Tuesday, February 23, 2016

[MGG to buy back shares; MNT halts losing streak; SGK removes head of constitutional court; and Enkhbayar barred from cabinet]

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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Int'l Market

YAK closed -10.7% Monday to C$0.375, MNGGF -6.45% to US$0.29

Mongolia Growth Group Announces Normal Course Issuer Bid to Purchase 8.3% of Total Shares

Toronto, Ontario, February 17 (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group  Ltd. (the "Company") (YAK – TSXV and MNGGF –  USA), announced today that TSX Venture Exchange (the "Exchange") has accepted a Notice of Intention to make a normal course issuer bid (the "Bid") to purchase up to 2,950,000 common shares (representing up to approximately 8.3% of the 35,512,829 common shares of the Company currently issued and outstanding, or approximately 9.9% of the 29,825,579 common shares constituting the Company's current Public Float (as that term is defined in the policies of the Exchange)) from time to time during the next 12 months. In accordance with the Policies of the Exchange, the maximum number of common shares that may be purchased under the Bid in any 30-day period may not exceed 2% of the issued and outstanding common shares of the Company when aggregated with all other common shares purchased under the Bid in the preceding 30 days. 

The Company is undertaking the Bid because, in the opinion of its board of directors, the market price of its common shares, from time to time, may not fully reflect the underlying value of its operations and future growth prospects. The Company believes that in such circumstances, the purchase of the common shares of the Company may represent an appropriate and desirable use of the Company's funds and further enhance market stability. 

The Company has retained M Partners Inc. of Toronto, Ontario as its broker Member for the purposes of conducting the bid.  The purchases may begin Tuesday, February 23, 2016 and the Bid will end no later than February 22, 2017.  The common shares will be purchased for cancellation on the open market through the facilities of the Exchange, at market price.  

In the past 12 months, the Company has not purchased any of its common shares.

Link to release


SouthGobi Resources Announces Appointment of Non-Executive Director

HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - Feb. 22, 2016) - SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX:SGQ)(HKSE:1878) ("SouthGobi" or the "Company") today announces appointment of Mr. Huiyi Wang as non-executive director of the Company, effective February 18, 2016.

Mr. Wang, 28, is currently an investment associate in China Cinda (HK) Holdings Company Limited ("Cinda HK"), the intermediate holding company of Novel Sunrise Investments Limited which in turn is the largest shareholder of the Company as of today. Before joining Cinda HK in 2014, Mr. Wang worked in the Investment Banking Department of Macquarie Capital (Hong Kong) Limited during 2011 to 2014 and had vast experience in cross boarder M&A transactions, valuation, due diligence and investment analysis.

Mr. Wang graduated from University of Sydney with a Master Degree in Economics in 2011 and a Bachelor Degree in Economics & Finance in 2010.

Link to release

List of Directors and their Role and Function

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 +1.38%, ALL +0.75%, ₮ 157.2 Million Shares, ₮446 Million T-Bills

February 19 (MSE) –

Link to report


Mogi: No trading report for Monday


MSE: ₮10 Billion 12-Week 13.635% Discounted T-Bills, ₮18 Million 3-Year 15.75% Bonds Sold

February 22 (MSE) On February 22, 2016, 3 months maturity Government retail bonds with 13.635% annual interest rate and 3 years maturity government bonds with 15.75% annual interest rate traded successfully on primary market at Mongolian Stock Exchange.

Below member brokerage companies participated in the bond trading follows:

1. 12 weeks /3 months/ Government bond

 Companies' name 



Tenger Capital



Novel Investment



Daywoo Securities



TDB Capital



Golomt Securities







2. 156 weeks /3 years/ Goverment bond

 Companies' name 







Link to release

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Historic low ₮2,021.72/USD set February 16, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Monday, February 22 Close





























































































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮2,016 Sell ₮2,025), Khan (Buy ₮2,016 Sell ₮2,024), Golomt (Buy ₮2,016 Sell ₮2,024), XacBank (Buy ₮2,012 Sell ₮2,020), State Bank (Buy ₮2,017.5 Sell ₮2,024.5)

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

Link to rates


BoM issues 307 billion 1-week bills at 12%, total outstanding -7% to ₮595.15 billion

February 22 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 307 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release


BoM FX auction: US$25.8m sold at 2,026.15, CNY54.5m at 310.2, accepts $3m MNT swap offers

February 18 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on February 18th, 2016, the BOM has received buying bid offers of USD and CNY. The BOM sold USD 25.8 million in a closing rate of MNT 2026.15 and CNY 54.5 million in a closing rate of MNT 310.20 respectively.

On February 18th, 2016, the BOM has received MNT Swap agreement buying bid offers equivalent to USD 3.0 million from local commercial banks and the BOM accepted the bid offers.

Link to release


BoM Monthly Statistical Bulletin, January 2016

February 19 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Link to report


15 Billion 12-Week 13.63% Discounted T-Bills Sold with 37.8 Billion Bids

February 17 (BoM) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 15.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 15.0 billion /out of 37.8 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 13.63%.

Link to release


Banking Sector Report, January 2016: Deposits -23.9%, Loans -2.5%, NPLs +36% YoY to 7.6% of Total Loans

February 18 (Bank of Mongolia) --

/in million of togrogs/








Bank reservers







Central bank bills







Foreign assets







Government securities







Other securities














In domestic currency







In foreign currency







Non-performing loans







Total Assets





















Current Accounts







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In domestic currency







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Total Liabilities





















Profit/loss of current year







Link to full report


8% Mortgage Program Update: ₮584.2 Billion Refinanced, ₮2.28 Trillion Newly Issued

February 17 (Cover Mongolia) As of February 15, 584.2 billion (₮583.4 billion as of December 31) existing mortgages of 19,482 citizens (19,463 as of December 31) were refinanced at 8% out of 839.6 billion (₮839.6 billion as of December 31) worth requests.

Also, ₮2.28 trillion (₮2.25 trillion as of December 31) new mortgages of 42,085 citizens (41,660 citizens as of December 31) were issued at new rates out of ₮2.29 trillion (₮2.28 trillion as of December 31) worth requests.

Link to release (in Mongolian)


Mongolia Foreign Trade Review, January 2016: Export -30.4%, Import -19.5%, Trade Surplus $130M

February 17 (BoM) --

Total trade turnover: $528.3 millions  

As of Jan 2016 the total cumulative trade turnover decreased by 26.6% (USD 191.8 millions) from that of the previous year and reached USD 528.3 millions. The decrease in the trade turnover was mainly due to the decrease in exports by USD 143.6 millions.

The structure of the trade flows with the neighboring trade partners is as following: (i) trade with PRC: 66.7% or USD 352.5 millions and (ii) trade with Russia: 10.0% or USD 53.1 millions. The trade vol-ume between Mongolia and China decreased by 25.4% and the trade volume between Mongolia while Russia decreased by 39.9%.

Trade balance: $130.0 million

As of Jan 2016, the cumulative trade balance deteriorated by USD 95.4 millions from that of the previous year and reached USD 130.0 millions. During the reporting period even though the total imports decreased by 19.5% from that of the previous year, exports de-creased by 30.4% from that of the previous year, thus the trade balance deteriorated by USD 95.4 millions.

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

Trade balance of paid trade flows: $137.4 million  

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

As of Jan 2016, the trade balance of paid trade flows reached USD 137.4 millions. During the reporting period, paid imports decreased by 19.0%, and paid exports decreased by 28.7% from that of previous year.

Terms of trade: 1.117 (test estimation)

As of Jan 2016, terms of trade index (2012 base year) decreased by 36.9% from that of the previous year and reached 1.117.

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


Composition: 86% + 14%

The share of mineral exports in total exports declined by 3% from that of the previous year.

Exports of coal, copper concentrate, iron ore and concentrate and crude oil have a weight of nearly 76% of total exports and 88% of mining exports.

In addition, these 4 products' share in the mining exports increased by 2.0 points from that of the previous year, share in the total exports remained at the similar level.

Growth: -30.4%

Mongolian export decreased by 30.4% from that of the previous year, which was mainly affected by decrease in commodity prices.

Coking coal, copper concentrate, iron ore and crude oil export decreased by nearly 11%, 34%, 37% and 24% respectively, which accounted for 32% decrease in the growth of mining export.


As of Jan 2016, Mongolian export decreased by 143.6 million USD from that of the previous year. It is affected by the increase of export commodities' quantities (USD 6.4 millions) and decrease in export commodities' prices (USD 150.0 millions) .

Because of the increase in quantity of iron ore, copper concentrate and crude oil export, mining export increased by 26 millions USD. On the other hand, because of decrease in prices of mineral ex-ports, mining export declined by 145.0 million USD.

Cashmere, cashmere products' export increased by 1 million USD, while other exports decreased by 9 million USD.

World market prices for primary commodities

As of Jan 29 2016, gold price reached 1,118 USD, decreased by 12.9% from that of the previous year and increased by 5.4% from that of the last month.

As of Jan 29 2016, copper and iron ore prices reached 4,570 USD and 43.0 USD respectively. Copper price decreased by 17.5% from that of previous year and by 2.9% from that of previous month. Iron ore price decreased by 32.8% from that of previous year and by 2.3% from that of previous month.


Composition: 37% + 29% + 15%

As of Jan 2016, 37% of total imports were consumer goods, 29% were capital goods and 15% were fuels.

Share of the capital goods in total imports decreased by 2% from that of the previous year, while the share of consumer goods import increased by 3%.

Growth: -19.5%

Mongolian imports decreased by 19.5% from that of the previous year. Main contributors of this decrease were capital goods de-crease, which equals to 4% of the total decrease and fuel imports which equals to 13% of the total decrease.

Capital goods and petroleum products imports decreased by 14% (10 millions USD) and 51% (31 millions USD) respectively. Thus total import decreased from that of the previous year.


Main contributors of decrease in consumer goods import were both in durables and non-durables. Household electrical applianc-es and furniture import decreased by 30% (3 millions USD) and foods import decreased by 10% (4 millions USD).

Capital goods import decreased by 14% (10 millions USD) which was mainly contributed by 10% decrease in machinery, equipment and supplies (4 million USD). In addition, import of construction materials decreased by 15% (2 million USD) from that of previous year.

Intermediate goods and industrial materials import increased by 9% (3 millions USD).

Fuels import decreased by 51% (31 millions USD). The border price of oil has been decreasing since the end of 2013 (Figure 8). In parallel with global oil market price, it declined sharply during last half year.

Import of the consumer goods

The growth of consumer goods import, calculated by 3 month moving average method, is constantly declining. /Figure 7/.

Even though, the import growth of non-durable consumer goods was relatively stable, it started to decline by bigger phase in last 12 months.

Link to report

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Politics & Legal

Parliament Dismisses Head of Constitutional Court

February 22 (UB Post) During the irregular parliamentary plenary session held on Friday, the Parliament voted to dismiss the Head of the Constitutional Court of Mongolia, J.Amarsanaa, with a 79.5 percent vote from MPs.

On January 27, Parliament's Legal Standing Committee approved the dismissal of the Head of the Constitutional Court, J.Amarsanaa. He was found to have made a ruling based on a law that had not been approved yet, violating the Constitution and the Law on the Policies of Cabinet Session Meetings.

Following the Standing Committee's decision, J.Amarsanaa said that he would resign if proven guilty of violating the law. "If a member or head of the Constitutional Court needs to be dismissed, the nine members of the court should submit a request to the organization that person was assigned by. Three of the members should be assigned by Parliament, three by the President, and three should be assigned by the Supreme Court. I was chosen by the Supreme Court. If the 25 members of the Supreme Court approve, then the issue can be discussed by Parliament. So, it's illegal for Parliament to 'approve' my dismissal," noted J.Amarsanaa.

Last Monday, the Constitutional Court concluded that the relevant provisions of the Law on the Constitutional Court approved by Parliament violated the Constitution of Mongolia. Head of the Constitutional Court J.Amarsanaa delivered an official letter to Speaker Z.Enkhbold, stating that the law shouldn't be adhered to based on disputes arising from citizen's complaints.

Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold submitted a letter regarding J.Amarsanaa's dismissal to the Supreme Court of Mongolia. The Supreme Court approved the Speaker's request, and 35 out of the 44 MPs who attended the irregular parliamentary session voted for dismissal, concluding a debate that began in the fall parliamentary session.

No members of the Mongolian People's Party attended the irregular session meeting. They stated that they would not attend sessions discussing issues related to the Constitutional Court, as they believe that it would violate the Constitution.

Link to article


Extraordinary Session of Parliament Opens and Closes on Friday

February 22 ( The non-regular Parliamentary meeting, which started at 10.45 am on Friday 19th February finally ended at 20.40pm. When the non-regular meeting was originally called by the Speaker, it was set to have taken place between 15th and 26th February. Even though, the meeting started 4 days later than the proposed date, due to the boycott by many members, it was extremely productive and covered a lot of lost ground.

During the non-regular meeting, Parliament dismissed the director of the Constitutional Court J.Amarsanaa. Also, various draft law projects were approved to be transferred to the standing committees for final discussion; these include: the "Law on Legal Enforcement" (94.5% votes), the "Law on Solving Criminal Cases" (87.7%), the revised "Law on General Taxation" (89.3%), and the "Law for Exemption from Custom's dues and VAT" (86%). Following these decisions, Speaker Enkhbold announced the close of the non-regular meeting. Therefore, the approved law projects, approved on Friday will be discussed when the spring session of Parliament starts.

Link to article


Anti-corruption agency bars former president Enkhbayar from cabinet appointment

February 22 ( The Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) has finally released the report on N.Enkhbayar – this confirms there is a clear conflict of interests. According to the document, Mr.Enkhbayar cannot work in the civil service until August 2017. U.Enkhtur, who is director of the Investigation Bureau at the IAAC has informed that: " According to the "Civil Service Law" and other law provisions, the report has concluded that he cannot work in civil service, until August 2017". Subsequently, to appoint N.Enkhbayar as Deputy Prime Minister would be illegal.

Link to article


Oops! Lawmakers forget to include import provision in new election law

February 19 ( The revised "Electoral Law", which is approved by the end of 2015, has not included the provision, which states that "the Electoral Law" cannot be changed, six months prior to an election". This means that it is now still possible to change this law. All previous versions of the "Electoral Law" included this provision. So we decided to seek clarification on this issue with A.Bakei, who is an MP and also director of the State Structure Standing Committee. Mr Bakei worked as the director of the working team on the draft "Electoral Law" project. 

  • The new law does not include the provision that the electoral law cannot be changed six months prior to an election. Was this provision included or not included in the draft as originally presented by the team headed by MP. R.Burmaa? Or was it removed during the process of the working team, headed by you?
  • From the outset, the draft law as presented did not include this provision. The previous laws used to include this provision. The working team, therefore, did not discuss this. Then, the project was approved.
  • So, Parliament did not know that this provision was missing? No-one has remembered to include the provision during the discussion of the project?
  • The Members of the Parliament, actually, did not notice that the provision was missing.
  • Then, when did Parliament find out that an important provision was missing? After the final discussion of the project?
  • Yes
  • So now what is to be done? Is it going to be possible to insert the change to the law?
  • I do not know. If it is considered really necessary, the Members of the Parliament have the right to present law changes. But, I do not know if this will be really that necessary.
  • Finally, is the budget sufficient for the election?
  • This year, MNT 17 billion has been budgeted for the election. I think that it will be enough for the organization of the election.

Link to article


State Rental Apartment Program to Be Launched Shortly

February 22 ( The Government has announced that the "Rental Apartments" program will be launched shortly. People, who wish to rent these apartments, must provide three month prepayment to the State Apartment Corporation. The apartment rental in Ulaanbaatar is MNT 200,000-280,000 and MNT 140,000-230,000 in the provinces. Also, the rental requirements state that the rentee must be:

-       older than 21 years of age

-       have a fixed income

-       pay social insurance

-       have lived in current area for more than 5 years

-       someone who does not own a other apartment.

Link to article


Mining Licenses, Snow Leopards, and a Mysterious Death

A Mongolian conservationist is found dead and his family wants answers.

Michelle Tolson is a freelance journalist based in Asia.

February 22 (The Diplomat) On November 5, 2015, 27-year-old researcher, Lkhagvasumberel Tumursukh, known to most as "Sumbee," left his home in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia a day prior to a trip planned to the South Gobi, to the Tost-Tosonbomba mountain range where he kept watch over about 20 snow leopards he was researching for the Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation and its partner, the Snow Leopard Trust. Having co-authored a number of research publications as a student at National University of Mongolia and with a passion to learn conservation best practices from top schools in the U.S. and U.K., by many accounts Sumbee had a brilliant future ahead of him. But he never made it to the Gobi.

Concerned, his colleagues and friends rallied to find him. "I found out he was missing and was in constant contact with people on the ground trying to locate him," Unudelgerekh Batkhuu, board member of the Mongol Ecology Center, told The Diplomat.

On November 11, Sumbee's body was found floating in Lake Hovsgol in northern Mongolia, thousands of kilometers away from Ulaanbaatar and in the opposite direction of the Gobi. His death was ruled a drowning, according to the autopsy, while the police ruled it a suicide. "It was devastating," Batkhuu said.

"He taught kids how to interact with animals. He was more of a visionary than any of us. He would not go and kill himself as the police say."

A History of Threats

On November 17, the Snow Leopard Trust published a cautious yet mournful press release that one of their own had passed away.

Shortly after this, more than 40 international researchers, including the Snow Leopard Trust, submitted a formal letter to members of parliament and certain government ministers and published it online, requesting a formal inquiry into a death they deemed suspicious and possibly a murder.

"Our concern is that the powers that be will sweep the case under the rug and not do a proper investigation," explained Bob McIntosh from the U.S., also a board member of the Mongol Ecology Center. Along with two prominent researchers, Clyde Goulden and Olaf Jensen, McIntosh had initiated the letter and organized the signatures.

According to colleagues, friends and family, Sumbee had been attacked by knife point in central Ulaanbaatar in May 2014, in an incident initially thought to have been a robbery gone wrong. He healed from his wounds and by July 2014, had travelled to Seattle, Washington in the U.S. to further his studies on snow leopards, supported by a scholarship.

His sister Munkh-Orgil Tumursukh, remembers the first attack well. She noticed something different about her brother. As part of a family of ardent conservationists, she is studying a degree in eco-tourism in the U.S. and met her older brother in Seattle for two days. Usually wearing t-shirts without collars, this time he wore his shirt collar up.

"I said 'why do you wear the collar of your shirt like this, brother? Bad boys do this and you are not a bad boy.' I reached for his collar and pulled it down and then saw this mark. This scar. He also had one on his arm."

Becoming distraught at the sight of the scar, she pleaded with him to tell her what happened.

"Someone tried to kill me," he told her. But then he became cheerful. "My sister, don't worry. I am alive now and here with you."

Later that summer in September and back in Mongolia, Sumbee stayed at Ikh Nart Camp with several other biologist and conservationists.

"During this trip, I got to know Sumbee as he was there," said Colleen McCulloch, an ecologist in mammal conservation. "One night we were sitting around talking with five or six other biologists. One or two had asked him about [his attack]. I remember Sumbee saying 'I had one or two bad guys who were causing problems.'"

His second attack came in the winter that year, according to fellow conservationists. Men in a black car abducted him in Ulaanbaatar. He was taken outside the city and threatened with death if he didn't stay away from the Gobi. The threats included his three siblings, which may be why Sumbee tried to protect those close to him from learning too much information. He did, however, report it to the police, who apparently did not take him seriously as he could not identify his attackers.

The third attack came in April 2015 in the South Gobi. As Sumbee was driving by motorcycle over a mountain pass two men on bikes came up alongside him and struck him hard. He clung to his bike and kept driving, but it soon became apparent to him that he was hurt. He sought help from friends and was taken to a hospital by helicopter.

His parents, Naraa and Tumursukh, explain the attack was severe. "One wound below the chest was 4.5 cm deep, right belly 2 cm, and left belly 3.5 cm deep. Because police didn't recover any evidence or prints they assumed he inflicted those wounds to himself. This is how police built their theories [that he was suicidal]," they explained through a translator.

B. Unudelgerekh, who described her relationship with Sumbee as that of a big sister, remembers this time period as well. "I spoke to Sumbee about it. When he was stabbed, he was encouraged to take a break from the Gobi but he was so concerned about protecting the animals. He used to say to me: 'Don't worry…'"

Despite the risks, Sumbee was back to work by September or October 2015, working with the Snow Leopard Trust. According to family, friends and colleagues, his passion for his work kept him coming back, despite the dangers and their concerns.

"When his dad [Tumursukh] talked about ibex and argali, he was the happiest ever. And Sumbee was the same with snow leopards," said Unudelgerekh.

Recalled Clyde Goulden, one of the organizers of the letter to parliament, "I worked a lot with Tumursukh and Naraa in conservation efforts [at Lake Hovsgol]. He never hesitated to stop illegal fishing or enforce the strictly protected areas, for example Russians poaching in the area. He could be aggressive in his work but he was always trying to do the right thing. If [Sumbee] was anything like his father in his conservation work, I can understand why he might put people off who weren't interested in conservation."

His father believes that it is possible the police thought Sumbee was "not important" to his family because his work in the Gobi was far from the family home in northern Lake Hovsgol.

The Tost-Tosonbomba mountain range is located near China's border in the Gurvantes soum (district) and supports a community of 233 herder families with approximately 40,000 goats, sheep, camels and horses, according to a 2008 report. Herders used to shoot snow leopards that attacked their livestock, but steep penalties as well as work within the local community on preservation have made this less common. The penalties it attracts also appear to have made poaching less of a problem as well.

Mining however, remains a pressing threat and one that is common to the local community as well.

Badral Yondon, Chair of Ulaanbaatar Tourism Association, told The Diplomat, "I met many herders who support [Sumbee] and his work and actually came together to fight off mining companies."

His parents don't believe that the Gobi herder community wished harm on Sumbee. "Sumbee had a personality and life was not of the type people would want to kill. He was a good kid, helpful, well mannered, and passionate about his work."

But they have suspicions of powerful interests behind local mining permits. According to local media, MP B. Choijilsuren owns a significant percentage of the permits in the area. In contrast, MP Bat-Erdene, deemed a supportive presence to the community, owns mining permits adjacent to the area.

"We think that his death was caused by the conflict between snow leopard habitat he was protecting around Mt. Tost-Tosonbomba and mining interests. [We think] this was a premeditated murder by mining and ninja [miners]," said Sumbee's parents.

With the masks and unmarked car abduction, no one knows for sure who was behind the threats to Sumbee.

"It's a multi-layered onion of mining permits, traditional local economic activities, and government, local and international interests here," McIntosh explains. Though the exact number of mining licenses cited varies according to reports, he believes there are "about 19 – 21."

Sumbee's final attack seemed to catch everyone by surprise. Though friends and colleagues encouraged him to take a step back to let things cool down, he could not be dissuaded.

"I knew my brother had problems [with threats], even though my family said not to worry," his sister Munkh-Orgil tearfully explained by Skype. "But I never thought these people would murder him."

Public Attention 

By early January, Sumbee's father, a well-known and respected ranger and biologist in his own right working in Hovsgol, was displeased with the lack of progress on the case. He worked to debunk the suicide theory through evidence he had gathered in Ulaanbaatar. Sumbee, a diligent researcher who co-authored at least 10 publications on his work with snow leopards and ibex, was apparently just as thorough in recording the threats he received on his smartphone.

"We found a phone recording of Sumbee chasing people away regarding the mining licenses," Badral said. "Tumursukh is smart and he knows the legal system. He has recordings and gave some to the authorities."

Tumursukh had also found a phone recording made after Sumbee's abduction and before his death, left in his son's car between the seats. He passed a portion to a local journalist, who aired it in a televised interview. In one segment of the recording Sumbee, says:

"Do you think I'm going to beg you to please spare my life? No, I will never do that. I'll never beg you to spare my life."

The public's response was swift and generated a great deal of controversy. Local media, through extensive televised segments, presented not only the phone recording released by Tumursukh, but emails between Sumbee and his local employer, the Snow Leopard Conservation Fund, where he described the attacks, which were translated by friends into English on a blog. The local employer had contacted the police, but they had dismissed the case due to a lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, international conservationists continued worked on their end to bring support to the case. The letter gained the immediate support of Member of Parliament Ts. Oyungerel.

"We [also] were concerned that other international NGOs and researchers would be reluctant to work in Mongolia if Sumbee's death was not properly investigated," said McIntosh. The Tost-Tosonbomba snow leopard range has hosted research from 18 different institutions and six different countries, according to a report.

Rebecca Watters, executive director of The Wolverine Foundation, and director of The Mongolian Wolverine Project, who also signed her name to the letter, agrees. "Stuff like that doesn't happen in Mongolia. When I was working in Cambodia, I had armed guards to protect me because we [the conservation community] had rangers killed in Cambodia."

"Mongolia, by contrast, has rule of law and doesn't have these situations happen."

After Tumursukh's media campaign, MP L. Erdenechimeg also began publicly supporting the investigation. The Minister of Justice D. Dorligjav, as the campaign's supporters had hoped, became involved. He criticized the suicide ruling as a mark of police incompetence, saying important evidence had been lost in investigating the case as a homicide.

While the support is welcomed by Sumbee's parents, they have expressed disappointment at the lack of progress in the police investigation. At press time, they were not hopeful the killers would be caught.

When asked what justice would look like to them, they said "We do not really know what can be done." Although they previously had the support of a lawyer working pro-bono, Sumbee's parents now say they will probably need to hire a lawyer.

Sumbee's sister Munkh-Orgil thinks the police have been "working inside the box."

"They need to 'break the box,' " she explained.

One thing is clear. Most of the numerous sources The Diplomat spoke with described Sumbee as someone who would not back down from a fight to protect the snow leopards entrusted in his care.

"Perhaps if he had looked the other way or not challenged them it would have been a different outcome. But Sumbee wasn't the kind of guy who could watch other people causing damage and not try to stop it. He cared deeply about protecting the environment," said McCulloch.

It is no surprise that those close to Sumbee want him to have the same kind of unrelenting representation, and his legacy is being staunchly promoted by his tenacious father Tumursukh.

In a recent speech, Tumursukh told media. "I will uncover the murderers who [killed] my son, I will not stop until I find the truth behind my son's death, till my last breath."

Link to article

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MIAT turns a profit in 2015

Ulaanbaatar, February 22 (MONTSAME) The flag carrier of Mongolia--the Mongolian Airlines (MIAT)--worked last year with the expense of 238.8 billion Togrog and revenue of 241.3 billion Togrog, having thus gained a profit of 2.5 billion.

In 2015, the MIAT carried 461.450 passengers and two million 624 tons of freight by 1,486 flights performed to Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Hanbumbat (Mongolia). Against 2014, the number of passengers carried increased 14.7%, the number of flights--by 13.7%.

Some 60% of the total expenses of the MIAT were made by US dollars, by which the company's expenses, caused by currency rate, reached 12.5 billion Togrog in 2015.

With five airplanes (three Boeing 737 800 and two Boeing 767 300ER), the MIAT is currently performing flights to Beijing, Hong Kong, Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Moscow, Berlin and Frankfurt.

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ADB Trade Finance Program helps Mongolian firm improve food storage

February 22 (ADB Blog) Delta Holding LLC, a diversified Mongolian company with subsidiaries in agribusiness as well as other sectors, recently built a state-of-the-art storage facility in the vast plains just outside the capital, Ulanbaatar. One of the first of its kind in the country, the warehouse has a capacity of 2,200 tons with 11 cold storage rooms – six for vegetables and five for processed meat.

Now that the freezer-chilled rooms are ready, and with constant monitoring from a team of on-the-ground staff, Delta aims to buy vegetables such as cabbages, potatoes and onions from farmers in September and October, store them for some six months, and then sell them in spring.

Mongolia has few good facilities that can store such foodstuffs for long periods of time, so once the autumn harvest season is over, these vegetables need to be imported to meet local demand. By contrast, having a good storage facility will encourage farmers to cultivate more crops or raise more livestock to meet a long-term demand of six to eight months as opposed to the current practice of growing vegetables for the short-term demand.

Over time, this will boost rural incomes. Meanwhile, prices of locally raised out-of-season meat and vegetables will be lower, and prices more stable for consumers. And lastly, dependency on imports will be reduced.

That will be particularly welcome with the dzud or harsh winter taking a heavy toll this year on farmers' livelihoods.

Delta built its new facilities with the help of ADB's Trade Finance Program (TFP). In June 2015, TFP provided a two-year guarantee of approximately $920,000 for post financing of a letter of credit. The letter of credit was issued by Trade and Development Bank Mongolia—one of the country's largest and oldest commercial banks—on behalf of Delta. The company used the letter of credit to import storage equipment and refrigerator items from Netherlands-based Geerlofs Refrigeration BV to construct its cold storage facility in Ulanbaatar.

Unlike regular trade finance transactions, where payments are made on sight or have a deferred payment period of six months or less, given the early stage of this project—including the construction phase—Delta wanted more time to pay back the letter of credit. ING Bank in the Netherlands was keen to provide financing to help support their client, Geerlofs Refrigeration, but did not have the limit with the required tenor on Trade and Development Bank Mongolia to provide the financing.

To fill that market gap, ADB's TFP, which has been working in Mongolia since 2010, stepped in to provide the required guarantee to ING Bank covering Trade and Development Bank Mongolia risk. ING Bank, on the basis of the ADB guarantee, then agreed to provide two-year funding to enable this transaction to go ahead.

In Mongolia, the TFP currently works with three banks (Khan Bank, Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia, and XacBank), and has supported $124.17 million in trade through 227 transactions since 2010. In addition to filling market gaps, the TFP's objective is to mobilize private sector capital and involvement in developing Asia. In Mongolia, about 38% of the $124.17 million in trade supported through the TFP was cofinanced by the private sector.

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Coal-fired stoves put Mongolians lives at risk

February 18 (Press TV) A German-Mongolian Institute has announced that people in Mongolia are putting their lives at risk by using coal fired household stoves.

As data shows about 80 percent of air pollution in the capital Ulaanbaatar comes from household stoves. The organization has replaced 180,000 old stoves by clean-burning stoves after receiving a 17-million-dollar investment from the World Bank.

The new stoves are producing less smoke and reducing air pollution by 40 percent. Meanwhile, officials say only about half of the clean stoves are actually used in Ulaanbaatar.

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Health, Education

Mogi: HIV and AIDS are one and the same apparenlty

Two new AIDS cases registered

February 22 ( Last week, two new cases of HIV-AIDS were officially registered. The National Center of Infectious Disease informed that: "two men aged 30 - 45 years old have been infected with the HIV virus. Currently, they are in normal physically shape and their HIV status is in a dormant stage. These men were identified by active monitoring procedures". Monitoring to find other people infected with the HIV virus continues. Currently, 201 cases of HIV-AIDS have been registered in Mongolia.        

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Culture, Society

Young Mongolian Eagle Huntress Spiritually Adopted Into Native American Tribe

February 16 (Utah Public Radio) The Eagle Huntress is a documentary about a young girl from northwest Mongolia. During the premier of the documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in January, she was honored by being spiritually adopted into a Native American tribe.

For the past 2,000 years, only men have been allowed to participant in the sport of eagle hunting. This all changed when a 13-year-old girl, daughter of a Master Eagle Hunter, broke from tradition and learned the trade of her father. The Eagle Huntress documents the life of a Muslim girl named Aisholpan, filled with underlining themes of trailblazing and female empowerment. Stacey Reiss is one of the producers of the film.

"I think we need more heroines. I think we need more female role models – people that are doing things that young children, boys and girls, can look up to – can be inspired by and I thought that her drive and her bravery to do something that had never been done before in 2,000 years. And also her father's ability to support her and give her a strong foundation. I just thought that this story about a father and a daughter and her story was just one that needed to be shared with many people."

Traditionally Reiss says eagle hunting is an ancient art passed on from father to son.

"I think what Agalai, Aisholpan's father did is quite remarkable. I'd say he's an evolved person. But I think really what it was, it was about their relationship. He saw that she was working hard, wanted to do chores with him outside. She just kept asking and she just had this natural ability and connection with his bird. He saw that and he agreed to start training her."

In January, Aisholpan and her parents flew to Park City where they attended the premier of the film where a ceremony was held in their honor. Dressed in traditional fur, Aisholpan and her family were greeted by two representatives of the Comanche Tribe of Oklahoma who also brought an eagle. In recognition of the similarities between the Mongolian nomadic tribe and this Native American tribe, Aisholpan was honored with a ceremonial blessing and gifting of a name by Comanche representative Waha Thuweeka.

"We consider the people of Mongolia relations to us. They're a horse culture, not too much unlike ours and that's very near and dear to us. With the experience with the eagles, we're connected by the energy of the living bird. It's multi-faceted why this is important to support this documentary that features this wonderful way of life but to claim the relationship by sharing a historical name with her."

The backdrop for the ceremony was a Native American yurt. Waha Thuweeka created smoke by burning dried juniper on a hot coal. The juniper tree is a symbol of strength for the Comanche people.

"The smoke is considered a vehicle for carrying our prayers and petitions to the Almighty. Smoke continues rising, that's why so many cultures call on smoke for prayerful activities. We combine the offering of the smoke with the energy of the eagle. That's why the eagle feathers are used to dispatch our prayers and petitions to travel on that smoke to the Almighty. And with the historical belief that only the eagle can fly high enough and far enough to see the face of God. That's why our people have to call on the energy of the eagle for this purpose."

With the use of an eagle feather, he directed the rising smoke on to Aisholpan and gives her the name.  

Her Comanche name translates to Golden Eagle Hunting Woman.

"She started this as a child but it's taken her into the realm of womanhood."

The whistle being used is made out of a wing bone from an eagle. It's typical for the hunters to use these whistles while training their eagles. They faced north, east, south and west presenting Aisholpan's new Comanche name.

The Eagle Huntress has been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. There's also talk to turn the documentary into an animated feature with executive producer Daisy Ridley, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as the voice of the young heroine. Click here to hear a conversation with the director Otto Bell on Access Utah.

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The Cowboys of the Cold: Mongolian Horse Riders (PHOTOS)

February 17 (The Weather Channel) The bond that exists between Mongolian nomads and the horses they ride is strong. Photographer Batzaya Choijiljav set out to capture that bond in stunning photos at the Winter Horse Festival, an event that takes place in the Khentii province of eastern Mongolia where the horsemen show off their riding skills and the strength of their horses.

"Horses are a big part of a nomad's life, but they still maintain their wild nature," Choijiljav told Caters News Agency. "The horses live in herds, led by a stallion who guides the horses to water, shelter and safety. The horses are hardy and adapted to living out in temperatures that can reach minus 45 degrees, and they are able to forage for food in any condition."

(MORE: Photographing the Brutal Mongolian Winter)

The strong and resilient Mongolian horses are credited with helping Genghis Khan form the Mongol empire in the 1200s, according to Detroit Newstime. Their small and stocky build is ideal for endurance riding.

"Besides transport, Mongolians use horses for sport," Choijiljav said. "Horse racing in winter is a chance for nomads to examine their preparation for the cold winter and practice their horse herding skills."

MORE FROM WEATHER.COM: Inside the World of Mongolia's Golden Eagle Hunters

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Nature, Environment

Can Angry Young Males Save a Critically Endangered Camel? 

Chinese remote sensing expert leads the way in tracking wild camels in the Gobi Desert.

February 17 (National Geographic) When a Chinese professor, a leader in the team committed to dispatching a Chinese probe to the moon, sends me three satellite maps, I pay serious attention.

As well as probing the surface of the moon, my friend Liu Shaochuang ("the professor," as I call him), of the Remote Sensing Unit at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing, is helping monitor the movements of wild, double-humped camels in the vastness of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The camels are wearing collars equipped with special receivers, and their locations are recorded by satellite every 24 hours.

The dead-of-winter months, roughly from November to February, are when the male camels start their seasonal three-month-long "rut." As temperatures drop into the minus 30s, the camels' adrenalin levels rise. This is when female tails go up as they come into season—a time when passions explode, and the tendons of a reluctant female can be severed by a rampant alpha male intent on instant submission.

If a group of young bull camels experiencing sexual urges for the first time is put into this volatile mix in the confines of a wild camel breeding center, the situation can be even more explosive. Fences and wooden buildings can be smashed and herdsmen put in fear of their lives.

The only solution to this potential camel bedlam is to remove the three- to six-year-old thrusting males from the fray.

A Special Kind of Camel

According to the latest estimates, as few as 450 wild camels roam the Mongolian Gobi, in a 55,000-square-mile (142,000 square kilometers) reserve called the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area A. Another 600 or so are found across the Chinese border, in the desert surrounding Lop Nur.

Only in 2008 did the wonders of genetic testing, carried out by the Veterinary University in Vienna, prove what Mongolians and Uighurs in northwestern China had known for centuries: This camel is different. It is, in fact, an entirely new wild species that evolved more than 700,000 years ago—and not, as previously thought, a domesticated Silk Road Bactrian camel runaway gone feral.

The Mongolians even gave it a name—havtgai—meaning "flathead." Wild camels have the incredible ability to drink salt water with a higher salt content than seawater. What's more, the wild camels in China have survived no less than 43 atmospheric nuclear tests in the former Lop Nur test area, right on their doorstep.

But wild camels aren't special enough to have overcome depredations by hunters, attacks by packs of hungry wolves, and destruction of their habitat by rapacious illegal gold miners.

Time isn't on their side: Every year in China and Mongolia the threats increase, and natural replenishment of camel numbers is slow. Because wild camels have a 13-month gestation period, they can reproduce only every two years.

It was the increasingly precarious state of these creatures that spurred me to take steps to protect them. In 1997 I cofounded with Kathryn Rae the Wild Camel Protection Foundation, which helped to establish the Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve in China.

Then, in 2004, I established the Hunter Hall Wild Camel Breeding Centre, near Bayan Tooroi, in southwestern Mongolia, on the fringe of the Gobi. Peter Hall, an Australian philanthropist, and the Mongolian Ministry for Nature, provided essential support. The center now holds 22 wild camels, up from the 12 we started out with.

Our goals are to safeguard the wild camel's unique genetic makeup for future generations and to introduce fresh blood into the wild population by releasing camels we breed into their natural habitat. We aim to gradually boost the wild population in Mongolia to a sustainable number—ideally no fewer than a thousand.

In 2013 we released two young males into the desert, and six more during the 2015-16 winter months. Eventually we hope to release four camels a year, including females. But for now, we're focused on reducing the threat of rutting young males in the breeding center.

Tragic Tale With a Happy Ending

That first release of the two males was to take place on September 25, 2013. But when I arrived at the protected area headquarters, at 9 p.m. the night before, I immediately sensed an all-pervading gloom. Gotov, the breeding center manager and director of the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area A, had collapsed and died from a heart attack six hours earlier.

The staff lamented through the night, assuaging their grief with vodka. Next morning, seven mightily hung over rangers and our mercurial herdsman, TsogErdene, presented themselves for release duty.

This required goading the two rambunctious camels into an antiquated side-loading truck. Five hours elapsed before we finally got them on board. With the camels trussed up like Christmas gifts, wearing their satellite tracking collars and settled between bales of hay, in fading light we set off on the 250-mile-journey into the desert.

We arrived at our destination, a large spring with ample vegetation, at 3 a.m. Leaving the camels in the truck, we snatched three hours' sleep. At first light, we backed the truck up against a small sand dune for a level unloading platform and untied the camels' ropes.

Naran leaped down and cantered away into the desert, but his compatriot, Joyon, stood up in a daze and promptly sat down again. We left him to make his own way out of the truck and returned to our camp for breakfast. When we came back, he'd disappeared.

Back in England I received satellite downloads from the professor of the movements of the two camels. Their collars were working perfectly, and the maps showed that they'd immediately separated.

But a month later, Joyon's collar stopped working. Dejection turned to elation when a camera trap placed by one of the Gobi A reserve rangers near the spring where the release had been made showed that Naran had attracted four females. All had their heads down and were drinking the fresh water.

In October 2015, we released six more young males in high style, with Britain's ambassador to Mongolia a keen observer. Four were fitted with tracking collars, and satellite images showed that they, like the first two, separated immediately, each setting out on its individual track.

Can they too attract female camels in the Gobi? Will a hormonally charged bull, infuriated at their presence near his harem attempt to kill them? Will they, having been bred in captivity and therefore protected from natural dangers, be able to outwit voracious packs of wolves? Or will an illegal miner shoot them for food?

Liu Shaochuang's latest satellite transmission, dated January 27, indicates that as of this writing the camels are doing just fine.

John Hare is the cofounder of the Wild Camel Protection Foundation, a UK registered charity Number 1068706, committed to save from extinction in the Gobi deserts of China and Mongolia the critically endangered wild camel. For more, see and

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Mongolia and mixed NOC team sprint make history in speed skating

February 17 ( Two small pieces of sporting history were made at the Hamar Olympic Hall Viking Ship: Speed skaters contested for the first time at any Olympic level a mixed NOC team sprint, and Mongolia won its debut medal at a Winter Games.

In the all-new event, 13 teams of two men and two ladies from mixed NOCs were grouped together, with each race run over 1.6km. It was won, in one minute 57.85 seconds, by 'mixed team six', consisting of Sumiya Buyantogtokh of Mongolia, Italy's Noemi Bonazza, Shen Hanyang of China and the men's 500m bronze medallist from Republic of Korea, Chung Jae Woong.

By contributing to her team's gold-medal performance, Buyantogtokh became the first Mongolian athlete to win a medal at any Olympic Winter Games. "Before the race, I was afraid. Now I can't believe I won the gold," she said. "I was very stressed. It was a lot of pressure, but I'm very proud.

"It was wonderful working with other countries and talking with them."

When he realised that team six had won gold, a delighted Shen said: "I'm not sure what I am feeling, but it is very good. [The athletes from different countries] cooperated and worked together very well."

Italy's Bonazza, who had already won bronze in the ladies' 1500m, was excited with the team's performance after having trained together only twice. "We are all very happy. I am for sure very happy. We skated very well together, I think our team was a very good team.

"In this sport, and sport in general, it doesn't matter if you are Italian or Chinese or whatever, because if you work together with people who have your same passion it's a good thing."

The Italian said that the participating in the mixed NOC team sprint "was very nice, because I got in touch with people from Asia and other states. At first it was a bit difficult with the language. It is strange, but also nice, because we did a race all together and all the team won the gold, not just one person."

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Mongolia grabs three bronze at Dusseldorj Judo Grand Prix

Ulaanbaatar, February 22 (MONTSAME) Judokas of the national team of Mongolia competed in the Grand Prix tournament held last weekend in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The tournament attracted 557 judokas of 91 countries, and Mongolia was represented a the Grand Prix by 22 judokas.

Bronze medals went to L.Otgonbaatar IMS in men's -90 kg, M.Urantsetseg, a State Honored Sportswoman and World champion in women's -48 kg; and Ts.Monkhzaya, a State Honored Sportswoman and bronze medalist of World Championships in women's -63 kg.

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Former Wyoming guard Charles Hankerson Jr. signs with Mongolian professional team

February 16 (Casper Star-Tribune) Charles Hankerson Jr. watched as his former Wyoming classmates and teammates received opportunities to play professional basketball.

First, Derek Cooke Jr. signed with Rethymno Aegean Basketball Club of the Greek Basketball League. (He later returned stateside to play for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League.)

The next day, Larry Nance Jr. became the first UW player selected in the NBA Draft since 1995, going 27th overall to the Los Angeles Lakers.

A month later, Riley Grabau signed with the Glasgow Rocks of the British Basketball League.

For nearly seven months, Hankerson's phone didn't ring. But he never felt an ounce of jealousy.

"They're such incredible guys to where I couldn't have nothing but the utmost happiness for them," Hankerson said. "That definitely would've been selfish on my behalf to think like that."

Finally, the call he had been waiting on for oh-so-long came Sunday.

He received an offer from the Dundgovi Hawks of the Mongolian National Basketball Association. He quickly accepted, signing his first professional contract on Monday.

Hankerson leaves for Mongolia on Thursday morning and will join his new team immediately.

"It has been a whirlwind, man," Hankerson said. "Just a ton of emotions. But the main thing is it's such a humbling experience. Thankfulness is the main feeling. It's like, I feel so thankful and then validation that dreams really do come true, and if you work hard success can come."

Hankerson, a 6-foot-4 guard from Miami, began his college career with two seasons at Alabama. As a sophomore in 2010-11, he made five starts and 26 appearances for the Crimson Tide, which advanced to the NIT championship game. The following year, he appeared in 30 games as Alabama reached the NCAA tournament.

After his sophomore season, Hankerson transferred to Wyoming, where he sat out in 2012-13 to satisfy NCAA rules. He served as the team's top reserve guard as a junior before assuming a starting role as a senior.

In 2014-15, he started 34 of 35 games and averaged 6.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists to help the Cowboys win their first Mountain West tournament title and reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002.

"It's just a blessing," Hankerson said of his pro contract. "It's showed that if you stay persistent and you stay focused, stay positive and believe in yourself that you can do it."

Hankerson took the summer off from basketball to evaluate his post-college options. Eventually he decided that the sport was his "calling."

In late summer, he moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where he worked on his game through the end the year.

In mid-January, he joined the Indianapolis Diesels of the Premier Basketball League, a minor-league organization.

"It was a great experience for sure. A lot happened while I was out there," Hankerson said. "That's where I signed my agent."

Barely a month later, his whirlwind experience culminated in a professional contract and a plane ticket to Mongolia.

"This situation is definitely not where I want to end up, but it's definitely a tremendous steppingstone for me and starting spot," Hankerson said.

Admittedly, he doesn't know much about his team, or Mongolia for that matter.

But one thing is clear:

"I know that they want me, and I really feel like that's the most important part right there," Hankerson said. "I'm excited to go to a completely new environment and find out everything that the team has to offer."

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Aero Mongolia announces flights to Khuvsgul for Ice Festival

Ulaanbaatar, February 19 (MONTSAME) Since Khuvsgul aimag has been connected to Ulaanbaatar with the paved road, direct flights are usually performed during summer, as the demand sharply decreased.

However, AeroMongolia Company is launching direct flights in Ulaanbaatar-Murun and Murun-Ulaanbaatar directions, on the occasion of the Ice Festival that will take place this March 2-4 on the Lake Khuvsgul.

The air services will continue in April considering an increase in tourist flow to the Blue Pearl–Lake Khuvsgul. 

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