Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[Fitch's turn to downgrade; MNT falls for 4th day; ETT increases prices; Holiday Inn opens; and Dalai Lama concludes visit]

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - Economy - Politics & Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health & Education - Culture & Society - Nature & Environment - Sports - Art & Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original



Int'l Market

·         Kincora Copper now has a solid base from which to embark on a serious elephant hunt

·         Prophecy Signs LOI to Sell Pulacayo Lead-Silver and Zinc-Silver Concentrates to Transamine

Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.3%, ALL -0.11%, Turnover ₮28.3 Million Shares, ₮599.7 Million T-Bills

·         Khanyn Material JSC Board Announces Shareholders Meeting on 26 December

·         MSE share trading volume doubles in first 10 months, treasuries down 66.5%


·         Fitch Downgrades Mongolia to 'B-'; Outlook Stable

·         Mongolia's MNT falls for 4th day vs USD, USD/MNT up ₮10.62 Tuesday to ₮2,445.29

·         BoM sells US$27m at ₮2,444.91, CNY16m at ₮354.51; declines $2m MNT swap offers

·         Moody's takes negative rating actions on seven Mongolian banks following sovereign downgrade

·         Moody's Webcast: Behind the Downgrade of Mongolia's Rating to Caa1

·         Mongolia Jan-Oct coal exports soar 64pct on yr

·         Bad loans reach 16.2% of total outstanding

·         METALS-Copper climbs on inflation bets, tighter supply

·         Buyers betting on cheaper coking coal amid thermal coal price fall

·         Steel and its raw materials rally again in China as speculators return

·         Gold Rises on Weaker Dollar

·         Oil Prices Waver on Uncertainty Ahead of OPEC Meeting

Politics & Legal

·         Parliament passes economic recovery bill on Thursday

·         Defacto Review, November 20: Dalai Lama, Moody's, DP Conference, Rio's Bold, Sumo Champs

·         Mongolia Ranked 55 Out of 113 Countries on Rule of Law


·         Erdenes TT increases East Tsankhi coal price

·         Kazakhstan agrees to pay Erdenet Mining $10 million in old debt

·         Max Group opens Holiday Inn at M Plaza

·         SoftBank's Clean-Energy Goals Find Welcome in Mongolia's Desert

·         Mongolia - Mining Infrastructure Investment Support: Implementation Status Results Report

·         Upcycled fashion brand launches to support single mothers

·         'Goyol 2016' - Mongolia's top fashion show, December 1

·         SDC conference focuses on increasing export of animal products

·         Shipping rate request from Mongolia to Finland by surface

·         Honey farm to be constructed in Selenge with TIKA


·         Mayor Batbold takes part in removing snow


·         Dalai Lama's visit risks Mongolia's aid package from China

·         Ambassador N. Tulga gives lecture on Mongolia at University of London

·         Mongolian President invited to attend 2017 Vesak celebrations in Sri Lanka

·         Mongolian ambassador hands over flood assistance to North Korea

·         Montsame elected to OANA technical committee

Health & Education

·         16-year-olds to take civic oaths on Independence Day

·         Mongolia, Japan Rotaries invest in children with comics

·         Moray teenager opens shop to raise funds for Mongolia trip

Culture & Society

·         Opinion: The most scientific visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in history

·         Photos: Dalai Lama's Visit to Gandan Tegchenling Monastery

Nature & Environment

·         Mongolian embassy working to account for 1,200 citizens living near Fukushima

·         Gobi Great Six initiative's efforts to save Mongolian Saiga

·         The Remarkable Comeback of Przewalski's Horse

·         How Conservationists Use GPS to Track the Wildest Horses in the World


·         Mongolian grabs bronze in mounted archery at Kazakhstan competition

·         Fencer Tsolmon Batkhuu becomes Asian referee


·         Byron's Lens: A Journey to Mongolia

·         Trip to Mongolia 'an amazing opportunity'



Int'l Market

KCC closed -11.46% Tuesday to C$0.425, +14.86% from last week

Kincora Copper now has a solid base from which to embark on a serious elephant hunt

Kincora Copper holds some of the best mining real estate in Mongolia, and work is about to get started in earnest

November 22 (Proactive Investors) Copper porphyries rarely occur on their own, they occur in clusters focused on key geological structures within established belts.

This salient fact about geology lies at the root of everything that's been done by Kincora Copper(CVE:KCC) in Mongolia's South Gobi desert, which is generally recognized as one of the last under explored copper frontiers and a relatively attractive operating environment within trucking distance to the worlds largest consumer of copper.

The template is Chile, which hosts seven of the world's top ten copper mines by production, all of which are porphyries. The geological model is also proven in other more mature porphyry belts.

The largest of Mongolia's porphyries, Oyu Tolgoi, which is one of the worlds largest (and most gold-rich) has now gone into production and is being expanded after the largest project financing of its kind in the hard rock industry. A second porphyry project in this belt is in development.

But will there be others? That is the question that Kincora is seeking to answer and which it has now moved much closer to resolving, following a lengthy period of financial readjustment and project-level transformation.

In the wake of positive legislative developments and the likely impact of Oyu Tolgoi's expansion on international investor attention towards Mongolia, a strong majority result in a Parliamentary election and a low point in the commodity cycle, it fell to Kincora to become the consolidation vehicle of choice for South Gobi copper licenses, and the vehicle of choice too for some of the best mines in copper porphyry exploration.

At the head of it all is Sam Spring, a former mining analyst of the year out of London and Australia. Spring has been plugging away in Mongolia for some years now, supported by major shareholder Origo Partners (LON:OPP) and a unique register for such a stage company.

More latterly though, High Powered Ventures (HPV), controlled by High Powered Exploration (HPX, CEO being Robert Friedland), has come onto the share register, following a deal that was done to combine the Kincora South Gobi land package with that of IBEX, a local subsidiary of HPV.

HPV is the Mongolian vehicle associated with people who discovered Oyu Tolgoi, long since taken over by Rio Tinto, but nonetheless confident they can come round for a second time and do it again.

But times have been tough in mining over the past few years and it's been necessary for more than a few companies to club together and focus on core priorities.

Kincora picked up the IBEX licenses in scrip transaction that initially valued them at US$900,000, which looks well when set against the +US$25 mln of spend that's been historically invested.

But it's not just the spend, it's the ground itself and data that comes with it.

"IBEX has the dominant position in this belt," says Spring. "It's great real estate but with a large and high quality dataset, between and on strike from the two copper mines in the South Gobi. This ground is prospective, although it's pre-discovery, and you're seeing increased similarly stage activities in the belt already, despite the current state of the commodity cycle."

The transaction with IBEX was first announced back in May, and all things being equal, the closure of the deal on 7 November means it hasn't actually taken that long to complete, although there was a 5 month void of news flow.

While all the boxes were being ticked and the lawyers made happy, Kincora was busy in the background pulling together an industry-leading technical team, undertaking a detailed technical review and workshop, undertaking various exploration activities and hosting other discussions for further consolidation opportunities.

Now though, the gloves can come off. Kincora raised C$1 mln in the summer at the same time as clearing off its outstanding debt to Origo and tightening up its corporate structure. That gives it plenty of room for manoeuvre when it comes to designing a work programme for the newly enlarged landholding.

The first move came on 14 November when the company announced the appointment of two leading copper porphyry experts as senior managers. Peter Leaman is a former head of BHP Billiton Mongolia, responsible for the JV with Ivanhoe in the Gobi, while John Holliday is a former chief geoscientist at Newcrest. Then there is Imants Kavalieris, one of the 6 executive exploration team during the exploration and delineation of the Oyu Tolgoi.

According to the official literature, Leaman and Holliday have "extensive exploration experience and are credited with the discovery of multiple Tier 1 assets and other economically important porphyries", including the giant 1 Reko Diq copper-gold and and Cadia/Marsden copper-goldporphyries.

Next, says Spring, will be a reappraisal of all the combined data that now exists inside the company.

"What's the low-hanging fruit here and what are the priorities?" he says. "There are large-scale targets that have the potential to be similar to other mines in the area. Geological expectations would say there would be two mines at least in this belt. The similar size and structural setting belt in Northern Chile has 15 copper mines.

Kincora's Bayan Tal target sits on the right big picture geological structure, which is found in Chile, other mature porphyry belts and the two mines in the South Gobi.

"Recent activities have confirmed similar Devonian stratigraphy to Oyu Tolgoi, the first target since with such attributes that we are aware of," says Spring.

"Advancements in geology and geophysics support multiple drill ready targets at Bayan Tal, which is one of the best candidates for a new Tier 1 porphyry discovery in the Southern Gobi."

While there are no certainties when it comes to exploration, Spring does sounds very excited about this target and the prospect that current activities will support potentially multiple more targets like this.

And will the recent movement in the copper price have any immediate material impact on the company? It might affect sentiment in the market, but the nature of the copper deposits that Kincora is hunting means that the current comparatively low copper price isn't as important as it might be for smaller deposits.

"The reality is that in this belt with the targets we are hunting that you're not going to need copper to go to US$3.00 or US$4.00," says Spring.

"But of course it's going to take time for interest and capital to come back into the sector."

And whilst that is happening, Kincora will be building value advancing a unique regional portfolio of targets that sit between and on strike from the two mines in the belt, all under the watchful eye of some copper experts who have a track record of knowing what they are looking for.

With some investors banking 12x on SolGold's year to date performance, they may be looking at Kincora as the next earlier stage candidate to similarly offer Tier 1 copper porphyry potential.

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PCY closed +16.97% Tuesday to C$3.86

Prophecy Signs LOI to Sell Pulacayo Lead-Silver and Zinc-Silver Concentrates to Transamine

Vancouver, British Columbia, November 22 (FSCwire) - Prophecy Development Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY, OTC:PRPCD, Frankfurt:1P2N) is pleased to announce that it has signed a Letter of Intent ("LOI") to sell Pulacayo lead-silver and zinc-silver concentrates to Transamine Trading S.A. ("Transamine").

Prophecy and Transamine (the "Parties") intend to cooperate to negotiate a definitive sales and purchase agreement (the "SPA") for Transamine to purchase lead-silver and zinc-silver concentrates (the "Concentrates") from Prophecy's Pulacayo mining project.

The Parties will endeavor to finalize the SPA by no later than 45 days prior to the date of the first Concentrates shipment from the port of Arica in Chile, which is expected to be on or about April 1, 2017.

Prophecy is in the final phase of preparing to bring the Pulacayo mining project into production and expects to announce its 90-day action plan on Pulacayo shortly.

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.3%, ALL -0.11%, Turnover 28.3 Million Shares, 599.7 Million T-Bills

November 22 (MSE) --

Link to report

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Khanyn Material JSC Board Announces Shareholders Meeting on 26 December

November 22 (MSE) Based on the Resolution No.: 04 of "Khanyn Material" JSC's (HMK:MO) Board of Directors meeting, dated on 14 November 2016, the date of next shareholder meeting were announced.

Date:                                       26 December 2016, at 15:00

Registration date:                  05 December 2016

Venue:                                    Meeting room of Metropolis's Property Relation Department, Ulaanbaatar

Issues will be discussed:                     

  • To nominate members of Board of Directors
  • Other

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MSE share trading volume doubles in first 10 months, treasuries down 66.5%

Ulaanbaatar, November 22 (MONTSAME) In the first 10 months of 2016, 55.6 million pieces of securities were traded with a total value of MNT 266.5 billion on the stock market. The securities trading volume decreased by MNT 530.2 billion (66.5%) and the number of shares increased by 27.5 million pieces (2.0 times) compared to the same period in 2015.

In October, 1.0 million pieces of securities were traded valued at MNT 51.billion, which shows a decrease of MNT 1.9 billion or 3.3 million pieces (77.5%) compared to the previous month.

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Fitch Downgrades Mongolia to 'B-'; Outlook Stable

Fitch Ratings-Hong Kong-22 November 2016: Fitch Ratings has downgraded Mongolia's Long-Term Foreign- and Local-Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) to 'B-' from 'B'. The Outlooks are Stable. The issue ratings on Mongolia's senior unsecured foreign-currency bonds have also been downgraded to 'B-' from 'B'. The Country Ceiling has been downgraded to 'B-' from 'B' and the Short-Term Foreign- and Local-Currency IDRs have been affirmed at 'B'.


The downgrade of Mongolia's Long-Term IDRs reflects the following key rating drivers:

Mongolia's fiscal indicators have deteriorated significantly and external liquidity risks have increased. Large pre-election spending programmes and weaker economic growth contributed to a dramatic widening of the general government deficit to 19.7% of GDP in 2016, the highest among Fitch-rated sovereigns based on our adjusted measure that includes commercial spending by the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM). Fitch expects greater borrowing and the sharp depreciation of the tugrik over the past year to push gross general government debt to 84.3% of GDP at end-2016, compared to the 'B' category median of 51.2%. Mongolia has repeatedly missed targets set under its Fiscal Stability Law, evidence of a poor track record of policy implementation.

External financing conditions and market access have tightened ahead of looming repayments on sovereign and sovereign-guaranteed debt. Mongolia's external liquidity will be tested by over USD2bn in sovereign external debt payments scheduled over 2017 and 2018. This includes the maturity of an USD580m sovereign-guaranteed bond issued by the DBM on 21 March 2017, and another USD500m sovereign bond due on 5 January 2018. Liquidity buffers have diminished over the year, despite the government raising USD750m through a syndicated loan and bond issuance in March and April respectively. Headline international reserves stood at USD1.1bn at end-September 2016, the lowest level since 2009. Fitch estimates a further USD0.6bn is still available to be drawn through the CNY15bn (USD2.2bn) swap agreement with the People's Bank of China (PBOC).

Mongolia's IDRs also reflect the following key rating drivers:


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Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.

BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, November 22 Close










































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,440 Sell ₮2,449), TDB (Buy ₮2,440 Sell ₮2,450), Golomt (Buy ₮2,440 Sell ₮2,452), XacBank (Buy ₮2,443 Sell ₮2,458), State Bank (Buy ₮2,440 Sell ₮2,458)

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

Link to rates

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BoM sells US$27m at 2,444.91, CNY16m at 354.51; declines $2m MNT swap offers

November 22 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid MNT 2430.00-2460.00 for USD58.8 million and MNT 350.00-355.00 for CNY96.5 million respectively. The BoM sold USD27.0 million with a closing rate of MNT 2444.91 and CNY16.0 million with a closing rate of MNT354.51.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM received bid offers of USD2.0 million of MNT swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM did not accept any bid offers.

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Moody's takes negative rating actions on seven Mongolian banks following sovereign downgrade

Hong Kong, November 21, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the local currency long-term deposit ratings of seven Mongolian banks to Caa1 from B3, following the downgrade of Mongolia's sovereign rating to Caa1 from B3 with a stable outlook.

The seven banks are: Bogd Bank LLC; Capital Bank LLC; Golomt Bank LLC; Khan Bank LLC; State Bank LLC; Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia LLC; and XacBank LLC.

Moody's has also downgraded the foreign currency deposit ratings of the seven banks to Caa2 from Caa1, as it had revised Mongolia's long-term foreign currency deposit ceiling to Caa2 from Caa1.

The outlook for all banks is stable.

The rating actions follow Moody's downgrade of Mongolia's sovereign ratings to Caa1 from B3 with a stable outlook on 18 November 2016. Please see the related press release for more information on the sovereign downgrade here:

Today's rating action concludes the review for downgrade initiated on 29 August 2016.

A full list of the affected ratings can be found at the bottom of this press release.


The rating action on the seven banks' ratings reflects the high correlation between the creditworthiness of the Mongolian banking system and that of the sovereign.

Moody's believes that there is high level of dependency between the creditworthiness of rated Mongolian banks and the sovereign mainly because of (1) the high extent to which the banks' businesses depend on macroeconomic and financial conditions in Mongolia, with the low level of cross-border diversification in their operations; and (2) their significant direct and indirect exposures to domestic sovereign debt relative to their capital bases.

The downgrade of the sovereign rating was driven by (1) the increased uncertainty over its ability to meet its direct and indirect debt service obligations over the next 18 months and to shore up Mongolia's external liquidity, and (2) Moody's expectation that the budget deficit will remain wider for longer than previously expected, which, combined with a weaker growth outlook in the coming 2 years, will raise the government's debt burden.

As a result of this rating action, (1) the seven banks' foreign currency deposit ratings have been downgraded to Mongolia's foreign currency deposit ceiling of Caa2; and (2) the local currency deposit ratings and senior unsecured debt ratings, where applicable, of the seven banks have been downgraded to the same level as Mongolia's sovereign rating.

In addition, Moody's has downgraded the Baseline Credit Assessments (BCAs) -- which reflect our opinion of a bank's intrinsic or standalone financial strength -- of Bogd Bank LLC; Golomt Bank LLC; Khan Bank LLC; State Bank LLC; Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia LLC; and XacBank LLC to caa1 from b3, in line with Mongolia's Caa1 sovereign rating. The BCA of Capital Bank LLC is affirmed at caa1.

What Could Change the Rating -- Up: Bogd Bank LLC; Capital Bank LLC; Golomt Bank LLC; Khan Bank LLC; State Bank LLC; Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia LLC; and XacBank LLC.

Because these banks' caa1 BCAs are at the same level as Mongolia's sovereign rating, an upgrade is unlikely in the near term.

An upgrade of the banks' BCAs would require an upgrade of the sovereign rating, as well as evidence that the banks' asset quality and profitability profiles, which are under pressure from the challenging operating environment, show signs of clear stabilization.

What Could Change the Rating - Down: Bogd Bank LLC; Capital Bank LLC; Golomt Bank LLC; Khan Bank LLC; State Bank LLC; Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia LLC; and XacBank LLC

Factors that could result in a downgrade include:

1) A downgrade of Mongolia's sovereign rating; or

2) A downgrade of the banks' BCAs

The banks' BCAs could be downgraded if: (1) asset quality deteriorates significantly, for example, with problem loans/gross loans exceeding 9.0% for a sustained period; (2) tangible common equity falls below 8%; or (3) profitability deteriorates significantly, leading to annual net losses on a sustained basis.

The resultant ratings and actions are listed below:

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Mogi: register to listen

Moody's Webcast: Behind the Downgrade of Mongolia's Rating to Caa1

(15:00 Singapore / 16:00 Tokyo), 22 November 2016

Discussion Items

  • Government liquidity situation acute and external pressures evident
  • Government debt burden elevated as deficits remain wide and growth weak
  • Banks' operating conditions challenging
  • Worsening in asset quality has slowed, but stabilization is only expected in 2017 at the earliest


Marie Diron, Associate Managing Director, Sovereign Risk Group
Mathias Angonin, Analyst, Sovereign Risk Group
Hyun Hee Park, AVP – Analyst, Financial Institutions Group 

The entire session -- with prepared remarks and the Q&A -- will last about one hour.


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Mongolia Jan-Oct coal exports soar 64pct on yr

November 22 ( Coal-rich Mongolia exported 18.70 million tonnes of coal over January-October this year, soaring 64.07% from 11.40 million tonnes the same period last year, showed data from the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia.

In October, coal exports of the country dropped 15.9% from September to 2.14 million tonnes, the data showed.

Exports of washed coking coal increased 25.9% on month to 0.16 million tonnes in October, while that of raw coking coal dropped 34.8% from September to 0.70 million tonnes.

The country exported 0.57 million tonnes of thermal coal in the month, rising 21.1% on month.

In the first ten months, Mongolia produced 24.42 million tonnes of coal, with output in October gaining 20.3% on month to 3.70 million tonnes.

Its coal output stood at 24 million tonnes last year, down 1.64% year on year.

Over January-October, Mongolia sold 24.36 million tonnes of coal, with domestic sales at 5.52 million tonnes.

In October, coal sales slid 4.3% on month to 3.03 million tonnes, with domestic sales rising 43.6% on month to 0.89 million tonnes.

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Bad loans reach 16.2% of total outstanding

Ulaanbaatar, November 22 (MONTSAME) According to a report of the Bank of Mongolia, money supply (broad money or M2) reached MNT 11.5 trillion at the end of October 2016, which increased by MNT 54.0 billion (0.5%) compared to the previous month and by MNT 1603.8 billion (16.2 %) against the previous month.

At the end of October 2016, currency issued in circulation reached MNT 806.5 billion, which represents an increase of MNT 10.7 billion (1.3%) against the previous month and by MNT 66.7 billion (9.0 %) compared to the same period in 2015.

Loans outstanding amounted to MNT 12.5 trillion at end of October 2016, which decreased by MNT 6.4 billion (0.1%) from the previous month and increased by MNT 565.5 billion (4.7%) compared to the same period in 2015.

Principals in arrears reached MNT 886.7 billion at the end of October 2016, increased by MNT 97.6 billion (12.4 %) against the previous month and by MNT 25.9 billion (3.0 %) compared to the same period of last year.

At the end of October 2016, the non-performing loans over the bank system totaled to MNT 1136.1 billion, which increased by MNT 16.9 billion (1.5 %) from the previous month and by MNT 265.0 billion (30.4%) compared to the same period of the previous year.

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METALS-Copper climbs on inflation bets, tighter supply

* Momentum based funds buying into metals - traders

* World stocks rally on inflation bet, oil hits Oct high

* Yuan pulls up, but still near 8-1/2-year lows (Adds official midday prices)

LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Copper rallied 2 percent to a one-week high on Tuesday, powered by signs of tighter supply and as investors betting on rising U.S. inflation and a further depreciation of the yuan bought the metal as a hedge.

World stocks climbed as investors stuck to the view that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's spending policies will spur growth and inflation, while oil prices hit their highest since October on hopes for output cuts.

China's yuan firmed against the dollar but still hovered near 8-1/2-year lows, as the outlook for the greenback remained bullish after a relentless rally over the past several days in the wake of Trump's election win.

"Supply seems to be tighter than expected, and the Chinese are buying up copper as a hedge against yuan depreciation. (But) supply forecasts still point to strong growth next year, so one would expect prices to come back," said SP Angel analyst Sergey Raevskiy.

London Metal Exchange copper was last bid up 1.3 percent to $5,632 a tonne in official midday rings after hitting a one week high of $5,687 earlier. Traders noted fresh buying by momentum-based funds.

Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) copper rallied 3.8 percent while other ShFE metals gained 3 to 6 percent as investors hunted for yield.

In a bid to temper the rally, ShFE said it would raise margins and trading limits on futures contracts including copper, aluminium, zinc, lead, nickel, tin, rebar, hot rolled coil, rubber and bitumen.

But indications of tighter supply in the form of falling copper treatment and refining charges plus bets on continued stimulus in top copper consumer China continued to support the metal.

"Most Chinese players we spoke to (are) expecting good demand for next year of 3 to 5 percent on sustained government stimulus policies and continued signal strength from both customers and national data," Macquarie Bank said, referring to meetings during last week's Cesco copper conference.

"All end-use sectors are believed to be strong ... expectations were that the new range can be held and dips will be bought."

Nickel traded flat at $11,400 a tonne in rings.

Indonesia will cut the royalty charged on sales of processed and refined nickel to 2 percent from 4 percent, a mining ministry official said, referring to a revision of rules on non-tax revenue from the coal and minerals sector.

Aluminium traded up 0.9 percent at $1,737 a tonne in rings, lead was last bid up 0.7 percent at $2,189, zinc was last bid up 1.3 percent at $2,614 while tin traded up 1.4 percent at $21,150.

Link to article


Copper can hold on to recent gains, says Macquarie Wealth ManagementThe Australian, November 22

Metals Rally Draws Speculators as Copper Heads for 16-Month HighBloomberg, November 22

Copper Rises as Investors Bet on Growing Chinese DemandWSJ, November 22

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Buyers betting on cheaper coking coal amid thermal coal price fall

November 22 (Metal Bulletin) Trading activity remained limited in the seaborne coking coal spot market on Tuesday November 22, with buyers withdrawing to the sidelines in the hope that prices will soften.

A cargo of premium materials was heard to have been sold into China against an index at a premium of around 4-5%. At least three cargoes of premium products are being offered in the market around $305-315 per tonne cfr China while some second-tier materials are available around $279-280 per tonne cfr China, sources told Metal Bulletin. "Thermal coal prices have softened, hence participants are just waiting to see if coking...

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Deadlock persists in seaborne coking coal marketMetal Bulletin, November 22

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Steel and its raw materials rally again in China as speculators return

November 22 (Reuters) Prices of steel and its raw materials soared to hit their trade limits in China on Tuesday as investors returned to the market to pick up sold-off commodities, but a shaky demand outlook suggests the gains would again be fleeting.

Chinese rebar steel and raw materials like coal and iron ore pulled back from this month's multi-year highs after exchanges in Shanghai, Dalian and Zhengzhou cracked down on speculative trading by raising transaction charges.

Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange jumped 6 percent to close at its exchange-set ceiling of 2,900 yuan ($421) a ton.

Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange also surged 6 percent to its upside limit at 580.50 yuan.

"I think it's driven by speculative trading again," said Richard Lu, analyst at CRU consultancy in Beijing. "In terms of steel, we haven't seen any real support from the demand side."

"Winter is approaching and most of the construction in the northern part of China is already suspended because it's too cold, so steel demand is falling," said Lu.

Slower steel demand in China during winter, which usually lasts through February, may keep iron ore supply high at its ports.

Stockpiles of imported iron ore at 46 Chinese ports reached 110.58 million tonnes on Friday, up 2.83 million tonnes from the previous week, according to data tracked by industry consultancy SteelHome.

That was the most since September 2014. Inventory has risen 19 percent this year.

Among small- and medium-sized Chinese mills, iron ore stockpiles rose 8 percent on Nov. 9 from Oct. 26, according to Morgan Stanley.

But Tuesday's rebound in iron ore futures may spur a recovery in spot prices. Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port slid 3.4 percent to $70.34 a ton on Monday, data from Metal Bulletin showed. The spot benchmark lost 8.8 percent last week, ending a five-week rally.

Other steelmaking commodities that surged on Tuesday were coke which climbed 9 percent to end at its exchange-set limit of 2,183.50 yuan a ton and coking coal which closed up 8.4 percent at 1,598.50 yuan, just off the session high of 1,607.50 yuan.

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Gold Rises on Weaker Dollar

Gold, priced in dollars, is more affordable to foreign buyers when the currency declines

November 22 (WSJ) Gold prices rose Monday as a weaker dollar lifted the metal from recent lows.

Gold for December closed up 0.1% at $1,209.80 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index, which weighs the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, was recently down 0.2% at 91.42. Gold is priced in dollars and becomes more affordable to foreign buyers when the currency declines.

Monday's move came on the heels of a 5% decline in gold prices this month, as fading political uncertainty and increasing expectations that the Federal Reserve will soon raise interest rates dragged the metal to its lowest level since February.

Gold pays nothing to its holders and struggles to compete with yield-bearing investments when rates rise.

Holdings at SPDR Gold Trust, the largest gold-focused exchange-traded fund, have slipped nearly 3% this month to 915.29 metric tons, the lowest level since June.

Looking forward, "gradually increasing interest rates and a stronger dollar call for a continued decline in prices," said Carsten Menke, an analyst at Julius Baer, in a note to clients.

Federal-funds futures, used to bet on central bank policy, on Monday showed that investors assigned a 95.4% likelihood of a rate increase in December.

Silver for December delivery fell 0.6% to $16.52 a troy ounce. January platinum rose 1.6% to $936.50 a troy ounce. December palladium fell 0.2% at $726.50 a troy ounce.

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Gold gains for second day on dollar decline, bargain huntingReuters, November 22

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Oil Prices Waver on Uncertainty Ahead of OPEC Meeting

Investors gain some optimism after reports of a deal being close to being reached

November 22 (WSJ) Oil prices fluctuated between gains and losses Tuesday as the market continued to be fueled by headlines regarding the forthcoming meeting of OPEC members due to take place Nov. 30.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery was recently up 23 cents, or 0.5%, at $48.47 a barrel, on track for its third straight session of gains. Prices had traded as low as $47.73 earlier in the session. Brent, the global benchmark, was up 55 cents, or 1.1% at $49.45 a barrel.

Helping support oil prices on Tuesday was positive sentiment from the pre-summit meeting for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna. News of a deal almost being reached spurred investor's hopes that the cartel could reach a consensus on cuts by as early as next Tuesday.

"We're starting to see a lot of optimism about this OPEC deal," said Carl Larry, director of oil and gas at Frost Sullivan. "There's just enough pressure to make them do something."

A Nigerian delegate told The Wall Street Journal that sticking points remain, such as discrepancies between independent data on production used by the group and members' own disclosures and Iran's plans to boost output, which have scuttled past efforts to reach a deal.

While many in the market are betting that there will be an agreement to cut production, others are less sure.

Dominick Chirichella from the New York-based Energy Management Institute believes that there is still only a 50% chance that OPEC will make any meaningful cuts to output. He said in a research note that despite all the "jawboning," no new information has entered the market since last week.

Commerzbank predicts that proposed cuts will come from Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, on the condition that other members don't ramp up their output. It added that only Iraq was in any position to ramp up supply, making reaching an accord a realistic prospect. However, it also warned market players not to get too carried away.

"No groundbreaking agreement on production caps or cuts should be expected from the OPEC meeting," the German bank said in a note.

Investors are also awaiting storage data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, scheduled for release on Wednesday, to gauge whether recent demand will help draw down the high level of crude-oil stockpiles.

Gasoline futures were recently up 1.4% at $1.4165 a gallon, and diesel futures were up 1.3% at $1.5438 a gallon.

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Politics & Legal

Parliament passes economic recovery bill on Thursday

November 21 (UB Post) On November 17, Parliament passed a bill on steps to be taken after approval of the state budget.

The bill focuses on supporting economic growth, decreasing costs for banking services and loans, strengthening the banking system, researching the feasibility of foreign banks entering the domestic market, and improving legal regulations.

The topic of allowing foreign banks to operate in the country has been the subject of much debate and speculation. Many economists and politicians have been wary of allowing foreign banks to operate in Mongolia, with many stating the potential risk to the interests of domestic banks and consumers. Many proponents of the approved bill have stated that the presence of foreign banks could drive down interest rates, as many economists have noted that interest rates in Mongolia are too high.

Also included in the bill are articles about developing financing for housing projects and implementing the government's mortgage loan program in a way that is sustainable for the economy. These two tasks were delegated to Cabinet, Mongol Bank, and the Financial Regulatory Commission.

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Defacto Review, November 20

Reviewed topics:






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Mongolia Ranked 55 Out of 113 Countries on Rule of Law

2016 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index Measures How Rule of Law Is Experienced by the General Public Worldwide

WASHINGTON, DC (20 October 2016) – The World Justice Project (WJP) today released the WJP Rule of Law Index® 2016, the annual report measuring how the rule of law is experienced by the general public worldwide. According to the Index, Mongolia's overall rule of law performance places it at 7 out of 15 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region*, 2 out of 28 among lower-middle income countries, and 55 out of 113 countries and jurisdictions worldwide.

The WJP Rule of Law Index is the world's leading source for original data on the rule of law. The 2016 edition expands coverage to 113 countries and jurisdictions (from 102 in 2015), relying on more than 100,000 household and expert surveys to measure how the rule of law is experienced in practical, everyday situations by the general public worldwide. Performance is measured using 44 indicators across eight primary rule of law factors, each of which is scored and ranked globally and against regional and income peers: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice.

The top three overall performers in the WJP Rule of Law Index 2016 were Denmark (1), Norway (2), and Finland (3); the bottom three were Afghanistan (111), Cambodia (112), and Venezuela (113). In the East Asia and Pacific region, the top performer was New Zealand; the bottom performer was Cambodia.

The complete 2016 report—including online data visualizations and download options— is available on October 20 at:

"Effective rule of law is the foundation for communities of peace, equity, and opportunity," said William H. Neukom, WJP Founder and CEO. "No country has ever attained—let alone sustained—a perfect realization of the rule of law. The WJP Rule of Law Index is intended to be a first step in setting benchmarks, informing and guiding reforms, and deepening appreciation and understanding for the foundational importance of the rule of law."

MONGOLIA RANKINGS WJP Rule of Law Index 2016 performance (1 is best)







Constraints on Government Powers




Absence of Corruption




Open Government




Fundamental Rights




Order and Security




Regulatory Enforcement




Civil Justice




Criminal Justice




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Erdenes TT increases East Tsankhi coal price

November 22 ( A Mongolian government and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi working group has upgraded the agreement with TTJVCo to raise the average selling price for coal by 85% to USD 50 per tonne in December.

Erdenes TT company will purchase coal for USD 60 per tonne at the East Tsankhi block in first quarter of 2017 on the basis of the coal pricing index and the coal market price.  

Three companies, 'SJS', 'Khishig Arvijakh' and 'Monnis' are extracting coal at the West Tsankhi block of the Tavan Tolgoi mine. They plan to mine 1.1 million tonnes coal at the West Tsankhi block.

The East and West Tsankh blocks will help to generate USD 100 million tax revenue in first half of 2017 and to pay off the loan to Chalco and TTJVCo.

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Tavantolgoi coal price almost doubledMontsame, November 22

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Kazakhstan agrees to pay Erdenet Mining $10 million in old debt

November 22 ( Mongolian Erdenet Mining Corporation (EMC) has reported that the company is to recover a USD 10 million debt long-owed by Kazakhstan. EMC supplied a private Kazakh copper concentrate to the value of USD 10 million in the 1990's. The Kazakh company went bankrupt and EMC was unable to receive what it is owed.  Since then, many Mongolian presidents have discussed the debt issue during visits in Kazakhstan - but without any results.

The Kazakh government, however, has finally been agreed to compensate EMC with the USD 10 million directly. Since July, EMC has been under 100% Mongolian ownership.

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Max Group opens Holiday Inn at M Plaza

November 22 ( "Holiday Inn", one of the world's largest hotel chains has opened a new branch in Mongolia. The new 20-floor building of the US-brand hotel is located in the Ulaanbaatar's Chingeltei District, not far from the Gandan Monastery and the Mongolian Dinosaur Museum. The new hotel has 169 rooms.  

Last year, one of the leading Mongolian companies, the "Max Group" signed a contract with the "Inter Continental Hotels Group" which owns the "Holiday Inn" to open the new UB branch.

"Inter Continental Hotels Group" has 5099 branch hotels of 12 brands in over 100 countries. The "Holiday Inn" hotel chain, alone, is represented in more than 80 countries worldwide.

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SoftBank's Clean-Energy Goals Find Welcome in Mongolia's Desert

  • Tokyo-based company considers building more wind in Mongolia
  • Mongolia projects part of SoftBank plan for Pan-Asia grid

November 21 (Bloomberg) SoftBank Group Corp. plans to build more wind projects in Mongolia as the company's chairman, Masayoshi Son, pushes to connect countries across Asia with transmission lines to supply cheap, clean energy.

The Tokyo-based company's first wind farm in Mongolia is a 50-megawatt project being developed with Newcom LLC in Mongolia's Gobi Desert. The project is an outgrowth of a venture between Newcom and SoftBank's clean-energy unit called Clean Energy Asia LLC that was set up in 2012.

SoftBank is now looking into two more wind projects in Mongolia, with plans to possibly add 200 megawatts of solar and wind at the site of its first project, according to Shinsuke Moriya, who manages SoftBank's electricity business planning group. The expansion, capitalizing on Mongolia's abundant supply of flat land and attractive wind resources, would be part of a plan to eventually build 7 gigawatts or more of wind in the country.

"We decided to start with a project of a size suitable for domestic power grids," said Moriya. "It's an important step forward, but it is also a stepping stone," he said.

The 50-megawatt wind project is expected to cost about $120 million, with 70 percent financed through loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, according to Moriya.

Project Financing

It's the first time JICA is co-financing a project with EBRD, which has experience in funding wind in Mongolia, Tetsuo Konaka, director general of the agency's private sector partnership and finance department, said, adding that the agency is ready to support similar projects by the private sector.

"Our agency can take risks in financing developing countries such as Mongolia or low-income nations in Africa, where private banks may have difficulty entering," Konaka said.  

SoftBank entered the clean-energy business following the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami and the resulting nuclear meltdowns. Son, the founder of SoftBank, also started advocating to link Japan with countries as far away as India to supply cheaper solar and wind power to countries with higher power tariffs.

"Back in 2011, we were the solo voice crying out for setting up the Asia Super Grid," Moriya said. "But the idea is gaining traction and various kinds of planning is under way between countries."

China has emerged as a strong supporter of interconnections. Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed discussions on establishing a global energy network to meet power demand with clean energy during his speech at the United Nations in September 2015.

In March, SoftBank agreed with State Grid Corp. of China, Korea Electric Power Corp. and Russian grid company Rosseti Pjsc to research and plan for interconnected power grids in Northeast Asia.

Energy Storage

Adding wind capacity for domestic use will help Mongolia reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. Coal supplied more than 90 percent of the country's electricity in 2013, according to World Bank data.

At home, SoftBank has more than 300 megawatts of solar and wind in operation, and another 200 megawatts under development, according to Masanori Kinugasa, who manages the corporate strategy department at SB Energy Corp., SoftBank's wholly owned clean-energy unit.

While SoftBank plans to add more renewables capacity and diversify into biomass, geothermal and small hydro, it's also looking into managing energy storage.

The company has been taking part in a pilot project to supply excess solar power to storage devices and electric vehicles on a remote island off Nagasaki to address concerns about grids being overwhelmed by an influx of intermittent clean energy.

"We are aiming to reduce curtailment," SB Energy's Kinugasa said. "We don't want developers to give up on the opportunity to produce power."

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Mongolia - Mining Infrastructure Investment Support: Implementation Status Results Report

November 21 (World Bank) --


Author: Myroshnychenko, Yuriy; Myroshnychenko, Yuriy;

Document Date: 2016/11/21 18:16:06

Document Type: Implementation Status and Results Report

Report Number: ISR25793


Official PDF , 10 pages 

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Upcycled fashion brand launches to support single mothers

November 22 (UB Post) Fashion design students from Mongolian International University (MIU) presented "Hamkkehamt: Refashioned Exhibition", a collection of illustrations and apparel from the upcycled fashion line Onely, at the Union of Mongolian Artists Art Gallery on November 19.

Onely is a brand collaboration between South Korean social enterprise Hamkkehamt and the Fashion Design Department of Mongolian International University. Over 30 pieces for Onely were made by students from repurposing secondhand clothes provided by Hamkkehamt.

Dean Sunyoung Choi of MIU's Fashion Design Department said, "We opened this exhibition with a Korean company called Hamkkehamt. We received some clothing donations from Hammkehamt and we made new clothes by upcycling them. We are planning to support single mothers. Clothes hanging on the wall are not for sale, they are samples. People can place an order and income from the sale of our clothes will be donated to support single mothers."

Hamkkehamt supports women in developing countries by developing sustainable fashion businesses.

CEO of Hammkehamt Sungmin Na said, "Twenty percent of women in Mongolia are single mothers, as we learned. It is quite a big number, so I want to help single mothers in Mongolia through sustainable fashion. We receive secondhand clothes from Koreans. After that, we sort the clothes and send them to MIU. Sophomores and juniors make new clothes using secondhand goods. That's how we are collaborating with MIU. I want Mongolian people to know about the recycling and upcycling brand Onely and to support single mothers."

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'Goyol 2016' - Mongolia's top fashion show, December 1

November 22 ( The biggest fashion event in Mongolia is the annual fashion show 'Goyol'. This year it will be held on 1st of December.

'Goyol' has been organized by the Mongolian Designers Association since 1988. It presents awards for the following categories: best model of the year, best designer, best beauty specialist, best hairstylist, and top model of the festival. It showcases the best of Mongolian and international designers and models and normally sets the trend for the coming year's look.

The event will begin next week with designers featuring their best new designs for the season. A gala fashion show will be held at the Central Palace of Culture on 1st of December.

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SDC conference focuses on increasing export of animal products

November 21 (UB Post) On November 18, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture held a conference on the topic of "How to increase the export of animal products", while also reporting on the Green Gold/Animal Health Consolidation project implemented in Arkhangai, Zakhan, Govi- Altai, and Bayan-Ulgii provinces.

The SDC in Mongolia has been supporting the livestock sector for several years with two major projects, Green Gold project and Animal Health Consolidation. According to the SDC's website, "Considering these promising results and the experiences made so far, and appreciation by the national partners and the herder families, SDC decided to merge the two projects in a new single-phase project with the aim to consolidate, upscale, institutionalize, and phase out this support, allowing the results to be sustained and the investment secured."

The project team highlighted that Mongolia needed to bring veterinary hospitals up to international standards and enact a specific law on veterinary standards in order to increase the export of animal products. The SDC reported that they cooperated with Cabinet ministries to draft a new bill regarding veterinary hospitals. Officials stressed that if the bill is passed, it will decrease the outbreaks of disease amongst livestock and improve the standards of veterinary hospitals and services.

The country's export of animal products has fallen recently due to high rates of disease outbreak. The most recent and significant impact of these conditions is the Chinese government's decision to place a temporary ban on the import of animal products from Mongolia. Chinese officials stress that China will only resume importing animal products from Mongolia once health standards have been met.

The participants of the conference stated that the government did not need to finance animal health projects, as a decision by Parliament to not allow the sale of meat that is not up to standards will sort out the problem. Other participants pointed out that improving the export of animal products would help alleviate the country's dependence on mining and further diversify the economy.

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Shipping rate request from Mongolia to Finland by surface

FreightNet: The enquirer requires a shipping rate for seabucktorn powder to be despatched by Surface and arrive no later than 15/12/2016. The consignment is departing from Mongolia and arriving at Finland. Full details of this shipping rate request can be found below.

Only Premium members with an office in Mongolia or Finland can respond to this rate request.

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Honey farm to be constructed in Selenge with TIKA

November 21 (UB Post) The Selenge Province Mayor's Office and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) have agreed to build a honey bee farm in the province.

The Mongolian honey industry is centralized in Shaamar soum of Selenge Province where almost 90 percent of businesses engage in honey bee farming. The Selenge Province Mayor's Office and TIKA plan to build the bee farm in an area of 200 square meters in Shaamar soum with an investment of 30,000 USD.

A study showed that approximately 3,500 honey bee colonies are kept in this soum and locals say that only 1,500 bees can fit in their winter bee farms. Building a new honey bee farm will enable beekeepers to keep their bees safe and warm during the upcoming winter, promote honey production, develop small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as increase jobs, emphasized a spokesperson for the Selenge Province Mayor's Office.

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Mayor Batbold takes part in removing snow

November 22 (MONTSAME) Mongolia is undergoing chilliest and snowy winter ever seen in last decade.  Presently, over ten provinces of the country are suffering dzud- natural disaster caused by heaviest snowfall.

Last weekend, the city organized a campaign with participation of staffs of city's administrative institutions to remove snow on public areas. Ulaanbaatar City Mayor S.Batbold and Chairman of the city council Ts.Sandui personally took part in the campaign calling for other to join them. Some volunteers from government and nongovernment organizations joined the mass activity while offering hot drinks and meals to those who were removing snow.

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Dalai Lama's visit risks Mongolia's aid package from China

November 22 (Al Jazeera) A vital aid package for Mongolia may be at risk because of a visit by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. China's government had demanded the four-day tour be cancelled.

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Ambassador N. Tulga gives lecture on Mongolia at University of London

Ulaanbaatar, November 22 (MONTSAME) Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the UK N.Tulga gave a lecture about Mongolia to the high school students of London on November 16 at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London.

He gave the students insight into Mongolia's history, ethnic culture, traditions, ecology, rare animals, contemporary development, politics and economy, and answered to questions of the students.

Also, present were, the senior diplomats, who connected their lives to Asian countries. Some 260 high schoolers attended the lecture.

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Mongolian President invited to attend 2017 Vesak celebrations in Sri Lanka

November 22 (Colombo Gazette) Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj has been invited to attend the Vesak celebrations in Sri Lanka next year.

Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku presented his credentials to Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sri Lanka to Mongolia (resident in Beijing), in a ceremony held at the at the Government Palace of Mongolia in the capital Ulaanbaatar.

During the Ceremony, in a brief speech, the Ambassador extended warm greetings from the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to the President of Mongolia.

Further, the Ambassador mentioned that both countries being the Buddhist countries, have close relations based on the cultural values, and also conveyed the Message of the President of Sri Lanka inviting the President of Mongolia or a higher level delegation to attend at the United Nations International Vesak Celebrations to be held in Sri Lanka in May 2017.

Responding to that President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj also conveying his warm greetings to the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and said that Mongolia is very happy to accept the invitation and further communications in this regard may continue through Diplomatic Channels.

The formal Diplomatic Relations between the two countries were established in 1962 and 2017 marks the 55th Anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. During the Ambassador's stay in Ulaanbaatar he also met with the Foreign Minister and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Mongolia and had fruitful discussions. The Deputy Minister requested to organize an event to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations. 

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Mongolian ambassador hands over flood assistance to North Korea

Ulaanbaatar, November 22 (MONTSAME) Mongolian Ambassador to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea S.Tsoggerel has handed over humanitarian aid from the Government of Mongolia, in connection with the disastrious flood that hit North Korea in late September, to the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of DPRK Ri Kil Song.

The Ambassador noted that Mongolia is helping the people of disaster-stricken region with warm blankets and clothes.

Mr Ri Kil Song extended gratitude to the Government and people of Mongolia, who are extending the helping hand in the distressful times after a natural calamity, and emphasized that the aid will serve as physical and mental support to the citizens, who were suffering the disaster.

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Montsame elected to OANA technical committee

Ulaanbaatar, November 22 (MONTSAME) Co-organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and AZERTAC, plenary sessions of the 16th General Assembly of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) have been held in Baku.

The General Assembly was preceded by the 40th meeting of the OANA Executive Board.

Addressing the event, OANA president, Director General of TASS news agency Sergey Mikhaylov on behalf of the participants thanked President Ilham Aliyev, president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva and AZERTAC Director General Aslan Aslanov for the excellent organization of the events which Baku hosted during three days.

Sergey Mikhaylov highlighted the history of the establishment of OANA which includes 44 news agencies from 35 countries.

The participants then approved the agenda of the 16th General Assembly and heard a financial report of the organization.

The 16th General Assembly then continued with plenary sessions.

The event moderator, OANA Secretary General, First Deputy Director General of Russia's Tass news agency Mikhail Gusman noted that more than 80 heads and representataives of 40 news agencies attended the meeting of the supreme body of the organization.

The OANA 16th Assembly's agenda then was put to a vote and approved.

Addressing the event, OANA president, Director General of TASS news agency Sergey Mikhaylov hailed the development of information technologies in recent years. He also pointed to the establishment of the committee of ethics of OANA, saying this was important amid growing cases of journalists facing violence in some countries.

Hailing OANA's active cooperation with a number of regional and international organizations, Sergey Mikhaylov noted that a special award was instituted to recognize the efforts of those who contribute to the development of journalism.

The event then featured a ceremony to award winners of "OANA Excellence Award"-employee of Korean Yonhap agency Tae Sung Chung and a representative of Russia's TASS agency Andrey Lebedev.

The events heard and approved reports of financial, technical and ethics committees of OANA.

AZERTAC' s Director General Aslan Aslanov was elected as a new president of OANA.

Heads of Russia's TASS, China's Xinhua, Korea's Yonhap and Turkey's Anadolu agencies were elected as OANA vice-presidents.

Heads of Iran's IRNA, Bahrain's BNA, Vietnam's VNA, Lebanon's NNA, Australia's AAP, Japan's Kyodo, India's PTI, Malaysia's Bernama agencies were elected as members of OANA Executive Board.

Speaking at the event, newly elected OANA president Aslan Aslanov thanked for support and confidence put in him and the agency. He hailed fruitful discussions featured at five sessions of the News Agencies World Congress which ended in Baku yesterday.

The General Assembly featured the 41st Executive Board meeting following the new president's speech.

AZERTAC Special Correspondent in Germany Vugar Seyidov was elected as OANA Secretary General.

Azerbaijan's AZERTAC, Russia's TASS, Iran's Mehr, Mongolia's Montsame, Indonesia's Antara, Kazakhstan's Kazinform, Kuwaiti KUNA were elected as members of the organization's technical committee.

As a result of voting AZERTAC, Vietnamese WAM, Japan's Kyodo, Australian AAP agencies were elected as OANA ethics committee members.

Yonhap agency of the Republic of Korea put forward its bid to host the 17th OANA General Assembly, which was approved by voting. Yonhap agency will chair OANA in 2019-2022.

Bahrain was elected as host of the 42nd Executive Board meeting that will take place in March, 2017.

In his remarks, president of Yonhap agency Park No-Hwang hailed TASS's successful presidency of the organization. He expressed his confidence that AZERTAC will excellently chair the organization in 2016-2019.

In his closing remarks, Mikhail Gusman, on behalf of the participants, expressed his gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for excellent organization of both the 5th News Agencies Word Congress and the 16th General Assembly of OANA. He wished AZERTAC success in its activities both in News Agencies World Congress and OANA presidency, reports OANA News.

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Health & Education

16-year-olds to take civic oaths on Independence Day

November 21 (UB Post) The annual civic oath ceremony for Mongolian girls and boys reaching 16 this year will be held throughout the country on November 26, to celebrate the Independence Day of Mongolia.

The Mongolian Youth Federation and the Ulaanbaatar Family, Children and Youth Development Center are jointly organizing the oath ceremony for 800 high school students studying in the capital at the State Palace. After students pledge their loyalty to their nation and vow to become honest citizens, the top 20 students of Ulaanbaatar will receive their national identification cards from government officials and young leaders of sports, arts, culture and science.

Director of Itgeliin Tankhim (Chamber of Trust) NGO and actress G.Undarmaa, director of Amjiltiin Khelkhee (Chain of Success) NGO O.Saranchuluun, director of the Mongolian Intellectual Academy Kh.Khatanbaatar, and Lantuun Dokhio NGO founder Ch.Ganjavkhlan have confirmed to attend the oath ceremony, as well as member of the national basketball team B.Bilguun, model S.Sarnai and artists of the State Academic Theater of Drama B.Shinebayar, O.Dulguun and B.Odonchimeg.

This year, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat and Minister of Labor and Social Protection N.Nomtoibayar plan to present speeches at the annual civic oath ceremony. Executive director of Monos Group Kh.Anand will present a lecture named "Zero to Hero".

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Mongolia, Japan Rotaries invest in children with comics

November 22 ( Rotary Club of Narlag Ulaanbaatar ("RCNUB"), Rotary Club of Kawasaki Minami, Japan and Mongolian Education Alliance has collaborated in implementation of a children humanitarian project in September 2016. As a result, series 1 and 2 of Maamuu comic book created in collaboration with Mongol Content LLC as well as comics, picture books and educational supplies from Japan. The donations were made to Kindergarten No. 12 of Khan-Uul District, Special Kindergarten No 186 and Special School No 29 of Sukhbaatar District, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. At the same time, meeting with the educational facilities as well as training sessions were organised.

Kindergarten No 12, Khan-Uul District

The Kindergarten No 12 has 210 children in 5 classrooms. In order to accommodate the increasing number of children, 2 classrooms of children between ages 4 and 5 have been separated and ger classrooms (Mongolian traditional dwelling) are created. Books and educational supplies/tools are insufficient for the 210 children.

Mr. Kozo Yamanouchi, President of the Rotary Club of Kawasaki Minami, Rotary District 2590, Japan stated "We met with RCNUB last year and agreed to cooperate on a children's project. This visit is the first step of the collaboration. As proposed by RCNUB, we organized fundraising in Japan, was able to obtain the support from the Rotary Japan, thus leading to successful launch of the project".

One of the peculiarities of this kindergarten is they have 8 pupils with various disabilities and there is a volunteer teacher from Japan, Ms. Kimiko who assists the children with their socializing and trains the parents. Ms. Kimiko stated that "Children should be taught socializing before they enroll to schools. Upbringing of children 0-5 is essential. Socializing of impaired children is rather particular, thus I work to assist the families. Today our children were presented books, which are vital tool in developing of thinking skills".

Special needs school and kindergarten

Please refer to the video about the book project events at the Khan-Uul District, Special Kindergarten No 186 and Special School No 29 of Sukhbaatar District.

At the initiative of the RCNUB, the Japanese-language comics and picture books donated are being translated into Mongolian language by the Interact club of the Shine Mongol School. The translation is reviewed, in turn by Tsetsee Gun Rotaract Club and then used by the Kindergarten 186.

Other collaboration

The same project is joined by 7 other Rotary Clubs of Mongolia as well as Rotary Club of Worthington-Dublin, USA.

On 28 October 2016, RCNUB and Rotary Club of Nomt visited the Khumuun complex of schools and kindergarten in Tuv province, Mongolia. Maamuu comics were then donated to the kindergarten and elementary schools. A meeting was organized with the students of the high school to discuss about Interact clubs, the youngest arm (up to age of 18) of the Rotary International who also implement social projects.

As part of the collaboration, the Khumuun Complex School is to register their Interact club and correspond with Interact club of RC of Worthington-Dublin, USA in organizing of the book donation in the USA to be donated to schools and kindergartens in Mongolia.

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Moray teenager opens shop to raise funds for Mongolia trip

A Moray teenager has taken the reins at a charity shop to raise money for a trip to the Far East.

November 22 (The Press and Journal) Eilidh Angus, 14, has been stockpiling items to sell in the Lossiemouth store for months after putting her name on the waiting list to run the Queen Street shop.

And yesterday, the Elgin Academy pupil went behind the till for the first time, during her lunch break, to start totting up the sales.

The teenager is nearly halfway towards raising the £4,400 which is required to fund the trip to Mongolia and expects her first foray into retail management to bring a turnover of about £1,000 during the two weeks she has the keys.

She said: "I've never done anything like this before, but I've had a lot of help from my family to gather all the items together to sell.

"My friends are going to come in and help me run it on Saturdays and I'm going to try and get down as much as I can after school."

Money passed through the till during the two weeks will go towards Eilidh's expedition to teach English and build community facilities in Mongolia.

The S3 pupil will be travelling with other students from the school in summer, 2018 with the fundraising for the journey designed to test their entrepreneurial spirit.

Eilidh added: "I've always had it in my mind I want to go and help people like this – I've always been a worker.

"It has been a lot of effort, organising fundraisers and getting the shop ready, but it will be worth it when we see the end results."

The teenager's family were busy stocking up the shelves yesterday while the Elgin Academy pupil greeted customers. Trade in the store was brisk with shoppers keen to see what was on offer.

Her grandmother, June Angus, said: "We've had so many donations from people. Our house has been full for months and we have still got trailers of items at home.

"Eilidh has really dedicated herself to this and has put in a lot of hard work to raise money to get to Mongolia."

The shop is open until Friday, December 2 on Queen Street in Lossiemouth from 10am to 4pm on weekdays and from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

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Culture & Society

Mogi: LOL, "most" scientific

Opinion: The most scientific visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in history

By B. Myagmardorj

November 22 ( How Buddhism connects with science (Buddhist Science and Science, international conference and dialogue). 

This is the first time that the Mind and Life International Conference took a place in Mongolia. It was 32nd conference in its history and was held under the topic 'Buddhism Science and Science'. Over 1,000 researchers and a number of lamas participated, and thus, it was the first time that the conference involved researchers from the different branches of science, such as psychology, quantum physics, medicine, chemistry, biology and social science.

The researchers from the U.S. and Mongolia discussed and gave presentations about Buddhist science, including the origin of the earth via the quantum physics theory, how Buddhism connects the mind, a survey of how meditation influences brain process, and how to overcome pain with mind control and meditation  There were also discussion on the unique characteristics of Mongolian traditional medicine (healing), its connection to Buddhism, and how the senses and the spirit are influenced when a person undergoes an organ transplant.

Above mentioned facts show that Buddhism is developing in a more scientific than religious way and based on this, China has to agree that this visit from His Holiness the Dalai Lama does not have any purpose that relates to politics.

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Photos: Dalai Lama's Visit to Gandan Tegchenling Monastery – Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – 19 November 2016

November 22 (Central Tibetan Administration) --

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Nature & Environment

Mongolian embassy working to account for 1,200 citizens living near Fukushima

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ A total of 1,163 Mongolian nationals settle in the coastal areas of Japan's northeastern region, which was hit by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake this morning. According to the data given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 48 Mongolians are living in the epicenter Fukushima, 8 – in Aomori, 24—in Iwate, 162—in Ibaraki, 89 – in Miyagi and 832—in Chiba.

Timely evacuation and tsunami awareness-raising actions have been taking place. Owing to the well-built preparedness in Japan's eastern coasts and personal practice and preparation for natural disasters, the level of damage was relatively lower than expected.

The Mongolian Embassy in Tokyo has been working to reach out and ensure the safety of all Mongolian nationals, residing in Fukushima region.

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Gobi Great Six initiative's efforts to save Mongolian Saiga

November 22 ( In our previous issue, the Mongol Messenger introduced the Gobi Great Six initiative by the WWF Mongolia Program Office committed to saving six globally endangered animals which critically requires conservation efforts from the worldwide community.  Wild Bactrian Camel, Gobi Bear, Takhi or Wild Horse, Khulan or Wild Ass, Mongolian Saiga, and Goitered Gazelle play a crucial roles in the integrity and wellness of the Gobi ecosystem and human livelihoods.  We will be publishing six series of articles about those species that are in danger of going extinct in the near future and efforts the WWF is making to save in the scope of the Gobi Great Six Initiative.

Mongolia Saiga - an endangered antelope that originally inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian and Central Asian territory.

The southern part of the Mongolian Altai Sayan Ecoregion is characterized by flat plains, low mountains, rolling hills, and hillocks covered by different types of steppe and a network of lakes and wetlands.  This area is the last refuge of the Mongolian Saiga (Saiga borealis mongolica), a distinct endemic subspecies of Saiga borealis that once roamed from the British Isles through Central Asia and the Bering Strait into Alaska and the Yukon.  S. Borealis was a typical representative of the "mammoth biome" in the Pleistocene periglacial steppes and cryogenic savannahs. At the end of the Pleistocene when the mammoth disappeared, the range of S. Borealis was reduced.  The Mongolian Saiga (S. T. Mongolica) is only found in a small area in western Mongolia around the Sharga and Mankhan Nature Reserves.

WWF (Global Program Framework) included the Saiga antelope as a footprint-impacted species. It is being poached aggressively for its horn, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Ahe recent study estimates that annual consumption in China is around 9 thousand kg and most likely the demand for Saiga horn is still high and not expected to decrease in the near future.  The species also has been under ever increasing pressure from livestock competition and deterioration of its habitat.

During the late 1980s, Mongolian and Russian scientists jointly conducted comprehensive research in Mongolia and estimated the number of Mongolian Saiga to be at about 700, pointing out the necessity to protect this species.  Since 1998, the WWF Mongolia inaugurated a project to protect the Mongolian Saiga in cooperation with local herders and residents.  Thanks to the project, the number of the species increased to 6 thousand and other studies say the number of Mongolian Saiga has reached 13,800 in the past several years.  The range area of Mongolian Saiga was extended by 13 percent since 1998.  Protected areas cover 41.7 percent of Mongolian Saiga Habitat.  The steppes in the depressions between the lower ranges of the Altai Mountain, in particular Shargiin Gobi, Khuisiin Gobi and Durgun steppe are the center of its distribution.

In 2007, the WWF Mongolia started a comprehensive Saiga conservation project.  The long term goal of this project is to maintain and restore the Mongolian Saiga in the Great Lakes Basin and extend its range to its former habitats.  More recent estimates suggest that conservation measures led its population number to be doubled from around 8 thousand in 2010 to around 14,600 in 2015 according to Mongolian scientists.  Moreover, most of the Mongolian Saiga birds births are twins, and a recent study shows that some 30 percent of all births are twins, which means this critically endangered species have a comparatively better chance to grow.

The status of the Saiga improved significantly; however, its long term survival is still threatened by certain factors including habitat degradation caused by livestock due to overgrazing and unsustainable pasture use, competition for water, as well as climate fluctuations drying up surface water resources and increased frequencies of droughts followed by cold snowy winters.  Population size usually decreases dramatically after severe cold months.  For example, after the natural disaster due to dzud in Mongolia in 2002, its population was reduced to only 750.  Also, poaching and the illegal trade of horn, skin and meat, which has tempting commercial value, is an immediate danger to the species.  Even though it has not been confirmed officially, Mongolia Saiga are useful for livestock and the rural community as they eat one sort of succulent plant that is harmful for livestock animals.

In his interview with Mongolian Daily Newspaper 'Today', B.Chimeddorj, Saiga Conservation Project Officer of the WWF Mongolia said that a study of WWF, which was conducted in 2010-2011 attached collars with automatic motion sensor cameras to 40 baby Saiga and found that eagles and foxes also pose great danger to the lives of baby Saigas – when they are at the most vulnerable stage of their lives.  "Precisely estimating the population size of wild species is not an easy task to accomplish, however a direct method, such as trapping or counts of individuals observed is the most widely recognized throughout the world" he said. 

Specialists of the WWF Mongolia in cooperation with the Wildlife Research & Conservation Society, Environment Office of aimags and administrative offices of specially protected areas of Mongolia organized research on over 12 thousand km land territory of the Mongolia Gobi and Durgun Steppe – range areas of Mongolia Saiga.  Such methods have been performed in the country over the last decade as it is believed to not only to be cost-effective, but also has the advantage of providing information on climate, precipitation levels and pasture lands.

Since 1930, Mongolia has prohibited hunting Mongolian Saiga which is listed in the Mongolian Red Book of Endangered Species as a specially protected species.  However, poaching for Mongolian Saiga is still rife in Mongolia, downgrading the efforts and contributions of MMF Mongolia to safeguard the endangered species by carrying-out a variety of projects and studies.

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The Remarkable Comeback of Przewalski's Horse

Once nearly extinct, the population of these wild horses has rebounded on the dusty steppes of Mongolia

By Paige Williams; Photographs by Sean Gallagher

December 2016 (Smithsonian Magazine) The holy animal of Mongolia is big-headed and stocky, like a pudgy foal that overgrew in odd places. Its body is the color of a stirred cappuccino, but the legs are dark, as if dressed in stockings. Its muzzle is white, its mane black and bristly, erect as a fresh-cut mohawk. A matching line runs like a racing stripe all the way down the horse's back. The babies are often pale gray, and woolly like lambs, and while any sensible human would immediately want to pet one, if not outright hug it, wolves see lunch.

If you were able to observe this creature in person, which is hard to do, given that they live in only a few places on earth, you would find it in a family network—a harem—with a dominant stallion watching over mares and their offspring, in groups of 5 to 15. For this to happen, you would have to be in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, China or Russia, the only places the horse lives anymore in the wild. Not so long ago, the species, once prolific on the Central Asia steppe, was one cruel winter, one hungry wolf pack, one outbreak of disease away from extinction.

This animal is generally known as "Przewalski's horse" (pronounced shuh-VAL-skee), or "P-horse," for short, but Mongolians call it takhi, which means spirit, or worthy of worship. You don't ride the takhi, or stable it, or—pony-like as the horse appears—saddle it up and perch children on it at birthday parties. The horse is too wild for that. While it has been captured and occasionally confined to zoos, it has never been tamed—it is the only truly wild horse in existence. Other horses that are thought of as wild are in fact feral.

There are roughly 2,000 takhi in the world right now, and the largest number of them live at Hustai National Park, within 60 miles of Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar. It seemed astonishing to me that such a wild thing lived so close to a city of 1.4 million people. But, as I discovered recently, town becomes country abruptly in Mongolia. The summer-green hills of the western Tov province begin just after the last gas station, the last cluster of gers, the last spewing smokestacks, the last of the human street-sweepers standing amid madcap traffic, swinging huge, witchy, straw broomsticks at dusty curbs in utter, sweaty futility.

If the road is intact and the weather is decent, you can usually reach Hustai within two hours. It's best to go by Land Cruiser, as my guide and I did. We turned off-road for the last ten miles, jouncing along on rutted dirt, pluming reddish dust. The trail bypassed nubby sand dunes and fields of wheat and rape, whose oil is popular on the Chinese market. The government now allows private farms in the area despite conservationists' concerns that such a close juxtaposition of cultivated crops and a fledgling species will unbalance the ecosystem. "This is one of the most endangered horses in the world—why are they planting so close to the park?" a Hustai wildlife biologist named Usukhjargal "Usku" Dorj later told me. In the distance, all around, stood low, eroded mountains, and beyond the southerly ones lay the Gobi Desert. Somewhere in the foothills the takhi were grazing.

As the conservationist J. Tserendeleg once put it, "Mongolia is not Mongolia without horses." Horses are so vital to the national identity the country's ceremonial banner is made with horsetail hair. Along with the wild takhi, the country has its own native breed that some say hasn't changed much since the time of Genghis Khan—short, stocky, fast and strong, with a long tail and mane. Mongolians can ride these horses over the most forbidding terrain—they have been called the world's best equestrians. Children learn to handle a horse as young as age 3—driving through the Gobi Desert, it's not uncommon to see tiny figures wearing deels and shoes with upturned toes, leading beasts by harness and rope. Herder families breed and race horses, and consider them kin. Take this however you want, but Genghis Khan would not have been Genghis Khan without the everyday Mongolian horse: In the 13th century, his Mongol Empire conquered half of Asia and Eastern Europe on horseback. Mongolia's three "manly" sports are wrestling, archery and, you guessed it, horse racing. At Naadam, the national summer festival that takes place every July, jockeys douse their horses' hindquarters with good-luck mare's milk and then run them for as much as 16 miles. To see dozens of horses and their riders crest a distant hill and come galloping down through a pasture is to see an ancient bond in motion.

Takhi, on the other hand, are as elusive as the common horse is visible. That afternoon at Hustai, we loaded into a park vehicle and went searching for them, following the rocky roads deep into the preserve. The park's director, Dashpurev Tserendeleg, who goes by "Dash," drove as Usku panned the hills with binoculars. No horses appeared, but fat-bottomed marmots darted everywhere in the low grasses and disappeared into their burrows.

"Thirty seconds, four marmots," Usku reported.

"They're probably hungry," said Dash. It had rained the past two days, and he theorized that the marmots hadn't been able to graze.

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How Conservationists Use GPS to Track the Wildest Horses in the World

These horses' wildness makes them unique. It also makes them uniquely difficult for researchers to monitor and track

By Katie Nodjimbadem

November 22 ( Picture a truly wild horse. You might be imagining a graceful mare rearing on her legs on the shores of Assateague Island, her golden mane silhouetted against the sunset. What you should be picturing is the shorter, stockier Przewalski's horse, the endangered subspecies that once roamed the steppe of China and Mongolia. No offense to other horses, but these brown beauties are the only equines who can claim authentic wildness.

All other so-called "wild" horses all share one thing in common: They were once domesticated by man, a process that fundamentally changed their biology. By contrast, the Przewalski's horse—also known as the Asian wild horse or takhi in Mongolian—has never been domesticated. Researchers have learned that this horse is not an ancestor of domestic horses, but a distant cousin that diverged around 500,000 years ago. Even its genetics reflect this evolutionary divergence: The Przewalski's has two more chromosomes than domestic horses.

Yet while they never endured the hand of man, the Przewalski's horse still suffered mightily from his presence. Once these zebra-sized creatures galloped across Europe, Central Asia and China; researchers even believe they are depicted in ancient cave paintings in France. But in the 1960s overhunting, habitat loss and competition with livestock forced the Przewalski's into extinction in the wild. Only after years of being raised in captive populations in zoos were the horses reintroduced into parts of Mongolia, where today a small population of around 500 live permanently or semi-permanently.

That these rare wild horses still exist in a state of wildness at all is itself a conservation success. But their relatively newfound freedom also creates a new challenge for researchers: finding and monitoring the horses across vast swaths of land, which is key to helping them thrive in the long term in the face of myriad threats. For conservationists, the question is: How do you track the wildest horses in the world?

That question became especially urgent in 2001, after the horses were released in Xinjiang, China at the Kalamaili Nature Reserve. During the first harsh winter season, several of those reintroduced horses died. This sudden setback prompted the Xinjiang Forestry Department and the Cologne Zoo in Germany to look to a new conservation tool: GPS satellite tracking. They approached the Smithsonian Institution, where researchers have long used the technology for projects related to rare wild animal populations like Asian elephants, golden-headed lion tamarins and the scimitar-horned oryx in Chad.

(Smithsonian, by the way, also breeds captive Przewalski's horses, though it has not introduced any back into the wild. The National Zoo has produced 37 Przewalski's horse offspring since it began in 1983, according to Budhan Pukazhenthi, a reproductive physiologist at Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute who works with these horses. Currently there are seven male and 12 female horses, three of which are pregnant, at the SCBI's center at Front Royal.)

Melissa Songer, a conservation biologist at the SCBI, was one of the researchers who participated in the initial GPS tracking effort in China. In 2006, she and colleagues placed GPS transmitter collars on wild horses, which captured the animals' hourly GPS coordinates and their corresponding dates and times. The data was uploaded to satellites, and transmitted every few days to the team via email. Because Przewalksi's horses roam in herds of about five or six, Songer could use just four of the GPS collars to determine the locations of over 20 horses. 

In addition to helping staff locate the horses, the ongoing project aims to answer questions about the size of the horses' range of travel, their habitat preferences, the environment of the places to which they travel and the social dynamics of the groups. "For a conservation biologist, this is the holy grail because it's an opportunity to get back into the wild what's been lost," says Songer.

In April 2016, Songer and her colleague Peter Leimgruber helped launch the first satellite tracking project among herds of reintroduced Przewalski's horses in Hustai Nuruu National Park in northern Mongolia in partnership with the Minnesota Zoo. Currently, the reintroduced horses only use 35 percent of the space reserved for them. The scientists hope to use the data they've gathered—including data from infrared cameras around watering holes—to develop strategies to encourage the animals to use more of the area and resources.

For the horses to survive, it is also crucial that the local human population also be engaged in the conservation effort, says Songer. After all, human activity was a significant factor in the extinction of the population in the mid-twentieth century. In herding their livestock, humans created competition for land and resources, endangering the Przewalski's horses.

To further the project on the ground in China when she is not present, Songer has trained local Kazakh livestock herders to track the horses with handheld devices. Songer says that once she explained the project and the significance of the horses, the herders were eager to be involved. "They love horses, they're horse people," she says. "They rely on horses for their transportation. So we already had a strong basis for trying to involve them. You want them to feel involved in the process, not just feel threatened by it."

While Songer spends more time on the ground collaring horses and training people to monitor the animals, Leimgruber, who has a background in landscape conservation ecology, spends more time looking at the data through statistical analysis and spatial modeling. The two approaches complement each other: "You can't just put them somewhere and think they're going to survive," says Leimgruber. "We study landscapes with satellite imagery integrated with survey data on the ground … We find the best places for these animals to live, and then we start the reintroduction efforts."

Although the species has jumped from extinct to endangered status in the wild, the conservation work is far from done. Some herds are still only released in the milder months—and for a horse as wild as the Przewalski's, this dependency on human intervention is far from optimal. In the future, scientists want to use the GPS data to identify the most suitable habitats possible. Moreover, since the reintroduced populations stem from a small group of founder animals, they hope to increase genetic exchange within the species to set them up for long-term survival.

As Pukazhenti of SCBI puts it: "It's almost a lifetime commitment to make sure the species survives." 

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Mongolian grabs bronze in mounted archery at Kazakhstan competition

Ulaanbaatar, November 22 (MONTSAME) Mongolian archer Otgonbyamba Dunshig won bronze medal at the International Mounted Archery Competition, took place in Shymkent of Kazakhstan.

The competition was participated by archers from Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in order to promote the development of its national sport, is planning to host the Championships of Asia, in association with the above mentioned countries.

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Fencer Tsolmon Batkhuu becomes Asian referee

Ulaanbaatar, November 22 (MONTSAME) The Mongolian Fencing Federation announced today that it has received the performance results of Tsolmon Batkhuu, who has past Referees Exam by the Fencing Confederation of Asia, held in Tokyo between October 20 and 23. Thus, B.Tsolmon is becoming the second international fencing referee from Mongolia, succeeding A.Khaliunaa, a Candidate for Master of Sports.

Master of Sports B.Tsolmon is the second highest ranking fencer in Mongolia, according to the BRB National Rankings, and is the Fencing Grand Prix Winner and twice National Champion.

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Byron's Lens: A Journey to Mongolia

Byron Harris / Special to

The Unexpected

Peabody Award winner Byron Harris is retired from WFAA. But he's still a journalist. In Byron's Lens, he'll present new stories with his words, pictures and video, and revisit others from his forty-two year career as a reporter.

Mongolia holds the promise of the unexpected.  That's one reason I wanted to make the trip. I vaguely remembered from a long ago geography class that there was outer Mongolia, and an inner Mongolia, and that they were two separate entities.   I recalled  the Gobi desert, Genghis Khan, nomadic people, trained raptors, and throat singers; it was all out there, somewhere in the neighborhood of China.

For me, China has always been pretty much just three cities--Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong--all in the east.  Pan west from those three mega-cities, and China is saddle-shaped country. Mongolia, which used to be known as Outer Mongolia, nestles in the seat of the saddle on China's northern border, fitting for a nation of nomadic cowboys.  It is an independent democracy, about twice as big as Texas, but with only three million people. Inner Mongolia, bordering Mongolia to the south, is part of the People's Republic of China. 

Tent City

There's really only one city in Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar, the capital. Flying in, you feel like you're looking down on scores of refinery tanks, like you might see in Midland-Odessa. 

Few trees populate the green velvet hills. But there are hundreds of white, round structures dotting the landscape. They aren't oil tanks, it turns out, but gers, the round tents Mongolians have lived in for centuries. 

A ger, (pronounced gehr), more commonly known to westerners by the name 'yurt' in neighboring Russia, is the sturdy tent that as many as a third of the country's residents call home. Fabric is stretched over a wooden lattice for the ger's walls, and about a hundred wooden slats form a domed ceiling. You enter through a low door. 

Inside, the tent opens up, and you can stand upright. There's a hole in the middle for a potbellied stove, with a stack poking through the hole in the ger ceiling. These wood stoves are used to heat the tents in Mongolia's bitterly cold winters, and it's wood smoke that makes Ulaanbaatar (UB as the locals call it) one of the most polluted cities in the world in the winter time.

You see gers in the countryside with motorcycles and even cars parked next to them. What's stunning is you also see gers right in the middle of UB, a city of a million and a half people, coexisting with skyscrapers and upscale condos.  Their residents cook and wash and use outdoor plumbing right next to gated communities. The gers are not connected to sewer systems. You'll find an Audi dealership down the street from a ger.

This is a culture which has historically lived on horseback and raised livestock to exist. Now it's on a collision course with urbanization and modernity. Will it be a trainwreck or a smooth transition?

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Trip to Mongolia 'an amazing opportunity'

November 22 (The Sudbury Star) This spring students from Laurentian will be taking a huge step.

Or perhaps we should say: steppe.

In May a group of nearly two-dozen students in the Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Health Promotion Without Borders programs will be embarking for western Mongolia, where they will traverse deserts, mountains and, of course, a few of those arid plateaus for which the region is famous.

"Even just the travel itself, without all the projects we want to do, puts it into perspective how large a trip this is," says third-year adventure leadership student Beau Williams-Orser.

The group will fly into the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar and thence to Olgii, nestled in the Altai mountains near the border of Kazakhstan. Then they'll hop aboard off-road vehicles to reach the remote community of Sogok.

Preceding them on this adventure will be a large shipping container packed with supplies to construct an irrigation system, as well as comfort and medical items for residents of the village.

"It's predominantly a humanitarian relief project," says Jim Little, coordinator of the Outdoor Adventure Leadership program.

The area around Sogok has been impacted by drought, he says, and the goal is to set up a system to pump water for gardening and livestock, as well as promote health and well-being among residents, in collaboration with the non-governmental organization Source of Steppe Nomads.

Little says his faculty colleague Sebastien Nault has already visited the region and has contacts with the NGO, while an engineering consultant from Sudbury has completed a community assessment on the infrastructure work required.

J.S. Redpath, a North Bay mining and engineering company with a Sudbury office, is providing the shipping container and covering the cost of its transit to Mongolia, and some items have already been donated, including medical supplies.

The group still needs to amass more supplies, however, including construction materials and water-system parts, plus needs money to truck the container from port to its final destination.

Williams-Orser says students are looking forward to the chance to help residents in a rugged corner of the world, and have already learned a lot simply by planning for the mission.

"It's an amazing opportunity for us to have experiential education, but it's also a professional development opportunity because we have to do all the fundraising and dive into the logistics," he says.

There's an outdoor-adventure side to the journey, too.

"Typically we run an annual canoe trip into remote parts of Canada," says Little. "This year's cohort had more of a penchant for international travel and are into the climbing scene, so we're looking at doing some mountaineering and glacier travel while we're there."

The Altai Mountains, Mongolia's highest range, are not far from Sogok, he notes. In preparation for a climbing experience, the students will be getting trained in crevasse rescue, avalanche assessment and other valuable alpine skills.

Little says the LU contingent will try to tread as respectfully as possible while visiting Mongolia, and will likely stay in "gers" -- a type of round, portable yurt used by nomads for centuries in this part of the world -- for a large part of their stay.

Williams-Orser, who completed a four-day hike along the spine of the LaCloche Mountains this fall with fellow outdoor leadership students, admits his initial excitement about the Mongolia journey mostly had to do with the mountaineering opportunity.

"Climbing is a passion of mine," he says. "But after seeing how much energy we're building for the humanitarian side, and thinking about the impact we can potentially make, I started gravitating to how special that opportunity is.

"Anyone can jump on a plane and go to the mountains," the student reflects. "But I don't think everyone has the chance to be part of a group that puts so much selfless energy into helping other people."

With two professors, 21 students and a few community members signed on for the nearly month-long trip, the team has a goal of raising $94,500 ($4,500 per student), which will help with specialized equipment necessary for the community outreach project.

Anyone willing to contribute to the expedition is encouraged to visit

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