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Tuesday, March 22, 2016
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PM recommends resourcefulness and austerity in ASEM preparations
March 21 (ASEM Mongolia) National Council to organize the 11th ASEM Summit held its nineteenth meeting at the Government Palace on March 16. On its agenda were issues related to the status of preparation for the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting, the grant aid from the ASEM partner countries, and the budget for the "Press Center" that would be open during the ASEM Summit.
Press Center equipment and furniture supply presented
Ch. Saikhanbileg, the Chairman of the National Council and Prime Minister of Mongolia, was briefed on the list of some of the equipment, as well as hotel furniture that would be supplied in grant aid from the ASEM partner countries within the preparations for the ASEM Summit. It was deemed appropriate that the hotel furniture should be supplied at a discounted rate to the partner hotels that would be hosting the delegates to the Summit.
More than 1,000 foreign journalists are planning to cover the ASEM Summit. The ASEM Office of Mongolia, during the meeting, took up the budget for the equipment and instruments that would be required at the Press Center for the visiting journalists. In this connection, the National Council recommended that the budget must be saved as much as possible by tapping into the existing internal resources.
ASEP 9 preparation to finish soon
The preparation for the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting, which will be held in Ulaanbaatar on April 21-23, has been almost completed and it has been decided that the list and number of local delegates to the meeting should be finalized as soon as possible. The National Council also considered and approved the program for the Summit gala reception and the mini Naadam festival.
Landscaping work to be conducted without inconveniencing the residents – ASEM Mongolia, March 21
TRQ closed -1.76% Monday to US$2.79, +30.4% in last 1 month
Rio Tinto's new CEO expected to grab bigger slice of Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi copper
March 21 (Sydney Morning Herald) Rio Tinto's incoming chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques has been tipped to boost the miner's stake in the vast Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia when he replaces incumbent Sam Walsh in July.
Mr Jacques, the current chief of Rio's copper and coal division, has hinted he will prioritise improving the company's balance sheet and cost base as the miner navigates a crunch in the price of many of the key commodities it produces.
But one London-based analyst says Rio will almost certainly look to boost its 33 per cent stake in the Oyu Tolgoi copper deposit, considered the company's most exciting growth project.
Rio holds a 50.79 per cent stake in Canadian-listed Turquoise Hill, which owns 66 per cent of Oyu Tolgoi, and broker Investec said mopping up the balance of the Turquoise Hill shares would be a low-risk priority for the big miner given the strong competition for other Tier 1 copper assets around the globe.
"Rio will be very interested in Tier 1 copper assets but it's a crowded field," Investec mining analyst Hunter Hillcoat said. "The only specific target would be consolidation of Oyu Tolgoi and I see it as buying out the balance of Turquoise Hill."
It is thought the miner could buy the balance of Turquoise Hill stock for about $US2.3 billion ($3 billion).
Mr Hillcoat said he expected the Mongolian government to retain its 34 per cent stake in Oyu Tolgoi, although an election timed for June, just weeks before Mr Jacques takes the chief executive role, will undoubtedly have a bearing on the timing of any potential move by Rio.
Confidence to move
Several landmarks in 2015 handed Rio the confidence to increase its stake in Turquoise Hill, including the development agreement for the second stage of Oyu Tolgoi that was struck with the Mongolian government in May and the $US4.4 billion debt package that was secured for the mine expansion in December.
Mr Jacques' elevation to the top role at Rio surprised many in the market because iron ore division boss Andrew Harding was seen as the most logical successor to Mr Walsh, who was promoted to the top job three years ago after heading the iron ore unit.
With iron ore constituting about 90 per cent of Rio's earnings, the division remains hugely significant in the company's commodity stable and Mr Hillcoat said he thought Mr Harding might stay on in his current role despite missing out on the top job, given volatility elsewhere in the resources sector.
"Andrew will be disappointed, I'm sure," Mr Hillcoat said. "But this is not the bull market it used to be. Any new CEO role he could take on would likely involve trying to resuscitate a struggling, debt-ridden, once-major-now-minor miner versus the comfort of running an existing world-class operation."
In an internal email to staff on Friday, Mr Walsh emphasised the achievements during his tenure as boss, which included $US1.8 billion in asset sales and generating cost reductions of almost $US2 billion.
"We have delivered what we said we would. We have improved safety, we have lowered costs, we have reduced capital and working capital, we have focused on cash, we have strengthened the balance sheet and we have delivered returns to shareholders," Mr Walsh said.
"But perhaps most importantly, we are now all acting as owners of the business. I am seriously proud of the value we have delivered together, and I look forward to seeing what's to come."
Rio Tinto's CEO succession marks business as usual – AFR, March 18
Rio, shifting focus, replaces veteran Walsh with copper boss – Reuters, March 17
Turquoise Hill Resources' CEO Jeff Tygesen on Q4 2015 Results - Earnings Call Transcript
Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (NYSE:TRQ), Q4 2015 Earnings Conference Call, March 18, 2016 11:00 AM ET
Oyu Tolgoi Announces 2015 Performance Update
· Oyu Tolgoi today announced an update on its performance for the fourth quarter and full year 2015.
· Oyu Tolgoi achieved an excellent safety performance for 2015 with an All Injury Frequency Rate of 0.33 per 200,000 hours worked.
· For 2015, Oyu Tolgoi's second full year of production, the mine operated at record levels.
· Oyu Tolgoi recorded revenue of US$1.6 billion in 2015 on record concentrate sales of 819,800 tonnes reflecting higher concentrate sales volumes partially offset by lower copper and gold prices.
· In Q4'15, Oyu Tolgoi recorded revenue of US$355.6 million on concentrate sales of 236,200 tonnes reflecting lower copper and gold prices combined with lower sales of metal in concentrate.
· Underground pre-start activities are underway in parallel with an update to the feasibility study capital estimate, which is expected to be complete in Q1'16.
· Turquoise Hill continues to expect approval of the updated 2016 feasibility study and notice to proceed decisions by the various boards for underground construction in Q2'16.
· In 2015, copper production of 202,200 tonnes exceeded Turquoise Hill Resources guidance and annual gold production of 653,000 ounces met guidance.
· Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes of copper and 210,000 to 260,000 ounces of gold in concentrates for 2016.
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. Announces Issuance of Stock Options to Directors
Toronto, Ontario, March 18 (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK - TSXV) ("MGG" or the "Company") announces that a total of 350,000 3-year, stock options to purchase shares of MGG at an exercise price of CDN $0.38 per share have been granted to directors of the Company subject to TSX Venture Exchange approval. These options have been issued pursuant to the Company's Stock Option Plan in order to attract, retain and motivate existing directors, officers and employees of the Company. The stock options and shares issuable on exercise thereof will be subject to a hold period of four months and one day from the date of issuance.
AKM trading flat Tuesday morning at A$0.008
Aspire Mining Welcomes Back Gan-Ochir Zunduisuren to Board as Non-Executive Director
March 22 -- Mongolian metallurgical coal explorer and infrastructure company, Aspire Mining Limited (ASX: AKM, Aspire), is pleased to announce the appointment of Gan-Ochir Zunduisuren as a non-executive director on 21 March 2016.
Mr. Zunduisuren has over 15 years' experience in the resource sector of Mongolia and Canada.
Aspire's Managing Director, Mr David Paull said that "With his extensive experience and knowledge of the Mongolian resource industry and landscape, we are delighted to welcome back Gan-Ochir to the Board."
Best and Worst of Mongolia?
COMMENTARY ON MONGOLIA'S EXPLORATION AND MINING COMPANIES
March 18 (Mongolian Investment Banking Group) --
The Good: Erdene's results cause optimism in Mongolia (+35% YTD)
Erdene Resource Development Corp (TSX:ERD) had been on fire lately as the company's shares started off 2016 on the TSX at CAD $0.14. However recent exploration results as well as strength in gold price associated with positive investors' sentiment toward Mongolia caused the shares to reach CAD $0.24 (+71% YTD) this month.
Since the high of CAD $0.24 the shares of Erdene is trading at CAD $0.19 as we write this week's market analysis. The company was able to raise CAD $770,000 through exercise of warrants which is a direct benefit of the company's strong share price performance in 2016. With the way the company is able to pick up some momentum, we believe future financing opportunity will also become smoother for the company as well.
MIBG continues to promote its "Speculative Buy" rating of the stock and believes Bayan Khundii ("BK") offers a dynamic opportunity to investors. The project's high gold grade makes future economics that much attractive, while the current mineralization discovered to date along with metallurgical results enable a junior like Erdene to become a mid-sized producer in the near future.
We believe 2016 exploration program may offer significant upside to investors as the company is planning to drill 3,500 meters and carry out additional geological exploration. Beyond the scope of this year's exploration plan, we expect future catalyst events on Erdene to be a new discovery and potential increase in size of the BK project, resource delineation and pre-feasibility study on BK, or obtaining of a mining permit on BK.
Disclosure: MIBG's CEO, Mr. Bilguun Ankhbayar was recently appointed as Strategic Advisor to Erdene Resource Development Corp. The announcement of his appointment can be found in the following release:
The Bad: Mongolian Mining Corporation facing default (-76% YTD)
Once the darling among Mongolian miners, MMC is facing a potential to default on its debt payments which are due this month. As coal prices continue to deteriorate the coal miner halted trade on the 14th March 2016 to announce the appointment of lenders' steering committee in an effort to restructure its debt. As soon as the company's shares resumed trading the stock price fell by -23%.
At the end of 2015, the company had approximately within 1 year to maturity debt obligations of about $744.8 million USD of which $693 million is facing an event of default this month. The largest (and most problematic) of which is a $600 million senior notes. The company had expressed on Jan 26th 2015 that it intends to restructure the notes which will mature in 2017, however MMC will need to pay about $26.6 million USD on March 29th 2016 in semi-annual interest payment to the note holders. The company announced on 14th March 2016 that it is highly unlikely to make the coupon payments hence an event of default under the notes will take place.
The company also owes approximately $93 million USD to BNP Paribas Singapore and ICBC bank of China. On the 14th March 2016, the company had announced that it obtained a temporary waiver until 22nd March 2016 to pay an undisclosed interest and principal amount. If the payment is not made on 22nd of March then an event of default will take place under the BNP/ICBC Facilities Agreement.
We believe that the company is highly likely to default on its debt payments which are scheduled on 22nd and 29th of March. The company seems to be working to restructure its debt. The detailed restructuring plan was not made public, however typical restructuring practices in a similar situation usually involves extending the maturity of debt obligations and measures to strengthen the liquidity position of the company.
In the case that the company fails to restructure its debt then the assets pledged under these debt agreements are shares of Mongolian Coal Corporation Limited (Hong Kong) and Mongolian Coal Corporation S.a.r.l (Luxembourg). Mongolian Coal Corporation Limited wholly owns Mongolian Coal Corporation S.a.r.l which in turn owns Energy Resources LLC (Mongolia) and Tavan Tolgoi Power Plant Water Supply LLC (Mongolia) as well as associated infrastructure and property plants and equipments. Mongolian Coal Corporation Limited (Hong Kong) also owns Baruun Naran S.a.r.l (Luxembourg) as well.
About a month ago another Hong Kong listed Chinese coal miner Up Energy also defaulted on its $125 million USD bond, which triggered a cross default amount totaling $444 million USD.
Until next week,
3 Stocks That Will Profit From the Mongolian Mineral Rush
March 21 (TheStreet) Like the old man in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the commodities super cycle is "not dead yet." Year to date, the iShares Commodities Select Strategy ETF (COMT) is up 3.9%. Over the last month, it has jumped 11%. In December, commodities prices had sunk to a decade low and the entire sector was given up for, well, dead.
Copper in particular has come back to life. The Global X Copper Miners ETF (COPX) is up 26% so far this year and 28% over the last month. Signs of continued global growth, especially in China, are largely fueling the resurrection of commodities. Below, we examine three ways to play the rebound in commodities prices. They're among the best growth stock opportunities available in a broader market that remains risky and volatile.
Let's start with Mongolia (yes, Mongolia). Once home to only camels and nomadic herders, Mongolia's Gobi Desert is experiencing a gold and copper rush of epic proportions. After a slight lull in the action from 2012-2015, 2016 is shaping up to be the year when the rubber hits the mining road as the Oyu Tolgoi mine expansion at last gets underway.
Mongolia's sizable mineral wealth drives the country's economic output. In the last decade, Mongolians have discovered even greater mineral resource deposits, including copper, gold and coal. Capital markets, however, have approached Mongolia with a mix of caution and excitement.
Many want to participate in one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but cultural mismatches make doing business difficult. U.S. investors, long chomping at the bit to invest in this Asian country, have been spooked in the past by negotiations, delays and a collapsing commodity market.
Entering the fourth quarter of 2015, the prospects for reaching a financing and operation expansion agreement on the Oyu Tolgoi mine looked grim. Shares of the associated economic parties had been trending downward from 2013 to 2015. This may have been what inspired TD Asset Management to sell off 7.3% of its position in Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ - Get Report) during the fourth quarter of last year. Turquoise Hill Resources is the NYSE-listed company (market cap: $5.71 billion) linked with the Oyu Tolgoi mine assets.
Now, though, things are looking different.
1. Turquoise Hill Resources
In December 2015, the climate for Mongolian mining shifted favorably. Rio Tinto(RIO) closed the negotiations and secured financing of $4.4 billion to begin mine expansion in the first half of 2016. From 2009 to 2011, Turquoise Hill Resources stock benefited from the market news of the "asset discovery" and size, but shares dropped from 2011 through 2013 due to contract negotiations.
The stock went basically sideways in 2014 and then rallied early last year before selling off. But shares have rallied since January of this year, and the company's earnings look promising. The lone analyst covering the stock has a 12-month price target or $3.82, which suggests upside of 37%.
2. Rio Tinto
Mongolia: Land of Lost Opportunity
By Rhiannon Hoyle
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, March 20 (WSJ)—Six years ago, nomadic farmer Ankhbayar Garamdagva followed the herd to this city on the fringe of the Gobi desert, hoping to share the riches promised to Mongolia by the global commodities boom.
The 29-year-old father of two sold off all his livestock and borrowed money from a local bank to set up a stall selling jeans at a market in the city's south, sheltered only by sheets of plastic from temperatures that sometimes break below minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mr. Garamdagva travels with his wife once a month to a wholesale market in a town just over Mongolia's southern border with China to stock up on jeans, which he then sells for $10 each back in Ulaanbaatar.
But customers are scarce these days. The boom times in Ulaanbaatar have come and gone along with the rise and fall in commodities prices.
Now in his mid-30s, Mr. Garamdagva—along with many of his fellow countrymen—regrets what he left behind, and faces an uncertain future laden with debt.
"My sheep, goats, cows, horses…I sold everything, I can't go back," he says. "I moved here for a good life but, this year, we see no future."
Few developing countries have seen their hopes dashed more by the slump in global commodities prices than Mongolia, this country of three million people that is almost four times the size of California.
With its vast unexploited reserves of copper, coal and other minerals once estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion, and a neighbor—China—going through a belated industrial revolution, Mongolia looked to have won a ticket into the modern world.
The country became known as 'Minegolia' as thousands of promising mining sites were identified. Mongolia's leaders envisaged riches from part-owning mines such as Oyu Tolgoi, the world's largest underdeveloped reserve of copper. Global companies including Rio Tinto PLC and banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. pursued mining rights and stakes in local lenders.
In 2011, Mongolia was the world's fastest-growing economy, expanding by more than 17%. Its former leader, Sukhbaatar Batbold, in 2012 forecast the country could keep growing at that rate for a decade.
It was hoped the mining boom would enrich this nation of nomadic herders enough to be able to invest in vital infrastructure, along with reliable water and electricity supplies.
Yet Mongolia failed to make progress on key projects before the commodities boom subsided. Oyu Tolgoi, now controlled by Rio Tinto, still awaits full development. At $5,000 a metric ton, copper prices are roughly back at 2005 levels, having surged to more than $10,000 between then and now.
For sure, Mongolia's economy is still eking out some growth, unlike countries such as Canada and Brazil, which tipped into recession as the mining boom faded.
But between 2013 and 2015, the only minerals-rich developing countries that recorded a sharper economic slowdown were those ravaged by conflict or epidemics: South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Ukraine. In January, the World Bank cut its Mongolia's growth forecast this year to just 0.8%: Two years ago, it forecast growth of 7.7% for 2016.
Mongolians like Mr. Garamdagva have arguably been left in a worse position than when the mining go-go years began.
"We missed the big time; the free ride that we were given," said Ganhuyag Chuluun Hutagt, Mongolia's vice minister of finance from 2010-2012. "No matter what happens to China, I thought, we will still find something to sell to them…which was not true, obviously."
On the steppes outside Ulaanbaatar stands an enormous 131-foot-high statue of the warrior Genghis Khan on horseback, built by one of the country's richest men during the boom years to symbolize the return to greatness of a people that ruled an empire stretching from the Pacific to Turkey 800 years ago.
The statue stands in contrast to the situation now in the city, known locally as UB, where essential infrastructure was either never built or was poorly developed.
In packed district hospitals, for example, families sleep in the hallways and lobbies. On a recent afternoon, Purevsuren Sergelen paced a corridor in Bayanzurkh District Hospital, nursing her 6-month-old son, Tumenbayar, who was admitted three days earlier suffering from flu.
"There are nine beds in my room and 18 kids are sharing beds with 18 mothers—a total of 36 people are staying in one room," said the 21-year-old. "The air quality is not good in a room, so I take my baby in to the hallway most of the time."
She says she wishes new medical facilities had been built, or more beds added to existing hospitals like this one. Long-held plans for a new hospital in downtown Ulaanbaatar sit on the shelf.
Mrs. Purevsuren lives about 3 miles away in a sprawling settlement of white, round traditional Mongolian structures and small brick homes that mushroomed on UB's outskirts as nomads were drawn to the city. The so-called ger district is now home to nearly 800,000 people, according to government estimates, more than half of UB's total population. There remains little access to basic amenities such as running water.
Many Mongolians risk being dragged back below the poverty line again as the economy sinks, according to the World Bank. Mongolia's unemployment rate jumped to 8.3% in the final quarter of 2015, from 6.3% a quarter earlier.
In November, a mining-union leader held a news conference to protest the worsening plight of miners.
"Families of the workers are starving," said Erdene Sambuunyam, the head of the Solidarity trade union of state-run mining company Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi.
The news conference took a startling turn when Mr. Sambuunyam said he would burn himself "for our children and for the people of Mongolia."
He then set himself on fire.
Mr. Sambuunyam is now being treated in a hospital in Seoul. Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi paid his medical expenses, a company spokesman said.
Mongolia's economy has been floored by China's slowdown, which has unleashed a flood of supply of commodities onto global markets, sparking a 20% drop in the S&P GSCI commodities index over the past year.
There is little industry outside of Mongolia's resources sector and no other country is as reliant on China, to which Mongolia sends nearly 90% of its exports, mostly commodities.
With no access to the sea, and lacking sufficient transport infrastructure, Mongolian miners aren't able to chase potential buyers in new markets such as India and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, like other resource-based countries can.
Foreign direct investment into Mongolia has all but vanished.
Net flows were flat in 2015, the latest central-bank data show. Mongolia's external debts have risen 10-fold within six years, while government debt has swelled to $3.65 billion, more than double 2009 levels.
During the boom years, hotels such as the Shangri-La sought to establish a foothold in UB, while luxury-goods shops including Louis Vuitton and Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin SA set up shop fronts. The latter has since closed.
Residential property prices have dropped by 35% in the past four years, while an estimated 37,000 apartments stand empty across the city, according to estimates from M.A.D. Investment Solutions, a local property group.
Some in Mongolia blame political indecision and missteps for the country's problems.
After issuing free shares in the Tavan Tolgoi coal project to citizens in 2011, the government was forced to introduce a program to buy them back a year later for 1 million tugrik ($500) per person, after plans for an initial public offering of the company collapsed.
Ahead of elections in 2008, politicians had also promised to dole out cash, spending on the promise of riches to come. For more than a year, the government handed out about $17 a month to all Mongolians.
"The budget is still paying back the debt," said Oyun Sanjaasuren, a member of the current governing coalition.
Rio Tinto's plans to expand the Oyu Tolgoi mine in the Gobi desert are now running years behind, a victim of fraught talks with Mongolia's government that wanted a bigger slice of the revenue pie.
The expansion could yet go ahead: In December, Rio Tinto and its partners lined up a combined $4.4 billion from 20 lenders to fund the construction of an underground mine three times as deep as the Empire State Building is tall. Still, output from the expanded mine will only start in 2021 at the earliest.
Meantime, Mr. Garamdagva, the former farmer, fears the long, harsh winter isn't over for Mongolia and his family. He has had to borrow from fellow stall owners to help cover monthly debt repayments.
"We can't pay it back," Mr. Garamdagva said, taking a swig of local tea, laden with milk and thick with salt. "We will for sure have to take more loans on…but individuals don't have any money any more so I don't know who we will get a loan from next time."
Mongolia Grapples With Collapse in Commodity Prices – WSJ, March 20
MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -2.48%, ALL -1.87%, ₮133.8 Million Shares, ₮88.1 Million T-Bills
March 18 (MSE) --
MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -1.86%, ALL -0.47%, ₮17.7 Million Shares, ₮6.98 Billion T-Bills
March 21 (MSE) --
Historic low ₮2,048.21/USD set March 21, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time
BoM MNT Rates: Monday, March 21 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
Key Indicators of Mongolia's Banking System: Loss ₮68.9B, NPLs +36.4%, Loans +4.6% YoY, NPL/Loans 7.8%
March 18 (Bank of Mongolia) --
Central bank bills
In domestic currency
In foreign currency
In domestic currency
In foreign currency
In domestic currency
In foreign currency
Profit/loss of current year
Mongolia's Foreign Trade Review, February 2016
March 18 (Bank of Mongolia) --
Total trade turnover: $965.4 millions
As of Feb 2016 the total cumulative trade turnover decreased by 20.6% (USD 250.2 millions) from that of the previous year and reached USD 965.4 millions. The decrease in the trade turnover was mainly due to the decrease in exports by USD 139.9 millions.
The structure of the trade flows with the neighboring trade partners is as following: (i) trade with PRC: 62.3% or USD 601.9 millions and (ii) trade with Russia: 10.8% or USD 104.7 millions. The trade vol-ume between Mongolia and China decreased by 18.2% and the trade volume between Mongolia while Russia decreased by 34.0%.
Trade balance: $261.2 million
As of Feb 2016, the cumulative trade balance deteriorated by USD 29.7 millions from that of the previous year and reached surplus of USD 261.2 millions. During the reporting period even though the total imports decreased by 23.8% from that of the previous year, exports decreased by 18.6% from that of the previous year, thus the trade balance deteriorated by USD 29.7 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: $243.8 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 Feb 2016, the trade balance of paid trade flows reached USD 243.8 millions. During the reporting period, paid imports decreased by 23.7%, and paid exports decreased by 21.7% from that of previ-ous year.
Terms of trade: 1.229 (test estimation)
As of Feb 2016, terms of trade index (2012 base year) decreased by 22.1% from that of the previous year and reached 1.229.
This decrease in the terms of trade is mainly attributed to the de-crease in export price of coking coal, copper concentrate, iron ore and crude oil.
Composition: 85% + 15%
The share of mineral exports in total exports declined by 4% from that of the previous year.
Exports of coal, copper concentrate, iron ore and concentrate and crude oil have a weight of nearly 71% of total exports and 84% of mining exports.
In addition, these 4 products' share in the mining exports in-creased by 4.0 points from that of the previous year, share in the total exports remained at the similar level.
Mongolian export decreased by 18.6% from that of the previous year, which was mainly affected by decrease in commodity prices.
Coking coal, copper concentrate, iron ore, crude oil and non-monetary gold export decreased by nearly 33%, 8%, 66%, 25% and 35% respectively, which accounted for 20% decrease in the growth of mining export.
As of Feb 2016, Mongolian export decreased by 139.9 million USD from that of the previous year. It is affected by the increase in export commodities' quantities (USD 74.8 millions) and decrease in export commodities' prices (USD 214.8 millions) .
Because of the increase in quantity of copper concentrate mining export increased by 120 millions USD. On the other hand, be-cause of decrease in prices of mineral exports, mining export de-clined by 217.0 million USD.
Cashmere, cashmere products' export decreased by 3 million USD, while other exports increased by 8 million USD.
World market prices for primary commodities
As of Feb 29 2016, gold price reached 1,239 USD, increased by 2.1% from that of the previous year and by 10.8% from that of the last month.
As of Feb 29 2016, copper and iron ore prices reached 4,706 USD and 49.0 USD respectively. Copper price decreased by 20.6% from that of previous year and increased by 3.0% from that of previous month. Iron ore price decreased by 23.4% from that of previous year and increased by 14.0% from that of previous month.
Composition: 36% + 30% + 15%
As of Feb 2016, 36% of total imports were consumer goods, 30% were capital goods and 15% were fuels.
Share of the fuels in total imports decreased by 8% from that of the previous year, while the share of consumer goods import in-creased by 2%.
Mongolian imports decreased by 23.8% from that of the previous year. Main contributors of this decrease were consumer goods decrease, which equals to 6% of the total decrease and fuel im-ports which equals to 11% of the total decrease.
Consumer goods and petroleum products imports decreased by 19% (29 millions USD) and 48% (51 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 36% (6.5 millions USD) and foods import decreased by 20% (12.7 millions USD).
Capital goods import decreased by 19% (24.5 millions USD) which was mainly contributed by 24% decrease in machinery, equipment and supplies (19 million USD). In addition, import of construction materials decreased by 28% (9 million USD) from that of previous year.
Intermediate goods and industrial materials import decreased by 7% (5 millions USD).
Fuels import decreased by 48% (51 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.
PM's Economic Council Discusses Next Round of Tax Reforms
Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) At its meeting last Friday, the Economic Council at the Prime Minister discussed two issues regarding tax.
Head of the Budgetary Income Division at the Ministry of Finance E.Altanzul reported about a draft new version of the law on income tax of entities. This amendment has been formulated by the government in frames of a performance of the secondary reform in the tax which is reflected in the governmental action programme, she said. The size of taxes will remain, and the threshold will be maximized by the new wording, she added.
Concerning a size of customs tax on some imported products, head of the Industry Ministry's Department of strategic policy and planning D.Battogtokh pointed out that the import of 12 kinds of products has declined because of a governmental decision of augmenting the customs tax by up to 20% on these goods. For example, the import of cement has decreased by 46%, and honey--by 16%, contributing to halting the currency flow to foreign countries.
At the end of the meeting, the Economic Council members put forward specific proposals on the discussed matters.
Mogi: what study is this? Who's study is this?
Mongolians working abroad on the rise
March 21 (news.mn) Currently, 125,000 Mongolians are living and working abroad, of whom 25,000 are in South Korea. Each year several thousand people travel to that country, in order to work - mostly in the industrial sector. A sociological study of the broader family problems shows the psychological difficulties often faced by their children, who are left in Mongolia with grandparents. The study also shows that many couples who have been separated over the course of several years, as a result of one of the pair working abroad, end up getting divorced. As the number of Mongolians going abroad to work seems to be on the increase, the family issues raised in the study are likely to become more serious.
₮400 Million VAT Lottery Super Winner Number Announced
March 21 (news.mn) Yesterday (20th March), the 7th VAT lottery took place with a super prize of MNT 400 million. The owner of VAT receipt number 260 241 90 won this.
Yesterday's lottery was for all the VAT receipts issued between 1st January-15thMarch. In order to win MNT 100,000 there should be a "match" of eight figures. However, because the match had not been found, the prize was rolled on becoming MNT 400 million, which a lucky winner won yesterday.
Also, in this, the most recent VAT lottery, one person won MNT 20 million, 21 people MNT 4 million and 226 - MNT 500,000.
M.Enkhsaikhan: Mongolia's next government will face challenges beyond anything before
March 18 (UB Post) The following is and interview with Minister of Mongolia and Head of the Mongolian National Democratic Party (MNDP) M.Enkhsaikhan about timely political issues.
MNDP has decided to participate in the upcoming election with the Motherland Party, founded by Erel Group's President B.Erdenebat. Why did MNDP decide to do this?
I'm personally meeting with other political parties as the head of MNDP to discuss issues related to participation in the upcoming election. I've always established coalition whenever I took part in an election. The Democratic Union Coalition, Motherland Democratic Coalition and Justice Coalition all participated in elections successfully. These are indications of my miniscule effort. I'm trying to establish a much bigger coalition, the Great Coalition, based on these experiences. This sort of requirement has arisen. It's better to unite several parties into a coalition rather than holding an election with just two parties. I believe that this is what we need now. It's a timely requirement.
The economy is in bad shape and the country is on the verge of becoming a bankrupt nation. It's clear that the government after the elections will encounter hardships and difficulties never seen before in the history of Mongolia.
The new government will have to confront the key issue of bond and debt repayment. Precisely at this time, the government needs to become more professional. The current situation show that Mongolia will need to establish the Great Coalition for political stability. The future of the nation will become vague if people who can't manage to do things on their own are elected instead of major political parties. MNDP is working to make a custom out of the joining of parties into a coalition. Our attempt to create a coalition much bigger than previous ones is part of this work. Time will show whether or not the coalition will be established.
How will MNDP compete in the election this time? Your party is also considering joining hands with the Justice Coalition or Mongolian People's Party (MPP). Hasn't the Democratic Party also proposed running in the election together?
As mentioned before, I believe that a much wider ranged coalition is consistent to the interests of Mongolia's future. MNDP is ready to collaborate with every political party. Finding faults from a party and chasing them out of the cabinet is against our party view and principle.
The Tavan Tolgoi mega project is an important topic attracting attention from the public and politicians as it is extremely significant to the society and economy. In general, how are Tavan Tolgoi issues progressing?
There are two projects related to Tavan Tolgoi. The power plant project is progressing well. A Japanese investor was selected for it. The project has proceeded to the stage where issues are being organized and negotiated in more detail according to technical and commercial tasks given before. The project team plans to finalize matters related to the investment agreement within May.
As for the coal mining project, it has lost some time. The project has been postponed due to unfavorable market conditions. It clearly shows that things can turn into trouble if not completed in time.
In general, how are mega projects of Mongolia coming along? What is obstructing their progress?
Mega projects require their own methodology and funds. Mongolia doesn't have many mega projects. Instead, it has many mega dreams. Funds amounting to at least three percent of the total project investment is required for preparation work. If we consider mega projects as a project requiring investment of more than a billion USD, 30 million USD will be spent on the preparation work. Not even the private sector can generate this sort of large sum of money, let alone the state.
The biggest difficulty for starting mega projects is money. Then, overjoy and excitement wrecks mega projects. Mongolians are capable of making fantastic films that can turn a mega project into a mega dream. We haven't learned to complete mega projects yet. Besides, it doesn't seem that the private sector has learned to work properly. There are tons of reasons for the delay if we keep listing like this. Mega projects can be considered as an independent lesson.
During such a difficult economic time, are there opportunities for generating financing for projects?
Foreigners have categorized Mongolia as a risky country and are even more scared to invest in Mongolia because Mongolia's economy degraded and our credibility diminished. At the moment, our nation's ability to generate capital is very poor. Setting the correct economic policy and improving indexes will become the first step for attracting investment and becoming a nation that develops rather than accumulating debt. The situation will not improve if we continue to be extravagant and not value investors. Economic pragmatism is what Mongolia needs the most for creating opportunities that enable us to cooperate with foreigners while protecting our interests.
Mongolia is scheduled to start bond repayment from 2017. It's certain that it will be difficult. Is there any way to facilitate the difficulty?
We will not be able to repay our debt if we continue in our current way. We will have to take another loan to make sure the nation doesn't go bankrupt. In my opinion, it's necessary to work more closely with the International Monetary Fund. We have to join the Standby Program and take out a cheap loan. This will probably be the first problem the new government will face after the election. Mongolia could have joined this program a year ago. There's an estimation that the economic loss from not joining Standby Program equals nearly 100 million USD.
In the past, you said that Mongolia has a potential to become the largest coal supplier in the world if Tavan Tolgoi project is successful. However, economists have been saying that it's fruitless to depend on coal. Can you comment on this?
Coal price has fallen in the market. It seems like it will not recover anytime soon. It's not time to be worrying about the future when we're concerned about what to do with the coal we have now. Had the Tavan Tolgoi project advanced forward, our economic difficulty would have been less severe. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. It's not that great to personally feel the severity of the economic difficulty. Actually, I've been supporting the state so that it would predict this sort of thing in advance and take preventive measures. But we weren't able to do so.
In your opinion, which sector should Mongolia rely and focus on? What is the correct development direction for our nation?
Mongolian politicians say that the traditional industry is the foundation to development whenever the election draws nearer. It's essential to support agriculture, but selling meat, leather and wool will not develop the mining sector. Revenue from agriculture is merely sufficient for food. Of course, it's good for Mongolians who manage livestock, but the majority of the population live in cities and urban settlements. The main sector to develop would be mining if we want to improve the livelihood of everyone, including herders. Afterwards, we can support agriculture with the money from mining.
Even meat prices fall when the mining sector degrades. The traditional industry falls. It's necessary to learn from our mistakes in the mining sector and reform mining governance. There are ready materials and recommendations for this. I've only pinched on this topic. I hope that people participating in the election pay attention to this matter.
What measures should be taken to overcome the current economic difficulty?
There are 53 countries in the world known to be rich in natural resources. The term rich isn't used to indicate that these countries are wealthy. Countries are labeled "rich in resources" if more than 20 percent of their total export volume consists of mining products, according to the International Monetary Fund. It actually means that the nation isn't rich and wealthy but dependent on mining. Estimations indicate that underground minerals in a square meter area of a country rich in natural resources is worth 25,000 USD. Mongolia's resource doesn't even reach one USD for this indicator.
We call underground deposits "natural resources" when in fact, it should be considered as a resource after it is mined and proves to be useful to people's lives. Mining underground deposits require considerable amount of money. Mongolia doesn't have that much money. Not to mention that technology and equipment are essential as well. This is exactly why countries race to find foreign investment. Yet, this sort of concept and understanding is very poor here in Mongolia. Mongolia might face the risk of forever staying in the dark if we don't change the way we think. We must change our attitude so that we can recover the economy.
Some economists believe that economic difficulty will continue until 2023. Other economists say that Mongolia will be able to attain its own position in the mining industry as well as capital by the time the economic difficulty ends if we continue mining. What do you think about this?
It's good that Mongolian economists are thinking about ways to change mining governance and are looking for solutions for correcting the system. I agree that Mongolia has potential to learn from its mistakes and advance forward.
PM discusses the government's current policies during AmCham's monthly meeting
March 18 (UB Post) Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg discussed the government's current policy priorities and an overview of the economic outlook at the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia's (AmCham) Monthly Meeting on Wednesday.
At the beginning of the meeting, Kirk McBride, Deputy Chief of the Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar said that the main concern for investors was Mongolia's unstable legal environment.
"As you all know, Mongolia is open for business. The U.S. and Mongolia share mutual priorities, not just politically but also economically. It includes increasing trade, increasing FDI, investing in people, creating jobs, and making our societies more prosperous," said Ch.Saikhanbileg, specifying that Mongolia is demonstrating its commitment to the partnership with the U.S.
Ch.Saikhanbileg emphasized that it is important to stay open and regionally integrated to attract foreign domestic investment, his main area of expertise. He listed the reasons why Mongolia was favorable for investors, and added, "Mongolia has every reason to be filled with optimism, as Mongolia has long-term growth potential." He also noted that Mongolia ranked higher this year in World Bank's Doing Business report, ranking 56th compared to last year's 76th.
The PM spoke about the recently signed Free Trade Agreement with Japan, the second phase of the Oyu Tolgoi mine and the incoming 4.2 billion USD in foreign investment for its construction, the government's settlement with Khan Resources, and the long-term development goals for Mongolia promoting FDI, human capital, mega projects and such. He also mentioned that he has submitted a draft of the Taxation Law to Parliament.
During the question and answers portion of the meeting, AmCham members and guests asked about changes to investment policies during an election year. A representative from an international auditing office said that the new VAT law doesn't allow for reversed VAT charges, VAT paid on fixed assets to offset input VAT. "That is quite painful. We have at least one client who is withholding his investment in Mongolia because of the new tax law," she said.
"The Mongolian investment environment will remain stable and economic development will be provided during the election. Mega projects will continue normal operations and we'll work to provide stability in the investment field," the PM explained.
"Second, there's a law requiring all entities to use MNT as functional currency, which is a really big issue for OT," the auditing firm representative said, and asked about solutions to contradictions in laws and regulations. "As auditors, we have to issue opinions under IFRS, not under the Mongolian law. If we issue an opinion under the Mongolian Law, some investors will not approve our opinion. It becomes worthless. But we have to follow Mongolian law, so it's a real complication for our daily work," she said.
The PM said that there were many complications around the VAT Law, and that he was discussing the new tax law on Friday at 4:00 p.m. at the Economic Council meeting. "As for the second issue, everyone, no matter who or what [big] organization in whichever sector will abide by the Mongolian law. Since Oyu Tolgoi hasn't received government permission to operate in another currency, they will be asked to submit financial reports written in Mongolian, in Mongolian currency, under the Mongolian law," said PM Ch.Saikhanbileg. "We went through this very difficult negotiation process with Rio Tinto regarding the OT issue, and we agreed on principles. There were many disputes regarding international rules and Mongolian tax laws. We completely changed all of these issues and transferred to international practices, and amended some laws accordingly. We have to send clear messages that laws should be used the same way everywhere in Mongolia. If there are some kinds of business friendly issues, we will bring it. After bringing it, and after having agreed to principles, Rio Tinto should abide by Mongolian law, no matter how big it is," the PM answered.
"Mongolian law also says all companies operating in Mongolia should follow international accounting standards. So Mongolian law says follow IFRS, and IFRS says if all transactions of a company are in USD, your report is in USD," the auditor responded. The PM shifted the question to Kirk McBride, asking what he would do if it were an American case. McBride said that U.S. law is not at odds with international practices.
Supreme Court declines to register either of NLP "chairmen"
March 21 (news.mn) As we reported last week, the issue as to who should be chairman of the National Labor Party (NLP) – S.Ganbaatar or G.Naidalaa – has gone to the Supreme Court
Previously, S.Ganbaatar has declared: "Traitors in our party have illegally chosen G.Naidalaa as the Chairman. Therefore, we must solve this issue in accordance with the rules of our party. The 40 members of the NLP Central Committee have dismissed G.Naidalaa from his seat. Therefore, we will take the matter to the Supreme Court".
At the same time, G.Naidalaa did exactly the same and took S.Ganbaatar to the Supreme Court, on the grounds that he had been illegally appointed.
On Friday 18th, the Supreme Court studied G.Naidalaa's request, which proposed that he should be appointed as NLP Chairman. The court hearing concluded that the proposal to appoint two people simultaneously for the post of party chairman contradicts the Law on Political Parties. Therefore, the Supreme Court rejected both Naidalaa's and Ganbaatar's claims for the post. As a result, former NLP Chairman S.Borgil remains in his seat.
MPs L.Tsog (MPRP) and G.Uyanga (MNDP) Announces Decision to Leave Justice Coalition
March 21 (news.mn) Earlier today, two Members of Parliament - L.Tsog and G.Uyanga - called a press conference, during which, they announced that they have decided to leave the "Justice Union" Group, of which they have been members. Previously, they had held the same position as MP O.Baasankhuu, which led them to collect signatures of MP's calling for the dismissal of the current Saikhanbileg Government. The Justice Union Group then called for them to stop this action – this, they refused to do. It is considered that this may be their reason for deciding to leave.
Speaker on tour of Uvurkhangai, Bayankhongor, Gobi-Altai, Zavkhan, Arkhangai aimags
Ulaanbaatar, March 18 (MONTSAME) The Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold will make a working tour to Ovorkhangai, Bayankhongor, Gobi-Altai, Zavkhan and Arkhangai aimags on March 18-23 to witness their state of affairs.
The tour is to start from Ovorkhangai, where he will leg a military unit and infrastructure construction sites. In Arvaikheer soum, he intends to get au fait with a construction and hold a meeting with the local inhabitants to speak about laws and resolutions parliament autumn session had adopted.
After this, the Speaker will work in Bayankhongor aimag's administration office and will attend an opening of a new factory. He will meet local people as well.
In Gobi-Altai aimag, Mr Enkhbold will attend an opening ceremony of a hemodialysis unit at the general hospital and leg a 50-bed maternity house. He will meet the aimag's people and will witness an implementation course of the "New soum" project.
The working tour will end in Arkhangai aimag.
The Speaker is being accompanied by L.Erdenechimeg MP and other officials.
Mogi: the guy obviously has some bad sources. MPP winning will apparently spell disaster for foreign investors
How the Mongolian Elections Will Affect Foreign Investment
By Peter Kohli, CEO of DMS Funds
March 21 (Nasdaq) Whenever I take sides in an election, I always come down on the side that I perceive is more capitalist minded, more market friendly. No matter how people try to spin the ills of a free market system, and I have never been in favor of an unfettered system, and the virtues of socialism, totalitarianism, or whatever the term du jour is, there has never been a system that has lifted so many people out of poverty as capitalism. That brings me to Mongolia, which I have lovingly called, because I am a Trekkie at heart, the final frontier.
It's about 18° F at night in mid-March, but things in Mongolia are beginning to heat up as the country moves towards general elections on June 29. Knowing people who invest there and reading all the reports about the battered economy that has suffered terribly because of commodity prices, the last thing a struggling economy needs in a developing nation is obstructionist politics, but that's what we have here. I've never understood it. You see it on every continent, especially in developing markets which inherently have so many headwinds. Instead of working together for the good of the nation, opposing parties do just that ̶ oppose, and sometimes for no good reason. The same applies in Mongolia.
The ruling party, the Democratic Party, is led by Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg, who seems to want to do the best thing for his country, including attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). Every developing market needs FDI, and a country like Mongolia that is currently at the mercy of much larger economies, like China to whom they export 85% of their coal and copper, needs it badly. The opposition party, the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), won about 33% of the vote in 2012 running on an anti-FDI platform. They have managed to block nearly everything in parliament, and I'm sure they believe that FDI is not in the best interest of the country, but I don't think that's true.
Mongolia has a great deal of mineral wealth which they cannot develop by themselves. They need outside expertise from companies like Rio Tinto. Because of this obstructionism, FDI fell from $5 billion in 2011 to just about $230 million last year, and that is a disaster. Luckily, this disaster had a silver lining in that the MPP was forced to back down and the prime minister, who survived a no-confidence vote, is now running full steam ahead to complete desperately needed agreements in mining and transportation.
So, is this the right time to invest in Mongolia? If the current party wins reelection, I would give investors a thumbs-up. If not, I would look to other places around the globe. The two companies that stand to do well if the current party does win reelection are Mongolia Mining and of course, Rio Tinto. So finally, as an investor and lifelong capitalist, I hope that Mr. Saikhanbileg does prevail in June and that Mongolia's best days still lie ahead.
Jargal DeFacto: Where is our president?
By Jargal "DeFacto" Dambadarjaa
March 21 (UB Post) Indonesia and Mongolia are different in many aspects, but there are similarities as well. Unlike Indonesia, Mongolia is sandwiched between Russia and China without access to the sea. We are the 17th largest territory in the world by area and have a population of three million.
Indonesia, on the other hand, is ranked 4th in the world by area and is the most populous Muslim-majority nation. The country is made up of approximately 17,000 islands and has 255 million people.
As Indonesia's economy is based on natural resources and raw materials, it is similar to Mongolia's. Indonesia is the world's biggest producer of palm oil and is a major player in the rubber, cacao, coffee, gold, and coal markets. Another similarity with Mongolia is that if China is buying their raw materials, Indonesia's economy grows, and vice-versa.
Mongolia and Indonesia both have weak public governance due to deep-seated corruption in society. In a 2015 report on corruption released by Transparency International, Indonesia was ranked 88th in the world with a score of 34, whereas Mongolia scored 39 and was ranked 72nd. Both Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Mongolia's President Ts.Elbegdorj got elected with promises of fighting corruption, but the duo are the same, in the sense that they both talked the talk, but are not walking the walk. The two presidents both come from ordinary families and are great public speakers. However, they are not doing the job they promised to do and have minimal influence on their political parties. Indonesia and Mongolia each have an agency with an intimidating name to combat or eradicate corruption. But the corruption cases revealed by these agencies disappear as a result of political trades, while lawmakers hope to fight the agencies and make them go away.
As Mongolia and Indonesia are both strangled by corruption, the benefits of public spending are minimal. Indonesia's latest example is that their 150 million USD early earthquake warning system failed when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake happened off the western coast of Sumatra. A total of 22 buoys were placed for monitoring purposes after a disastrous earthquake hit Aceh in 2004. However, none of them operated as they should have. In Mongolia, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on reducing air pollution in Ulaanbaatar. Yet, there is almost no outcome, and a large proportion of the money went into the pockets of politicians.
Recently, a secret recording revealed that the Speaker of Indonesia's parliament (the People's Consultative Assembly) sought shares of a large foreign mining company in return for influencing President Jokowi and having the company's license extended. However, the case soon vanished, just like in Mongolia. Mongolia's former President N.Enkhbayar was arrested on five counts of corruption. Nevertheless, as those five counts kept disappearing one by one, he is now ready to run for public office in the general elections.
In January 2015, President Jokowi announced that Police General Gunawan was about to be appointed Indonesia's National Police Chief. Three days later, the police detained the Deputy Head of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in a corruption case. The request for his arrest was put in by a member of parliament who was in the same political party as President Jokowi. In order to stop the fight between the National Police and the KPK, President Jokowi did nothing more than urge them to prioritize unity and obey the law. As Indonesia's parliament currently prepares to pass a law that restricts the KPK's power, the public is showing their discontent by putting up posters reading "Presidenku di mana?" (Where is our president?) everywhere on the street.
Mongolia's Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) has been investigating senior government officials and MP Kh.Battulga and made some arrests for a corruption case involving the embezzlement of millions of dollars from the public budget allocated for a railroad project. Suddenly, the police announced that the long-unsolved case of former Minister and MP S.Zorig's murder was going to be solved, and they arrested the late MP's wife. It looks like politicians will make trades over these two cases and reach a happy ending as the commotion slowly disappears.
The underlying cause is the same in Indonesia and Mongolia. Both countries have ruling political parties that are not able to get rid of corruption and are fighting over power and authority. It is partly evident in the lack of political party support for the two presidents. Indonesia's media outlets, which have relatively more press freedom than Mongolia's, are saying that the conflict between Megawati Sukarnoputri, former President and the leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (and daughter of Sukarno, who served as President for 38 years) and President Jokowi is not helping the fight against corruption, but hampering it.
Our president, Ts.Elbegdorj, is a fantastic public speaker and promises a brighter future. However, his own political party does not support him. Also, the President seems to start initiatives that are under his control and forgets about them soon after. President Ts.Elbegdorj is not fighting corruption as fiercely as he said he would, and his "glass account" initiative has not been implemented within his own political party. It did not make political party financing transparent.
Furthermore, he still has not succeeded in barring members of parliament from holding ministerial positions in the Cabinet, also known as wearing a "double deel". His idea to bring back Mongolians who are living abroad has ended up as talk only. If the President had pushed for the necessary changes in the Constitution, it would have been a completely different picture.
Another similarity in Mongolia and Indonesia's political party governance is that despite the high number of political parties, what those political parties do is essentially indistinguishable. Therefore, no single political party is now able to win the general elections, which results in repeated establishment of coalition governments.
In both countries, the leader of the political party that collects the greatest number of votes is no longer the most powerful person in the country. In Mongolia, the most powerful person, who decides where the public budget goes, is the Prime Minister. But he is not the leader of the ruling party. Similarly, under Indonesia's presidential system, their President is the most powerful person, yet he is not the leader of his political party. It leads to society being dominated and governed by politics. Subsequently, it weakens the power of the executive branch and turns the focus of politicians onto delivering election promises, rather than strengthening the economy. When the fight against corruption loses pace, the public's expectation fail to be met. It results in a strong likelihood that the ruling power will be replaced after the next elections.
We can see from the experiences of many countries that when a country has high levels of corruption and a great extent of natural resources, the benefits of development largely go to a powerful few who acquire international loans on behalf of the people, while the poor stays poor for many generations. Mongolians today must closely oversee the misconduct of these political parties, make their financing transparent, and hold the culprits of corruption accountable for their actions. Otherwise, we will end up like one of those countries who have failed to do so.
Mongolia has huge potential to export renewable electricity across northeast Asia - IRENA
March 21 (PV-Tech) Mongolia's mostly untapped renewable resources could be used to kick-start a major cross border power corridor between Russia, Mongolia, China, South Korea and Japan, according to a new study.
Labor and Industry Ministries to support micro businesses
March 18 (UB Post) Labor Minister G.Bayarsaikhan and Industry Minister D.Erdenebat signed a memorandum of cooperation on Wednesday at the State Palace to increase jobs by supporting micro businesses and entrepreneurs.
The memorandum was signed to implement Mongolia's long term sustainable development strategy through 2030, the state's industrial policy, and the Mongolians with Jobs and Income program. Under the memorandum, the ministries will jointly resolve issues for necessary training for families and micro businesses, and resolve financing through concessional loans to support their activities, in accordance with laws on supporting labor and other regulations.
During the memorandum signing ceremony, Minister G.Bayarsaikhan said that the Mongolian government is prioritizing support for small and medium enterprises, especially for family and micro businesses. He said, "Family and micro businesses are the base of the business sector. The Labor Ministry is following a policy to support family and micro businesses, which make up around 60 percent of the nation's businesses."
Around 50 billion MNT in concessional loans will be issued to businesses from the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Support Fund. The Labor Minister noted that this will provide opportunities for businesses to expand their activities and increase jobs. "The Ministry is working this year toward supporting employment of the youth. Under the memorandum established with the Industry Ministry, we will focus on supporting young entrepreneurs and young people interested in doing business activities."
The ministries will also organize measures for promoting the products and services of family and micro businesses in the domestic and foreign markets. Under the memorandum, they are also responsible for helping businesses set new ties with domestic and foreign investors, and organizing trade fairs for strengthening their cooperation.
Japan hosts "Clean Coal Technology" seminar in Mongolia
March 21 (MONTSAME) Mongolian and Japanese policy-making organs on mining and coal sectors have co-organized a seminar entitled "Clean coal technology" with aims to stimulate coal exploitation and processing activities and the export.
Mongolian parliament or the State Great Khural has passed a law on exempting technologies and facilities for coal processing from customs tax and Value added tax in order to support the environmentally-friendly processing of coal. So, Mongolia has a possibility to cooperate with Japan in the coal industry because Japan is one of the succeeding countries to introduce pure technologies for coal, the Mining Minister Mr R.Jigjid underlined.
Japan consumes 200 million tons of coal a year, and the country import coal from Australia and Indonesia. Most of power stations in the country operate with coal, and Japan has set a goal to reduce the coal consumption to 25 per cent by 2030. In order to achieve this goal, Japan intends to cooperate with a country which can constantly supply coal at a lower price, said Mr Kakudo Takafumi, a representative of the Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Mongolia is ranked 10th in the world by coal reserve. A technology for deep processing of coal is vital for Mongolian future and economic development. Mines in Mongolia exploit coal with an open-cast method with low expenses. Mongolia is capable to produce gas, petroleum and other raw materials using this advantage and to export the products.
Talk with Me: Elisabeth Koppa, Valiant Art & Interiors
March 21 (Star TV) --
Makh Mart opens new meat processing plant in Bayankhongor
March 21 (UB Post) An opening ceremony for the Makh Mart meat processing factory was held last Saturday in Bayankhongor Province in the presence of Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold.
Bayankhongor Construction LLC built the meat processing factory for 2.3 billion MNT with their own funding. Bayankhogor Province is one of the five provinces that is exporting meat and meat products to China through Burgastai Port. Currently, Makh Mart is carrying out activities for classifying meat, meat storage, and skinning carcasses. At its full capacity, the factory is able to process around 600 small cattle and 80 large cattle per day.
The Office of Media and Public Relations of Parliament reported that the new factory created 24 new jobs, and the number of employees will increase following the company's expansion. The company is aiming to expand their activities and establish a sausage factory, meat freezing and storage warehouses, and producing bone meal.
Meat exports to China increase
March 18 (news.mn) In February 2016, Mongolia exported 16 tons of meat to China via the Burgastai border crossing. This was the first meat consignment under the current export agreement. Since then, however, there have been no subsequent deliveries; according to the Ministry of Nutrition and Agriculture this was because of roads being blocked by snow.
The Burgastai border crossing is only staffed every other month (even-numbered months); subsequently meat export will intensify in April, as the weather becomes warmer.
The Ministry of Nutrition and Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are discussing a proposal to make Burgastai a year-round border crossing to enable it to work permanently with China.
Regarding total meat exports from Mongolia: In 2015 a total of 4714.6 tonnes of meat was exported by 12 companies to four countries; since the beginning of 2016, a total of 420 tons of meat has been exported.
PM Saikhanbileg receives visiting Deputy Premier of Belarus
Ulaanbaatar, March 18 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg Thursday received visiting Mr V.I.Semashko, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus.
Thanking the Premier for the audience, Mr Semashko said our countries have a big chance to boost their bilateral cooperation, and then talked about the cooperation's most promising directions.
In response, the Premier backed these proposals and said Mongolia is interested in Belarus-made urban furnishing equipment, inter-city buses, heavy mechanisms, high-standard seed wheat and fertilizers. He added that the two countries "can cooperate in medicine, satellites, defense and construction".
He also underlined a significance of the ties between the Development Banks in resolving financial matters of realizing the collaboration issues.
The Premier thanked Mr Semashko for visiting Mongolia with a big delegation and asked him to convey to Belarus PM his greetings.
PM Saikhanbileg receives UAE ambassador, invites counterpart
Ulaanbaatar, March 18 (MONTSAME) Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg received the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Arab Emirates to Mongolia Mr Abdullah Abdulrahman Abdullabin Rabia Al TInij on March 18. He congratulated Mr Abdullah on his accreditation as the first Resident ambassador of the UAE to Mongolia and expressed a confidence that the Ambassador will make valuable contribution to consolidating of the bilateral ties.
The PM wished that the Ambassador attaches more focus on forwarding the matters of opening direct flight and halal meat export, which were addressed during Ch.Saikhanbileg's visit to UAE last May.
The Ambassador said he is honored to be the first Ambassador of Emirates to Mongolia and thanked the PM for officially having him.
The Ambassador stressed that he will be putting all effort to upgrade the Mongolia-Emirates relations and cooperation and exchange of visits on all levels, and that he will be focusing on activating the intergovernmental commission operations.
The Premier expressed an interest in cooperating with UAE in investments. He asked the Ambassador to convey his greetings to the Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, along with an invitation to visit Mongolia in any time of his convenience.
"Democratic Transitions in Asia" Workshop Held in Ulaanbaatar with IDEA
March 21 (MFA) Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, in cooperation with International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), is co-organizing workhop "Democratic transitions in Asia" in Ulaanbaatar from 21 to 22 March 2016.
The workshop's main objective is to share with other countries achievements and challenges of Mongolia in its effort to develop and strenghthen democracy.
Government and civil society representatives from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri-Lanka, Timor-Leste will participate in the workshop and exchange their views on elections, the principle of democracy.
In his opening speech, States Secretary of Ministry of Justice Ms. Bayartsetseg highlighted that 26 years ago Mongolia made transition to democracy and established its first independent electoral institude, and Mongolia's electoral legal framework and election systems are considered to be a good example in the region. Furthermore, he informed that Mongolia is developing cooperation with the counties that are new and restored democracies.
The workshop will be held for two days, representatives of governments and ciivl societies will exchange their opinions and views on experiences of developing democracy, lessons learned from elections, and prospect of fair and transparent elections.
Bill submitted on ratifying int'l conventions on nuclear safety
Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) On March 21, Head of the Cabinet Office, MP S.Bayartsogt presented a draft bill to Vice Chairman of the State Great Khural (Parliament) R.Gonchigdorj on joining the Nuclear Safety Convention from 1994 as well as Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management from 1997.
Minister S.Bayartsogt added that the Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Policy of the Parliament of Mongolia had also reviewed an issue on ratifying the 2005 Protocol on amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material from 1980 and the latest amendments on Small Quantities Protocol at the Standing Committee meeting held on March 10.
The Convention on Nuclear Safety is a 1994 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) treaty that governs safety rules at nuclear power plants in state parties to the Convention. The Convention was adopted in Vienna, Austria, at an IAEA diplomatic conference on June 17, 1994 and as of July 2015, there are 78 state parties to the Convention. The Convention creates obligations on state parties to implement certain safety rules and standards at all civil facilities related to nuclear energy. These include issues of site selection; design and construction; operation and safety verification; and emergency preparedness.
Mongolia chairs IDE seminar on gender equality and women empowerment with UNDP, CoD
Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) Mongolia is chairing the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in 2016. On March 17, Permanent mission of Mongolia to the United Nations along with the UNDP and the Community of Democracies (CoD) organized "Gender Equality and Empowering Women" themed seminar in New York.
Ambassador and the permanent representative S.Sukhbold highlighted the growing role and contribution of regional organizations in ensuring gender equality and women empowerment. He mentioned that this seminar is a part of the events planned throughout the year, in anticipation of the "Democratic Transition in Asia" to take place in Ulaanbaatar on March 21 and 22, the democracy conference expected I Stockholm this November and other events in New York and Geneva.
Present were, the representatives of the European Council, ASEAN, the regional integrations of African, Arab and Latin American countries and Americas.
Zahid: Altantuya's immigration records kept confidential due to trial
KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 (The Star Online) Immigration records of deceased Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu was kept confidential to avoid affecting her murder trial, Parliament was told.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in a parliamentary written reply Monday said the police had investigated the immigration records of the deceased.
"We found that there was movement (travel) and so the documents were used for investigations.
"Therefore, there was no need for the documents or its details to be revealed until the trial was over," he said, adding that disclosing it may disrupt the case.
He was answering to Alor Setar MP Gooi Hsiao Leung who had questioned as to why the Government had waited until December 2015 to confirm that immigration records of Altantuya were not erased.
Allegations had previously surfaced, particularly from Altantuya's family, that her immigration records were removed from the system in an attempt to cover up the actual cause of her murder.
Abdul Razak Baginda who stood trial for the murder of the Mongolian national in 2006 was acquitted in 2008.
On Jan 13 last year, the Federal Court convicted two former Special Action Unit personnel Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar and C/Insp Azilah Hadri for the murder.
ALTANTUYA TRIAL LONG OVER, KILLERS CONVICTED BUT ONLY NOW ZAHID CONFIRMS HER IMMIGRATION RECORDS INTACT – Malaysia Chronicle, March 21
Ambassador to Cambodia presents diplomatic credentials
Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Cambodia Mr L.Galbadrakh has presented his diplomatic credentials to His Highness Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh.
At the meeting after the ceremony, the Ambassador conveyed greetings of the Mongolian President to the King of Cambodia, and then expressed his satisfaction with becoming the Ambassador to Cambodia. Mr Galbadrakh said he will do all his efforts to contribute to the bilateral friendly relations and cooperation. He also noted about the 55th anniversary of the Mongolia-Cambodia diplomatic relations marked in 2015, and emphasized the countries have many similarities in religion, culture and custom.
His Highness Norodom Sihamoni said he is pleased to talk about an expanding of the Mongolia-Cambodia long-year traditional friendly relations, and pointed out the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will participate in the forthcoming 11th ASEM Summit to be held this July in Ulaanbaatar. This could contribute to broadening the bilateral ties, he added.
The King of Cambodia wished the new Ambassador of Mongolia big success in his job, and conveyed greetings to the President, the government and people of Mongolia.
Mongolian girl said to be recovering well after brain surgery
March 17 (Taipei Times) A 10-year-old Mongolian girl named Enkhmend, who suffered from a malignant germ cell tumor of the brain and was unable to be treated in her country, is, after surgery at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, showing signs of recovery and can even walk on her own, the hospital said.
Chen Hsin-hong (陳信宏), a physician at the hospital's Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery who performed the surgery, said Enkhmend was transferred to the hospital in July last year because she suffered from headaches, drowsiness and unconsciousness, and was diagnosed with a malignant germ cell tumor about the size of an egg in her brain.
When Enkhmend arrived at the hospital, she was unconscious and the team performed a 10-hour craniotomy — the surgical removal of part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain — to remove the tumor.
Chen said Enkhmend recovered and returned to Mongolia.
However, last month she was admitted to the hospital again due to meningitis. She was treated with antibiotics, had surgery to treat hydrocephalus and was discharged from the hospital last week.
Yesterday at the hospital, Enkhmend's mother said they are grateful for what the hospital and Taiwan have done to help them.
Malignant germ cell tumors of the brain more commonly occur in children and the prevalence in Taiwan is about five times of that in Western nations, Chen said, adding that symptoms include headaches, unconsciousness, diabetes insipidus, blurred vision and weak limbs.
First train cabin for handicapped people now in service
March 21 (gogo.mn) March 21, Mongolia runs their first train intended for handicapped people. The train has declined stairs and toilets specifically designed for people with disability.
A train depot technicians and mechanics led by UB train depot manager O.Demberelsuren renovated one train, providing comfortable travelling environment for handicapped people.
The train has a capacity of carrying six handicapped people and their guardians. Ministry officials and National Association for Wheelchaired Mongolians' members visited the site and took the first trip to Sainshand.
This is the first of many works to introduce internationally recognized SOS transportation service.
Mongolia in Space – 35th Anniversary of First and Only Space Flight
March 21 (news.mn) The 35th anniversary of the first Mongolian space flight will be celebrated tomorrow – 22nd March. Yesterday, a scientific and national open-event marking the anniversary, entitled "One Day in Space" took place at the Buyant-Ukhaa sport complex. The first (and only) Mongolian in space was J.Gurragchaa; who together with Uzbek cosmonaut V.Djhanibekov blasted into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on 22ndMarch 1981; their mission involved working on the Salyut 6 space station.
During the "One Day in Space", the "Dudu" educational foundation organized the first State "Paper Plane Championship". The organizers of the event noted that: "The purpose of the paper plane program is to provide STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to children and students"
The gap year: A taste of real life or a twelve month joke?
By Charlie Kitcat
March 18 (UB Post) I am a 19-year-old from Cambridge, England. Since August, I have been meticulously planning and raising funds for 12 months free of academic education, my gap year. I have always wanted to see Mongolia, and when the opportunity to work for a paper in its ever-changing capital arose, I couldn't possibly refuse it.
I won't lie by saying I could have worked harder for my A-levels. If I had, I'd be in Edinburgh studying obscure British history, and being rained on in Scotland. Instead, I'm in blue-skied Mongolia writing for its oldest privately-owned English newspaper; slightly more rewarding right?
Nevertheless, I am one of almost 30,000 soon-to-be British university students that have decided against jumping straight into the world of tertiary education immediately after their exam results were revealed. This group of 18 and 19 year olds will be postponing university by getting jobs, earning money, gaining life experience and jetting off to the world's most idyllic locations during their gap years. But for what?
Some people, like Sir Martin Sorrell, boss of the world's leading advertising firm WPP, deem a gap year a waste of time. I assure you there are many current students, parents, and workers who are of a similar mindset. "Why would you squander a year of your life when you could be getting an education?" they say. They may well be right. The recently emerged gap year stereotype has, of course, not helped. Many assume the typical gap-yearer to be a spoiled, parent-funded, Donald Trump-advocating waste of space in search of booze and bikinis. It is a sad truth that some gap-yearers are like this. Some aren't. Though there are negatives, there are positives too. What else would show an 18-year-old a world beyond home, a world of independence, and a world of work all in twelve months? Hard to choose right?
So, why should I take a gap year?
Obviously, having a gap year is up to you. Maybe you fancy it. Maybe you don't. Maybe I've helped you decide, or even altered your parent's opinion too. But am I happy Edinburgh rejected me because of one measly grade? Yes. Ecstatic. Delighted. Pretty thrilled to be honest. I'd urge anyone to gap year. Whether it's for earning money to pay for university, for gaining independence from parents, for experiencing real life, and, if possible, for seeing the world.
Though it can be a challenge, it really is worth it. This year I've applied to some great schools. (maybe I'll get in, with a little luck), helped hundreds of people choose their favorite pair of headphones at one of the UK's biggest retailers, experienced the alien world of corporate law, lived like Chandler and Joey for six weeks, been harassed working in post-Christmas sales, packed a bag for three vastly different climates, got stupidly lost in San Francisco, sat in the Hong Kong airport alone for half a day, watched 1,115 Bactrian camels race in the Gobi, and written for a Mongolian paper. I have almost five months left. Something tells me they'll be pretty cool.
Cheap GPS tracker for goats in Mongolia?
Zara Morris-Trainor, University of Aberdeen via Research Gate
Hi all, I'm looking for a cheap GPS tracking option to use with domestic goats in the South Gobi, Mongolia. Standard GPS collars will be too expensive and I'd heard that there are quite cheap 'pet trackers' on the market now that might be sufficient for what we're after. I'd only need approx 6 fixes a day, but a battery life of several months would be ideal (as I don't want to rely on herders having to change batteries over). As it's the Gobi, something that can withstand heat and cold will be necessary! Any suggestions? Thank you.
President conveys Nauryz holiday greeting to Kazakhs
Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) Nauryz is celebrated amongst Kazakh people in Mongolia on every March 22, marking equinox, when day and night equal around the world, as well as the beginning of warm spring. "Melody of Dombra 2016" ceremonial concert was given March 18 at the Central Palace of Culture, with attendance of President Ts.Elbegdorj and the MPs.
"Assaleim aleikum. Happy spring holidays and Nauryz! I wish you health, happiness and all the best", the President said in the beginning of his speech.
Good news have been coming from Bayan-Olgii aimag, where most of Kazakh people in Mongolia settles. Within the last three years, he stressed, Bayan-Olgii's GDP growth reached 150 percent. "I was proud to know that industrial production in the region has been doubling each year", he said and wished success in the deeds of the hardworking Kazakh people.
"Ulys on bolsyn, ak mol bolsyn. Thank you", said Ts.Elbegdorj.
Mongolia herders face disaster as 350,000 livestock die from 'dzud': Red Cross
Beijing, March 18 (AFP) - Hundreds of thousands of farm animals have perished in a slow-moving natural disaster in Mongolia and the international aid response has been insufficient, the Red Cross said Friday.
Mongolia has been hit by a devastating natural phenomenon known as a "dzud", said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) -- a hot summer drought followed by a severe winter.
The combination spells doom for livestock in a country where IFRC said a third of the thinly spread population rely on animal husbandry for their livelihoods.
Goats, sheep and cows die en masse, unable to graze sufficiently in the warmer months to build up the reserves necessary to withstand later temperatures that regularly drop to minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit).
More than 350,000 animals have already died, but more than a million deaths are expected, according to the latest available data from the UN mission in the country, IFRC said.
Its East Asia communications delegate Hler Gudjonsson told AFP: "We're only about one-third through the disaster."
Video footage released by the organisation showed a herder dragging the brown, furry carcass of a goat by the horn through the dirt, tossing it onto a pile of dead sheep, amid loose skulls, ribs and femurs scattered across the steppe.
Bayankhand Myagmar, 50, whose daughter is disabled and husband ill, said she had lost 400 of her 700 animals. She had borrowed to buy extra fodder, hoping to later repay her debts in cashmere, but had not been able to save them, despite bringing the weakest into the family tent, or ger.
"If they get weak and die in front of my eyes, it's very, very hard," she told IFRC, crying. "I feel so sorry for them. I tried to save them but I couldn't.
"This winter is the harshest I have experienced."
She feared for her family's future. "My husband and I are over 50, so nobody will employ us," she said. "We will not find any other jobs, but we are not yet entitled to pensions."
- 'Not a tsunami, not an earthquake' -
IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for more than $800,000 to assist around 25,000 vulnerable herders, but after more than two weeks has received less than half the goal, Gudjonsson said.
"We already knew this was going to happen in November, but we knew that there was no way we could raise funds for something that hasn't happened yet," he added.
"It's not a tsunami, it's not an earthquake and it's not a sudden disaster. It's a long-term condition and situation, so we don't have a breaking point where we can say, today this happened, and people suddenly need a lot of assistance.
"We're expecting to see a large number of families who will have lost everything, who will have gone from affluence to utter poverty."
The loss of their pastoral livelihoods leaves nomads with no other source of income or employment, he said, with most forced to move to tent districts on the outskirts of Mongolia's urban centres, living without basic infrastructure and little or no income.
Their arrival "magnifies urban social problems such as unemployment, crime, alcoholism, domestic violence and extreme poverty", IFRC said in a statement.
Former herder Khurelbaatar Tovuu, who lost his animals in the last dzud in 2010, told the IFRC: "My family used to sell wool and cashmere. I had something to do.
"Now I have nothing to do and my reputation has gone down. People treat me badly because I'm a poor man."
Mongolian herders desperate to save their animals – IFRC, March 18
Mercy Corps Helps Mongolians Survive "Dzud" Weather Crisis – Mercy Corps, March 18
Save the Children provides Sukhbaatar Aimag herders with ₮85 million in dzud support
March 21 (UB Post) Representatives from Save the Children NGO in Mongolia signed a memorandum of understanding with representatives and administrators of the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office, City Council, National Emergency Management Agency, and the Health Department on March 18 to provide Sukhbaatar Province herders with approximately 85 million MT in financial support.
Save the Children NGO, which conducts humanitarian and development projects and programs in over 120 countries, is supporting Mongolian herders facing dzud at the request of Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia Ts.Oyunbaatar.
Save the Children Mongolia is providing approximately 800 herder households in Bayandelger, Ongon, Tuvshinshiree, Sukhbaatar, Asgat, Dariganga, and Naran soums of Sukhbaatar Province with 125 tons of fodder and 400 herder households with less than 100 livestock will receive cash. The NGO is also allocating approximately 30 million MNT to cover the cost of fuel required for vaccination distribution and for emergency vehicle repairs in the province.
Save the Children Mongolia previously supported herders during dzud conditions occurring in 2000 and 2010.
'If we lose our livestock, we will lose everything'
By Helen Wright
March 18 (UB Post) When my sister and I were little, our mum would point out animals in the fields when we were driving on long car journeys. "Look, sheep… Horses… Goats," she'd say, trying everything and anything to stop the pair of us fighting in the back seat.
Now 20 years later, I find myself playing the game driving though the Mongolian steppe. Except it's not quite the same game. These sheep, goats and horses aren't cantering through the green fields of rural eastern England. They lie dead where they fell, half covered in snow and ice, sometimes a whole intact carcass, others just white, jutting bones entangled in dirty fleece.
These are the victims of the dzud that's currently affecting most provinces in the country, mainly to the west and north. So far, more than 260,000 animals have died this winter and estimates put the daily death rate at around 1,000. If herders hadn't slaughtered their animals en masse in the Autumn, the figure would now be in the millions.
Dzud is a slow-moving natural disaster and occurs when an abnormally harsh and cold winter follows a summer draught. Due to the lack of rain, there is not enough grass for animals to eat and put on weight for the winter months. This problem is also caused by overgrazing and the lack of grass available to eat.
Over four days last week, the UB Post traveled with the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to deliver food aid and cash grants to herding families in Uvs Province, more than 1,300 km west of Ulaanbaatar.
Uvs is the second-worst hit province and it hasn't rained there since July of last year. This winter's temperatures regularly dropped to -50 degrees Celsius. So far 24,000 animals have died in Uvs alone. Many herders have lost more than half of their livestock, which are their only source of income and are relied upon for milk, meat and heating. Many families have moved multiple times to try and find better pastures but with little success.
British Embassy Hosts Pastures, Conservation and Climate Action Reception
March 21 (gogo.mn) The British Embassy in Ulaanbaatar organized a reception about "Pastures, Conservation and Climate Action, Mongolia". The project "Pastures, Conservation and Climate Action, Mongolia" was set up as a result of a research project by the University of Leicester and Mongolian Society for Range Management (MSRM), funded by the Darwin Initiative, which aimed to develop and implement novel approaches to conservation in Mongolia.
The programme is being implemented in three sites (high mountain region, steppe region and khangai mountain) range across in Mongolia, collaborating with more than 100 herder households with territories covering a total of area of some 77.000 ha, to sequester more than 100,000 tCO2 through improved grazing management practices.
The initial stage of the project (2015 - 2019) will be financed through the sale of 'carbon plus' credits from herder's activities at the three sites. 'Carbon plus' denotes that these credits are about much more than just carbon.
In line with the new Plan Vivo standard, the "Pastures, Conservation and Climate Action, Mongolia" programme is making important contributions to nomadic herders' livelihoods and wellbeing, to the conservation of a globally important biodiversity heritage and to a range of ecosystem services, as well as carbon sequestration through enhanced rangeland management.
Participating herder groups receive direct payment for ecosystem services (PES) over the initial 4 years, which amount to 70% of the PES sale price, less a 10% risk buffer. The credits generated by the programme are certified by the rigorous and internationally recognized Plan Vivo Standard.
Given typically poor pre-programme livelihoods and annual incomes equivalent to less than 5 million MNT Tugrik for the majority of the participating households, projected payments offer the prospect of real transformations in livelihoods, in conjunction with protection and conservation of a valuable and internationally recognized biodiversity heritage.
The British Embassy, delegations of herder households, and MSRM invited organizations, business entities, as well as individuals to simultaneously offset your carbon footprint and demonstrate your commitment to social responsibility through purchasing Plan Vivo certified credits from the Pastures, Conservation and Climate Action, Mongolia programme.
SUNY-ESF study finds global climate change is affecting the water cycle
March 21 (The Daily Orange) A recent study led by a SUNY-ESF graduate student found that global climate change is affecting the water cycle, leading to flooding and drought.
Tamir Puntsag, a graduate student at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, is the lead author on the study that found changes in the distribution of water, specifically in the northeastern United States, according to a press release on the SUNY-ESF website.
"(The study) shows that climate change affects not only temperature, but the water cycle too," said Myron Mitchell, co-author of the study and Puntsag's major professor.
Puntsag was unable to comment for this story because she was at home in Mongolia.
After analyzing the samples using isotopic analysis, researchers were able to detect that the changes in the water cycle are associated with the changing of the polar vortex, which is a tight circulation of very cold air in the Arctic, Mitchell said.
As the Arctic temperatures have risen and the amount of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has declined, Mitchell said the strength of the polar vortex has decreased, allowing cold air to slip into the northeastern U.S., bringing with it water from the north Atlantic Ocean.
Registration for "SKY RESORT OPEN 2016" tournament opens
March 18 (gogo.mn) Annual "SKY RESORT OPEN 2016" tournament will be held on Mar 19, 2016.
The tournament will be composed of snowboard, cross-country skiing, alpline skiing, biathlon, children alpline skiing. Also the "SKY RESORT OPEN 2016" is available for both amateurs and professionals.
the Ministry of Health and Sports, Physical Culture and Sports Development Center are the sponsors of the tournament while Mongolian Ski Federation, Mongolian Snowboarding Federation and Mongolian Biathlon Federation are being organized jointly as well as "VTV" TV is working as media partner.
During the tournament, "X VIT" live music band, "Phoenix" dance group to perform, lotteries and recreational competition will be held.
Registration for the event is open until Mar 19 at 10 am. For more information on the event, please, click HERE or contact at 7700-0990.
Two Mongolian freestyle wrestlers get Olympic qualification
Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) Freestyle wrestlers of the national team of Mongolia have been qualified to take part in wrestling event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, after grabbing medals in the Asian qualification competition ran last weekend in Astana, Kazakhstan.
An international master of sports O.Uitumen defeated his rivals from South Korea, Kyrgyzstan and India until reaching the finals. He won the gold medal in the men's under 86 kg bout by beating a Kazakhstan's wrestler Aslan Kakhize.
Another woman P.Orkhon IMS has got an Olympic quota in the women's 58 kg division thanks to capturing a silver medal in the competitions.
In the qualification tournament of Astana, Mongolia got four quotas, Kazakhstan--eight quotas, Japan--four, China, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan--two quotas each, South Korea, India and Chinese Taipei--one quota each.
The next Asian qualification tournament will take place on April 22-24 in Ulaanbaatar.
Taipei retains Challenge Cup of Asia title, Mongolia finishes third
Title defence with 6-1 win against UAE
ABU DHABI, March 19 (International Ice Hockey Federation) – Chinese Taipei defended its Challenge Cup of Asia title. It again came to a winner-takes-it-all game with the United Arab Emirates, this time the host of the 2016 edition in Abu Dhabi, and Chinese Taipei claimed the trophy with a 6-1 win.
The players from the island of Taiwan steamrolled through the tournament. Before the final game on Friday evening they had already beaten Thailand (8-1), Singapore (14-2) and Mongolia (18-2).
The United Arab Emirates entered the last day with a clean record as well defeating Thailand (6-1), Singapore (5-2) and Mongolia (5-1).
Mongolia finished the event in third place after an 11-0 blanking of Singapore and a 7-3 win for third place on the final day against Thailand. Thailand was fourth getting its only victory against winless Singapore.
Mongolia hosts Asian Youth Chess Championship on April 5-15
March 21 (gogo.mn) Asian Youth Chess Championship 2016 will take place at Sports Complex of Central Cultural Palace of Mongolian Trade Unions on Apr 5-15.
The World Chess Federation has granted right to organize Asian Youth Chess Championship 2016 as requested by the Mongolian Chess Federation.
The first meeting of the organizing committee of Asian Youth Chess Championship 2016 was held on Mar 17.
Ya.Sanjmyatav, MP and Vice President of Mongolian Chess Federation was appointed as Head of Organizing Committee of Asian Youth Chess Championship 2016.
General organizer of the championship is Mongolian Chess Federation while the Ministry of Health and Sports, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and Central Cultural Palace of Mongolian Trade Unions work as co-organizer of the championship.
Asian youth chess championship to be held in Mongolia – Montsame, March 21
Mongolian Crowned World Teen Supermodel, Wins Contract with Trump Model Agency
March 21 (MONTSAME) The 9th World Supermodel Pageant was held from 12th to 21st of March and announced its winners. Overall winner of the contest was the Mongolian model T.Shinetuya from "Shilmel Zagvar" Agency.
She has won the World Teen Supermodel classification of 16 to 19 age. Afterwards she has become the overall winner and grabbed special right to do contract with the Trump Model Agency, headquartered in New York. The agency, founded by billionaire Donald Trump is one the world's top agencies and works with the faces of the fashion world such as Jerry Hall, Maggie Rizer, Pat Cleveland and Tatyana Patitz.
This is the first-ever victory of Mongolian models in the World Supermodel Pageant to which models from over 40 countries were invited.
Mongolia International Travel Mart 2016 is on 25-27 March at Misheel Expo
March 21 (gogo.mn) Mongolia International Travel Mart 2016 is to take place on 25-27 March at Misheel Expo Centre for its 17th year. ITM is co-organised by the Ministry of Nature, Green Development and Tourism, and Mongolian Tourism Association annually.
ITM is the largest travel market in Mongolia allowing tourism & travel industry businesses an opportunity to advertise themselves, and gathers the industry stake holders for three days. It is said that most accommodation service providers in Mongolia sign their contracts with travel agencies and tour operators during the three day event. This year, about 250 travel service providers are exhibiting at ITM while 130 from China and Russia as well as 120 from Mongolia.
This year delegations led by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Buriyata, Tourism Department Deputy Chief of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Director of Tourism Development Corporation of Lake Baikal Region will attend in ITM.
The first day is open to the people who are invited. On this day, discussions on the implementation of travel projects between China, Russia and Mongolia will be held.
Mar 26-27 is open to the public, and everyone wishing to look for their next Mongolia holiday destination as well as overseas holidays (several outbound tour operators are exhibiting with their own booths) may come and meet travel experts for ideas and booking services.
Please contact Mongolian Tourism Association at 976-7000-7820.
Discover Dornogobi or The Eastern Gobi of Mongolia
March 18 (gogo.mn) Starting from last week, GoGo Travel is introducing Mongolian provinces as travel destinations to provide the readers and travellers with comprehensive travel information about Mongolia. This week, it's one of the three Eastern provinces, Dornogobi or the Eastern Gobi. The name explains the landscape of the province all – it's a combination of steppe and desert (almost no lakes/rivers), and a typical scenery here will be wide open steppes with occasional hills, where you can admire the Gobi sunrise and the sunset at its' best.
Situated in the south eastern part of the Gobi Desert, Dornogobi borders with Dundgobi (Middle Gobi), Umnugobi (South Gobi), Sukhbaatar and Khentii provinces, as well as People's Republic of China, covering an area of 109500 sq.km. The population of the province is 63500 (2014) that mainly consists of Khalkha Mongol ethnic group. The centre Sainshand sits at 465km from Ulaanbaatar, and offers an excellent accessibility to travellers as it's connected with Ulaanbaatar with paved road, and the legendary Trans-Mongolian railroad. Zamiin Uud is one of the biggest border ports that is open to 3rd nationals.
Dornogobi is home to the celebrated Khamar Monastery, which was founded by the famous Mongolian Buddhist envoy Danzanravjaa Khutagt in 1820s as one of his "Ideal 3 monasteries of the Gobi Shambala" (the other 2 are in South Gobi). The area's believed to be a world energy centre and people come from around the world to access the powerful energy, which is reputed to result in good health, fertility and prosperity. Khamar Monastery and the World Energy Centre is only 45km from Sainshand.
Danzanravjaa Khutagt played a vital role in Mongolian Buddhism, he was a believer of the Red Hat sect of Buddhism and was renowned for being an innovative thinker (philosopher, architect, medicine man), poet, playwright and a scupltor. Born as the only child of a mendicant, Danzanravjaa showed signs of genius at very early ages and was proclaimed to be the 5th reincarnation of "Goviin Dogshin noyon khutagt" (can be translated as His Holiness Ferocious Noble of the Gobi) at a young age. Even it's told that when he was only 7 Danzanravjaa told "Khurmast tenger" (Divine sky), one of his most famous poems, during a banquet unexpectedly. The beautiful song "Ulemjiin chanar" written and originally sang by Danzanravjaa himself is still sung at festivals and weddings in Mongolia all year around. During his 54 years of life Danzanravjaa wrote many poems and songs, and several plays (he wrote a total of some 500 works in Mongolian and Tibetan), and further founded the first drama theatre in Mongolia, where he directed some of his plays. He was also well-known for his love for beautiful women, and drinking habits.
Before the Stalinist purge in the 1930s, Khamar Monastery was a complex Buddhist centre in the Eastern Mongolia - had 4 religious schools, 80 temples that housed 500 monks. During the blood-stained purge, one of the head monks of Khamar Monastery buried plentiful of the invaluable religious items such as sutras, Buddha sculptures etc in the rocks, and secretly asked his children to guard. And after Mongolian democratic revolution in 1990 that set religion free, his children handed over those priceless objects to the people of Dornogobi. Most of the items (many of which belonged to Danzanravjaa himself) are now proudly exhibited in the Danzanravjaa Museum in Sainshand town.
Dornogobi offers travellers much more than Khamar monastery, there's Mt. Bayanzurkh where people go, walk around "ovoo" three times tossing milk and vodka to the air (for the spirit of the mountain) and make a wish believing that it comes true within a year or two. Also there are 2 places, where travellers can see petrified ancient forest and dinosaur footprints.
Best time to visit: We'd recommend travellers visit to Dornogobi all year around due to its' milder winters compared to the central and northern parts of Mongolia. However, in summer especially in July and August, the temperature reaches +40' C and quite dry. May, June, September, and October tend to be the best time to visit the area.
How to get there: drive on the Ulaanbaatar-Zamiin Uud paved road, or you can jump on the everyday train to Sainshand (departs at 09:43), Zamiin Uud (departs at 17:20; Fridays at 16:30) from Ulaanbaatar station.
Where to stay: there are several hotels in Sainshand, and Ger motels at Khamar Monastery.
For a wonderful Dornogobi tours and travel experiences please contact local Mongolian travel companies such as Premium Travel Mongolia – some travel companies offer set group tours and some may tailor excellent tours especially for you.
Image of Danzanravjaa Khutagt is used from http://ravjaamuseum.mn/.
Travel photos are courtesy of Uuganbayar Bazardari.
Steppe Yoga - Adventure Travel in Mongolia
March 21 (gogo.mn) Steppe Yoga is a guided tour that blends yoga, nature, culture, food, and adventure to create a truly authentic Mongolian experience. It is named after the steppe (unforested grasslands and plains) that are a defining feature of the majestic landscape that is my homeland.
Located in Central Asia, Mongolia is known for its stunning natural beauty of lush forest, mesmerising desert, spiritual mountains, vast lakes and vibrant blue sky. The wilderness of ancient Mongolian lands have the power to heal and enrich the spirit. It is also home of the traditional shamanism of the reindeer people, eagle hunters and the infamous Chinggis Khaan.
Through this unique experience, you will connect with the traditional Nuudlechin (nomad) existence and absorb the soothing qualities of the Mongol lands in a conscious and sustainable manner.
Starting in Ulaanbaatar, the tour travels South West to the ancient capital of Kharahorin and follows the rugged forestry to the Tsenher hot springs area. From here, you will travel North towards the freshwater Khuvsgul Lake, famously known as the 'Blue Pearl of Mongolia'. You will then return to Ulaanbaatar city through Amarbayasgalant, the country's second biggest monastery. Each morning begins with a yoga session followed by unique 'once in a lifetime' activities including riding horses and camels, drinking fermented mares milk, visiting nomads, Mongolian dancing, milking cows, playing traditional games, witnessing shamanic rituals, exploring volcanos, eating local dishes, sleeping in traditional homes, learning about Mongolian history, camping under the stars, trekking in the vast wilderness, and participating in soulful bonfire nights.
This is an experience that stay with you for the rest of your life, blessing your days expanded consciousness and incredible memories.
Whether you practice yoga or not, this tour will allow you to get in touch with your body and connect with your natural rhythm. The physical and metal benefits of yoga are well established. Group numbers are kept to a maximum of nine.
The 17 day tour runs from the 8 July - 24 July, 2016 during Mongolia's Summer, the best time to explore natural, cultural, spiritual and historical beauties.
Fly to Beijing, Hongkong, Tokyo or Seoul. And then take another short flight to Ulaanbaatar city with AirChina, Mongolia Airline and Korean airline. Alternatively, if you are travelling via Beijing you catch a train to Ulaanbaatar city.
If it is your first time travelling overseas or you would like some assistance, Steppe Yoga will guide you through the process to ensure you make the most of your experience.
Mobile phone (Australia ) : 0452 509 926
Suite 303, Level 3, Elite Complex
14 Chinggis Avenue, Sukhbaatar District 1
Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
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