Wednesday, March 16, 2016

[MMC to miss payment; AKM pushes forward rail; ERD raises $770K; MNT eases for 3rd day; banks remain negative; and ASEM fundraising today]

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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Fundraising Reception for Organizing ASEM 11 Meetings, March 16

This is to inform you that a Fundraising Reception is being organized on March 16th 2016, to request the participation and assistance of the community and the public for the organization of the 11th high-level ASEM meetings. Below please find an unofficial translation of the Prime Minister's invitation to the event.


Dear ……………………………………………………

A warm greeting to you!

Mongolia has been given the privilege and responsible duty to host and organize the 11th high-level Asia-Europe Meetings in 2016. Organizing this event successfully would have positive implications to Mongolia's reputation on the world stage and has a broad range of benefits.

ASEM comprises of 51 Asian and European countries and two international organizations. It is a platform where discussion on political, economical and cultural cooperation is exchanged and where important international negotiations take place. As part of this event, over 50 heads of state and high-level delegates, more than 1000 journalists and reporters and around 3000 officials will be visiting.

The occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Asia-Europe Meetings occurring during this event brings us many organizational and capacity challenges. The Government of Mongolia is paying special attention by setting up the National Council to organize it, as well as working groups and divisions for preparation of the event and is working under a strict, detailed action plan.

During the ancient times of Chinggis Khan, our motherland never discriminated others by ethnicity or religion and gathered many heads of state to meet here. In order to proclaim this tradition once again and organize these high-level meetings successfully, the participation, cooperation and support of private entities, non-governmental organizations, volunteers, small and medium enterprises and citizens are vital.

Thus, we are organizing a Fundraising Reception on March 16th 2016, to request the participation and assistance of the community and the public for the organization of the 11th high-level ASEM meetings. (Details of the venue and time of the reception will be sent separately).

By inviting you to the fundraising reception, I hope you will spend an enjoyable evening with the leading wealth producers of our country and make a valuable contribution to the efforts of improving our reputation on the world stage.

I am confident that by successfully hosting and organizing the ASEM meetings, Mongolia will become more visible on the world map and our reputation and influence will notably increase. 




·         Additional information on the fundraising reception is available here

·         Forms of in-kind donations that will be accepted for the organization of the 11th ASEM high-level meetings is available here

Original Mongolian version of the full document including the Prime Minister's invitation letter, fundraising reception details and tentative list of in-kind donation forms is available here.

If you would like to register for this fundraising reception please contact Kh.Otgongerel, BCM partnership manager via (11-317027/70114442/99105817) and provide your name, organization, position, e-mail address and telephone number.

If you would like more information about the reception or in-kind donation please contact the following people: B.Myagmarsuren – email:, tel: 99008880, G.Khulan – email:, tel: 95118585.

Link to release


Int'l Market

975 closed -23.2% Tuesday to HK$0.043

Mongolian Mining expects possible debt default, steering committee appointed

[ET Net News Agency, 15 March 2016] Mongolian Mining Corporation (00975) said a steering committee of holders of the notes has been formed following initial discussions with them.

The steering committee has appointed Moelis & Company Asia Limited as its independent financial adviser and has retained Ropes & Gray as its legal adviser. Mongolian Mining is in discussion with the steering committee's independent financial adviser and legal adviser.

Mongolian Mining notes that the next interest payment date under the notes is 29 March 2016, on which date it is obligated to pay accrued semi-annual interests totaling US$26.625 million. Given that Mongolian Mining has been in discussion with the steering committee and its advisers, and taking into account of its current financial situation under continuing depressed market conditions, Mongolian Mining currently expects that it is highly likely that it will not be able to make the coupon payment and payment to the lenders on 22 March 2016. 

Mongolian Mining had applied for the resumption of trading in shares this morning.

Link to article

Link to MMC announcement


AKM jumped 33.3% Monday to A$0.008, flat since

Aspire Mining looks to bridge Mongolian rail funding from China

March 15 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining Ltd (ASX:AKM) which is actively developing projects in Mongolia with stakes in both coal mining and railroad projects in the north of the country has announced it is working with China Railways Bureau 20 Group toward a debt facility to fund pre development rail activities.

Aspire's Mongolian rail infrastructure subsidiary, Northern Railways LLC is working with nominated EPC contractor and consortium partner China Railways Construction Bureau 20 Group source to source bridge funding from a Chinese bank.

The proposed funding is a line of credit to enable completion of all pre development activities required under the Erdenet to Ovoot Rail Concession Agreement.

The credit facility would allow the completion of a rail bankable feasibility study, environmental permitting and completion of a number of commercial agreements including the EPC and debt refinance. 

The line of credit is intended to be supported by guarantees from Construction Contractors and Aspire.

Aspire's managing director, David Paull said that "With the continued support of the Mongolian Government, CRCB20G and now with the support of UBTZ, the Erdenet to Ovoot to Arts Suuri railway continues to progress as a viable inclusion in Mongolia's "Economic Corridor" between China and Russia."

The Rail Project spans 547 kilometres and forms part of Mongolia's Rail Policy to provide rail access to its northern provinces through the extension of its existing rail network from Erdenet to Ovoot to the Russian/Mongolian border at Arts Suuri with a Russian connection planned to Kyzyl.

At full operation, the Rail Project will have capacity to move 30 million tonnes per annum of bulk commodities, agricultural, general and passenger freight including transit freight between Russia and China.

Working group has Noble ambitions

Aspire has agreed with Mongolia's Ulaanbaatar Railway Corporation (UBTZ) to establish a working group to work through the technical and commercial issues in connecting the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway onto the existing Mongolian rail network operated by UBTZ and the operational management of the Northern Railway.

UBTZ is a joint venture between Mongolia and Russia and operates the domestic Mongolian Rail network.

UBTZ and Northern Railways are to agree access, capacity and future rail tariff structures along Mongolia's existing rail network.

Noble Group continues to be part of the Northern Rail consortium and welcomes the participation of new partners. Noble has agreed to revised terms on the existing loan with Aspire to allow the partnership time to complete its 24 month rail development process.

Aspire's projects include the Ovoot metallurgical coal project and the Ekhgoviin-Chuluu joint venture with Noble Group (which owns a 90% stake in the Nuurstei metallurgical coal project).

Aspire also owns Northern Railways, which aims to connect Ovoot to the country's national rail network and then onto Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway. 

Upon completion, the line will increase Mongolia's access to Russian, Chinese and seaborne metallurgical coal markets.

Link to article

Link to AKM release


ERD closed +2.7% to C$0.19 Tuesday

Erdene Provides Update on Bayan Khundii Gold Project and Receives $770,000 from Exercise of Warrants

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - March 15, 2016) - Erdene Resource Development Corp. (TSX:ERD) ("Erdene" or "Company") is pleased to provide an update on its exploration plans at its 100%-owned Bayan Khundii gold project in southwest Mongolia and to announce the receipt of approximately $770,000 in proceeds from the exercise of warrants in March 2016. The Company has also appointed prominent Mongolian business person, Bilguun Ankhbayar, as a strategic advisor to the Company, effective immediately.


·         Warrant proceeds received, totalling approximately $770,000

·         Drilling to commence at Bayan Khundii in early April

·         Bilguun Ankhbayar appointed as Advisor to the Company

·         Bayan Khundii Technical Report filed on Sedar ER

Update on Bayan Khundii Gold Project

Link to full release


TerraCom: Half Year Financial Statements

March 16 -- TerraCom Limited (TerraCom or the Company) (ASX: TER) would like to announce the results of the 2016 Half Year financial results. The full release has been lodged and is available for review.

In summary for the period TerraCom continued with the implementation of the strategic plan and substantial activity has occurred both with the restructuring of the balance sheet and operationally within the Mongolian Business Unit all be it in a very tough commodity market cycle.

Executive Summary

Over the past 18 months the Group's net assets have decreased by $92.3 million. The principle contributor over that period has been non-cash items that have affected the net assets total by $92.7 million – including, but not limited to:

      Unrealised foreign exchange loss recognised on borrowings ($32.9 million)

      Impairment of non-cash generative assets ($17.1 million)

      Impairment of operating asset (including finance costs capitalised) ($19.7 million)

Link to release

Link to TER Interim Report


SouthGobi Resources to Announce Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2015 Financial Results on March 29, 2016

HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - March 15, 2016) - The board of directors of SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX:SGQ)(HKSE:1878) (the "Company") will meet on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 to consider and approve the fourth quarter and full year 2015 financial results of the Company and its subsidiaries. These financial results will be released on March 29, 2016.

Link to release


Mongolia: the slow and bumpy road

March 7 (World Coal) Mining is a political business – and nowhere is this more evident than Mongolia. This landlocked Asian country has huge mineral wealth but, even at the peak of the commodities cycle, was singularly unable to develop its mining industry to any significant extent. Now parliamentary elections, coupled with the downturn in global commodity demand, look likely to keep Mongolia's mining industry development in the slow lane.

No confidence

Tavan Tolgoi: still no deal

Beyond Tavan Tolgoi

Where's the good news?

Despite the political, economic and infrastructure challenges, there remains great potential on Mongolia's steppes driven by its geographical location and the quality of Mongolia's coal.

"We believe proximity [to China] and the high-quality grade of Mongolia's coal make the country ideally placed to cement its position [as] one of the leading suppliers of coking [metallurgical] coal to the Chinese market over the next few years," said BMI Research in a research note.7 "The high-grade of Mongolian metallurgical coal means suppliers are able to circumvent the ban on 'dirty' coal introduced by China's government. A number of independent studies have confirmed that the blend, with its medium ash, low sulfur and high G value, to be better than primary coking coal imported from Australia."

Duck concurs: "We believe Mongolia will have an important role to play in the Chinese metallurgical coal market in the longer-term." Given the sector's tortuous recent history, exactly how long Mongolia's coal industry will have to wait, is anybody's guess – but when it does come it will bring further significant challenges for the country's governance.

"The Mongolian government will face major domestic challenges over the coming decade as the country's mining boom takes off and it seeks to strike a balance between distributing the revenues in a way that is acceptable to the population, while avoiding stoking inflation," wrote BMI Research in a recent report on the long-term politics of the country.8 And that is not to mention social challenges, including immigration and a growing wealth gap, and foreign policy issues, as the country seeks to avoid falling under too much influence from its giant neighbours.

Those sorts of challenges would be hard enough to face in the best governed of countries – and Mongolia is hardly that. It seems then that mining development will continue to face a bumpy ride with more than a passing chance that it will end in another ugly crash.

Link to article

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.32%, ALL +0.15%, 18.2 Million Shares, ₮87.2 Million T-Bills

March 14 (MSE) --

Link to report


MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.98%, ALL -1.06%, ₮40.2 Million Shares, 2.1 Million T-Bills

March 15 (MSE) --

Link to report


₮96.9 Million 39-Week T-Bills Sold on MSE at 14.915% Discount

March 14 (MSE) On March 14, 2016, 39 weeks /9 months/ Government retail bonds worth MNT96.9 million with 14.915% annual interest rate traded  on primary market at Mongolian Stock Exchange.

Below member brokerage companies participated in the bond trading follows:

 Companies' name 






Daewoo Securities Mongol



Tavan Bogd



Novel Investment




Link to release


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Historic low 2,048.18/USD set March 10, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, March 15 Close
















































































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮2,038 Sell ₮2,047), Khan (Buy ₮2,039 Sell ₮2,047), Golomt (Buy ₮2,039 Sell ₮2,048), XacBank (Buy ₮2,038 Sell ₮2,047), State Bank (Buy ₮2,036 Sell ₮2,047)

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

Link to rates


BoM FX auction: US$6m sold at 2,046.52, CNY18.5m at 314.57, accepts $8m MNT, declines $15m USD swap offers

March 15 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 15th, 2016, the BOM has received buying bid offers of USD 12.9 million in a rate between MNT 2043.33-2046.92, selling bid offers of USD 7.0 million in a rate between MNT 2045.00-2046.00 and buying bid offers of CNY40.5 million in a rate between MNT 313.90-314.82. The BOM sold USD 6.0 million in a consistency rate of MNT 2046.52 and CNY 18.5 million in a closing rate of MNT 314.57.

On March 15th, 2016, the BOM has received MNT Swap agreement buying bid offers equivalent to USD 8.0 million and USD swap agreement selling bid offers equivalent to USD 15.0 million from local commercial banks respectively. The BOM accepted the MNT swap agreement buying bid offers of USD 8.0 million and did not accept the USD swap agreement selling bid offers of USD 15.0 million.

Link to release


BoM issues 137 billion 1-week bills at 12%, total outstanding -1.3% to ₮466.3 billion

March 14 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 137 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release


Moody's: Outlook for Mongolia banks remains negative on challenging operating environment

Hong Kong, March 14, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service says the negative outlook for Mongolia's banking system, unchanged since 2013, reflects the challenging operating environment, leading to continued deterioration in asset quality and capital, while funding and liquidity will also remain tight. However, the pace of deterioration will moderate compared to 2015.

"Although we have seen a moderate pick-up in economic growth in Mongolia, the operating environment remains challenging for banks, with risks skewed to the downside," says Hyun Hee Park, a Moody's Assistant Vice President and Analyst.

"Specifically, we expect domestic demand will remain subdued against a backdrop of tight macroeconomic policies and high real interest rates," adds Park. "The greatest downside risk for the banks is a faster drop in commodity prices and a sharper slowdown in GDP growth in China, which we currently forecast at 6.3% in 2016."

Moody's conclusions were contained in its released annual outlook for Mongolia's banking system.

Moody's analysis is based on five drivers: Operating Environment -- deteriorating; Asset Quality and Capital -- deteriorating; Funding and Liquidity -- stable; Profitability and Efficiency -- deteriorating; and Systemic Support -- stable.

Asset quality will remain under pressure, says Moody's, although the pace of deterioration will be significantly slower than in 2015. The system's non-performing and past-due loan ratio doubled to 14.4% in 2015, and will continue to rise in 2016.

Reported capital metrics improved in 2015, supported by a decline in loans outstanding, and will remain stable during this outlook. Mongolia's credit cycle will continue to deleverage for a second consecutive year, with weak loan growth in all but some subsidized segments.

Moody's expectation for stable capital ratios is in line with its forward-looking solvency analysis, which suggests that banks will maintain their current capital metrics under Moody's baseline scenario.

Funding and liquidity conditions will moderately improve, says Moody's, as foreign direct investment inflows should pick up on the resumption of the second phase of the Oyu Tolgoi project. This development, plus ongoing deleveraging, will bring relief to the current tight liquidity conditions, following policy rate hikes and the unwinding of the government's Price Stabilization Program.

Profitability will remain under pressure due to contracting loan volumes combined with elevated credit costs. Furthermore, loan recovery rates are likely to be lower than in previous cycles due to weak commodity and real estate prices, with the result that costs related to balance sheet clean-up will be higher.

Moody's assesses Mongolia as a low-support system, and expects the current economic situation will affect the government's capacity to support banks in the coming 12-18 months. Nonetheless, Moody's expects the government will support deposits at banks it considers of high systemic importance to the economy.

Moody's rates eight of the 14 commercial banks in Mongolia and one government-related policy bank. The rated commercial banks accounted for 90.0% of total system loans and 87.6% of total system deposits at end-2014.

Subscribers can access the full report at

Link to release

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Mongolia, Azerbaijan eyeing Belarusian UAV manufacturing technologies

MINSK, 15 March (BelTA) – Mongolia and Azerbaijan are interested in Belarusian technologies of manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), BelTA learned from Alexander Shchavlev, Deputy Director of the R&D Center for Multifunctional Unmanned Complexes of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, on 15 March.

"The demand for our products has turned out to be great. In the last five years many systems have been exported. Apart from selling individual products we also offer Belarusian technologies of manufacturing flying machines and parts of unmanned complexes. The option enjoys solid demand on the global market. We have supplied such technological lines to Vietnam, Turkmenistan. Now Mongolia and Azerbaijan are interested in it," said Alexander Shchavlev.

The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus has created three recognizable brands — Busel, Burevestnik, and Dirizhabl. The product choice includes proprietary autopilots that can steer flying machines and systems that can automatically land flying machines on a runway. A number of stationary devices have been developed as well. They can be used to test individual components of unmanned aerial vehicles. Optical and electronic systems with a high degree of stabilization that can feed quality imagery from the aircraft are also available.

In the next five years efforts of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus in this area will be focused on a new state R&D program Robotized Complexes and Aerospace Technologies.

On the whole, Alexander Shchavlev noted that future belongs to unmanned aircraft. Belarus has laid down the foundation that will allow the country to stay at the forefront of manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles.

Link to article


Tips for NGOs wanting to set up shop in Mongolia

March 14 (Devex) Setting up a local NGO branch in Mongolia brings up some obvious logistical hurdles. Mongolia is a landlocked country, wedged between Russia to the north and China to the south. A natural calamity called a "dzud," or severe winter cold, makes life more difficult for both aid workers and herders alike.

But aside from such initial considerations, what should international NGOs be thinking about when they set out to open a branch in the East Asian nation of more than 3 million? More than 100 international NGOs have set up shop in the country, with local NGOs numbering over 5,000 as of 2005. Devex talked to a chief of a local Red Cross branch in Bayankhongor province, over 600 kilometers southwest of Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar, about what newcomers need to know:

Respect the culture and traditions

International organizations planning to open a local branch, particularly in the provinces, need to understand that respect for local culture and traditions is non-negotiable.

"Any activity must be respectful towards the history and culture of that local people," D. Betdamba, head and director of Bayankhongor province's Red Cross branch.

She suggested several steps organizations could take in this regard, including "involving as many local people as possible in their activities," being open to learning the culture and traditions, hiring local staff, and partnering with other development groups in the community.

The Red Cross official said organizations that choose to ignore a nation's or a community's set of culture and tradition "probably won't be able to expand their activities" as it will be "unpopular among the local people."

Coordination with local authorities

Working on the ground also requires coordination with formal community authorities. International NGOs may turn to local partner groups that can help to navigate the local systems of authority.

In the case of Mongolia, local authorities in the heads of "soum" (districts) and "aimag" (provinces), along with the citizens' representatives assembly, members of which can act as mediators between foreign institutions and the general populace.

"These are the so-called governing bodies and any activities obviously have to be in line with the existing laws," Betdamba said. "Any special license or permit has to be obtained within the existing laws."

Coordination with traditional authorities

Coordination and consultation with informal representatives of communities, or "elders," will also be beneficial for NGOs.

"It is very important actually to first visit or inform the elders about any activities that you might have been planning, because Mongolians respect their elders and listen to them intently," the Red Cross official said.

She explained that it's "basically [the] informal way of the community -- an elder person who has the respect of the community."

Participating in this leadership tradition can include dining with them — particularly drinking "arag" (fermented horse milk) and eating milk curd — in their traditional nomadic dwelling called a ger. Such discussions can help forge a strong relationship with the community.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Asia-Pacific development reporter Lean Santos was on the ground in Mongolia for Devex in February, during a press trip organized by the Asian Development Bank.

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Belarus, Mongolia to sign agreements on assistance in criminal, civil suits

MINSK, 14 March (BelTA) – Belarusian and Mongolian experts met in Ulaanbaatar to discuss draft international documents on cooperation in legal affairs, the press service of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told BelTA.

The sides shared their experience of practical work and agreed the texts of the draft interstate agreements on mutual legal aid in criminal suits, on mutual legal aid in civil and economic suits, on extradition and the draft memorandum of mutual understanding between the justice ministries of Belarus and Mongolia.

The Belarusian delegation was led by Alexei Aleshin, Head of the International Cooperation Office of the Belarusian Justice Ministry. Representatives of the Investigation Committee of Belarus and the Embassy of Belarus in Mongolia also took part in the expert consultations.

Link to article


Alaska guardsmen participate in cold weather exchange with Mongolian Armed Forces

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, March 14 (DVIDS) — A five-man team from the Alaska Army National Guard's 1-297th Reconnaissance and Surveillance Squadron has returned from Mongolia after a cold weather subject-matter-expert exchange with the Mongolian Armed Forces last month.

The purpose of the exercise was to support the Alaska National Guard's state partnership with Mongolia, giving MAF soldiers the opportunity to learn about cold weather and mountain tactics, techniques and procedures from AKARNG Soldiers. The four-day exchange was conducted at the Five Hills Training Area near Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Feb. 22-26.

"I think there is a lot of value in this type of training where both AKARNG and MAF Soldiers have the opportunity to learn from each other, and it supports two of the adjutant general's Lines of Effort – which are to continue to support the defense professionalization of the MAF and development of Mongolia's peace-keeping operations capability," said Maj. Samuel Scott, 1-197th R&S executive officer.

Training events included equipment briefs, cold weather injury classes, field demonstrations of the effects of cold weather on equipment and operations, avalanche safety and skiing. The culminating exercise was a climb of a local peak, in which MAF and AKARNG Soldiers had the opportunity to use techniques learned during the subject matter expert exchange.

Along with Scott, the AKARNG team consisted of Staff Sgt. Cody Tirpak, Staff Sgt. Dayton Will, Sgt. Elijah Gutierrez and Sgt. Jacob Rukovishnikoff, all experts in different facets of cold weather travel and mountaineering. 

The exchange, coordinated by Cpt. Amanda Plachek, AKARNG state partnership program coordinator, was designed to broaden the knowledge base of not just the Mongolian Armed Forces but of the participating Alaska Guardsmen as well.

"I was intrigued by their perspective on cold weather injuries," Rukovishnikoff said. "I'm not sure whether it's cultural or if they have a physiological structure that protects them from frostbite, but they laughed a little bit at our cold weather injury class and the multiple layers of gloves that we have."

The MAF fielded 10 noncommissioned officers from the 084 Special Task Battalion and 150th Peacekeeping Battalion. Several of the Alaska Guardsmen have been involved with training with the MAF on previous exercises and were pleasantly surprised to learn that several of the MAF participants were NCOs with whom they had worked in the past.

"I was very impressed with the growth of the MAF NCO Corps since the first time I trained here in 2012," Rukovishnikoff said. "They are true professionals and are paving the way for the future of the Mongolian Armed Forces." 

This event is the first cold weather subject-matter-expert trip to Mongolia, but Scott hopes there will be many more in the future.

"I would love to get some of the MAF soldiers to travel to Alaska and train with us in our environment."

The AKARNG State Partnership Program is managed with the purpose of supporting the security cooperation objectives of U.S. Pacific Command.

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Nature, Environment

United Nations kick starts response to dzud affected populations in Mongolia

Scaled up donor support urgently needed to protect affected herder households from loss of livelihoods

Ulaanbaatar, 15 March 2016 (UN Mongolia) The United Nations in Mongolia is scaling up its emergency response to address the urgent needs of populations affected by the harsh winter locally known as dzud. These interventions, amounting to $2.4 million, are funded by the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) under the rapid response window.

Around 60 per cent of Mongolia's 339 district have been in dzud or near-dzud condition since December 2015.  Dzud is a cyclical slow onset disaster unique to Mongolia. It consists of a summer drought followed by a deterioration of the weather conditions in winter (10 to 350 cm snow thickness, temperatures -40° C to -50° C) and spring during which shortage of pasture and water leads to large scale death of animals.  The dzud conditions have been compounded by a prolonged, El Nino induced, drought in the summer of 2015 that resulted in a 40% reduction in wheat harvests and grazing pasture in some areas.

As of 15 February 2016, an estimated 225,788 people (62,719 herder households or 41 per cent of the total herder population) in 211 districts are impacted by adverse weather conditions, including 28,290 children under age 5 and 3,340 expectant mothers. Out of this, an estimated 11,800 herder households with less than 100 animals who reside in the 98 most dzud affected districts are considered particularly vulnerable.

The number of animals perished as a result of the heavy snow fall, severe storms and cold weather conditions jumped 10-fold from 40,000 in January 2016 to 359,981 as of 10 March 2016. Soaring trends indicate that the numbers of deaths may cross 1.2 million during the spring, when weak and starved animals are expected to die in large numbers.

"UN assistance supported by CERF is designed to address the most urgent survival and livelihood needs of 4,390 vulnerable herder households affected by the dzud in Mongolia", says Ms. Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator. "The household level assistance complements the Government's response which focuses on infrastructure and service provision. UN measures are aimed at ensuring that the most vulnerable households can make it through the harsh winter and are protected from an extreme collapse of livelihoods thus averting a wider humanitarian crisis", she added.

The response is organised in 4 projects to be provided as a package of complementary time-critical interventions including food aid, nutrition, protection, agriculture, and early recovery. The Protection and the Nutrition sector will deliver a package of food, nutrition and basic relief items to facilitate the survival of the most vulnerable herders. The agriculture component aims to protect livelihoods of vulnerable herders who are dependent on their livestock by minimizing additional loss of animal lives and damage to economic assets through fodder provisions. This will be followed by a cash intervention which will ensure that low income households can buy additional warm clothes, heating and cooking fuels, and other products essential for surviving the extreme winter and isolation. The projects will be implemented in the next six months by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with NGOs and government authorities.

The government of Mongolia has already disbursed much of the Emergency funds allocated from its State Reserve. Mr. Tserendash Oyunbaatar, Deputy Prime Minister and head of State Emergency Commission has welcomed international assistance. The head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Badral Tuvshin said that he "appreciate(s) the coordination efforts of the United Nations to complement the government's response"

The CERF grant will cover 17% of the $ 14.3 million estimated overall response requirements addressing both immediate life-saving and other mid-term needs in the four sectors. In addition to the support through the CERF mechanism, $ 4.4 million in immediate assistance is urgently needed to reach the most vulnerable herder households in all 98 dzud affected districts. The Humanitarian Country Team will continue working with the government and partners to advocate for more resources to address life-saving needs of the most vulnerable households.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Jargalsaikhan Purevdorj, Communications Analyst, Tel. +976 11 327 585 ext 1133

Link to release


Prague Zoo plans transports of Przewalski's horse for Mongolia

Prague, March 14 (CTK) - The Prague Zoo is preparing to transport four Przewalski's horse mares to Mongolia in the middle of July, zoo director Miroslav Bobek told CTK yesterday, adding that a military CASA plane will again be used.

The Prague Zoo has kept a world stud book on the species since 1959.

"We are planning to take four mares from Prague to [the Mongolian national park] Gobi B," Bobek said.

The CASA has room for just four horses, he said and added that chief-of-staff Josef Becvar has already agreed with the use of the military plane.

"At the same time, he approved the use of the CASA for the flight from Bulgan Sum to Ulaanbaatar, where four horses from Khustain Nuruu, which is also a national park, will be loaded and taken to Gobi B," Bobek said about a project he has planned for long.

He said last autumn he agreed with the Mongolian environment minister on that Mongolia will invest in the building of enclosures and catching of the horses.

In cooperation with the Czech military, the zoo has transported 19 Przewalski's horses from the Czech Republic to Mongolia. Seventeen of them are still alive, which is a "very good result," Bobek said.

One stallion died during transport in 2011 and one mare died last autumn when it got stuck in mud during torrential rains in Gobi B.

Twelve offspring of the transported horses live in the protected area.

"This means that we transported there 19 horses, but 29 horses from our transports live there," Bobek said.

A total of 500 Przewalski's horses live in three localities in Mongolia, including 130 in Gobi B, where the last four transports from Prague were headed. In the wild, the Przewalski's horse became extinct more than 40 years ago.

Bobek said the task and duty of the zoological gardens that are members of world and European associations is to participate in the protection of biodiversity.

"Prague has played a key role in the salvation of the Przewalski's horse from extinction. In 2011 [when the first horses were taken to Mongolia], we started something which no one else was capable of doing. It was thanks to our zeal and also to that we succeeded in enlisting the military and the defence ministry's support and that we can use the CASA aircraft," Bobek said.

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In Pictures: The evolution of Mongolia's fledgling skateboarding scene

From Dirt to Dust

Meet the skateboarders building a new community and fighting for space in a rapidly changing country.

March 12 (Huck Magazine) For centuries, Mongolia was one of the most isolated countries on Earth. And it remains one of the most sparsely populated, with its traditionally nomadic people living a unique existence amid the infinite steppes.

But since the fall of the Soviet Union, the last two decades have seen it become one of the fastest growing countries in the world as international companies have sought to grab its precious natural resources.

Back in 2004, an international crew of skateboarders witnessed the rapid pace of change firsthand. After making a pilgrimage to a giant skate park in Ulaanbaatar they'd seen in photos, they arrived to discover it had been gobbled up by the city's frenetic development.

But being skaters, this was just the beginning of the real adventure. Criss-crossing the country to explore Mongolia's fledgling scene, their adventure became the photobook Dirt Ollies and film Mongolian Tyres.

Ten years later, the same team have collaborated on From Dirt to Dust, which looks at how Mongolia has changed over the last decade and skateboarding's role in the urban revolution of the country.

Skateboarding is their lens to document the huge changes sweeping the country, as a once nomadic people increasingly floods to the country's only major city, Ulaanbaatar – bringing elements of their ancient culture with them, but leaving much behind.

It's accompanied by the short film, Out of Steppe, which looks at the contrast between skateboarding in the sweeping steppes and forgotten Mongolian towns with the blossoming urban scene.

With contributions from writers, photographers, skateboarders and an architect, From Dirt to Dust presents a multilayered meditation on the immense physical and social changes underway.

As Mongolia emerges gingerly into a modern globalised world, skateboarding is one of many pieces of the puzzle as a new democratic/post-Soviet generation works out how to carve out its own distinct identity, which also respects Mongolia's rich cultural traditions. It's also at the heart of battles over who has space to express themselves in the anarchic development of its urban landscape and who gets a say over the path their fast-moving country takes.

From Dirt to Dust is out now, published by 19/80 Éditions and Carhartt WIP.

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Mogi: headline is misleading. The visa waiver was temporary. It allowed to lapse. Although, extending it would've been nice

Mongolia Cancels 2016 Visa on Arrival Facilities for 42 Countries

March 14 (Asia Briefing) The Mongolian government has cancelled the visa on arrival program that was extended to 42 countries in mid-2014. This means there will be no such facility during 2016 and all travelers from these nations now need to apply for a visa in advance from the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The visa-free access for the 42 nations concerned was granted from June 2014 until 31st December 2015, but the decision not to extend it and revert back to a strict pre-visit visa-issuance program has taken many diplomats, businesspeople, tourists and travelers by surprise; especially as the decision impacts most significantly upon EU nationals, who are amongst the largest investors in and travelers to the country. The process to attain a pre-visit visa takes a minimum of three days and must be accompanied by various documentation concerning the visit.

The news, which has not been widely publicized by the Mongolian government, affects citizens of the following nations:

Costa Rica
Czech Republic
United Kingdom

The move is certain to seriously damage Mongolia's tourism industry and foreign investment into an economy that is already under severe pressure following the collapse of coal and iron ore sales to China, which is suffering from over capacity problems. It is unclear what prompted the withdrawal of the visa-free program, which has predominantly hit European nations and all of those within the EU with the exception of Germany.

Reports have reached us of business and tourist travelers being turned away at Airport Check In desks and being forbidden from boarding aircraft to Ulaan Baatar or to board trains along the Trans-Siberian Express passing through the country. A MIAT official we spoke to at Hong Kong International Airport described the situation as "a disaster", explaining that he was having to refuse boarding for multiple passengers on every flight.

All travelers to Mongolia are advised to contact their relevant Mongolian Embassy directly for details and new visa requirements and protocols at least a month ahead of planned travel to the country.

It should be noted that many Mongolian government, embassy and immigration and tour operator websites have not yet been updated with this new information and continue to imply that visa-free access is permitted.

Moody's Investor Services have also just released a report stating that the outlook for Mongolia "remains negative on a challenging operating environment", while the handling of the recent visa-on-arrival for Europeans certainly raises cause for concern. The EU is Mongolia's third largest trading partner, and one of Mongolia's largest investors. A return to Soviet style administration procedures is not helpful to the national development in a world dominated by global trade flows and mutually beneficial investment. Allowing visa on arrival to lapse and reinstating an administratively awkward visa protocol sends Mongolia, its economy, and its case for national development and prosperity backwards, not forwards, and allows serious doubts to creep in over the ultimate aims of local politicians promoting an ultra-nationalistic agenda under the auspices of the Democratic Party.

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