ae-6e61-4961-b249-a66ee1a47c1a.png

HKD

259.32

259.27

259.03

259.03

258.34

258.85

258.33

258.25

257.79

257.80

257.56

257.64

257.58

256.73

256.67

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/9775661f-ece0-420b-843d-58b1b4b23546.png

CHF

2,069.93

2,031.72

2,031.12

2,004.59

1,976.29

1,974.58

1,967.45

1,975.52

1,976.57

1,976.09

1,983.19

1,979.23

1,987.32

2,000.40

2,003.40

Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮2,013 Sell ₮2,021), Khan (Buy ₮2,012 Sell ₮2,020), Golomt (Buy ₮2,012 Sell ₮2,021), XacBank (Buy ₮2,012 Sell ₮2,020), State Bank (Buy ₮2,013 Sell ₮2,022)

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

Link to rates

 

Mongolia Tugrik Drop Spurred by Seasonal FX Demand: Central Bank

By Michael Kohn

February 8 (Bloomberg) -- Tugrik's recent drop is due to seasonal factors as demand for foreign exchange typically outstrips supply in winter months, says Bold Sandagdorj, chief economist at central bank.

* Reduced economic activity in winter months leads to lower FX inflows and companies need to take positions, purchase FX for future settlements and overseas payments, Sandagdorj says in phone interview from Ulaanbaatar

* NOTE: Tugrik -0.1% to 2,015.50/USD Monday after falling to 2,019.50 earlier, matching record low reached Friday: Bloomberg data; currency -0.7% in January, most since July

* "Narrow spread" of just 2-3 tugriks between currency's buying and selling price at exchanges suggests "there's no panic or disruption to market sentiment:" Sandagdorj

* FX inflows should rise March-April as revenue from cashmere sales is realized and on export of other livestock products

* NOTE: Yield on Mongolia's dollar notes due 2018 up 23 bps to 13.01% Monday: Bloomberg data

* Negative external factors, including low commodity prices, have hurt demand for bonds and trend should reverse once external markets stabilize, FDI inflows pick up and with phase two expansion of Oyu Tolgoi mine: Sandagdorj

(BFW)

 

BoM FX auction: US$12.3m sold at ₮2,019.81, CNY16m at ₮306.58, accepts $5.45m MNT swap offers

February 8 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on February 8th, 2016, the BOM has received buying bid offers of USD 24.90 million in a rate between MNT 2017.02-2022.90 and bid offers of CNY 32.0 million in a rate between MNT 305.55-306.71 respectively. The BOM sold USD 12.3 million in a closing rate of MNT 2019.81 and CNY 16.0 million in a closing rate of MNT 306.58.

On February 8th, 2016, the BOM has received MNT Swap agreement buying bid offers equivalent to USD 5.45 million and the BOM accepted all offers.

Link to release (in Mongolian. No English updates since Feb 4, busy buuzing)

 

19.5 Billion 28-Week T-Bills Sold at 14.22% Discount from Available 20 Billion

February 12 (BoM) Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 20.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 19.5 billion /out of 19.5 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 14.22%.

Link to release

 

Mogi: weird. Both old and new housing prices down but up when consolidated?

UB Housing Price Index Up 0.16% in January, Down 10.4% from 2015

February 15 (BoM) --

Consolidated

New Housing

Old Housing

Index change /from 2013.01 base/

5.7%

18.2%

-1.8%

From previous month

0.16%

-0.7%

-0.4%

From year beginning

0.16%

-0.7%

-0.4%

From previous year

-10.4%

-7.0%

-14.2%

Link to release (in Mongolian)

 

Low income, high public debt weigh on Asia frontier sovereigns: Fitch

Public debt across a number of frontiers has increased since 2011. Mongolia's government debt rose to about 66% of GDP in 2015, from 24% in 2011, due to high deficits and external bond issuance.

February 12 (India Infoline) Structural factors – including low per-capita income, weak governance indicators, and high political risks –weigh on the ratings of the five Asia frontier sovereigns assessed by Fitch Ratings despite exhibiting some of the strongest GDP growth rates globally (5-year average of about 6.8%). Fitch has taken four rating actions across the Asia frontier sovereign portfolio since end-2011: initiating coverage of Bangladesh in August 2014, and of Pakistan 13 months later; upgrading Vietnam to BB-/Stable in November 2014, and downgrading Mongolia to B/Stable in November 2015.

Per-capita incomes of Asia's frontier markets remain low relative to that in other regions. Bangladesh and Pakistan both report per-capita incomes of under USD1,500 per year, and Mongolia is the only Asia frontier sovereign with per-capita income in excess of USD4,000. High levels of violence, corruption, and political instability weigh on broader governance scores in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Vietnam scores poorly in voice and accountability, whereas Mongolia outperforms across nearly all governance metrics.

Public debt across a number of frontiers has increased since 2011. Mongolia's government debt rose to about 66% of GDP in 2015, from 24% in 2011, due to high deficits and external bond issuance. Vietnam's government debt increased to 49% in 2015, from 39% of GDP in 2011, as fiscal revenues declined from a series of corporate-tax cuts and lower oil receipts. Sri Lanka's headline debt levels are the highest among Asia frontier sovereigns at about 76% of GDP, and Fitch's 2016 budget deficit forecast of 6.3% of GDP (official budget: 5.9%) suggests that government debt will rise further absent a change in fiscal policy. Commodity dependence is low among Asia frontier sovereigns relative to their peers in Latin America and Africa, with the exception of Mongolia. Bangladesh has the lowest commodity dependence across all emerging markets globally, at about 4.5% of current account receipts. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam also exhibit relatively low dependence, which in part reflects economic models focused on the export of garments and other labour-intensive manufactured goods. Mongolia's high dependence reflects its rich endowment of natural resources and a ramp-up in copper exports from the Oyu Tolgoi project.

Foreign-reserve buffers are by far the highest in Bangladesh, at an estimated 6.6x current external payments. Vietnam's reserve coverage ratio had risen to 2.1x in 2015, from 1.5x in 2011, but still stands out as a weakness relative to the 'B' and 'BB' median peer, particularly in light of its quasi-fixed exchange rate regime. Pakistan has seen the most significant deterioration in reserve coverage since 2011, but Fitch expects buffers to increase in 2016 amid ongoing support from an IMF Extended Fund Facility.

Ratings Impact

Structural and governance reforms that improve medium-term growth prospects would be ratings positive since structural factors – at 54% – represent the largest weight in Fitch's sovereign rating model. Public and external finances bear model weights of 17% and 18%, respectively, suggesting prudent fiscal and monetary policies are also important ratings determinants.

Link to article

 

MRAM Collects 49.6 Billion, PAM 164.6 Billion from Mineral, Oil License Holders in 2015

February 13 (news.mn) In 2015, the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia contributed MNT 49.6 billion to the state budget. This can be broken down as follows: MNT 35 billion came from the payment of mineral resource exploration and mining rights, MNT 4.7 billion from the reimbursement of state financed exploration and MNT 9.9 billion from other sources. In addition, the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia generated MNT 164.6 billion for the state budget, of which, MNT 160 billion came from petroleum revenues and the remainder from the other petroleum-related sources.

Link to article

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Politics & Legal

Extraordinary session of parliament called for February 15-26

Ulaanbaatar, February 12 (MONTSAME) Irregular session of the State Great Khural (parliament) will take place on February 15-26, 2016.

The Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold Friday issued an order on holding the irregular session of parliament in accordance with the Constitution of Mongolia and the law on the State Great Khural.

The forthcoming irregular session plans to discuss a proposal of the Supreme Court on withdrawing members of the Constitutional Court; draft new wordings of the laws on general taxation, on income tax of enterprisers, on income tax of individuals, on investigation of criminal cases and other related bills.

The irregular session will consider over 10 bills, other relevant draft laws and draft amendments to laws such as on law enforcement, on rule of maintaining the criminal law, on police service, on the prosecutorial body, on combating family violence, on civil status of Mongolian citizens, on permanent status of neutrality of Mongolia, on education and higher education, on exemption of customs tax and VAT, on ratifying a Mongolia-Hungary intergovernmental agreement on financial cooperation and a credit agreement with the Asian Development Bank for implementing projects.

Draft amendments to the laws will be discussed on regime of parliamentary session, on arbitration, on nuclear energy and on minerals. A draft resolution of parliament will be discussed on prevention of earthquake damages and some measures for reducing risks of damage as well.

Link to article

 

Parliament Session Agenda for Feb 15: Caucus, Working Group, Committee Meetings

February 15 (GoGo Mongolia) --

ONE. PARTY GROUPS AND COALITIONS AT STATE GREAT KHURAL SESSIONS:

·         DP Group Session at Hall A;

·         MPP Group Session at Hall B;

·         Justice Coalition Session at Hall C.

TWO. WORKING GROUP SESSIONS:

1. Justice Standing Committee meeting at 2 pm

Agenda: 

·         Draft law on criminal investigation

·         Draft on law enforcement

·         Draft law on court enforcement

·         Amendments to law on examining and resolving disputes at the Constitutional court 

·         Amendments to criminal code 

·         Draft law on citizenship of Mongolia

2. Budget Standing Committee meeting at 2 pm. 

Agenda: 

·         Revised general law on taxation 

·         Revised law on corporate income tax

·         Revised draft law on personal income tax

·         Draft law on exemption of custom tax and value added tax

3. Security and Foreign Policy Standing Committee meeting at 2 pm. 

Agenda: 

·         Draft law on intergovernmental agreement between Mongolia and Hungary on General Program of Financial Cooperation  

·         Draft resolution of State Great Hural on approval of "Supporting the Credit Guarantee System for Economic Diversification and Employment Project" between the Government of Mongolia and ADB 

·         Draft law on the status of permanent neutrality

Link to article

 

MPRP and Green Party Form Alliance

February 13 (news.mn) On 9th February, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) made an official cooperation contract with the Green Party for the election. This was despite a rumor that the MPRP may be cooperating with the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) for the election. In 2012, during the last election, the MPRP cooperated with the Mongolian National Democratic Party (MNDP), as a result of which, they took 11 seats in the Parliament. Just before Tsagaan Sar, however, the MNDP concluded a made a cooperation agreement with the Democratic Party (DP). It has therefore become clear that the MNDP will not be cooperating with the MPRP at the next election, which will be held in June 2016.

Link to article

 

MNDP positive about merger with DP

February 12 (news.mn) The Democratic Party (DP) has invited the Civil Will Green Party (CVGP) and Mongolian National Democratic Party (MNDP) to join it. Last week, the CWGP concluded a memorandum with the DP confirming their intention of doing so. Under the "Law on Political Parties", there is an obligation for parties to discuss mergers with their members at a full meeting.

On Saturday, the Administrative Council of the MNDP had a meeting, during which they made their final decision. Their response was that the "MNDP is ready to co-operate with the DP and other political parties, by prioritizing Mongolian development issues".

Link to article

 

NLP replaces T.Dorjkhand with N.Odongua as general secretary

February 13 (news.mn) Before Tsagaan Sar, on 5th February, the Administrative Council of the National Labor Party (NLP) held a meeting, during which, the majority of the Administrative Council proposed dismissing T.Dorjkhand as General Secretary. NLP Chairman S.Ganbaatar accepted their decision and appointed N.Odongua in place of T.Dorjkhand.

N.Odongua was one of the founders of NLP. She also used to work as the director of the Nursing University. N.Odongua is respected for her academic qualifications and her principles. It would appear that such appointments as S.Ganbaatar and N.Odongua are smart steps due to their high public ratings.

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Bills submitted on ratifying credit agreements with ADB

Ulaanbaatar, February 12 (MONTSAME) The Justice Minister D.Dorligjav MP Friday submitted to the Speaker Z.Enkhbold bills on ratifying credit agreements with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The credit agreements will be established between the government of Mongolia and the ADB to implement two projects on diversifying the economy and creating job places by supporting the credit guarantee system and on upgrading methods of ensuring hygiene of plants and livestock and food safety.

The bills have been worked out in harmony of the Constitution of Mongolia, the law on international contracts and other related laws, Dorligjav MP said.

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Nuclear Energy Law to Be Amended to Kickstart Uranium Industry

February 13 (news.mn) On 10th February, the proposed alterations to the "Nuclear Energy Law" were presented to the Speaker of Parliament. The main purpose of this legislative project are to replace the state shares in the nuclear field with a special fee for working with radioactive materials and to implement a set licence fee for the sector and other such changes.

As a result of the proposed changes, more attractive conditions will be created for investment and establishing mutually beneficial agreements. Also, the legal relations between the state and special licence holders will be clarified. Therefore, legislation will be made more watertight and less open violation and the number of tax sources will be increased.

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Cabinet appoints state secretaries of defense, labor ministries

Ulaanbaatar, February 12 (MONTSAME) In accordance with a cabinet decision on Monday, the School of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Culture and Arts has become named after D.Amgalan, State Prize Holder and People's Painter.

- The cabinet meeting discussed a bill on law enforcement and decided submit it to parliament.

- By a cabinet decision, B.Batsaikhan was appointed as the State Secretary of the Ministry of Defense; and Yu.Idertsogt--as the State Secretary of the Ministry of Labor.

- The Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg presented to the cabinet a report on results of his visits to Spain and Germany continued on January 16-19, 2016.

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Justice Minister submits bills on law enforcement, criminal procedure, court

Ulaanbaatar, February 12 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Justice D.Dorligjav MP Friday submitted to parliament a draft law on law enforcement.

This law aims to protect essential rights of citizens during law enforcement actions and to legalize standards and rights of those officials who control law enforcement.

With 13 chapters, the draft law reflects clauses on law enforcement matters to be resolved by the officials who have the right to impose responsibilities as well as duties and rights of the officials at the intelligence and emergency bodies. The bill also legalizes a rule on actions of investigating law violations, reflecting a clause on banning some actions to breach human rights.

The bill has been worked out in harmony of the Constitution of Mongolia and international treaties concerning human rights, and it is correlated with concepts of the new version of the criminal law, laws on conflicts and criminal procedure, which have been formulated within the legal reforms in Mongolia, Dorligjav emphasized.

The same day, the Justice Minister submitted to the Speaker draft new versions of the laws on criminal procedure and on implementation of court decisions.

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6,800 foreigners from 68 countries worked in Mongolia in 2015, 15% less than 2014

February 13 (news.mn) During 2015, a total of 6800 foreigners from 68 different countries have been worked in Mongolia. This number is a 1200 reduction on the previous year. The percentage breakdown by nationality is a follows: 35.4% of all foreign workers who have a labor contract are from China, 23% North Korea, 8.3% Russia, 6.7% South Korea, 4.2% USA, 3.4% Vietnam, and remaining 19% are from other countries. Regarding the breakdown by occupation: 28% (1891 foreigners) are working in the construction sector, 13.7% (924 people) in manufacture, 10.7% (724) are working in the wholesale and retail as well as car and motorcycle repair and  12.1% (825) - in the other sectors.

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Related:

Foreigners from 68 countries working hereMontsame, February 12

 

Mining Governance: Learning from Erdenet

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan

February 6 (Mongolia Focus) As Mongolia struggles to make deals over giant mining projects like Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi, the country's politicians, economists, mining professionals, and the public refer to Erdenet, the Mongolian-Russian joint copper and molybdenum factory, arguing whether or not lessons of  Erdenet would apply to these projects.  Some demand investors to build a city like Erdenet near these projects while others pressure for more management involvement from the Mongolian government as well as senior positions for Mongolian citizens. From the initial PR campaign of foreign investors and Mongolian politicians, people believed in major economic development as well as spill-over benefits from these mining projects.  In reality, it is very unlikely that today's foreign investors will build cities for Mongolia and pouring money into large-scale shared value projects like the power plant, the smelter factory, or even a railroad as the Erdenet project did.  If we're taking Erdenet as a model for these reasons, we are wrong.  However, the Erdenet mining project offers many other valuable lessons for Mongolian politicians and foreign investors even if the factory was built in 70s and 80s.  For this blog post, I would like to highlight three lessons regarding the elite unity, the resource nationalism, and the state-ownership.

Absence of Rent & Fame Seeking Elites

The most important lesson that Erdenet offers for today's politicians is elite unity for making, implementing, and honoring their decisions. In 1960s and 70s, Mongolian elites were united under the goal of national development as the country was regarded as the least developed and most aid-dependent among the communist bloc. Just like in 1990s, when experts of international financial institutions (e.g., IMF, WB, ADB) were advising  Mongolia to use its natural resources to develop its economy, the Soviets and COMECOM in the 1960s were advising the same and invested into extensive joint geological explorations. Although Erdenet was found by Czechoslovakian geologists, the Czechoslovakian government was unable to respond to the Mongolian request for a joint venture because of the 1968 Prague Spring and the large-scale of the Erdenet project.  So then, Mongolian political elites successfully lobbied Moscow (esp., Brezhnev and Premier Kosygin) to secure the Soviet investment into this large scale project.  Initially Russians were reluctant, but there were other factors also played role in the Russian decision-making process.  It had lost the potential copper supplier, Chile, following the coup d'etat in 1973, civil war had prevented Soviet investment in the copper deposit in Afghanistan, and its own deposit in Udokan was technically costly to operate.  Mongolian political elites made the quick decision to attract the Soviet investment and provided political support for its professionals to implement the project.  Of course, the decision-making process was easier in the authoritarian regime; however, we could not neglect the existence of the formal political institutions and procedures.  Furthermore, it would be mistake if we neglect the political elites' unity and their support for professionals – who implemented the project along with their Soviet counterparts.  The most important lesson for today's politicians is to withhold their rent and fame–seeking interests in regards with large-scale projects.  Unity, timing and commitment for their decisions are the most critical factors for a landlocked country to attract foreign investors; otherwise the landlocked country is always unattractive due to  the lack and cost of infrastructure (i.e., rails, energy, and water).

Coping with the Resource Nationalization

Another lesson that Erdenet offers is experience dealing with the resource nationalization issues without interrupting the factory's operation.  There appear to be two main causes for Mongolia's call for resource nationalization at the Erdenet.  For one, as Mongolian high-ranking politicians and especially economists provided evidence of unequal trading patterns and inefficiency of the Erdenet factory due to the low export price and royalty exempt.  After the issue was raised in 1983, two governments stopped the state subsidy for the Erdenet in 1985 and the royalty exempt was ended in 1991 [as agreed in the long-process of negotiations of 1980s].  The other issue was the rising discontent of Mongolian mining professionals and the public in Erdenet.  As Mongolian mining professionals were educated and trained at the same schools in the USSR, their counterparts (i.e., Soviet expats) at Erdenet were paid two-three times higher and their promotions, as Mongolian professionals considered, did not follow the professional merit principles.  The Soviet expats living in Erdenet had the privileges of separate housing, stores, hospitals, schools, kindergarten, and recreational facilities.  In addition to public sentiments over "segregation", crimes and violations of Soviet military personnel in Erdenet were rumored, but not officially disclosed to the public; this also contributed to the public discontent and even the sudden rise of anti-Soviet attitudes in Erdenet in 1989-1990s. Unlike pro-democratization protests in Khovd province and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolian workers at Erdenet were actually protesting for the nationalization of the Erdenet factory, including demands for increasing Mongolia's share of the factory, positions at the senior management, and salary/benefits for Mongolian workers.  For example, in 1988, 75 percent of employees were Mongolians, but all senior management posts were filled by the Soviet expats. As a result of Mongolia's discontent at the senior national government level, mining professionals, and the public, a number of compromises were made by 1991 through a long process of negotiations.  Erdenet demonstrates that resource nationalization issues always remain on the table as the host state's institutional and particularly professional capacity increases; therefore, both sides must have a stable, transparent process that will solve problems based on facts, evidence, and reasonable justification.  This process must be insulated from the short-term political, economic, and social pressures.

Dealing with Political (Entrepreuners) Rentseekers

The other lesson we must learn from the Erdenet is why, how to protect the management of the State Owned Enterprise (SOE) from the rent-seeking political entrepreneurs, parties, and politico-business factions.  Following Mongolia's steadfast demand, the first Mongolian director was appointed in 1989 and Mongolia increased its equity share up to the 51 percent in 1991. Under the charismatic, highly-professional, and skillful manager, Sh Otgonbileg, the Erdenet factory survived the toughest periods of political and economic transitions of 1990s and was almost the only contributor for the country's GDP.  However, being the state-owned enterprise, it was considered as the honey pot for politicians, political parties, factions and for the others.  For political parties, the Erdenet factory provides  an administrative and logistical support to consolidate their party base in the second largest city of Erdenet as well as surrounding provinces.  In order to do that, political parties need to have their supporters at all echelons of the state owned enterprises and launch campaigns among all 6000 employees.  For entrepreneurial (i.e., opportunistic and rent-seeking) politicians and factions, the Erdenet is a place to win any contracts, ranging from heavy equipment to dairy products.  For this reason, they need to establish political and business connections with managers of the Erdenet or keep them in their political and business sphere of influence.  For others, the Erdenet became the most "philanthropic organization" and also a supporter of the Mongolia's leading athletes.  In the absence of the 'rule of law', the Erdenet sets a bad example of the state ownership.  All senior managerial posts of the Mongolian side became political.  As a result, the top managerial posts became political posts, which changed after every parliamentary election, and these party-affiliated managers owe their support for respective political party, faction, and even individuals.  A numerous allegations about non-transparent tenders and contracts will be surged during pre-election periods, but silenced after the election.  In the absence of impartial, proper, and complete investigations and monitoring, Erdenet would still remain a honey pot for political and business rent-seekers.

As portrayed in the photo of the opposition party protest in December 2015, politicians still believe there are lessons to be learned from the Erdenet mine; in the belief that it will trigger popular support.  This is a reasonable strategy for the political party, but the parties need to be clear on what lessons we should learn from Erdenet – since this is the first largest copper factory not only in Mongolia, but in Asia, a pillar for the bilateral relations with Russia, and a catalyst and shaper of  Mongolia's mining governance from 1970s. In all, I stressed three main lessons we can draw from Erdenet: the importance of the unity of ruling elites for time-sensitive, major mining projects in a landlocked state, having the process to deal with the inevitable nationalization push, and insulating the state owned enterprises from the rent-seeking politicians, parties, and factions (unlike Erdenet).

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Business

MHPS Receives Order to Refurbish Mongolia's Largest Thermal Power Plant

Refurbishment to Improve Efficiency and Extend Service Life 

Yokohama, February 8, 2016 -- Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. (MHPS) has received an order to refurbish eight units at the Ulaanbaatar Thermal Power Plant No.4, State Owned Stock Company, which is Mongolia's largest coal-fired thermal power generation plant. MHPS will implement the refurbishment work in cooperation with MCS International LLC, Mongolia's largest engineering company. Refurbishment work is slated for completion in October 2018.

The project, which is financed by a Japanese ODA loan from the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), is aimed at improving the power plant's power generation efficiency and extending the facility's service life. The refurbishment, including addition/renewal of related equipment, will be performed on eight power generation units at the thermal power plant in Ulaanbaatar. More specifically, core components of the coal pulverizers in units No. 5 through No. 8 will be renewed to extend their service life, while soot blowers will be added to all units from No.1 to No. 8 to prevent fall-off in heat-exchange efficiency. When completed, the refurbishment is expected to contribute to the realization of a more stable power supply.

Coal pulverizers are used to grind coal into fine particles and to remove coarse-grained particles to ensure high thermal efficiency of boiler units. Coal pulverizers also help reduce NOx (nitrogen oxides) and other emissions. Soot blowers remove soot and dust from boilers and other equipment to help maintain efficiency of heat exchangers.

Led primarily by the development of mineral resources, the Mongolian economy has expanded in recent years. Accompanying this economic growth, power demand in the metropolitan area has increased rapidly, creating an urgent need to strengthen power supply capacity. At many existing power generation facilities, however, antiquated equipment has caused power generation efficiency to deteriorate, and raised concerns about adverse affects to the environment. Through this refurbishment to improve power generation capacity, MHPS hopes to continuously contribute to the development of Mongolia's economic expansion.

By leveraging its broad array of products and services going forward, MHPS will continue to respond to a variety of market and customer needs for thermal power generation systems.

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Mongolian deals provoke disparity in acidspar prices

Price Review: While excess capacity continues to weigh on fluorspar prices, some Mongolian producers have managed to secure deals at values above recent Chinese averages, causing disparity in the acidspar market.

February 11 (Industrial Minerals) Acid grade fluorspar (acidspar) producers in Mongolia have managed to sell material at levels higher than current Chinese prices, leading to price disparity in the market.

Sources told IM that some producers in Asia, whose high production and logistics costs mean they are unable to offer material at prices competitive with China, ...

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Commodities crunch threatens Mongolia's fluorspar growth

February 8 (Industrial Minerals) Fluorspar miners in Mongolia are struggling to remain profitable at current price levels, while a lack of modern processing technology is limiting the amount of value extracted from large reserves.

The ongoing slump in the global commodities market has knocked back growth in Mongolia's mining industry, leaving fluorspar producers, in particular, facing the dual prospect of falling prices and mounting inventories.

Sources told IM that Mongolian miners struggled to supply acid grade fluorspar (acidspar) above 95% CaF2 at competitive prices...

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EBRD Procurement: "Mongolia: Improving Productivity of Dairy Farmers (Phase II)"

Country:

Mongolia

Business sector:

Agribusiness

Project number:

49160

Funding source:

EBRD Shareholder Special Fund

Contract type:

Consultancy Services

Notice type:

Invitation for expressions of interest (CSU)

Issue date:

12 Feb 2016

Closing date:

04 Mar 2016   at  23:59   London

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Assignment Description

Despite the potential to become an exporter of milk, Mongolia is a net importer due to low efficiency of milk production and lack of technical expertise. The number of modern, commercial dairy farms will need to increase more than a hundred-fold in the near future to meet the increasing demand for milk. There is a lack of knowledge and capacity on modern approaches to milk production and handling, and processors buy raw milk without major quality considerations if suppliers can offer significant volumes. This discourages farmers from investing in higher quality production. Larger dairy-processing units are unable to acquire higher quality milk from small farmers and are very interested in supporting better productivity at the existing commercial dairy farms and attracting new investors into commercial milk production.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ("the EBRD", "the Bank") has been supporting the Mongolian agribusiness sector since 2007, by investing over EUR 80 million. The Bank's financing included investments in almost all major dairy market players in the country, amounting to over EUR 46 million.

In 2014, the EBRD also conducted an audit of dairy farms in Mongolia which outlined various bottlenecks that impede the development of the sector and highlighted the need for capacity development and improvements in safety, hygiene and efficiency standards of dairy products. The audit has highlighted a large gap between demand and supply for processed milk with significant growth and investment prospects in the future. The audit concluded that further technical assistance is needed to improve the linkages between dairy producers and processors and their raw milk suppliers, to better structure the dairy value chain in Mongolia, and ultimately to attract more investments in the sector.

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IFC Promotes Responsible Water Management in Mongolia's Mining Sector

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, February 4, 2016 – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, successfully brokered a new voluntary code of practice (VCP) for common water management and reporting for the mining industry in the South Gobi region. This collective effort will safeguard water resources and promote the efficient and transparent use of water. The VCP is a critical step towards building trust among local stakeholders, including government authorities, local communities, civil society organizations, and the media.

Mining is the backbone of Mongolia's economy. The arid Gobi region is set to experience a major mining boom. However, lack of long-term management and resolution of water issues could derail mining and significantly impact the country's future growth. Exploration and mining companies need water for operations and are increasingly aware that it needs to be managed as a shared resource. 

A statement issued by the VCP's signatories signed says, "The VCP is a powerful display of corporate accountability. It is necessary to balance mining sector development with the human need for water in the Gobi region. We have made a statement of intent; now we have to deliver on it."

"The VCP provides the framework for a positive impact on water management by conserving ecosystems, strengthening communities, and committing to specific operational practices," said B. Byambasaikhan, CEO, Erdenes Mongol, Mongolia's largest investment holding company and one of the signatories to the VCP.

"In Mongolia, water is a shared resource requiring common awareness and joint management approaches," said Tuyen D. Nguyen, Resident Representative for IFC in Mongolia. "The mining industry's commitment to the VCP shows its willingness to take a sector-wide approach to address a national challenge."

IFC has engaged the mining sector in the South Gobi (SG) region since 2013 with the overall goal of improving the water management and stakeholder engagement practices. IFC and the South Gobi Water and Mining Industry Roundtable  worked together with over ten companies to develop the VCP, which is based on leading international practices on community engagement, participatory water management, and monitoring.

VCP Signatories: Erdenes Mongol, Oyu Tolgoi, Energy Resources, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, Erdene, South Gobi Sands, Xanadu, Terra Energy, Gobi Coal and Energy.

With support from: Government of Canada, 2030 Water Resources Group, Australian Aid, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Council of Mining and Metals.

View the voluntary code of practice here:

Voluntary code of practice in English

Voluntary code of practice in Mongolian

Media coverage:

Videos of the event (in Mongolian)

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Green construction products and services under the spotlight in Mongolia

February 8 (SWITCH-Asia, EU) On October 2-3, 2015, Mongolia hosted its first exhibition on green construction. Held at the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Ulan Bator, "Green Construction 2015" was organized by the SWITCH-Asia project Supporting a greener and more energy efficient construction industry in Mongolia with the support of the Mongolia's Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism (MEGDT) and the "National Integrated Centre for Construction and Development" (NICCD) NGO.

"For this Green Construction Expo we are showcasing and promoting works of more than 50 different organizations. It is a great opportunity to introduce them to the general public and stimulate networking among them and other actors of the construction industry", stated Thibault Chapoy, Head of Mission of Caritas Czech Republic (CCR) that leads the project's implementation. The companies, that had taken part to the project's training, awareness-raising and research activities, presented their green construction products, innovative technologies and services.

The two-day event drew more than 1,000 individuals and companies, and received extensive media coverage.

On the first day a seminar was held on "Building Green Constructions in Mongolia, Opportunities and Solutions". More than 60 decision-makers, representatives of professional associations from the construction sector, NGOs and representatives of the private sector participated in the conference. Facilitators from the SWITCH-Asia project, Mongolian Union of Architects, Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) and the "Centre for Clean Development" NGO presented the current environmental challenges of the sector, including inadequate insulation techniques, poor design quality, low energy performance of the buildings, indoor air quality and hazardous waste, as well as the different existing green initiatives and options applicable in the Mongolian context, such as energy efficiency, sustainable architecture and construction materials, ash based construction products and green labelling.

Special guests included the Czech Republic Ambassador to Mongolia, Mrs. Ivana Gorollova, Acting General Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Mrs Bulgan, Senior Specialist from the Ministry Tumurbaatar Ts., Executive Director of the NICCD Batsukh G., President of the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) Lkhagvajav Band and heads of different construction industry associations.

Highlighting the importance of the event, Ambassador Gorollova noted how "a few years ago there was almost no talk about green construction and it was a very vague topic in Mongolia. Today's event demonstrates the positive results of CCR project and many other actions' carried out by the government and NGOs."

Within the expo, the SWITCH-Asia project introduced the results of its training and research on ash based green products, namely three products presenting good cost-effective and insulation properties: AAC blocks, aggregate blocs and dry mortar mixture.

Dulguun bars Ltd, one of the participants, has collaborated with the project in the design and pilot production of aerated autoclave concrete (AAC) blocks made with ash from power plant. At the fair, they displayed several ash based AAC blocks and promoted its advantages: a cost-effective AAC block with strength and insulation properties. Santrading group showcased several energy efficient solutions for housing, such as nano technology ceramics to prevent energy loss.

Representatives from another SWITCH-Asia project in Mongolia, Turning Sheep Wool into Environmentally Friendly Building Material in Mongolia, also joined the fair to introduce their sheep wool insulation.

Other organizations such as the Mongolian recycling association, the energy efficiency center, Xaac Bank, the Mongolian green building council, WashAction and Ecopanel also participated in the fair and promoted their green solutions: construction material made with recycled waste, energy building audit services, energy efficiency loan banking services, green building certification system, ecosan toilet and concrete panels made with recycled polystyrene.

"In 2014, Mongolia has developed and adopted the Green Development Policy and this event showcases one of the visible results of this act", commented MEGDT General Secretary. The Ministry of Environment also had a pavilion where it promoted the Mongolian green development strategy and the green kindergarten project implemented with the Global Green Growth Institute.

During the closing ceremony the exhibition organizers awarded certificates to the green product manufacturer Dulguun Bars LLC., the green product supplier Nomin Energy LLC., the green technology introducer Tot Com Service LLC., and the green project implementer the School of Construction and Architecture of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.

The "Green Construction 2015" exhibition was officially featured on national channels, newspapers and online platforms, attracting extensive media coverage and widely promoting green products, initiatives and services available in the Mongolian construction sector.

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Diplomacy

Mongolia slams N Korea's ballistic rocket launch

TEHRAN, Feb. 09 (MONTSAME/MNA) – Mongolia deeply regrets that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea launched a ballistic rocket this February 6 in breach of resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.

It was informed by a spokesman's statement of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.

This action would lead to negative impacts on the efforts of the international community to maintain international peace and security.

Mongolia reaffirms its firm position for the maintenance of peace and security in North-East Asia and for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the statement says.

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PM Modi greets people of China, Korea, Mongolia and Vietnam, on the Lunar New Year Celebrations

February 8 -- The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has greeted people of China, Korea, Mongolia and Vietnam, on the Lunar New Year Celebrations.

"A very Happy New Year to Chinese friends around the world. May the Year of the Monkey bring joy and prosperity in your lives.

Dear Korean friends, Seollal greetings to you all. Have a great year ahead.

To the wonderful people of Mongolia, Happy Tsagaan Sar. Praying for a year filled with joy, good health and prosperity.

Tết greetings to the people of Vietnam. May this year be full of joy and prosperity", the Prime Minister tweeted.

Монгол Улсын Хүндэт Иргэд ээ, Цагаан сарын мэндийг хүргэж, аз жаргал, эрүүл энх, хөгжил дэвшлийг Та нартаа хүсэн ерөөе.

To the wonderful people of Mongolia, Happy Tsagaan Sar. Praying for a year filled with joy, good health & prosperity.

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Some 1,000 Soldiers Will Participate in Joint Russian-Mongolian Exercise

According to the Russian Eastern Military District, around 1,000 servicemen will take part in joint Russian-Mongolian drills this summer.

KHABAROVSK, February 8 (Sputnik) — About 1,000 soldiers of the Russian and Mongolian armed forces will participate in the joint Russian-Mongolian Selenga-2016 military exercise to be held in the Republic of Buryatia this summer, the head of Russia's Eastern Military District press service said Monday.

"In the first round of consultations held in the capital of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude, representatives of the Eastern Military District and the Mongolian Armed Forces agreed that Selenga will be held at the Burduny training range on August 29 — September 7, 2016. It is planned that some 1,000 soldiers from both sides will be involved," Alexander Gordeev told reporters.

He added that during the drills, soldiers will practice tactical tasks as part of a simulated anti-terrorist operation to create a security zone in a designated area, as well as training exercises to block and destroy illegal armed groups.

The Selenga exercise has been carried out annually since 2008.

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UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women to review Japan, Iceland, Sweden, Mongolia, Czech Republic, Vanuatu, Haiti, Tanzania

GENEVA (9 February 2016)  – The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)  is meeting in Geneva from 15 February to 4 March to review women's rights in the following countries:  Japan (16 Feb); Iceland (17 Feb); Sweden (18 Feb); Mongolia (19 Feb); Czech Republic (23 Feb); Vanuatu (24 Feb); Haiti (25 Feb); Tanzania (26 Feb).

The above countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and are reviewed regularly by CEDAW on how they are implementing the Convention. The Committee, which is composed of 23 international independent experts, will hold dialogues with delegations from the respective governments and also be briefed by NGOs and national human rights institutions.

The Committee's dialogues with the delegations will take place from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 17:00 at Palais des Nations – Room XVI (Japan in Room XVIII). Live webcasts of these meetings can be viewed on http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.

CEDAW's findings, officially termed concluding observations, on the countries reviewed, will be published on Monday 7 March here:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1007&Lang=en.

The Committee is set to hold a news conference to discuss its findings on 7 March at 13:30 Geneva time, Press Room 1, Palais des Nations.

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Health, Education

Photo Blog: Building Digital Libraries in Mongolia

February 10 (The Asia Foundation) Since the end of the socialist regime in the early 1990s, urban migration in Mongolia has continued to play an outsized role in the country's evolving economic and social identity. With 45 percent of Mongolia's traditionally nomadic population now living in Ulaanbaatar, public resources, especially those for schools and education, have been stretched perilously thin. To fill this gap, The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia launched its Let's Read! digital library pilot project in Ulaanbaatar this month, which addresses the shortage of age- appropriate books, in both Mongolian and English, and invigorates a culture of reading among children. This photo blog looks at the challenges many of the schools in Ulaanbaatar's ger districts face and how the Let's Read! digital library is addressing them. Photos by Kyle Barker

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Higher education in Mongolia: current figures

February 13 (news.mn) At the beginning of the current 2015-2016 academic year, a total of 100 universities and colleges were operating in Mongolia. Of this number, 17 are state-owned, 78 private and the remaining 5 are institutions with foreign investment. Regarding location: 91 of the total are situated in Ulaanbaatar, whilst the remaining 9 are in the provinces. This academic year, 162,600 students are studying in higher education; this being a 15,700 (8.8%) reduction on the previous year. The majority of students, 140,300 (86.3%), are undergraduates currently studying for bachelor degrees.

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Culture, Society

President wishes people happiness and khiimori

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) Marking the beginning of the Year of the Fire Monkey of XVII sixty-years, according to the Mongolian-Tibetan calendar, the leader of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj extended greetings to the people, with wishes of wellbeing and happiness.

"The morning of Sar Shine (the month anew) is the most fortunate day in the 365 days of a year," said the President. "As the lamas and wise people say, the first morning appeared to be a beautiful morning, symbolizing the opening of a greater good," he added.

"This year is a truly responsible period for the Mongolians. Therefore, the unity and solidarity must be set in order to achieve the nation's growth. Let's support the national manufacturers. Let's bring up our future generations to be kind people.

"May our people's khiimori ("wind horse" in Mongolian, meaning spirit and might of mind and soul) become shinier, and our statehood--more peaceful", wished the President.  

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State leaders welcome Year of the Fire Monkey

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) At 8.00 am of the first day of Lunar Year of the Fire Monkey, the Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj paid tribute to the Chingis Khaan Statue and to the Nine White Banners at the State House.

Then, at the ceremonial Ger, the Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold and the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg spread blue khadaks and greeted the President asking his wellbeing. As a tradition, the three dignitaries exchanged snuff bottles and spoke good words about the characters of the coming year and a growth of Mongolian livestock. 

Praisal song was recited with the melody of Great Khan Khuur ("king" horse-head fiddle).

Present were also the spiritual leader of Mongolian Buddhists the Bishop of Gandantegchinlen Monastery D.Choijamts.

Link to article

 

PM Saikhanbileg visits former PM Byambasuren's home for Tsagaan Sar

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) In the morning of the first day of Lunar Monkey Year (February 9), the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg visited Mr Dashiin Byambasuren, a former prime minister of Mongolia, at his home. The Mongolians have a tradition of visiting elders on the new year's first day and hear the words of wisdom.

The dignitaries shared views on the successes and failures occurred in the passing Year of the Sheep, on the organizing of important events which will take place this year.

Former PM D.Byambasuren thanked Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg for paying the visit and said he has 14 grandchildren and receives more than a hundred guests during the Tsagaan Sar.

In 1989, D.Byambasuren was the last prime minister of the People's Republic of Mongolia. After the democratic revolution of the Year of the White Horse (1990), Mongolia got a deal of 320 million USD of non-refundable aid from Japan and the World Bank thanks to his efforts. He also launched the first liberization of prices in Mongolia's emerging market economy. 

Link to article

 

State leaders welcome senior citizens at State House for Tsagaan Sar

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) The President Ts.Elbegdorj, Speaker Z.Enkhbold and Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg received the nine elderly people--a representation of all Mongolian elders, at the State House.

According to the many-year tradition, they greeted and asked their wellbeing on the first day of Tsagaan Sar (February 9). 

The elders were a former leading worker of energy sector J.Tovuudorj from Bayankhairkhan soum of Zavkhan; a founder of Mongolia's first kindergarten and the foremost teacher B.Tserendolgor from Ulaanbaatar; an honored trade worker and a former deputy minister of trade and provisions N.Begz from Buutsagaan soum of Bayankhongor; a senior trade worker Z.Namjim from Baruun-Urt soum of Sukhbaatar; a Hero of labor and the People's Artist B.Zangad from Buyant soum of Khovd; one of the first wartime taylors of Mongolia S.Khandsuren from Battsengel soum of Arkhangai; a foremost trade worker S.Suriye from Govi-Altai; and a foremost medical workers D.Oidov from Dundgovi and G.Zeveg from Khovd aimag. 

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Your Brief Guide To Tsagaan Sar - Mongolia's Lunar New Year

February 8 (Eternal Landscapes: Blogging from the Wild in Mongolia) Most people will know that it is Chinese New Year. Not so many people know that it is also Mongolian New Year and that Mongolian New Year is a completely separate celebration to that celebrated by the Chinese throughout the world. 

Tsagaan Sar (White Month) is Mongolia's Lunar New Year - celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice. It is a deeply traditional holiday bringing together family members and lasts a minimum of three days. The year of the Blue Sheep is currently finishing and the year of the Fire Monkey starting.

Here's my (brief you'll be pleased to hear) guide.

Prior To Tsagaan Sar

In brief, you clean!

Bituun - New Year's Eve

In brief, prepare and then eat a lot of mutton dumplings.

Shiniin Negen - New Year's Day

In brief, honour the spirits and honour your family

The Tsagaan Sar Table

In brief, mutton!

Link to post

 

First Day of Tsagaan Sar

February 9 (gogo.mn) In the first morning of Tsagaan Sar young and old alike get up early, take some food, tea, table or mat etc and go to "ovoo", cairn erected as a shrine or to an eminence, and have ceremony such as praying to the heavens and making a ritual start in a prescribed direction at New Year. From there, they go to give New Year greetings to their parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and neighbors in order of age. People greet each other in a unique way. The younger people vow to the elderly and cross their hands under the hands of the older people supporting their elbow, with an offer of "Hadag", a blue scarf as token of respect.

Greeting with Hadag

Greeting with snuff-bottles

Things to avoid doing during Tsagaan Sar

Link to article

 

How much do we eat during Tsagaan Sar?

February 9 (gogo.mn) Have you ever counted the calories you take with the meal during Tsagaan Sar feast?

It is true that during the Bituun (Tsagaan Sar Eve) and Tsagaan Sar days we overeat, negative impacts of which we all know.

The following infographic depicts how many calories one consumes during one day of the Tsagaan Sar celebrations.

Here we clearly can see how many calories we overeat from the average daily intake one needs. Moreover, if the total animal fat we should consume comprises 30% of our total supplement intake, while our one day of Tsagaan Sar food intake provides 60% of animal fat.

This kind of overconsumption leads to weight gain, cardiac diseases and diabetes. This infographic was done to gain some attention of our readers to promote the healthy lifestyle and be more conscious of what we consume everyday.

This food consumption assessment was done by the N.Erdenetsetseg Food Expert and Nutritionist.

Link to article

 

Mongolian community in Bloomington celebrates new year

February 7 (Indiana Daily Student) Ochmaa Escue learned how to play the yatga, a Mongolian string instrument, when she was in middle school. After moving from Mongolia to the United States 14 years ago, Escue said her instrument still provides a connection to her culture and her home.

Escue, who works in the IU Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, performed during Saturday's Mongolian Lunar New Year celebration in the Indiana Memorial Union. The new year celebration, also called Tsagaan Sar, featured music and poetry performances by Mongolian students, faculty and Bloomington residents.

"There are not very many of us, but we are very close," Escue said. "Here we get to celebrate one of our biggest holidays in our own way and introduce our culture to other people, too."

The celebration was organized by the Mongolia Society and the Department of Central Eurasian Studies. They have been sponsoring the celebration for 30 years, said Susie Drost, executive director of the Mongolia Society.

"Right now, IU is the only university where you can get a degree in Mongolian studies," Drost said. "So it's very important for us to continue doing this celebration and continue promoting Mongolian history and culture."

Drost said she does most of the cooking for the event, which features traditional Mongolian food such as dumplings called buuz.

Buuz are one of the biggest traditions of Tsagaan Sar, said Saruul Erdem, a law student who moved to Bloomington from Mongolia one year ago.

"This is my first time celebrating the holiday in America, and it's so nice to have all these people who want to celebrate with us and learn about our homeland," Erdem said. "Some of these folk songs are things even I forgot about, and it made me so happy to hear them."

The audience for the celebration filled the room until there were no seats left. About two dozen people stood in the back of the room behind the rest of the audience.

Some were Mongolian students and families who joined the singers during the folk songs. Others were IU students who did not have a background in Mongolian culture.

"The songs and poems are a really interesting look into Mongolian culture that you can't really get any other way," folklore and ethnomusicology student Jennifer McKenzie said. "It's very hard to study Mongolia. You wouldn't get to see a celebration like this in very many places."

According to the zodiac system used in many Asian countries, including Mongolia, 2016 is the year of the fire monkey, Mongolian studies professor Christopher Atwood said.

"Previous fire monkey years include the year the U.S. declared independence," Atwood said. "So I think we're in for a very interesting 12 months."

Tuesday night, the official start of the Mongolian lunar year, Mongolian members of the community will visit each other to celebrate other Tsagaan Sar traditions, Erdem said. She said many Mongolians clean their houses and wear new clothes to symbolize a fresh start to the year.

"Of course, this is a good opportunity for students to learn more about Mongolia and our culture," said Tserenchunt Legden, a professor in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies. "But it is also something that reminds us of home and gives us something to look forward to."

Link to article

 

Photo Report from the Winter Horse Festival in Khentii

February 10 (gogo.mn) Hentii aimag organized the Winter Horse Festival for its second year with the aim to attract both domestic and foreign tourists, promote the integral correlation between horse and human as well as to spread the culture of horse on Jan 15-17. 

We deliver you the breathtaking photos from Winter Horse Festival taken by the "Tusgal" club. 

Link to article

 

BBC Radio 3 Sunday Feature: Keeping in Steppe

February 7 (BBC Radio 3) Anthropologist David Sneath has been visiting and working in Mongolia for over twenty years, exploring both the realities and misconceptions of this vast land and its past.

Within the span of a single lifetime, Mongolia has undergone the trauma of two revolutions; first as it changed from a Buddhist aristocratic country into a fiercely controlled communist state dominated by the Soviet Union; and more recently it saw the collapse of state socialism and the rapid rise of a market economy.

David Sneath meets a cross section of contemporary Mongolian life, talking to people from business, journalism, academia, shamanism, herding, Buddhism, and music and the arts. As Mongolia confronts the confusion of change in the modern world, David describes how the country has sought solace in traditions of landscape and in the glories of the past.

For seventy years under communism, Mongolia was a semi-secret and unvisited country where Soviet ideology chipped away at many spiritual and cultural traditions. Buddhism, Shamanism, even the country's great history of empire was discouraged or outlawed. How do the vast open grasslands influence the way Mongolians view themselves and their culture? What happens to the nomadic lifestyle of the herders as mining companies move in and young people flock to the city? What is the role of history and tradition in the new Mongolia?

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 3.

Link to audio

 

MONGOLIA

By Nessim Stevenson

February 1 -- In September 2015 I set off to Mongolia for three months to work on short documentaries for a local TV news channel. This is a short video of my trip.

Music: Sedaa - Mongul Nutag

Shot with a Canon EOS 6D
50 mm 1.8 STM
24-105mm f/4.0 L USM
16-35 mm f/4 EF L USM

Link to video

 

37,900 orphans in Mongolia

February 13 (news.mn) There are 37,900 orphan children nationwide in Mongolia. Of this number, 3,800 (10.2%) are "half orphan" (having lost one of their parents), whilst 34,100 (89.8%) are "real orphans" (lost both parents). The number of the real orphans has reduced by 128 (3.2%), and half orphans by 933 (2.8%) on the previous year. Regarding the age breakdown: 3,900 of these children are between 0-4 years of age, 8,300 are between 5-9 years, 12,600 are between 10-14 years, 4,800 are 15 years, 4200 are 16 years old and 4100 are 17 years old.

Link to article

 

Al Jazeera Short: SAVING A DYING SIBERIAN LANGUAGE

The Buryats are the largest indigenous group in south-central Siberia. Their language traces its origins to Mongolia, but many fear it is dying out.

(Al Jazeera) In south-central Siberia, along the shore of Lake Baikal, lies a population of fewer than one million people. The Buryats are the largest indigenous group in the region and most can be found in the Republic of Buryatia, a federal subject of Russia. Their rich Mongolian heritage is evident in their culture and their language. 

But it is a language that Bulat Shagzhin fears is dying. 

After 12 years working as an IT specialist in the Russian capital, Moscow, Shagzhin felt drawn to his ancestral homeland with its majestic scenery and iconic lake. 

When he returned, however, he felt a sense of disconnect. Like many other Buryats, he could barely speak the language. So he enrolled, with his wife, in a Buryat language course, hoping it would help forge a deeper sense of connection with his ancestors. 

Shagzhin is one of a generation of Buryats who were prevented from learning their ancestral tongue during the Soviet era. It has, consequently, been largely eroded from the cultural framework of Buryatia and is, today, in very real danger of dying out, according to the UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages. 

Yet, when Shagzhin and his wife arrived for their first lesson in the capital, Ulan-Ude, they found just one other student in the classroom.

"I was really shocked that Buryatia has so many Buryat inhabitants, and only three people were enrolled in the class," he explains.

Link to article (include short video)

 

Mogi: would love to watch this series

New Kazakh TV series a riposte to Putin and Borat

Upcoming television series depicts the warlike Central Asian nomads who fought over remnants of the Mongol Empire.

February 5 (Al Jazeera) Two things inspired a forthcoming television series about the warlike Central Asian nomads who fought over the remnants of the Mongol Empire to carve out what is now known as Kazakhstan.

The first is Game of Thrones, HBO's blockbuster saga based on George RR Martin's fantasy novels, whose mix of violence, realism, and magic made it one of the most successful series in history.

The second source of inspiration is more political and poignant. It is Russian President Vladimir Putin's offensive remark about the roots of statehood in Kazakhstan - the world's ninth-largest country with immense hydrocarbon reserves, endless steppes, and a population of fewer than 18 million people.

Putin said in 2014 - just months after Moscow's annexation of Crimea and the beginning of hostilities in eastern Ukraine - that Kazakhs "had never had statehood" before the 1991 Soviet collapse. 

He also ominously hinted the nation ruled by ageing President Nursultan Nazarbaev could lose part of its territory the way Ukraine did - nearly one-quarter of Kazakhstan's citizens are ethnic Russians concentrated in the north, close to Russia.

'Spectacular' response to Putin

The remark prompted renowned Kazakh producer and actor Arman Asenov to develop a 20-episode series describing the beginning of the Kazakh khanate in the middle of the 15th century.

"We thought that if even the head of a neighbour state, a brotherly state, does not know that our history spans 550 years, then average people are less likely to know, and we have to tell them about our history," Asenov told Al Jazeera.

The emergence of an independent Kazakh state was spurred on by the disintegration of the Golden Horde, one of the most powerful Mongol states which occupied huge swaths of Eastern Europe, southern Russia, and Central Asia.

Link to full article

Similar:

Kazakhstan creates its own Game of Thrones to defy Putin and BoratThe Guardian, January 27

'Kazakh Khanate' Series and Film to Be Released during 2016 Nauryz CelebrationsThe Astana Times, November 17

 

Ellie GELDING: Mongolian horse is a dead ringer for pop star Goulding

·         Horse with a mane like pop star Ellie Goulding spotted in Mongolia

·         The animal was photographed during the Winter Horse Festival

·         It's long, blonde mane led to comparison with the British pop star 

February 10 (Daily Mail) A horse with a mane good enough to make pop stars jealous has been spotted in Mongolia, forcing some to make a comparison to singer Ellie Goulding.

Just like the Burn singer, this horse has a long, luscious blonde mane, and could be seen swishing it as it ran across the fields in eastern Mongolia's Khentii province.  

The horse was snapped by Batzaya Choijiljav, 40, from Mongolia and it soon earned the nickname 'Ellie Gelding'.

The horse's flowing locks help keep him warm in the freezing Mongolian climate, which can reach minus 40 degrees.

The starstruck photographer stumbled across Ellie Gelding in eastern Mongolia's Khentii province during the Winter Horse Festival.

Batzaya said: 'The horses are hardy and adapted to living out in the cold temperatures - they are able to forage for food in any condition.

'Mongolian horses are small but stocky and strong, and great for endurance riding.'

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Nature, Environment

Back from the brink: another Przewalski's Horse born at Dubbo zoo

February 11 (Dubbo Photo News) One of the most successful breeding programs in the history of Taronga Western Plains Zoo has resulted in more good news, with the birth of a Przewalski's Horse foal.

"The birth of this foal is another success for the breeding program which has seen many foals born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo," unit supervisor Pascale Benoit said.

The female foal, named Bukhara, was born on January 20, but only officially announced today.

"Bukhara", named after a reserve in Uzbekistan, Mongolia (Mogi: cool, Mongolia is growng), is the second offspring for mother Suren, and was sired by Stan.

The Przewalski's Horse is critically endangered and was once classified as extinct in the wild, a zoo spokesperson said.

In 1995 five Przewalski's Horse from Taronga Western Plains Zoo were flown to Mongolia and reintroduced as part of a herd assembled by world zoos to the wild in the Gobi Desert. Since then, thanks to this collaboration, numbers have continued to steadily increase in Mongolia.

Both mother and foal are on exhibit with the rest of the Przewalski's Horse herd at Taronga Western Plains Zoo which is open daily from 9am to 4pm.

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Sports

Mongolia Tops Medal Table at Judo European Open

February 14 (JudoInside.com) Otgonbaatar Uuganbaatar added a second gold medal for his country Mongolia at the European Open in Oberwart on Sunday. In an all Mongolian final U81kg Otgonbaatar Uuganbaatar defeated Nyamsuren Dagvasuren. The category U81 was packed with 45 judoka with two Mongolian finallists.

It seems a lot, but in 2014 49 athletes were in this category and in 2012 even 61, a record still on the event of Oberwart, the most participants ever in any World Cup U81kg. In 2012 this event was dominated mainly by European fighters. In four years' time that has all shifted to Asia. Also in this edition where Asia won four out of seven categories.

U81kg Saeid Mollaei of Iran won bronze. His team mate Javad Mahjoub won gold U100kg. Mahjoub overcame Arsen Omarov (RUS) in the final.

The medal chances today for Austria were supposed to go to Marcel Ott U81kg and to Daniel Allerstorfer +100kg. But Ott finished fifth and Allerstorfer finished quickly in his first match against the later winner Ushangi Kokauri of Azerbaijan, a revenge for his loss in Havana. The former Georgian fighter was seventh last week in Paris and this time he defeated four out his five opponents by ippon. Aslan Kambiev of Russia lost after three minutes in the final.

Gabor Ver of Hungary is in a good form. He won bronze in Sofia two weeks ago, and this time he won all his five matches. Ver defeated triple Olympian and double Olympic medallist Tiago Camilo of Brazil in the semi final. Camilo won bronze after all and was joined by two Polish fighters. Piotr Kuczera won silver U90kg, one place higher than Polish highest ranked fighter Patryk Ciechomski. Young Kuczera who won bronze at the World Junior Championships seems to be the man for the future, although Ciechomski is still ahead of Kuczera.

Compared to the 2014 edition, no athlete could prolong a medal and Oberwart 2016 delivered 32 new medallists with Mongolia as most successful golden nation. The Brazilian team was strong with five medals, one more than in 2014.

In 2012 Oberwart delivered three later Olympic medallists in London, that gives hope to Ludwig Paischer, Tiago Camilo, Felipe Kitadai or Faicel Jabbalah, some of the higher ranked athletes who picked up a useful medal in Oberwart this weekend.

Link to article

 

Three medals from Paris Grand Slam

February 12 (news.mn) The Grand Slam, which provides Olympic points, was held on 6th-7th February in Paris. In total, 386 male and 224 female judo wrestlers from 96 countries participated in the Grand Slam. The Mongolian team consisted of 20 wrestlers, three of whom took medals and two took additional awards. In detail: D.Tumurkhuleg in the 66kg male category, Honorary Sportswoman M.Urantsetseg in the 48kg female category and Honorary Sportswoman D.Sumiya in the 57kg all came in second place.

Link to article

 

Three Mongolian judokas top IJF rankings

Ulaanbaatar, February 12 (MONTSAME) An international master of sports and Asian Games gold medalist D.Tomorkhuleg has topped again the latest rankings of the International Judo Federation (IJF) in the men's -66 kg category.

The latest IJF rankings of world judokas were released on February 8 just after results of the Paris Grand Slam.

Surpassing a Ukrainian judoka Georgii Zantaraia, the Mongolian judoka D.Tomorkhuleg collected 2,325 points after adding 300 points to it thanks to grabbing a silver medal in the Paris Grand Slam.

Having claimed silver medals with 300 Olympic qualification points each, two women judokas--M.Urantsetseg (48 kg) and D.Sumiya (57 kg)--kept leadership the rankings in their divisions. They had 3,310 and 2,600 points, respectively.

No change has taken place for the ranking of a 2014 World champion G.Boldbaatar, keeping his 3rd place with 1,978 points in the men's -60 kg division. In this category, D.Amartuvshin (1,392 points) stayed at 11th place. This division's leadership position was replaced by a South Korean judoka Kim Won Jin who grabbed a bronze medal in the Paris Grand Slam.

An Olympic bronze medalist S.Nyam-Ochir still kept his 10th in the men's -73kg with 1,246 points, and his countryman G.Odbayar went up to 14th place, having 1,090 points in the same division. L.Otgonbaatar IMS fell into 11th place in the men's -90kg category.

A State Honored Sportswoman Ts.Munkhzaya (woman's 63 kg) maintained the seventh place with 1,830 points.

Other Mongolian judokas were not ranked within tenth place by the IJF rankings.

Link to article

Related:

Judokas from 50 countries hold joint training in Paris Montsame, February 12

 

Carrots fuelling an unlikely Mongolian medal charge

February 12 (Olympic.org) Ochirsukh Adiyabaatar's journey from Mongolian city life to the ski slopes of Lillehammer has been an unlikely one. He grew up in a country where basketball, martial arts, lifting events and horse riding reign supreme. His chosen discipline, cross-country skiing, barely registers on the national consciousness.

"All my friends at school only like basketball, and they are curious about what I'm doing on skis," he said. "But my mum used to do it, so she encouraged me to give it a go. I'm glad she did. I love it, and it has given me the chance to travel the world."

Training is not easy for the 17-year-old, who was given permission from his high school to come to Scandinavia. "There is no snow where I live, in Erdenet, which is Mongolia's third-biggest city," he said. "I have to travel 240km, up towards Ulaanbaatar, to find some snow.

"Otherwise I have to just train by running, which keeps me fit, but isn't so useful when it comes to doing the event. I don't have a ski training machine or anything like that. I'm a good runner though, and have won a bronze medal in a [national] competition in Mongolia."

Adiyabaatar also found himself in for a bit of a shock when he hit the training slopes in Lillehammer. "In Mongolia where I train, the mountain is kind of flat; it's not hilly like it is here in Norway. I found it very difficult to train on; I've never done anything like this before. On the first day, I fell over a lot because of it being extremely up and down. I lost balance, but I'm getting used to it now. It's a course that will suit athletes with a lot of height and strength, and I'm not so tall. So I'm going to have to train hard this week otherwise it will be very tough for me to compete.

"In this region, skiing is really very competitive. It is very common. Norwegian people grow up skiing and use skis to get around everywhere. There are some great athletes here, but I'm going to enjoy myself."

While he may not be troubling the podium in Lillehammer, Adiyabaatar recognises the importance of his role to both his sport and his country.

"I like to think I'm representing Mongolia in skiing here, showing that winter sports are something we can do. I'm also representing the sport in Mongolia, telling people that it's a great activity that keeps you really fit. More and more people are getting interested in cross country back home, and there are a growing number of young athletes learning to ski."

The Mongolian contingent in Lillehammer, who flew in via Moscow, consists of just two athletes, two coaches and their federation secretary. "It's been great, I love the village and have made friends already," Adiyabaatar said. "All my friends back home can't believe it. They say 'dude, you are seeing the world', and ask me to take photos for them. Most of them have never been outside Mongolia."

There's just one problem left for the athlete who has overcome myriad difficulties of being involved in a minority winter sport while living in a city with no snow. "I have to eat a lot, but I try to avoid eating meat," he said. "But Mongolians eat so much meat and so do Norwegians. I think it can be bad for you, so I stick to vegetables as training food. I particularly like carrots."

Link to article

 

Cabinet approves schedule of 2016 horse races

Ulaanbaatar, February (MONTSAME) An irregular cabinet meeting on Monday approved a schedule for regional horse races which will be held throughout 2016.

Accordingly, "Dunjingarav-2016" race of the Central region of spring will take place February 28 in Tov aimag's Argalant soum, the spring race of Khangai region--on March 6 in Ovorkhangai aimag, the race of western region--in Gobi-Altai aimag, the race of eastern region--in Khentii aimag, the race of Gobi region--in Omnogobi aimag, and the summer race of Khangai region--in Orkhon aimag on July 30-31.

The "Ikh khurd-7" race of the top breed horses will take place on July 24 in the Khui Doloon Khudag arena on occasion of the Day of Horse Race Trainers.

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Art, Entertainment

Celluloid Dreams swoops on 'The Eagle Huntress'

EXCLUSIVE: Mongolian-set documentary, exec produced by Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, was one of the buzz titles of Sundance. 

February 12 (Screen Daily) Celluloid Dreams has acquired international rights to Otto Bell's The Eagle Huntress, about a teenage Mongolian girl who strives to become the first female champion falconer in 2,000 years, following its well-received premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

"The Eagle Huntress was our big Sundance discovery. The film represents everything a modern family adventure needs: an unforgettable female role model hero, an engaging story and captivating visuals," said Celluloid Dreams chief Hengameh Panahi.

Paris-based Celluloid Dreams is selling all territories around the world with the exception of North America, Latin America, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia and Asia, the rights to which were snapped up by Sony Pictures Classics during Sundance.

Set against the Altai Mountains of Northwestern Mongolia, the documentary revolves around 13-year-old Aisholpan, who is taught all aspects of the ancient Mongolian tradition of eagle hunting by her father and grandfather.

It follows Aisholpan as she tames her own eaglet and trains it for the annual Golden Eagle Festival, where she is put up against 70 male Eagle Hunters. 

Aisholpan made 6,000-mile journey from Mongolia to Park City, Utah with her parents for the premiere of the film in the Sundance Kids section, and to participate in discussions.

"We could not be more proud to partner with Celluloid Dreams on international distribution," said Bell, who made his directorial debut with the film. 

"Their first class track record and clear passion for the project will help ensure Aisholpan's incredible story can be seen in theaters around the world."

The Eagle Huntress was produced by Stacey Reiss and Sharon Chang.

Morgan Spurlock and Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley are executive producers alongside Jeremy Chilnick, Marc H. Simon, Dan Cogan, Regina K. Scully, Barbara Dobkin and Susan Maclaury in association with Artemis Rising Foundation, Impact Partners, Shine Global and Warrior Poets.

The deal was brokered by CAA (Creative Artists Agency), with legal services provided by Marc H. Simon of Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP on behalf of the filmmakers.

Panahi is launching sales on the title at the EFM where she is also co-handling Andrew Haigh's next film Lean On Pete in partnership with The Bureau Sales.

Link to article

 

8th Asia Pacific Triennial Q&A: Mongolia's Gerelkhuu Ganbold

February 8 (Blouin Artinfo) The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) is Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art's (QAGOMA) flagship international contemporary art event, and the only major exhibition series in the world to focus exclusively on the contemporary art of Asia, the Pacific, and Australia.

The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8), which opened on 21 November and continues until 10 April 2016, showcases the work of more than 80 established and emerging artists and groups from more than 30 countries across the two gallery spaces of the QAGOMA complex.

This edition of APT emphasizes the role of performance in recent art and explores the use of the human form to express cultural, social, and political ideas as well as what QAGOMA describes as "the role of artists in articulating experiences specific to their localities."

Throughout the duration of APT8, BLOUIN ARTINFO will feature a series of interviews with participating artists. In the interview below, Mongolian artist Gerelkhuu Ganbold discusses his work "Soldiers who don't know themselves."

Drawing on a variety of sources, including the genres of Mongol zurag painting and equestrian art, as well as contemporary comics and science-fiction cinema, Ganbold and that unite the traditional and the contemporary.

In "Soldiers who don't know themselves," he "simultaneously allegorises the uncertainty of life in the rapidly changing country as it experiences a period of unprecedented urbanisation and widespread economic uncertainty," according to QAGOMA.

Could you describe the work that you will be presenting at the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) and the motivation and inspiration behind its creation?

The work that I am presenting at APT8, "Soldiers who don't know themselves" 2013, is based on the work "Mercenaries" 2012. The compositions of these works are similar, but "Mercenaries" has tight repetition of horses and men. In "Soldiers who don't know themselves" 2013, the troops are no longer a cohesive unit, upright and proud, but much wider apart.

This new space catches the eye quickly for it suggests an entirely different tale: this time, it is one of isolation, defeat, lack of purpose and direction. There is no confidence here. Even though these works look and feel different, both of them are narrating our society, just in different ways.

How does the work you are presenting at APT8 connect with your ongoing practice, the history and culture of your country, and the interests and preoccupations that form the basis of your work?   

Right now I am working on a new work. The meaning and composition of this work is similar to the work in Apt8 with many soldiers and horses walking. They have a route, but they are empty inside. This work, which is much bigger than "Soldiers don't know themselves," is an ink on paper executed in black and white.

How would you define and describe your position as a Mongolian artist and the status of your practice within the context of the wider Asia Pacific art scene?

For me as a Mongolian artist living in an underpopulated country it is hard to be make the world listen what we are saying or see what we are doing. For me we always need to know what we are doing, where are we, where are we came from. But sometimes this seems impossible. It feels like I am a parentless child who is working for a living and looking for parents.

What do you want to convey and/or express with the work you are presenting at APT8?

My works are mostly presenting the world we are living in with things left behind – the past. I want to express my feeling about the society I'm living in. We have a rich history and heritage, but in the present time we have nothing but our history.

The art of Mongolia is one of the focuses of APT8. How do you remain connected with the traditions and history of Mongolia while at the same time produce work that is relevant to a contemporary audience and progresses and develops that local art scene?

Connecting to traditions and history is very complicated. If I was only carrying on the forms of tradition it would be easy, but it needs its own content. Time goes and goes. Things change. We can't live on tradition. I'm trying to find harmony between tradition, history, and the contemporary world.

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Next Stop Mongolia? Leonardo DiCaprio Wins $95K Bid for Expedition at Star-Studded Charity Auction

February 11 (People) First stop Oscars, next stop Mongolia. 

Leonardo DiCaprio dropped $95,000 for a Mongolian expedition at the star-studded amfAR charity auction Wednesday night. 

After a relaxed but persistent bidding war, DiCaprio edged out the competition and secured the trip, which will be led by world renowned adventure explorer Johan Ernst Nilson

All proceeds from the gala – which included a pricey piece by Andy Warhol and a Timothy White photograph of Elizabeth Taylor – will benefit amfAr, the international foundation for AIDS research. 

In addition to being surrounded by models, the actor was seated between Harvey Weinstein (who was being honored at the event) and Uma Thurman. Robert de Niro was just a couple seats away, and Jay-Z also made an appearance. 

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Inside the Ultimate Mongolian Adventure Camp

Written by Sophy Roberts | Photographed by Ken Kochey

February 8 (Condé Nast Traveler) Mongolia's Mongke Tengri, an unlikely adventure camp set among the country's seemingly limitless expanses, sits 200 miles west of Ulaanbaatar. Starting last summer, for the first time in Mongke Tengri's 20-year history, the resort opened its guest list beyond owner s's social circle, to both individual travelers and groups who would book up the camp exclusively. From spending entire days riding on stocky Mongolian ponies to trekking to the Tuvkhun monastery (one of the oldest in the country), a vacation to this luxury camp takes travelers far beyond the boundaries of convention.

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Mongolian Bed and Breakfast

February 5 (The Border Mail) RESTING on top of a hill, tucked away in the King Valley is a little piece of the Mongolian Empire.

Out of the 230 rooms available around the Border on short-term accommodation site Airbnb, Sharon and John Jarrott of Myrrhee own one of the most unique. A genuine Mongolian yurt.

Mrs Jarrott said they had more bookings than they could handle. 

"I'm getting bookings for October now," she said.

Mrs Jarrott, a beauty therapist and her husband John, a King Valley farmer, said the idea of a yurt had been recommended by a friend who had lived in Mongolia. 

"I wanted something up the top of our property because we've got some really nice views and we wanted to maximise that and use it as an added income to supplement our farming," she said.

"They're really good for farmers who want to earn some extra income. They're so easy."

"They're transportable if you want to move them around and they are only around $12,000."

"I've got three houses that I rent out and I make more money out of my yurt than those houses put together by the time you pay rates, mortgages and repairs," she said. 

The yurt is currently advertised on Airbnb for $100 per night.

Mrs Jarrott said it mostly attracted young couples and families who are looking for something a little different.

"We're on a farm and the yurt is about two kilometres from our house in a vineyard overlooking the King Valley," she said.

"It's got beautiful panoramic views, everybody loves it.

"There are no neighbours to be seen so there is absolute privacy.

"I sort of say it's Mongolian with an Aussie twist because it's got an Aussie type shed out the front."

The yurt is five metres in diameter with double glass and wooden doors, painted with Mongolian emblems.  

Inside, there is a double bed, cast iron stove to light a fire and a glass dome in the ceiling for star gazing.

"It's got a half-inch thick lamb's wool felt liner around it and that keeps it cool in summer and warm in winter," Mrs Jarrott said.

"In the winter it was surrounded by snow which was really snug and warm inside.

"In Mongolia it gets to minus-30 degrees and the people (who) live in the yurts are warm and cosy, probably more so than the people living in the apartments."

Mrs Jarrott is planning to purchase more yurts from Mongolia this year. 

Airbnb most's popular destination around the Border is Indigo Shire town Beechworth and surrounding areas with about 60 rooms for rent.  The tourist destination is followed closely by regional centres Wodonga at 55, Albury 47 and Wangaratta with 49. 

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8 Reasons why Mongolia may be the coolest country you will ever visit

January 29 (Hostelworld) Not many of us even know where it is on the map, and those who do most likely know little or nothing about the place. Truth be told, the main reason we went there is because to get your Global Degree you've got to visit every nation on earth. But WOW, we're happy we went!

After arriving at Golden Gobi Hostel (which we definitely recommend), you'll meet the owner Ogie, and she'll setup the perfect tour for you depending on your schedule and budget. We chose the customized 10-day tour, and so here are our 8 reasons why stumbling upon Mongolia ended up being one of the greatest highlights of our trip across Asia. It very well may be the coolest country you will ever visit:

1.  The train rides from Beijing are a big party

Well mainly because we made it one. The Mongolians we met were incredibly curious about foreigners and everywhere we looked, we saw people staring back at us. Instead of being intimidated, turn on some music, pass around the local drinks, and teach them how to fist pump! Things can escalate quickly, and next thing you know your train cart is a rave!

2.  The Kazakh eagle hunters

These people are insanely cool. At the very beginning of our Gobi tour, we got to meet an eagle hunter at his home just outside of Ulaanbaatar. We started by having milk tea and eating small cookies at his kitchen table. Then he took us into his living room, where we waited while he went outside, and brought in an eagle on his arm.  This animal was intimidating, and clearly made to hunt. The story goes that they take the eagles eggs straight from the nest, and train them from birth. Once fully grown, they use it to hunt fox and rabbit. Oh, and he also happen to have a pet vulture that we got to play with. No biggie…

3.  Staying with nomadic families in their Ger

The nomads are some of the most remote people on earth. They live in these small white tents in the middle of the dessert, hundreds of miles from any civilization. All they have are herds of sheep, goats, and camels, a motorbike, and a gun. But they don't only survive, they thrive. They're incredibly kind and happy people that were very welcoming. We were happy to sleep on their floors every night.

4.  Riding camels through the Gobi Desert

These aren't your everyday camels. Mongolian camels are pretty rugged and shaggy looking.  We found herds of wild ones freely roaming the desert, and a family we stayed with had about 8 of them that we got to ride. They are big and funny looking creatures. Don't get too close or they'll spit on you!

5.  Climbing the singing Sand Dunes

There are some Sahara looking sand dunes in the Gobi, but these ones are special. The sand is so fine, that when you run down them it makes a very loud, propeller-sounding noise. Yes, sprint down these hills fast enough and it sounds like there's a plane chasing after you. It's quite a work out to get up there, with very rewarding views at the top.

6.  The Major Earth Porn

No joke. Mongolia has some sights that will leave you scratching your head and asking "how is this even possible?" Sand dunes with ice-capped mountains right behind them, blood red sunsets, insanely beautiful canyons etc. The list goes on.

7.  Walking the same steps as the greatest world conqueror in history

Genghis Khan ruled the largest empire in history, spanning 12.74 million miles (or 22% of the worlds landmass). Everywhere else in the world, he's seen as a ruthless warmonger. But in Mongolia, he is a god. We visited his monument, which is officially the worlds tallest horse statue.

8.  Embracing the Mongolian drinks

While sitting in a circle around the fire stove in the Ger, the Nomads will pull out some interesting drinks to keep you entertained. One night, they poured us some fermented Camel milk. Other drinks include fermented horse milk, goak milk, and moonshine served out of a leather pouch with a portrait of Genghis Kahn on the front. They will also play little games with you. An all-time favourite is when you have a pile of cow teeth, throw one in the air and try and set aside as many as you can before catching it again.  If you don't catch it, your side-pile goes back into the pot.    

Well that's it my friends. For more info check out our Mongolia video! Hopefully these images and descriptions will show you how remarkable this place really is. Once again, coming from some backpackers who have just done every country in Asia, I'll repeat that this place CANNOT be missed!  

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4 Peace Avenue, Chingeltei District 1

Ulaanbaatar 15160, Mongolia
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  2. Hello Everybody,
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