Thursday, March 3, 2016

[TRQ jumps on Rio talk; XAM finds more gold; MNT in new low; Marubeni chosen for TTPP; Gobi Coal awarded $11.5m; and aid agencies brace for dzud]

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

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Elbegdorj addresses nation live on ASEM Day

March 2 (MONTSAME) On the 1st of March, President of Mongolia Elbegdorj delivered a lecture dedicated to the Day of ASEM. The lecture has been broadcasted by TV channels, the President's accounts of Twitter and Facebook.

Through his lecture, the President gave details about ASEM members, frameworks and significance and preparation works for the 11th ASEM Summit to be held this July in Ulaanbaatar.

There is an evidence why Mongolia has accepted the responsibility for hosting the ASEM Summit. Although Mongolia joined in 2008 the ASEM which was established in 1996, big contributions of Mongolia to the ties between Asia and Europe date back to hundreds years.

It is considered that the 13th century was the era of Mongolia when the Great Mongolian Empire dominated most territories of Eurasia. Founded by Chingis Khaan, the Great Mongolian Empire embraced and saved trade, creating a big commercial network connected by land and seas between Asia and Europe. Many say the largest significance of the commercial network was learning of many nations from each other and humankind was brought into a new level in terms of culture. Thus, Mongolia set up the very first connection between Asia and Europe, the President said.

Criteria for Mongolia to host the 11th ASEM Summit which is coincided with its 20th anniversary possibly has a historical significance. So, Mongolia attaches great importance to the forthcoming ASEM Summit, Elbegdorj said, and talked about possible outcome to the Mongolia's political and economic relations after hosting the ASEM Summit.

The lecture brought together some 1,000 people representing different social communities.

Link to article


ASEM press center opens at Montsame

Ulaanbaatar, March 1 (MONTSAME) Anticipating the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Ulaanbaatar on this July 15-16, the ASEM information center for public information on the Summit and other international conferences, expected on the fields of this event, opened March 1 at MONTSAME National News Agency building.

Mongolia's major media organizations and the ASEM Preparation Office signed Memorandums of Understanding on cooperation.

The info-center is open to journalists who seek the ASEM-related information--activities, importance, objectives, preparation, and will host the ASEM-themed training and press conferences. The opening is taking place on the occasion of ASEM Day, observed on March 1, 2016 and the years to come.  Chairman of the ASEM Preparation Office D.Gankhuyag highlighted a role and contributions of the media, "a successful organization of this major international event is great importance".

Memorandums of Understanding were signed by D.Gankhuyag and a president of the Confederation of Mongolian Journalists B.Galaarid, a manager of the Union of Daily Newspapers B.Ganbold, chairman of the Board of the Union of Mongolian Television Channels D.Badamdash, a president of the Union of Mongolian Websites Kh.Mandakhbayar, and a head of the Union of Top Websites of Mongolia G.Saruul.

Mongolia is hosting the 11th ASEM Summit in 2016, its 20th anniversary, with the early conferences starting in April.

Link to article


Ambassador T.Togsbilguun addresses opening of ASEM anniversary exhibition Montsame, March 2


Transportation and accommodation provisions for ASEM 11 underway

March 2 (UB Post) The National ASEM Organization Committee has reported that transportation, accommodation, and information distribution arrangements are underway in preparation for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit being hosted in Ulaanbaatar this year.

On Tuesday, the opening ceremony for the ASEM Information Center was held at the governmental news agency Montsame on the occasion of the very first ASEM Day, which will be observed on March 1 for years to come. The ASEM Information Center will provide local and international media outlet representatives with information about the 11th ASEM Summit and its sub-meetings.

During the ASEM Summit, a press and media center will also be available at Shangri-La Hotel.

The Mongolian government is attaching great significance to the upcoming ASEM Summit. Authorities are expecting Mongolian businesses to see profits from the Summit, as the meeting's attendees will be accompanied by foreign journalists, reporters, entertainers, and business owners from the countries they represent. They also expect that more tourists than ever before will be traveling to Mongolia this year.

The following is an Undesnii Shuudan interview with B.Bayasgalan, deputy head of the ASEM Preparation Office.

Link to interview


Int'l Market

TRQ closed +11.2% Wednesday to US$2.58. +30.3% in last 1 month

Turquoise Hill could be the new black for acquisitive miner Rio Tinto

March 2 (Sydney Morning Herald) Almost a decade after Rio Tinto took its first bite of Ivanhoe Mines speculation is building that Rio may seek to grow its stake in the company that is now known as Turquoise Hill Resources

Rio is in a more acquisitive mood than at any time in the past three years, and is keen to buy quality copper assets while commodity prices and asset prices are low.

Shares in Turquoise Hill, 50.79 per cent of which are owned by Rio, hit a seven-year low last month and at current prices Rio could buy the remaining shares for about $US2.3 billion ($3.2 billion).

Turquoise Hill owns 66 per cent of Oyu Tolgoi – a copper, silver and gold mine in Mongolia that Deutsche analyst Paul Young has labelled "the best undeveloped copper project globally and probably the best undeveloped asset in the industry".

Rio's Turquoise Hill stake means it owns just 33 per cent of a copper deposit that is seen as the company's most exciting growth project.

Increasing a company's stake in a jointly owned mine is one of the lowest-risk ways to make acquisitions, given the buyer already has full knowledge of the asset it is bidding for.

Goldman Sachs banker Luke Gordon is rumoured to be advising Rio on a process to increase its stake in Turquoise Hill, but Fairfax Media was unable to confirm that because Mr Gordon declined to speak at his Toronto office on Wednesday.

Rio also declined to comment. 

Some believe two significant developments in 2015 have given Rio the confidence to grow its stake in Turquoise Hill; the development agreement for the second stage of Oyu Tolgoi that was struck with the Mongolian government in May, and the $US4.4 billion debt package that was secured for the mine expansion in December.

The development agreement has cemented the financial terms upon which Rio, Turquoise Hill and the Mongolian government will build and operate the second stage, which contains most of Oyu Tolgoi's value.

The agreement also settled long-running tax disputes that had threatened to unravel the relationship between the companies and the government.

But Mongolia remains a risky place to invest in, and Oyu Tolgoi remains the focus of fierce public debate in the developing nation.

Nineteen of Mongolia's 76 parliamentarians filed a petition in January alleging that Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed had abused his power when he agreed to the Oyu Tolgoi development agreement in May 2015.

In the same month, Mr Saikhanbileg was the subject of a no-confidence motion in the Mongolian parliament that, according to Bloomberg, he won by 42 votes to 31.

That win has kept the wolves at bay for now, but Mr Saikhanbileg faces elections in mid-2016, and Oyu Tolgoi is certain to be a topic of debate.

Rio may want to know the outcome of the elections before deciding whether it is ready to take another bite of Turquoise Hill.

Link to article


Kopernik Global Investors Reduces Position in Turquoise Hill Resources

March 2 (MarketBeat) Kopernik Global Investors LLC cut its stake in shares of Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (NYSE:TRQ) by 6.2% during the fourth quarter, according to its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 8,750,294 shares of the company's stock after selling 582,384 shares during the period. Turquoise Hill Resources comprises about 4.8% of Kopernik Global Investors LLC's investment portfolio, making the stock its 7th largest position. Kopernik Global Investors LLC owned 0.43% of Turquoise Hill Resources worth $22,224,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

A number of other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also recently added to or reduced their stakes in TRQ. Hexavest Inc. raised its position in Turquoise Hill Resources by 48.3% in the fourth quarter. Hexavest Inc. now owns 1,141,740 shares of the company's stock worth $2,885,000 after buying an additional 371,966 shares in the last quarter. Korea Investment CORP raised its position in Turquoise Hill Resources by 369.3% in the fourth quarter. Korea Investment CORP now owns 681,900 shares of the company's stock worth $1,723,000 after buying an additional 536,600 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Russell Frank Co raised its position in Turquoise Hill Resources by 0.5% in the fourth quarter. Russell Frank Co now owns 2,934,815 shares of the company's stock worth $7,426,000 after buying an additional 13,868 shares in the last quarter.

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (NYSE:TRQ) opened at 2.32 on Wednesday. Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd has a 12-month low of $1.55 and a 12-month high of $4.74. The stock's 50 day moving average is $1.99 and its 200 day moving average is $2.56. The company has a market cap of $4.67 billion and a P/E ratio of 16.57.

Link to article


Turquoise Hill Presentation: BMO Global Metals & Mining Conference, 28 Feb – 2 March

Link to presentation


XAM closed +50% Wednesday to A$0.15

Xanadu Mines on bonanza gold discovery streak in Mongolia

March 2 (Proactive Investors) Xanadu Mines (ASX:XAM) has revealed some spectacular rock chips from the newly discovered quartz-carbonate-sulphide veins at Oyut Ulaan copper-gold project (90% XAM), which is located within the Dornogovi Province of southern Mongolia.

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

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

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

Dr. Andrew Stewart, chief executive officer, commented: 

"It is very exciting to collect true bonanza gold grades from newly discovered mineralisation at Oyut Ulaan.

"We had the belief the geology displayed all the ingredients required for significant shallow high-grade gold mineralisation, which has been confirmed by this surface sampling.

"The team is now developing plans for accelerated exploration as there is tremendous scope for a very significant discovery in this area."

Rock chip details

Xanadu said that the majority of the new results are from sampling surface outcrops and sub crops that occur south of known porphyry mineralisation at Diorite Hill and Stockwork Hill.

The style of mineralisation indicates a potential link between known gold-rich porphyry copper mineralisation and newly discovered veins.

A total of 157 rock chips samples were collected from out cropping and sub cropping veins across three main zones.

The majority of samples returned highly anomalous values, 57.9% of samples graded more than 1g/t gold.

Significantly a total of 56 samples returned grades higher than 10g/t gold and 8 samples returned more than 100g/t gold.

Oyut Ulaan is a strategic asset

The project is strategically located within the South Gobi Copper Belt, which hosts the world class Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project, and 260 kilometres east of Xanadu's flagship Kharmagtai copper-gold project.

Oyut Ulaan comprises a large and underexplored porphyry district covering 40 square kilometres, and consists of multiple co-genetic porphyry copper-gold centres, mineralised tourmaline breccia pipes and copper-gold/base metal magnetite skarns.


While early days at Oyut Ulaan, the potential is off the charts considering of 157 rock chip samples, 56 returned grades above 10g/t gold, and eight more than 100g/t gold.

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

Last month, Bell Potter retained its Speculative Buy rating and increased its forward valuation of the company by 6% to $0.35 per share.

Link to article

Link to XAM release


KCC closed flat Tuesday at C$0.02, flat Wednesday

Kincora's new Mongolia licence on trend with Oyu Tolgoi

The new licence, Ulaan Khudag, is 15km along the mineralised trend from the huge Rio Tinto-controlled mine

March 1 (Proactive Investors) Kincora Copper (CVE:KCC) has added to its portfolio in Mongolia the acquisition of a new copper gold prospect adjacent to two existing properties.

The new licence, Ulaan Khudag (Red Well), is 15km along the mineralised trend from the huge Rio Tinto-controlled, Oyu Tolgoi project.

Sample in the east of the licence returned 2% copper and 0.25g/t gold with anomalous values also to the west.

Kincora added it is also looking at more advanced prospects and will hold talks with its largest shareholder Origo Partners and other members of the board.

It held cash at its year-end of approximately US$400,000 with US$500,000 in an escrow account.

Sam Spring, chief executive, added that work this year so far on its two existing licences  has identified near surface targets that warrant testing on the margins of the Bronze Fox Intrusive Complex.

Next steps will include trenching then drilling for finger porphyries targets.

Sam Spring, chief executive, said: "Our new Ulaan Khudag (Red Well) license has a very favorable address from a geological and infrastructure perspective on trend from Oyu Tolgoi.

"The licence has a full term of up to 12 years and is an attractive addition to our portfolio with very low capital requirement, again highlighting Mongolia's status of one of the last proven but underexplored copper frontiers and on China's doorstep."

Link to article

Link to KCC release


EGI closed -4% Tuesday, +3.4% Wednesday to US$0.30

Entrée Gold Announces Amendment to Sandstorm Agreement

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 1, 2016) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG) (NYSE MKT:EGI) (FRANKFURT:EKA) ("Entrée" or the "Company") announces that it has entered into an agreement with Sandstorm Gold Ltd. (TSX:SSL; NYSE MKT:SAND - "Sandstorm") to amend the Equity Participation and Funding Agreement dated February 14, 2013 (the "2013 Agreement").

The Agreement to Amend provides for a 17% reduction in the metal credits that Entrée is required to sell and deliver to Sandstorm under the 2013 Agreement. Concurrently, Entrée will refund a portion of the refundable deposit by paying US$5.5 million in cash and issuing US$1.3 million of common shares of the Company. At closing, the parties will enter into an Amended and Restated Equity Participation and Funding Agreement (the "Restated Funding Agreement"). The Agreement to Amend is expected to close on or about March 1, 2016.

The Restated Funding Agreement amends Entrée's existing obligation to refund a portion of the remaining refundable deposit when and if certain events occur in the future, and provides Entrée with greater optionality in structuring any potential refund. Entrée will immediately benefit from greater control over its treasury and an increased ability to preserve cash. With a cash balance of US$25.5 million at the end of third quarter 2015, and extensive cost cutting measures completed over the past six months, Entrée is well positioned for the future.

Stephen Scott, Entrée's Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are very encouraged by recent news that final approvals and a formal 'notice to proceed' for the re-start of underground development at Oyu Tolgoi, including development of the first lift of the Entrée-Oyu Tolgoi LLC joint venture's Hugo North Extension deposit, is expected in Q2 2016. With this news, we consider this to be an opportune time to amend the 2013 Agreement and reduce our future obligation to sell metal credits to Sandstorm. At the same time, we are very pleased that Sandstorm has shown its ongoing support for Entrée and the Oyu Tolgoi project by acquiring additional shares of the Company."

Upon closing of the transaction, Entrée will issue 5,128,604 common shares to Sandstorm at a price of C$0.3496 per share. The shares will be subject to a 4-month hold period. The price was calculated using the VWAP of Entrée's shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange for the 15 trading days preceding February 23, 2016, the effective date of the Agreement to Amend. Following closing, Sandstorm will own 22,985,746 common shares, or 15.07% of the outstanding shares of the Company. The transaction has been accepted by the Toronto Stock Exchange and NYSE MKT.

The Amendment does not impact Sandstorm's requirement to vote its shares as Entrée's board of directors specifies with respect to any potential acquisition of the Company, provided the potential acquirer agrees to execute and deliver to Sandstorm a deed of adherence to the Restated Funding Agreement.

The Company will be filing a material change report in connection with the transaction less than 21 days before the expected date of the closing of the transaction, and considers the shorter period to be reasonable given the nature of the transaction and the fact that all necessary approvals have been obtained.

Link to release


Eumeralla Announces Non-Renounceable Rights Issue to Raise A$0.78 Million

March 2 -- The Board of Directors of Eumeralla Resources Limited (Company) (ASX Code: EUM) is pleased announce it will undertake a fully underwritten non-renounceable entitlements issue of approximately 31,110,779 Shares at an issue price of $0.025 on the basis of two (2) new Share for every three (3) Shares held by Shareholders on the record date, to raise approximately $777,769 (Offer) before costs. Funds raised will be used to satisfy the Company's pending working capital requirements.

Furthermore the Company is pleased to announce that it has appointed CPS Capital Group Pty Ltd (CPS Capital) as Lead Manager, Broker, Underwriter and Corporate Advisor.

The Company has executed a mandate letter and is presently finalising an Underwriting Agreement with CPS.

The mandate also engages CPS to seek to introduce potential assets that EUM may be interested in acquiring and to provide general ongoing corporate advice.

Link to release


MEC Announces 1Mts Coal Supply Contract with Xinjiang Customer for 2016

March 1 -- This announcement is made by Mongolia Energy Corporation Limited (the "Company") pursuant to Rule 13.09(2)(a) of the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities (the "Listing Rules") on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the "Stock Exchange") and the Inside Information Provisions (as defined in the Listing Rules) under Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Chapter 571, Laws of Hong Kong).

Reference is made to the announcement of the Company dated 25 January 2016 (the "Announcement"). Capitalized terms used in this announcement have the same meaning as those used in the Announcement, unless otherwise stated.

We are pleased to inform that we have entered into the coal supply contract for this year up to 31 December 2016 with our customer in Xinjiang, the People's Republic of China, for supplying up to 1,000,000 tonnes of coking coal (raw coal) conditional on the sales price to be negotiated and mutually agreed from time to time between the parties in this period. We are currently preparing for recommencement of the on-site excavation works and operation of our washing plant in Xinjiang. The target surface of our coal mine has already been stripped which is ready for the current coal excavation. Overburden removal works will be required in due course for the ongoing mining works. We have already started shipping handful amount of cleaned coking coal sitting at our washing plant to our customer by the end of February. According to our schedule, the first loading of coal for export is expected to take place in early March. Notwithstanding the signing of the coal supply contract, our production and shipment of coal are closely linked to the market conditions. We will closely monitor the developments and adjust our operation schedule from time to time. If the market conditions remain harsh, we may halt our production temporarily and this will affect our trading prospects.

In relation to the settlement negotiation with Monnis, our former overburden removal contractor, MoEnCo has made further partial payment of US$200,000 (approximately HK$1.56 million) to Monnis in February. We are endeavoring to reach a settlement with Monnis and will make further update as and when necessary.

Shareholders and potential investors are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the shares of the Company.

Link to release


NUR: Issue of HK$75M Convertible Bonds Under General Mandate

March 1 -- On 1 March 2016 (after trading hours), the Company (as issuer) and the Subscriber entered into the Subscription Agreement pursuant to which the Company has conditionally agreed to issue, and the Subscriber has conditionally agreed to subscribe for, the Convertible Bonds in an aggregate principal amount of HK$75,000,000. Completion is subject to the fulfillment of all conditions set out in the paragraph headed "Conditions Precedent" below. Detailed terms of the Convertible Bonds are set out in the paragraph headed "Principal terms of the Convertible Bonds" below.

As at the date of this announcement, the Company has a total of 5,873,770,500 Shares in issue. Assuming there is no further issue or repurchase of the Shares, based on the initial Conversion Price of HK$0.152 per Conversion Share (subject to adjustments) and assuming full conversion of the Convertible Bonds at the initial Conversion Price, the Convertible Bonds will be convertible into 493,421,052 Conversion Shares, representing approximately 8.40% of the total number of Shares in issue as at the date of this announcement and approximately 7.75% of the total number of Shares in issue as enlarged by the issue of the Conversion Shares. The Conversion Shares will be allotted and issued pursuant to the General Mandate granted to the Directors at the annual general meeting of the Company held on 1 June 2015.

Link to release


Lippo Increases Haranga Stake to 39% After Rights Issue

March 1, Haranga Resources Ltd. (ASX:HAR) --

Link to disclosure

Directors Brian McMaster, Erdene Tsengelbayar participate in rights issu


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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.09%, ALL -0.14%, Turnover 13.3 Million Shares

March 2 (MSE) --

Link to report


Baganuur JSC Announces EGM to Approve Issuance of Additional Shares

March 2 (MSE) The following issues will be discussed at the special shareholders meeting of Baganuur JSC, to be held at 10:00 am on the 11th April, 2016; in the conference room of Baganuur JSC's representative office in Ulaanbaatar.

1.    Preemptive offering issue to shareholders in relation to the issuance of additional shares;

2.    Application of discounts to preemptive offering price within the legal grounds.

The registration day to list rightful shareholders of the meeting shall be 11th March, 2016 and voting papers from absent shareholders shall be collected and finalized by 10:00 am on 8th April, 2016.

All shareholders please review related documents of the shareholders meeting from the 3rd March, 2016 at representative office of Baganuur JSC, and through your affiliate securities company; your active participation will be highly valued. 

Place of meeting:

Ulaanbaatar, Bayanzurkh district, 18th khoroo,

Manlaibaatar Damdinsure Street,

Representative office of Baganuur JSC

Link to release


Suu JSC Withdraws Share-Split Decision, to Revisit at EGM

March 1 (MSE) "Suu" JSC withdrew documents of shareholder meeting from Mongolian Stock Exchange due to the resolution about share splitting issue needed to be discussed again by special shareholder's meeting.  

Link to release

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Historic low ₮2,037.59/USD set March 2, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, March 2 Close
















































































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮2,032 Sell ₮2,039), Khan (Buy ₮2,032 Sell ₮2,039), Golomt (Buy ₮2,032 Sell ₮2,039), XacBank (Buy ₮2,033.5 Sell ₮2,040.5), State Bank (Buy ₮2,029 Sell ₮2,040)

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

Link to rates


Mongolia's FX Reserves Unchanged at $1.32B at End-Jan.

By Michael Kohn

March 1 (Bloomberg) -- FX reserves fell by 0.32% y/y at the end of Jan, according to data posted on Bank of Mongolia website.

* Reserves decline 0.03% m/m



Mongolia Revised 2015 Inbound FDI Falls 49% Y/y to $195.1m

By Michael Kohn

March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Inbound foreign direct investment falls to $195.1m in 2015 vs $381.9m in 2014, according to revised data released by central bank.

* Mongolia had $75m of FDI in Dec., the second highest total of any month in 2015; the highest amount was $85.4m in May

* 2015 current-account deficit was $567.1m vs $1.4b deficit yr earlier, a 59.6% decline

* NOTE: In previous years Mongolia had inbound FDI of $2.14b in 2013 and $4.45b in 2012



BoM FX auction: US$8.25m sold at 2,035, CNY27.5m at 310.59, accepts $20m MNT swap offers

March 1 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 1st, 2016, the BOM has received buying bid offers of USD 31.55 million in a rate between MNT 2030.00-2038.00 and CNY 38.0 million in a rate between MNT 310.00-310.85. The BOM sold USD 8.25 million in a consistency rate of MNT 2035.00 and CNY 17.5 million in a closing rate of MNT 310.59.

On March 1st, 2016, the BOM has received MNT Swap agreement buying bid offers equivalent to USD 20.0 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 20.0 million and did not accept the USD swap agreement selling bid offers of USD 20.0 million.

Link to release


Mongolian FX Auctions Rise 19% in Jan.-Feb. to $316m

By Michael Kohn

March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's central bank injected a net $280.8m and 227.9m yuan ($34.8m) for a total injection of $315.6m Ytd via twice-weekly foreign exchange auctions as of Feb 29, Ikhmongol Ganbaatar, Forex Officer in charge of FX auctions at the Bank of Mongolia, wrote in an e-mail.

* FX injections have increased 19% compared to the same period yr ago: Ikhmongol

* Auction proceeds are sourced from BoM international reserves

* Most recent auction held on March 1 saw BoM sell $8.25m at a rate of 2,035 tugrik/dollar and 17.5m yuan at a rate of 310.59 tugrik/yuan

* Foreign exchange auctions are used to "improve the transparency and efficiency of the foreign exchange market and to stabilize foreign exchange" of the tugrik, according to central bank website; eligible bidders are domestic commercial banks only

* Past net injections through FX auctions include $1.9b (2013), $1.8b (2014) and $1.2b (2015)

* Tugrik traded at 2,033.50 per dollar on Mar 2; a 2% decline yr to date.

* NOTE: BoM had international reserves of $1.32b as of the end of Jan., a 0.32% Yoy decline



BoM issues 62 billion 1-week bills at 12%, total outstanding +11% to ₮607.7 billion

March 2 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 62 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release


7.5 Billion 28-Week T-Bills Sold at 14.93% Discount from Available 15 Billion

March 2 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 15.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 7.5 billion /out of 7.5 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 14.93%.

Link to release

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Politics & Legal

PM orders measures to bring cheaper, accessible internet to rural areas

Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) The "Hour for solutions" weekly meeting on Wednesday focused on reducing Internet services prices in localities, within a policy on providing countryside people with equal access to information.

About it was sounded by the Authority of Information Technology, Post and Communication head Ts.Jadambaa.

The Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg told Jadambaa and an executive director of the "Communication Network" LLC P.Margad-Erdene to take concrete measures for providing the local inhabitants with the access to Internet, equal to those of the cities' people, and to start its implementation March 15. He also told Internet and mobile phone service providers to support this works and requested them to fulfill a promise about introducing the 4G service in the second-third quarters of this year.

The cabinet is also realizing multi-phase policies dedicated to aimags' people, for example, a measure has been taken for abolishing a difference in petroleum prices in rural areas; a governmental direction has been issued to perform flights to the western aimags by large-scale airplanes. An interest rate has been reduced to loans for herders as well.

Link to article


Taking a closer look at the case of J.Amarsanaa

March 2 (UB Post) The cancellation of economist D.Jargalsaikhan's television program on Mongoliin Medee, following his interview with former head of the Constitutional Court J.Amarsanaa, triggered my interest in seeking out the truth behind the varying allegations leading to J.Amarsanaa's recent dismissal.

D.Jargalsaikhan, commonly known as "Jargal De Facto", has hosted televised interviews on NTV, Mongolian National Broadcaster (MNB), and Eagle TV for approximately six years. Most recently, his "De Facto" program was being aired on Mongoliin Medee (MM), a relatively new channel which launched on January 11. D.Jargalsaikhan interviewed J.Amarsanaa on February 22, and on the evening of February 23, MM informed him that they could no longer air his show on their channel. It has been reported that MNB, MM's parent company, did not specify the reason for the cancellation of his show.

D.Jargalsaikhan made an appearance on Mongol TV on February 24 and spoke about the cancellation of his show. "The head of MM, Ts.Munkhtur, said, "We can't continue our cooperation. The election is being held soon. We can maybe cooperate after the election. But before that, it conflicts with the station's policy to provide balanced information.' But I did provide balanced information, and I interviewed [J.Amarsanaa]," said D.Jargalsaikhan. During the Mongol TV interview, the host notified Jargal that MNB posted a job opening on their website for the position of head of MM. It is truly a shame if Ts.Munkhtur lost his job because of D.Jargalsaikhan, because to the eyes of a regular citizen, it looks as if the state doesn't work to protect all of its citizens, but only a select few.

The Democracy Justice Mongolian Youth Federation (DJMYF) of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party delivered a complaint to the head of MNB, Ts.Oyundari, on February 29. They believe that MNB is not conducting independent operations or respecting the public's right to be informed, and that it isn't fulfilling its duties to maintain transparency and to protect the interests of organizations, officials, individuals, and the nation, rather than those of political parties.

The General Secretary of the DJMYF, P.Amar, wrote, "The authorities of MNB cancelling economist D.Jargalsaikhan's interview hour and not reporting news related to opposition forces and political parties without representatives in Parliament proves that they don't fulfill those duties."

Office of the Parliament believes J.Amarsanaa broke the law

Conflict concerning a comma

The Supreme Court's ambiguous response

The decision to dismiss J.Amarsanaa

Link to article


Mongolian Student Union to demonstrate over unpaid monthly stipend

March 2 (UB Post) University students in Ulaanbaatar will hold a peaceful demonstration on March 4 at 2:00 p.m. at Chinggis Square to demand the government and the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science to give them the monthly stipend of 70,200 MNT. The students hope to tackle the issue of employment and public transportation through their protest.

The Mongolian Student Union said will collect applications from demonstrating students to register candidates for the Asia Summit Meeting (ASEM) preparation team.

"According to a survey, 72 percent of university students are able to and want to work part-time while studying. We have some representatives from the Student Union working at the ASEM preparation team, so we can employ some students as guides, translators, and to organize arts and culture events. We asked students who would like to work for ASEM to demonstrate with us at 2:00 p.m. on March 4 at Chinggis Square," said a spokesperson for the Mongolian Student Union.

Currently, 217,000 students are studying in Mongolian universities. The Mongolian Student Union initiated the program "Employ 21,700 Students" and, to help find jobs for students seeking part-time employment. The demonstrators' applications will be filed at

The union also said that they're organizing the demonstration to protect the rights of students, and to discuss the issue of monthly stipend, which they haven't received since September 2015. The Ministry of Finance said the financing of the stipend is still undecided, and that it might be decided next month. The Minister of Finance said that he couldn't give any definite information about the issue.

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Election campaigning budget capped at 3.4 billion, 2 million eligible voters available

March 2 ( General Election Committee, National Audit Office, Registration and General Statistics Office jointly made statement on 2016 Parliamentary election preparation. 

National Audit Office announced the election expenses of parties and coalitions. The maximum expenses for election campaign is MNT 3.4 billion. Election expenses of candidates were set for the 26 election districts. 

As of Feb 01, name list of 2.004.048 eligible voting citizens were sent to the 332 soums and 152 khoroo. Based on this data, 2091 election units were established in nationwide including 21 aimgas, 9 districts and 332 soums. However, it is not the final data of eligible voting citizens which will be finalized in accordance with migration and other causes. 

Starting yesterday, the preliminary name list of eligible voting citizens were placed at . Name list included the name, registration number, age, sex, residing address, election district, election unit and polling locations of each voters. Citizens may contact their respective district/area registration or statistics office to rectify any wrong information and contact 1800-1890 line for information. 

Migration of citizens from one administrative unit to another shall be suspended from 60 days before polling day (from Apr 30).

In 2010 there were more than 112.000 Mongolian citizens residing abroad. During 2013 Presidential election, 6233 of them were registered to vote of which 4248 voted. 

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Minister of Environment meets World Bank mining infrastructure project manager

Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) Mongolia's Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg Wednesday received a delegation led by Mr Khairy Al Jamal, a manager of the Mining Infrastructure Investment Support (MINIS) project, being implemented by the World Bank (WB).

The parties exchanged views on Mongolia's position over feasibility studies for projects on creating a pool with a flow adjustment on the Orkhon river, establishing the "Shuren" hydropower plant, working out evaluation of environment and social impact.

Mr Jamal said a deputy director of the WB for Mongolian affairs will come with a visit to meet the Minister of Environment.

Present at the meeting were G.Monkh-Erdem, a department head of the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism; B.Enkhbaatar, a project manager and expert at the WB; T.Tsetsegee, a consultant to the project; and other officials.

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Mongolia Taps Marubeni as Preferred Bidder for 450MW Power Plant

By Michael Kohn

March 1 (Bloomberg) -- Marubeni Corp. has been selected as the preferred bidder to build a $1 billion coal-fired power plant in Mongolia's Gobi Desert to supply electricity to Rio Tinto Group's Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.

Marubeni beat Kansai Electric Power Co. and Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co., to win the tender for the 450-megawatt power plant planned for the coal-rich Tavan Tolgoi basin. The decision was announced Monday on the Tavantolgoi Power Plant (TTPP) project unit website.

Oyu Tolgoi, located 130 kilometers (81 miles) southeast of Tavan Tolgoi, currently sources its power from neighboring China. Other planned processing factories in the mineral-rich Gobi area, including coal-washing plants, could also tap into the new plant.

Mongolia's current total installed power capacity is 1,080 megawatts, including the 50-megawatt Salkhit wind farm, built in 2013. The power plant will be 70 percent financed by international banks and financial institutions and the balance will come from investors, according to the TTPP's website.

Marubeni will need to establish an investment agreement with MCS Holding LLC, the designated local partner, according to the TTPP website. The foreign investor is responsible for 66 percent of the equity portion with the local investor funding the balance.

Rio said in December it was revising the cost estimate to expand the mine after agreeing a $4.4 billion financing package.

It's planning for first production from the underground mine after 2020, according to a presentation this month. The power plant would take four years to build and construction could start by 2017, TTPP director Temuujin Batmunkh said by phone today.

Coal miners operating in the Tavan Tolgoi coal basin, which contains 6.4 billion tons of reserves, include state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC and Hong Kong-traded Mongolian Mining Corp.

Oyu Tolgoi LLC is 66 percent owned by Vancouver-based Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. with the Mongolian government holding the rest. The project is controlled by Rio Tinto Group, which has a 51 percent stake in Turquoise Hill.



Gobi Coal & Energy to Expand Across Energy Resources Value Chain

Hard Coking Coal Discovery, Coking Coal Consolidation, and Graphite and Uranium M&A in Focus  

HONG KONG, February 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Gobi Coal & Energy ("Gobi Coal") is pleased to announce its ongoing strategic initiative to expand across the energy resources value chain into hard coking coal, coking coal mine consolidation, and graphite and uranium development and mining both inside and outside of Mongolia.

During 2015, Gobi Coal successfully completed a drilling program at its primary coking coal mine at Shinejinst. The drilling program consisted of a total of 637.3 meters of drilling comprised of 8 diamond core boreholes that enlarged the deposit area to the southeast with average coal thickness of 9.3m. One hole returned an exceptional coal seam of 44m in thickness with low volatile materials. 76 coal quality samples were obtained in 2015 and submitted to a laboratory for testing with subsequent results confirming hard coking coal properties and the potential for a new sub-basin at Shinejinst. Successful water testing confirmed that the area has significant water potential, which is very important for future mine development.

During 2014 and 2015, Gobi Coal engaged in detailed analyses of, and negotiations with, several coking coal companies throughout Mongolia as part of a broader consolidation strategy. The aim is to build economies of scale and pricing power for the export of coking coal into China from southwest Mongolia at Ceke where pricing is significantly below international benchmarks. Negotiations are ongoing and will continue during 2016 in relation to Gobi Coal's mine at Shinejinst.

Beginning in 2015, Gobi Coal analyzed numerous uranium acquisition opportunities with a focus on the China market. China has a reported 30 reactors in operation, with 24 new reactors under construction, another 40 planned, and 136 proposed which will result in a three-fold increase in its nuclear capacity by 2020-21. Reactors in operation worldwide are already consuming in excess of 10,000 tons of uranium per year more than current global mine production capacity. This supply-demand imbalance is expected to grow sharply as China reactors enter operation with each new reactor requiring this amount to commence operation and sustain the plant operation for the first few years of use. Gobi Coal is currently in negotiations regarding a potential stock acquisition of a promising uranium property in Mongolia.

In addition, Gobi Coal has reviewed several high grade graphite mining investment and acquisition opportunities worldwide. The graphite market offers an exceptional opportunity for Gobi Coal to diversify into "new energy" mining resources that are experiencing robust and increasing demand in the market as a result of growing lithium battery use globally, and specialized electronic and industrial products. Demand for jumbo flake size graphite is expected to experience the majority of growth in market demand and pricing. Gobi Coal is now in the process of negotiating strategic equity investments into pre-production stage graphite mining companies in Africa.

Over the past two years, Gobi Coal has successfully preserved its coal assets during an unusually weak coking coal market while aggressively working to expand across the energy resources value chain inside and outside of Mongolia. The company has maintained negligible debt and was recently awarded US $11.5 million, plus costs and continuing interest and damages, by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre for defaulted loans due to the company.

Gobi Coal, led by principals who were involved earlier in the discovery and development of the massive Oyu Tolgoi project, has been active in Mongolia for more than a decade. Its two main projects, located in southwest Mongolia, contain a combined total of 318 million tonnes of high grade semi-soft coking coal JORC resources.

Gobi Coal is led by its Chairman, Mr. Mohammed Munshi who has almost 30 years of mining investment and development experience, including 15 years of activity in Mongolia.  Prior to co-founding Gobi Coal, Mr. Munshi was part of the senior management team of Ivanhoe Mines, now known as Turquoise Hill Resources, which is the company that discovered and developed the Oyu Tolgoi deposit in Mongolia. Mr. Munshi later discovered the Gobi Coal deposits and successfully attracted 9 rounds of equity investment capital, including from a major Middle East Sovereign Wealth Fund, to develop and bring the Shinejinst project into production ahead of a planned initial public offering of the company on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2012.

Mr. Munshi stated that "We are excited about the progress our company has achieved since 2014 towards expanding into other energy resources in a weak coal price environment. Strong balance sheet management and highly diligent analysis of expansion opportunities across energy resources will create significant value for Gobi Coal and its shareholders in the coming years. We are thankful for the patience and exceptional strategic support and involvement of our major sovereign fund shareholder since 2014 towards expanding our business. We anticipate that the 2016 calendar year will be very busy with many new milestones to be achieved."

Contact: Mo Munshi, Chairman,; James Hehn, Corporate Manager,; +976-99806136

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Gobi Coal & Energy Awarded $11.5m in Baz Group Default Case

By Michael Kohn

March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Ulaanbaatar-based Gobi Coal & Energy Ltd. has been awarded $11.5m, plus costs and continuing interest damages, by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Center, according to a press release issued by the company today.

* Award related to default by Mongolian national Jargalsaikhan Baz in repayment of three loans totaling $10m, received from Gobi Coal in 2012 and 2013

* Loans intended for development of mining supply and power generation business; loans continue to accrue interest at approximately $100,000 per month

* "Baz Loans" in default since 2013 collateralized by family real estate assets in Mongolia owned jointly by Jargalsaikhan Baz, Chuluunbaatar Baz and Chuulunzorigt Baz

* NOTE: Chuluunbaatar Baz is chairman and CEO of Ulaanbaatar-based Monnis International Co. Ltd



South Gobi miners sign voluntary code of conduct

March 2 (Mongolian Economy) Mining companies operating in the South Gobi have signed onto a "Voluntary Code of Conduct" (VCC) pact, with a signing ceremony held on January 4. Eight companies, including major companies such as Oyu Tolgoi, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi and Energy Resources, marked the event.

The International Finance Corporation has been involved with the mining sector in the South Gobi region since 2013 with the overall goal of improving the water management and stakeholder engagement practices. In this context, the "South Gobi Water and Mining Industry Roundtable" project was implemented, and IFC cooperated with over ten companies to develop the VCC, which is based on the leading international practices on community engagement, participatory water management and monitoring. This collective effort will safeguard water resources and promote the efficient and transparent utilisation of water. With the signing of these companies on the declaration to join the VCC, they are voluntarily taking on responsibilities for 19 obligations, including clear reporting and statements related to water consumption to the public and local residents, introducing a system for citizens to file complaints, improving access to water and establishing infrastructure.

The water resources found in this region have a flow capacity of approximately 2,600 litres per second (l/s). The estimated total water consumption of the region is 665 l/s and will increase to 1,585 l/s after 20 years according to research. Based on this, it is possible to provide the water demanded by mining firms in the region, the Tavan Tolgoi thermal power plant, large industrial and settled areas such as Dalanzadgad, Tsogttsetsii and Khanbogd until 2035.However, one thing remains to be considered. The water reserves formed in the soil of Gobi has accumulated over three thousand years. In order to be replenished, the same amount of time will be required. That is why projects such as Oyu Tolgoi, which will operate for 60-100 years, need efficient water consumption and intelligent management. The VCC is aimed at not only improving consumption and accessibility by mines, but also at ensuring the water availability for local residents and animals. The code contains a concept which holds that water is a shared resource and a risk in the South Gobi region. Each of the 13 companies involved in the development of the code understand this.

"By implementing water management with multilateral involvement, we will build trust between companies and local residents and will create an environment that enables successful work in the long-term," stated Tuyen Nguyen, Resident Representative for the IFC in Mongolia. "The companies have an opportunity to introduce and learn the best water management techniques with their involvement in the declaration, and new developments, such as realising its implementation, duties and issues are being introduced." As for the above mentioned multilateral involvement, the companies will create a system by joining this VCC that fosters experiential exchange, enables residents to monitor water consumption of the companies, receives complaints and comments, gives open feedback and reflects it in their operation.

B.Byambasaikhan, Executive Director of Erdenes Mongol LLC, noted that the involvement in the VCC will have benefits on the competitiveness of the companies. The representatives of the companies who came to the signing ceremony all have agreed on one thing: that many companies have united to develop the code, and many others have also expressed interest in joining the pact.

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CEO Club Appoints Ganhuyag Chuluun as President

February 22 (CEO Club) Mongolia's one and only member based executive club CEO Club announced Ganhuyag Chuluun, CEO of Ard Financial Group, as the club's President on its meeting held on January 8th, 2016.

Ganhuyag is currently serving as Chief Executive Officer at Ard Financial Group, an investment holding company and he is one of the founders of the company. He has held the position of the CEO of XacBank since its founding until 2009 and CEO of Tenger Financial Group, a parent company of XacBank from 2009 to 2010 as well as Vice Minister of Finance from 2010 to 2012.

He is one of the founders of CEO Club and served as its very first president.

He receives the post from Tumentsogt Tsevegmid, Executive Director of General Electric in Mongolia, in accordance with the club's rule to appoint a lead in every year.

About CEO Club

CEO Club was established in 2007 as a group of CEOs that represents the private sector who has a purpose to make a tangible contribution to development of Mongolia.

CEO club focuses on social development and seeks to express and protect mutual understanding of businesses to the Parliament and the Government of Mongolia for transforming the ideas of the CEOs to reality and introducing new technology and collaborate with government organizations to make sound economic and legal environment for taking the private sector development to the next level.

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Mongolian farmers study rice cultivation to boost domestic production

March 2 (UB Post) Mongolian farmers and agricultural experts have made several attempts to cultivate white rice in Mongolia over the last 10 to 15 years. In partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, they aspire to reduce rice imports and boost domestic production.

Mongolia imported 29,500 tons of white rice for 14.8 million USD in 2014, according to the official website of Mongolian Customs. The website also reports that Mongolia imported an average of 27,000 tons of rice annually from 2012 to 2014. Some experts have noted that the national demand for rice reached 68,000 tons in 2014.

The more import volumes increase, the more capital leaves the country. CEO of GIMEX J.Gankhuyag stated, "Mongolia imports approximately 70,000 tons of white rice a year. Nearly 60 million USD is spent on this."

Experts say that imported rice has quite a few downsides. The General Agency for Specialized Inspection found expired rice and violations of storage procedures during an inspection last year. CEO of Dorniin Altan Tos Company O.Munkhbaatar said that compared to current levels, imported rice in Mongolia contained 30 to 60 times more than acceptable levels of lead four years ago. He stressed that lead is a main risk factor for cancer and it is not broken down by the human body nor does it dissolve in water.

China is Mongolia's biggest rice importer. The Mongolian Customs website shows that out of 29,596 tons of white rice imported to Mongolia last year, exactly 23,453 tons were imported from China, nearly 80 percent of all imports. China recently limited its white rice export volume due to increasing domestic needs, and now, rice is imported to Mongolia through only one border point.

On the other hand, sources say that rice is smuggled into the country through other borders. A customs officer said that smugglers usually put the rice in black bags. It's doubtful that this smuggled rice meets health standards. This shows that Mongolia needs to cultivate and produce rice to meet increasing domestic need.

Rather than the government, the private sector has been more involved in studying ways to domestically produce white rice.

A representative from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture was asked about this.

She stated, "The private sector is simply experimenting with rice cultivation on small fields. They haven't harvested rice in significant quantities yet."

The ministry believes that there aren't many suitable places for growing rice in Mongolia, as rice is a difficult crop which requires plenty of water and heat.

"Many years of experience and research are required for cultivating white rice. We have to find rice varieties that suit Mongolia's climate and weather conditions. It isn't easy to decide whether to cultivate rice, because it's necessary to try out many different types of rice. Darkhan Province's Urgamal soum is studying growing a new type of rice in Mongolia at the Agricultural Training and Research Institute. We are making attempts to domestically produce rice," said Ts.Bolorchuluun, Head of the Agricultural Policy Implementation Department at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Opportunities and experience with cultivating rice in Mongolia

GIMEX strives to produce rice within five years

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Mayor's Office issues decree on crime prevention under Neighborhood Watch program

March 2 ( N. Bataa, Deputy on Mayor's Office Finance and Economy matters, issued an official decree number A/77 in framework of "Neighborhood Watch" program in order to prevent and fight against any criminal activities.

This decree ratifies the subprogram called "Prevent and fight theft crime", and states that citizens, law enforcement agencies and economic entities will be involved in the progress and implementation of this act. In the scope of this work, district governors, police departments, information technology office are obliged to install CCTVs, adequate lighting that meets international standard in public places, ger districts and parking lots.

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Mongolia pays off $3.8 million remaining debt to Russia

March 2 (UB Post) Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Mongolia Iskander Kubarovich Azizov on Monday to present confirmation of the payment of 3,832,515 USD in Mongolian debt owed to Russia.

During the meeting Ch.Saikhanbileg noted, "We promised to pay off the remainder of the great debt to Russia in February. In this regard, I am handing over a receipt for a transaction of 3,832,515 USD from Mongol Bank to the Russian Finance Ministry." Emphasizing that this day marked a historic event in relations between the two countries, he noted that new economic opportunities are being opened for the future by paying off the remainder of Mongolia's financial obligations. At the end of their meeting, the Prime Minister conveyed his gratitude to the authorities who were involved in forgiving Mongolia's debt, on behalf of Mongolia's leaders.

During the meeting Ambassador Azizov stressed, "All the financial obligations of Mongolia to the former Soviet Union, the current Russian Federation, have now ended. New opportunities are now open to develop bilateral financial and economic relations," highlighting that he believes a new door has opened for Mongolia to enter the international financial market.

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Mongolia awards Poland's former deputy Marshal of Sejm

Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) By the decree of the Mongolian President, the "Polar Star" order has been given to Mr Jerzy Wenderlich, a former deputy Marshal of Poland's Sejm (lower house of parliament) and vice chairman of the Democratic Left Alliance.

The order was granted Tuesday by N.Bataa, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Poland at the Mongolian Embassy. This is a recognition of Mr Wenderlich's efforts to establish ties between the legislative bodies of the two countries, to broaden the inter-parliamentary relations, and to boost the bilateral cooperation.

In addition, the "Friendship" medal went to a deputy director of the External and European Affairs division at the Polish Senate and Mongol studies scholar Mr Robert Bobrovsky.

Present at the ceremony were Mr Mikhal Labenda, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland to Mongolia; representatives of Poland's parliament and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Foreign Ministry briefs media in weekly press meeting

Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren gave a report at the "Media Hour" weekly meeting Tuesday.

He gave details about a participation of Mongolia in the forthcoming session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), results of the first meetings of commissions for monitoring the implementation of the national programs on promoting Mongolia abroad, on World Mongolians, and Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO.

He also touched upon the course of the preparation for the 11th ASEM Summit, reforms expected in Mongolians' foreign passports, and cases of violating Mongolians' rights in foreign countries.

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Health, Education

ADB: TV drama promotes financial education in Mongolia

By Enerelt Enkhbold, Investment Officer

February 26 (ADB Blog) People get hooked on stories. The multi-billion dollar film and video industries have gotten this down to a profit-making science. Development agencies have also maximized this penchant for stories to promote behavior changes by couching information in compelling narratives.  

In Mongolia, a project assisted by ADB and the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction used storytelling to help people protect themselves through saving and financial planning. The global financial crisis and a dry spell followed by another dzud or a long severe winter in 2008 to 2010 pointed out the obvious: with no financial safety nets, the most vulnerable households needed financial education.     

A 2014 survey under the project found that 80% of Mongolians cite TV as their main source of information. Since serial dramas are very popular, they were identified as the most effective vehicle for messages on financial literacy. 

Using the survey results, the project developed a soap opera called A course that helps you become a millionaire, which became the second most watched program nationwide in 2015. The plots were based on the information needs of the target viewers – 24 issues were identified, translated as behavioral messages and included in the scripts.

"I think the TV drama illustrates very well the importance of savings. I started saving 10% of my (monthly) salary since I watched the TV drama. I am really benefiting from this behavior," says 27-year-old D. Yanjmaa from Ulaanbaatar, one of many Mongolians who closely followed the series. 

The audience was primarily students and youth, women with higher and/or complete secondary education, self-employed, and private sector workers. Most have a monthly household income below MNT 600.000 (approximately $301).

The 24-episode show revolved around 6 characters from different socio-economic backgrounds with a common purpose: to enhance their personal financial management skills by attending the course. Throughout the episodes, the characters faced and solved financial challenges, mostly related to bank loans and savings.

The twists and turns of the plot reflected empirical evidence. A 2015 ADB survey showed that more than 70% of respondents—the majority of whom are middle-aged residents from Ulaanbaatar and rural provinces—do have formal savings in banks. The younger generation, though, is less likely to save money. Rural and low-income households struggle with putting money aside proactively. Herders and low-income households, the most affected by the financial crisis and the dzud, have limited awareness about services offered by the non-bank financial sector. An earlier 2010 ADB survey pointed out that around 70% of respondents from rural areas struggled to match their income with their spending habits.

These findings were consistent with a 2013 World Bank survey noted that 78% of respondents do save formally. However, more than 40% fail to understand how concepts such as the cost of their loans or interest earned from their savings work, as well as how inflation affects their savings.

The series attracted a wide audience because the stories were based on real-life experiences and tied to the local culture. The drama featured a wide range of character types, from a disabled person to teenagers, a micro-entrepreneur, and a single mother. The key to success was that the audience was able to identify with and learn from the characters, which gradually evolve in their financial thinking and behavior as the story unfolds.

It did not focus on financial services that were not widely available in Mongolia (pension fund, investment funds, fixed income investments) to raise demand and expectations, as the banking sector dominates the country's financial sector.

To multiply reach, newspapers and journals promoted the show and reinforce the financial literacy messages. A teaser episode was uploaded on YouTube, and a 'making of' video is also available online.

So, did people's financial behavior in fact change? As part of the project's final survey, 800 text messages per episode were randomly sent to 1,000 mobile phone users asking multiple-choice questions about financial literacy issues highlighted during that particular episode. In the beginning most of the answers were wrong, but by the 15th by the 15th episode the majority of replies were correct.

The survey showed that after watching the TV series, more Mongolians (from 58 percent baseline to 72%) have expanded their financial options, and for instance now compare the interest rates of loans and savings services.

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Khan Bank Partners for National Campaign Against Cancer

February 26 (Khan Bank) The Khan Bank Foundation, National Cancer Center (NCC), and Mongolian National Broadcaster (MNB) will be jointly organizing the 6th year of the National Campaign against Cancer and held a ceremony for the signing of a cooperation agreement on February 24, 2016.  

The Deputy Prime Minister and acting Minister of Health and Sport Ts.Oyunbaatar, Khan Bank CEO Norihiko Kato, General Director of the National Cancer Center L.Tumurbaatar, Vice Director of Mongolian National Broadcaster D.Enkhtuya, and other officials participated in the ceremony. Cancer diagnoses occur in greater numbers among the population of Mongolia compared to the rest of the world, and it is common for rural residents to be diagnosed in the late stages of disease due to a lack of knowledge about health and preventive care, and not taking part in regular health check-ups and cancer screening.  

Khan Bank, the National Cancer Center, and Mongolian National Broadcaster have successfully implemented the National Campaign against Cancer for five years in remote rural areas with higher levels of cancer risk factors, with the aim of conducting preventive check-ups and diagnosing cancer in its early stages.The outcomes of the past five years clearly show that the National Campaign against Cancer has made concrete contributions to the reduction of terminal cancer diagnoses. Khan Bank has contributed over 720 million MNT to the campaign and delivered cancer prevention information to the public by training over 2,000 rural employees as volunteers. 

Within the framework of this campaign, a team of doctors from the NCC has travelled around the country and screened a total of 90,000 individuals for cancer diseases. The team has conducted 403 immediate surgeries in rural areas and organized specialized training for over 5,400 doctors and specialists.In 2016, the National Campaign against Cancer will cover 8 provinces, including Darkhan-Uul, Selenge, Arkhangai, Zavkhan, Khuvsgul, Dornod, Umnugovi and Khovd. Along with conducting regular activities developed for the campaign, regional training for doctors in neighboring provinces and soums regarding early diagnosis of cancer, chemical treatment options, hospice care, and clinical ultrasounds will be organized.

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Francophone Film Festival on March 12-13, Tengis Cinema

March 2 ( 7th annual "French Speaking countries film festival" will be held on March 12-13 at Tengis cinema. Alliance française d'Oulan-Bator and the Embassy of France in Mongolia are jointly organizing the film festival with the cooperation of Swiss Cooperation in Mongolia, Embassy of Canada to Mongolia, Golden Reel Association and Tengis Cinema. 

French Speaking countries film festival screen the best and latest films in French language, most of them having been launched at international film festivals. As of this year, seven films from France, Switzerland, Canada, Belgium, Egypt and Lebanon will be screened. 

Canada (Quebec) has been chosen as a special focus country this year and two Canadian films will be shown during the festival. 

During the opening of the film festival, the audience will have the opportunity to meet the Swiss film director Frédéric Baillif when his movie "Red Carpet" (2015) will be shown.

All movies in French with Mongolian subtitles. Prices for the tickets are MNT 3000. 

Tickets will be sold from the March 2-9 at the Alliance française d'Oulan-Bator, Dreamers' Day, Briti Grey, Michele's Bakery, Code Pâtisserie and Green zone. On March 12-13 tickets are available at Tengis cinema.

If you want more information, please call to (976) - 11 352578.

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Culture, Society

Buddhism Scholar Wins Grant to Study in Mongolia

Social Science Research Council grant to Matthew King will fund study of exchanges between Buddhist monks and Euro-Russian intellectuals

RIVERSIDE, Calif., March 2 (University of California, Riverside) – Early in the 20th century Buddhist monastics in Mongolia and Tibet engaged with European and Slavic intellectuals, exchanges that reframed the study of Buddhism and Inner Asia and continue to influence scholars today.

Matthew King, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California, Riverside, has been awarded a $37,500 grant from the Social Science Research Council to study Eurasian "interpretative communities" that brought Buddhist literati from the Mongol steppe and the Himalayan plateau together with European and Slavic scholars researching topics like Buddhist history and Altaic ethnology. (The Altaic language group is named after the Altai Mountains of Central Asia.)

The Social Science Research Council is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing research in the social sciences and related disciplines. The InterAsia Program Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship King received aims to strengthen the understanding of "issues and geographies that do not fit neatly into existing divisions of academia or the world and to develop new approaches, practices, and opportunities in international, regional, and area studies." Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, these fellowships help junior scholars complete first books or undertake second projects.

The grant will enable King to spend four months this year in Mongolia, where he will work in the archives of the National Library of Mongolia and Gadantegchinlen Monastery. King will examine thousands of pages written by four monastic and revolutionary intellectuals, as well as the works of Euro-Russian intellectuals and the archive of The New Mirror, a secular newspaper published in the Khalkha dialect during the imperial-socialist transition. The paper featured lively debates between progressive and conservative monks, scientists and revolutionaries from across Eurasia on issues as diverse as the paleography of Turkish burial mounds, Copernican views of a round earth, the potential of scientific education for a reformed monastic curricula, and the defining features of a "national" pan-Mongol Buddhism.

King's project – "The Old Empire and the New Reasoning: Interpretative Communities Between the European Academy and the Buddhist Monastery in Revolutionary Inner Asia (1911-1940) – will examine what he calls Eurasian "interpretative communities" and will involve key figures such as Mikhail Tubyansky, a Russian scholar of Asian literature and member of the Bakhtin Circle (an influential school of thought that addressed literary, philosophical and religious issues in light of the Russian Revolution and the Stalinist era), and the Thirteenth Dalai Lama.

"This was a time of clashing Russian, British, Japanese, and Chinese claims on dispersed Mongolian and Tibetan cultural areas and of regional constitutional and socialist revolutions that give us the Inner Asia we know today," he explained.

In Europe and Russia (but also Japan and China, though this is outside the scope of King's study), "this was also a time of emergent academic and popular scrutiny of, among other things, the 'world religion' of Buddhism, Tibeto-Mongolian folkways, and Altaic linguistics. This was a time of Qing and Tsarist imperial collapse, the rise of regional nationalist movements, the uneven consolidation of state socialism, and eventually, the terrible exercise of state violence in mass purges of Buddhist monastics and monastic institutions," King added.

King joined the UCR Department of Religious Studies in 2014. His research interests include: Buddhist movements during the imperial-socialist transition in Tibetan and Mongolian cultural regions; Buddhism, science, and secularism in Inner Asia; Buddhist economics; and the global circulation of knowledge about Buddhism and Buddhist peoples. His articles have appeared in journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Religion and History & Anthropology. He has also contributed chapters to recent volumes on Inner Asia published by Brill, Oxford, and Routledge. He holds bachelors, master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Toronto.

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Spitting in Public: Fines from 5000

March 1 ( The revised "Law on Hygiene" took effect from yesterday, 29th February. Its predecessor, the "Law on Sanitation" was approved by Parliament on 7th May 1998. Since then, the law project has been changed five times and is now called the "Law on Hygiene". One of the most noticeable items of the new law is that people caught spitting in the streets will be fined between MNT 5,000-1,000,000. The observance of this provision will be in force very quickly. Policemen, public co-operation activists and voluntary workers will be responsible for controlling its implementation.

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Nature, Environment

Mongolia faces livestock crisis as bitter winter bites

Lucy Hornby in Bayankhongor, Mongolia

March 1 (FT) Mongolia, a country struggling with depleted government revenues and a historically weak currency, is seeking millions of dollars in international emergency assistance as a harsh winter known as a dzud threatens to decimate animal numbers.

The country's herds have reached record numbers after several mild winters and government programmes that incentivise herders to raise more animals. With about 80 per cent of pasture degraded, many regions are locked in a downward spiral where herders require more animals to maintain their income, further damaging the grazing lands.

International agencies and multilateral banks could collectively offer up to about $10m in assistance, potentially opening the door to future multilateral loans if the country's economic outlook continues to deteriorate in the coming year, when international debt comes due.

The economic threat to Mongolia's herders comes as the country is already struggling with the end of the commodity cycle, which has depleted government revenues in the resource-rich nation and pushed the currency to historic weakness.

If colder weather and more snow this year prevent animals from foraging in March and April, when young and weakened animals are most vulnerable, more marginal herders will be pushed into the towns and cities, where few jobs await. A dzud in 2000 wiped out about a third of the country's animals and pushed tens of thousands of families to shantytowns around Ulan Bator, the capital.

The Red Cross this week released funds from its disaster relief emergency fund and warned that "millions of animals" were likely to die this spring. But interviews with officials and herders in central Mongolia revealed that the problem has deeper roots than just cold weather.

"When I was a child, the elders told me the grass would grow so high you couldn't see the cattle. But now it's only about 10cm tall," said Tsedensednom, the governor of Ulziit soum, or township, in the centre of Mongolia's top goat-breeding region. Goats are prized for their cashmere but contribute heavily to desertification because they eat the grass to the roots.

Mongolia's Ministry of Agriculture in September estimated the total number of animals in the country at 70m, although other estimates put the number above 50m. Prices of meat and skins have fallen sharply because of oversupply, while wool and cashmere quality has deteriorated as the available vegetation declines. Exports to China were suspended until recently, following outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in Mongolia.

In Bayankhongor, the top goat-breeding province, the number of livestock has nearly doubled since 2011. Herders agree that almost no land is allowed to lie fallow to recover and families encroach on each others' lands as they move their animals in search of grass.

"For every young herder, it is a point of pride to reach 1,000 animals," explained 31-year-old Unubold, who has received a medal as a "distinguished herder". Goats make up more than half his herd, breaking a traditional rule that there should be only one goat for every 10 animals.

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Aid agencies brace for devastating Mongolian 'dzud' this winter


March 2 (Reuters) Global aid agencies are responding to a call for assistance by Mongolia as harsh winter weather raises fears for the safety and livelihoods of the country's traditional pastoralists, who have already been hit hard by a drought last year.

Dry weather has scorched most of Mongolia's wheat crop and now mass animal deaths due to a freezing winter, locally known as "dzud", are threatening more pain for the country, where farming accounts for about 13 percent of the economy. The last dzud in 2009-2010 killed 9.7 million of the country's livestock, according to the National Emergency Agency of Mongolia.

While the government has not yet declared the current winter a natural disaster, it has warned the situation could get worse. So far, a drop in temperatures to minus 55 Celsius (minus 67 Fahrenheit) has killed nearly 200,000 livestock.

The weather and grazing conditions are already worse than they were in the previous dzud, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement, citing the Mongolian Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

"Usually for the dzud, the most devastation is observed in March, April and May," Garid Enkhjin, national program coordinator for the IFRC in Mongolia, told Reuters.

The IFRC said it has launched an emergency appeal for 834,000 Swiss Francs ($835,000) to assist 25,500 Mongolian herders, who are at risk of losing their livestock and livelihoods due to the extreme winter.

Currently, 80 percent of Mongolia is under snow, making it difficult for nomadic families to travel along centuries-old pasture routes to find food for their livestock. Aggravating the situation is the fact that herders can live up to 50 kms (31 miles) from urban settlements and many are without cars.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it plans to provide trucks to get aid to families' doorsteps at some of the most-difficult-to-reach areas.

"We want to relieve the burden of that last mile of distance to the most affected," Ben Hemingway, USAID's regional adviser, said on phone from Bangkok.

In the worst affected districts, sheep and other livestock have started dying. Many herders are trying to sell their animals while they are still alive, leading to an oversupply of livestock that has driven down market prices.

Although the death toll for animals so far is far less than in 2009, "the impact on the people is more or less the same", said Enkhjin. "Livelihoods will be impacted immediately and have devastating effects."

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After Brutal Dzud Winter, Mongolia Seeks Foreign Aid

For the first time since 2010, Mongolia has suffered at the hands of another brutal dzud winter.

February 29 (The Diplomat) Across the Mongolian plains, livestock are succumbing to a brutal winter, bringing economic struggle and ruin to the country's agrarian base, which constitutes one-fifth of its gross domestic product.

The phenomenon sadly is not unusual. In Mongolian, these sorts of unusually harsh winters are known as dzud. A particularly bad dzud, such as this year's, will wipe out large numbers of livestock–often in the millions–due to starvation, and has prompted the Mongolian government to seek assistance from abroad. Last week, for the first time since 2010, the Mongolian government formally filed a "dzud appeal," requesting foreign assistance.

According to the Associated Press, this dzud is worse than the 2010′s, even though under 50,000 livestock have died. In the 2009-2010 winter, the deaths of 9.7 million livestock in Mongolia were attributed to the dzud. The dzud has effects that are felt all over the country. The World Bank, in a 2010 report on that year's dzud appeal, noted that "Fifteen of Mongolia's 21 provinces, home to 769,106 people (28 percent of the country's population), have been declared disaster zones, and another four are seriously affected." This year's dzud was worse than its 2010 predecessor, but preparedness may have staved off calamitous economic damage.

The dzud did not catch the country by surprise. Ahead of the brutal winter, Mongolian farmers and herders prepared for the winter by building shelters for livestock. Reuters noted in September 2015 that the World Bank had predicted a dzud for the 2015-2016 winter season. The Mongolian government preemptively moved to cut wheat and meat exports for the winter months to shore up domestic supplies, to ensure feed for livestock. In the early 2000s, Mongolia was struck by three consecutive dzud seasons, which killed over 11 million animals in cumulative.

So far, dzud-related aid is set to pour into Mongolia from a variety of sources. The Asian Development Bank granted $3 million in financial assistance to help the worst-affected districts shore up livestock shelters during the winter. Purevjav Jambalragchaa, a coordinator at the Mongolian Red Cross, told the Associated Press that the Red Cross societies of Japan, Britain, and Finland will contribute aid as well.

The economic effects of dzud will intensify the Mongolian economy's economic woes. Its mining sector, which comprises over 15 percent of its GDP, has also been under stress due to falling commodity prices and the economic slowdown for both its massive neighbors, China and Russia. For Mongolia, the increasing frequency and harshness of dzud is seen as a consequence of global climate change. In 2010, Mongolia told the United Nations that climate change was set to have "a direct and dramatic effect on almost all sectors of the national economy and all spheres of social life."

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Red Cross launches emergency appeal as extreme winter Dzud threatens Mongolian herders

2 March, 2016 - Beijing/Geneva (International Federation Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) Today, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal for 834,000 Swiss Francs (USD 835,000 / 768,000 Euros) to assist 25,500 vulnerable Mongolian herders who are at risk of losing their livestock and livelihoods due to extreme winter conditions known as 'Dzud', a clinical slow-onset disaster unique to Mongolia.

The Dzud is a consequence of a summer drought and extreme overgrazing leading to insufficient hay for winter grazing. This, coupled with heavy snows and freezing temperatures is causing large numbers of animals to die from starvation. Parts of Mongolia are experiencing continuous heavy snowfall and snowstorms with average temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius during daytime and around -40 degrees during the night. More than 80,000 herder families (around 400,000 people) in the northern and western part of the country are at risk with millions of livestock facing starvation in the coming weeks and months.

"Based on assessments by our National Disaster Response Team, the most vulnerable herders are in desperate need of cash, food and warm clothes to face the challenges of the extreme winter conditions,"says Madame Nordov Bolormaa, Secretary General of the Mongolian Red Cross. The Mongolian Red Cross relief operation, supported by the IFRC appeal, will focus on the distribution of food parcels together with cash grants to the poorest and most needy herders, enabling them to buy fodder for their livestock and other essential commodities. The operation also includes a combination of vocational training and business development to help herders diversify their livelihoods.

"We will look at how we can boost the resilience of nomadic communities in the longer term" said Baktiar Mambetov, Acting Head of the IFRC in East Asia. "This includes providing training in disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation. We will also ensure that the herders have the equipment to harvest hay for the next winter season."

In the worst affected districts, sheep and other livestock have already started dying from cold and starvation in their thousands. Many herders are trying to sell their animals while they are still alive but the oversupply of livestock has resulted in very low market prices which have particularly serious consequences for vulnerable families with fewer animals to sell. As a result many poor herders lack the cash they need to buy essential food, warm clothes, and coal for heating.

Impassable roads covered with thick snow and ice also make it impossible for many herders to reach urban settlements where they can receive important services such as medical care or purchase necessities for basic sustenance. According to the Mongolian Ministry of Food and Agriculture both the weather situation and the grazing conditions are worse than they were in the Dzud of 2009-2010, when millions of animals died.

Tens of thousands of households lost all or more than half of their animals and many of these families were forced to move to slum areas on the outskirts of Ulaan Baatar and other urban centres. Large scale migration to the cities are resulting from loss of livelihood among herders has magnified urban social problems such as unemployment, crime, alcoholism, domestic violence and extreme poverty.

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Polish visas granted to Mongolian cyber champions after U.S. snub

March 1 ( "Mongolz.CS" is the name of the country's top cyber sport team and the winner of the Asia-Pacific cyber sport championship - "Intel Extreme Masters", which was held in February in Taipei

As the Asia-Pacific champions, "Mongolz.CS", have the right to participate internationally and have been invited championships in the USA and Poland. Unfortunately, the US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar turned down the team's visa requests…..not once, but several times!

Fortunately, Poland has given "Mongolz.CS" visas; they landed in Warsaw earlier today. The Polish competition "IEM Katowice" has a USD 100,000 prize and is being held in the town of that name on 4th March. The team had to travel to Beijing in order to get their visas. There was also some difficulty, but the consular section of the Embassy of Poland in Beijing rushed the visas through. "Mongolz.CS" have posted their gratitude on their facebook account noting: "The Consulate has said that providing your visas in three hours was a unique phenomenon in the history of the Poland Embassy. Therefore, you guys must win the competition!" 

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Andre Brown: I will play in Mongolia as long as they want me

March 2 ( Andre Devon Brown is an American professional basketball player and former NBA player who currently plays for Mon-Altius Smart of the Mongolian National Basketball Association (MNBA). 

He played for MNBA for its second year. Last year he played for Hartsaga, the championship of 2015 league. Also he named the MNBA MVP in 2016. Not only Mongolian basketball players but also legionnaires pay great honors to him. He is a giant but sociable guy. 


-I heard that you have started to play basketball since you were in grade school. Tell me about the moment that you played at World Youth Games and won gold medal in 1998 and bronze in 1999 while being in high school. How did the team USA select you?

-It was a long time ago, my first love is baseball and my uncle who was really into sports inspired me to play basketball. He told me that you should play basketball because I was very tall. He put a basketball in my hands when I was younger. With basketball, I actually got better. Over the years, it helped me because I started at an early age. I became one of the top guys in my class in grade school and high school.

The experience of getting gold medal really inspired me. To be consider as one of the best was great and gave me confidence to play with the best around the world. Only 12 guys out of 300 hundred guys were selected and I was really happy to be with those guys. I was also happy that we won the games and got the gold medal. It was big plus for me, because I represented my country. It was a really good experience and something I'll never forget, after that my career just took off. I still have the gold medal and my mom holds on to it.

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Art, Entertainment

MP meets American filmmakers behind "Golden Treasure"

Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) S.Odontuya MP met with Saul Molina, Ricardo Stanley and other filmmakers on March 2. The guests are here to attend the premiere of "Atgand Uldsen Erdene" (Golden Treasure) film by "Khuvisal" production, on which they have worked together.

The film directed by U.Uranchimeg has had its final touch-ups in Hollywood. During this meeting, Odontuya briefly introduced to the gathered activities of the State Great Khural (parliament) and thanked them for supporting our film industry and filmmakers.

"Mongolia is home to numerous valuable things to show off to the world such as morin khuur. Regardless of the length, any film can be successful in Hollywood if you can meet the certain standards. Mongolia's landscape is beautiful, and the artists very talented. Therefore, Mongolia has a great potential", said Mr Molina.

"Our successful cooperation is especially thanks to the efforts of D.Angarag and E.Sant-Amar," he said, adding that it is always a pleasure to work with such young people who strongly aspire to make Mongolia known to the world.

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Mongolian circus artists win Golden Elephant at Spain festival

March 2 (MONTSAME) Figueres International Circus Festival 2016 that took place in Spain on February 25-29, has concluded the final results. Among over 80 artists from 14 countries, Mongolian artists from the National Circus led by T.Nomuundari have won the Golden Elephant with their magnificent acrobatic performances with teeterboard and hand voltige.

Audiences came standing with thunder of applauses when Mongolians performed tense and risky jumping board act and thus winning the Golden Elephant. 

Golden Elephants were also handed to Qin Warriors and Fan Dance bands from China.

Besides that, Mongolian contortionists won the judges' prize for their "Swan Lake" themed performance.

This is the proof that Mongolian circus artists' skills are being recognized worldwide.

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Morin Khuur band to perform concert at Suntory Hall

Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) "Ikh Tatlaga" Mongolian folklore music group intends to give a concert this March 13 at Suntory Hall in the center of Tokyo, Japan. The hall is recognized worldwide as "music treasure chest", where world famous artists line up to perform at least two years in advance. The "Ikh Tatlaga" will perform songs, throat songs and some new compositions.

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President Elbegdorj to attend Khuvsgul's Blue Pearl Ice Festival

Ulaanbaatar, March 2 (MONTSAME) The President Ts.Elbegdorj has headed to Khuvsgul aimag for March 2-3 to attend the "Blue Pearl 2016" ice festival at the town of Khatgal and to hold a meeting with the inhabitants of Murun soum. He left Ulaanbaatar this morning.

He has been accompanied by O.Chuluunbileg, an adviser on living environment and green development policy, a chairman of Citizens' Representatives Khural of Khuvsgul T.Boldbaatar, the aimag's governor A.Erdenebaatar, also by a director of Department of Industry and Agriculture B.Galbadrakh and other officials.  

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Flight between Manzhouli, Ulan Bator resumes

HOHHOT, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- A direct flight linking Manzhouli, China's largest land port with Russia, with Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, resumed Monday.

Flights between the two localities were launched on Oct. 21, 2013, by a Mongolian airline.

Due to a drop in interest for flights the route was halted during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday this year, according to an official with Manzhouli's Xijiao International Airport.

Manzhouli City, which borders Mongolia and Russia, in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, processes more than 70 percent of all the land cargo between China and Russia.

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In June 2016, a team of ambitious adventure travellers will make the first commercial summit attempts on two unclimbed Mongolian peaks, led by UK-based expedition company, Secret Compass.

(TRAVPR.COM) UK - March 2nd, 2016 - This June 2016, a team of ambitious adventure travellers will make the first commercial summit attempts on two unclimbed Mongolian peaks, led by Secret Compass.

"The part of Mongolia we're exploring is not generally visited due to its remoteness and the challenges posed by its mountain peaks", said Tom Bodkin, director of Secret Compass.

"Our team aims to summit the previously unclimbed peak of Nariin Ekhin (3,952m) and an unnamed peak at 3,907m, located deep inside Mongolia's UNESCO-nominated Siilkhem National Park."

"If conditions allow, the team will explore further new routes as the team's strong leadership team includes one of Mongolia's top mountaineers alongside our professional guides," said Bodkin.

"As a Guardian 'Top Adventure for 2016', we hope this pioneering foray into remote western Mongolia lives up to its name, and look forward to meeting the team on the ground in Ulaanbaatar." 

Mongolia: Expedition highlights 

Be part of the first commercial team to summit Nariin Ekhin (3,952m)
Trek at altitude at the juncture of Mongolia, China, Russia and Kazakhstan
Cross rivers, traverse valleys and trek on glaciers above 2,900m
Climb to exposed ridge lines with phenomenal views north to Russia
Look out for elusive eagles and snow leopards spotted in the Park

Communications director Kerry O'Neill said, "While we welcome applications from those with mountaineering experience – and have some impressive people on board so far – this expedition is also for anyone who's fit and happy to learn the basics of ice axe and crampon use in situ." 

"Secret Compass has long sought to stage an original expedition in Mongolia. Our inspiration includes Tim Cope's book, On the Trail of Genghis Khan, and the BBC's Human Planet footage of eagle hunters in near Bayan Olgii, the region our team will head to at the outset of this adventure."

O'Neill concluded, "The unclimbed mountains of Siilkhem National Park jumped out to us as the perfect place in which to attempt something pioneering, something that no other adventure travel company offers."

Expedition fact box

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Where eagles dare: adventures in Western Mongolia

If you've never had the urge to go exploring in Mongolia, prepare to get the urge.

March 1 (Red Bull Australia) Mongolia is gradually increasing in popularity for more adventurous travellers. And thanks to this video, from talented travel filmmaker Brandon Liit's not hard to see why.

Offering up some of the most remote landscapes this great big world of ours has to offer, Mongolia is the ideal destination for those wishing to get 'off the beaten track'.

But don't let the vast nothingness of the steppe fool you: these lands are full of life, culture and adventure for those willing to look for it. As Brandon's video - which is shot in the country's west - so beautifully illustrates, the lives of the nomadic people are an endlessly captivating exercise in simplicity, ingenunity and living in harmony with nature.

Whether it's training eagles to hunt wild game, wrestling, racing camels of herding yaks: the life and times of the documented nomadic Kazakh people serve up a lot for the discerning adventure to discover.

So, if you're looking for something a little different to do with your next chunk of annual leave, look no further. Mongolia is the answer. 

Follow Brandon on Instagram @brandon_li

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Hunting with eagles: New library exhibit

March 2 (La Jolla Light) Using magnificent photos from a trip to remote Mongolia, cultural narrative photographer Mike Orenich hopes to introduce La Jollans to the Kazakh people and their practice of training eagles to help them hunt. He will present a photo-montage of Mongolia's indigenous "eagle hunters" at La Jolla Riford Library this month.

The exhibit kicks off with an artist's reception 2-4 p.m. Sunday, March 6 at the 7555 Draper Ave. library with a presentation Orenich promises "will add to the understanding and enjoyment" of the show. The exhibit will remain on display through April.

"The exhibit is an exposure to a people so very different from ourselves, who are doing something that should be appreciated," he said. "Few of us know of, or could conceive of, a culture so rich in tradition that their Eagle Festival, held yearly for centuries, is now a (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) heritage site. The images on display will take you into the life of the Kazakh people, their traditions and way of life in the barren unforgiving region of Mongolia."

The exhibit features images of weathered faces, golden eagles, horses and other animals native to Mongolia, along with Kazakh people executing a generations-old custom of hunting foxes using eagles at the Eagle Festival.

After more than a year of researching Mongolia and the festival, Orenich said he decided in Fall 2013 to embark on the challenging trip to document the distant cultural practice.

"I flew into the capital of Mongolia, though my destination was beyond that, and had to time it so I could catch a Russian aircraft that comes twice a week, which takes you to the furthest point in the country. Then you drive another 300 miles and head into the mountains," he said, noting he arrived a few weeks before the festival to get to know the people, with the help of guides and translators.

"The culture in and of itself is a welcoming society, there were no reservations for us to be there," Orenich said. "You go from family to family and they welcome you. It was amazingly beautiful."

Noting that the town in which the festival takes place is "about a 20th the size of La Jolla," he watched the training and preparation leading up to the festival and said it was an "awakening" experience.

Although the practice and the festival have a history going back to the Khan Dynasties (Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan), Orenich cautioned it might not be long-lived. "It's a beautiful culture that is in desperate situation because of mining in the country … the area is being decimated," he said. He noted that cultural inequities in the area make it challenging for the Kazakh people to continue to teach their children this practice, adding, "They have been subject to so much, but they are surviving."

IF YOU GO: The exhibit is free to view and open to the public during library hours: 12:30-5 p.m. Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7555 Draper Ave. (858) 552-1657.

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Documentary Style Film Shows the Raw Beauty of Mongolia

February 29 (Resource Travel) Still in his early 20's, filmmaker Nessim Stevenson has documented much of the world through his photography and documentary style films. His latest release highlights a recent three-month relocation to Mongolia, where Stevenson worked for NTV, a local TV News station in Ulaanbaatar.

The short film is an interesting and beautiful look behind the curtain of some more cinematic films filmed in the region, like the recent work of Brandon Li. Stevenson invokes his education and passion in documentary style filmmaking by piecing together almost five minutes of raw, yet beautiful clips that highlight the animals (including some ridiculously cute puppies), food, lives, and most importantly, the people of Mongolia.

Raised in Beirut, Lebanon, the half Lebanese, half British Stevenson proves that not all travel films need to be flashy and high production ventures. I love the real approach of his clips such as the shake filled movements and the mid-clip refocusing. The style has a way of making viewers feel like they are in the snow and mud with Stevenson, as opposed to watching from a comfortable office chair. And that is the job of a documentary filmmaker and lucky for us, Stevenson is just getting started.

Follow Stevenson on his websiteFacebook, and Instagram

Below are some of our favorite screenshots from the film. 

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