Wednesday, March 9, 2016

[GoM seeks $200m; KRI settles at $70m; iTools lists on MSE; MNT in new low; positive FDI in Jan; and ADB provides $60m for diversification]

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

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ASEP9 organizing committee reports

Ulaanbaatar, March 7 (MONTSAME) A national committee of preparation for the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP9) Meeting delivered a report on a course of the works.

It was sounded by N.Enkhbold MP, members of the committee, and by B.Boldbaatar, a secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office.

Boldbaatar said official invitations for the ASEP9 have been sent to representatives including Speakers of parliaments, upper and lower houses of the legislative bodies. Some delegates of 20 countries have officially announced about their participation in the meeting, and that  "" website has been opened to give all related information.

Addressing heads of diplomatic missions in Mongolia, N.Enkhbold said the Mongolian parliament attaches a great importance to the ASEP9, at a high level of political content and preparation, and hoped that parliamentary delegates of the countries the diplomats represent will actively participate in the meeting.

The ASEP9, to be run this April 21-23, will be the first in the series of meetings that will take place within the ASEM Summit.

Link to article


Int'l Market

Mogi: getting desperate

Mongolia hits the market for $200m dual-trancher

The government of Mongolia is testing the market's appetite for a $200m two tranche loan that has launched into syndication.

March 7 (Global Capital) Credit Suisse is the mandated lead arranger and bookrunner of the borrowing, which comes with an undisclosed greenshoe. The loan is split into a three year bullet tranche A and a five year amortising tranche B that has an average life of 4.1 years.

Tranche A is paying …

Link to article (needs subscription)


KRI closed+78.7% Monday to C$0.84

Khan Resources to Receive $70 Million to Settle Mongolia Dispute

By Michael Kohn

·         Mongolia owed Khan $106 million for stripping uranium license

·         Resolution could boost investment prospects for Mongolia

March 8 (Bloomberg) The Mongolian government will pay Canada's Khan Resources Inc. to resolve a seven-year dispute over lost mining licenses, signaling a new willingness to attract foreign investment. The shares surged the most intraday on record.

The $70 million is to be paid on or before May 15, according to terms of the agreement, disclosed in a press statement issued by Khan Resources Monday. Full payment will end all outstanding matters related to the international-arbitration award Khan received from a Paris court in March 2015.

Resolution of the case is a "long-awaited move in the right direction and further evidence that Mongolia is trying to get itself back on track with foreign investors and investment," Jay Liotta, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia, said by e-mail from Ulaanbaatar.

The share rose 26 Canadian cents to 73 cents at 11:02 a.m. in Toronto, after rising to as high as 80 cents, the most intraday since the company began trading in May 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The shares reached a high of 76 cents in July 2015.

Investment Tumbles

Mongolia's foreign direct investment tumbled to $195.1 million last year from $4.45 billion in 2012. A series of long-standing disputes and a drop in commodity prices also slowed the country's growth to 2.3 percent, compared with 17 percent in 2011. 

Khan's licenses were stripped in 2009 and it was forced to abandon its uranium development in the east of the country.

In March 2015, an international arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Commission on International Trade awarded approximately $100 million to Khan as compensation for the company's mining licenses. The Toronto-based company had been seeking damages in excess of $350 million.

The agreement is in the best interest of Khan's shareholders as "it provides a complete resolution of all outstanding matters in a timely manner,'' Grant Edey, Khan Resources chief executive officer, said in the statement.

'Favorable Deal'

"Mongolia negotiated a very favorable deal for themselves," Nick Cousyn, chief operating officer for BDSec, Mongolia's largest brokerage, wrote in a tweet from Ulaanbaatar.

Andrew Fennell, sovereign analyst with Fitch ratings, wrote in an e-mail that resolution of the dispute is a "credit positive for the sovereign insofar as it helps to relieve external funding constraints."

In May 2015 Rio Tinto Group and the Mongolian government settled a two-year dispute that stalled development of the underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi. In December, a $4.4 billion project finance package was signed to restart the project.

"The settlement demonstrates the government's ongoing commitment to improving the investment climate," Bolor Bayarbaatar, Mongolia's minister for finance, said in a Khan Resources statement.

Link to article


UPDATE 1-Mongolia ends fight over $100 million mining license arbitrationReuters, March 7


Xanadu Mines appoints CEO Dr Andrew Stewart to board

March 8 (Proactive Investors) Xanadu Mines (ASX:XAM) has now appointed Dr Andrew Stewart as an executive director of the company, in addition to his role as chief executive officer.

Stewart is an exploration geologist with over 15 years' experience with porphyry copper-gold and epithermal gold systems around the world.

He has primarily been involved with front end exploration, project generation and business development strategies.

Mark Wheatley, chairman, commented:

"The board congratulates Andrew on his progress as CEO and appointment to the board and we look forward to working with him as we continue to explore and develop our exciting copper-gold projects in the South Gobi, Mongolia."

Earlier in the month Xanadu revealed some spectacular rock chips from the newly discovered quartz-carbonate-sulphide veins at Oyut Ulaan copper-gold project (90% XAM), which is located within the Dornogovi Province of southern Mongolia.

Bonanza grade results include: 305.8g/t gold, 171.6g/t gold and 123.2g/t gold.

The multiple high-grade rock chip samples define three parallel epithermal lode structures within 1.5 kilometres.

News flow will remain strong in the near-term, as Xanadu has trench and detailed channel sampling in progress, before drilling is planned.

Link to article

Link to XAM statement


Xanadu Mines Investor Presentation, March 2016


Entrée Gold Announces Change in Management

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 3, 2016) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG)(NYSE MKT:EGI)(FRANKFURT:EKA) ("Entrée" or the "Company") announces that its Chief Financial Officer, Bruce Colwill, has provided notice that effective March 22, 2016, he will be leaving his position to pursue another business opportunity. Entrée has initiated a search for Mr. Colwill's successor and will announce the new incumbent in due course. Mr. Colwill will continue to assist the Company during the transition period as a consultant.

Stephen Scott, CEO said, "As CFO, Bruce has provided our Company with professional financial leadership and has made a very valuable contribution as a member of our management team. We appreciate his efforts during his time at Entrée and wish him well as he embarks on this next stage in his career."

Link to release


Prophecy Announces Increase and Amendments to Credit Facility and Issues Shares for Debt

Vancouver, British Columbia, March 4 (FSCwire) - Prophecy Development Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY, OTCQX:PRPCF, Frankfurt:1P2) announces that it has entered into an agreement to increase and amend the revolving credit facility agreement dated March 12, 2015, as amended (the "Credit Facility") with Linx Partners Ltd. ("Linx"), a company controlled by Mr. John Lee, Executive Chairman of Prophecy.  The previous maximum principal amount of $1.5 million available to the Company under the Credit Facility will be increased with this amendment to $2.5 million.  

The Credit Facility will fund Prophecy's ongoing business operations, bears an interest rate of 1.5% per month and is secured by a promissory note and general security agreement. 

A 5% "drawdown" fee will be applicable to amounts advanced over and above the original and outstanding $1.5 million advanced, at the time of advance.  Under the terms of the original Credit Facility, $1,089,280 was to become due and payable on March 12, 2016 and $403,351 on July 22, 2016.  In consideration of a bonus of 20% of the total amounts advanced under the Credit Facility as of November 30, 2015 (the "Bonus"), Linx has agreed to postpone any repayments due under the Credit Facility until the earlier of October 1, 2016, or such time as the Company is in a reasonable financial position to repay all or a portion of the amounts owing, and remove the requirement for the Company to pay any 20% penalties as a result of any future failure to repay any amounts when due under the terms of the Credit Facility.  Including the Bonus and "drawdown" fee, the Credit Facility carries an effective annual interest rate of 34.5%.  The "drawdown" fee, Bonus and all interest payable will be accrued and added to the maximum principal amount as they are incurred. 

The Company also announces that it has entered into settlement and release agreements (the "Settlement Agreements") with certain of its directors, officers, employees and consultants to cover debts owing to them as well as advanced pre-payments for services to be rendered in March.  Pursuant to the terms of those Settlement Agreements, the Company has agreed, subject to approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange, to issue, in aggregate, up to 7,364,528 Common shares at a deemed price of $0.02 per Common share, to those directors, officers, employees and consultants through its Share-Based Compensation Plan which was approved by shareholders at the Company's annual general meeting of shareholders held on June 19, 2014.  There were no shares allocated or issued to the Company's Executive Chairman.

Link to release


Mongolia Investors' Confidence Report


·         Mongolia is an excellent frontier market destination in Asia, for investors who have a horizon of five years or longer.

·         Oyu Tolgoi will contribute to approximately 1/3 of the country's GDP by 2021 once in full production, and will serve as a catalyst for long term economic recovery.

·         Stocks such as Mongolia Growth Group, Mongolian Mining Corporation, and Kincora Copper have experienced a strong sell off despite their strategic position in Mongolia.

·         Although there are no immediate catalysts in place for economic recovery in Mongolia, a long term approach to Mongolia certainly has its merits.

·         Mongolia is extremely vulnerable to China's economic slowdown, and the low commodity price environment.

By Dylan Waller (ETF investing, foreign companies, gold & precious metals, contrarian)

March 8 (Seeking Alpha) --

Contrarians/Futurists Only

Mongolia, once praised as the world's fastest growing economy, is now considered a dark area for investment in Asia. Investors certainly have proper cause to fear investment in Mongolia; the government has been unpredictable with FDI projects, approximately 85% of the country's exports go to China, and it is a commodity based export economy. That being said, it is my conclusion that the resulting sell-off in Mongolia has been sensationalized, and that there is ample opportunity for those willing to take a futuristic approach to Mongolia's economic recovery. While there are no immediate catalysts in place in 2016 that will result in a short term recovery, the investment landscape in the 2020's is set to be much more favorable. Stocks are close to bottoming out, and offer bar none returns for investors with a long term horizon for the recovery of what was once the world's fastest growing economy.

Link to full article


Rio Tinto: 2015 Annual report and Strategic report, 2016 annual general meetings

3 March 2016 -- Rio Tinto has today posted the following documents on its website at: and  

·         2015 Annual report

·         2015 Strategic report

·         2016 Notices of annual general meetings 

Rio Tinto plc will hold its 2016 annual general meeting in London on 14 April 2016 and Rio Tinto Limited will hold its annual general meeting in Brisbane on 5 May 2016. 

Rio Tinto Limited has released the 2015 Annual report, 2015 Strategic report and its 2016 Notice of annual general meeting to the ASX and they will be available shortly on the Australian Securities Exchange's Market Announcements Platform. 

Likewise, Rio Tinto plc will submit the 2015 Annual report, 2015 Strategic report and Rio Tinto plc 2016 Notice of annual general meeting to the UK Listing Authority and they will be available shortly for public inspection on the National Storage Mechanism (NSM):

Link to release

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -2.53%, ALL -1.83%, ₮46.3 Million Shares, ₮5.8 Million T-Bills

March 4 (MSE) --

Link to report


MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -1.35%, ALL -0.83%, Turnover 5.3 Million Shares, ₮3.8 Billion T-Bills

March 7 (MSE) --

Link to report


I Tools JSC Shares Registered on MSE Tier II

March 4 (MSE) According to the Resolution No.:20 of Financial Regulatory Committee dated on 29 January 2016 and "Listing Regulation" of Mongolian Stock Exchange, total of 4,324,263 shares of "I Tools" JSC with face value of MNT1,000.00 registered on "II" classification of Mongolian stock Exchange on 03 March 2016.  

Link to release

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Historic low 2,045.88/USD set March 7, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Monday, March 7 Close
















































































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮2,040 Sell ₮2,048), Khan (Buy ₮2,040 Sell ₮2,047), Golomt (Buy ₮2,040 Sell ₮2,048), XacBank (Buy ₮2,040 Sell ₮2,047.5), State Bank (Buy ₮2,038 Sell ₮2,047)

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

Link to rates


Mongolia Sees $26.7M FDI in January, Current Account Surplus $24.1 Million

March 4 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Main indicators

Current account amounted to the surplus of $24.1 million decreasing by 72% or $62.9 million compared to the same period of the last year. The change was mainly due to decrease of $95.0 million or 38% in foreign trade surplus.  

In January 2016, capital and financial account had surplus of $101.2 million bringing the positive change of 133% or $412.2 million, while the account/it had deficit of $311.2 million in January 2015. The change was substantially due to increased export income credit of the enterprises, and drawings of PBOC's swap line.

Detailed information

·         Balance of Payment of January, 2016

·         External sector statistics

Link to release


BoM issues 143 billion 1-week bills at 12%, total outstanding lowest since Jan 27 at ₮344.3 billion

March 7 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 143 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release


Mongolia's International Investment Position, Q4'15

March 7 (BoM) --






1. Mongolian direct investment abroad


6. Foreign direct investment in Mongolia


1.1 Equity capital and reinvested earnings


6.1 Equity capital and reinvested earnings


1.2 Other capital


6.2 Other capital


2. Portfolio investment


7. Portfolio investment


2.1 Equity securities


7.1  Equity securities


2.2 Debt securities


7.2  Debt securities


3. Financial derivatives


8. Financial derivatives


4. Other investment


9. Other investment


4.1 Trade credits


9.1 Trade credits


4.2 Loans


9.2 Loans


4.2.1 Monetary authorities


9.2.1 Monetary authorities


4.2.2 General government


9.2.2 General government


4.2.3 Banks


9.2.3 Banks


4.2.4 Other sectors


9.2.4 Other sectors


4.3 Currency and deposits


9.3 Currency and deposits


4.4  Other assets


9.4 Other liabilities


5. Reserve assets




5.1  Monetary gold


5.2  Special drawing rights


10. Direct investment (net)


5.3  Reserve position in the Fund (net)


11. Portfolio investment (net)


5.4  Currency and deposits


12. Financial derivatives (net)


5.5  Securities


13. Other investment (net)


5.6  Financial derivatives (net)


14. Reserve assets


5.7  Other claims


Link to sheet


ADB to provide $60 million for economic diversification

March 7 ( Supporting the Credit Guarantee System for Economic Diversification and Employment Project, which will be established between ADB and Credit Guarantee Fund of Mongolia, will be signed today

The assistance will be targeted at small businesses outside the mining sector—which accounts for 25% of the gross national product but makes Mongolia highly vulnerable to swings in global commodity prices.

The assistance aims to make more long-term financing available for small and medium sized enterprises by strengthening the Credit Guarantee Fund of Mongolia as well as external factors like limited awareness of the facility among SMEs.

88 percent of total project funding or USD 60.5 million will be financed by ADB. The remaining 12 percent or USD 8.1 million will be provided by the Government of Mongolia. 

Link to article

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Politics & Legal

Cabinet looks at reducing high internet service prices in rural areas

March 4 (UB Post) During the Cabinet's regular weekly Hour of Solutions meeting, the ministers discussed reducing prices for Internet network services in the provinces. During the meeting, the Chairman of the Information Technology, Post and Telecommunication Authority (ITPTA), Ts.Jadamba, introduced data about the Internet consumption of Ulaanbaatar and provincial users.

On February 29, Cabinet ministers issued a resolution on measures to provide Internet services at the same price nationwide. During the meeting, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg instructed ITPTA Chairman Ts.Jadamba and the Director of Information Technology Network LLC, P.Margad-Erdene, to take relevant measures in providing provincial residents with access to information, and to create an environment to provide Internet services at the same pricing nationwide.

"Overall, 84 percent of Internet usage in Mongolia is centered in Ulaanbaatar. There is an urgent need to resolve Internet usage and access issues for users in the provinces, where half of Mongolia's total population resides. A household or an entity in Ulaanbaatar pays 13,000 MNT for 1 Mbps connections. Meanwhile, a household in a province pays 55,000 MNT  for 1 Mbps Internet service and businesses pay 75,000 MNT. Province residents are paying for Internet access that is four to five times slower than service in the city, and four to five times more expensive. Such price contrasts should be eliminated. It is not only the issue of Internet prices and the use of Facebook or Twitter. This has significance for how agricultural product exchanges operate. Information about wool, cashmere, and meat could be constant updated with better Internet service, making rural development closer to that of urban areas," emphasized Ch.Saikhanbileg during the meeting.

He added that the Cabinet will encourage mobile phone operators to be actively involved in the government's initiative to reduce Internet service prices in rural areas, and asked them to keep their promise of introducing 4G service within the second and third quarters of this year.

Link to article


The state of women's rights in Mongolia

By Helen Wright

March 7 (UB Post) As the annual national celebration Women's Day takes place tomorrow, the UB Post has looked at the state of women's rights in Mongolia and spoken to some of the people who are trying to make the country a more equal place.

Historically, pre-20th century, due to women's key involvement in keeping livestock "few among the elite enjoyed more rights and privileges than their counterparts in other East Asian lands", says a report for the Asia Society.

However, this status was a double edged sword and most women had harder workloads than men due to the assumption that a woman should also take care of their children and the home on top of her other duties. "They not only had domestic duties but also assisted in tending animals, milking sheep and goats, producing dairy products, shearing wool, and tanning hides. They could manage the herds on their own, permitting total male mobilization for hunts or warfare".

Under the Soviet Union, from 1921 to 1990, women often benefited from government policies, which in theory guaranteed equality in education, the workplace, and the political system. By the late 1980s, most women had entered the labor force in sectors such as education and medicine. But a "glass ceiling" frequently prevented promotion to leadership at work or in the profession.

Today, at 51.3 percent of the population, there are more women in Mongolia than there are men, and they have an average life expectancy of 75 years – around four-and-a-half years longer than men, according to a UN report published in 2014.

While gender equality is enshrined in the law, and work place equality is supposed to be guaranteed, women still face an array of problems that show the playing field has not been completely leveled.

"Domestic violence remained a serious and widespread problem," a report published by the United States Department of State last year says. Although hopefully new laws being brought into force in September will help tackle some of these problems, which include, amongst others, the introduction of restraining orders.

In addition, a United Nations Development Program report noted that women are paid less than men, and do around 25 hours per week of household chores.

Adding to these difficulties, the Asia Society noted "is the substantial increase in female-headed households, which is, in large part, due to male unemployment and the resulting high rate of alcoholism, crime, and domestic abuse. Faced with these difficulties, an increasing number of women have divorced unstable husbands or have opted to have children without marriage. However, female-headed households have been vulnerable and constitute a large segment of those living below the poverty line."

But there is hope for the future. Several women have held top posts in the government and today, more than 70 percent of students at university are women, according to the Asia Society report. This means that in the future more women will be available to take on some of Mongolia's most important roles and jobs, pushing gender equality to the forefront.

The UB Post spoke to some of the women who are standing up for the rights of women in Mongolia. Some were positive the country is moving in the right direction, but all agreed that more needed to be done to protect women's rights.

MP Ts.Oyungerel says no violators should be allowed in government

National Campaign Against Violence program manager S.Baigalmaa

Chairperson of NGO Beautiful Hearts A.Khongorzul

Link to article


Globe Int'l demands further investigation of journalist L.Bolormaa's death

March 4 (UB Post) Founder and former editor-in-chief of the Mongolian Mining Journal L.Bolormaa was found dead at her apartment on November 21. The first unit of the Chingeltei District Police Department is currently investigating the case. The Mongolian Institute of Forensic Science (MIFS) reported that L.Bolormaa's skull was fractured and caused a serious concussion, which led to her death.

Recently, over 20 NGOs, headed by Globe International and Mongolian Journalists' Union, released a statement demanding the law enforcement to conduct prompt and just investigation of L.Bolormaa's death and to identify whether it was related to her job.

The following is an interview with the head of Globe International NGO, Kh.Naranjargal, about the statement and journalists' safety.

The law enforcement is investigating L.Bolormaa's death. Over 20 NGOs led by your organization released a statement related to the case. Can you elaborate on this?

L.Bolormaa is one of the very few people who have had a significant impact in the development of journalism in Mongolia. L.Bolormaa's articles and interviews were popular not only among journalists, but in society. She had many readers who waited for her articles and who never missed them. This is why her death has captured public attention.

We have been observing the case from the outside since it all started. The forensic results revealed that her death was caused by a fractured skull, and it created a suspicion that her death was related to external factors. The death of a journalist is seen as a serious felony as it's often directly linked to their job. This is the first thing that the police officers working on the case should do.

The job of a journalist, especially if they write investigative stories, is considered risky and dangerous. This is why the UN approved a Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists in 2012. After that, on December 18, 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on journalists' safety and to end impunity. Now, it's observed annually on November 2. With the resolution, the UN demanded its member countries to actively investigate crimes against journalists and hold accountability to criminals.

You can see from here that every country has to pay attention on creating a safe environment for journalists and fight crimes against journalists.

Between 2012 and 2014, a total of 680 journalists in the world have lost their lives and 90 percent of the criminals responsible weren't held accountable. In recent years, Mongolian journalists have been attacked in many ways. We received many reports where journalists were threatened and oppressed. This might have been the case for L.Bolormaa as well.

The Mongolian government discussed the report on the country's implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. The council sent a guidance to secure press freedom stated in the 19th article of the covenant. The guidance underlined the need to actively investigate crimes against journalists. We are reminding the government of Mongolia and the State Investigation Office of their obligation to the UN by releasing a statement about L.Bolormaa's death.

Did you receive any information about the reasons behind journalist L.Bolormaa's death?

A serious talk broke out on social media and between people close to L.Bolormaa after her death. They said that someone used to threaten her by phone. The talk supported the public's speculation about the issue. A journalist is the carrier of public opinion. Therefore, doubts about causes of her death should be scrutinized. The main thing is to justly investigate the case, find the truth, and inform the public.

L.Bolormaa didn't get famous because she worked for herself, but because she fought to give the public accurate information. Also, what does the forensic result about her fractured skull say? This is a very serious issue. How would someone who was alone at home hurt herself to cause a fracture at the back of her skull? That is the most suspicious fact. This instance should not be forgotten. It can't vanish or be left unsolved. The public suspects that her death was connected to something she was writing. We have to check that. If it's found during investigation that someone had killed her, law enforcement has to identify the criminals.

Did you say that crimes against journalists have increased in the last few years?

Yes, crimes against journalists have increased. Our organization started studying violations in journalists' rights in 2005. From 2006 to 2014, 375 violations have been registered only in Mongolia. A total of 22 instances of physical assault, 97 instances of threats, oppression, and threats to journalists' families, and 45 cases of threats from law enforcement have been registered with our organization. In 2006, few instances encroaching journalists' rights were reported. In 2008, the numbers rose. It was decreasing since, but it just shot back up again. In recent years, journalists who had their rights violated have started to prefer to hide them and just leave after getting legal assistance. This is not favorable.


Link to interview


Unscheduled dividends from digital development

By Jargal "DeFacto" Dambadarjaa

March 7 ( The three million-strong Mongolians today are using almost five million cellphones, and one million of these people have regular access to the Internet. Mongolia has 165 cellphones per 100 people and ranks fifth in the world after Hong Kong (240), the United Arab Emirates (204), Montenegro (178), and Saudi Arabia (169) in cellphone use.

Are we really making the most out of these cellphones we use? Is Mongolia getting a digital economy? Our cellphones have become smart, but what about the people?

The World Bank has recently released "World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends", which explains how the use of digital technologies benefits socio-economic development.

This report was launched in Ulaanbaatar last week, and Ms. Tenzin Dolma Norbhu, Information and Communications Technology Specialist at the World Bank, presented the report to an audience that included representatives from government and public organizations. The presentation was followed by a discussion of the benefits of digital technology in Mongolia.

The report says that the digital dividends – the broader development benefits of using these technologies – are lagging behind, even though the use of digital technology has spread rapidly around the globe. Although digital technologies have increased economic growth, expanded opportunities, and drastically improved the delivery of services, the total dividends are small and not evenly distributed.

In order to deliver the benefits of the digital revolution to everyone and to every place, the digital divide needs to be closed and Internet access should be universally available. Furthermore, certain "analog complements" to digital technology are required to ensure that countries fully benefit from technological advances.

The report suggests that these analog complements include strengthening regulations that promote business competition, preparing a workforce fit for the new demands of the economy, and ensuring that government institutions are accountable.


Mongolia's territory is as big as the territories of France, Germany, and Spain combined. Although not every household in Mongolia is connected to running water, sanitation facilities, or electricity, everyone does have a cellphone, and countryside families watch television using satellite dishes.

However, more than half of the population resides in the capital, and more than half of the city's population lives in ger districts, most with fewer financial capabilities and without sufficient access to or knowledge of the Internet.

Approximately 10 percent of Mongolia's 330 soums are still not connected to fiber optic internet cables. There have not been enough assessments on the access and use of the Internet by ger district and countryside residents.

Also, we do not have a study on the demographics of Internet use. As more than half of our population is above the age of 30, we do not have any insight on how many of them are using the Internet, have access, and whether the retired are receiving digital dividends. There is not enough work being done to ensure that they are connected to the Internet and to allow them to receive public services online. The digital dividends are not going to every household in Mongolia.

We do not have any government or non-governmental organizations that are studying the widening digital divide and working to close it.

The digital divide is now more easily observed in differences of residence, age, and gender, in addition to income. While the digital divide becomes wider, those who have more income and education are accessing more opportunities in the digital economy and increasing their productivity.


The 2016 World Development Report on digital dividends says, that in order to ensure that every member of society receives digital dividends, there needs to be strong government regulations, a prepared workforce, and capable organizations. These are called analog complements, as they have already been in place since before the digital revolution.

Any country can reach a new level of development in a short amount of time by making the most out of digital technology. The report says that interconnection and competition between businesses, a more skilled workforce thanks to new technology, and more accountable government agencies are needed to make this change take place.

In our case, there needs to be a lot of work done to build the necessary infrastructure to connect all families to the Internet, reduce the cost of Internet access, decrease taxes on digital products, train people of all ages to use smart phones and computers, and to adopt digital means of providing public services.

It is time for Mongolia to take these demands into account and develop a strategy on digital development. This is a much wider concept than just developing information and communication technologies. The important step here is fully reflecting the benefits of digital technologies in socio-economic development as well as human development.

Estonia, a country that has made this change possible, passed a law on electronic signatures, which allowed people to access all public services online. They have organized their elections online for the past 10 years, and have not had any mistakes or controversies.

In contrast, we have been arguing about ballot counting machines for the past four years and are about to hold the next elections. Let us hope that the time will soon come for Mongolians to make the most of our smartphones.

Link to article

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IT Park renamed Science Park, management transferred to universities

March 7 (UB Post) Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg announced on March 4 that the former National Information Technology Park, now named Science Park – Information Technology, will operate under affiliation with National University of Mongolia (NUM) and Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST), and the newly named Science Park – Biotechnology will be affiliated with MUST and Mongolian State University of Agriculture (MSUA).

The science park affiliation will offer university students, teachers, and researchers the opportunity to experiment with new ideas, manufacture new products, and prepare them for export. The PM thinks the parks will allow students to find business partners and investors, enable them to team up with teachers and researchers on projects, and to amplify scientific understanding through experimentation.

"Today marks a more significant day than the integration of two political parties. The opportunity for university teachers, students, and researchers to cooperate on projects and innovate is directly linked to the development of our country. Between 1960 and 2000, the Intellectual Property Office of Mongolia registered over 1,650 new creations and technologies. But in the last 15 years, over 2,680 have been registered.

"Also, 6,100 beneficial product designs have been registered, and approximately 7,560 creations have been copyrighted since 2000. This shows the intellectual capacity of Mongolians," said PM Ch.Saikhanbileg at a ceremony celebrating the reopening of the science parks under their new names and affiliation.

The Minister of Education, Culture, and Science, L.Gantumur, also attended the ceremony, and announced that the Creative Student project has been launched to encourage innovation among university students and researchers. Undergraduate students who have submitted an innovative project idea will be able to apply for a three million MNT grant through the project. Master's students will be eligible for a five million MNT grant, and doctoral students will be eligible for a 10 million MNT grant to develop their project proposals.

Students and researchers from NUM, MUST, and MSUA presented an exhibition of their creations at Science Park – Information Technology on March 4. The exhibition included technology from all fields, such as chemistry, physics, medicine, biology, and astronomy. A 3D printer and a CanSat rocket built by NUM students were the highlights of the exhibition.

NUM students assembled the 3D printer from parts ordered online. The printer can print objects as large as 20 square centimeters with accuracy of 0.1 millimeter, and costs 900,000 to 950,000 MNT.

The CanSat, a simulation of a real satellite, is created within a soft drink can. The CanSat on display at the science park can be launched with a small rocket, and as it slowly descends by parachute, it is used to collect data on air pressure, temperature, and soil, and transmit telemetry. Its creators say it can be used to detect forest fires and report data to monitoring centers.

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KT SAT signs transponder lease deal with Mongolian satellite TV operator

March 2 (Korea Times) KT SAT has signed a transponder lease agreement with Mongolian satellite TV operator DDISH TV.

Under the deal, KT's satellite-based network service affiliate will lease four transponders to offer direct-to-home (DTH) services for the Mongolian company starting next year.

The exclusive contract allows KT SAT to secure a long, stable revenue source, strengthening its foothold in the global satellite-based TV market.

Last year, the company clinched a three-year transponder contract with Pakistan-based satellite business Paksat. But KT SAT said the latest deal is meaningful, because the contract will not expire until the end of the satellites' 17-year lifespan.

DDISH TV will start using KT SAT's KOREASAT-5A satellites from 2017. Expectations are the company will offer more than 90 high-definition channels. DDISH TV is Mongolia's largest satellite broadcasting company, with some 320,000 subscribers since it started the business in 2008.

"The contract came as a result of successful collaboration between KT SAT and our satellite broadcasting provider affiliate, KT Skylife," the company said, Wednesday. "Both companies are expected to strengthen competitiveness in the satellite broadcasting sector, seeking next-generation growth areas."

Meanwhile, KT SAT plans to launch the KOREASAT-5G and KOREASAT-7 satellites at the end of this year, in a move to expand its coverage into nearby countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia and Pakistan.

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Mongolia and the New Russian Oil Diplomacy

March 4 (Modern Diplomacy) - Russia signed an inter-governmental agreement in early late January 2016 that would resettle Mongolia's debt to Russia which totaled $172 million, 97 per cent of Mongolia's total debt. The debt forgiveness signals Moscow is moving closer to Ulan Bataar as it slowly losses grip on other Former Soviet Union Republics economically. Mongolia also presents an increased market opportunity for Russia and its petrol products. The use of financial instruments and debts to bring countries closer to Russia and to gain political concessions are a mainstay in Russia's diplomatic toolkit.

The crashing oil market impacted Russia's economy by shrinking Russia's GDP and the regional economy causing many former Soviet Republics to rethink their economic policies and alliances. Countries heavily interconnected with Russia, politically and economically, suffered because of the crash of the commodities market and Western sanctions on Russia. Remittances dropped among four Central Asia states affecting their GDP. The slowed Russian economy has forced Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan—two of Russia's closest allies out of the Former Soviet Union—to seek economic opportunities elsewhere.

Kazakhstan's currency, the tenge, plunged 100 per cent in the last five months and the current exchange rate 352.08 tenge to one US dollar on 18 February. According to reporting on 23 February 2016 from Reuters, Kazakhstan's economy will grow only 0.5 per cent, as opposed to the originally forecasted 2.1 per cent.  Kazakhstan will also cut its oil output to 74 million tonnes. Kazakhstan's is looking to Middle Eastern investors such as the United Arab Emirates.  Kazakhstan's diversifying economic partners is also reflected in Kazakhstan's desire to be a bridge between Europe and Eurasia and to expand its bilateral economic partnerships.

The squeeze prompted discussion of raising rent rates for Russia who leases four of Kazakhstan's military and space sites including the Sary Shagan and Emba missile testing sites. Russia, for all four sites, pays $24 million which is not enough according to Kazakhstan MPs. Russia is currently leasing Baikonur Cosmodrome from Kazakhstan for $115 million a year until 2050.

Kyrgyzstan also cancelled plans for a hydroelectric power plant (HPP) as the two companies, Inter RAO and RusHydro, responsible for the project were unable to finance the completion of the Kambar-Ata-1 HPP. Vladimir Putin signed the agreement to construct the HPP in 2012 and costs projected at $3 billion. RusHydro was to build four smaller hydropower plants (HPP) costing $727 million. Citing information from EurasiaNet, Kyrgyz authorities are trying to find a way to avoid paying Russia a $40 million debt for a HPP in the Upper Naryn region.

Results for Kyrgyzstan in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) are mixed. Kyrgyzstan joined the EEU because of a large population of migrant workers in Russia, to strengthen bilateral ties, and access to traditional and regional markets.  Kyrgyzstan's inclusion in the EEU generated more migrant workers, about 544,000 Kyrgyz work in Russia today, according to Minister of Economy Kylychbek Dzhakypov. For the migrant workers, remittances dropped 28.3 per cent by the end of 2015; Tajikistan's and Uzbekistan's remittances dropped by half.

Internally, the resettlement of the debt favors Mongolia's government. Mongolia's Prime Minister survived a no confidence vote in January 2016 facilitated by Mongolia's poor economic performance. Mongolia's economy grew only 2.3 per cent in 2015, the slowest in seven years and since the 2009 global economic downturn. A drop in commodity prices, dwindling foreign investment, and a slowdown in Chinese trade contribute. One indicator of increased foreign direct investment is the end of negotiations over the Gatsuurt gold mine deposit permitting mining operations and the end of the dispute over Tavan Tolgoi.

"Clearly, the post-Soviet Russia avoids any strategic global competition with the US…Is it possible to (re-)gain a universal respect without any ideological appeal?" – famously asked prof. Anis Bajrektarevic. Well, here might come an answer: Revived Oil-gas Russian diplomacy.

Debt forgiveness may be way to lure Mongolia to import more energy from Russia. Mongolia in 2014, imported 91 per cent of its petroleum products from Russia including: gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel. As of 2013, Mongolia imported $1.03 billion worth of refined petroleum products accounting for 67% of imports from Russia. In 2011, Mongolia imported 90 per cent of its petrol products from Russia. Trade volume between Russia and Mongolia decreased by 2.8% (May 2015).

Mongolia's energy dependence makes it vulnerable to supply shocks and Russian politics as Russia terminated gas supply (Ukraine) during strained relations and spikes in anti-Russia sentiment. During April 2011, Russia cut its diesel supply to Mongolia because of shortages in its domestic supply which drove up costs of mining operations and logistics. 

Energy dependence affects mining operations and infrastructure which Mongolia lacks. Improved infrastructure in the country would mainly be used to export mining goods. Concerns of sovereignty and control also drive Mongolia's "Third Neighbor Policy." Many fear that Chinese and Russian construction projects would make movement of Mongolia's mining tonnage more dependent on the two countries. Another argument is that "such [railway] links would make Mongolia a natural resource backyard for China and even facilitate a Chinese demographic influx" into Mongolia.

Mongolia, to avoid energy dependence, needs to expand the "third neighbor policy" to avoid over-dependence. Mongolia's should use its status as a democracy for increased cooperation and funding from the European Union and other Asian nations such as Japan and South Korea. Mongolia's other "third neighbors" are all democracies. Mongolia also needs to diversify its economy from only exporting mineral resources. Russia will most likely take advantages of opportunities to advance the Mongolia-Russia bilateral relationship and to enhance Russia's position in the region.

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Report: North Korean diplomats smuggling luxury goods through Mongolia

The route is being used to send banned goods to Pyongyang.

SEOUL, March 4 (UPI) -- North Korean diplomats in charge of smuggling sanctioned goods into the country are using a route to Mongolia to transport the items.

The route is being used to send banned luxury goods to Pyongyang, and operates mostly under the international radar, Radio Free Asia reported Friday.

The United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution that passed Wednesday targets non-weapons trade, and provisions include bans on North Korean imports of luxury watches, Jet Skis and snowmobiles valued at more than $2,000.

A China-based source who spoke to RFA on the condition of anonymity said a "reliable North Korean worker" had said North Korean diplomats have been taking banned items such as electronics and luxury goods on the Mongolian route as China cracks down on North Korea trade.

The source said Pyongyang's diplomats are using their passports to carry the goods across the border undetected. Electronic components that can be used in nuclear and missile production are being transported across the route.

The goods are sometimes listed under a third-party firm or individual to cross into Mongolia from China, and the illegal goods movement is concealed by legitimate businesses.

North Korea illicit trade in other parts of the world, however, is taking a blow ahead of sanctions implementation.

North Korean diplomats in Mexico and Brazil who earn foreign currency for the regime through drug trafficking are expected to encounter tighter restrictions, a source told RFA.

Some diplomats are working around the restrictions in those countries by laundering the money in increments.

Last October, two North Korean diplomats in Sao Paulo were arrested for attempting to smuggle 3,800 Cuban cigars into Brazil, Yonhap reported.

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Cambodia inks air service agreement with Mongolia

March 5 (The Phnom Penh Post) Cambodia has signed a bilateral air service agreement with Mongolia that could pave the way for direct flights and increased tourist traffic between the two Asian countries, and open opportunities for investment, a government official said on Thursday.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesman for the State Civil Aviation Secretariat, said the agreement was an international obligation for bilateral air service and creates more opportunity for investors and tourists.

"If an investor sees this as a potential investment on both sides, they can take advantage of it," Vutha said. "The agreement would also attract more Mongolian tourists to visit Angkor Wat and our beaches, as Mongolia has no coastline."

The number of Mongolians visiting Cambodia remains extremely low, with less than 500 visiting the Kingdom last year, according to Tourism Ministry statistics.

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Health, Education

Speaker discusses benefits of camel milk with Inner Mongolian Prof.

Ulaanbaatar, March 7 (MONTSAME) On March 6, Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) Z.Enkhbold received Prof. N.Juramt from Chinese Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, who was participating in the "Camel herders' consultation", organized under "Mongolian Camel 999" festival in Omnogovi aimag.

They discussed advantages of constant use of camel milk. Here N.Juramt assured the Speaker that Chinese Inner Mongolian scholars "determined that camel milk cures diabetes in earlier stage and an export has begun of camel milk to Japan". "Moreover, a liter of raw milk costs 100 CNY, whereas pasteurized camel milk is sold for 200 CNY per liter".

Present at the meeting were Minister of Food and Agriculture, the Cabinet member, R.Burmaa and D.Bat-Erdene MPs.

The sides also exchanged views on potentials of trending the camel milk as a world brand, because two-thirds of the world Bactrian camel (two-humped camel) exists only in Omnogovi aimag of Mongolia.

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Culture, Society

Speaker witnesses solar-powered water well project in Omnogobi

Ulaanbaatar, March 7 (MONTSAME) In frames of his working tour to Omnogobi aimag, the Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold Monday got familiarized with a course of a project on setting up a solar energy-operated well pump that will facilitate herders' job and augment water supply.

An installion of the pump was successfully tested in 2013 in the aimag's Khankhongor and Sevrei soums. It has proved that this facility can be utilized fruitfully in a combination of land farming and animal husbandry, with low expenses. Works have launched to install the pumps in 29 wells in 15 soums under a contract between the National Center of Renewable Energy and the "Undarga-Omnogobi" company, the Speaker was told. Thanks to the work, a water supply for pasture lands has reached 38-42.5% in the last four years.

The Speaker has been accompanied by R.Burmaa MP, the Minister of Food and Agriculture; D.Bat-Erdene MP; authorities of the aimag; and others. 

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UB Post Highlights Mongolia's Leading Women for 2015

March 7 (UB Post) The people of Mongolia have demonstrated excellence in all types of endeavors in the year 2015. On the occasion of International Women's Day, The UB Post would like to highlight and commend the achievements of Mongolian women in the year 2015.

The UB Post presents the leading women of Mongolia in the following list.

Leading businesswoman: CEO of Natural Essentials LLC D.Khulan

Leading TV personality: Ch.Nomin

Leading fashion designer: B.Bayarmaa

Leading artist and philanthropist: G.Undarmaa

Leading scientist and innovator: S.Tugs

Leading athlete: B.Sumiya

Leading Director: B.Uizenmaa

Leading politician: S.Oyun

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Dormitory Seeks to Keep Young Adventists in Church in Mongolia

After seeing 70 percent of university students vanish in the city, church leaders pin their hopes on a new dormitory.

March 7 (Adventist Review) What are you going to do when Seventh-day Adventist young people move to the big city to pursue university studies and stop attending church?

Church leaders in Mongolia have hit on a solution after seeing 70 percent of its university-age students disappear: a dormitory.

The church's Mongolia Mission squeezed all its operations into one floor of its newly built  headquarters in the country's capital, Ulaanbaatar, and turned two other floors into men's and women's dormitories with rooms for up to 50 students.

After opening for a trial run in the 2014-15 school year, the dormitory is now operating in full swing with 23 students — and the initial results look promising, said Bold Batsukh, executive secretary of the Mongolia Mission.

"About a dozen students in the dorm come from country churches," he said. "Without the dormitory, maybe we would have lost them."

The problem of disappearing young Adventists surfaced after the church was established in Mongolia some two decades ago and a large contingent of new members started heading to the city to study. No Adventist universities operate in Mongolia.

"Our church basically was a new church," said Batsukh, 40, himself a young convert in the 1990s. "When the missionaries came, the first people who were attracted to them were young people. I was in my first year in college, wanting to learn English, so I ended up in that group."

Batsukh, who said he never felt any temptation to leave the church, noted that young people in rural areas were especially receptive to the gospel but faced many difficulties when they moved to the city. Some students, he said, struggled find a place to live in full or costly dormitories. Others settled in with relatives but when their faith became known were told, "If you are a Christian, we don't want you in our home."

Many Big-City Distractions

Other big-city realities also tested their faith. Some young people, eager to earn money, took jobs washing dishes or working as security guards at establishments where Adventists would not enter as customers.

"That kind of atmosphere distanced them from church," Batsukh said.

At the same time, Adventist students made new friends. A faithful few tried to bring their classmates to church, but many others were influenced to stop attending church.

"There are many ways that these people disappeared," Batsukh said. "As a church, we were not able to do anything. So the idea of the dormitory was born."

The idea was the brainchild of Jairyong Lee, president of the church's Northern Asia-Pacific Division, whose territory includes Mongolia, China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Lee said his heart was touched when he visited a church in Ulaanbaatar a few years ago and saw seven or eight Adventist university students living in a cold tent on a freezing December day.

"There was no kitchen in the tent. They did not have money to rent a house," Lee said.

So he spoke with local church leaders about the possibility of opening a dormitory for Adventist students as well as for a few non-Adventist students for mission purposes.

The result is the new dormitory, where four to six students share a room and pay the equivalent of $50 a month in rent, a bargain in a city where comparable housing goes for $90 to $100. The students are required to attend Sabbath worship services, held in a church sanctuary in the same building. They also can attend Adventist courses in the evenings and participate in missionary work on weekends.

"I am sure they will become strong and faithful lay church leaders in the future," Lee said.

Chinese and Korean Dorms

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A New Approach: USA, Syria, Tanzania, Mongolia

March 6 (BBC World Servie) Stories of our changing world, introduced by Pascale Harter. In this edition: BBC America Editor Jon Sopel describes the experience of seeing Donald Trump take a new and conciliatory tack on Super Tuesday; Warda al-Jawahiri walks the ruins of Homs and hears the stories of the people who once lived there; Hannah McNeish weighs up why so many Tanzanians are so impressed with their new President (it's all about his anti-corruption stance); and Anthony Denselow wonders how long the nomadic way of life can endure in Mongolia, as harsh winters kill off livestock and a shanty town mushrooms around the capital Ulan Bator.

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Nature, Environment

Mongolian livestock succumb en masse to the freezing dzud

March 7 (IRIN News) Daashka and his brother tear across the Mongolian steppe on a motorbike in a desperate search for somewhere to graze their herds. Pastureland is dwindling rapidly as the country is beset by a cycle of drought and harsh winter that is killing off livestock in droves.

"The summer ends early now and the fall is short and dry. Then there's the long winter," said Daashka, a 19-year-old herder who uses just one name and lives in the central Ulziit region.

The family's herd has shrunk from about 1,000 animals to 600, mostly sheep and goats, Daashka told IRIN as he leant against the motorbike on an exposed patch of dirt, which in normal years would have been covered in the roots of grass and other vegetation.

Mongolia is experiencing a natural disaster called a dzud. The phenomenon, unique to the country, usually occurs after a summer drought is followed by heavy winter snowfall that makes already scarce pastures inaccessible to livestock.  

In the past, the country experienced widespread dzud about once in a decade, but they have recently been occurring every few years. Experts say the rising frequency is due to a combination of climate change and human activity, which has increased the size of herds to levels the grasslands cannot sustain.

With temperatures dipping below minus 40 degrees Celsius in the evenings and extreme cold expected through April, Daashka's family had saved enough money to buy feed, which they hope will keep their herd alive until the spring. 

Other nomads have not been as fortunate. 

Half a mile away, about 100 dead goats and sheep were piled up amongst the rocks. The family was elsewhere with what remained of their herd, leaving one goat clinging to life near the relative warmth of a yurt, the traditional tent dwelling with a coal-burning heater inside.

Emergency appeal 

Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs last month asked for international aid to help deal with the dzud. It estimated that about $4.4 million is required for emergency vehicles, warm clothes, medicine and food to assist herders, in addition to hay, animal feed and vaccinations to keep livestock alive. 

But the national government has stopped short of declaring a state of emergency, which is required before some international agencies can allocate funding for emergency relief. 

Meanwhile, impassable roads covered with thick snow and ice are making it difficult for aid workers to reach herders. More than 400,000 people in the northern and western parts of the country are at risk, with millions of livestock facing starvation in the coming weeks and months, the Red Cross said in an appeal for funds last week. 

Climate change meets overgrazing 

"Global warming is causing about 50 percent of the problems and local forces cause the other 50 percent," said Gomboluudev Purevjav, head of climate research at Mongolia's Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment.  

Around half of Mongolia's 3.1 million people rely on livestock production. But with oversupply, prices have plunged on animal products such as milk, wool, meat and camel hair. 

Each sheep or goat – the most common livestock – is worth around $30. A cow is worth between $250 and $500, depending on meat quality. A camel is worth about $500, and a horse about $200 to $250, according to estimates by the Asian Development Bank.  

"Consequently, there is an incentive to increase animal numbers, leading to the colossal numbers we see today, at over 50 million head of livestock, which degrades the precious pasturelands," said Robert Schoellhammer, country director for the ADB.

The trend has been devastating when combined with climate change.

The average temperature in Mongolia has increased by 2.1 degrees Celsius since 1940, more than double the rise of average global temperatures, according to the UN Environment Programme. In its 2014 Global Climate Risk Index, the advocacy group German Watch ranked Mongolia the eighth most vulnerable country to direct economic losses from weather-related events.

According to a government report, 70 percent of pastoral land has already been degraded, with less variety of vegetation than in the past. The intensification of dry conditions has also increased the frequency of forest fires, which cut total forest area by 0.46 percent annually.  

As more pastureland is being absorbed into the vast Gobi Desert, the ancient herding lifestyle is disappearing with it. Paradoxically, the more their way of life is put at risk, the more herders engage in practices that put it in danger.

"Most herder families want to increase their herd so they can increase their income," said Uranchimeg, a herder in Bayankhongor Province who attended university in Russia in the 1980s but chose the fresh air and open spaces of a nomad's life over taking a job in a city.  

"That is making things more challenging for everyone," she said, looking out across the barren, snow-covered landscape. 

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For Mongolians, climate change is as personal as it getsDevex, March 7


Academy of Natural Sciences Researcher Proves Mongolian Herders Right in Climate Research

March 7 (Drexel University) Mongolia is acutely experiencing climate change. Since 1941, the country has experienced an average increase of two degrees Celsius. For comparison, the United States' average temperature has risen just about one degree Celsius in the past century.

That is fairly well-known and established among the scientific community. Clyde Goulden, PhD, curator emeritus and director of the Asia Center at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, decided to take a step further and see what he could glean from those outside the scientific community in Mongolia: the nomadic herders who make up almost a third of the country's population.

"It was very, very clear talking to the herders that they're very sensitive to their environment and changes to it," Goulden said. "We knew they would be able to tell us a lot about it."

What the herders told Goulden and his colleagues was that they were seeing intense, new rainstorms that were rare when they were young. These storms — which are not common in the United States — were damaging to grazing field and livestock, dangerous to the herders and their families and seemed to be happening pretty frequently.. 

Goulden and most scientists knew there was more rain falling in certain areas of Mongolia due to the observed temperature increases. For every increase of one degree Celsius, the atmosphere can hold roughly 7 percent more water. With a two-degree rise, that amounted to at least 14 percent more water in the air than there was 70 years ago.

But scientists hadn't noticed the intense storms the herders described. Called aadar boroo in Mongolian, these rains came in with almost no warning, dumped a heavy deluge of extremely cold water in almost no time (oftentimes more than one or two millimeters in a span of five minutes), and were accompanied by damaging winds. 

The herders told of their livestock dying in the cold rains, heavy flooding destroying vegetation, and their gers (tent-like structures described as yurts in other areas of the world) being damaged by the wind and water.

One herder Goulden and his colleagues interviewed described roads being washed out and mattresses in his ger floating around.

"When we were kids, we never heard of animals dying because of the rain," said another herder, who witnessed many of his animals succumb to hypothermia.

After speaking to almost 100 herder families, Goulden was saddled with finding proof for what they told him. 

"You have to think, are they wrong?" he recalled. "Herding is a way of life in Mongolia, it goes back 3,000 years. These people are so in-tune with the land, but the data in the weather stations showed nothing."

The reason that data didn't show the aadar rains, Goulden said, was because they only measured rain for a 4-hour periods, mostly manually. If an aadar occurred, it might look the same as a gentle, beneficial day-long rain, or be obscured by later, less-dangerous precipitation.

But "serendipity" allowed for them to find a measurement of the aadar rains, according to Goulden.

One weather station in the Dalbay Valley, where many herders Goulden and his colleagues spoke with live, had been set to automatically record rain in five minute intervals. With such a fine measurement selected, data showed 40 instances of aadar rains between 2008 and 2012.

Aadar rains are frequently accompanied by thunder and lightning. Goulden and his colleagues found that thunderstorms reported at a nearby weather station were 2.5 times more likely to predict the occurrence of aadar rains at Dalbay than not. As such, historical data dating back to 1960 showed that thunderstorms have increased over the years, while the number of overall rainy days has not. 

That pointed to an increase in the short, damaging aadar rains and a decrease in more benevolent forms of rain.

"It turns out that the herders were very accurate in what they told us," Goulden said.

Taking locals into account when doing research is "essential when considering changes in the climate and the whole environment," according to Goulden. Mongolia's scientists still haven't reacted to the findings of Goulden and his team, which were published in Climatic Change

"I suspect that the herders feel that they are pretty much ignored by the government, even though they provide the bulk of the food for the population," Goulden said. "Too often, herders are not only ignored, but also seldom appreciated for their contributions."

To that end, herders in the country are now deciding what to do as the climate worsens and makes their traditional lifestyle more difficult. Among the options they're considering are moving around more (a significant hardship), eliminating their cashmere goat herds (their biggest moneymakers — which since they eating whole plants instead of just pieces) or even just giving up herding altogether and moving to a city.

Although researchers like Goulden are working to further expose the effects of climate change and come up with solutions, many herders ultimately feel powerless.

"I am not well prepared," one herder told Goulden. "What can you do with the weather? It's beyond our control."

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Art, Entertainment

Lanark film-maker's Mongolian journey - video

March 4 (Carluke Gazette) LANARK film-maker Robert MacDonald and two companions grappled with Mongolian wrestlers on a trip of a lifetime to that country – wearing their kilts.

Robert, of Air Creations, travelled there with his brother Jamie and friend Davie Scott to take on the Mongolians at their national sport.

Robert is well known for wedding videos, but now his film of that trip, following three middle aged dads from Scotland as they embark on the journey of a lifetime and swap their omfortable suburban lives in Scotland for the rugged beauty and rich culture of Mongolia, is available as a documentary, Three Kilts in Mongolia.

Far from Scottish supermarkets, they turn to slaughtering goats and catching their own fish in the wild; they sleep in gers in the wilderness, and they - still clad in kilts - they tackle wrestlers regarded as heroes in Mongolia.

The trailer here shows some of the spectacular scenery and the living conditions during their trip.

(You can rent or buy the full documentary at

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The Most Dangerous Music in the World is—Surprise—Made by Angry Young Men

From Greece to Mongolia, incendiary songs flourish.

March 4 (Atlas Obscura) To their credit, the lyrics to "Speak Greek or Die," one of the more popular songs by the Greek neo-Nazi band Pogrom, get their point across pretty clearly.

The rap scene in Mongolia offers an example of how intense social conflict can transform music from subversive to hateful. After the collapse of the Mongolian People's Republic in 1990, rock and rap groups sprouted up across the country. By the 2000s, however, friction with China created a market for artists with xenophobic messages. In a 2012 interview with U.S. filmmaker Lauren Knapp, the popular Mongolian rapper Gee explained his position. "I'm not racist toward anybody… except the Chinese," said Gee. "I hate the Chinese."

This kind of anti-Chinese and anti-foreigner sentiment taints an otherwise remarkable musical renaissance in the country, says Peter Marsh, a musicologist at Cal State-East Bay and longtime Mongolia music scene-watcher. The hostility stems from a centuries-long rivalry with Mongolia's much-larger neighbor, and has been amplified in recent years as Chinese companies have increased their presence in the country, particularly in the mining sector, which is seen by some as polluting and exploitative. Still, "music, in all its different varieties, is a very, very important part of identity for young people today, and also an important means of expressing their wishes and desires for society," Marsh tells me. (Indeed, Knapp's 2014 documentary, Live from UB, offers an inspiring behind-the-scenes look at some of the country's budding rock stars.)

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