Friday, March 18, 2016

[TRQ announces results; Jacques to succeed Walsh; MMC denies allegations; MNT back on the slump; and Nomin Chinbat selected YGL]

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Friday, March 18, 2016

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Mogi: where can we find it?

National Council Approves ASEM 11 Summit Program

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the National council for preparation for the 11th ASEM Summit approved a program of the Summit.

The council's members also discussed reports about the preparation for the 15th Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF15), an aid to be rendered from ASEM members and secretariats to operate during the ASEM Summit, and other related meetings.

A report concerning a draft budget for a media center for foreign and domestic journalists was delivered by A.Ganbaatar, an advisor to the President and chair of the ASEM preparation working group on media and public relations; by Ts.Jadambaa, a head of the Agency of IT, Postage and Communication; and by Ts.Oyundari, director-general of the Mongolian National Public Radio and Television.

Link to article


Mogi: why not

Chefs' Skills Challenge to Be Held Among ASEM Hotel Restaurants

March 17 (ASEM Mongolia) ASEM's Hotel and Accommodation working group held its latest weekly meeting at the Government Palace on March 17, discussing a number of issues including the standard restaurant menu at the partner hotels, cultural and art shows that will be organized for the guests of ASEM, as well as other related matters.

Chefs' Skills Challenge to be announced

A standard menu for all restaurants of the ASEM partner hotels, which was developed by the Food Industry Policy Implementation Coordination Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, was presented for discussion at the working group meeting. The meeting issued a decision to organize "Skills challenge" designed to improve the skills and talents of the cooks and chefs of the partner hotel restaurants, to condition them to serve meals according to the standard menu, and to promote Mongolian national dishes at the international level.

It has been decided that the reception of the President of Mongolia and the mini Naadam festival, hosted in the honor of the high level ASEM guests, would be held at Jargalant gully of Bogd Khan mountain. In this connection P. Tsagaan, the chairman of the working group, instructed relevant officials to come up with a general plan that would address the issues of accommodation, electricity supply, lighting, roads and sanitation during the event.

ASEP9 and other events' renovations in progress

During the working group meeting, P. Tsagaan was informed on the completion of the repair and improvement work at the Grand Hall of the Government House, which will be the venue for the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting on April 21-23. At the meeting, it was also suggested that an exhibition-cum-sale of works by Mongolian painters and craftsmen be organized during the meeting.

It was decided that the next meeting of the working group would discuss and finalize the dates and venues for the next side events of the ASEM Summit.

Link to article


Int'l Market

Results announced after market close. TRQ closed +3.33% Thursday to US$2.95

Turquoise Hill Announces Financial Results and Review of Operations for 2015

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - March 17, 2016) - Turquoise Hill Resources today announced its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2015. All figures are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.


·         Oyu Tolgoi achieved an excellent safety performance for 2015 with an All Injury Frequency Rate of 0.33 per 200,000 hours worked.

·         In May 2015, the Oyu Tolgoi Underground Mine Development and Financing Plan was signed addressing key outstanding shareholder matters and setting out long-term funding of the project.

·         In August 2015, Oyu Tolgoi filed revised schedules for the statutory feasibility study with the Mongolian Minerals Council.

·         In December 2015, Oyu Tolgoi signed a $4.4 billion project financing facility provided by a syndicate of international financial institutions, export credit agencies and 15 commercial banks.

·         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.

·         Oyu Tolgoi recorded revenue of $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 $355.6 million on concentrate sales of 236,200 tonnes reflecting lower copper and gold prices combined with lower sales of metal in concentrate.

·         Turquoise Hill generated operating cash flow before interest and taxes of $650.5 million in 2015.

·         In 2015, cash operating costs1 at Oyu Tolgoi were $962.6 million including $59.9 million in non-recurring charges for the May 18 underground agreement and underground early works expensed.

·         For 2015, Oyu Tolgoi generated C11 costs of $0.57 per pound of copper and all-in sustaining costs1 of $1.37 per pound of copper, a decrease of 50.0% and 29.7% respectively over 2014.

·         Capital expenditure on a cash basis for 2015 was $116.2 million, primarily attributed to sustaining activities.

·         For 2015, Oyu Tolgoi's second full year of production, the mine operated at record levels.

·         Productivity improvements in the concentrator implemented throughout 2015 led to throughput exceeding nameplate capacity by year end and increasing by 23.9% over 2014.

·         For Q4'15, concentrator throughput increased 8.5% over Q3'15 reaching an all-time quarterly high.

·         In 2015, copper production of 202,200 tonnes exceeded the Company's guidance and annual gold production of 653,000 ounces met guidance.

·         Compared to 2014, 2015 mined production increased 19.3%, concentrate production increased 39.9%, copper production increased 36.3% and gold production increased 10.9%.

·         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.

·         Sales contracts have been signed for approximately 90% of Oyu Tolgoi's expected 2016 concentrate production.

·         In September 2015, Oyu Tolgoi surpassed 1.5 million tonnes of concentrate shipped.

·         Turquoise Hill's cash and cash equivalents at December 31, 2015 were approximately $1.3 billion.

Link to results


Mogi: copper chief instead of iron, guess it says something about Rio's plans

Rio Tinto Appoints Copper Chief Jacques CEO to Succeed Walsh

·         Copper boss Jacques replaces iron man Sam Walsh in July

·         Changes come as mining giant handles commodity price rout

March 17 (Bloomberg) As the mining industry struggles to respond to China's economic shift, Rio Tinto Group named its top copper executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques as chief executive officer to succeed Sam Walsh, who drove the producer's iron ore expansion over the past decade.

Jacques will join the board of the world's second-biggest mining company and Walsh, 66, will retire, London-based Rio said Thursday in a statement. The 44-year-old Jacques completed negotiations in December for a $4.4 billion financing package to expand Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi mine as the company seeks to boost copper output with demand forecast to rise from about the end of the decade.

"Copper is the commodity that Rio is probably the most excited about, and they are chucking in the copper guy," Mathew Hodge, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Sydney, said by phone. "Last time they made a transition, iron ore was the thing they were most excited about and they chucked in the iron ore guy."

Walsh was appointed in January 2013 to replace Tom Albanese after the company was forced to take about $14 billion of write downs for failed deals in aluminum and coal. The Australian led a concerted cost-cutting regime during his tenure, divesting assets and trimming project spending as prices of iron ore, its top earner, slumped from a 2011 peak.

Jacques, previously a group strategy director for Tata Steel Group, takes charge of Rio's portfolio in July amid the worst commodity price slump in a generation that's eroded profits and forced competitors, including Glencore Plc and Anglo American Plc, to sell assets amid pressure from investors and credit ratings agencies to conserve cash. The Bloomberg Commodity Index of returns on about 22 raw materials tumbled in January to the lowest since 1991.

The biggest miners are also grappling with China's shift from growth led by heavy industry to consumer-led expansion that's expected to favor metals including copper, used in cars and power grids, and aluminum. Iron ore prices dropped to a six-year low in December.

"Some of his biggest challenges are the things that Jacques is already dealing with," said Brenton Saunders, a Sydney-based investment analyst with BT Investment Management Ltd., which manages about A$78 billion ($56 billion) of assets. They include the Oyu Tolgoi project, the Grasberg gold and copper mine in Indonesia and Rio's coal portfolio, he said.

Rio rose 5.1 percent in London Thursday, more than erasing this year's declines.

Walsh, whose contract had originally been due to end in December 2015, had his tenure extended in October 2014, weeks after the company publicly rebuffed a merger approach from Glencore. Jacques, who will have a base annual salary of 1.08 million pounds ($1.5 million) in his new role has "proven to be a standout performer as a leader in our business," Walsh in a statement.

A collector of antique milk-jugs, Walsh led the company through a variety of industry battles, overseeing Rio's decision to boost iron ore output in an increasingly hostile price war that put pressure on smaller rivals. Global iron ore production rose 34 percent during his time as CEO. He was also chief of the company's ore unit during the attempted hostile takeover by rival BHP Billiton Ltd. that was thwarted by the onset of the global financial crisis.

As the slump in commodity prices continued, Walsh joined his staff in a pay-freeze in January, warning that he saw no signs of respite in the rout that had eroded profits and threatened dividends. The Bloomberg Commodity Index, a measure of returns for 22 raw materials, lost 43 percent in the period Walsh was CEO.

"Against the backdrop of a volatile economic environment, Sam and his team have transformed the business," Jacques said in the statement. "Sam leaves Rio Tinto as a much stronger company, with a bright future."

Walsh was in charge of the iron ore division when Rio's head of iron ore in China, Australian Stern Hu, was jailed for 10 years for taking bribes and espionage. Three of his Chinese colleagues were given sentences of as long as 14 years. The incident led to Walsh ordering an independent review of the company's processes and controls.

Link to article

Link to RIO release


Want To Sit And Wait For 7 Years? Buy Turquoise Hill Resources

By Sven Carlin (Growth at reasonable price, long-term horizon, book author, Fund Manager)


·         Turquoise's main project is the development of underground operations at the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia with production expected only after 2021.

·         At current copper prices TRQ's EPS in 2023 would not justify the project therefore TRQ is a pure bet on copper.

·         If copper prices increase by 100% investors can expect a 12% yearly return from investing in TRQ at these levels.

·         As a lot of things can happen in seven years an investment in TRQ should be defined as highly risky.


Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) is the 66% owner of the Oyu Tolgoi mine located in the South Gobi region of Mongolia.

It currently operates one open pit mine, the Southern Oyu Tolgoi, and is about to start underground operations.

Figure 1. TRQ's plan of operations and schedule

In this article I want to make a simple valuation of TRQ's business in order to see what are the opportunities and risks related to TRQ.


The valuation of a mine is strictly related to the market price of the commodities it is producing. The main metal for TRQ is copper with gold as a side product.

Figure 2 TRQ's expected production

As you can see in the above figure production is expected to increase from 2021 onwards. Until then the company will operate only the open pit mine that has lower grades that the underground parts. As TRQ had EPS of $0.01 in the last available quarter (Q3 2015) and seeing that copper prices have only declined since then I will assume EPS of $0 up to 2021 for my valuation as the real value in TRQ lies in the development of the underground operations.

Starting in 2022 TRQ is expected to produce one billion pounds of copper and 400 thousand ounces of gold. With current copper and gold prices the total revenue would amount to $2.6 billion. If we attach a cash cost per payable pound of copper of $1.3 we get an operating profit of $1.3 billion.

From that we have to deduct the financing costs for the development of the underground mine.

Figure 3 TRQ's financing costs

With a total debt load of $6 billion ($4.4 billion at this moment and $1.6 billion of supplemental debt) and an interest rate of LIBOR + 6.0% I would expect financing costs of around 7% on the debt, assuming that the LIBOR can increase in the future. This would create an expense of $0.42 billion a year. Profit before taxes in the presented scenario would be $0.9 billion. After taxesof 25% in would result in $0.675 billion. After deducting the 33% mine share of the Mongolian government the remainder for TRQ's shareholders would be $0.44 billion or $0.22 per share. If we attach a PE ratio of 10 to that we get a share price of $2.2 in 2023. Not a great deal from that perspective seeing that the price is currently $2.7.

The main point of course, is the expected increase in copper prices due to global lower grades, mine shutdowns and constant increases in demand. A bullish scenario from a copper produces is shown in the figure below.

Figure 4 Expected copper scenario

With a copper price of $3.2 in 2022 and gold prices constant the profit before taxes would increase by $1 billion to £1.9 billion. After taxes it would be $1.42 billion, and after the governments cut $0.9 billion or $0.45 per share. With a PE ratio of 10 it would result in a price of $4.5. This would give you a 66% return in 8 years or 6.5% yearly return. I think that investors should expect much higher return for a mine in development in a jurisdiction like Mongolia.

A copper price of $4.2 would add an additional $0.23 of EPS to the EPS of $0.45 from copper prices at $3.2. At EPS of $0.68 and a PE ratio of 10 the price would be $6.8 giving you a 12% yearly return.


TRQ is a pure bet on copper, I say bet because at current copper prices investors can expect real return only after 2022. In seven years a lot of things can happen, from recessions to political uncertainties. Even if TRQ is a subsidiary of Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) I do not see that as a large margin of safety as RIO cannot influence copper prices to that extent as it is currently influencing iron prices. As for a 12% return everything should proceed according to plan at TRQ and copper prices should also increase by almost 100% I find TRQ a very risky bet at this moment. Just one global recession or a prediction of a global recession would severely affect TRQ's share price, like it did in January 2016 when TRQ's share price was $1.55. A 50% potential loss is too much for a mere possible 12% return.

Link to article


MMC Denies Involvement of Deputy CEO in Alleged Defrauding of Government

March 17 -- The board of directors (the "Board") of Mongolian Mining Corporation (the "Company") has noted certain press articles (the "Press Articles") in relation to an arrest of the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Company. Pursuant to the Press Articles, Mr. Oyunbat Lkhagvatsend, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Company ("Mr. Oyunbat"), was detained as he was alleged to have defrauded the Government of Mongolia (the "Government") in respect of a compensatory claim regarding the Government's revocation of a railway infrastructure base concession project originally awarded to Energy Resources LLC and Energy Resource Rail LLC ("ERR"), both indirectly wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Company, which used to be responsible for implementing such project. It was also alleged that Mr. Oyunbat was released as a result of the Company's influence on the Police of Mongolia.

The Company confirms that the abovementioned allegations are not accurate and would wish to clarify that:

(i) The Independent Anti-Corruption Agency and the Police of Mongolia (the "Investigators") have been jointly investigating a number of individuals belonging to former management of Mongolian Railway State-Owned Joint-Stock Company ("MTZ") and the then incumbent officials of the Ministry of Road and Transportation in relation to projects implemented by MTZ and funded by Government financing sources, including the Ukhaa Khudag-Gashuunsukhait railway project (the "Project");

(ii) There has been no claim against any of the Company and its directors. As a result of its previous involvement in the Project, the Company was requested by the Investigators to provide available information in relation to the Project. The Company has fully collaborated with the Investigators and provided all documentation available as requested, and intends to continue to fully collaborate;

(iii) Mr. Oyunbat, in his capacity as the chief executive officer of ERR, the Company's indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary involved in the Project, was also questioned by the Investigators. He was detained by the Investigators on February 24, 2016 and released on the following day. As at the date of the Announcement, Mr. Oyunbat is continuing to perform his duties at office and reports to the Company as usual and has been fully collaborating with the Investigators.

The Company would urge the media to report accurately and the Company reserves its right to take any legal action against any inaccurate reports.

Link to release


Wolf Petroleum Response to ASX Query

March 17, Wolf Petroleum Ltd. (ASX:WOF) --

Dear Wade

I refer to your letter dated 16 March 2016 and provide the following responses to your questions:

1. Please explain why the Half Year Accounts were not lodged by the due date?

The Half Year Accounts could not be lodged due to the Company, as Second Defendant, being served with an Originating Process by Ngaanyatjarra Council (Aboriginal Corporation) (NCAC) close to the due date for the winding up on the grounds of insolvency. The amount claimed by NCAC is $104,880.91.

The First Defendant to the Originating Process is Palgrave Resources Ltd (ACN 116 047 299) (First Defendant).

The Company has an indemnity from the First Defendant in respect of the claim by NCAC.

The Company is currently seeking legal advice in relation to this matter and the Half Year Accounts will be finalised and lodged with the ASX subsequent to the Company receiving legal advice.

2. When does the Company expect to be able to lodge the Half Year Accounts so that trading in its securities can resume?

Link to release

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -1.5%, ALL -0.56%, Turnover 13.8 Million Shares

March 17 (MSE) --

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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: Thursday, March 17 Close
















































































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮2,042 Sell ₮2,049), Khan (Buy ₮2,040 Sell ₮2,048), Golomt (Buy ₮2,040 Sell ₮2,048), XacBank (Buy ₮2,042 Sell ₮2,049), State Bank (Buy ₮2,040 Sell ₮2,048)

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

Link to rates


BoM FX auction: CNY39.6m sold at 314.35, accepts USD$13.6m MNT swap offers

March 17 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 17th, 2016, the BOM has received buying bid offers of USD 5.6 million and buying bid offers of CNY in a rate between MNT 312.70-314.97. The BOM sold CNY 39.6 million in a closing rate of MNT 314.35.

On March 17th, 2016, the BOM has received MNT Swap agreement buying bid offers equivalent to USD 13.6 million and USD swap agreement selling bid offers equivalent to USD 20.0 million from local commercial banks respectively. The BOM accepted the MNT swap agreement buying bid offers of USD 13.6 million and did not accept the USD swap agreement selling bid offers of USD 20.0 million.

Link to release


BoM Monthly Statistical Bulletin, February 2016

March 17 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Link to report


SamKnows Analysis of Broadband Performance in Mongolia, August – November 2015

Delivered by Email to:

CRC Mongolia

Dated: December 23, 2015

Executive Summary

This report presents the preliminary findings of the measurement study that SamKnows is conducting in Mongolia on behalf of the CRC. One hundred SamKnows Whiteboxes have been deployed in Mongolian homes across a range of ISPs in order to give the CRC a detailed view of the broadband performance experienced by their consumers. Whilst it would be unusual to see significant performance issues from such a small sample size, the data from this study suggests that there are notable performance issues which are impacting consumer experience. Please note that the sample size is too small to be considered statistically representative of consumer broadband performance in Mongolia, and whilst the data is illuminating and certainly demonstrates the presence of significant network issues, SamKnows suggests that it should be considered as indicative rather than definitive.

The key findings contained in this report are as follows:

-       All ISPs deliver at least 94% of advertised speed when downloading from local servers within Mongolia. Many ISPs deliver far more than this, with Mobinet exceeding their advertised speed by a factor of 24. There is very minimal variation in local download performance during peak hours.

-       ISPs deliver far lower speeds to the international destinations measured (Frankfurt and Los Angeles). These speeds were measured at far closer to the subscribed rate of the panellists; no ISP exceeded 125% of advertised here, and four of the six ISPs delivered between 90% and 100% of advertised. A wider variation in peak hour performance was also seen to international destinations.

-       Traffic to local Mongolian destinations appears to be unthrottled and likely limited only by the access technology and available network capacity. Local speeds are therefore often far in excess of the user's subscribed broadband speed. However, international speeds appear to be throttled to the user's subscribed product.

-       This policy on unthrottling local traffic has interesting knock-on effects on performance of real applications. Services which choose to host content within Mongolia are at a distinct advantage when serving content to Mongolian consumers, and not just for the typical latency reasons – they will also see far higher bandwidth. Real world effects of this have been observed in the YouTube measurements, with ISPs delivering YouTube content to users at higher bitrates than the user's subscribed broadband product. This is only possible because YouTube host servers within Mongolia and traffic to their servers is therefore unthrottled.

-       Similar performance characteristics are exhibited in the upstream direction too. In contrast with measurement studies conducted on behalf of other regulators, delivered broadband speeds were largely found to be symmetric rather than asymmetric.

-       Latency and packet loss is largely within the expected range of values for FTTP and ADSL services. One notable exception is Skymedia, whose packet loss is quite severe both during off-peak and peak hours. This appears to have a knock-on effect on the performance of real world applications such as YouTube streaming and web browsing.

Link to report

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Politics & Legal

Khan Bank Analyzing and Disbursing 5% Mortgage Loans in Select Branches

March 15 (Khan Bank) In accordance with a joint directive issued by the Minister of Population Development and Social Welfare and the Governor of the Bank of Mongolia, dated March 4, 2016, terms and conditions for mortgage loans were revised and changes were made to Regulations for Mortgage Loan Financing upon the Governor's directive adopted on March 11, 2016. 

Khan Bank has resumed 8% mortgage loan disbursement, in addition to the issuance of 5% mortgage loans based on the new terms and conditions starting from March 15, 2016. 

The bank has been receiving 8% mortgage loan applications and making credit decisions through its normal loan procedures. If a borrower has been approved for an 8% mortgage loan but hasn't received the loan yet and meets the requirements of eligibility for the 5% mortgage loan, the borrower can transfer their application to the 5% mortgage loan.  

According to the regulation, borrowers who are purchasing apartments in the areas specified below are entitled to apply for a 5% mortgage loan: 

      New residential areas; ger district redevelopment areas; and the furthest districts of UB, including Baganuur, Nalaikh, and Bagankhangai 

      In the 21 provinces (aimag)  

For an apartment purchase in areas not specified above, the borrower can apply for an 8% mortgage loan.   

A 5%  mortgage loan can be applied for at our Mortgage Loan Centers at Yalalt Square in Chingeltei district; the Bogd Ar sub-branch on the 1st floor of Building 16 in Bogd Ar Town in Bayangol District; the Peace Bridge sub-branch in Khan Uul District; and branches in the 21 provinces of Mongolia. 

Link to article

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Mongol TV's Nomin Chinbat Selected to WEF's Young Global Leaders Class of 2016

Brilliant scientists. Emerging entrepreneurs. Tech investors. Activist MPs. Each year, we select the most innovative, enterprising and socially minded men and women under the age of 40 who are pushing boundaries and rethinking the world around them. This year's class of Young Global Leaders gives hope that they are ready to tackle the world's most complex and pressing challenges. They are invited to join a community and a five-year leadership journey that we believe will help them break down silos, bridge cultures and use their collective skills to get things done for positive impact across private, public and civil society organizations.

Nomin Chinbat | Mongolia



Founder and CEO of Mongol TV, where she has shaken up the industry, challenging incumbent broadcasters and attracted international suppliers. 

Link to list


Mongolian Labor Fair Held in San Francisco

March 17 ( Mongolian students and young people living in the United States traditionally organize an annual labor fair. This year, the event will take place on 20th March, in San Francisco. The purpose of the labor fair is to help young Mongolians living in the US to find jobs and also to help them secure employment when they return home to Mongolia. 

The Mongolian Ministry of Labor, the UB City Labor Authority, the United Federation of Employers, the Central Young People's Labor Market, ten US employer organizations and twenty Mongolian employers are all participating in the event. During the 2016 Labor Fair, there will be presentations, competitions and a discussion event entitled "I have a word to say".

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UB City to work with Belarus on building bus factory

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul received Thursday the Deputy PM of Belarus V.I.Semashko.

The high guest noted that this is his first visit to Mongolia and that Ulaanbaatar has turned out to be such a beautiful modern city. He is grateful for the expanding cooperation in a development of the capital city's public transport, he said, "we are willing to extend the collaboration in this sector". After that he invited the Mayor to Minsk.

E.Bat-Uul accepted the invitation and said he might visit after a completion of the parliamentary election. He expressed a gratitude to Belarus for close cooperation in a development of the public transport of Ulaanbaatar. "We have had talks with A.S.Ogorodnikov, the Industry Minister of Belarus, about commissioning a bus-assembling factory, and we want to forward this business", he added.

In response, Mr Semashko pledged Belarusian cooperation in commissioning such a factory and advised to carefully conduct bilateral negotiations for building mutually-beneficial cooperation. Present at the meeting were a deputy Mayor in charge of road, transport and infrastructure of Ulaanbaatar N.Gantomor, a head of UB City Transport Department Ch.Enkhbat, an executive director of "Ulaanbaatar City Development Corporation" Ltd. E.Temuulin, and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Mongolia Mr S.V.Chepurnoi.

Link to article


Clearing the air: Why Mongolia's 'Ger' districts are key to solving its air pollution crisis

March 16 (Earth Journalism Network) It is well known that Ulaanbaatar's winter air quality ranks among the world's worst. Most residents in the Mongolian capital's sprawling squatter settlements rely on coal-burning stoves to survive temperatures that fall below minus 35 degrees Celsius. With 1.4 million inhabitants, nearly half of Mongolia's population now lives in Ulaanbaatar and the magnitude of the public health crisis is inordinate.

While most of the year Ulaanbaatar's skies are clear, between November and March visibility beyond a few blocks is nearly impossible in parts of the city. Hulking silhouettes of newly-constructed high-rise apartments loom ominously behind curtains of smoke and dust. "UB," as Ulaanbaatar is known among locals, is the world's coldest capital city.

"Every year the politicians say the pollution will improve and every year it's just as bad," said J. Enkhnasan, a resident of Ulaanbaatar, as she looked out the window at the smoggy cityscape from the school where she works.

Mongolian Parliament Member, Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, announced that this winter was "on track to be the highest-polluted on record" at a conference on Mongolia's environment at the University of California, Berkeley held on March 11, 2016.

The brunt of the public health calamity falls on Ulaanbaatar's most vulnerable residents, those who live in the slums commonly known as "ger districts." ["Ger" is the Mongolian word for yurt.] With over 60 percent of the city's population inhabiting the squatter areas, the proportion of residents most susceptible to the high concentrations of airborne pollutants is only growing.

Tens of thousands of herders arrive in UB each year, many forced to migrate by cycles of droughts and harsh winters known as "dzuds" and the resulting livestock losses. Currently, Mongolia is in the throes of a fierce dzud that the Ministry of Agriculture fears could be worse than the winter of 2009-2010 which killed millions of livestock. Increasingly, environmental pressures such as unpredictable precipitation, rangeland degradation, and desertification are driving herders' decisions to pursue more sedentary lifestyles. Seeking greater economic opportunities, scores of pastoralists move to the nation's sole metropolis where most settle in the vast peri-urban areas, bringing with them Soviet-era stoves.

"We have to find non-coal solutions to provide heating to the ger districts," said PM Tsedevdamba, an avid proponent of environmental legislation in the State Great Khural, the country's unicameral legislative body. According to a World Bank press release, 40 percent of UB's annual pollution is due to ger heating: the vast majority from burning cheap low-quality coal.

The Clean Air Program Manager at the World Bank Mongolia writes that Ulaanbaatar's air particulate levels "reach at least seven times Mongolian standards, four times the most flexible [World Health Organization] targets for developing countries and 14 times higher than the WHO's global guidelines."

"When I breathe, I can feel the smoke. My clothes and hair smell after being outside in the winter," said Chimgee Nergui a resident of Ulaanbaatar who migrated to the capital from a village in the eastern province of Suhbaatar. "I am really concerned about this pollution which affects our health very seriously."

While local air quality monitoring has improved dramatically in the past decade with up-to-the-minute data available via websites like and, the grave consequences of Ulaanbaatar's air pollution crisis continue unabated. Unlike Beijing and other Asian mega-cities, few locals wear masks; their cost is prohibitive and public awareness of the health effects is low. Sadly, each year an estimated 1,600 deaths and 8,500 hospital admissions in Ulaanbaatar are believed to be due to pollution-related causes, according to a WHO-Mongolian Ministry of Nature study.

"I don't really have medical check-ups often," said said Odonchimeg Idersaikhan a journalist who works for Mongolian National Broadcasting. "People around me who do always complain that their lungs have some kind of diseases," she said.

A 2011 investigation by Ryan Allen of Simon Fraser University found that one in 10 residents of Ulaanbaatar die at least in part due to the effects of pollution. The hazy skies are especially harmful for children and infants, whose lungs are still developing. According to Dr. David Warburton of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, lung health in rural Mongolian children is 50 percent better than in urban children.

"Living in [Ulaanbaatar] for a long time, I don't really notice the smell of the coal," said Idersaikhan. "The strange thing is that when I visit other areas and come back [to UB], I become sick, mostly with cold and flu," she said.

Poor living conditions, low education levels, and inadequate access to healthcare hinders many underprivileged families' resilience to air pollution. A World Bank study found that if air quality was improved even to meet Mongolian government standards, mortality due to air pollution in these areas could be reduced by a whopping 24 to 45 percent.

Improving the air quality in the ger districts will benefit not just the residents of UB's growing peripheries but all Mongolians. Even a 50 percent reduction in particulate matter caused by ger heating would elicit a 33 percent decrease in air particulate levels throughout the city.

While there is no quick fix to reducing air pollution by the roughly 90 percent necessary to meet Mongolian air quality standards, drastic changes must be taken. With each incremental improvement in air quality, the World Bank predicts that hospital admissions will fall, economic productivity increase, and quality of life rise for residents of UB. Financially, everyone benefits as well. Annual health expenses for Ulaanbaatar's residents due to pollution-related causes could be as high as 727 million USD.

To curtail a growing public health crisis, national and municipal policy makers must take an aggressive approach to combatting air pollution by targeting the ger districts. Instead of subsidies on higher-quality coal, a transition needs to be made towards natural gas in these areas. The power grid must be extended to all the squatter areas to eventually allow for electric heating in the gers. Ger district inhabitants should be housed in better-insulated and more efficiently-powered permanent buildings.

Fostering further collaborations between diverse stakeholders in a variety of sectors is crucial to building a community of allies to combat pollution. In order to be successful, it is vital to increase transparency and accountability on the part of government offices and ministries. The national and city governments have implemented a variety of insufficient half-measures including increasing street sweeping to combat dust and constructing hastily-erected apartments for low-income residents with poor strategies for relocation.

Beginning on July 1, 2016, NGOs in Mongolia will have the right to litigate under a new federal law. It remains to be seen whether environmental organizations will bring forward legal action against governmental entities on behalf of the citizens or the environment.

In the meantime, policy-makers, NGOs, banks, and businesses should continue to work towards increasing the efficiency of the ger district's existing coal-fired stoves. Several organizations' efforts in this area have shown evidence of making positive impacts on UB's air quality. Xac Bank's initiative, the Eco Product Program, has distributed more than 140,000 cleaner-burning coal-powered "Xac Stoves" to ger-area residents. Clean stove users, who in previous severe winters spent nearly half of their income on coal, have cut their heating costs by up to 50 percent through the more efficient stoves. Though comparatively small, approximately 970,000 tons of CO2 emissions have been reduced so far through the project.

Environmentally and financially sustainable initiatives employing innovative approaches like Xac's are crucial to ensure lasting, beneficial impacts on UB's most vulnerable communities. But their efforts are only a small part of the larger solution to tackle a problem that negatively affects all of UB's residents. With concerted effort and alliance, Ulaanbaatar's pollution problem can be put in the past. Until then, the smoggy winters will continue despite fiery objections from Mongolians.

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"Energy Ties in Northeast Asia" int'l meeting starts in Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) The 2nd international meeting of expert level with such a topic commenced Thursday in Ulaanbaatar.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Energy D.Delgertsogt made the opening remarks at the meeting, noting that energy provision and security issues are the main factors of national development, long-term prospects and policy of countries. Obtaining big resources of oil, natural gas, coal and renewable energy, Northeast Asian region has countries that are leading in the energy export and consumption. Within the region, an improvement of the close collaboration and a unity of policy will bring many benefits" they said.

Co-organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies and the Economic Institute of Energy under auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Energy, this international meeting has objectives to fortify the ties of scholars from energy institutes in Northeast Asian counties, to remove obstacles in the regional energy cooperation and transboundary ties, to share views and experiences in developing the collaboration by exploiting all advantages after having determined urgent problems.

On Friday, the meeting will conclude by issuing a joint research brochure named "Northeast Asian Energy Outlook beyond 2040".

The meeting has brought together representatives, scholars, researchers of energy institutes, international organizations in Northeast Asian countries--China, South Korea, North Korea, Russia and Japan.

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Business Delegation to Accompany Singapore PM's Visit to Mongolia in July

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) Singapore Business Federation's (SBF) representatives are to visit Mongolia within a visit of the Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Mongolia, expected this July.

This matter was discussed by T.Lhagvadorj, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to this country, and Mr Poh Choon Ann, a deputy director of the SBF Board for Northern Asian Affairs, on Wednesday in Singapore.

The latter said he fully backs the visit of the SBF delegates to Mongolia and promised to focus on involving officials from the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF).

He expressed a readiness to boost the Mongolia-Singapore economic ties and in health, transportation, logistics and urban planning spheres.     

Mr Poh Choon Ann is the founder and CEO of the Poh Tiong Choon Logistics Ltd Co, he also serves as a member of the Economic and Commercial Councils of Singapore-Liaoning and Singapore-Sichuan. This company played a vital role in increasing Singaporean investments to China.

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Health, Education

Labor Ministry and GIZ to cooperate in occupational health

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) Mongolian Ministry of Labor and the German agency for international development cooperation (GIZ) finalized the Cooperation Plan on Occupational Safety and Hygiene for 2016, in the margin of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), on March 17 in Ulaanbaatar.

The document was signed by the State Secretary Yu.Idertsogt and the GIZ director for EITI Sch.Hanselman. In the purpose of building more sophisticated system of occupational safety and hygiene in Mongolia, the sides have planned many actions including special training for safety and hygiene managers, renovation of educational programmes, raising the domestic standards to the level in line with global standards, developing manuals on occupational safety and hygiene in mining sector, and organizing a national "Occupational health" forum.

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Mogi: measles or rubella? Which one is it?

Rubella claims lives of ten babies

March 17 ( In recent months, there has been an increase in reported cases of rubella, or German measles. Since the beginning of the year, the infectious disease has claimed the lives of ten babies, the oldest being one year of age.

According to official data from the National Center of Infectious Diseases (NCID), 340 of the all 571 patients with rubella who it has treated, are children. Nationwide a total of 9383 cases of the disease have been registered. Because the spread of rubella is high among young people, aged between 19-30, the acting Health and Sport Ministry Secretary, S.Lambaa, has announced that the government intends to organize additional vaccination among this age group.

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Culture, Society

Government honors military servicemen before Army Day

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) On the occasion of the 95th anniversary of Contemporary Army of Mongolia, also known as the Mongolian Army Day (March 18), a ceremonial meeting of generals, officers and other servicemen, as well as veterans, was held Thursday. The Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg gave a congratulatory speech for the celebration of the first victory by Mongolian militia and the founding of modern Armed forces.

He stressed that it is an integral part of the state policy to build a capacity of the Armed forces and improve preparedness, as the Armed forces are the key instrument that executes the defense duty of the state. The Premier underlined that a number of people served in the army have increased with the "Student Soldier" program, facilitating their qualifications for state services in the future and improving the preparedness of the army.

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Wreaths laid to statue of D.Sukhbaatar on Soldiers' Day eve

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) On occasion of the Day of Mongolian Troops, the Defense Minister Ts.Tsolmon and authorities of the Armed Forces laid wreaths to the statue of D.Sukhbaatar on the central square and paid tribute to the Monument of Chingis Khaan on Thursday.

The Day of Mongolian Troops of this year has coincided with the 95th anniversary of the Mongolian Armed Forces, moreover, several military units will celebrate their anniversaries, for example, three units will mark their 80th anniversary, others--95th, 70th and 50th jubilees.

As of today, some 300 veterans, who fought in the 1939 Khalkh River Battle and in the 1945 Liberation War are alive. Their youngest one is over 90 years old, the oldest one has reached 103 years.

Over a thous. Mongolian peacekeepers are serving abroad. Mongolia is considered one of the most active 20 countries in the world who take part in global peacekeeping missions. Since 2002, when Mongolia started participating in such operations, some 12 thousand Mongolian troops (duplicated counting) have served.

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PM gives speech to Best Herders Conference

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg addressed the Conference of 800 Best Herders on March 17. The event has been co-organized by the Government, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

In the recent years, he said, many successes have been achieved by the agricultural industry, a number of livestock has risen to 56 million thanks to the herders' hard work and dedication. According to the census by the end of 2015, Mongolia counted the most number of horses, goats and sheep in its history, he added.

The Premier talked about the recently adopted State Policy on Food and Agriculture. This many-sided policy aims at resolving many issues, including improving the productivity, efficiency and commercial capabilities of animal husbandry, building the adapting capacity to climate change and disaster risks, maintaining the originality of traditional livestock herding, recording and enriching the know-how, conducting the animal breeding and selection with accounts of scientific studies and market demand, preventing contagious diseases, implementing nationwide vaccination, establishing an economic leverage for designing the amount, structure and types of livestock herds in respect to the study on pastoral land capacity, and enhancing the water supply of grazing lands.

The state, in the margin of wide range of measures and policy actions for promoting the livestock herding community, is allowing benefits on the hides and wools of sheep and camel being sold to state-run factories, he went on.

The government has been working to sign as many agreements as possible with foreign countries on meat export, and licensed 66 entities to export meat within 2015 and the first half of 2016. In 2015, 12 Mongolian companies exported 4,714.6 tons of meat to four countries, while in 2016, so far, over 420 tons of meat were exported, informed Mr Saikhanbileg.

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The Kazakh eagle hunters of Mongolia, in pictures

March 15 (The Telegraph) --

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Mongolian Boxers take three gold at Germany's Chemistry Cup

March 17 ( The German Boxing Federation's A-class boxing competition, the long-running, an strangely-named "Chemistry Cup" was held in the town of Halle on 7th-12th March. In total, 93 boxers from 18 countries, including Mongolia, Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan, Croatia, China, Jordan, Romania, the Netherlands, Greece, Switzerland, Egypt, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Poland and Morocco participated in the tournament. The "2016 Chemistry Cup" consisted of ten categories.

The Mongolian team came in second place, taking three golds and one silver. The eight boxers have been trained by the Secretary at the Mongolian Boxing Federation, Ts.Batnasan, the senior coach of the National Top Team, D.Batsuren and the coach at the National Top Team B.Erdenebayar. Three Mongolian boxers, namely: G.Gan-Erdene, Kh.Enkh-Amar and E.Tsendbaatar became the 9th, 10th and 11th medal winners in the competition.

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Asian champion cyclist T.Enkhjargal to compete for Olympic qualification

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) A 2013 Asian champion and twice-bronze medalist for cycling T.Enkhjargal IMS has left for Switzerland in order to take part in Olympic qualification series of races.

She will compete in 11 series of races that will run in Europe--until June 1, after being involved in a group of the world's cycling training center with a support from the International Cycling Association (UCI) and the National Olympic Committee of Mongolia (MonNOC).

Cyclists who collect the most points during the series will be qualified to compete in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.

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Art, Entertainment

G.Ariunbaatar performing Tosca and Carmen in St. Petersburg

Ulaanbaatar, March 17 (MONTSAME) State Honored Artist G.Ariunbaatar will sing playing the role of Scarpia in "Tosca" opera by G.Puccini on March 20 at Mariinsky Theatre of St Petersburg, Russia.

Maestro Valerii Gergiyev is conducting the symphonic orchestra.

G.Ariunbaatar has posted pictures of his rehearsal at Mariinsky on his website, saying "Next opera rehearsal is going great! Concertmaster from the Metropolitan Theatre of New York, the USA, Mr Craig Rutenberg arrived here to help me perform Scarpia of Tosca. This man had trained the world superstars such as Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Anna Netrebko, Olga Borodina, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Jonas Kaufmann and Rolando Villazón".

G.Ariunbaatar, the Grand Prix winner of the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition, also sang as Escamillo of Carmen Opera on March 13.

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Russia, China and Mongolia to Revive World's Longest Tourist Route

March 17 (Sputnik) "The Great Tea Road" has been called the longest overland trade route in the world. Starting from the Great Wall of China, it once wove its way to Europe via Mongolia and Russia.

Now the three countries Russia, China and Mongolia have joined hands in a tourism union, aiming to revive the route to make it a great bucket list must-do for global travelers.

Speaking at the economic forum of tourism infrastructure, Deputy Head of the Federal Tourism Agency, Alexei Konyushkov called the project a positive example of cross-border and inter-regional tourism.

"This is a project of the widest geographical coverage, the longest of the existing land routes, allowing to cross Eurasia and visit countries such as Russia, China and Mongolia," he said.

It was earlier reported that the key section of The Great Tea Road will be honored as a tourist route seeking to tap the world's two billion tea drinkers. The tea route in Russia received 'bricks' of compressed tea from camel caravans at Kyakhta — which came via Mongolia from the Great Wall of China gate at Kalgan and beyond.

The speaker said that the route started to be developed in 1992 with the support of more than 50 organizations of the three countries and it is set to cover 28 regions of Russia, although the number may vary.

"The growth of domestic tourism suggests that there is a huge potential for the development of tourism," Konyushkov said.

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Be A Warrior Of Genghis Khan

Travel through Mongolia on the trail of the great Genghis Khan, and live like a warrior from the horde

March 17 (Weekender) Revered and feared by many, Mongolian warrior and ruler Genghis Khan (pronounced Chinggis Khan) founded the largest contiguous empire (and second-largest in land mass only by a fraction, to the modern British Empire) in the world, in the early-13th century.

Genghis Khan expanded the Mongol Empire through Central and Northeast Asia, and even to the West to the fringes of Europe upon the Caspian Sea.

In his wake, traditional state and cultural divisions among various tribes and civilisations were razed to raise a new world order and reign under his iron fist.

Today, the Great Khan's name has become legend, and several nations across this former medieval empire honour this historical icon with monuments, museums and even tours.

Walking in the footsteps of Genghis Khan and the trail he once blazed is an exhilarating way to experience the history, cultures and sites of Mongolia, where you can taste and see what it was like to be part of The Horde. 

Making a warrior out of you

One such tour enables visitors to eat, live and sleep like the warriors in Genghis Khan's horde. Yes, this includes field training in 13th century battle skills and nights sleeping in Mongol nomadic tents, called gers.

Holiday site features a nine-day journey that starts in the modern-day Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. Here, you can gain vivid insight into the history of the Mongols and the secrets of their military prowess at the National History Museum and the Mongolian Military Museum.

The real adventure begins the next day, out in the Mongolian steppes, where visitors can engage in three days of warrior training, dressed in full gear. This titillating programme includes bow-and-arrow crafting, steppe orientation techniques, field cooking, archery and even herding majestic stallions.

However, the medieval Mongols didn't stay in one spot for long; they were a nomadic troupe, and so will you be on this tour. While riding on horseback, you can visit nomadic families who move across the plains in search of good pasture, and taste the renowned koumiss (fermented mare's milk) as well as Mongolian milk vodka — if you dare! 

A picturesque horse trek

If intense (yet exhilarating) warrior training isn't your cup of tea, explore Mongolia and its beauty on horseback instead. Website offers a five-day "Following the Footsteps of Genghis Khan" Horse Trek, which will take you through the stunning forests, mountains, steppes, rivers and lakes of Khentii National Park.

On your quest, you'll have the opportunity to camp in a ger, visit a nomad family home, taste traditional Mongolian dairy products, visit the birthplace of Genghis Khan's blood brother, Jamukha, ride by the hallowed river that Genghis Khan drank from on his way home and see how authentic traditional Mongolian barbecue is done. Few things can truly be compared to this feast for the senses.

To evoke the era of Genghis Khan, tour participants can don traditional Mongol costumes and accessories of the period and ride through Mongolia's arresting natural landscape. This tour is led by a professional horseback-riding guide.

Live the time and culture of the world's greatest empire when you set off on this scenic adventure.

Note: Tours usually start from the capital of Ulaanbaatar. There are also historical sites, museums and monuments outside of Mongolia commemorating Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire.

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14 revelations of the Trans-Mongolian railway

Many miles, many revelations, one train ride.

March 17 (Red Bull) The Trans-Mongolian railway should be on everyone's bucket list. If you don't have a bucket list, I suggest you start one for the sake of this trip. Even if it's the only thing you ever tick off the list, you'll be better off for it.

Navigating through three wildly different (and eerily similar) countries (Russia, Mongolia and China) it's a trip that covers what looks like on a map at least - half the globe.

I started my trip in St. Petersburg then headed on to Moscow, then Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia with a final destination of Beijing, China and a good number of stops along the way. It's a trip that will bequeath you with a solid amount of new learnings, so here are some of mine.

1. St. Petersburg's Church of the Savior on Spilled is incredible

2. Moscow's subways are also incredible

3. The Kremlin is incredible too

4. The Red Square at night is really incredible

5. The Russians I met were extremely friendly

6. Dill and parsley are your friends

7. Boredom is to be embraced, not feared

8. Siberia is good for hiking

9. A flat Lake Baikal is a rare Lake Baikal

10. There's a lot of space and horses in Mongolia

11. Mongolia knows how to sunset

12. The Mongolian-Chinese border crossing is very uncomfortable

13. Life in Beijing is beautiful

14. Whoever called it 'The Great Wall of China' should win an award

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